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HF/MW/LW Equipment - For general and technical discussion of all receivers which cover the HF bands. For HF tranceiver discussion please use the Amateur Radio Equipment forum above.

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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 07-21-2018, 7:21 PM
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Originally Posted by clovisb31 View Post
I live 5 miles from an FM station on a 1000 ft hilltop. Of course, its not my style of music.
Almost forgot - and it may not be appropriate delving into the audiophile world, so mods please feel free to do whatever to this.

The thing that really knocked me out is that yeah, a lot of manufacturers wrap circuitry around SiLabs chips. My PL-880 for one, with its strong amp, good speaker, and overall good listenability.

Yet, one of the reasons I went nutzo on RR about the CCrane pocket and skywave was for the audio fidelity on headphones. And not their vocally-tuned buds, as much as I lived with them for over 12 hours testing them out and having no long-term fatigue.

Uh oh - with the 'Cranes I found myself liking genres of music I never really liked before because I didn't have the fidelity to enjoy it - despite big amps, speakers, lithium batteries and the like in the '880. Close, but no cigar.

WHO KNEW that when listening to composers / performers like Brett Dean with his hauntingly modernistic intense performances that I'd become a big fan? Or having the Shanghai Quartet perform Chinese Country Folk music bring me to my knees with strings seemingly guided by divine hands?

ON a "pocket" radio no less than the CC Pocket! MIND BLOWN.

Now I'm running around slapping some Grado's, Sennheisers, AKG's and whatnot collected over the years and being flabbergasted at how "transparent" the Pocket (and Skywave of course) is. Not a lot of power of course like an external headphone amp, but just WOW.

I've got some of the venerable 80's looking Koss PortaPro and KTXPRO1's coming, which I've never tried - so looking forward to trying those out on the 'Cranes and see how they work sonically. I don't care how they look, or what people might say on head-fi.

I feel like the secret hi-fi guy in a little world of his own.

Last edited by hertzian; 07-21-2018 at 7:49 PM.. Reason: Changed Dean Brett to Brett Dean - big difference!
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 07-21-2018, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by clovisb31 View Post
I live 5 miles from an FM station on a 1000 ft hilltop. Of course, its not my style of music. It will bleed over or wipe out reception of the station I DO want to listen to on some of my radios. Only my buggy grundig g5 and sangean 505 and kaito 1103 will eliminate the bleedover.
So, how selective is the front end in this little pocket radio?
Shane - although I answered this previously, I'm going to change my answer a little bit depending on how you listen to the radio.

IF you are content listening through the speaker only with no headphones attached, in a strong signal area you may be able to use some directional properties of the chassis / circuit board itself to null out any flamethrowers near you.

That is, place it vertically or horizontally and rotate it around. You'll notice that it does have some sharper directional patterns than the random wire headphone cord.

Thanks for asking that question - this is a pretty cool fm-dx'ing (within reason) tip for this whip-less radio which I never looked into before.
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  #23 (permalink)  
Old 07-22-2018, 7:35 AM
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Last word on fidelity and I'll stop ...

Just in case you might think that the Pocket and Skywave are only good for classical ... nope

I keep things rounded by having my jaw just drop when these two *genius* artists show up on my indie station

Shakey Graves
Lianne LaHavas

So yeah, even kids (or those young at heart) will enjoy the pocket.

... back to radio ...
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  #24 (permalink)  
Old 07-22-2018, 6:01 PM
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I'm sorry - because the results are so shocking, and involve a CCrane headphone product, maybe just one more time ...

My KOSS porta/sporta pro and KTXPRO1 headphones arrived. If you want to turn your 'Crane into a muddy 80's sound, go for it. Perhaps useful for listening to dolby-encoded cassettes that have no decoder on the playback machine. Ugh. PASS.

CCrane Senta-40. MUCH more listenable fidelity. My only problem with them is that there is very little "soundstage", so that while the fidelity is good overall, it sounds like say the orchestra is sitting in a straight line exactly between your ears, rather than being somewhat in front.

