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CCrane EP-PRO - not just for Bob's Mom!

Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,604
#1
Got my CCRadio EP Pro in today and basically I'm thrilled. It's the new one with the 9/10 khz switch.

The 'Cranes are reviewed in depth elsewhere, but I'll provide some notes that others may miss.

Review of Reviews: I have to get this off my chest because after reading some consumer-level ownership reviews, it became apparent that maybe this is too much. :)

#1) Is your 9 / 10 khz switch in the right position for where you live? If wrong, or if you forget to switch it back after dx'ing with it purposely set wrong, a supposed lack of sensitivity and touchy tuning may be the result. And where the station lives is not at the exact same place as before if you change the switch around.

#2) Whaahh - the tuning is muted. Conversely - I can hear it "stepping". Make up your mind people. Everyone wanted the mutes to go away so CCrane obliged with the new models so you hear stepping through the band as you tune. I guess you can't please everybody.

#3) The fine-tune doesn't do anything! It's not a frequency fine-tune, but an *antenna* adjustment. I guess some consumers assume it is a vfo, and not an antenna tuner kind of thing.

#4) I'm hearing images on FM! Um, could you be actually hearing "syndicated programming" on closely spaced stations with the same material? In my case, when listening to KUSC classical, the EP-PRO easily picks up the two major transmitters near me. At times, I can hear multiple NPR stations, INCLUDING a low-power fill in - 3 different ways for me to pick it up. These are not images, but for non-radio savvy consumers, they might assume so.

There are numerous other little things, but I have to laugh when they go overboard. I'm sure glad I don't work in customer service. I wouldn't last a week. :)

I'll followup with details that I think are important that other reviewers might have missed.
 
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,604
#2
Audio fidelity first and foremost:

NOTHING else matters unless you get this right. I'll show my bias towards CCrane's implementation of the Silicon Labs DSP chips. Pocket's, Skywaves, the 2E, and now this EP-PRO - it didn't fail to deliver.

Anyone can buy SiLabs DSP chips and throw parts at it. But it is the *sum of the parts* and engineering that do the chips justice, which makes me a CCrane fan. But rest assured, I'll drop them like a hot rock if that goes away.

What I look for is the sensation of listening solely to content, and not the box itself. The dsp-driven 'Cranes do this pretty quickly. Ie, they don't add their own "character" to the sound. I'm just listening to high-quality content / audio and not any sort of "Crane Sound".

DSP: What this brings is a clarity of sound that normally gets smeared away with older analog only circuits. CCrane's implementation doesn't sound "digital" at all. The DSP is so fast, and not smeared with character like other makers do, that important voice and music come through that you may have never really heard before. It is a clarity and presence, and not just frequency response that is important to me for long term listening. Other makes of radios that use this chip just add their own character to the sound which I don't care to hear. Thus my bias towards Crane's.

So that means that even if listening to FM with only the single front speaker, it has an attraction that although not stereo, keeps you truly engaged. Of course the headphone jack is stereo and we'll get to that.

Front speaker: more than adequate for room filling sound. But just as important is that bass / treble slope. I don't know if they are using 6db or 12db / octave, but the resolution is natural, and there is no wasted energy at either end. Ie, no flabby 80's boombox bass, nor unusable shrill eardrum poking treble pot travel. They got it just right. The "vented enclosure" of the lunchbox doesn't sound like a lunchbox. It just disappears. Oh yeah.

Headphones: My usage here is mostly for FM stereo. Although CCrane may not sing about it much, or cater to the general news / music crowd, if you are into hi-fi, you can *certainly* put really good low impedance headphones (up to 32 ohms, or 64 ohms without pusing it too far) or earbuds on it. NOW you'll hear what the DSP truly brings. Interestingly enough, when using buds or phones, the bass / treble controls have a much wider response. Which is a GREAT thing for taming rock-out boomy v-shaped headphones, or tinny little el cheapos into something much more satisfying. 2 watts rms of audio is plenty of audio to get too loud when cranked and still not go into major distortion. My AKG K240's love it, along with a whole host of Sennheiser, Sony etc etc buds and phones. You can really dial in the response with the natural slope resolution of those knobs to get it juuuust right.

