C. Crane CC-3 and CC-2E
CC Radio 3 – AM/FM/Weather/2 Meter Ham Band Radio With Bluetooth
CC Radio 2E (Same Radio Without Bluetooth)
C. Crane has added an upgrade to the CC-2E by adding Bluetooth in their new CC-3. I was lucky enough to receive an early production sample of this radio and it has become my new daily player. It is truly excellent – in fact, it is identical in operation and performance to the still available CC-2E which means it ranks as ***** in both my AM and FM Mega Shootout articles,
except it has added Bluetooth capability. I have learned from the company that it is indeed the same radio as the CC-2E with Bluetooth added so now you have a choice. The CC-2E will continue to be available for $169.99 while the CC-3 will set you back $199.
Features: In most respects other than Bluetooth the CC-3 is identical in operation to the CC-2E.
AM/FM/NOAA Weather with Alert Mode/2 Meter Ham Band
FM: 87.5 – 108 MHz (100 MHz Steps Via Up/Down Buttons – 50 KHz Steps Via Tuning Knob)
AM: 520 – 1710 KHz (10K Steps Via Up/Down Buttons – 1 KHz Via Tuning Knob)
2 Meter Ham Band (VHF): 144 – 148 MHz (5K Steps Via Tuning Knob or Up/Down Buttons
Adjustable Squelch for Ham Band
Weather Band Channels 1 – 7 (162-400 – 162-550 MHz) with Three Alert Modes
FM Stereo at Headphone & Line Out Jacks
5) One-touch Memories Per Band
Rotary Bass & Treble Controls
Clock with Timer, Alarm (Wake To Radio or Multi-level [Humane Wake] Tone ), Sleep Timer
Timer Activation Jack for use with compatible external recording devices
External AM Antenna Connections
Line Input & Output Jacks
Dial Illumination with Three Brightness Settings & Off
Bluetooth Controls include Skip To Previous, Skip To Next and Play/Pause using the top mounted buttons.
Battery Level Meter
Clock or Frequency Display can be toggled and on AM/FM the Default mode is settable
Tuning by Knob, Up/Down Buttons, Presets or Auto Scan/Seek
AM Antenna: 8” Ferrite Rod with Twin Coil Design
All Other Bands: 22.5” Telescoping Whip
Weight: 3.8 lbs. without batteries
Runs On 4 D cells or included AC Power Cord (120 Volt AC Power Supply is Built-in)
C. Crane specifies 250 Hours on 4 Alkaline D cells at moderate volume with display light off
Size: 11″ W x 6.5″ H x 4″ D
One operational difference is that you can now toggle between AM & FM bands rather than scrolling through all the bands.
In Use: The CC-3 and CC-2E are simple to operate with no menus to wade through to perform any functions or change settings. The memories are simple and intuitive like a classic car radio – tune in a station, press and hold a memory button for a few seconds and that station will be saved to that button. On AM let the Auto Tune perform its function…it takes a few seconds, then quick press the button to select the station.
The display illumination button cycles through 3 brightness levels or off and remains on for 2 minutes after any button operation. It will remain on full time on AC power unless turned off.
A unique feature is that for AM and FM you can set the radio to display either the Time or Frequency by default. You can still easily toggle between the two while in use which is very nice.
The built-in AC Power supply is a plus – no wall wart external power supply needed.
Performance: Let me state this as clearly as I can: If you’re looking for a current production super sensitive and selective radio that can pull in weak and hard-to-get AM/FM stations similarly to a good car radio, either the CC-2E or CC-3 are the radios for you. I put the CC-3 and the CC-2E through weeks of rigorous reception tests and performance comparisons with several other top-notch radios and the CC-3/CC-2E proved to be among the best of all the portable radios I have ever tested for weak signal reception. AM, FM and Weather Band reception are remarkable. In fact, your AM reception will be limited only by any electrical interference in your listening location. In such cases the radio ceases to be the limiting factor. If the electrical noise is covering weak signals no radio can do much to help you, but these radios will be as good as you can get. (For information about improving your AM reception, C. Crane has helpful tips on their website and in the CCRadio-3-Instruction-Manual and you can also read my article on Combatting RFI (Radio Frequency Interference):
(I have to say that people often find it hard to believe that electrical interference in their homes is often the cause of their reception problems but if you take this radio outside, away from interference you will be amazed at how much better the AM reception can sometimes be).
