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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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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 06-27-2018, 4:27 PM
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Default C Crane CC Pocket - in my pocket!

Really? Blown away by a pocket radio? YES.

Online video reviews don't do it justice. Quite frankly, this type of receiver held no interest for me since I started listening to KHJ in Los Angeles back in 1966 as a kid. I took my 9v transistor radio everywhere. It was my most treasured posession. I could listen to it all day and frequently did. I suppose listener-fatigue wasn't an issue back then.

52 years later, I never thought this type of receiver was worth the time of day. I was so wrong, and this isn't just me taking a trip down memory lane.

#1 - Audio fidelity amazing - from headphones obviously. The buds that are supplied are really decent, but just as important is the radio that supplies that. What a combo. Not booming. Not hissy! Not nasally flat either! The key point that became immediately clear that I was no longer listening through a radio with it's own characteristic, but just the content itself. The radio disappears essentially.

I'm one of those crazy stereo dudes from the past, and things like listener fatigue, and audio response are REAL important. And no, my high-range hearing is still good, so I'm sensitive to hiss, phase distortion and the like. If there is a characteristic frequency response, it is from the station, and not the CC Pocket and it's earbuds. Wow.

FM stereo response so nice, but so is AM !!

The ability to choose between a wide 4K and narrow 2.5K filter for AM actually works! Audibly on most modern receivers, that *sounds* like an 8K and 5K filter. At first I was worried that 2.5 would be nuts. Once heard I understood.

BOTH filters are actually useful and do what they do *properly*. 2.5k narrow is fine for listening, and aside from what it was intended to do, and does not add any strange frequency response peak or dip to it. Narrow is usable - long term if you like!

Other notes:
Yes, the front speaker is small. But it is adequate for this type of radio. It's about as good as it's going to get at that size. Let's get real - freq response is ok. If you want hi-fi, you go headphones.

Headphone cord is an external antenna for FM and Weather. But the big point is that somebody was SMART about it, and has it totally disconnected (as an antenna) when listening to the internal AM loopstick antenna. So, you can actually wear the 'phones, and dx or rotate the radio without the cord distorting the reception pattern. That's BIG. And as a convenience, if you don't wear phones, they supply a little bit of dummy wire you plug into the headphone jack if you need it for FM or Wx - while still being able to select the external speaker.

Basically, there are no dumb engineering blunders with this radio and performance is really good. This, and the audio quality means that you truly WILL have it with you in your pocket more often than you think.

I mean, I thought this would be a fun toy to play with for an hour or so every once in awhile. WRONG - it is a really good radio. For either a picky audio fidelity fan, or for a dx'er needing a pocket TOOL, with no listener-fatigue penalty.

I'll fess up - I did relive the past by tuning into KSUR oldies (K-SURF) with all the same tunes I heard on KHJ back in '66. But with a "space age" radio now. Yeah, the CCrane buds sounded good when listening to the streaming service on my laptop with a nice pretty picture of the beach. Instead, have more REAL fun by taking the CC Pocket to the actual beach! BIG DIFFERENCE.

As a gift - if you have a youngster showing interest in radio (rare), don't saddle them with a piece of junk spoiling the experience at the start. Give them this *real* radio, and it just might make all the difference in the world. As it did to me 52 years ago.

Last edited by hertzian; 06-27-2018 at 5:35 PM..
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Old 06-27-2018, 8:35 PM
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6+ hours and counting ...

Haven't taken the buds off yet. No fatigue on a variety of formats. Kind of like wearing phones for a long studio session without having to throw the cans across the room. They got the freq response right.

For me, 500mw of audio available means that rather than making the audio louder overall, I have depth / dynamic range capabilties. Other lower powered radios compensate with crappy bass-boost. Try listening to that for 8 hours. Or a noisy / phasey bright high end for 8 hours.... The CC Pocket and buds got it right.

No joke - hearing loss is not just about volume - frequency response / distortion is just as important. For my long term test, which is still on-going, shooting for 12 hours, so far so good.
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Old 06-28-2018, 2:57 AM
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12 hours constant headphone listening passes test ...

