COMMUNICATIONS

Best AM Radio For DX Long Range Listening

‘Best’ is a bold word, however in my opinion (and that of others if you search for it) perhaps the best AM radio for long range (DX) listening of the AM Radio Band is the CCRadio-2E by C Crane. I now have this radio, and can absolutely confirm its attributes.

Here’s why I bought it, why I believe it’s the best AM radio in its class, and a short review as to why I like it for preparedness…

C. Crane CCRadio-2E Enhanced Portable Radio

(UPDATE) It has been a few years since I originally posted this, and the radio is still going strong. My opinion has not changed – likely best in its class for AM Radio Band listening.

I’ve updated the article for your renewed interest:

THE AM RADIO BAND

The 530 to 1,700-kHz frequency band, which broadcast AM occupies, is classified as a medium wave (MW) radio band.

Medium wave signals follow the curvature of the Earth, using ground wave propagation, but can also bounce off the ionosphere at night, resulting in skywave propagation.

With the addition of skywave propagation, AM broadcast signals can travel great distances — 500 miles or more.

I simply enjoy radios and radio listening. When time permits, and when I’m in the mood, I might spend a little time listening to HAM radio (HF and/or VHF/UHF) as well as the AM radio band radio during the evenings (the best time for DX listening).

HAM radio communications are typically personal 2-way conversations with topics surrounding the hobby itself.

AM radio band broadcasts on the other hand are commercial broadcasts often consisting of talk radio and news (and sometimes sports broadcasts).

I do enjoy listening to AM radio for a few talk shows that interest me. Even though I can listen to most any of these on the internet, I enjoy the good old fashioned ‘airwaves’ too. ;)

Additionally, I believe that a portable AM radio for preparedness is a good thing because if you lose power (your cable, internet, or satellite is down) – you will have a source of news and information (these radios are battery powered).

Since AM radio is local, especially during the day (when reception is mostly limited to 100 miles or less), you will have a good resource for news reporting of any event which may be unfolding.

During the evening and night, atmospheric conditions enable AM radio wave propagation to great distances – which is where the CCRadio-2E really excels.

Why CCRadio-2E Is The Best AM Radio

Superior audio quality

Even with my older model C Crane radio, their audio quality has always been significantly better than others. This AM radio has the best sounding audio I’ve heard in this category with a 5-inch, 6-watt speaker and audio tuned for the spoken word.

The bass and treble controls allow you to equalize the sound to your own taste. Very solid. Given my previous career in audio I can appreciate what they’ve done.

Superior AM Radio Band Antenna

One very important factor to good reception (regardless of what type radio) is its antenna. The CCRadio-2E has a new internal ‘Ferrite Bar’ which measures 8 inches long and has what they call “Twin Coil Ferrite®” technology. Let me tell you – it works!

This feature alone attributes to it being considered as a best AM radio. It is exceptional at pulling in distant stations.

There are also terminals for an external AM antenna, however I have not used or needed to use it given the remarkable performance of the internal antenna.

Additional bands

The radio also will tune in the FM band but also has all seven NOAA weather radio bands (with emergency alert functionality).

Additionally it will tune in the HAM radio 2-meter band (often used during emergencies and disaster situations by emergency responders). The inclusion of the 2-meter band is new for C Crane, and is a nice fit for this radio as a preparedness information gathering tool.

Additional features

Other features include memory presets, clock, sleep timer, headphone jack, line in-out, and adjustable display light.

Let me expand on the display light… this is a nice touch and something I’ve not seen in other similar class radios. There are several brightness settings for the green hue LED back-light display. The dim setting is perfect for lights-out listening and won’t affect your eye’s night vision.

CONCLUSION. There’s an old saying that ‘you get what you pay for’. While it’s not cheap, I am very satisfied with the new CCRadio-2E and still believe it’s the best AM radio in its class. I live in a rural region far away from AM broadcast stations. This radio will impressively pull in some of them which are very far away.

Note: One thing I’ve noticed regarding its functionality: While you’re tuning to a faint/weak station, you can hear the special tuning (internal automatic gain structure) such that the volume (strength) of the station will change up/down until it ‘locks’ on to it. This is normal – and interesting to observe.

