Need an AM radio with excellent reception

silver_bacon

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I know there are several older threads related to this, but none of them have solved my problem.

I am in need of an AM radio that has excellent reception. I currently have the 350DL, but that does not seem to be enough for my needs. I have also tried the GE Super Radio II, but that did not work either. I looked into some radios under $150, and found the Sangean PR-D5 and PR-D7, which are supposed to have excellent AM reception. Does anyone know how they stack up compared to the 350DL? Or do you know of any other radio which would offer reception better than the 350DL under $150, if that is even possible? Or do you know of any good external AM antenna's that are of any use?

And can anyone tell me how Grundig/Sangean/Kaito compare when it comes to quality/reliability?

Thank you for any help or ideas you can give me.
 

DanTSX

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Well, you tried the best two currently produced portables. I'd say that if you are not getting the Dx results you want, that your location is a problem or you have Elec interference. Outside of that, the quick fix is a loop antannae like below:

http://www.google.com/products/catalog?client=safari&q=am+antenna&oe=UTF-8&cid=6928707834684465902&ei=plXiS6aZIJOgjgSY_OHbDg&sa=title&ved=0CA0Q8wIwATgA#p


If that does not cut it, go to vintage radios. The ones with the tuneable, huge, ferrite rod inside of them.

If you like to experiment, contact an auto junkyard or vintage car sales board and find an old Delco AM car radio from the late 1960s. Probably some of the best tuners out there.
 

StarHalo

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The DT-400 probably would not be able to edge out a 350DL, though the PR-D5 might be able to by a tiny margin. But for the leap in performance you're looking for, you'll need an antenna - CCrane's Twin Coil model is the bang-for-the-buck performer; $80 might sound like a lot, but it performs nearly on par with the ~$300 indoor antennas (and well above the ~$30 loop antennas). I've owned one for a few years now, and it's worth the money for that particular station that almost comes in audibly/regularly, or if you're interested in DXing and hearing what's really out there.
 

boss429

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As a ham I would suggest searching ameteur radio forums.I don't do AM myself but many of them specialize is AM comunications. Receiving AM is a cakewalk for them.
 

silver_bacon

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The DT-400 probably would not be able to edge out a 350DL, though the PR-D5 might be able to by a tiny margin. But for the leap in performance you're looking for, you'll need an antenna - CCrane's Twin Coil model is the bang-for-the-buck performer; $80 might sound like a lot, but it performs nearly on par with the ~$300 indoor antennas (and well above the ~$30 loop antennas). I've owned one for a few years now, and it's worth the money for that particular station that almost comes in audibly/regularly, or if you're interested in DXing and hearing what's really out there.

Thanks for the advice, I will look into this antenna. I have tried one of the cheap loop antennas branded under Grundig. It failed to make much of a difference. Can this CCrane antenna be used passively as well as connected directly? While I can use either method on my 350DL, it would be nice to use the antenna on other radios if I am going to make the investment.

As a ham I would suggest searching ameteur radio forums.I don't do AM myself but many of them specialize is AM comunications. Receiving AM is a cakewalk for them.

I will see what forums I can find.

Well, you tried the best two currently produced portables. I'd say that if you are not getting the Dx results you want, that your location is a problem or you have Elec interference. Outside of that, the quick fix is a loop antannae like below:

http://www.google.com/products/cata...aZIJOgjgSY_OHbDg&sa=title&ved=0CA0Q8wIwATgA#p


If that does not cut it, go to vintage radios. The ones with the tuneable, huge, ferrite rod inside of them.

If you like to experiment, contact an auto junkyard or vintage car sales board and find an old Delco AM car radio from the late 1960s. Probably some of the best tuners out there.

I have some older small tube-radios I have had restored, though they don't have a ferrite antenna. They have the traditional long wire in the oval shape attached to the back of the unit.


Thank you everyone who has responded. Your help is very appreciated.
 

StarHalo

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Can this CCrane antenna be used passively as well as connected directly?

