Gift-Ready Radios for Holiday Season
     

With the holidays on the horizon, smart shoppers are looking for unique presents with a “Wow!” factor. Here are some radios that nicely fit the bill.

Crosley CR-44-CD Console

Crosley is a full-sized vintage radio receiver.

It’s a genuine (reproduction) full-sized vintage radio receiver.

Once upon a time, before the Internet, mobile phones and even broadcast television, full-sized console radios were temples that the whole family gathered around. The Crosley CR-44-CD Console is a nod to those wonderful times.

Modeled after the great Crosley consoles of Radio’s Golden Age, the CR-44-CD comes in a solid wood/oak veneer case and is equipped with an AM/FM radio, three-speed belt driven turntable (under the lid) and front-loading CD player. The CR-44-CD’s tuning is achieved using an “Illuminated Electronically Assisted Airplane Dial Tuner,” says www.amradios.com, where this unit sells for $439.99.

Unlike the original console radios, this replica has dynamic full-range stereo speakers, a two-digit LED display, programmable 20-track memory (CD player) and an external FM antenna. You can also find this unit at www.bestbuy.com.

To add to the cool factor, you can purchase CDs of old-time radio shows at www.vintagelibrary.com/OldTimeRadio, to play back on the CR-44-CD for a truly authentic Old-Time Radio experience.

Eton’s Grundig S450DLX Field Radio

Grundig S450DLX can receive AM, FM and shortwave broadcasts.

This is an all-round portable performer.

Even before purchasing the venerable Grundig nameplate, the Eton Corp. had distinguished itself by producing quality, full-featured radios. The Eton Grundig S450DLX Field Radio carries on the great Grundig tradition, in this case as inspired by Panasonic’s much-respected 1980s-vintage RF-2200 AM/FM/Shortwave receiver (which this writer owns).

Like the RF-2200, the Grundig S450DLX is a robust portable — with a big mono speaker — that receives AM, FM and shortwave (SW) broadcasts, the last covering from 1711–29999 kHz. This radio also has a big, hefty tuning knob, narrow/wideband filters, telescopic antenna and separate knobs for controlling RF gain, volume, bass and treble. However, in deference to the fact that this is 2013, the S450DLX has a big LCD tuning display, high-performance integrated circuits and MOSFETs to pick up weak stations (while suppressing distortion and interference), 50 station memories and clock radio functions.

Add a rugged case and strap-type carrying handle, and the Grundig S450DLX is ready for the great outdoors. Take it camping along with 100 feet of wire, to connect to the radio’s external antenna input, to pick up faint SW stations from around the world.

Cost is $99.99 at www.shopetoncorp.com.

For worldwide SW tuning information, check out the Ontario DX Association at www.odxa.on.ca.

Grace Digital Tuner

 
Grace Audio Tuner allows users to tune into Internet radio stations and streaming services via WiFi.

Here’s an essential addition to any component-based audio system.

The advent of home entertainment systems has only enhanced the importance of component-based audio, be it for CDs, AM/FM radio, TV/DVD/Blu-ray, and now streaming video as well. But why stop with an AM/FM tuner? What every audio hound also needs is a proper Internet radio component that can be integrated into their home system.

The Grace Audio Tuner fits this specification: It is a low-rise, standard-shaped audio component that allows users to tune into tens of thousands of Internet radio stations and music services (like Pandora), via their home’s WiFi router (wired or wireless).

The Grace Audio can be controlled by its own remote control, or Grace’s iPhone app. The unit has a two-line LCD display, plus RCA analog audio connectors, TOSLINK and COAX Digital audio connectors, plus an FM tuner and FM antenna connector.

Buy for $219.88 at www.gracedigitalaudio.com.

Sangean DT-220A

 
 
Sangean is a pocket radio with retracting earbuds.

This is a great little pocket radio with retracting earbuds.

I like to have a radio with me wherever I go, just in case disaster strikes (which rarely happens) or I happen to get bored (which often happens). Either way, the hand-sized Sangean DT-220A AM/FM portable is a perfect traveling companion. Not only does it fit nicely into any jacket pocket, but the DT-220A works both with stereo earbuds (supplied) or its built-in 1-3/4 inch speaker.

The DT-220A also comes with a carrying case, clock radio functions, an LCD display, 25 memory presets, a 90 minute auto shutoff (to save batteries), a sleep timer and a cool auto-wind feature for the ear buds: They literally retract inside the case for easy storage.

All told, the Sangean DT-220A is a lot of radio for just $45.22 (35 percent off its $69.95 list price) at www.costcentral.com.

Tivoli Audio SongBook

 
Tivoli Audio SongBook is a book-sized single-speaker AM/FM receiver that has great sound.
Portable radios have never led the pack when it comes to audio, especially smaller monophonic units. The Tivoli Audio SongBook breaks this mold: Although this book-sized single-speaker AM/FM receiver looks unassuming — despite the recent addition of high-gloss finishes in yellow, red, blue and white — the SongBook’s exceptionally rich sound has to be heard to be believed.

The audio is full and easy to enjoy hour after hour, which is a credit to this radio’s 2.5-inch magnetically shielded, treated full-range speaker. The Tivoli Audio SongBook has a monochrome LCD display, digital tuning, five presets, clock radio capabilities and the ability to bring in external audio (like an MP3 player) through its Auxiliary jack and setting. This radio uses six AA batteries, and comes with an external AC adaptor and telescoping antenna.

At $239.99 at tivoliaudio.com, the SongBook is worth every penny. It’s the kind of high-quality radio users will prize for years.

Tom’s Designer Radios

Made by Tom Kipgen, these are one-of-a-kind handmade crystal radio receivers in wooden cases.

As a longtime radio lover, I have a special spot in my heart for crystal radios, the original no-batteries/AC mains-required radios that pull radio signals out of the air and rectify them into listenable audio. Radio engineering artist — no lesser word will do — Tom Kipgen shares this passion, which he expresses through a range of unique crystal radios sold at www.kipgen.com.

These are one-of-a-kind handmade crystal radio receivers in wooden cases, using designs that hearken back to radio’s early days, plus actual vintage parts when he can find them. Some Kipgen radios are utterly whimsical, such as his B-1 Bomber Crystal Radio; so-called because this radio uses surplus aluminum plate left over from making B-1 bombers at Rockwell-Collin’s Tulsa manufacturing plant. Kipgen makes custom tube radios as well; this writer predicts that his handcrafted radios will quickly become valuable collectors’ items.

There is nothing like them anywhere in the world.

James Careless is a longtime contributor. He has written recently about pirate radio, iTunes Radio, SoundCloud and other topics.


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