C Crane CC Radio Solar Emergency Radio
I was lucky enough to receive a pre-production sample of the new CC Radio Solar, a feature-rich, high quality Emergency Radio with all the bells and whistles we’ve come from top-of-the-line emergency models plus several added “Hidden Features” I haven’t seen on any other such radio until now. This is an early sample and when actual production units actually ship, which is projected to be in February 2021, there may be some minor revisions or improvements. I will update this review when that happens. But I will say my early sample seems like a finished product, meaning it has no quirks or problems which need to be fixed and its operation is what I would expect in an actual production unit.
According to their new 2021 catalog the CC Radio Solar will not displace the still-available (and highly regarded) CC Solar Observer which sells for $59.99. The CC Radio Solar will sell for $99.99…that extra $40 will give you many added digital features and enhanced performance.
About the size of a brick the CC Radio Solar features AM/FM/NOAA Weather Band reception with Weather Emergency Alerts. It also feels as solid as a brick with a nice rubber surround for protection and ease of handling, It can be powered by an internal Li-ion battery or three AA batteries. The Li-ion battery can be charged via a standard Micro- USB charger or computer, by hand crank or the solar panel – a low-noise charger is offered as an optional accessory. There is a switch under the connection flap to choose between the rechargeable or AA batteries. The CC Radio Solar features a backlit LED display, a bright flashlight and the ability to charge a cell phone. In addition, you will find an Aux Input jack for an external audio source, the usual Clock, Alarm and Sleep Timer functions, a Beep defeat mode and FM Stereo at the headphone jack.
Lock: Press and Hold the Band and Power buttons for 2 seconds to lock or unlock the controls.
Beep Disable: With power off press and hold the memory Button 3 for two seconds.
Designate Frequency or Clock while listening: With power off press and hold Memory Button #4 for two seconds to toggle between “C” (clock) or “F” (frequency).
Choose 9 KHz/10 KHz Tuning Steps on AM: With power off press and hold Memory Button #5 for 2 seconds. When set to 9 KHz the FM band is expanded to 76 – 108 MHz.
Enable High Power (Audio) Mode: While listening to the radio quickly press Memory Buttons 1 & 5 at the same time. (High Power Mode is always on when using the Aux input).
Activate 1 KHz AM Tuning Steps: While listening to AM quickly press Memory Buttons 1 and 4 at the same time.
Select from three AM Bandwidths: While listening to AM quickly press Memory Buttons 1 & 3 to select from 6 KHz, 4 KHz or 2.5 KHz.
Reset all Settings to factory Defaults: With Power Off press and hold Memory Buttons 1 & 5 for five seconds.
Change Memory Pages: Quickly press Memory Buttons 3 & 5 to enter Page Selection mode. Then press Memory Buttons 1 – 5 to select the Page number This will give you 20 additional presets for AM and FM.
Although these are described as Hidden Features, they are all outlined in the Owner’s Manual and once you start using them, they become second nature. They are also listed in a cheat sheet inside the battery cover for quick reference which is handy. I don’t know of any other multi-powered emergency radio with this long list of features.
AM Reception: I was pleasantly surprised at how good the AM performance is on this little radio. It rates *** on the AM Mega Radio Shootout Article which places it above every other emergency radio I have seen. Not only did it pull in stations as well as other *** AM portables but its choice of three bandwidths, the availability of 1 KHz tuning steps to help with problem signals and the optional high-power audio mode this little jewel sounds great for its size. I used it daily for several weeks and never felt I was compromising on performance…this is one excellent Emergency Radio.
FM & Weather Band Reception: Here again the CC Radio Solar is top tier with ***** reception (FM Mega Shootout) on both bands. I put it side by side with my reference portables (larger and more expensive radios) and even on difficult FM frequencies which feature multiple faint signals the CC Solar kept up with the big boys. FM and Weather reception is as good as it gets in a portable radio at today’s state of the art. Remember, with ANY portable Weather Radio, if you use the special Alert Mode be sure the radio is plugged into external power since in Alert Mode the radio is on all the time even when it is silent, waiting for an alert signal. Your battery would be depleted in a day or so. Of course, this only applies to Alert mode, not regular Weather Band reception.
Sound Quality: As I mentioned above this radio sounds excellent for its size. The High-Power Audio mode gives it plenty of volume and overall audio is well-balanced and pleasing…far better than most emergency radios. On AM the three bandwidths function as a de facto tone control, but I could wish for some sort of tone control for FM.
Solar Charging: During several weeks of daily use for about 2-3 hours a day I stored the radio when not in use in a window which gets direct sunlight most of the day. It seemed to maintain or increase the charge so I would say the solar panel functions well. Of course, if you get less direct sunlight or use the radio more or play it louder you may need to supplement the solar panel with some cranking or an external USB power source. But the solar feature does work as it should.
Conclusion: I’ve got to say I was surprised at how nice this little radio is overall. It is unique among Emergency Radios in terms of its overall level of performance and features. In this category, reception, sound and ergonomics are all first rate and I couldn’t’ find any negatives to report about it. If you’re looking for an Emergency Radio this is one I can highly recommend…it is my new reference in this category.
See it (when available) at CCrane