Yes, and each method has it's own unique advantage; using it directly, you're essentially "turning off" your radio's internal antenna, and the CCrane now becomes your receiving element; this is fantastic since the Twin Coil is modular and connected by long cables, as you can set the CC someplace far away from the radio, even outdoors, and completely eliminate sources of noise near the radio. Using this method, I can set a laptop computer right next to my radio, and there's no interference to speak of.

Using it passively, by setting the CC's ferrite stick atop your radio, you get maximum gain - both the CC and your radio's antenna work together for serious DXing.

I frequently use the CC for a radio station I like to listen to up on San Francisco; it's 350 miles away and slowly fades in and out of silence about once every ten minutes. With the CC, it only fades once or twice an hour.
 

silver_bacon

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Yes, and each method has it's own unique advantage; using it directly, you're essentially "turning off" your radio's internal antenna, and the CCrane now becomes your receiving element; this is fantastic since the Twin Coil is modular and connected by long cables, as you can set the CC someplace far away from the radio, even outdoors, and completely eliminate sources of noise near the radio. Using this method, I can set a laptop computer right next to my radio, and there's no interference to speak of.

Using it passively, by setting the CC's ferrite stick atop your radio, you get maximum gain - both the CC and your radio's antenna work together for serious DXing.

I frequently use the CC for a radio station I like to listen to up on San Francisco; it's 350 miles away and slowly fades in and out of silence about once every ten minutes. With the CC, it only fades once or twice an hour.

Sounds like it will work well for my DXing needs. How well does it work for picking up more local stations?

For example there is a station during the day that I can pick up during the day with my 350DL, but there is significant static since I am beyond the fringe coverage area. The station is a small station with I believe a 250 watt transmitter. I would like to be able to tune it in more clearly.

There is also a station with the transmitter about 15 miles away. During the day I can tune it in on any radio, but at night they turn their power down extremely low, so I can only get it weakly at night with significant interference. I would like to cut down the static and fading. Would this antenna work well with either of these cases, or is it mainly designed for DXing the clear channels?
 

StarHalo

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For example there is a station during the day that I can pick up during the day with my 350DL, but there is significant static since I am beyond the fringe coverage area. The station is a small station with I believe a 250 watt transmitter. I would like to be able to tune it in more clearly.

I've had excellent results with small transmitters and the CC - When I was just starting DXing, before I had an antenna, I could very rarely almost sort of hear a station on 530 AM, just occasionally make out that there was a voice. Once I tried it with the CC, it came in like a local channel; the voice was giving directions on parking zones and terminals - it was the LAX "Tune to 530 AM for information" transmitter, 70 miles away.

There is also a station with the transmitter about 15 miles away. During the day I can tune it in on any radio, but at night they turn their power down extremely low, so I can only get it weakly at night with significant interference. I would like to cut down the static and fading.

The CC will help amplify the station's signal; it performs best on stations you can hear present but aren't strong enough to be reliably legible (as opposed to stations you can't hear at all, for which there is no guarantee. An antenna can't receive something that isn't there.)
 
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Radiophile

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Sounds like it will work well for my DXing needs. How well does it work for picking up more local stations?

For example there is a station during the day that I can pick up during the day with my 350DL, but there is significant static since I am beyond the fringe coverage area. The station is a small station with I believe a 250 watt transmitter. I would like to be able to tune it in more clearly.

Before you spend more money, what have you done to improve the reception? Sometimes just moving a radio across the room or placing it high on a book shelf will decrease the interference if it's local. Have you tried rotating the radio to peak the signal and/or null the interference? Once you've peaked the signal try lifting each end of the radio while listening to the program. To listen to a talk station more than 50 miles away from me I sometimes need to have my SRIII on a 45 degree incline to null local interference on that frequency.

There is also a station with the transmitter about 15 miles away. During the day I can tune it in on any radio, but at night they turn their power down extremely low, so I can only get it weakly at night with significant interference. I would like to cut down the static and fading.

