Reader response to our recent article about interesting new radio models (“Radio Designers Step Up Their Game,” April 24) motivated us to seek out more innovative receivers. And, boy, did we find some!
CAMBRIDGE SOUNDWORKS AMBIANCE 2:
THE DO-IT-ALL, FULL STEREO TABLETOP
Back in the 20th century, a tabletop radio was just that — a tabletop unit that only received AM/FM radio, with relatively decent sound offered by the better models. Cambridge SoundWorks’ Ambiance 2 Music System is the 21st century tabletop. It is a sleek black stereo unit that not only receives radio but serves as an iPhone dock/charger/music access port, and Web radio via the Ambiance 2’s built-in Wi-Fi connection — which also connects to the user’s own PC/iPad-stored music collection.
The Ambiance 2 also connects to Pandora, and displays song and artist data on its color touchscreen. Such is the quality and response of this system’s full-range stereo speakers that it was rated as having “the best sound of any table radio we evaluated,” said Consumers Digest in February, giving the Ambiance 2 its 2013 Premium Best Buy Award. It sells for $249.99 at store.cambridgesoundworks.com.
SANGEAN H202 RADIO:
NOW THERE’S BLUETOOTH IN THE SHOWER
The Bluetooth standard is named for King Harald of Denmark, a 10th century ruler who so loved blueberries that his teeth were reputedly stained blue. Hence it makes sense for a Bluetooth-enabled radio to be found in the bathroom.
Sangean’s H202 shower radio comes with Bluetooth connectivity, allowing the user to access music on Bluetooth-enabled computers, MP3 players or smartphones. The H202’s white plastic shell is waterproof and has a water-resistance 2 watt speaker. It boasts 10 station presets (five each for FM and AM), an Emergency LED flashlight and buzzer (should you get in trouble in the bathroom), large LCD display/clock and alarm system, and an easy-to-hang bracket and hanger. Price: $109.95 at www.universal-radio.com.
MIDLAND XT511 EMERGENCY CRANK BASE RADIO:
READY FOR ANYTHING
Emergency radios equipped with hand-crank generators are a great way to ensure that you always have a working receiver, especially if the main AC power is down, the alkaline batteries dead and the sun is behind a cloud.
The Midland XT511 Emergency Crank Base Radio has this very functionality for receiving AM/FM broadcasts whatever happens, but it also is able to receive NOAA Weather Alerts and play them whenever they occur.
The XT511 is also equipped with a built-in GMRS two-way transmitting radio (plus handheld microphone), the FCC-licensed radio band with up to a 20-mile range in ideal conditions. This unit includes a USB connector for charging cellphones, a flashlight and a clock radio with Snooze. With this unit, found for $89.99 at midlandusa.com, you will be ready for anything.
ETON G2 REPORTER:
ULTRA-SMALL AM/FM/SW RADIO WITH BUILT-IN RECORDER
Once upon a time, shortwave radios were gigantic, tube-filled monsters, and those few that claimed to be “portable” were only designed for weightlifters. Today, things have changed: Etón Corp.’s Grundig G2 Reporter is a fully functional AM/FM/SW (shortwave, aka world band) receiver with direct access via telephone-style buttons. It also has stereo speakers, a built-in microphone and an included recorder that captures broadcast or voice audio to a removable Micro-SD card. (You can also dub MP3/WMA audio files to the card via a computer, then put the card into the G2 for playback.)
The Grundig G2 Recorder has 248 memory presets, RDS, full clock radio functions and input ports for LINE-IN and an external microphone. Yet it weighs 9.6 ounces, and measures just 7.5 by 3.5 by 0.8 inches in size. Price: $149.99 at shopetoncorp.com (sites like Amazon may sell for less).
MODERN RETRO RECEIVERS FOR VINTAGE CARS
Do you own a vintage automobile — or just a reliable old junker — and find yourself in need of a replacement radio? RetroSound Radios may be able to help. They sell modern car radios in retro styles for many makes and models of cars, including the classic 1957 Chevy. RetroSound radios look and sound like the originals they replace, with the exception of their discreet monochrome LCD displays and mini-plug input jacks (optional) for feeds from smartphones, tablets and iPod/MP3 players.
RetroSound radios are also the same form factor as the old units, making swap-outs easy. Prices vary; learn much more at retrosoundUSA.com.
James Careless is a longtime contributor. He has written recently about pirate radio, iTunes Radio, SoundCloud and other topics.