BUT - I don't need any "soundstage" when listening to AM, Shortwave, or definitely not when listening to planes landing on the 16R runway!

I'm a bit too critical I suppose but definitely worth it if you aren't into a huge soundstage.

Back to the Sennheiser MX-365 buds (with covers on!). NOW we can truly hear what the Pocket / Skywave is capable of, yet has an overall accurate enough response making them a joy for critical audiophile listening AS WELL AS dx'ing.

Sorry guys - I had to mention it because I think this might be important to the DX'er in the long run if they read through the lines on this matter.
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Old 07-23-2018, 6:45 PM
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I've found a decent set of headphones can help in DXing MW (especially in reducing 'listener's fatigue'), and some radios work better with different headsets. I haven't found a set of earbuds that sounded that great -- my Sonys are a little too shrill, a set I found on a local trail that looks like they fell off an IPhone don't stay in the ear, and the best sounding ones I found were dollar store earbuds.

I have a hi-fi set of earphones I use for most my radios (a dollar store or otherwise bargain set), and another similar set that is more lo-fi for listening to my PR-D5, which has a bit of 'loudness' on the output, and the bass can be a bit overbearing.

Mix and match... Seems to work the best.
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  #26 (permalink)  
Old 07-24-2018, 4:41 AM
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I'm glad you brought that up Boombox - not only for music lovers but for dx'ers as well when it comes to these "on-ear" rather than the IEM, or "in the ear canal" monitors.

I can't speak for the Sony's, but I can speak for the Sennheisers - 99% of the population don't know how to wear them right, or how important the little foam pad is!

The Sennheiser 365's are known to have big drivers in the first place. Add to that the pads, and some people are just in pain now.

PADS - they are a critical part of the system design, not just for comfort but also for frequency response, and it falls into two categories:

1) The frequency response, as designed from the factory is with the pads ON. Just like you don't wear larger over-the-ear, or on-the-ear head-clamping headphones without pads or earcups, neither should you go without on the buds. Measurements on laboratory dummy-heads proves this out with the sponge on and sponge off graphs showing a wide disparity and the design is that for the pads being on.

Now the previously "thin" sound of the 365's grow with the proper amount of bass and midrange clarity. This means you don't have to drive them as loud to compensate, which can muddy sound, or do overdrive damage eventually. Also, the highs are no longer so strident, but more detailed. Because these are on-ear buds, and not in-the-canal IEM types, that added bass and midrange is well under control, not boomy or monotonous, but detailed. (dx'ers are yawning already.)

This means you can truly enjoy hi-fi, or pull out that weak station ID when dx'ing.

2) Improper wear - even with the 365's larger driver, and made even larger with the pads, most wear them the wrong way. Just like you shouldn't have to mash studio monitors into your head with your hands, neither do you have to get lobe-smashingly tight with these. The pads again are key.

Just a gentle nudge into your ears, but not fully down next to the canal is all it takes. The slight amount of pad friction hold them in place, without having to be "inside" your ear so to speak. Just against something in your ear enough not to fall out by force of gravity and a little bit of pad friction. Thus you can actually accommodate larger drivers.

Ironically, if one is wearing them properly, then they *should* fall out on occasion, or need a slight tweak now and then. It's a small price to pay for that kind of comfort, and most importantly, fidelity.

But, many think of these as jogging or work-out phones. They are not. But they are commonly put to that use by not wearing the pads, and trying to jam them way down low for some sort of really snug hook-my-canal fit. They are NOT meant to be snug, but just barely hanging in there with a tiny amound of pad friction. The drivers don't have to be perfectly centered over the canal - just a gentle tap is all that is needed. One doesn't have to try and emulate an IEM canal type by perfectly centering the drivers outside the canals.

This is one reason you can barely trust ANY online reviews, because the vast majority of people don't use the pads - or those that do try to smash the whole package all the way in. In the end, I believe this is part of the reason that this type of earbud is so hard to find - the manufacturer's don't include instructions, and some don't even realize that the drivers are keyed to left and right ears individually in some cases, like this model.