Tip: An article about an inexpensive but halfway decent AM pocket radio:
Best Cheap Pocket Radio

Here’s a list of 50kW AM radio stations that I put together, sorted a few different ways:
Download a PDF copy and print it for your reference…

(I feel the frequency sort is the most useful, given that an unknown station that you’re listening to will reveal their station identification call letters often at the top and bottom of the hour)

Sorted by Station ID
Sorted by Frequency
Sorted by State
Sorted by City

More: Radio Communications Post SHTF
More: 2-Way Radios For Pre & Post SHTF Local Communications
More: Shortwave Radio Bands 101

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31 Comments

  1. Like they say ” antenna is everything “. Even a cheapo AM in your vehicle will DX if you get as high as possible. Dxing has been one of my hobbies since 10. I work at 7200 ft. el. I work nights, so sometimes I will take a work vehicle to the highest spot and tune the dial. So far my furthest has been Minneapolis, MN. Not bad for being in AZ.

  2. I bought the CCRadio2 (not 2E) two or three years ago. It is a great radio that I use every day, and it has performed well. Does anyone know what the difference is between the 2 and the 2E versions?

    1. In addition to the model ‘2E’ I also have the previous model to yours, the CCRadio ‘Plus’ (also a very good AM radio – sounds great like all their radios do).

      But when I purchased the 2E (Enhanced) it was immediately apparent that the 2E was entirely better.

      Regarding your question, I searched online for differences between the 2 and 2E, and it seems that the 2E was very much revamped. Most notable is the AGC and its RF performance (super-sensitivity).

      If you’re happy with the 2 though, I would stick with it!

      1. I enjoy AM DX’ing (listening to far-off AM radio stations at night.)

        I use an Icom IC-R70, it’s an old radio from 1982. But it hears things clearly that other radios don’t hear at all.

        Last fall I bought a Grundig Satellite-750 for Short-Wave listening to have an extra radio. It’s not nearly as good as the R70, but it cost a lot less too. It works OK but you get what you pay for.

        And older radios had much better filters then modern radios. The Icom was originally $1,200 (in 1982 dollars) and the Grundig was $200.00 a few months ago. Both are fun to use.

        1. Can’t afford an expensive radio? Buy a used one. My R70 that cost $1,200.00 new in 1982 I bought used for $125.00 from another Ham 10-years ago.

          1. Chuck Findlay
            Thanks for all the info you provide. Ya just can’t buy experience or knowledge, Ya gotta earn it. Please check my response to yesterdays awesome post of yours. Please continue posting comms info. It is appreciated.

  3. Hands down THE best receiver is the TenTech commercial unit. It was designed/built for Israeli intel, if thats any measure of high quality. They don’t mess around with “homeowner quality” radios. I don’t have one yet, but its on my short list. They’re “extremely cheap” at over $3k each, so you can buy two for only 6k – haha. However, if it broadcasts, this thing will pick it up: marine radio, air traffic, ATC towers, HAM bands, commercial from all over world. Electronics are “unitized” for fast replacement and short downtimes.

    The top of line HAMs are either TenTech, or if you like lots of bells and whistles, check out Kenwood. No, thats not the stereo folks; they’re radio only. All price ranges up to 5k+. It would pay to talk to someone knowledgeable in antennas. The best Dx is only as good as its antenna. Both the TenTech units and Kenwood are base stations – not real portable.

    1. T-bird,
      Ten-Tec is a good unit, but Icom, Kenwood, and Yaeseu make good radios. Just depends on how many bells and whistles you want. Lot of folks here can’t afford a high priced rig, but some of the standard ham rigs, maybe 10 years old do a good job for just receiving..

      1. My problem is there are so many good radios and my funds are limited.

        Should I buy food or radios?

        Where did I put that Universal Radio catalog????

        1. Chuck Findlay,
          Come on now Ol’ Son, you can never have too many radios!!!
          But I get you on the cost, that’s why I have gone into homebrewing and kit building, you can get some decent electronics and have fun doing it.

        2. Too bad Heathkit went out of business, they not only made kits, their stuff was good quality.

          The local radio shop here in Toledo has everything Heath ever made in a museum. It’s neat to see all the stuff they made in one place. And it all works as he fixes them. He has thousands of radios, Actually several thousand.

