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December 03, 2010

Comments

Demetri

Every superhet radio is a balance between images and sensitivity. Care in circuit design and how component tolerances are handled in manufacturing are the keys to a good product. This of course drives costs up. This was true in the past and now. The older portables mentioned were good because they were carefully designed and made and not because they are old.

My educated guess would be that Ccrane gets a "reference" design from their chinese supplier to which they negotiate some tweaks here and there being careful to stay within the price of the target product. A disappointing product is probably the result of both budget limited design and budget limited manufacturing.

Demetri

As a follow up let me state that the less costly designs today are a direct result of the diminishing sizes of these markets. Note the level of care in the design of a modern smartphone for instance. This is where the product volumes are and thus one is able to spend much more on careful design and manufacturing.

Doug T.

I'm not aware that this particular radio had any serious engineering effort behind it.

Electrical engineers specializing in radio frequency engineering have many, many better job possibilities than designing consumer AM/FM radios -- especially those with a limited market.

And really, how many people would have bought the CCRadio EP if it had turned out to be a superstar performer? Not enough people bought the SuperRadio II and III to keep them on the market -- the only "classic" analogue radio that comes to mind that is still on the market is the Sony EX5 -- and that's only for a limited Japanese market. AM radio itself has a fairly limited market, and most people prefer digital radios (which are, after all, much more convenient.) Finally a lot of hobbyists already have a bunch of SuperRadio II/IIIs or Sony EX5/S5Ws etc.

Finally, the real secrets behind the SuperRadio II/III were their large ferrite antennas (which do, in fact, show up in a number of contemporary consumer radios on the market) and its nice speakers (which are hardly rocket science, but consumer choice appears to favor portable radios with smaller dimensions and thus worse speakers).

I'm still hoping that the Grundig S450DLX will have nice audio.

radioguy17

I agree with the comments on low cost manufacturing. Circuit designs are constantly pushed to have lower cost. Believe me I live it every day.

I would also add that that true (read: good and knowledgeable) RF/analog engineers are no more. Pretty much everyone from engineering schools today are software and embedded programming types for digital hardware. Anyone one under 40 knows very little about RF and proper design of these circuits.

Demetri

Maybe in the west few EEs care about RF/analog but there have to be a handful of folks designing at tecsun, degen et al. Again, I don't think it's lack of talent, it's tight budgets that limits performance.

Flor

Please remember that these good old radios were very expensive in their time and certainly compared to what people earned back then. Ordinary people saved up for a new radio and it was proudly revealed to to the family. Nowadays this level of interest is not there anymore for radio products and yes people are willing to pay lots of money for digital products like cell phones, ipads etc. but not for a "simple" radio. If an excellent AM/FM portable would cost say $300 or $400 it would not sell except to a very small audience and therefor not be commercially possible.
FYI. Perfectpro (www.perfectpro.eu) here in Europe has two new models called Rockmate and Rockpro (both FM only) that have a really excellent sound and built quality. Price however $155 (FM, rechargeable) and $220 (model with SD/USB input). Design reminds me of "old school" German transistor radios.

Doug T.

Oh, we graduate lots of good RF engineers -- companies such as Qualcomm have an insatiable appetite for them.

US engineering in radio has not lagged: the success of a number of Chinese radios is due to the inclusion of the Si4734/35 integrated circuit -- which is definitely an American product:

http://www.silabs.com/products/audiovideo/amfmreceivers/Pages/Si473435.aspx

However, manufacturing consumer AM/FM radios is not a field that many US companies wish to compete in.

Tom Welch

As a retired IT project manager (Google Tom Welch, PMP) with 40 years Big 4 consulting experience, I can tell you the name of the game is "RETURN ON INVESTMENT", market share, breakeven point, and so on...bean counters rule in today's corporate environment.

So, we'll never see a well designed AM radio in the marketplace today. AM is only big in the USA, a market too small for the number of hobbist that appreciate high performing radio.

This has been a very thoughtful thread.

Blake

Very good thread! By the way I ordered a Ten Tec Univeral BFO. I spoke with Ten Tec today and they said that it can be installed directly inside the radio. I may do this with my Grundig 350. Just need to find some room and drill a hole for the fine tuning shaft and switch. Connect to where the telescopic antenna connects and then jump off the battery.

By the way if I could get a Grundig 350 done right with double conversion, premium knobs and mechanics, keep the analog which I like, bfo, upgraded capacators and filters, etc. I would gladly spend several hundred for it. This radio has great audio. I still plan on getting the kiwa upgrades. If it improves the audio even more I will have trouble listening to anything else. Including my Grundig 750 which does not sound as good as the 350 even now.

brandon

Not only is the market size for a $200 well built portable radio really small, but there are plenty of classic radios still on the market to meet that demand.

