At first glance, one would say - yeah okay, that's really not much difference from the CCR+. In many regards, this is true. The controls are pretty much laid out the same and the appearance is identical. For those not familiar with the CCRadio family, let's go over the basics.
The right side of radio (adjacent to the display), provides a fine tuning knob. This knob also is used to adjust the squelch for VHF. A lock switch is located below the tuning knob. The volume control knob is located towards the bottom of the right side and a stereo headphone jack (1/8") is provided at the very bottom. There are no controls on the left side of the radio.
Turning the radio around, we find a group of three color coded jacks on the left side of the rear of the radio. From top to bottom: green is Auxiliary In (audio input), black is Timer Activation and red is Line Out. Just to the right of the Line Out jacks are External AM Antenna terminals (ground and antenna). The battery hatch is provided at the bottom of the rear of radio. A recessed hand grip area is available towards the top. The AC cord jack is at the extreme right and the whip antenna (for FM, Weather, 2-meter) is at the very top right.
Up on top are the five pre-set buttons (five for each band) in the center, the "mode switch" on the left, which switches between bands and auxiliary input. The weather alert button is in between the presets and the band switch. The power/sleep button is to the right, above the display. By the way, a reset button is on the bottom of the unit.
Per C. Crane, the C. Crane Company is the manufacturer of record for the CCRadio-2. While it is assembled at Sangean's facilities, it is done to their specifications and is designed exclusively for C. Crane Company.
The CCR2 comes in two colors: black mica and titanium (with black knobs/buttons). It sells for $159.95 from C. Crane (as of Summer 2009 at the introduction of the radio).
The up/down tuning buttons allow you to jump in increments of 10 kHz on AM, 100 kHz on FM and 5 kHz on VHF. The main rotary tuning knob allows you to fine tune on AM in 1 kHz increments and 50 kHz on FM. There is no difference between the up/down buttons and rotary tuning on VHF or Weather.
The CCR2 also provides scan tuning by holding down the up/down button for a half second. In scan tuning, the radio will scan and stop when it finds a station. As mentioned before, there are five pre-set (memories) available for each band. Simply tune in the desired frequency, press and hold the desired pre-set button until you hear a beep.
on the display?
vs. CCRadioPlus (CCR+)
The strength meter is somewhat different on the CCR2 vs. the CCR+. On the CCR2 there are 12 bars in total, numbered every two steps (2 4...6 > 12). The CCR+ meter has 14 bars, with every second bar numbered (1...2...3 > 7).
While I am not technically knowledgeable enough to describe the inner workings, there is a difference in the internal ferrite antenna tuning for AM listening. The manual indicates that the CCR2 automatically fine tunes the 8 inch ferrite bar antenna for a few seconds when a new frequency is tuned in. The signal icon under the strength meter will flash while the tuning is occurring. C. Crane refers to the internal ferrite antenna as a Twin Coil Ferrite ® AM Antenna. This shouldn't be confused with an external AM antenna sold by C. Crane under the same name.
Another change is that the CCR2 display defaults back to clock mode after 15 seconds. So once you tune into a station, the display will no longer show the frequency after 15 seconds and instead shows you the time. More on this later. The CCR2 does not provide the battery charging feature and LED Lamp jack that was available in the previous CCR+ model. Maybe it's my imagination but it seems like the hand held grip in the rear is more secure and "grippier" on the CCR2 vs. the CCR+.
While this may be attributed to unit-to-unit variation, I found the rotary tuning dial to be somewhat more flimsy on the CCR2 vs. the CCR+. Some of this may be due to the dual use of the rotary tuning dial on the CCR2. In addition to being used for manual tuning, it is also a "push and hold" control used to set the squelch level for VHF. On the unit I tested, the tuning knob has a more distinct "click feel and noise" vs. the smoother action of the older CCR+ model.