YES! After roughly 12 hours of mostly FM stereo listening, I have no ear-ringing even after a 1 hour stabilization period. My right ear usually goes first, and this is with in-the-ear-canal buds, where I'm particularly susceptible.

Got grounded with an hour or two on FM with classical KUSC to make sure the instruments sound like they should. Pushed it almost too far loud listening for hours to my awesome local college station KCSN and it's generation-spanning format with plenty of dynamic range.

Heh, just because my body has made a few trips around the sun doesn't mean I can't stay young in mind with radio... I'm still waiting to hear The Seeds on it.

Nighttime AM - ok, so the narrow filter doesn't seem very brick-wall, but it is helpful at night when everybody is rolling in. I'll cut the pocket radio a break here. A Terk or Tecsun little tunable loop and placing it close to the pocket would easily cure the need for table-top dx'ing. My next move would be a Drake R8-B with 8-foot box loop, so let's be realistic....

I guess I really like the CC Pocket. Since I have no ear-ringing, I'll put the buds back in for a few more hours before hitting the bricks for the night.

BOSS radio for sure! (you old KHJ listeners know what I mean)
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Old 06-29-2018, 3:13 AM
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Update on my second unit:

Yeah, I actually got two of them - one for me and one for the bug-out bag in the car.

Ooops - the second one has a little bit of a heterodyne on 1070 KNX, so I had to use the 1khz tuning step option to go off freq a little bit. I don't hear this het on my first one.

Not a big enough deal for me to go bananas over, since I have the 1 khz tuning option available and just off-tune it a tad.

Back to the Blues Magoos.
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Old 06-29-2018, 5:34 AM
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Display noise and alternate fix:

Noticed that if you hold your thumb over the display you can induce slight noise on weak AM signals, especially when listening to the speaker alone.

So don't hold your thumb over the display or do a top-pincer type hold when rotating it for least noise. It may make the peak / null harder to find - and when you let go you may not be in the best position.

You can also induce noise a little bit by holding the unit say with your left hand, and your thumb fully extending to the top just to the side of the display. Or holding it in your palm strangely by the top half only.

Seems like body capacitance near the display is not a good thing. The worst way to induce this is to hold the radio in your left hand with thumb over the display, and with the other hand, hold the bottom of the radio where the loopstick is. Normal people, even dx'ers aren't going to hold the radio this way!! But I think when listening to weak dx, your hand can provide an unwanted path between display and loopstick. Again, mostly notable when you want to pretend that this pocket radio is a handheld Drake R8B.

Ok, NOW I understand the option to disable the display entirely if you notice this issue. I didn't at first because of this workaround which seems to work just as well:

Instead of using the display-off feature, when you are listening to speaker only, plug in the headphones! You won't hear anything from them, but they seem to provide some sort of additional groundplane to the unit lowering the overall noise. It still does not seem to be an antenna for AM, distorting the pattern. That's great.

So if you are dx'ing very weak signals, with this thing, just keep your thumbs/hand away from the display, AND even if you don't listen to headphones, just leave them plugged in and tossed across the desk. A slightly lower noise floor on weak am signals is now noticeable.

I don't know exactly what's happening, but it seems to work just as well as turning the entire display off.

And now I know why some reviewers said that the display-off feature didn't do anything. That's because they were either listening to AM with headphones already, or weren't holding it abnormally forcing the noise issue by providing an easy path from display to antenna.

So now when I'm holding it and dx'ing a weak station, my thumb now rests to the left of the speaker instead of up near the display and I keep my fingers below the display as well on the back. No biggie, since I listten to mostly local stations, but occasionally I'll dx. Now I know how to get the best out of it when dx'ing.

Last edited by hertzian; 06-29-2018 at 6:03 AM.. Reason: Path from display to antenna and fix
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Old 06-29-2018, 9:52 AM
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Glad you're enjoying your new radio(s) so much.
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Old 06-30-2018, 3:50 AM
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Default FIXED the "het" tone on my second unit!

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Originally Posted by sshermanmd View Post
Glad you're enjoying your new radio(s) so much.
You bet! I just fixed what appeared to be an annoying little heterodyne on my second unit. Kind of a misnomer being a dsp radio I guess.