Two-Edged Sword with DSP:
The clarity the Crane's implementation of DSP will reward you in spades when listening to high quality content. Stations that actually take pride in their signal just sound fantastic. That includes not compressing original content, nor tweaking their on-air audio response to some very specific listener demographic.

But, there are stations that don't care about their quality at all, and the DSP will actually bring that clown audio to the forefront. Stations that sound like they are coming from the inside of a steel drum, or lazily pumping their poor streaming audio into the transmitters are easily identified. This kind of thing would be smeared away to an extent with older analog-only circuitry, but with DSP - it is easy to hear who is merely using their station as a "bandwidth placeholder", or actively trying to drive listeners to a wired streaming-only service. Nuff said.
 
Last edited:
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,604
#3
Ergonomics - not just for Bob's mom!

Yeah, it's retro and all that. And it works, but not just on a "mom" level. I'm no luddite, and have no problems digging into the 200 menus of my Yaesu FTDX-3000 amateur radio or other higher end stuff.

Big Knobs! Oh yeah - the two most important ones, like tuning and volume control can be grasped with a 4-finger hold. It just makes sense for very fine adjustments of either. Using it bedside and need 1/10th of a db difference? You can do it with this big knob. :)

The other knobs and switches just work fine. It totally makes it FUN to use.

Touch-Feely is important!

I come from the era of the 70's when I got involved in audio, when pots, sliders, and switches just FELT good to use. That invites you to use them, and one tends to place a little more care about their hard-earned gear. So, ok this is only a shadow of that long gone era, but the LOGIC of using larger pots, knobs and tuners, even today is appreciated.

Tell you what - I'd pay for a "special edition", that had those kinds of heavy aluminum knobs and switches again. If a younger generation is reading this, get hold of some vintage stereo gear, and just groove on it. You don't even need to have it powered up! :)

Case - nicely rounded. You can kick back on the couch with it and just tune around and get lost. It's not as heavy and awkward as the 2E is, so laptop use is possible. Cut down on weight some more by using AA's in holders.

This is something where most manufacturers have lost their way. Involve THREE senses, not just sight and sound, but FEEL too. I don't smell or lick my radios (well not every day!), but if you are going to put something out that needs all three senses to operate, cater to those 3, not just 2 of them.
 
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,604
#4
Twin-Coil tuning for newbies

The instructions in the manual are "ok", but I'd dumb it down further. Not to say people are dumb, just that they jump to conclusions too fast these days without truly exploring things. That is, I've seen the complaints "It doesn't do ANYTHING when I tune around". Yeah, cuz' you're listening to flamethrowers. :)

It would go something like this:

"Normally, leave the tuning in the normal position of the center detent. After tuning into a station, rotate the radio for best result. IF NECESSARY for weak stations, finish up with adjustment of the Twin-Coil Ferrite knob. Return it to the center position for general purpose listening again when done".

Something like that.
 
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,604
#5
AC Adapter:

I've found it to be noise-free when powering the EP-PRO. But, one can easily be fooled if that supply shares a power strip with another noisy supply.

Example:
When the EP-PRO is powered by the 6V supply on it's own, I don't hear any noise.

When I run the EP-PRO on batteries, and have just my Maha battery charger switching supply plugged into the strip, I don't hear that either. (Unless I get right on top of it).

BUT, when I run the EP-PRO's adapter AND the Maha switcher on the same strip, buzzz... Coming from the Maha, through the CCrane supply and into the radio.

So just be careful where fingers are pointed. Something like a Tripp-Lite Isobar with noise-filtering may be called for if you have to share outlets with other stuff. Ferrites help, but sometimes that ac powerstrip connection can be the easiest path.
 
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,604
#6
Pro's, but where are the cons?

Basically no cons for me. Oh SURE, I'd actually like a stereo pilot light. It helps to center in on an area of usage faster, rather than doing it by ear sometimes.

Other than that *miniscule* thing, the EP-PRO does everything I wanted it to do, and it does it nicely. Mom-radio? - I think not!
 
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,604
#8
Jay of radiojayallen (above) and Thomas at SWLing blog is good too. Those are fantastic reviews, unlike my more, um musically emotional ones. :)

Thanks for that link - both of these guys have revised reviews based on the upgraded model - due in large part to their and other owners feedback. What manufacturer actually does that these days? CCrane does that's who.
 
