My passion for a well built, strong performing radio, something I don’t take for granted, led me to start a blog about this passion five years ago. Since that time, few radios have attracted as much attention, hostility, exasperation, frustration, remorse, and high expectations as much as the C Crane CCradio-EP, an analog AM/FM table radio that sells for about $65.
Part of this fuss surrounding the EP and the buildup of its release is due to the dearth of new radios out there as the market for hard-core radio listeners strikes me as a rather narrow demographic, middle-aged men with fond memories of their boyhood, enjoying their “Rosebud” memories of glorious Sony ICF-5900 and Panasonic RF-2200 and other similar deserved radio icons.
Some radio hobbyists get angry every time a new radio fails to be one of these icons. Of course, that won’t happen. Real costs would make a radio of today cost at least $500 or in excess of $1,000 if it were to have the build quality of a Sony ICF-5900 or something of its ilk.
Another issue is that some hobbyists get too obsessed and feel personally offended when a radio fails to meet their inflated expectations.
I’ve become somewhat detached from my own radio obsession over the years and try to look at new models with realistic expectations. One advantage I have is I have several radios, old and new, for a point of comparison. Another advantage is that passionate radio hobbyists often get a hold of new radios before I do and send me their impressions and even brief reviews.
And yet another advantage is that the readers have made Herculodge a brisk and busy radio blog, so much so that C Crane called me and offered to send me the CCradio-EP for review.
To test its sound and sensitivity, I compared it to my very impressive black Grundig S350 DL (usually goes for $99; got mine on a RadioShack sale for $60) and what I found using the AC adapters for both, to my surprise, is that the EP matched the S350 in reception. This was especially surprising since I had heard that the EP was similar to the C Crane CCR, which scores lower than the S350. I’d give an A to FM on both the S350 and the EP. My weakest stations, 88.9 and 89.3, came in loud and clear.
The second day of testing my EP, it was raining here in Torrance. I tuned to 89.3 KPCC and got static on both FM Stereo and plain FM mode. In contrast, the S350 grabbed 89.3 with no static.
Equal marks on AM with no background noise on either as I tested weak stations such as 710 ESPN around 7 P.M. Where I live in the suburbs of Torrance, I don’t get overcrowding on the AM dial very often so the AM fine-tuning dial didn’t make any difference no matter which way I turned it. Perhaps we can thank the 7.9 inch ferrite for this strong performance.
For another point of comparison, the EP outshines the $120 Sangean WR-2 on AM with far less background noise than the WR-2. Keep in mind, different environments will give different results on both AM and FM.
Did I find any weakness on AM dial?
Because I heard criticisms about overcrowding and background noise on the upper register, I decided the next morning to compare, again, the EP with the S350 on AM 1150. I noticed indeed that the EP got noisy and crowded past 1000 and when I reached 1150 there was a little bit of background noise on 1150 and the dial read that I was close to 1200 so the accuracy was not as sharp as the early register. The background noise wasn't atrocious on 1150 but the S350 grabbed the same station with no noise, so on AM I give the nod to the S350.
Two other advantages I enjoyed in the S350 is the digital readout and the bigger speaker sound. This isn’t to say that the EP has a tinny speaker. It just doesn’t have the robust, room-filling richness of the S350. For speaker sound, the S350 gets an A. The EP gets a B. You don’t want to crank the volume too high on the EP. I will say this though: I prefer the EP’s single speaker to the tiny dual speakers on the Sangean PR-D5, which other readers agree sounds muted. If you’re looking for huge speaker sound, look somewhere else. But let me emphasize, the EP speaker is more than adequate and won’t abuse you with the Donald Duck voices you get from compact portables.
While the CCradio-EP does not have a digital readout, it has a very nice light that illuminates the tuner band for easy-to-read tuning. The light stays on after one push of the button. I don’t like radios in which the light just stays on for thirty seconds or so. The permanent illumination lets me control when I want the light on or off. Good design.
Another plus goes to build quality, which does not feel cheap or flimsy.
I should emphasize the tuning dial is accurate. Also there the tuner switch gives you FM and FM Stereo to choose from. Choose the former for weak FM stations that cause static. In my case, there no static, even in FM Stereo mode, a good sign. The EP comes with a headphone jack. And let us not neglect the Music/Voice switch. My ears could not discern the difference when I first tried it last evening but this morning listening to Dan Patrick on 570 I noticed, ironically enough, I prefer the deeper sound on Music, so I keep it there all the time now.
Is the CCradio-EP a Substitute for the GE Super Radio III?
The short answer is no. The SRIII is bigger with an inaccurate tuning dial and has some background hiss on AM. The FM is similar. Another big difference is that the EP can’t match the SRIII’s bigger speaker. Anyone hoping the EP is the next SRIV will be disappointed.
However, people looking for a basic analog table radio at the $65 price point with good, not great, speaker sound, strong reception, and easy-to-read tuner will be well served by the CCradio EP.