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C. Crane CC-EP Pro AM/FM Analog-tuned Radio

Left: CC-EP Pro Right: Original CC-EP

Several years ago, C. Crane landed a blockbuster with their introduction of the analog-tuned CC-EP AM/FM Radio. Selling for about half the price of their flagship CC Radio (currently the CC-2E) it offered overall performance very close to the best available and was simple to operate. Just like radios of old the EP featured a large slide rule dial with simple controls. But unlike many of those older portable radios, the EP offered several advantages, such as a beefy Twin Coil Antenna for top reception, a special Fine-Tuning Knob to optimize that antenna circuit for certain stations, a brightly lit dial that could be left on full time if desired even when running on batteries (a very rare feature), rich sound quality, dual AM bandwidths and top AM sensitivity. FM reception was very good but not exceptional.

But all good things come to an end and so did a critical chip without which the EP could no longer be made. But C. Crane’s founder and President Bob Crane is not one to give up so easily. Working with top designers he found a more advanced DSP chip which could be used to make a new EP…the EP Pro. The new radio looks externally exactly like the original model, the only give-aways are a very slightly lighter color and the EP Pro label on the front. But inside the EP Pro is all new…a completely different circuit design, and in the important areas of performance – AM/FM reception and sound quality, it is a definite step forward. The EP Pro is not perfect…no radio is. It has its quirks so there are a few tips and tricks you need to know in order to coax the best performance this new radio is capable of, and we’ll discuss those in detail.

The basics are all identical to the original CC-EP.

Specifications:

AM: 520 – 1710 KHz with 10 KHz Tuning Steps*

FM: 87.5 – 108 MHz (Stereo at Earphone Out jack)

Power: 4 D cells or included AC Power Supply

5” Speaker/2 Watts Power Output

Controls: On/Off Switch, Volume & Tuning knobs, AM/FM/FM Stereo switch, Twin Coil Antenna Fine Tune knob, Light switch, Aux Antenna Switch

Antennas: AM – 7.9” Twin Coil/ FM – 36” Whip

AM antenna input: Spring clips (high impedance)

FM antenna input: 75 Ohm F Connector

AM Bandwidth: Wide (Music) 6 KHz, Narrow (Voice) 2.5 KHz

Earphone & Line In Jacks: 3.5mm/1/8” Stereo

DC Input Barrel Connector 6 V Center Negative

Dimensions: 11.4″ W x 7.3″ H (8.4″ H with handle) x 2.75″ D

Weight 3.1 lbs

One difference – although you can still connect external AM and FM antennas if needed, the Ext Antenna switch does not disconnect the internal antennas as on the original model.

*I have been advised that a future production run will offer 10KHz/9KHz tuning steps.

 

Performance: The word here is “improved”. The new EP Pro provides excellent AM and FM reception. On a direct comparison with my original EP the AM is slightly improved, and the FM is much improved to the point where both AM and FM now run neck and neck with my reference radios. I did several midday and night time band scans over a period of several days, logging every AM and FM signal I could receive, and in terms of sensitivity, selectivity and noise floor the EP Pro proved to be a top performer, continuing the tradition of a modern day Superadio. Sound is also satisfying for this price and size – in fact its AM sound is noticeably improved over the old model with extended high frequency response. In the Music position (Wide bandwidth AM mode) the sound is very FM-like with extended and clear high frequencies you may not be used to hearing from your favorite AM stations. Even in the Voice (Narrow bandwidth) setting, the clarity on AM is excellent.

In Use: The EP Pro is designed to be simple to operate as was the previous model. Simple controls like old-school analog radios…the only additional control is the Twin Coil Fine Tuning knob. However, there are two idiosyncrasies which you must deal with when tuning this radio – muting while tuning (only on AM) and the presence of false peaks (both AM and FM) on either side of the true signal. It is important to note that these do not affect the final reception…they only make tuning a bit fussier that it would be otherwise. And although it seems counter intuitive, they do not diminish the EP-Pro’s selectivity…those false peaks are not covering the adjacent frequencies…they are in fact fainter copies of the actual frequency. The EP-Pro is as selective as the best AM/FM portables being made today.

As for the AM tuning muting, it silences the radio when you tune at normal speed. There is no sound until you STOP tuning which means if you tune quickly across the dial you may hear nothing. The secret is to tune SLOWLY. What I found is that it is best to tune the dial to approximately the frequency I am looking for, then tune very slowly until I hear the station. This is easier to do than to describe but initially it really threw me…I thought the radio wasn’t working.

The second issue is that there are usually false peaks above and/or below the desired signal. As you “tune across” a station you may receive a false signal, then the correct peak, then sometimes another false peak. Again, once you experience this it is easier to find the true peak than to describe the process. Any given station may have a false peak below it, above it or both…it depends on the particular signal. The false peak is weaker than the correct peak. This is due to the nature of the way the chip tunes and (evidently) cannot be changed, but once you get to the correct peak the actual reception is excellent.

I spoke with Bob Crane about this and he has decided to add this description of how to tune the radio most easily on AM – I think this makes the process very clear.

“For best AM reception:

Please tune slowly to find your AM station so you can hear the audio. If you tune fast, it may appear to skip over your station. You may find a weak station image right before or after the station you want.  If you tune a little further you will find the main signal of the station comes in much clearer.

You can often enhance AM reception by tuning the small “AM Fine Tuning” knob on the right, by “ear”, for maximum clarity. The radio comes with this knob locked in position, so you must remove the sticker first.

Finally rotate the entire radio until station reception is best. Adjust the WIDE-NARROW Knob for your sound preference along with the Bass and Treble.

 

 

Large Twin Coil Ferrite Rod At Top

Clean Layout

Twin Coil Fine Tune Knob: Another point worth mentioning is that once you find the correct peak, it is usually worth experimenting with that Fine Tune knob to peak the signal. I often found that I could improve reception with this

 

Large 5″ Speaker

control…simply leaving it in the center detent position is fine for casual use and stronger signals but for any signal that is not perfect I recommend you try that control. Sometimes the improvement will be dramatic.

 

 

 

 

 

On FM the only issue is the false peaks. Again, they may be above or below the desired signal but the correct peak will be obviously stronger and clearer.

 

AC Adapter: I received two radios to evaluate and it’s lucky that I did because I discovered a quality control issue with the AC power supply…the first one was noise-free as it should be but the second one was very noisy. I notified C. Crane about this and they have promised to correct the problem before the unit goes on sale. I mention this only so that if you happen to receive a noisy AC Adapter that you should notify C. Crane so they can replace it with a quiet one. (They have since assured me that noisy one was a very rare occurrence and buyers should expect theirs to be OK).

 

Conclusion: I have reported a few quirks but I don’t want them to overshadow what I feel is overall an excellent performing radio, especially for the price. After exhaustive tests and comparisons, I can say that although the CC-EP Pro is not a band scanner’s delight due to its quirky tuning behavior, it offers reception which is as good as it gets in this class of radio…this and the top of the line CC-2E are both top tier performers. At the price of $84.99 the CC-EP Pro represents the best reception and sound available for the price…and even at double the price. It is a bargain.

Conditionally Recommended

Available At C. Crane – https://www.ccrane.com/item/rad_ccradio_cepro/999/ccradio-ep_pro

Jay Allen

Feb 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

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