I was content to not buy a radio for a while since every room had a strong-performing radio, and my twin girls demonstrated a tendency to bend antennas and knock over the radios, chipping them and in some cases cracking the casing like in my Grundig G4000. But Southern California Edison without warning did work in my backyard resulting in a colossal surge, resulting in the outage of my central AC’s transformer and the frying of my beloved Sangean WR-2 (my neighbors suffered worse losses, including fried TVs, computers, and even a scorched floor. We’ve all filed claims).
Part of me wanted to replace my 8-year old WR-2 with a new model since I knew the long FM wire antenna would get KPCC Pasadena 89.3 FM, an NPR station that is 40 miles from my house. My radios grab KPCC easily enough in the kitchen, but my bedroom is problematic.
But the radio enthusiast inside me wanted something new. A reader, Tim, mentioned his curiosity in the PR-D4W, so when I looked at the specs on Amazon it had what I wanted:
One. Small bedside footprint
Two. DSP FM tuner
Three. Runs on supplied AC or 4 D batteries (good backup)
Four. Price was under $70, which is $100 less than my CCRadio-2E.
Fit and Finish
When the radio arrived, I liked the look and feel out of the box. I liked it better than my CCRadio-2E, which doesn’t scream $170 quality. This is evidenced by a stuck FM preset 2 after one year of use.
The black PR-D4 with gray accents is more appealing and the preset buttons seem better built.
In the kitchen, I played the PR-D4 side by side with the CCRadio-2E and FM and AM reception seemed nearly identical. This surprised me because the 2E has an 8-inch ferrite. The PR-D4, a 9-inch wide radio, probably houses a somewhat smaller ferrite, but I didn’t notice any AM reception difference.
Additionally, the PR-D4 has a Band Width button that gives you increments between 1 and 6 KHZ. The default was set at 2. I find my sweet spot is 2.5. To use the Band Width button, you hold the button till it beeps. Then you use the tuner up button to scroll through the KHZs, which are in .5 increments.
I prefer the speaker sound of the PR-D4 to the 2E, which surprised me since the 2E has treble and bass controls. The PR-D4 does not.
Another point about Sangean radios is that many of them are calibrated to be bass-heavy. Perhaps Sangean was listening to customer complaints because the PR-D4’s 3-inch speaker has well balanced calibration and is less bass-heavy than my Sangean WR-2.
FM Wire Antenna Upgrade on the Sangean PR-D4
In the kitchen my CCRadio-2E and Sangean PR-D4 grab 89.3 easily. But both falter in my bedroom. Keeping the 2E in the kitchen and using the PR-D4 in the bedroom, I decided to take the Sangean WR-2’s FM wire antenna, coil one end to the PR-D4’s telescopic antenna and stick the other end to my window blind. The FM bar for KPCC shot up from 2 to 4 bars and there is no static. I haven’t tried the 2E with the wire antenna upgrade but my guess is it would improve in my bedroom as well.
Ergonomics and Presets
The PR-D4 is very easy to use. Truth be told, I did not consult the manual. I’m someone who’s been in the trenches with Degen 1103 radios and other Degen and Tecsun radios that require 2-day seminars in engineering. Not so with the PR-D4.
You get 2 bands of FM and 2 bands of AM on the PR-D4. Each band has 5 presets for a total of 10 each. This beats the 5 on the CCRadio-2E and my 2E has only 4 presets with the stuck 2. Deoxit helps for about 3 days before it sticks again.
This radio “plays dark” with no clock illumination. You can press a display for 10 seconds. I can now feel all the controls in the dark and feel comfortable “playing it dark” at night.
The PR-D4 gives you 97% of the CCRadio 2E’s performance (and then some with the added presets). If you want to spend $100 more for treble and bass controls and possibly sticky presets after one year, get the 2E. If you’re happy with the well-balanced speaker calibration of the PR-D4 and want 10 presets instead of 5, get the PR-D4.