It's only 15 miles away, you easily receive it during the day, and then at night you can't hear it because of interference? They might not be powering down, they might have to change from omnidirectional to directional or vice-versa. Most likely you're getting another station on the same frequency skipping in and causing interference. Rotating the radio to null and/or peak the signal is your best bet. A passive loop antenna might help, but then again it might not. I'd try rotation to null/peak reception.

Would this antenna work well with either of these cases, or is it mainly designed for DXing the clear channels?

With all due respect to StarHalo, I've read mixed reviews of the antenna he's suggesting. Most of the time a passive loop antenna like a Select-A-Tenna, Terk AM Advantage, or the Grundig sold at Rat Shack will work just as well. The main advantage of the C Crane antenna is that you can place it in a window or somewhere away from local interference and run a cable to your radio. That's not worth the $50 extra money to me. Select-A-Tenna also makes a model that you can place away from your radio, usually sells for less money, and doesn't need batteries.

There are also plans on the internet to bulid your own passive loop antenna that you can do for next to nothing. All you need is some wire, something to wrap it around, and a variable capacitor you can salvage from an old AM radio.
 

silver_bacon

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I've had excellent results with small transmitters and the CC - When I was just starting DXing, before I had an antenna, I could very rarely almost sort of hear a station on 530 AM, just occasionally make out that there was a voice. Once I tried it with the CC, it came in like a local channel; the voice was giving directions on parking zones and terminals - it was the LAX "Tune to 530 AM for information" transmitter, 70 miles away.



The CC will help amplify the station's signal; it performs best on stations you can hear present but aren't strong enough to be reliably legible (as opposed to stations you can't hear at all, for which there is no guarantee. An antenna can't receive something that isn't there.)

Thanks for all your help, I will continue to look into this antenna as it looks like it will meet my needs.

Before you spend more money, what have you done to improve the reception? Sometimes just moving a radio across the room or placing it high on a book shelf will decrease the interference if it's local. Have you tried rotating the radio to peak the signal and/or null the interference? Once you've peaked the signal try lifting each end of the radio while listening to the program. To listen to a talk station more than 50 miles away from me I sometimes need to have my SRIII on a 45 degree incline to null local interference on that frequency.

Thanks for the advice, but I have tried everything I can to get better reception. I have tried numerous radios, and none have gotten very good reception. I have rotated the radios and moved them around. There is not very much interference in my house, or around my house. My SRII, and S350DL both get reception that close to the Westinghouse, but none of my radios get the reception I am hoping to receive.




It's only 15 miles away, you easily receive it during the day, and then at night you can't hear it because of interference? They might not be powering down, they might have to change from omnidirectional to directional or vice-versa. Most likely you're getting another station on the same frequency skipping in and causing interference. Rotating the radio to null and/or peak the signal is your best bet. A passive loop antenna might help, but then again it might not. I'd try rotation to null/peak reception.

It is possible that they change the direction they are broadcasting, but I know they power down as well. They drop from 1000 daytime watts down to below 150 watts at night. I tried the Grundig loop antenna, and it did not help much at all.



With all due respect to StarHalo, I've read mixed reviews of the antenna he's suggesting. Most of the time a passive loop antenna like a Select-A-Tenna, Terk AM Advantage, or the Grundig sold at Rat Shack will work just as well. The main advantage of the C Crane antenna is that you can place it in a window or somewhere away from local interference and run a cable to your radio. That's not worth the $50 extra money to me. Select-A-Tenna also makes a model that you can place away from your radio, usually sells for less money, and doesn't need batteries.

There are also plans on the internet to bulid your own passive loop antenna that you can do for next to nothing. All you need is some wire, something to wrap it around, and a variable capacitor you can salvage from an old AM radio.

I have looked into the antenna he suggested, and it looks like one of the best solutions I have. Even if it does not work as well as I would like, it should help my old Philco, which is not able to be moved around, and therefore currently has poor reception.

