The C. Crane Skywave SSB: A sneak peek!

Tuesday afternoon, I took a number of portable radios to the field: the Tecsun S-8800, Tecsun PL-880, Digitech AR-1780, C. Crane CC Skywave and the new C. Crane CC Skywave SSB.

Last week, I received a pilot run (pre-production) CC Skywave SSB from C. Crane to test and provide feedback. My unit, of course, is still subject to cosmetic changes and engineering tweaks.

Since this is not a final iteration of the product, I won’t comment or review performance other than to say that if you like the original CC Skywave, you should love the new CC Skywave SSB.

C. Crane has kindly given me permission to post a few preview photos.

CC Skywave SSB Photos

First thing you’ll notice is that the CC Skywave SSB is essentially identical to its predecessor in size and shape.

Indeed, the CC Skywave SSB fits the original Skywave’s carry case perfectly. If you’ve purchased a custom protective case–like this one— for the original Skywave, it’ll fit the CC Skywave SSB like a glove.   As you can see above, the front panel design has changed, though. The CC Skywave SSB accommodates four additional function buttons and sports a re-designed speaker grill (similar to the CC Pocket Radio).  Nice touch! C. Crane thought to use that little piece of real estate behind the backstand.

As many of you know, I’m a one-bag-traveler-kind-of-guy who never leaves home without a shortwave radio. On one bag travels, of course, I only carry one full-featured portable. Space is too precious to carry two.

Listening to the 2016 BBC Midwinter Broadcast to Antarctica while traveling in Canada with the CC Skywave.

The original CC Skywave has pretty much been my go-to travel radio since it was released. I’ve taken it everywhere.

I’ve also taken the amazing Sony ICF-SW100 and the full-featured Grundig G6 (which even includes the AIR band) on trips when I wanted access to single sideband mode–something the original CC Skywave lacked. (Note that both of these radios are now discontinued.)

But when traveling in North America or by air, I really appreciate the Skywave’s excellent NOAA weather radio and access to aviation frequencies on the AIR band. Very handy features for the traveler who likes to stay informed.

By adding single sideband mode to an already capable ultra-compact travel radio, C. Crane has created a welcome radio traveling companion indeed.

40 thoughts on “The C. Crane Skywave SSB: A sneak peek!

    1. Thomas Post author

      I’ve not heard yet, but I imagine C. Crane will pull out all of the stops to have it shipping well before the holiday season. I’ll post an update as soon as I hear.

      Reply
  1. Ron

    I cannot believe that a case like this has such an obvious speaker moulding. It looks cheap and nasty. It draws the eye away from the working side of the receiver./ I remember very early Japanese miniature tape recorders had this sort of elevated speaker grill.
    So please please get rid of it, we are all used to the smooth cases as the Tecsun brand put out. Either follow suit or you will be rejected by casual buyers who mainly but on first impressions which are “Does it look good” “What a tiny speaker it has” “Looks like a Chinese cheapie” ad nauseum

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      Actually, though it looks like the speaker grill is elevated in the photos, it maybe only rises 1 mm above the body, if that. It’s actually in a recessed portion of the chassis and it surrounded by an absorbent rubber ring. The hard plastic case feels as solid and robust as any portable I’ve tested–I wouldn’t hesitate to throw it in my pack.

      Personally, I’m not sensitive to radio design choices as long as the radio body:
      1.) can withstand being dropped a few times
      2.) is not coated in a rubberized material (like the Grundig G3, G6 and Eton E1)
      3.) design doesn’t compromise overall ergonomics
      4.) design doesn’t compromise acoustic performance

      None of these are applicable with the CC Skywave SSB.

      There’s a chance the chassis design could change prior to production.

      Thomas

      Reply
      1. Michael Schuster

        I owned the CC Pocket Radio once, and was very much put off by the plastic used in the case. It felt like the cheapest grade of Chinese plastic and resembled the brittle stuff that cracked oh so easily. I wondered how many times the battery door could be opened before the latch cracked off.