Gone from the CCR2 are the loud beeps that announce when you have reached the band edges. In addition, the beeps that indicate the selected band (via the band button) are not present with the newer CCR2.
The whip antenna is slightly longer on the CCR2 as compared to the CCR+ (22"vs. 20.5").
To my ears, the audio on the CCR2 is noticeably brighter and crisper than with the CCR+. Overall intelligibility is better.
I am always interested to see how a new radio will perform in rejecting the sidebands of my local AM pest station (WLXN - 1440). With the radio rotated for maximum rejection of this station, I was able to detect noticeable interference from 1410 through 1460. A relatively weak station on 1410 was legible through the interference and a fairly strong station on 1460 was easy copy. These results were similar to the CCR+. As a point of comparison, I also tested the Katio KA-2100 (rebadged by C. Crane and sold as the CCRadio-SW). The 2100 did a superior job in fighting off the sidebands on 1410, 1420 and 1450 however the ability to receive the stations on 1410 and 1450 were noticeably lower.
Next up was to see how the radio fought off the local pest when the radio was not rotated for maximum rejection. Here I found that the adjacent channel interference stretched from 1370 to 1510. The results on the CCR+ (1380 to 1510) and the KA-2100 (1370 to 1510) were similar.
We have a weak TIS (Traveler's Information Station) in our general area on 1610 and this is a good test for overall sensitivity. In comparing the three radios, the CCR2 copied the TIS best, followed by the CCR+ and then the KA-2100.
On 1060, there are two stations that can be heard in our area. By rotating the radio, it is usually possible to null one of them out in favor of the other. While it was close, the CCR2 passed this test over the CCR+ and by a significant margin over the KA-2100.
For fun, I played around with a couple of loop antennas I have to see what kind of reception improvement could be noted via inductive coupling. First, I used a typical small loop (the old Radio Shack AM loop, which is similar in size the Terk or Select-A-Tenna). The small loop did not do much in terms of improved reception, which I attribute to the large 8" internal ferrite antenna. Next, I tried my giant 27" loop (the discontinued Edek) with the CCR2. I was able to squeeze additional gain with the larger loop which could be helpful in DX situations.
The CCR2 has an external antenna connection for AM which is described in the manual as "directly wired through filter network into RF front end." Like most radios I have, my local AM station (5 kW, 3 miles away) overloaded the CCR2 badly with an external antenna connected and the station appeared all over the AM dial. I am going to see if putting a rudimentary attenuator between the antenna and the CCR2 can knock down this signal enough to make the external antenna option worthwhile.
As a general statement, I can state with confidence that the overall intelligibility and 'legibility' of stations received on the CCR2 was noticeably improved over both the CCR+ and KA-2100. I also noticed the background noise level on the CCR2 was lower as well, resulting in less listener fatigue. I did notice that our local pest on 1440 appeared on the radio at 540 as it does on most radios I own. It also appeared loud and clear on 1640 which was unusual. I could barely hear it on the CCR+ and not at all on the KA-2100.
All of these tests were done in the mid-afternoon. I believe that testing radios for performance during night hours is misleading as even the worst AM radio can perform decently when the skip improves.
In terms of selectivity, I did not discern much difference between the CCR+ and the CCR2. The KA-2100 was dramatically better than both of the CC Radios in this regard.
As on the AM band, I noticed overall brighter audio with the CCR2 vs. the CCR+.
Although not tested, the CCR2 provides a Weather Alert System. In some areas, NOAA sends an emergency tone that will set off an audible or visual alarm on radios equipped to receive the alerts. There are two pages of information on this feature in the instruction manual, so it is beyond the scope of this review to get into that much detail.
The manual makes it clear that using the Weather Alert System will consume power even when the radio is off. It is recommended to have the radio running on AC power when in this mode, so as not to drain the batteries.
Notes - VHF
I found reception on this band to be significantly better when I had the radio outdoors. Reception of amateur 2-meter signals was much clearer and many more stations were readable.