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,604
#9
Feature request for an advanced model

Heh, right - just what Bob wants to hear. :) I suppose I should make an official request to them directly ....

I see room for a MIDRANGE control. Great to combat those stations who have ridiculous demographic driven ota EQ. Peaking or nulling the voice range. Or for guys like me who will put headphones that cost 3 times as much as the radio itself on it to dial it in so perfectly.

Maybe a brick-wall lowpass filter for those stations who have hot / wandering FM pilot carriers, mpx filter and the like, or have misadjusted their HD sidebands interfering with the analog component.

600 ohm headphone jack option? 4 D-cell batts, especially low impedance high-capacity rechargeables should have enough oomph to support that without having to go li-ion....

Whether there's a market for that is entirely different question. I'll take 5 sight-unseen! :)
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2012
Messages
799
#10
The reason you hear the 'stepping' is because you are asking a digital chip to tune using an analog device, i.e., the potentiometer that is used to 'tune' the DSP chip. My RS Pocket Radio also ratchets across the MW band -- even across channels you can hear it ratchet. It probably uses a very similar chip. It's just the way the SiLabs chip is designed. It's a special SiLabs chip to provide digital tuning and DSP with an analog dial and mechanical tuning device (usually a potentiometer). No microprocessor needed.

I suppose they could have figured out a way to have it tune more smoothly. And you'd be paying an extra hundred bucks for it, also.

PS -- I think Sangean also pays attention to what the market wants. They updated the PR-D5 with 1 khz tuning and tone controls and made it into a radio called the PR-D15. They also produced a decent portable HD Radio using the same chassis after a few years of radio aficionados bemoaning the lack of portable HD radios.

Edit to Add: the CCRadio EP Pro does look like a good radio for the price. Glad you enjoy using it. You'll have to tell us how it works as a DXer.
 
Joined
Jul 9, 2014
Messages
6
Location
Puyallup, WA
#11
Ergonomics - not just for Bob's mom!
This is something where most manufacturers have lost their way. Involve THREE senses, not just sight and sound, but FEEL too. I don't smell or lick my radios (well not every day!), but if you are going to put something out that needs all three senses to operate, cater to those 3, not just 2 of them.
Totally agree with this! It's why my SDRs are great for when DXing gets tough (I chase Asian and So. Pacific medium wave from WA & OR), but if I really want to enjoy the full experience of radio, a good, traditional "knobs" rig is what I like. CCradio EP PRO, RF-2200, ICF-2010, and others fit the bill.
 
Joined
Dec 6, 2016
Messages
69
Location
northern Virginia, USA
#12
I'm happy to hear you are pleased with your EP Pro. I tried to buy an EP Pro a few months ago - twice. The first unit had a severely gouged cabinet, and a very ineffective attempt to fill in the damage was obvious. I was amazed they sold me a "new" radio in that condition, but I followed the advice of the customer service rep and asked for a second unit. The second unit's tuning knob was loose, and an attempt to seat it on the spindle resulted in it falling off. I called CC Crane to ask if that was normal for the EP Pro. The customer service rep recommended returning the unit. They didn't suggest any remedy, or a third try. I was not optimistic about trying a third radio by that point, so I didn't insist on it. I'm sorry I will probably not be trying my luck on their products again - I was very much looking forward to enjoying the EP Pro as much as you do. Enjoy your radio.
 
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,604
#13
KM4OBL - where are you getting those beater / return radios from? Did you buy it from CCrane themselves, or was it online where the chance of getting a beater / return / rental is high?

I got mine online from another source, and it arrived perfectly, everything wrapped right, and didn't appear to have any former owner shenanigans going on inside.

DX radio? Not for me. I have no problem with the tuning, but it's just not my style for this type of radio. For me it's mostly about music and occasional news.

Battery Test: Starting with 4 freshly charged Eneloops (inside D-cell spacers), I let the radio just shut off by itself when they ran down, and no battery was damaged. That is, like all the CCranes, they just shut off at about the 0.9v to 1v range, rather than just drain for another hour and damage the batts.
 
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,604
#14
Online ordering tip: if you aren't getting radios directly from CCrane, but perhaps from Amazon or others who *might* ship without any extra boxing around the radio, I'll purchase another item and make sure they have the same ship dates so that they will put a box around the box!

