Sangean WR-50/WR-50P AM/FM/Bluetooth Table Radio
Sangean WR-50/WR-50P AM/FM RBDS/Bluetooth Table Radio
The Sangean WR-50/WR-50P is a high performance table radio with excellent AM/FM reception and sound quality. It is available in two versions: The WR-50 is a single mono unit while the WR-50P adds the matching SP-40 Slave Speaker. It features standard AM/FM reception plus FM RBDS capability and has Bluetooth connectivity so you can stream audio from any Bluetooth enabled device. It has all the digital features we have come to expect of modern radios:
LCD Display with adjustable brightness
18 Station Presets
Clock with 12/24 format plus manual or auto-set via RBDS
Auto Tuning Scan Up Or Down
Dimensions Approx: 8 1/2″H x 5″ W x 8 1/2″ D (Companion Speaker is the same size)
Separate Dedicated Loudness, Bass & Treble Controls on the remote (!)
Adjustable tuning steps on AM (9KHz/10 KHz) and FM (50 KHz/100KHz)
Adjustable bandwidth on AM & FM
External AM Antenna Jack
Aux Input Jack
Stereo Headphone Out Jack
Subwoofer Line Out Jack
Stereo Speaker Out
7 Watts per channel in stereo mode
The WR-50/50P was a snap to set up. Simply plug in the supplied power adapter, extend the whip antenna, put the supplied batteries into the remote, plug in the slave speaker if you have the stereo version and away you go.
The unit set its time automatically very quickly and populating the station presets was also simple and straight forward. I was instantly impressed by its big, full sound quality and with the stereo speakers the sound was excellent by table radio standards…I think it will satisfy most people looking for an upscale table radio. Even without the stereo speaker plugged in the audio was big and powerful but of course, the stereo version was that much more impressive.
AM and FM reception were good too. Utilizing DSP technology the WR-50 delivers razor sharp selectivity and excellent FM sensitivity. While table radios powered by AC current generally receive more electrical noise than the best battery-powered portable radios, the WR-50 performed as well on AM as any other AC powered radio I have tried. *(See End Note) Additionally the WR-50 is Bluetooth capable so you can stream audio from any Bluetooth-enabled device. I was able to pair my Android phone quickly and without problems and again, the sound was glorious in Bluetooth mode.
I especially loved the dedicated Bass and Treble Up/Down buttons on the remote. I have often lamented the way modern equipment forces you to wade through menus to access tone controls but this arrangement is every bit as convenient as the old Bass and Treble controls we used to take for granted on any decent audio equipment. Hooray for this design which is the most user friendly I have seen. I didn’t try the sub-woofer output jack but clearly this would let the WR-50 attain true wide-range capability for audiophiles so inclined to experiment and I may well try it at some point, but for now I am content with the WR-50P as the best sounding table radio I have heard.
Jay Allen December 2016
See The WR-50P At Amazon (Stereo Version)
See The WR-50 At Amazon (Mono Version)
*For more information about AM reception, line noise and noise from switching power supplies the following excerpt from the Sangean HDR-18 Review discusses these concerns and details information about the AC Adapter which is the same for the HDR-18 and WR-50 – these comments therefore apply to the WR-50/50P as well.
“A Noise-Free Switching Power Supply!
On AM I didn’t expect a lot. Generally AC powered desktop radios fare less well than the best battery powered portables because even in relatively noise-free locations there is almost always some noise on the power line which intrudes on weaker signals. I also was initially concerned when I read the following on the inside cover of the US Owner’s Manual:
“VERY IMPORTANT PLEASE READ
Sangean suggest that you keep your AC Adapter at least 12 inches away from the radio while listening to the AM Band. Your Sangean Radio is powered by an AC adapter which is a “switching” or “switch-mode” type. The DOE (Department Of Energy) has a Federal mandate; requiring all manufactures to use this type of power supply. This newer power saving technology has the unfortunate side effect of causing interference to the AM radio band. Therefore, we recommend that customers keep at least a 1 foot distance between the AC adapter and the radio. This interference will not affect the FM Band.”
(Note: I didn’t find this note with my WR-50 but since the same power supply is used for both radios this info would still pertain to it).
Generally speaking such switching power supplies are indeed so noisy they can’t be used at all during AM reception…power supplies for many rechargeable radios are used for charging only…they must be unplugged when you want to listen to AM because the noise can totally wipe out AM reception.
Fortunately the adapter supplied by Sangean is NOT noisy like that! In fact it was somewhat of a revelation. It is obviously well made and the noise is well-suppressed internally. It also has a large noise suppressor in its output cord and indeed if you keep the radio at least a foot or so away from the wall wart itself it seems to introduce absolutely no noise into the radio. This is the first switching type power supply I’ve ever heard that was this noise free on AM. I first verified that the AM reception was quiet, then double checked my findings by powering the radio from an old-style transformer design power supply. I could detect no increase in noise when I used the Sangean AC adapter as long as the radio was about a foot or two away from the wall wart. Congratulations to Sangean for advancing the state of the art with switching power supplies which are now mandated by US regulations. I only hope other manufacturers will follow suit.
Addendum: Comparison With HDR-18
Since I have recently reviewed another new Sangean table radio, the HDR-18, it it inevitable that I should compare these two radios to see how they compare. It is also interesting (and I know I will be asked this) that neither is superior to the other. Rather, a choice between the two should be based on their features as they have very different feature sets and capabilities.
In a nutshell, the HDR-18 offers HD Digital Radio (IBOC) reception, the WR-50 does not. In some geographic areas of the U.S. this opens a world of new stations to choose from and potentially better sound quality.
On the other hand the WR-50 offers Bluetooth connectivity which opens a world of options for streaming audio content from your smartphone or other Bluetooth-enabled device.
Both radios have AM external jacks but while the HDR-18 offers an external FM antenna connection the WR-50 does not. (Yes a dedicated radio enthusiast could manage to connect an external FM antenna to the WR-50 but that is probably beyond what the typical user would do).
Finally the WR-50P offers true stereo sound from two speakers…the HDR-18 is a mono radio on its own but does provide Stereo Line Output and Headphone output. The WR-50 has no Line Out, only Headphone output, but does offer a sub-woofer output jack.
As for AM and FM reception they are like two peas in a pod. I compared them side-by-side and found them comparable, and excellent, on both AM and FM. Both are DSP chip-equipped so that came as no surprise.
And finally for sound quality, the mono WR-50 has a slightly wider apparent frequency response than the HDR-18. Don’t get me wrong…they both sound excellent for this product category (and far better than most portable radios) but they do sound different than each other. The WR-50 sounds a bit richer…it has a bit more bass and treble. Both give you lots of control with their Bass, Treble and Loudness controls but on a side by side comparison I would say the WR-50 sounds a bit “bigger”. And of course, the stereo version WR-50P adds even more power and expansiveness to the sound…it sounds really incredible.
I know people will write and ask me which one is “better”. To that I will say, “Neither”. They are both superb at what they were designed to do. Whether you want a mono desktop companion or a stereo system for a family room, den or bedroom each of thee radios stands at the top of its product category.