A few weeks ago, SWLing Post contributor, Ron, sent me an eBay listing for a radio with which I was not familiar: the Aiwa FR-C33.
“I know you are primarily HF but here is something rather special and unique and inexpensive:
Aiwa’s response to C-Quam in the late 90’s was “AM Wide.” Apparently all this meant was a somewhat wider Murita ceramic filter.
But…the bandwidth just matches the 10,200 cycle limit imposed on AM stations today…try a Sony SRF-42 or SRF-A1 C-Quam receiver at night on today’s band and note that they’re just too wide.
I have one of these and can tell you the build quality is great…it has a tone control and on Sony Walkman headphones stations like WSM are just flat-out unreal in sonic quality…the speaker isn’t bad, either.
A nice big ferrite bar makes it a bit of a DX machine, too.
FM is also very good; even the weather-band add-on works too.
Very much worth a go for your collection and enjoyment[.]”
I’ve been enjoying the FR-C33 for a few weeks now; Ron’s assessment is spot-on.
The FR-C33 produces clear audio via its internal speaker, but where it really shines is with a pair of good headphones plugged in. Though it has no “Mega Bass” feature like many radios of its era, the Aiwa produces great bass tones via a good set of “cans” (I’ve been using my Sennheiser HD 428s).
The FR-C33 has a very useful tone control with a smooth, wide spread between the full bass and treble settings.
All of the FR-C33’s controls are fluid and functional.
AM (mediumwave) reception is truly fantastic. I find that the analog tuning wheel is easy to use and there’s enough room for the needle to easily travel across the dial without skipping stations inadvertently (a problem I often find with smaller analog portables).
It really shines, however, when you can center on a local broadcaster with a quality AM signal. While the FR-C33W doesn’t receive C Quam stereo, of course, its wide AM filter offers up excellent fidelity.
FM reception is also sound. While I haven’t done a formal comparison on FM, it receives my benchmark FM stations with ease and produces great audio fidelity via headphones. Sensitivity-wise, it might lag slightly behind some of the better DSP-based radios out there, but for an inexpensive analog receiver, it must be at the lead of the pack.
Ron, I really appreciate the recommendation–thank you! The FR-C33 is a keeper for sure.
Though these don’t pop up regularily on eBay, you can search for an Aiwa FR-C33 by clicking this link.
where do I find parts for this radio Aiwa FR-C33
Keith, are there good radio/electronics stores in Manila also?
Great article about a vintage radio worth owning. So many of these portables of the past are found on Ebay, it’s like walking down memory lane, and these radios have lots of life left in them. I was looking for a good AM radio for the kitchen table to do some AM DXing and the Aiwa sounds just what is needed. And the WX channels certainly come in handy. Thanks for the great Aiwa story.
P.S. I think this company also made tape recorders.
So many of these radio were made. Finding new ones in Southeast Asia is not difficult. At Mustafa Plaza in Singapore they must have a couple of dozen of these.
btw- thanks for the tip on that most awesome podcast 99% Invisible.
I didn’t know Aiwa was still around. I was wondering about them a few years ago. I hadn’t seen any products by them since the mid 90s.
Nice to see they’re still making decent portable electronics.
Actually, I believe this radio is from the 1990s. It’s no longer in production.