Hi! Welcome to my site! I’ve worked in broadcasting and electronics all my life and have been interested in portable transistor radios since the early pocket portables of the 50′s through today’s multiband radios. I’m currently employed by CBS Radio as Production Director for one of its station clusters but I also managed a repair facility for an audio shop for 18 years back in the 70’s and 80’s.
I’ve written many reviews for Radiointel and a few for Monitoring Times, but now all my previous and new reviews and vintage radio articles will be right here. I hope you’ll stop by often to see what’ s new and please feel free to email me with any questions or comments. If you subscribe at the bottom of this page you will be notified whenever new articles appear.
email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT’S NEW: Latest Reviews
Sony TFM-8000W Super Sensitive AM/FM/SW/PSB Radio – The TFM-8000W is one of Sony’s iconic Super Sensitive series of radios…a name plate Sony proudly promoted for several years. It was marketed simultaneously with the top of the line multiband CRF-5100, and the AM/FM only TFM-7250…all described as Super Sensitive. While it overall takes a back seat to its upscale brother CRF-5100, and may therefore be considered somewhat of a sleeper (you just don’t hear much about them), it is one of very few portable radios ever to offer true flywheel tuning which gives the radio a wonderful feel for band scanning. The straight-forward dial scales are visually appealing and a signal meter is also a nice addition…this is a fun radio to use and I very much like its looks and feel. How does it perform? Read the Sony TFM-8000W Review:
The Sangean PR-D18 radio is a straight-forward AM/FM portable radio. It lists for $69.95 but is easily available for considerably less…around $47 as of this writing. It dispenses with additional bands or MP3 capabilities in favor of the best performance possible for the price along with operating simplicity and ruggedness and has succeeded on all counts. This radio surprised me with its heft and solid feel. It’s a really cute little radio, available in several two-tone color combinations; a gray face with black surround or a white face surrounded by gray, blue or red. Sangean calls these rubber trim pieces protective bumpers which are designed to resist damage due to minor bumps and scrapes. Sangean’s website claims the PR-D18 has “excellent sensitivity and selectivity and will surprise you with its ability to pull in those distant stations.” How could I resist checking one out?
What’s the best radio for AM reception? Do expensive multiband radios provide better AM reception than a purely AM or AM/FM radio? Wondering how the most popular radios compare? Here’s the biggest AM Portable radio comparison project I’ve ever done and one of the most expansive you’ll find anywhere with over 60 top radios put through rigorous tests to see exactly how they compared in a variety of circumstances, plus I describe my testing methodology to help you understand the results and do your own comparisons more accurately. This is the first update of an article I posted over three years ago – since then many new radios have become available, some with DSP (Digital Signal Processing) technology. Do these new radios outperform the great vintage radios?
What’s the best AM Radio? Here are the facts you need. AM Portables Mega Shootout:
Eton Field 550 The results are in…all the information has been tabulated…how does the new Field perform? In a word, very well. And with some not too difficult modifications it can be superb! But even in its stock form it’s a good value in today’s market.
Two Pocket AM/FM/SW Portables: The Eton Mini and Radio Shack 2000629 are each priced below $40. These new pocket portables offer multi-band coverage in a tiny size, but how do they compare? I was surprised at the results because each has certain clear advantages over the other. Which one is best for you depends primarily on how you will be using it. For the details ready my full review.
The new Eton Satellit is here. The latest in a long line of prestigious radios, the new Satelit has no model number to distinguish is from all the previous Satellits, such as the Satellit 750. We’ve all been holding our breaths since Eton announced this new model at CES.
The big question of course is, does this new Satellit live up to the promise of that prestigious name plate? I was the fist kid on my block to get one and I have been busily evaluating it, comparing it with previous Satellits as well as many more modest potables to see just how this new model stacks up.
The results are in…you can read the full Eton Satellit Review here.
C.Crane’s CC Skywave Radio – Great New Travel Companion With Unusual Band Coverage
C.Crane’s newest model is aimed at the traveler who wants as many sources of information as possible. The Skywave is unusual in a small portable radio in that it tunes not only Standard AM/FM broadcasts but also includes Shortwave, Weather Band and Air Band. It’s a fun radio and easy to master, plus it includes a carry pouch and a pair of CC Buds earphones for personal listening. After short while using this radio I have come to appreciate that it offers quite a lot in a small package.
Eton Traveler III (Compared with G8/Traveler II/Tecsun PL-310WT and PL-310)
The new Traveler III replaces Grundig’s popular G8/Traveler II (aka Tecsun PL300WT). The original model was an instant hit and has become an Ultralight favorite…the new Traveler III is a much better AM radio than the earlier model but FM and to some extent SW seem to be just a slight step backwards..at least in my early production sample. But as an AM lover I am impressed by this new radio and think you will be too…read the full review here.
At less than the cost of half a tank of gas, what can you expect from radios in this price range? While they won’t match the performance of larger, costlier sets, one was the clear winner on AM, one was almost useless on FM, and an old standby, available for more than 10 years provided a surprising reality check.
Sangean PR-D15 AM/FM Stereo Radio With RDS
The Sangean PR-D15 is an upgrade to the PR-D5 which made some waves a while back with its unexpectedly excellent AM performance. In fact, when I reviewed the PR-D5 I was surprised at how good its AM reception was, especially for a radio that looks more like a shower radio than anything else. My only real complaint was its audio quality which was rather muffled and limited in range, and the FM was somewhat less selective than many current radios. Still, it’s AM performance was astonishingly good.
Now comes the improved PR-D15 which adds Bass and Treble controls and a Loudness defeat function, 1KHz tuning steps on AM (a welcome addition for fine tuning), plus a real carrying handle. It also now features built-in battery charging and a few more new features. But how does it perform, and how does it compare with the original PR-D5?
