Sangean CP-100 Retro-styled AM/FM Radio with Bluetooth
I must admit that I didn’t know quite what to make of the CP-100 when I first saw it on Sangean’s website. The design resembles the horn speakers of vintage acoustic wind-up 78 record players and I had to have the radio in my hands before I understood what it is. In brief, the horn is an elegant design for an acoustic port to augment the bass response of the front-firing speaker. Usually such ports are on the back of a radio or hidden from view elsewhere – Sangean has many radios that use such hidden ports and they are very effective. According to Sangean’s website the CP-100 employs an “Acoustically Tuned Cabinet with Front Speaker and Bass Reflex Design for Richer Smoother Bass Response” and their design seems to be very effective. In this case, Sangean decided to use the port to create a retro look that harks back to the days of fully acoustic (non-electric), wind-up Victrolas, and I must say the CP-100 will elicit comments from your friends who see it. Leave it playing in plain view when friends visit and see what happens!
Looks aside, the CP-100 is a straight-forward design. It consists of an AM/FM tuner, and in addition to Bluetooth capability it also features an Aux in jack to plug in external audio sources. Unlike the Sangean WR-7 (which is a favorite of mine) it is AC operated via an external wall-wart power supply and has no internal battery but it adds AM which the WR-7 lacks. There is a LED Tuning indicator – Sangean’s website says this is also a Charging LED but it is not as there is no internal battery.
Clearly the CP-100 was conceived as a decorative piece and definitely is unique, but nevertheless it has surprisingly good performance which is better than many retro-styled radios, especially in terms of sound quality. Like the WR-7, the CP-100 will surprise you with its full, satisfying sound. Realize that since the horn is a bass-augmentation port, most of the sound emanates from the front-firing speaker (which I wish had some sort of protective covering to prevent damage – I find it best to lift the radio by the horn rather than by gripping the radio’s body where your fingers might hit that speaker), but the radio seems very solid and well-made, typical of Sangean’s quality track record. I deduced that the internal AM ferrite rod is oriented front to back rather than the traditional left to right placement so when comparing the CP-100’s AM reception to other radios the CP-100 has to be oriented perpendicularly to the other radios. Although not a DXer on AM it does surprisingly well receiving your typical AM signals with even medium strength signals coming in surprisingly well.
The FM tuner is quite sensitive and selective…the main limitation is that the FM wire antenna is harder to adjust for marginal signals than a rod would be, but if you experiment with the wire’s position you will find the CP-100 is surprisingly sensitive so take your time to position it carefully and you should get great results.
The Bluetooth function worked as one would expect…it paired easily with my phone and sounded great in that mode.
Conclusion: The CP-100 is an interesting and unique device. In my home it will find a place in my den/office as not only a nice radio for routine listening but as a one-of-a-kind decorative item. If that sounds interesting to you, I don’t think you will be disappointed.