Rolling through the AM bands on both of my CC Pockets were pretty clean. But, the second unit had an annoying little "heterodyne" tone on KNX 1070. Off-tuning it with the 1khz option helped, but now that I know that it was there, it was driving me nuts - my brain was looking for it now.

A two part solution was found:

I did the factory reset with the unit off, and holding memory buttons 1 and 5 at the same time for more than 2 seconds as indicated in the manual. 4 beep sounds are heard, and the display, memories and so on are reset.

Whaddy'a know - No het tone on 1070 when I manually tuned it up! BUT, once I put that frequency into memory, or any other frequency into a memory, and manually tuned back to 1070 or recalled the memory, the het was back!

Knowing that the CC Pocket was capable of reception without the tone, I searched long and hard for some sort of sequence to trick whatever was just on the edge of spec.

To make a long story short, I found it:

1) Put at least one non-factory memory into the unit.
2) Power off, and pull one of the batteries for a few seconds, and put it back in. Power back on. No more het tone.
3) Not necessary to do this for my first one. This info just in case you run into this.

Now the het is gone when manually tuned or recalled from memory.

I'm probably making it sound worse that it is. I'm picky, but this is not enough for me to return it, especially since the first one is just fine, and the fix for the second one is child's play. The sum of the parts more than offsets this one little bug, on just ONE frequency across the entire band.

That was fun. I think I like the second one better now that a little bit of my soul went into finding a solution for a dinky problem.

Last edited by hertzian; 06-30-2018 at 4:00 AM..
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Old 07-01-2018, 4:44 PM
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About the "het" tone fix:

Don't confuse this with a REAL heterodyne generated by something in your local environment beating against your desired station - it can sound similar!

I tested against my *other* CC Pocket, a CC 2E, and other receivers, and no het was evident so that's why I looked into it further.

In this case, it has nothing to do with the actual radio rf section, but is more of a memory-related function thing - and just on this one unit on 1070 only. Writing a frequency into memory, and then trying to recall 1070 seems to trigger the low constant het. Once anything is in memory, and is powered down and voltage removed by removing a battery, and powering back up seems to alter something in the memory recall sequence enough so that the het quicky goes away. I'm not a software / hardware guy, but this might be reproducable on the bench.

I don't have to remove and re-insert a battery at every powerup - only if I write some new frequency into any memory position, and try to recall 1070. Removing and re-inserting a battery fixes it.

For me, this is a *minor* issue, on just this one unit, and doesn't prevent me from fully enjoying the radio. Maybe it got electrostatically zapped in shipping - who knows...

Basically this is presented as a quick in-field fix if you come across this, and is NOT a go-bananas nit-pick. The fix is simple. I love my CCranes...

Last edited by hertzian; 07-01-2018 at 5:13 PM..
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Old 07-02-2018, 3:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hertzian View Post
You bet! I just fixed what appeared to be an annoying little heterodyne on my second unit. Kind of a misnomer being a dsp radio I guess.

Rolling through the AM bands on both of my CC Pockets were pretty clean. But, the second unit had an annoying little "heterodyne" tone on KNX 1070. Off-tuning it with the 1khz option helped, but now that I know that it was there, it was driving me nuts - my brain was looking for it now.

A two part solution was found:

I did the factory reset with the unit off, and holding memory buttons 1 and 5 at the same time for more than 2 seconds as indicated in the manual. 4 beep sounds are heard, and the display, memories and so on are reset.

Whaddy'a know - No het tone on 1070 when I manually tuned it up! BUT, once I put that frequency into memory, or any other frequency into a memory, and manually tuned back to 1070 or recalled the memory, the het was back!

Knowing that the CC Pocket was capable of reception without the tone, I searched long and hard for some sort of sequence to trick whatever was just on the edge of spec.

To make a long story short, I found it:

1) Put at least one non-factory memory into the unit.
2) Power off, and pull one of the batteries for a few seconds, and put it back in. Power back on. No more het tone.
3) Not necessary to do this for my first one. This info just in case you run into this.

Now the het is gone when manually tuned or recalled from memory.

