Tag Archives: C. Crane

C. Crane CCRadio3 now shipping

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Steve Lebkuecher, who notes that C. Crane is now shipping the CCRadio3:

Click here to read our review of the CCRadio3—a unit we consider to be one of the best full-sized AM radios currently on the market.

Click here to check out the CCRadio3 at C. Crane.

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Review of the C.Crane CC Buds Solo In-Ear Single Earbud (and a chance to win one!)

A few weeks ago, C. Crane sent me one of their newest radio accessories: the CC Buds Solo Single Earbud.

Here’s the description from the C.Crane product page:

Single Earbud Optimized For Voice

The CC Buds™ Solo single earpiece provides a unique advantage over traditional earbuds because it allows you to interact better with others while listening to radio, podcasts or audiobooks (your boss will love you). The integrated stereo to mono plug works with smartphones, radios, tablets, and most other audio devices.

The Solo can give you a safety advantage when running, biking, or walking because you are more likely to hear if danger approaches. The cable is Kevlar™ reinforced for maximum durability. It is perfect for scanner radio listening. Can work well for law enforcement when greater awareness is needed.

Audio is tuned for superior voice clarity. Included are three silicone and three compressible foam covers––sized small, medium, and large. The small covers usually fits a small ear comfortably. Standard 3.5 mm headphone jack. Cord Length 48″.

At first blush, the idea of a single earpiece smacks of vintage solid-state radios. I’ve a number of classic portables that were designed around a hard-plastic single earpiece–anyone else remember those?

In fact, my Sony ICF-5500W (above) even has a little compartment to house its custom earpiece.

The Sony ICF-550W’s unforgiving 1970s era earpiece.

In my youth, I carried a hard plastic single earpiece with me everywhere, especially at school, because it made listening to the radio and still having some situational awareness possible. [Unfortunately, I was known to listen to the radio during classes…what a renegade I was back then!]

If you, too, used those hard plastic earpieces, I doubt you’d have ever described them as “comfortable.” I never found them even remotely so. Those earpieces were functional, but the audio they produced was tinny and it was always difficult to keep them in my ear.

Think of the CC Buds Solo as the earpiece we all wish we could have had back then!

The Solo includes numerous earpiece options, a carry bag and owner’s manual.

Here are some of the CC Buds Solo pros:

  • The audio quality is superb for spoken word
  • The earpiece is very comfortable (see notes below)
  • The audio plug allows for mono listening on stereo devices (obviously a must in 2019)
  • Features a super-strong Kevlar-reinforced cord
  • Includes a clothing clip that acts as strain relief
  • Ships with a small, soft carry bag

So does the Solo deliver what it promises? Yes, it does.

What I really love is the number of soft silicon and foam earpieces that ship with the Solo: a total of seven options, when including the default earpiece.

If you’ve ever used in-ear earbuds, you’ll understand the importance of swapping out the soft earpieces to a size that best suits your ears––that is, to a size that makes for a comfortable seal.

The Solo might also be useful if your hearing is a bit better in one ear than the other.

Unlike single earpieces of old, it’s actually a pleasure to use the CC Buds Solo earpiece.

Before using the Solo, I would often wear only the right earpiece of my stereo earbuds when I needed to be able to hear the environment around me. This obviously isn’t ideal because the left earpiece would dangle, catch on my shirt or otherwise get in the way, and often lead to jerking out the right earpiece. Not to mention, it led to an awkward muffling (or altogether missing) of some of the sound in that other dangling earbud when stereo sound is split or processed differently for each ear. Clearly, not the best way to listen.

Note the adjustable clothing clip.

Now, when I’m driving, working, or walking, I can use the Solo clipped it to my shirt; it’s a more simple and annoyance-proof solution that allows for greater mobility and permits me to hear all of the intended sound.

I’ve only used the Solo for spoken word; primarily AM/SW broadcast band listening and for listening to podcasts.

These days, while I’ve been at work on a home renovation, podcasts have become an essential part of my day by helping me pass the time while painting, sanding, cleaning, mowing, doing yard work, or carrying out other tedious tasks. A good podcast definitely keeps it fun. The Solo makes podcast listening easy.

And of course, the Solo is also a great solution for listening to audio books, too.

I’ll admit, when I first saw the product announcement for the CC Buds Solo, I was curious if there’d still be a market for a mono earpiece. I suppose I proved it, myself, as I have found it quite useful when I don’t need the total isolation or stereo sound from two in-ear earbuds.