Not only that, but if most of the hobbyists out there are like me, there's just something about buying a vintage radio and giving it a little TLC to get it looking and working like new. You don't get that experience from buying a new one.

Angelo

In all fairness to C Crane, the radios the EP is being compared to here (see above), such as the Panasonic 2200 and the Sony 5900, cost more 30-35 years ago than the EP costs today. This is hardly a fair comparison. The GE/RCA Super Radio III was mentioned too---yes, it was priced in line with (actually cheaper than) the C Crane EP, but many people on this blog have condemed it as a junkbox with no accurate tuning and shoddy build quality. I've never had one. I do have a GE Superadio II in good condtion and I will compare performance to may new CC-EP. But let's be reasonable about our expectations with a radio in this price range.

Richard Berler

True, the SONY 5900, Panasonic RF-2200 were more expensive 35 years ago than the current EP. That isn't necessarily a useful yardstick. Current day shortwave radios are lower in price than models that offered similar features 35 years ago. This is true in many areas of electronics. I have the original Hewlett Packard HP-35 calculator, the 1st calculator in the world that could calculate trigonometric and logarithmic functions. When it came out in 1972, it cost close to $400! You can go to any general department store and find calculators with greater capability for perhaps $5!
This radio, is marketed as one of the best am radios ever, and, as result, in my eyes, makes it fair to compare with the classic portables that were meant for a general audience seeking a great am reciever. I don't agree with the comments that depict the EP as awful. This is not to understate things. It will not be a good performer in a high RF urban location. Local stations, in fact overload the radio, and are heard with distorted audio. A company such as Crane should recognize that the majority of folks live in urban settings, and should keep that in mind when designing a supposedly outstanding set. Like Wayne, I happen to be in an urban setting. I'm keeping the set, however, as it is a great radio below about 1260 KHz in my location during the day (a bit better behaved at night when the locals go to lower power although still dificult between 1440KHz and 1600 KHz even then). The noise floor is quite low, the audio is nice, the night light is cool. The EP most likely is an outstanding radio in a more rural setting(I'm looking forward to taking it along when I anticipate visiting away from local transmitters).

Robin

Angelo,

Not when C. Crane and others have hyped this radio as the best and hottest thing out there. You can't keep promising and then not deliver.

The GE Superadio III--I have one from when they first came out in 93/94--was not as good as the I and II. However, it could be made better with a simple modification of rerouting and re-soldering one of the speaker wires. The major issue was that the speaker wires were causing problems--interaction with the newly used varactor diode tuning (versus the good old tried and true air variable capacitors used in the I and II). If I can find the mod, I will post it for those who have an earlier GE SuperIII.

lundo

what we have here is the end of the oil age. everything is going to cost more to manfacture. they (companies}are going to take shortcuts to make a profit, short term obscelesnce is the norm. profit is key.the posters are right . it is a samall market share. however ,no one cares about quaility anymore? analog terrestial radios are doomed! i have at least 15 of them? why? we are consumers, not citizens! why cant we buy something that will last a lifetime anymore? welcome to the new world order. the empire is crumbling! rant!!!!

Angelo

Guys, please. Richard: Your calculator comparison doesn't hold water. When you bought that calculator in the early 70's, ALL calculators were expensive. I remember getting a "Unisonic" calculator from a discount store (Kings, which was a rung or two below K-Mart) and I think it cost around $30.00. Unisonic was a poor brand and it was purchased from the cheapest of the cheap as far as stores go. It had five functions---addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and fractions. And it couldn't do what calculators today do---ones that are given away for free at trade shows. But even back then, there were radios that cost under $10.00 and radios that cost in the hundreds. Those higher end Panasonics and Sonys (and Zeniths) were more expensive, even in today's deflated electronics dollars, than the CC-EP, which is very modest in features and price by comparison. Robin: C Crane has not promoted this as the "hottest thing out there." They have said it is a "classic" high performance radio. It's been promoted as an old school radio (i.e. analog, no L.E.Ds, manual tuning) and good performance, good sound. The one delivered to me meets all of the criteria. And a fraction of one percent of people buying new radios are going to open up the cabinet and start soldering. Ask the guy who runs this blog if he has any intention of doing modifications like this to any radio he buys. You can't defend the SRIII by saying it's good if only you modify things by taking apart and soldering. You and a few other really serious hobbyists are the only people doing that.

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