I'm probably making it sound worse that it is. I'm picky, but this is not enough for me to return it, especially since the first one is just fine, and the fix for the second one is child's play. The sum of the parts more than offsets this one little bug, on just ONE frequency across the entire band.

That was fun. I think I like the second one better now that a little bit of my soul went into finding a solution for a dinky problem.
Microprocessor glitch somewhere... or firmware...

My Sangean PR-D5 needs a reboot now and then or the power button can lag. Pull out a battery, pull the AC plug, wait 15 seconds... It seems with most of these microprocessor controlled radios (that means most of them made since the 1990's) there is at least one peculiarity somewhere. It's just the nature of them.

We deal with more with our computers sometimes, so it's not that huge a deal when you think about it, just part of the game...
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Old 07-02-2018, 6:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boombox View Post
Microprocessor glitch somewhere... or firmware... We deal with more with our computers sometimes, so it's not that huge a deal when you think about it, just part of the game...
For most people it's not huge, but for us radio-propeller head guys it can be.

ANOTHER FIX! (same one actually for different problem)

It's kind of a back-handed testament to how good this radio is. Super low noise floor, and cc buds with a really decent frequency curve allow me to dx the internal circuitry itself to hear issues that many won't notice. That's a real tough engineering issue - especially in a package this small.

1/2 second clock pulse removal:

Listening to my classical station, where there are long quiet pauses in music revealed a 1/2 second or so clock tick way down in the noise floor dungeon. I mean WAAAY down. Still seems related to the memory storage.

If you hear these ticks way down in the noise floor, just remove the voltage from the unit by powering down, temporarily remove a battery, re-insert and power up again. Ticks are gone until the next time you write a station to a memory. Just do this again and you are back in business.

Some might accuse me of listening to the Amboy Duke's "Journey To The Center Of The Mind" too loud and too often when I was younger.

I'm stoked. Again these are issues most normal people won't even notice. I think I've reached Pocket-Nirvana now...
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Old 07-03-2018, 3:09 PM
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Setting the clock also brings on the het for am and 1/2 second pulsing for FM / weather.

The same fix applies - temporarily remove a battery and re-insert it.

My first unit shows this issue, but instead of a het on 1070, a much lower amplitude version of it is on 1050. The clock pulse is heard on 95.1 fm on both units. The battery hack fixes both units.

I have to cut C Crane some slack here. How does any normal human track something like this down, unless you know about the battery hack up front to make tracking it down repeatable on the bench?

It's an issue with so many variables changing like signal strength, format (dynamic classical vs steady rock), individual build differences and possibly suspecting the RF section first, instead of the memory / clock circuitry being the culprit.

The battery removal and reinsertion hack is easy enough for picky listeners like me. It isn't a show-stopper. And unlike some who may want to get all dramatic about it, instead I think I'll pick up a set of CCrane Senta over-ear headphones because I like the Pocket's so much.

STILL BLOWN AWAY by a pocket radio:

Despite the easily fixable issues noted above, let's get back to why I fell in love with the CC Pocket. Unless it is Jethro Tull rockin' his flute, I have *never* heard a classical artist doing things like taking a quick breaths, discretely clearing their instrument, or even the mechanical movement of woodwind keys every now and then.

Granted, classical KUSC has some awesome recordings. Microphone positioning obviously plays a big part. But I'm hearing this way more often than I used to, and I think that has to do with the Pocket's exceptional engineering. On my analog gear, this would be just smeared out.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I think the Pocket is a great little powerhouse. I don't need any "HD" channel. I have it now.

Last edited by hertzian; 07-03-2018 at 3:39 PM..
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Old 07-04-2018, 3:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hertzian View Post
Setting the clock also brings on the het for am and 1/2 second pulsing for FM / weather.

The same fix applies - temporarily remove a battery and re-insert it.

My first unit shows this issue, but instead of a het on 1070, a much lower amplitude version of it is on 1050. The clock pulse is heard on 95.1 fm on both units. The battery hack fixes both units.

I have to cut C Crane some slack here. How does any normal human track something like this down, unless you know about the battery hack up front to make tracking it down repeatable on the bench?

