Michael Forman

Michael Forman
Author, Singer, Actor, Photographer. This is where I scratch out things between writing books.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Smallest Pocket Radios (with a loudspeaker) Review

Radio's Latest Pocket-Sized Offering!

With phone technology gobbling up the need for every device that we've ever used in the past, it's easy to believe that analogue pocket radios are redundant electronics. But if you're in the market for the kind of device that doesn't rely on headphones, a bluetooth connection, the Internet, subscription services or a USB charge, this radio review may be just what you need.

Miniature radios (usually with mp3 players) are quite common, however, they do away with a speaker.

Okay, headphones are great. They're clear, use less power and double up as an antenna but what if you don't want to use headphones?

Headphones aren't everythng. They block out other sounds around our ears, important sounds we need. Sometimes it's neccessary to allow those sounds to remain, for safety's sake.

Old 'regulars' like Panasonic have jumped across to advancing digital radio. The depth and clarity of the digital signal surpasses anything we've listened to in the past and I wish them the best.

There is a problem with digital signal though: It's not available everywhere... and it has a limited range!

Cities are jumping on the digital thing. Regional and rural areas are not. (I live in a regional area of Australia. There are NO digital signals broadcast nearby). This returns us to analogue like the good ol' days.   

China is turning out a few small radios (with loudspeaker). 'Sangean' is spending some effort on some quality product. I also came across another player 'Degen' and it has good features too... at half the price.

To bring you into the picture, I was in the market for such a thing. My specifications were for a light, small analogue AM/FM radio with an inbuilt loudspeaker that could fit in my top shirt pocket. (For my job)

I was well aware of the sound limitations of small speakers and quite prepared to accept the result. (It couldn't have been worse than listening to a mobile phone, right?)

I wanted to hear a mix of talkback radio, music, news and weather. I just wanted something to keep me company on the job.
I bought the Degen and used it for a week or two. Bad choice. That's when I did  more research and added one extra detail to my specs: Phase Lock Looping. I needed a radio that held onto the frequency I'd tuned it to. (See video above for why this radio did not)

You can look up the size and weight specs on any radio before purchasing one. They'll tell you its frequency range, how many channels can be saved, etc, but real life usage exposes issues that often overlooked at buy-time. One thing I didn't mention in the video was the tone of these two radios. They are in no way alike.

The silver Sangean has a much deeper one (And a bass boost button for even more). It sounds more like radios of old. The black Degen is very tinny. You may like to consider this when choosing your radio. 

The rest is all yours.