The new Tecsun PL-880 is a worthy follow-up to their popular and capable PL-660 (which is still available). Most notable in the PL-880 is a new technology speaker which gives the radio a far more natural and pleasing sound quality than that usually found in radios of this size…it sounds just amazing when compared side by side with the older model.
There have been some real upgrades to performance in almost all areas but the new model also features at least one step backward…we’ll check that out as well.
This new model has many extra features which are accessed via hidden menus…this allows far more control over the operation of the radio than usual but adds some complexity for the less sophisticated user. I will list the important ones so you can just set them and forget them. For most users this will be totally satisfactory but if you want to delve more deeply into every aspect of the radio’s performance you have that option as well.
C.Crane Announces The Improved CC Radio-2E Enhanced AM/FM/Weather/2 Meter Ham Band Radio
For the past month I’ve been using C.Crane’s latest update to their flagship AM/FM portable radio – the CC Radio 2. This revised version is called the CC Radio 2E Enhanced and I’ll tell you right now, it is an immense step forward – most noticeably in its AM sound quality, but in several other respects as well. C.Crane has redesigned the radio’s circuits around an entirely new chip, so although the new version looks outwardly identical to the older CC-2 the radio has been thoroughly revamped and the results are impressive.
A few years ago I restored an RF-4900 and it has become one of my favorite vintage radios. Recently I completed restoration of the European version DR49 (aka RF-4900LBS) and this version adds a few extra features. I also discovered more interesting aspects of restoration for this model which may help anyone working on any of these series of radios. Read the article here.
At $59.95 the CC Pocket is slightly less expensive than the well-known Sangean DT-400W…how do they compare? Here’s a complete review.
Also note C.Crane is currently throwing in a FREE pair of Voz Premium Wooden Earbuds which sell separately for $19.95.
The Sony ICF-EX5MK2 is an unusual portable radio in several ways. There is considerable mystique surrounding it as it is intended for the Japanese market, which helps explain why so few of us here in the U.S. have ever seen one, even though we’ve been reading bits and pieces about it for years. It is reputed to have Super Sensitivity so I had to try one out…what I found surprised me. It does have a few shortcomings, but it also has one unique superiority…I think you will find the comparisons between it and the Panasonic RF-2200, and several other top AM portables to be an interesting.
Available since 2008 I have been remiss by not reviewing this AM/FM all-analog portable earlier. No sooner had I posted my review of the Sony ICF-38 than readers began asking me how it compares with the R-308 so I will cover that in this review as well.
It has been several years since I initially reviewed the Quantum Loop V2.0. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to use several other antennas and additionally I’ve been loaned a KIWA MW Loop which is highly regarded but unfortunately no longer being manufactured. So how do these loops compare? Is a used KIWA worth more than double the price of a new Quantum Loop? I’ve wondered about that for a long time…now I know. Read all about it here:
New production differs a bit from the original production and I’ve discovered an unusual characteristic which may explain why different people have such different opinions about the sensitivity of this radio.. Read the updated Sangean ATS-909X Review.
CC Radio-SW/Redsun RP-2100
UPDATED Review – CC Radio-SW/Redsun RP-2100: It has been several years since I wrote the original Redsun review and I have since received an updated Redsun model with English labelling and the C.Crane CC Radio-SW version. These are a fantastic value among the portable world band radios currently available…if you’re looking for excellent audio and great reception in a lunchbox-sized radio this is one you should look at.
I had tried an early sample of the newest radio to carry the Satellit name when it was first released some 2 years ago. Although I loved its looks and ergonomics I was not impressed with several aspects of its performance. However many posters to various newsgroups indicated that these early problems had been resolved so I decided to take a look at a fresh sample from recent production. Has Eton/Grundig “fixed” the SAT 750? Is it now worthy of that prestigious nameplate? Read the full review:
The Sangean DT400 is the successor to the well-known DT200VX. I am happy to report that the new model is even better than the original. Providing top quality FM/AM/Weather Band reception, wonderful sound through earbuds, a built-in utility speaker and many great features this radio is a joy to use. And it’s just so darned cute! Read the full review:
Five AM/FM Pocket Radios Compared
If you fell in love with a small transistor radio when you were a kid you’ll be happy to know they are still available today. They are not only inexpensive (as low as $10), but are now AM and FM capable. The best of them work very well, but which are the best?
In the late 1950’s and early 60’s transistor radios were the new rage. We kept them with us as often as we could…they went everywhere with us. In November of 1955 Zenith entered the game with their Royal 500, the first of a long line of radios that not only set the standard of performance, but would also become one of the most popular and most copied of all portable radios. We’ll check out the entire 500 series from the first, 7 transistor, hand-wired model through the pinnacle of the series, the Royal 500H. Then we’ll go inside a few of them and discuss what kind of work they generally need to be restored to original working condition, then we’ll compare them to some current day radios to see just how good they really are.
R-7000-2’s new in-the-box often go for over $2000 on eBay…recently a few have topped $5000. Imagine my surprise when my son and daughter-in-law presented me with one in the box from a relative’s Zenith Radio/TV shop! I never expected to own one of these. We’ll open the box and check out this brand new, wonderful present and we’ll also see how this somewhat controversial ZTO compares with the previous model, the Royal 7000. There were a few surprises!
These were Zenith’s top-of-the line AM portables in the 50’s and 60’s. I’ll take you through the entire model line and we’ll restore a few of them to peak performance, then compare them with some other great AM radios to see how they compare – a fun look back at Zenith’s in its heyday!
C.Crane’s Wonderful CC Radio-EP is a winner with “Top Tier” AM performance in a simple, analog radio…and it’s only $69.99!