"Ow, these things hurt, they fall out, and they sound tinny! - do not buy" is the common refrain. Yes, some ears are just too small, but I'll bet that if taught to wear them properly, many of the smaller ears would do just fine without pain.

Maybe I put the graph measurements to the link for these in the other thread on the Skywave. I'll have to check. Ah, here it is - a few charts down show the sponge-on and sponge-off response. Because these are on-ear, and not IEM's, don't initially get too freaked out at the improved response down low:

http://en.goldenears.net/25818

But thanks again for bringing this up, as this style of earbud, in a high-fidelity version at least, is getting harder and harder to find.

Last edited by hertzian; 07-24-2018 at 5:08 AM..
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  #27 (permalink)  
Old 08-07-2018, 9:55 PM
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Default Honorable mention: AKG K240S headphones w/ Pocket

I won't go too far into the audiophile aspects other than to say that the classic K240 sound signature became immediately apparent: no long-term listener fatigue from the signature sound.

The laid-back midrange without any serious peaks also means that for classical listening, whenever a wind instrument like a clarinet or oboe decides to perform a solo, holding certain notes forever, the lack of major midrange peaks means that it won't sound like you are being beamed up to the UFO hovering above your house. You can spend a entire shift in these - provided the pads are to your liking. Covered elsewhere.

One can spend a lifetime reading up on the pros and cons of these cans elsewhere, so I won't get into that too much.

BUT, there are some attractive things *for this application*.

The Pockets' 500mw of drive (and Skywave too) have enough oomph to only need about 50 percent of the audio pot travel to achieve comfortably loud levels without any noticeable lack of quality on this average 55-ohm studio version. Maybe I'll cross the bridge over to a dedicated headphone amp, but for now I can sidle up to that level of performance and be happy enough. For now.

The transition from earbuds to a semi-closed back makes the transition not so claustrophobic like my closed-can Senn HD 280's - which need even a little more drive.

How about a 10-foot long antenna? Yep, that is the length of the straight cord that comes with it with some distinct advantages over the short buds:

1) Radio nerds like me will find that the added length means that I can dx weak stations, or move the whole tangly mass from my lap to some position that will get out of multipath, and still have a bit of movement in my listening environment. Inverted-Vee anyone? Impress friends by wrapping a couple loops of #43 ferrite snap-ons to "tune" the cord length. Put on foil hat.

2) The cord and connector is lightweight enough, that with just the smallest amount of common-sense care, you won't be ripping the Pockets' audio connector out. One can always utilize the belt-loop to tuck in some cable as a strain relief too, but I find myself not worrying so much about that as I do with the Sennheiser cans.

PROBLEM: The AKG's, while laid-back in midrange, are still detailed enough that listening to *certain* AM stations reveal their horrid audio compression, EQ, and other truly nasty marketing effects. So much so, that many sound like they have placed their live studio robot-announcers *inside* a Jamaican steel-drum. Not the fault of the Pocket / Skywave nor the SiLabs chip. Analog AM can sound great, but it takes a station that knows what they are doing, instead of chasing the vibrant "sound of today" who turned all the digital gain pots to Eleven. Gack!

Can you tell that the CCradio Pocket and Skywave have brought back a whole lotta' fun for me without any major disappointments overall?
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  #28 (permalink)  
Old 08-08-2018, 8:22 AM
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Just dx'ed KKJZ 88.1 from the Pocket and "AKG longwire" antenna!

Tricky haul from Long Beach up into Santa Clarita. Routed down couch, over table, back down to floor and bang - stereo lock!

Not sure if Jazz is my thing. But the transmitter sounds so good, with no obnoxious weird EQ. Sultry smokin' ladies singing to my heart. Can't stop listening.

Is this my "Return to Forever" moment?

Hah, loving it!

