30 July 2005

my office radio

A couple weeks ago, I wandered into the Palo Alto Frys store to look at their selection of shortwave radios. My expectations of a poor selection and high prices were met. But I saw a nice-looking AM/FM radio, the Sangean WR-1. After researching the features, and taking into consideration that Sangean has a good reputation in the realm of shortwave radios, I ordered it from Universal Radio (the product link in the previous sentence goes to their site). After a few sessions of use, here is my review.

The minimal design and retro-style tuner display caught my eye. When turning on the radio, the selected band and frequency scale look cool lit up. The volume and tuner dials have a nice grip and smooth action.

The volume control is too coarse. In the office, I want to select a low volume, but the volume level changes dramatically with small turns of the dial. This seems like a common issue with music devices, as both the iPod and my factory car stereo have the same problem.

A minor design nit-pick is that the two smaller dials (off/AM/FM, and volume) are too close together. This makes it hard to access the inner portion of the volume control. This is a minor issue because the volume control can be more easily accessed from the top and bottom, and will generally be infrequently used.

Regarding the sound quality, the radio produces too much bass in my opinion, and there are no tone controls to correct this.

FM reception seems very good using the internal antenna. When a station is tuned in, a green LED near the tuning dial will light up. I was able to get very clear signals for nearby broadcasts. I can't comment on AM reception because I've been unable to get AM reception in my office. The radio is indoors and other buildings are in the way, so I am not surprised. Other reviews of this radio point out that the tuning scale is compressed at the low end of the FM spectrum and the high end of the AM spectrum, so take that into consideration if you're considering this product.

Overall, I'm happy with the radio. It has a great look, usable sound, good FM reception, and will be fine for occasional music and news listening. I may bring it home because it would get more use and better AM reception there.

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