The CC-3 and CC-2E also have excellent sound quality by portable standards with pleasing, full range sound and useful Bass & Treble controls…you will enjoy how good this radio sounds. It is among the best sounding portables I own.
Audio Tip: Try not to place the radio with its back against a wall…this reduces the apparent bass output. Just moving the radio a few inches away or angling it will give you a much fuller sound quality – the effect can be dramatic.
Excellent AGC Characteristics: Seldom discussed in the realm of home AM/FM portables, the CC-3 and CC-2E also do an excellent job with those fluttering, wavering AM signals you may hear early mornings, evenings, and at night. This is partly related to the time constants of the AGC (Automatic Gain Control) …compared to many other radios the CC-3 and CC-2E make these signals sound more stable and less fluttery.
As A Bluetooth Speaker the CC-3 pairs easily and sounds great. It also allows control of playback functions, depending on the source – Skip To Previous, Skip To Next and Play/Pause using the top mounted buttons.
Important!!! I also recommend you perform the Auto Alignment Procedure as described in the manual. This will ensure top reception. I have tested several samples of the CC-2E and also the new CC-3 and all of them improved after this simple procedure. Here’s how:
Start with the radio on and tuned to the AM band.
Press and Hold the Clock button for about 4-5 seconds. The red WXA light will illuminate.
Tap the Clock button again. The radio will then start to align itself. The radio will begin to slowly count down from the top of the AM band down to 520.
Do not interrupt the process. It takes about 3 minutes to complete.
The last step is to press and release the reset button on the bottom of the radio with a paper clip when the alignment is complete.
FM reception is also as good as it gets in a portable radio. Excellent FM sensitivity and selectivity allow these radios to pull in some problem signals clearly and they rank among the best FM portables I have ever tested. I’ve mentioned before that my location near a hilltop in Connecticut allows unusual reception of FM signals from Maine to Cape Cod, MA and New York. Some frequencies feature multiple stations which can be separated by re-orienting the rod antenna or moving the radio a foot or two here or there. (I have since moved to Kentucky but again I am at a fairly high elevation and the FM band is full of tightly packed signals). Some signals are weak and most are crowded on a very full dial. The CC-3 and CC-2E separated as many stations clearly as any other FM portables I own and better than most.
A few readers have asked how the FM reception can be so good when the whip antenna is only 22.5 inches long, because many radios, especially those that include shortwave, have longer antennas. Evidently the DSP chip is well-matched to this antenna and the bottom line is that I have no portable radio that pulls in FM better, even if its antenna is longer.
Any Cons? Sure…no radio is perfect. The most often heard complaint is that the handle feels less secure than a real handle would – it is an indentation in the back with a rubber grip which is OK but does require a bit of care. C. Crane does offer a protective carry case as an option which is a good idea if you are going to be carrying the radio frequently.
The top mounted buttons are not completely resistant to dirt or dust infiltration. If used in such environments care should be taken to try to keep the top of the radio clean as dirt can cause switch problems.
Overload in Strong Signal Areas – The CC-3 and CC-2E are extremely sensitive radios and in most locations will be able to pull in stations that would sound much weaker or even be non-existent on less sensitive radios. However, they are not as adept as some of the very best vintage radios at resisting overload when many super strong signals are present. Luckily this does not seem to occur in most locations – evidently factors such as the frequency and perhaps mix of several mega signals is necessary to cause the problem. I have compared my CC’s with a few vintage radios within a very short distance of two stations – one 50 KW, the other 5 KW and the CC was almost as good as the old radios, although I did travel to one area where the CC’s were desensitized over part of the dial.
Note: Auto Tune is a great feature which maximizes AM reception each time a new Am station is tuned in. Be sure to let this process complete before setting your AM presets.
“I’m trying to receive station WXXX…will the CC-3/CC-2E pull it in?”
This is the sort of radio question I receive frequently but it’s impossible to answer without more information. If the signal simply does not exist in your particular location, no radio will pick it up. Shielded and/or noisy locations such as office buildings and apartments can block reception and today’s homes often have terrible electrical interference from the myriad of electronic devices we now have. But if a signal is receivable the CC-3/CC-2E will pull it in as well as any radio can and better than most. Try different locations within your house and you will usually find some spots that are better than others for reception. Although FM is fairly stable around the clock, you will find that some AM stations may be receivable only in the daytime or only at night.
If you’re like me and you just love really good radios, either the new CC-3 or the well-established CC-2E is a must have. In the world of current production portable radios, they both stand as the reference against which all comers must be compared…they’re that good.
email me at: Jay Allen