Last edited by hertzian; 08-08-2018 at 8:26 AM..
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  #29 (permalink)  
Old 08-08-2018, 9:08 PM
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Default Why the Sennheiser 365 earbuds with the Pocket is a total secret

Bouncing between radio and audio nerd, I think I have finally nailed it all down on why I'm so nutzo over the Pocket and the inexpensive Sennheiser 365 earbuds for critical listening. A quality analog FM transmission is needed at the start obviously - gigo.

It comes down this this: With a quality set of earbuds that sit in the CONCH of your ear, it is the closest thing you can get to listening to a pair of quality non-bass ported or reflex speakers. Bass is tight, but not floor-shaking or bone-rattling deep.

And unlike the immersive experience of headphones or IEM's, a proper earbud pair *in the conch* does what manufacturers spend loads of engineering and tuning trying to achieve with other techniques. For the earbuds, this comes naturally if done right.

The Senn 365's fulfill that need. Not every model in this very limited lineup do this. Trying to find other manufacturers that produces an "earbud" model - that actually sounds good - is hard to find. Note that these are not "studio monitors", but have an elevated response that I would consider for an entertaining "final mix".

So - put the pads on to get the frequency response it was designed for. Put it in the conch of your ear, NOT jamming it down to your ear canal.

YES, when worn lightly like this, you may have to *gently* tap them back into place. But the effect is not unlike merely moving out of the focal point of a pair of speakers, not a total lack of fidelity.

The world, including myself, is not that smart. INSTRUCTIONS about this, and maybe a little explanation like I'm doing would have gone a long way decades ago.

Do what you want of course - but perhaps any audiophiles reading this that think headphones or IEM's are the only way to go, might want to see if the "conch sound" is something to play with.
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  #30 (permalink)  
Old 08-08-2018, 10:09 PM
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For that price, I would consider the Tecsun PL-380 instead.
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Old 08-09-2018, 10:21 AM
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I'm a little late to the party but: I own a few C. Crane radios, both pocket and larger portable radios. All are am/sw/fm. I'd have to say that by and large, they are pretty good radios. The pocket ones are different than the one in the original post. Given the size, the built in speaker isn't much to write home about. I've tried them with headphones and for any amount of listening, headphones are the way to go. The larger, portable models on the other hand offer much nicer audio from the internal speaker. It's fairly comfortable to listen to over an extended period. These were my first SW radios since owning a hand-me-down Knight regen receiver as a youngster. That was fun too.


Hertzian, you're making me spend too much time in the past!
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Old 08-15-2018, 6:45 AM
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I've tried the PL-380. Fun, but not fidelity enough for my needs. And, the whole price / performance thing, while valid, is not my major metric when buying.

I find when I play that game, it usually costs me more since I end up buying what I *really* want later.

There is something that CCrane seems to be doing really right when it comes to interfacing with the SiLabs chips, that makes them transparent, and less colorized than other brands. I'm probably waaay pickier than most.

Bharvey - The pocket and CCranes I'm using are the latest models. I gave some feedback to CCrane regarding that very low-level tick I hear (and the easy field-fix explained above) for us nuts that might spend hundreds of dollars on high-end headphones with the Pocket - much more so than mere studio-monitor cans. I think they are *that good* to justify it if one wants to go there. When I realized that, it blew my mind.
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Old 08-15-2018, 6:50 AM
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Default Auto-mute on Pocket confirmed !

Thought I was going crazy earlier when very very low-level classical passages would go quiet and I thought I could hear the muting gates opening and closing.

Well, my classical KUSC station just went to dead-carrier for about 10 minutes. Low level bandnoise was heard for a little bit, and then the auto mute took over, and closed the gates even when the signal level was still full smash.

But then, they went totally off the air - no carrier at all. Still down. And now, I have just open bandnoise again.

Update: switched to the Skywave, and with its extra sensitivity, it seems they must have gone to the lower-power backup transmitter. Still noisy, but better than nothing on the Pocket. To be expected of course since the Pocket is a slightly different animal...

SO! The muting gates are active whilst a carrier is up, but not modulating. I wonder if there is an adjustable level to make them close at a much lower level so I don't hear them closing prematurely for this picky hi-fi nut.