Well played, C.Crane!

Click here to check out the CC Buds Solo Single Earbud at C.Crane.

Win a CC Buds Solo!

C.Crane kindly sent me two samples of the CC Buds Solo at no cost to me. I’ve used one for evaluation purposes and C.Crane is kindly allowing me to give the other away to a lucky SWLing Post reader.

Here’s how you can enter our Solo giveaway!

As I mentioned, I consume a lot of podcasts these days. Here are just a few you might want to check out:

What are your favorite podcasts or radio shows?

Please leave a comment with some of your favorite podcasts or radio shows for a chance to win! Next Tuesday (July 30, 2019) I’ll pick a winner at random from the comments section and ship them a brand new CC Buds Solo single earpiece courtesy of C.Crane!

Click here to leave your comment!

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Stan compares the C. Crane CCRadio3 with the CCRadio2E

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Stan Horzepa (WA1LOU), who shares the following post originally published on his blog:

I bought a first-production-run C.Crane CCRadio3 AM/FM/WX/2-Meter receiver after reading K4SWL’s preview on his blog, The SWLing Post.

I already own the highly-regarded C.Crane CCRadio 2E Enhanced, which I reviewed here five years ago, so I decided to compare the two on the AM, FM and weather bands. Before comparing the two radios, I recalibrated the antennas of both radios, then with the radios sitting side-by-side, I tuned each radio through each band channel-by-channel

My findings follow.

On the AM band, the 3 captured signals faster than the 2E.

Occasionally, signals were stronger on the 3 than on the 2E and vice versa, but most of the time, the signal strength was the same on both radios. So I conclude that the sensitivity of the two radios are the same.

I tried the 3’s new Bluetooth function before reading the manual. I just pressed the Bluetooth button to access the Bluetooth mode and my iPhone and MacBook Pro found the 3 without pressing the radio’s Pair button, as instructed by the manual.

In conclusion, the differences I found between the 3 and the 2E were (1) the 3’s ability to capture AM signals was noticeably faster than the 2E and (2) the addition of the Bluetooth function in the 3.

I did not notice any other performance enhancements. I was hoping that the 3 might be more sensitive than the 2E (not that the 2E is not sensitive — it certainly is!), but I’d say that the 3 and 2E Enhanced are about equal sensitivity-wise, as well as selectivity-wise.

Believe it or not moments… During the comparison, I was very surprised that on two occasions (on 820 and 1500 kHz), each radio simultaneously received different stations while tuned to the same frequency!

Click here to check out Stan’s blog.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts after comparing the two receivers, Stan! I think this supports the idea that if one owns the CCRadio2E and doesn’t need Bluetooth functionality, there’s no real reason to upgrade to the CCRadio3. With that said, and as I think you found Stan, the Bluetooth functionality in the CCRadio3 is excellent. It must be one of the best Bluetooth receivers I’ve tested and as you point out, it’s also very easy to engage and use.

Thanks again!

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Preview: The C. Crane CCRadio3 AM/FM/WX and 2 Meter receiver

In early January 2019, C. Crane sent me a pre-production unit of their latest radio for evaluation: the C. Crane CCRadio3.

Since I received the CCradio3, I’ve had it on the air and have been evaluating it in real-life listening conditions, searching for any potential quirks that C. Crane should address before a full production run of the radio hits the market.

Yesterday, C. Crane announced the CCRadio3 in their email newsletter:

So now, finally, I can break my silence to inform you all about this latest iteration of the venerable CCRadio. And, indeed, I have a lot to tell…

CCRadio3 Preview

What follows is a preview of the CCRadio3 based on my time with the pre-production unit. I will not refer to this as a “review” of the CCRadio3, since this is a pre-production unit.  I’ll obtain a first production run unit when available and post a full review at that time.

In the meantime…here are some of my impressions based on the pre-production unit, organized by feature.

Bluetooth

What’s new with the CCRadio3? The major upgrade is the addition of Bluetooth connectivity. In fact, that’s the only obvious upgrade other than the fact you can now toggle between AM/FM band rather than scroll through all the bands on one band button.

With Bluetooth connectivity, you can pair with your smart phone, tablet, laptop, PC or any other Bluetooth device, and use the CCRadio3 as your Bluetooth speaker.

How many radios do you know that include simple operation instructions on the chassis? Very simple.