It's an issue with so many variables changing like signal strength, format (dynamic classical vs steady rock), individual build differences and possibly suspecting the RF section first, instead of the memory / clock circuitry being the culprit.

The battery removal and reinsertion hack is easy enough for picky listeners like me. It isn't a show-stopper. And unlike some who may want to get all dramatic about it, instead I think I'll pick up a set of CCrane Senta over-ear headphones because I like the Pocket's so much.

STILL BLOWN AWAY by a pocket radio:

Despite the easily fixable issues noted above, let's get back to why I fell in love with the CC Pocket. Unless it is Jethro Tull rockin' his flute, I have *never* heard a classical artist doing things like taking a quick breaths, discretely clearing their instrument, or even the mechanical movement of woodwind keys every now and then.

Granted, classical KUSC has some awesome recordings. Microphone positioning obviously plays a big part. But I'm hearing this way more often than I used to, and I think that has to do with the Pocket's exceptional engineering. On my analog gear, this would be just smeared out.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I think the Pocket is a great little powerhouse. I don't need any "HD" channel. I have it now.
Chances are high the radio has both a microprocessor and a SiLabs DSP chip, both of which are capable of being controlled by the keypad -- the DSP chip is probably controlled by microprocessor functions. The RF amp of the DSP chip might be picking up stray RFI from the microprocessor, and at worst the DSP chip itself may only have a birdie or two.

My PRD5 has no birdies, and it has both a microprocessor and a DSP chip. So some DSP radios don't have much in the way of birdies.

My Grundig G2 (which has a DSP chip) has some chit noises in certain parts of MW and SW, probably from the microprocessor bleeding over to the DSP chip somehow. My Radio Shack pocket radio has a DSP chip alone, and probably performs similarly to your CCrane, except it has no digital readout and the FM is mono. I haven't listened to the local classical station on the pocket radio, or very much on the G2 or PRD5 for that matter, but I know that the G2 sounds *terrific* on FM (through headphones), and I think most DSP radios are excellent on FM as well.
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Old 07-05-2018, 3:32 AM
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Interesting thing about the SiLabs chip(s) - which I knew were in it, but didn't realize how good they were. One would think I would be familiar owning a CC Radio 2E, but I never put headphones to it!

The FM analogy is kind of like going from a good old analog NTSC video signal, to an 1080 HD video signal, and starting to notice imperfections in the talent's facial features needing a bit of studio makeup!

Ok, I guess I could suspect it from the 2E, but from the pocket? Blown away on the definition. Even AM has some added definition that is appreciated.

SOFT MUTE issue: Yeah, all us dx'ers hate soft mutes, but I'm not going to go nuts about it with the pocket. However, an interesting issue different from mere band-tuning shows up when listening to classical music that may be endemic to the entire soft-mute of the SiLab chips in general:

When listening to a classical piece that has say 3 parts to it, there is usually a bit of dead-air in between the parts. At times, at least on the pocket so far, I can listen down to the point where it mutes in between parts. And the kicks back in when the next part starts making the experience a little weird.

Or, a very very quiet long string-note intro or what sounds like a fade, can mute a little bit too soon. Or what sounds like a mute.

I need to talk to an engineer to figure out if the chip is doing the muting on a pre-existing signal, or if it is SO good, that maybe I'm picking up changes in a compander at the studio, that would go a bit unnoticed on analog gear.

Last edited by hertzian; 07-05-2018 at 5:08 AM.. Reason: Removed some of my soft-mute rant until I talk to a studio engineer
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Old 07-05-2018, 5:04 AM
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I've been using a CC Pocket for several years now as a travel radio ranging from Maine to Indiana. It has great reception (can pick up WBZ Boston 1030 AM anywhere I bring it), great sound (through the earbuds) and very good sound for a speaker of this size, and long life from a set of batteries. For the price, it is a Great Bargain! Most of my family now have their own. Can't beat it at anywhere near the price.
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Old 07-09-2018, 10:06 PM
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I feel the same way NightOwl!

I got the replacement unit in today, and it is much better than the one of the pair that I had that seemed more susceptible to the het. Much better.