          Problem is he really doesn’t want to sell any of it. I’ve been trying to get him to sell me a Heathkit Shawnee AM 6-Meter radio and no luck, I think he has 3 of them. Not that I need it as I have an Icom all-mode 6-Meter. But I want one…

          Ever traveling through Toledo stop at Jerry’s CB Shop, He is always willing take people up to the 2nd and third floor to show off the collection and he’s a great guy.

  4. We have 3 crane radios. My husband carries one with him where ever he goes. he can’t miss Limbaugh! We have trouble out here with AM radio transmission. We live by the VLA and there is something about them building out here because there isn’t enough RF energy sources around to interfere with them tying to find intelligent life somewhere. Fine for them but hard for us. The Crane radios are the only ones that work pretty well. Sometimes even they have problems. We have 3 because he left the first one out in the rain and the liquid crystal went away making it hard to tune, the second one’s charger died and the new one was just a little more than a charger, and of course it comes with a charger he can use on both radios. He is happy.

  5. Since the advent and universal dominance of audio devices a lot of those sporty portable AM/FM radios can be found in used markets for close to nothing. I just picked up a ‘sport’ radio, has a belt hook, for $1 at a sale. Original price perhaps $30-40. The Sony with enclosed speaker is my favorite, at $20 a real good radio.
    I also have several radios that will accept USB and memory cards, I don’t use it often but nice to have.

    1. Old Chevy you have radios that will accept a USB and or memory cards? Could you please give some details so I can look them up. One of the things I think will be important after SHTF is inspiring music and thus the memory cards/USP idea.

      Anybody have an idea which media is more stable memory card or USP?

      1. SuperSonic SC-1092, about $20. This model has an onboard rechargeable battery and a built in flashlight and a bay for D-size batteries. It also has several other bands, SW-1,2,3.

  6. I was listening to my AM radio in my shop and just heard The Prez just pardoned the Hammonds (father and son cattle ranchers)
    Who says there isn’t good stuff still on the radio…

    1. I just heard it too, on the way home from work . NPR reporter sounded like she/he (?)
      had sudden irritable bowel syndrome,

  7. Realistic DX-160, with a long wire and big external ferrite bar and plug in speaker box. Circa 1977 or so.

  8. What sucks is that all the area super stations need to power down at dusk now. Even a little 5,000 watt out of Glendale has to drop to 1,000, as I recall.. What sucks worse is that NONE of this applies to any Mexican AM stations.

    So I don’t really bother with it anymore. Anything close to a DX station has Musica del Taco bleeding all over it after dark.

    1. What part of the country are you in? Here in Toledo the Mexican stations are not a problem, they are a long way away so those 100-K to 1/4 million watt stations are not a problem.

      1. Yo vivo en el norte de Mexico, homey. About 35 miles east of LA. Yeah, I know…. You get all those Canuck stations propagating over the lake. and probably WLS outta Chicago is no problem after dark either, the big one in PA, WOR. I miss those days.

  9. For years the standard in portable AM DX radios has been the GE Super Radio 2 and 3. It’s an analog radio (no digital readout) but it gets excellent reviews for picking up distant AM stations.

    Look for one at thrift stores or garage sales

    1. The GE SuperRadio is by far the best DXing radio you will find. I have three of them, one is the Superradio 1 I believe, it doesn’t have the little tweeter speaker.

      As a point of reference, you can listen to WGN, WBBM and WSCR from Chicago in Metrowest Boston almost like local stations in the winter months.

      I had an old CCrane digital and it was good but not as selective as the superradio.

  10. I have 4 different age cc radios, including the 2e. they really are junk. overpriced rebranded Chinese cheapies. I was sucked into the hype. The ribbon cable for the display is not even mechanically attached to the board.just laid on the board, and held in place by some pressure…early ones were glued. I have only one working display. The copper paint on the ribbon cable is very thin and either corrodes or wears off. I have a couple of very old small boom boxes which receive AM far better. I am currently struggling with finding a truly good AM. Apparently the vintage GE super radio II are pretty good. Grundigs are now also Chinese junk….but probably better than CC.
    My 2e is still working, but it appears time will kill it.

    1. @Jackson,
      That’s interesting. My CC 2e radio is fantastic. I live rural and it has been a nice piece of gear to pull in stations. Great audio too! That’s just my opinion.

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