        The photo you post resembles the pocket radio in more than one alarming way, as it also seems to be made of that same plastic as opposed to the original model. Does it seem, um .. breakable?

        Reply
        1. Thomas Post author

          Hi, Michael,

          I’ve never owned the CC Pocket, so I can’t really comment on that.

          I can tell you that on this pilot run CC Skywave SSB unit, the plastic feels as substantial and solid as any other portable I’ve tested. It feels sturdy–I even removed the battery cover and it doesn’t flex–it feels thick to me.

          No part of the chassis feels of thin plastic–indeed, it doesn’t give when I push in on it.

          I haven’t done a drop test or anything, but I think this unit is very good.

          -Thomas

          Reply
          1. Jack K

            I own both the Skywave and CC Pocket. The Pocket has held up quite well. An occasional drop and the battery case never popped open nor were there anything beyond a few scruffs to the case. Clearly they’re trying to give the Skywave a similar look to the Pocket and all I can say is beauty is in the eye…

            My only concern would be if they put the smaller speaker (aka Pocket) to fit in the redesigned Skywave. Neither radio are known for a “full sound,” but the Skywave is a tad smoother than the Pocket. (BTW, I think it’s a good looking radio.)

      2. Jason Henry

        C. Crane makes an excellent radio, but as far as design, function and value is concerned, Tecsun still has it all over C. Crane. Just my .02 cents. Thanks for the update though, I always look forward to your reviews and pictures. You do an excellent job with your audio files and pictures!

        Reply
        1. Jack K

          Jason – I would agree on all three counts, but C. Crane wins on the most important category – durability. I’ve owned about 4 Tecsuns and the PL-360 is the only one still standing. Volume / Tuning knobs fail, had an amp fail on one, but so far the C. Cranes still work as new.

          Reply
  2. Bill

    Redoxx makes some nice bags. Damn near bulletproof. Not cheap but worth it. Check ’em out.

    I don’t much care for the speaker grill of the new Crane SSB either. I prefer the “clean” look.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      Yes indeed! Red Oxx gear is nearly bullet-proof. I trust the gear and the company that backs their lifetime warranty. Money very well spent, in my opinion!

      But I’m also a bag/pack geek (there’s your disclosure!).

      Thomas

      Reply
      1. Bill

        I have travelled foreign with a Safari Beanos PR-5. It held up just fine. I really liked all the compartments and the ability to lock or at least secure most of them. I used locks on the main compartment and those stainless key-chain cables on all the other zippers to discourage any opportunistic theft. I was able to load SW portable, roll up ant, chargers, batteries earbuds, extension cords and various adapters in one of the end compartments – plus clothing etc for 3 wks of travel – and it was carryon legal. Yahoo!

        Reply
        1. Thomas Post author

          Yes–and Red Oxx even ships the stainless key cables with most any bag–even accessories. The Beanos PR-5 is a well-designed bag. I’m strongly considering their Mini Boss or Skytrain.

          Reply
          1. Bill

            You can’t go wrong Tom. I like my bag to be a “noticeable” color, in case it suddenly decides to “walk off” it’s easier to spot. Black bags are everywhere and would be hard to spot “mine” in a crowd. Just sayin’.

          2. Thomas Post author

            That’s an excellent point, Bill. I’ve traditionally gotten black/grey bags so when I’m in an urban area, it just blends in better and is less noticeable. I think if I got a Mini Boss it’d be in the same Safari color as the Lil Roy in my post. I like the bright colors Red Oxx uses for their packing cubes and bright colors for liners–easy to find things with that backdrop inside.

  3. Mark Hirst

    I’m not at all keen on that speaker design, it looks cheap and draws the eye away from what looks like a nice radio.

    I’ve not seen any UK sources for these radios, this one (speaker aside) would be a great addition to my portable collection.

    Mark

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      I can confirm that the Skywave SSB goes all the way up to 29,999 kHz. The silk screening on that back stand was incorrect in this small pilot run.

