The thrill of the hunt even knowing there is no “perfect” radio

Though I own a number of portables that have better performance specs and ergonomics, I still gravitate to my ICF-SW7600GR.

Most recently, I received correspondence from Golan Klinger who has been bitten by the radio bug (he calls it “radioitis”). He has been acquiring portables and comparing them, seeking his favorite overall.

Golan had an epiphany he recently shared with me:

Thomas, in your “Mega Review” [summarizing your radio preferences] you wrote:

But this is my personal choice; you might have a completely different answer. I guess that’s the point I made earlier–it all depends on the listener.”

Of all the valuable advice I’ve gleaned from your website, that might be the most important.

Every radio seems to have its own personality and one can read and watch all the reviews in the world but there’s no substitute for sitting down and actually listening to a radio.

I just had an epiphany — there can be no perfect radio and even if there were, finding it wouldn’t be half as much fun as the search for it.

That’s why everyone has multiple radios and when asked which is their favourite they lean back and say, “Well…”

What a wonderful hobby this is turning out to be!

You nailed it, Golan.

Indeed, with most every review I post I receive both praise and criticism later from readers. To some, sensitivity is everything–to others, it’s audio fidelity. Some listeners seek optimal reception on particular bands: longwave, mediumwave, the 31 meter band, FM, etc. There are even some who place a great deal of importance on the design and aesthetics of the radio. When I write a review, I do my best to walk in the shoes of all of these folks. It’s not an easy task.

When I’m not writing a review and am only concerned with what I value in a radio, it’s a balance of performance, flexibility and ergonomics I seek.

But as you say, there is no “perfect radio” out there that could satisfy everyone. I doubt there ever will be.  Each listener has their own set of preferences–the checklist that matters to them most.

I’ll admit that part of what drives me to do radio reviews is my curiosity and the hope that each upcoming model might be a step closer to the elusive “Holy Grail” radio; for me and for you. It’s all about the thrill of the hunt!

Thanks for sharing, Golan!

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9 thoughts on “The thrill of the hunt even knowing there is no “perfect” radio

  1. Jack K.

    While I have prior experience lugging around the Superadio and various boom boxes, I may quibble on the portability of the E1 XM. They should have re-issued that radio without XM. I’ve never read a bad review of the E1 anywhere.

  2. Bill

    If you get a good E1 XM….there is none better…nothing comes close…not even my old benchmark the Sony 2010….there are no newer portable radios that even come close!

  3. Victor

    An ideal receiver will not appear. This will reduce sales, and this will not be allowed. All equipment is specially disfigured by marketers. The basic idea is to break up each type of technical goods into a variety of options, each of which has obvious functional drawbacks. In this case, attempts by buyers to approach the ideal will force them to buy many such things and never get full satisfaction. Therefore, to get a little closer to the ideal, you need to study the circuit and work with a soldering iron.

  4. Jack K.

    As someone who enjoys photography almost as much as radio listening, I compare having and bringing multiple radios on trips to that of a photographer who will put multiple lenses and a couple of bodies in their camera bag. Each one is good for a specific situation. There is no one lens that captures all scenes and compositions as there is no one radio perfect for every listening environment. My favorite radios are the one that don’t make me feel I wish I had brought something else!

    1. Robert

      Well said, Jack – as a former photographer I think your analogy is spot on. Just as no lens can capture every shot (despite advertiser’s claims to the contrary), so too no one radio captures the essence of radio.

  5. Jake Brodsky

    To me, the magic of radio is that it works at all. The idea that I could hold a box with nothing in it but batteries and a whip antenna that could capture signals from around the world has held my fascination since I was about five years old. There are many designs and aesthetics for radios. Older radios with really smooth tuning knobs and systems can provide a tactical aesthetic all of their own. (The dial stringing in some older radios are a marvel of mechanical engineering)

    Modern portable radios have performance that can technically run rings around the older tube radios, and yet there are people who aren’t satisfied with them. I think one of the things we have forgotten are the aesthetics of a radio with a high fidelity listening experience. The magic is finding interesting signals, atmospherics, interference and all.

    We have forgotten about the user experience of a radio that is easy to operate, yet provides fidelity and precision that a modern listening experience might demand. This is something that the SDR crowd is just now discovering. The newest models have some incredible performance, and yet it doesn’t feel that way. The computer software and audio systems do not convey that magic very well.

    The radios on the market today are pretty good, but something about the magic of all that performance is missing. I think I hear ideas calling…

    Jake Brodsky, AB3A

    1. Robert

      Part of the joy of radio for me is the aesthetic experience. As you say, that aesthetic experience is in both the touch and feel of a radio, as well as the sound it produces. Nothing comes close to the older tube radio for audio, but also for another kind of warmth. The sound is rich and warm, but even the radio itself becomes a warm and inviting thing. Well said – “something about the magic of all that performance is missing . . . . “


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