The pairing is incredibly simple and Bluetooth connectivity most impressive. I find that no matter where I go in my house, the CCRadio3 maintains a solid Bluetooth connection with my iPhone. Most of my other Bluetooth devices will lose connectivity if I put a couple walls between my iPhone and the receiver, but not the CCRadio3.

Audio

The internal speaker on the CCRadio3 provides room-filling audio with clear, rich fidelity. The separate bass and treble controls do help tailor the sound based on the audio source. It reproduces music brilliantly in FM and Bluetooth modes.

2 Meter Ham Radio Band

One unique feature of the CCRadio series is 2 meter ham band reception. This is a great way to monitor local amateur radio repeater traffic.

In truth, I’ve spent comparatively little time with the CCRadio3 on 2 meters thus far, having focused instead on the AM/FM and WX bands, but I have verified that I can receive local repeaters and the squelch functionality is quite effective.

I’ll spend more time on this band in my upcoming full review.

Weather Radio (WX) Band

The CCRadio3 can receive all seven NOAA/Environment Canada radio frequencies.

And here’s something that really surprised me: this pre-production CCRadio3 has the best weather radio reception of any radio I’ve ever tested to date. Normally, at my home, I can receive two NOAA stations with the average weather radio. The best of my weather radio receivers might hear a total of three. The CCRadio3, with antenna fully-extended, can receive five NOAA stations! I can almost WX DX with this rig!

I’m so pleased C. Crane places an emphasis on WX band performance. Their CC Skywave and CC Skywave SSB also have best-in-class weather radio reception.

Like the CCRadio2E, the grab handle is built into the back of the radio.

The CCRadio3 uses four D cells for battery operation which should yield about 120 hours of AM broadcast listening at moderate volume.

FM

Thus far I’m very pleased with FM performance. I’ve noted that the CCRadio3 receives all of my local and distant benchmark stations with ease. I believe it would certainly be an FM benchmark receiver. As I mentioned earlier, audio fidelity is excellent via the internal speaker.

AM/Mediumwave

I consider the CCradio3’s predecessor––the CCRadio2E––to be one of the finest AM broadcasting listening portables currently in production. I’ll admit that when I heard the CCRadio3 added Bluetooth, I feared somehow that would equate to possible noise somewhere in the audio chain…Fortunately, this fear was entirely unfounded. In fact, looking at the CCRadio3 announcement, I note that C. Crane took this concern seriously:

“The CCRadio 3 is one of the few high-performance radios with Bluetooth® that has no detectable noise and some of the best reception available.”

When I first turned on the CCRadio3 and tuned to the AM band, I did what I always do when testing mediumwave performance: In the early morning, as the sun was rising (i.e., grey line propagation), I tried to pull my benchmark station––WAIZ, a 1,000 watt station about 95 miles away as the crow flies––out of the muddle. The CCRadio3 was able to do it; in fact, I could hear the station’s morning crew doing their “Wacky Wake-Up” shenanigans. Turning the radio body, I also gathered, rather quickly, that the CCRadio3’s Twin Coil Ferrite Bar antenna does an excellent job of nulling out unwanted stations.

An impressive start of the evaluation.

Comparing the CCRadio3 with Panny RF-2200

Looking around SWLing Post HQ, I picked up my recently re-capped and refurbished Panasonic RF-2200. I wanted to see how the CCRadio3 would stack up against what I consider one the finest AM broadcast portables ever produced…

I’ve tested the CCRadio3 and ‘2200 at various locations––in the morning, midday, and at night––and can say that not only does the CCRadio3 give the RF-2200 a run for its money, but it even outperforms the RF-2200 at times, in terms of weak station intelligibility.

In fact, I think the CCRadio3 may possibly have a very slight edge on the RF-2200 in terms of sensitivity, as well.

However, note that there are two factors that make this comparison a tough call:

  • First of all, I find that the RF-2200’s AGC is smoother than that of the CCRadio3––the peaks and dips in audio are not as strong when listening through AM flutter. Most of the time, this makes it a little easier for me to discern weak signal audio. I believe the CCRadio3’s AGC and soft mute may be making the troughs in AGC a little deeper, as well. It would be amazing if C. Crane could allow users to disable soft mute like recent Sangean models have.
  • Secondly, the RF-2200 has two AM bandwidth settings: narrow and wide. I almost always use the RF-2200 with the wide bandwidth setting. I find the narrow filter is a little too narrow unless I need it to block an adjacent signal.  In general, I use wider AM filter settings than many DXers because I find that the filter between my ears does a better job of discerning signals with a little more audio information.