Ie, include a pack of AA batteries or something else to arrive at the same time. That usually puts both items in another outer box.

SCAMS: Places that have very liberal return policies always seem to be the scammers biggest target. And not just CCrane's, but I've had it happen in all other areas - like vehicular batteries, audio headphones, and the like.

Some forums even promote this - "so I just bought 10 of the Sennheiser high-end headphones, and spent a week trying them out and returned the 9 I didn't like." Zheesh.

Thanks for the hair-oil. Or in the case of radios, just parting out new components into one older radio they already own, and getting a return. One reason you'll see "no returns - parts only" on many online seller radio products.

Just a warning if one doesn't already know this. One reason I despise liberal return policies and not just for radios....
 
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,604
#15
KM4OBL - please don't read this like I'm accusing you. I've been burned myself over and over online. It's a sad state of affairs today where one crosses their fingers hoping for a new unit and is not an obvious return. The stuff I've gotten from CCrane directly - so far so good.

I guess I'm straying well off topic, but like many consumers, this burns me up. I would gladly pay MORE knowing that what I got *never* had a chance of being a return. That means totally destructive packaging, that can't be easily forged or counterfeited. A tiny sticker - what a joke. Shrink-wrap? Easily re-shrinked. In other words, to get the radio out means destruction of the original packaging.

Returns should ALWAYS incur more than a return shipping penalty, but also a heft restocking percentage. Like my experience with some higher end audio gear, there are those that can afford to play this rental / return shipping game. So just making the product prohibitively expensive to begin with is not an answer either.

Then again, maybe I'd be out of business in today's environment - it's a really hard call.
 
Joined
Dec 6, 2016
Messages
69
Location
northern Virginia, USA
#16
KM4OBL - where are you getting those beater / return radios from? Did you buy it from CCrane themselves, or was it online where the chance of getting a beater / return / rental is high?

I got mine online from another source, and it arrived perfectly, everything wrapped right, and didn't appear to have any former owner shenanigans going on inside.

DX radio? Not for me. I have no problem with the tuning, but it's just not my style for this type of radio. For me it's mostly about music and occasional news.

Battery Test: Starting with 4 freshly charged Eneloops (inside D-cell spacers), I let the radio just shut off by itself when they ran down, and no battery was damaged. That is, like all the CCranes, they just shut off at about the 0.9v to 1v range, rather than just drain for another hour and damage the batts.
I purchased both radios from CC Crane directly. I'm a very experienced online shopper, so I'm very capable of avoiding risky purchases. I don't engage in transactions in which I cannot recover my money if the product turns out to be defective, or not as advertised. In the case of the two radios I purchased, one clearly had been damaged before shipping, and the other also showed no signs of being damaged during shipping.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2012
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799
#17
Sorry to hear about your receiving damaged radios. Man. That sucks. The EP-pro otherwise sounds like a cool radio, but I'm radio'd up and radio'd out for now. :)
 
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May 28, 2009
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2,604
#18
KM4OBL - wow, that is really bad. That's totally unlike my experiences with them.

I must say that when I opened mine up, I noticed that the tuning was all the way to the left side, and if man-handled by a previous owner in the wrong direction, could possibly damage that tuning knob. I'm pretty sure it comes that way new.

My suggestion to CCrane would be to tell the manufacturer that prior to packaging, put the tuning in the middle or at least a few turns away from either the left hand or right hand side, for just this reason - give some headroom for the new owner for a better out of box experience so they don't twist off the knob accidentally.

But geez - it almost sounds like in your case you just got the turnarounds from somebody elses return. That just isn't right.

If you want one bad enough, maybe 3rd time's the charm - but I can totally understand about being upset. I would be.
 
Joined
Dec 6, 2016
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69
Location
northern Virginia, USA
#19
Boombox and hertzian: thanks. Yes, it was a somewhat surprising and disappointing experience. I'm not upset about it, though - there are plenty of great radios out there to purchase. I was annoyed at the time I wasted with the unpacking, re-packing and return of the two radios, but I'm not anymore. I chalked it up as (yet another) learning experience. In this day and age, I figure that all of the online shopping we have to do to get what we want is going to result in some surprises and disappointments. That's why I try to buy from vendors with clearly-expressed and adequately accommodating return and exchange policies.
 
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