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  #1  
Old May 29, 2013, 09:29:44 AM
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Twiggy Twiggy is offline
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Default Actual radios (and a review of one)

So, anyone still listening to FM radio stations? AM? Shortwave? Or digital radio (Not Internet radio)? I think I really like actually having a way to have FM radio... on the go... without having to deal with poor reception (headphones as antennas never work as well as dedicated units)

Now, about the Sony SRF-18 that I bought not too long ago...

I bought this radio because I found myself not getting much out of my phone's FM reception (which was horrible).

Build quality
Light, plastic, but looks durable. FM antenna is sturdy, and won't fall off or shrink suddenly. Feels like a single, solid piece.

Handling
Extremely portable, though still a bit big for my liking.
Takes two AA batteries. Alkaline and rechargeables both work. Battery compartment is accessible from the bottom of the back of the radio.
Right slider is used for mode selection, with the top-most position being radio on, and the bottom-most position being off. The middle position (which most users won't care) is audio passthrough (referred to as Audio In).
An analog display of the current frequency the radio is tuned into is on the top of the radio. A tuning dial on the right side of the top plate adjusts the tuning. A "TUNE" light lights up a bright red when in tune, and a dim red when close to a station. The left-side switch switches between FM and AM.
Volume control dial is at the left side of the radio. Below that, audio out pass-through and headphones out (green).
The front is covered in speaker grilles. There's a strip of speaker grilles at the back, perhaps for bass.

Audio quality
Built-in speakers sound decent. A bit flat, but well-rounded. No obvious stereo separation.
With headphones, though, it's a completely different world. If you're used to listening to FM radio using a phone and connected headsets, be prepared for a nice surprise. The reception is significantly better than what you'd get with a phone. Audio quality is excellent, perhaps bordering on CD-transparency. Bass lines are pronounced, and voices are clearly audible, and stereo separation is pretty good.
Of course, takes zero Internet bandwidth.

Conclusion
It's kind of expensive for a device that does mostly one thing, but it sure is money well spent. If you need high-quality FM radio, whether at home or on the go (or don't want to end up hobbling your phone's battery), without looking like you have something that came straight from the 80s, this radio is for you.

Pictures will come later.

*starts to wonder why FM using his phone sounds tinny and crunchy even when using the same set of earbuds*

Last edited by Twiggy; May 29, 2013 at 10:58:08 AM.
  #2  
Old May 29, 2013, 02:08:16 PM
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Ooh, I shall reply with my own Sony portable radio. I've got a Sony TFM-1000WB AM/FM radio (with shortwave) from circa 1968. I bought this unit off Craigslist, so it was used quite a bit and has some paint stains as well as a loose antenna tip.

It's quite a heavy little thing. If you've picked up a small radio from the last few decades, you'd be in for a surprise if you lifted it. It also takes four bulky D batteries, but they haven't died yet, and I've used it quite a lot. The build quality is stunning. The casing is made of plastic with chrome accents, and the speaker is covered with mesh.


On the left, there are a line in port, headphone port, tape deck interface port, and stereo multiplexer port, all of which being monophonic.

Along the top are the power button, automatic frequency control (lock in on a station to tune it more easily), and local/DX switch (to pick up local or distant stations).

On the front, it has a monophonic speaker with quite a bit of bass, and the tone can be adjusted with the outer knob behind the volume control. Next to the station scale is a tuning meter, which shows how well stations come in. Below that are the coarse tuning and fine tuning (only used in AM) knobs, then the band selector. The face can light up, but the bulb is burnt out and needs replacing.

The back side allows connecting an external antenna, likely designed for rooftop antennas.


The reception is some of the best I've seen on a portable radio. In the center of Las Vegas, it can pick up practically every local station. In the dead of night, I can pick up shortwave stations from as far away as Tokyo, Japan. Those stations are really hard to get in, of course.


Fun fact: the line in port was originally used as a means of having portable sound at a baseball game.
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Last edited by Cat333Pokémon; May 30, 2013 at 05:00:02 PM.
  #3  
Old May 30, 2013, 10:06:29 AM
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Heh. That 1968 Sony is still working today, huh? It makes me kind of miss Sony electronics being in the home of almost everyone.

*looks at his Sony radio* "make.believe" Yep, it's very recent.

I actually kind of like how I can't predict what they'll play next on radio, and boy, did I get some nice surprises while tuning and listening! I actually found myself listening to FM radio almost all day...

Last edited by Twiggy; May 30, 2013 at 10:07:45 AM.
  #4  
Old May 30, 2013, 12:55:10 PM
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Yep, it's still kicking and receiving broadcasts. I bought it for the build quality. Pity things go down in quality when they're manufactured more.
  #5  
Old May 31, 2013, 12:10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat333Pokémon View Post
Yep, it's still kicking and receiving broadcasts. I bought it for the build quality. Pity things go down in quality when they're manufactured more.
Speaking of build quality, I actually wonder about the stuff we have right now. Will they still work after a decade?

I kind of don't trust today's electronics to hold up nicely.

Speaking of old stuff, Sony is still selling this new. It looks... really old! It doesn't even support stereo FM.
  #6  
Old May 31, 2013, 05:42:58 AM
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I remember those old boomboxes. Yes, they are quite heavy, but also very durable, since they are made of robust and quality material. Over time, I've noticed that build quality has gone down as time passed. Many things that was built decades ago still work perfectly fine today, yet things currently built are lucky to last two years. I blame cost cuts and greed for the most part.

I actually have several FM radios, though none of them are as robust as the good old oldies. I have a clock radio, an FM tuner built into my Sansa and a set of radio headphones. I also have a tuner card with an FM tuner built into it, but unfortunately it was from the XP days and has no Windows 7 drivers or support. That tuner did an excellent job, especially when paired with a really good antenna [the tuner had a coaxial connection, which I had a Terk FM+ antenna connected]. Maybe I should stop being lazy and upgrade that tuner.
  #7  
Old May 31, 2013, 08:57:44 AM
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Man, all this talk about old stuff...

I still remember how my old home's living room used to have a Sony Trinitron, a Sony VCR, a Sony Hi-Fi system, a Sony PlayStation, and the stuff...

It's now a Sony Bravia, a Sony DVD player, and... a Sony Hi-Fi system. Some things seem to never change. (Many of them are at least half a decade old at this point)

I actually liked how when the stuff were gotten rid of they were still working (or they were never gotten rid of because they still work well for today's needs).

Apparently Sony still makes them like they used to, at least to us.

(Bonus: this disassembly of the NEX-3 should remind you of the Sony of the old days.)
 
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