Last edited by hertzian; 08-15-2018 at 6:55 AM..
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Old 08-15-2018, 9:36 AM
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Originally Posted by hertzian View Post
I've tried the PL-380. Fun, but not fidelity enough for my needs. And, the whole price / performance thing, while valid, is not my major metric when buying.

I find when I play that game, it usually costs me more since I end up buying what I *really* want later.

There is something that CCrane seems to be doing really right when it comes to interfacing with the SiLabs chips, that makes them transparent, and less colorized than other brands. I'm probably waaay pickier than most.

Bharvey - The pocket and CCranes I'm using are the latest models. I gave some feedback to CCrane regarding that very low-level tick I hear (and the easy field-fix explained above) for us nuts that might spend hundreds of dollars on high-end headphones with the Pocket - much more so than mere studio-monitor cans. I think they are *that good* to justify it if one wants to go there. When I realized that, it blew my mind.
Ah, I definitely don't have the latest model. Mine radios are at least five years old, maybe older. To be honest, I've never really put the pocket model through its paces. I've used it for strong, local stations and it does fine there. Given its size I didn't expect a whole lot from its RF/IF sections. Two features I wish mine had are an external antenna jack on the pocket radio and SSB capability on both the pocket (or at least the larger portable/table model. One feature I do like about the larger one is that it uses both AA and D batteries. It can run on either.
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  #35 (permalink)  
Old 08-15-2018, 8:12 PM
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If you're happy with the older pocket - stay with it - but I think that there is a quantum leap when going to the modern versions that have the SiLabs chips inside.

That's no guarantee of success - to me it just seems that CCrane is trying to take advantage of it, rather than some others who might be using it solely to reduce board parts count, or merely checking off the features list.

Ah, the larger 2E model - also with the SiLabs chips - much better than my older one(s) for sure!

Of course now, even using high-performance D-size nimh batteries, I'd love to see a higher-powered amp to drive my 64 ohm studio monitors a bit more efficiently etc etc. Different product obviously.

But if they *did*, somehow I suspect that they wouldn't try to fool us with techniques like using huge amounts of negative feedback to get artificially low THD, spoiling the sound, just to play a game of specs-manship with others. That kind of thing is the feeling I get from them here.

No shill here. If someone can actually do better, and not just play the bench-racing spec game, then bring it on! Just know that I might put a pair of Sennheiser HD650's with a tube amp behind it to see what's up. That's more important to me than 10 pages of review discussions about the change in speaker-grill.

Getting off track - nothing's perfect, but *maybe* consider a modern pocket or skywave if you just want to see what it's like on the other side of the wall ...
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Old 08-16-2018, 9:45 AM
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Originally Posted by hertzian View Post

Just know that I might put a pair of Sennheiser HD650's with a tube amp behind it to see what's up.
Isn't that taking things a bit far? That makes us radio guys look a bit nerdy! ;-)

As far as the pocket radio goes, I don't use it much. The larger one is much more "my speed"
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Old 08-19-2018, 2:35 AM
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Default Tan Dun composer - via Pocket

Oh man - just listened to Tan Dun for the first time really - and I'm speechless. His Peony Pavilion - Bitter Love 1-14 - circa 1998 - (Sony 61658) and my AKG K240 combo - just made it ALL, including my environment fade away.

It's not a big hi-fi setup according to most audiophiles for sure - but it sure did honor him. Glad I was home to hear it.

What made it especially cool, was that it was done via ANALOG RADIO. Sure I can get a recording / file of it, but the magic of Tan Dun's compositions by analog radio made it that much more special. That alone was worth the price of the Pocket. Wow.

bharvey - heh, that tube amp would be over the top, but it's a gigo thing - classical KUSC, and the cleanliness of their analog hybrid component, is just sooo nice.

I've got a Fiio A5 headphone amp headed my way. We'll see how it plays with the Pocket / Skywave / 2E...

