Friday, July 18, 2008

The Sony ICF-38

Sony just plain rocks. The ICF-S10MK2
was a surprise for a $10 pocket radio, but
you need more speaker and efficieny for
a room-filler or worksite radio:

The Sony ICF-38 is a great portable radio.
It's a handled portable, AM/FM,
AC or DC power, up to 80 hours
on a set of aa batts, and it has a great
speaker on it...not much bass, but very
efficient,loud, and clear. Enough high bass
for good music and excellent voice.

But, how does it tune?

FM: the AFC is always on and a bit annoying,
but you can still smidge the excellent tuning
for a near full set of stations. Sensitivity
is excellent, selectivity is very good.

AM: sensitivity is very good, but the selectivity.
...that's excellent? With a careful finger I
can very easily pull apart
1010-WNDS(nyny), 1030-WBZ(boston), 1060-(business, Bos)
980(Lowell), 1090-WILD(medford)
This thing will get 740-WJIB even when the pocket Sony
Walkman radios can't.....and that says a lot!

Again, like the pocket $10 sony, I had to use the
mono-to-stereo plug for headphones. But that
sound was really super.

This is a very efficient and loud AM/FM portable,
great for taking your show around the house with
you, bringing on weekends. And the tuners
are great.
The famous GE Superadio-III is gone now.
This is a wonderful replacement.
The biggest thrill of all? This thing is only $25-30!

With all the FM stations, AM low-pow and DX fun,
super price, and portablity.....who needs satellite?
(and those monthly fees, ugh).

Best wishes to Sony, and thanks for staying in the game.
They stripped the TV-audio(which is dieing) and the weather
from the $60 ICF-36, but this has AM/FM that is still hot.
If you still make a profit, the ICF-38 was a brilliant move
to less-is-more. Long may it run, I hope.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

listening post

A great AM listening post.

Wooden tripod table
In the backyard, so the noise is radically
reduced compared to in the house.
Terk AM Advantage loop
Sony SRF -M37V digital am/fm/weather/tv
headphones, recorder, attenuator
Great for sniffing out those little locals
with niche music.

I'm checking out AM 740 WJIB Cambridge, MA now, lost to noise inside the house.
(big band and crooners) Sounds beautiful outside.

Next up is AM 1090 WILD, a low-power R+B station in Medford MA.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Grundig Mini 300

Well, curiosity got the better of me and I
bought that ubiquitous Grundig mini 300 radio.
It tested well in a Radio Shack parking lot,
so what the hey..

I love the manual tuning with digital readout.
The speed is much better than digital, and the
noise is lower than it would be as a cheap PLL.

True stereo comes out the headphone jack...great!

I tried a mini 300 3-4 yrs ago and was not impressed
at all. But this is a different beast.

FM: high sensitivity, but there is overloading and
worse sensitivity from 88-90 MHz. Pushing the
antenna down clobbers things. Pushing it partway
down and pointing it around works wonders.
The tuning is a little touchy. The fidelity is very
good, but oddly crunchy sometimes. It seems
the bass causes intermod. distortions when it's
heavy. Not too bad though. This is a great rural
FM radio, and a good suburban or urban, if you
diddle the antenna about. Think horizontal.

AM: Very good sensitivity at long range, very
nice sound, selectivity a bit wide, but tuning
feels nice and smooth for this band. Note:
for low-power daytime AM, lift the whip:
it is used, and really fills in those weak ones
nearby! Good nulling at night, but remember
to tuck the whip antenna down.
Hooking up a 12 ft wire antenna washed in a lot
of shortwave image noise. Don't bother with that
for AM. Would be great with a tuned loop, of course.
Anything with quick tuning would.

Shortwave: This is where the tuning spread, the
squared-off selectivity, and a resistance to swamping
really make for a wonderful tuning experience, a lot
like the pocket 9-band Sony I had once. Really awesome.
Clipping on a 12-ft indoor wire helped a lot above
10 MHz. No swamping. Some swamping with a 50ft
outdoor antenna, but it will depend on the night.
Extraordinary compared to its grungy performance
3 yrs ago. Fairly amazing for the price.

--It has a clock, and wake-to-music alarm.
Since the controls are as solid and simple
as the S350, I would trust and enjoy this
for travel alarm use. The speaker has no
bass, obviously, but it very loud and clear.
Gramps would have no problem listening
to the ball game. The earbuds that come
with it are not much on the low end,
but are smooth and have an easy high-end
rolloff....very low-fatigue, especially for
AM and SW.

Overall, this is a sweet radio for $30, and
very solid. The AM is very nice and sensitive,
The FM is mashed and touchy but curable
at the low end, the FM fidelity is good and stereo,
and the shortwave is super for a pocket radio.
Gotta love that quick tuning and low noise.

Thumbs up!