      Reply
  4. Francisco

    I am from europe, I hope to buy this ssb ccrane radio. I dont like the speaker, I like the titanium colour.
    Also i like Black colour and white keys

    Reply
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  6. Eldee Stephens

    i’ll go ahead and add my vote against the speaker grill design. it looks rather poor. that said, i’m far more interested in shortwave performance. very much looking forward to the full review!

    Reply
  7. LocalRadioListener

    Have to say, not keen on that speaker grille. If they placed this in something similar to the original case, it would look much better. Having said that, performance is the main factor and so long as it performs well, I think most people can overlook the look of it.

    Reply
  8. T DeForest

    Quick question…does this radio differentiate received SSB signals by sideband – USB, LSB modes, with the ability to fine-tune a signal (Sony ICFSW 7600 GR, Tecsun PL-365? Or, does it inject a BFO signal and solely offer a user adjust able a thumbwheel control for proper demodulation ( Grundig G5, Sangean 505)? Sync detector?

    The former is most useful for unwanted sideband rejection with optimum selectivity. I can deal with the ugly speaker detailing if the engineering features are solid.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      It does have SSB selectable as USB and LSB and accompanying fine tuning. It doesn’t have a sync detector, but I’ve had good results just zero beating with SSB (ECSS).

      Reply
  9. Mike M

    It appears from the photos that no antenna jack has been added. I suppose it is to late to talk um into adding one? I have been researching portable sw radios and had decided to order the 310et. One of my requirements was a external antenna jack. Now, I’m undecided again. I wonder how much the price will jump with the addition of ssb?
    I wonder how the 310 would compare with the skywave using an external antenna, clipped onto the skywave of course? If I could afford to, I’d just buy both.
    I have to agree with the other fellows, I like the looks of the current Skywave much better than the prototype that you have. It looks like a $25 radio. Yeah, it’s what’s inside that counts but still.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      You’re correct: there is no external antenna jack (at least, not on my beta model).

      With that said, I’ve been testing this little radio with the C.Crane 23′ long reel type antenna that simply clips onto the telescoping whip. It adds a significant about of gain and seems to work very well with the CC Skywave SSB without any fears of overloading.

      I, too, am a fan of a dedicated external antennas jack–also a dedicated line-out jack, but almost no one includes that on a radio! 🙂

      Reply
  10. Golan Klinger

    Reading the comments, I see that I’m not alone in disliking the design of the speaker grille. I’m sure I’ll get used to it though because this radio ticks almost all my boxes — surely enough of them to warrant a purchase. I can’t wait to buy one.

    Thanks for the sneak peek. I look forward to an in-depth review.

    Reply
  11. Terry

    Agree with many regarding the speaker grill, which reminds me of the late Seventies Sanyo I once owned. However, it will grow on us. So I’m waiting for the release. ?

    Reply
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  14. Arthur Smith

    At the risk of offending fans of this radio, which has not even been released to the public yet, I just received the latest C Crane catalog in the mail the other day. Am I the only one who finds the $169.99 price a bit insane? $80 extra just for SSB? No, sorry.

    There are far more economical, and practical solutions in the portable segment that come to mind. It takes a little bit of fiddling with a knob to tune in an SSB signal, but the Tecsun PL-600 represents a tremendous value, at less than HALF the price.

    Reply
    1. Ramon Khalona

      Indeed. At this price this Skywave SSB will compete with the Eton Grundig Satellit and the Tecsun PL-880, both much better radios in terms of sound, ergonomics, external antenna input and SSB capability. I own a Crane Skywave, which I use for travel and usually pair with a Bluetooth speaker (through a cable since the Skywave has no Bluetooth capability) to get better sound, and cannot see myself paying this much for the SSB Skywave. I also agree with those who find the speaker grille hideous. Bad moves by Crane.

      Reply
  15. KA7EII

    Ordered my CCrane Skywave SSB last night. They have an “introductory offer” – $149 right now on CCrane website. Should receive it later this week. Yes, a bit expensive for a tiny portable radio but if it works as well as my wife’s regular Skywave, I will be happy.

    Reply

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