The CCRadio3 has only one bandwidth. I’m guessing––based purely on my listening experience––that it’s 4 to 6 kHz in width.  (I’ll try to confirm this with C. Crane).   Obviously this is narrower than the RF-2200’s wide filter. In side-by-side comparisons, the RF-2200’s AM fidelity therefore sounds much richer, especially when music is involved.

That this is so really shouldn’t be a surprise, as the Radio3 and its predecessors were designed around spoken word intelligibility––in other words, making it easy for the listener to understand what’s being said. And, frankly, it works. Most of the time, I find that the CCRadio3 does a better job of making weak signals “pop” out of the static. It’s a little easier catching weak signal station IDs with the CCRadio3, even if you have to listen through a more active AGC/soft mute tug.

So…is the CCRadio3 (at least, this pre-production unit) better than the RF-2200 at weak signal DXing? In some respects, yes. In others, not quite. Yet the fact that it can even compare with the RF-2200 speaks volumes…no pun intended. I would have never guessed that it would have a sensitivity edge on the RF-2200.

Of course, the CCRadio3 has both AM antenna and ground terminals.

I made a few early afternoon videos comparing the CCRadio3 with the RF-2200. In the first video, I’m tuned to a station approximately 20-25 miles away. You’ll note how the RF-2200’s audio fidelity, with the wide filter engaged, is hard to match:

Click here to view on YouTube.

In the second video, I’m tuned to 1290 AM (WHKY), a 50,000 watt station about 95 miles away. [Note that I erroneously give an inaccurate mileage figure in this video; not sure what I was thinking!  Sorry about that, folks.]

Click here to view on YouTube.

In the third video, I’m tuned to 630 AM (WAIZ), again, a 1000 watt station about 100 miles away. As you can imagine, it’s very weak and both radios struggle to receive any intelligible audio through the ocean waves of fluttering radio jumble. [Again, please ignore the distance I give in the video; this station is actually a little over 95 miles away.]

Click here to view on YouTube.

I also did a late afternoon comparison video around sunset using one of my favorite AM radio stations ever: CFZM in Toronto–about 980 miles distant. Here’s the video:

Click here to view on YouTube. 

In these video comparisons, the radios are nearly side-by-side.  I found this had little to no effect on reception. When comparing these radios off camera, I had them spaced at least 40″ apart and always, of course, oriented the antennas identically.

Conclusion

Again, this is merely a preview of the pre-production unit of the CCRadio3. I thought I’d touch on reception and a few of the key points that might help some of the CCRadio3’s early adopters make a purchase decision. I have yet to do testing with headphones or external antennas and still wish to compare it with even more radios, to make my review as thorough as I’d like.

And I’m really looking forward to reviewing the production unit of the CCRadio3, because this pre-production receiver has certainly surpassed my expectations!

This latest iteration of the CCRadio should remain king of AM radio reception, compared with any other portable radio currently in production.

C. Crane has announced that they have a very limited number of first-production-run units available for order right now.  If you order one, use the coupon code CC3B19 at checkout, so that, as the above ad suggests, you can snag it for $179.00–$20 off the future retail price. I suspect this first run will sell out fast.

Click here to check out the CCRadio3 product/order page.

Eager for the full review of the C. Crane CCRadio3? Stay tuned!


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Golan’s take on the Digitech AR-1780, XHDATA D-808 and CC Skywave SSB

Digitech AR-1780 (left) and XHDATA D-808 (right)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Golan Klinger, who leaves the following comment regarding the Digitech AR-1780:

I bought my AR1780 from Jaycar when they were first announced because I was too impatient to wait for the Skywave SSB.

It looked good on paper and I was really pleased when I finally tried it out. It turned out to be one of the best travel-sized radios I’ve ever owned.

Being a radio junkie, I did buy the CC Skywave SSB when it was finally released and an XHDATA D-808 when they first offered them at a huge discount. Both are capable radios, the latter being almost identical to the AR1780, but if I had to choose one, I’d take the Digitech. I just love it.

And that’s the thing isn’t it, Golan?  Sometimes our favorite radios just “feel” good.

Like you, I’m a bit of a radio junkie and own all three of these radios. My preference is the CC Skywave SSB closely followed by the AR-1780. I also love the D-808, but although it’s superior to the other two radios in terms of audio and is slightly more sensitive than the AR-1780, I still tend to reach for the other two radios first.

Note that all three of these radios were featured in my “Best of the best” portable radio reviews.

Thanks for sharing, Golan!

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