It should be noted that the 2-meter band is not as popular as it once was. Users in more urban and high-population environments stand a better chance of regularly hearing stations on this band. Rural and suburban users may not hear much on this band .but it is fun to scan around and land on amateur 'ham' radio operators communicating in your local area.
There is a sleep feature provided which shuts the radio off after a period of time. You can select the shut off time to be 120-90-60-45-30-15 minutes. Using this is important for me, because with the volume turned down on the CCR2 - you might not know the radio is even on .since the display now reverts to the clock view after 15 seconds.
The CCR2 has an alarm available as well. The user can select to be wake up to a favorite radio station or to a beeping tone. If the user selects the tone alarm, it will beep in what C. Crane calls the Humane Wake System. The tone beep volume increases every 15 seconds for one minute. After a minute of silence, the beeping repeats. This minute-on, minute-off cycle will continue for one hour until the alarm is shut off. If the on-off beeping proves to be a bit too annoying, the sleeper (or former sleeper) can put the alarm in snooze mode which will pause the alarm for five minutes.
A timer function is provided in the CCR2. This allows the user to set up the radio to turn on to one of the preset stations (any band) at a predetermined time and then shut off later as programmed. Those who want to record certain programs will find this to be a useful feature.
The variable display backlighting is a major improvement over the CCR+. I actually find the bright setting to be overly bright and prefer the medium setting. To each his own it's nice to have a choice.
The radio is easy to use and the average user can figure most of the functions right out of the box. Some of the more complicated functions (mainly clock functions) can be mastered quickly.
Here is one that some might put in the "What's not to like" section. I am glad that the very loud band edge beeps and the beeps associated with band change are gone. I find these annoying and certainly would bother a sleeping partner. However, I can understand where the visually impaired will miss the beeps.
While I admit to being skeptical about claims of "audio that's optimized for voice clarity" - I did find this to be true. Improved intelligibility was certainly noticeable when compared to the CCR+ and KA-2100 and if you can't understand what you are listening to, what's the point!
not to like?
A minor objection I had with earlier models is still present in the CCR2. When you push the preset/memory buttons, you hear and feel a hard clicking noise. Anyone using this as a bedside radio has a good chance of disturbing their partners, as the click noise is quite noticeable.
for the CCR3?
I would like to see the preset/memory buttons have a much softer touch and feel.
I can imagine that the decision for the 'fourth band" may present an ongoing challenge for C. Crane. The substitution of the 2-meter ham band for the obsolete VHF TV band was a very novel solution. However, I believe that many users will not find enough activity on that band to make it worthwhile. Perhaps ultimately going to 3-band radio (AM-FM-Weather) and adding some additional features (user definable display default, user definable band edge/band selection beeps, 9/10 kHz choice on AM, more pre-sets, external FM antenna connection, etc.) would be the way to go.
was pretty excited when I read that C. Crane would be updating its
C.C Radio Plus
replacing it with an upgraded model called the
CC Radio-2. The most obvious catalyst in this was the demise of analog
TV broadcasting which rendered the VHF TV band on the "Plus"
model obsolete. In its place the CC Radio-2 offers the 2 Meter VHF
HAM band (144-148 MHz). But there are numerous other upgrades as well
which I'll cover in a bit. But first
Other basic features remaining the same are AM/FM and Weather Band reception plus a Weather Alert feature which can be activated to automatically alert you to dangerous weather conditions. The 2 also retains all the basic clock and timer functions with which you can program the radio to turn on and off at pre-selected times with alarm and snooze functions as well. I enjoy the Weather Band immensely...I can receive several frequencies clearly the information is up to date and contains more detail than you get from regular TV or Radio weather forecasts and it's always right there.
Meter HAM band. This is an interesting addition to this new model.