Because I know what to look for, I could become unreasonable, bordering on "I'm hearing electron movement!" At least there is now a quick fix for us radio-nerds *IF* one becomes that nutzo about it.

C.Crane really went beyond the call of duty here. Had I received my radio as an engineer evaluating my complaint, I would have told myself where to step off.
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Old 07-09-2018, 10:24 PM
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Good to hear...
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Old 07-12-2018, 5:58 AM
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Hate earbuds? - I tried and reviewed the C.Crane Senta-Forty lightweight "on-ear" headphones mostly for shortwave / utility use in another subforum. Verdict - very good for that, although there are obviously many choices.

I have to agree wholeheartedly with radiojayallen's review of the Senta-Forty's here (although always check with C.Crane or elsewhere for the most recent price)

https://radiojayallen.com/senta-earphones-from-c-crane/

I find them very satisfactory as an all-around "dual-purpose" musical on-ear set of phones that function great for AM and SSB.

My FM listening is a little more demanding, so comparing them to much higher priced "music only" type of phones is kind of an apples-to-oranges thing.

Nevertheless, I'm happy to report that a set of Sennheiser HD-280 Pro over-ear phones, even at 64 ohm impedance, were driven very well, even somewhat loudly before losing a little bit of steam towards the end of the audio pot travel, and without any distortion or major audio fidelity loss.

Of course there was a major sound quality difference. However, it was too impractical for any serious use, mainly because of the mass of the coiled cord just waiting to wreck the plastic phono jack should you sharply bend or yank on the cord. I won't even use them on my CC Radio E2 for the same reason.

Yet, with the higher fidelity, there were no hidden gotchas - the Pocket sounded SUPERB.

Taking that potential to break the jack of the Pocket itself, the very lightweight Senta-Forty phones pose no problem with that. The fidelity is sufficient enough for AM, and even FM for those who like the "warm" sound lacking ultimate highs and sparkles.

BUT - want to get your audiophile geek on without breaking the jack? Here is where the BELT-CLIP comes in handy as a strain-relief!

Most beefy higher end phones with coiled cords have about 6 or so inches of a straight section right after the connector. Slide this section snugly under the belt clip near the top! Tada - now you can safely attach your $1000 phones to the Pocket.

Joking aside, the Senta-Forty's *for what they are* I think are a pretty great option for those who don't like / use earbuds with the Pocket. Total audiophiles will want to geek out like me. Normals will probably be pleased, especially at the current price point.
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Old 07-14-2018, 5:54 PM
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Quick reminder not to go *too* crazy with fidelity at the high end for FM with the CC Pocket ...

Sure you can for fixed use, but don't forget that the Pocket implies portability, and also a swinging headphone antenna!

While I love my Grado's, when walking around through multipath fields, or dx'ing weak stations that aren't full quieting, yet you absolutely want to listen in stereo anyway, that might be enough of an annoyance to not let you finish a performance.

Here, my inexpensive Sennheiser MX-365 hanging buds (WITH cover attached to get the low freq response and smoother midrange due to the little bit of extra seal) works perfectly. Enough high-end definition, more than the Senta 40 cans even, but not absolute audiophile quality to make the variables of radio reception poke you in the eye, um ear.

Do what you want, but choose the right tool for the right job regardless of brand.
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Old 07-21-2018, 1:59 PM
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Default Any thoughts on FM selectivity?

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?
Thanks!
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Old 07-21-2018, 6:53 PM
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Very selective - it seems to hold it's own in downtown Los Angeles, or at my suburban location on both AM and certainly FM.

What differentiates the Pocket from all the others listed is that it uses the headphone cord for FM obviously. As a random wire, you may not be able to put the headphone antenna in a null for precise positioning like you could with a whip to get it out of a multipath field, or optimize the antenna pattern well enough to dx your other station in the face of a flamethrower.

Of course all these radios being portable, want to be portable, not a fixed-station radio. Sometimes the solution is to simply move further away or go to a different park.

While I think it is a great radio that uses the power of the SiLabs chip to great benefit, I wouldn't use it as the "benchmark" for this small travel format. For that type of evaluation, get the Skywave.
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