Last edited by hertzian; 08-19-2018 at 2:42 AM..
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Old 08-19-2018, 5:23 PM
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Getting off track from the Pocket, but just to show it doesn't take a rackfull of gear to enjoy hi-fi.

The quality of the sound is making ME creative. Too late for me now, but I could see how something as simple as this could make someone want to be a composer themselves.

It awoke my prog-rock roots. Could you imagine these collaborations:

Tan Dun and Brian Eno?
Robert Fripp / King Crimson and Ying Haung on vocals ! ?

Fripp's "starless" as sung by Ying would mean that I must have thrown off my mortal coil. The 2015 performance in Takamatsu in particular. As good as the video looks, video is a distraction to my own imagination when I listen, so it's headphones on, eyes closed, and drift off into the universe ...

.... sidetracked .. we'll see what the FIIO amp brings to the party ...

Last edited by hertzian; 08-19-2018 at 6:07 PM..
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:52 PM
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Default FiiO headphone amp - total failure

I'd be upset if this failure wasn't so funny.

Got the A3 model due to a shipping error when I expected the A5. Red flag right there.

RF NOISE FAIL: How about 3-4 bars of additional fm bandnoise as seen on empty channels? It didn't matter whether I used the 1-inch jumper, or my 15 foot jumper across the room. Only powerhouse full-quieting stations made it through that, but there's no way I'm going to live with that going on underneath!

Out came the #43 ferrites - buried loops of the input cabling with the ferrites, and only knocked down the interference from 4 s-units to 3.

This made use with the pocket a joke. The Skywave with it's external antenna - a little better but still major noise. How about the Desktop 2E model? Same problem. Weak to medium strength stations are just gone. I suspect desense.

AUDIO OUTPUT POWER - don't bother with the A3, even if it was rf quiet!

The A3 is listed as 270mw @ 32 ohms, and 450mw @ 16 ohms ... not much of a difference from the stock output, although I haven't verified the CCrane audio output levels vs impedance.

The rf noise issue put all the rest of the problems as moot points of interest.

It did answer one question though - on the 2E desktop model, the bass / treble controls are not inline with the line-level outputs. I've seen that before on some radios, so I was interested in testing that. When using line leve outputs, as opposed to the headphone outputs, of course it was much cleaner and precise.

Although the FiiO amp totally failed in the rf-noise department, it *saved* me money in the long run - I can't trust *ANY* reviews about headphone amps when it comes to FM Radio, simply because nobody addresses / tests for it.

Maybe the closest I've seen address the issue is the Schiit Magni 3 with it's linear power supply. BUT, how about common-mode radiation issues? I just don't know. I'm too gun-shy and now wallet-poor to test if fm-radio performance is up to snuff with the Magni ... someone else will have to be the tester for that...

So there ya' go kids - stick to efficient headphones / earbuds, because unless an external amp has been tested for rf-noise issues, you may just end up emptying your wallet. For now, put the amp-money into better high-efficiency head-gear, and listen to the CCrane's stock output.

Last edited by hertzian; 08-20-2018 at 11:09 PM..
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Old 08-21-2018, 12:00 AM
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Default Lets look on the bright side despite the problem

Right - so the FiiO amp has an RF noise problem making it a non-player for me. You can't cover up Lei Xu with noise!

However, when just messing around with the firebreather signals, and despite the lower audio output power of the A3 vs the A5, the big issue is that the CCrane audio output is good enough to justify using an outboard audio amp - provided the amp doesn't desense your radio in the first place.

I won't "review" the A3, or how it is not a good fit for "stacking" with the Pocket - jacks are on the wrong side, making the pot reside just over the battery door. That means a one-finger slide of the pot, instead of a two-finger pincer rotation. The pot's ok, but not THAT good. The one finger slide would get tiring pretty quickly.

Same goes for soundstage, warmth, bass boost (ugh), and so forth. Won't go there. I'm still listening for fun though.

The point is gigo - and the CCran'es audio output I believe can be taken to another level if one wishes...

Last edited by hertzian; 08-21-2018 at 1:43 AM..
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