This band will let you tune in on the world of radio amateurs and
I did find a few signals to listen to. Setting it up is a bit of a
learning process but C. Crane helps with basic advice on how to proceed
and some pre-tuned frequencies are helpful as well. There are many
resources on the web to help you find local repeater frequencies that
will work in your area. The Squelch is calibrated from "Off"
on my sample the lowest setting "1"
silenced the inter-station hiss, but still seemed to let any listenable
signal through. You can increase this squelch level to block out weaker
signals if you want to concentrate only on strong local signals. In
an emergency this band will be active and could provide much interesting
I heard a few rag-chewing sessions as I casually
AM and FM Reception
checked basic adjacent and alternate channel selectivity on AM and
had no trouble separating adjacent channel signals unless the undesired
signal was much stronger than the desired signal. For better selectivity
you'd have to go to a world band radio with multiple IF frequencies.
I did extensive side-by-side tests among the CC Radio-2, the older
model CC Plus and a few other reference FM portables and found the
new "2" to be superb on FM. Again I found it just a bit
more sensitive on FM than the older Plus model which also made it
a bit less fussy of antenna rod adjustment to get clear reception
on problem signals.
rejection is the ability of a radio to resist interference from strong
local signals when you are trying to listen to weaker signals. Overload
can manifest itself in many ways
strong signals may simply spread
out over a larger portion of the dial than they should obscuring nearby
stations, or "images" may appear
ghosts of signals
showing up at additional spots on the dial where they interfere with
stations you want to hear on those frequencies.
it is very difficult to design a portable radio to have extreme sensitivity
while still having a high overload threshold. It can be done (think
"car radio") but suffice it to say that most portable radio
designs are a careful balance between sensitivity and overload rejection.
Generally the vast majority of listeners do not live in intense signal
areas, but for those who do, overload rejection may be more important
than sensitivity. I decided to enlist the help of a good friend of
mine who is in a unique position to provide what we need to know about
how the CC-2 handles overload and how it compares with the previous
Plus model and a few other high profile portables. Steve is a broadcast
he's the guy who designs radio station installations
including directional arrays
he knows how RF works. He also happens
to live in a high signal overload area and is intimately familiar
with the signals are at his location. He wrote a report on overload
which is so informative we have decided to print it in its entirety.
I think you will find it to be fascinating reading.
I will summarize that Steve found the CC2 to be significantly improved over the Plus for FM overload resistance and a little better on AM overload resistance and this is excellent news, but neither were as good as the CC Radio SW or a vintage GE SR II for immunity to strong signal overload. I repeat no radio is best at everything, so choose the one that works best in your environment.
the new "2" has a much fuller sounding bottom end on the
AM band than the Plus did
with its bass control centered it has
at least as much bass as the Plus does with its bass control fully
advanced. So this is my only quibble with this radio
it now sounds
much better with its fuller bass
if it had a crisper high end
on AM it would be just about perfect. I will also quality this by
saying I am an audio fanatic
many listeners will find the sound
of this radio to be perfectly satisfying and I'm glad that C. Crane
is at least moving it in the right direction.
Does It Compare With The CC Radio-SW?
FM the Redsun is truly superb with excellent sensitivity, good selectivity
and very good image rejection. Luckily the CC 2 gives it a good run
for its money. I have to give the nod the the SW model on FM but again,
they are quite close.
there the models begin to diverge. The SW model offers very capable
Shortwave reception, dual IF bandwidths and powerful, full range audio
which frankly trounces the sound of the 2. Yet the 2 offers Weather,
2 Meter HAM, and full digital features. A radio nut like me wants
to own both because each has its strengths and weaknesses
every radio I own. The perfect radio has yet to be made.
you have a favorite AM station which you can hear in your car but
not on any radio in your house, try the CC Radio-2. Sometimes homes
are filled with devices that generate interference making reception
of weak AM signals impossible, but
if the signal is there, the
CC Radio-2 will let you hear it.
thanks to C. Crane Company for providing the radios for our reviews.
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