However, I understand what you are saying, which is why I am at this point still researching my options. I am open to all ideas, and thank you for all the ideas you have suggested.
 
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Radiophile

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...I am at this point still researching my options. I am open to all ideas, and thank you for all the ideas you have suggested.

Here's an antenna that has always interested me, but because of my luck with passive loop antennas I've never spent the money to try it out:

http://www.ramseyelectronics.com/cgi-bin/commerce.exe?preadd=action&key=SM100

It's tough to beat a good tube radio on AM. That's why GE and Conrad Juston decided to make the P780 which is often called GE's first Superadio. Maybe consider an upgrade to an R-390A? I know a broadcast engineer on the left coast who considers them the ultimate AM BCB DX radio. He uses an inverted L antenna with his, but then he's got the real estate for a +200' antenna.

Interestingly, his back-up receiver is a Kenwood TS-440SAT. Triple conversion, selectable filters, and great sensitivity once the built in attenuation is bypassed. I was pleased to learn this as my primary receiver is a Kenwood TS-450SAT.


I tried the Grundig loop antenna, and it did not help much at all.

Passive loop antennas of that size really won't help much with a Superadio or radios close in performance, but they do amazing things with less sensitive radios. Although I've used them successfully to block strong stations on adjacent frequencies with a Superadio.

Larger passive loop antennas will help. If you like to build stuff look around for plans to build a 2'x2' passive loop, and I think you'll be pleased with the results. I can't guarantee it'll help with the station you're chasing, but it should make a big difference even with a Superadio.

Also, it's not a bad idea to get your Superadio aligned. Although it seems to be less of a problem with the Superadio II, it can't hurt. I touched up my Superadio III and it made a big difference. The selectivity modification I made to it also helped to make it more sensitive and more selective than my Superadio II or any of my Superadio boomboxes. I also managed to get the dial to track a lot better. It's still off on the higher end of the dial, but it's much better than stock.
 

Radiophile

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You can read a full review of the Twin Coil here, "The Twin Coil is MUCH more sensitive than my passive loop antennas"

From that review:

"I do own two radios which don’t improve noticeably with the Twin Coil, a GE SR II and a Panasonic RF-2200. (Note that it DOES improve my GE SR III). It would appear that these radios’s extreme sensitivity is the reason, but I am only guessing."

I've read that other places as well. With a sensitive and selective radio the Twin Coil Antenna doesn't do much. It's utility then is mostly for lesser radios or for people who need a remote antenna because of local noise interference.

To me this suggests that the antenna only performs similarly to small passive loop antennas, because I get similar performance with them. I can then assume that larger passive loop antennas would have superior performance.
 

silver_bacon

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You can read a full review of the Twin Coil here, "The Twin Coil is MUCH more sensitive than my passive loop antennas": http://radiointel.net/accessories-mods-tips/c-crane-twin-coil-ferrite-antenna/

And here's a comparison of the $80 Twin Coil vs the $200 Quantum Loop:http://radiointel.net/accessories-mods-tips/quantum-loop-v2-0/

As of right now, I have decided to not make the purchase. Specifically because I want to see what happens with the radio royalty battle. The local stations I am hoping to get, do not stand a chance if they have to pay a royalty Therefore the antenna would not benefit me if the radio stations disappear.

But thanks for the help, and I may purchase it in the future.

Here's an antenna that has always interested me, but because of my luck with passive loop antennas I've never spent the money to try it out:

http://www.ramseyelectronics.com/cgi-bin/commerce.exe?preadd=action&key=SM100

It's tough to beat a good tube radio on AM. That's why GE and Conrad Juston decided to make the P780 which is often called GE's first Superadio. Maybe consider an upgrade to an R-390A? I know a broadcast engineer on the left coast who considers them the ultimate AM BCB DX radio. He uses an inverted L antenna with his, but then he's got the real estate for a +200' antenna.

Interestingly, his back-up receiver is a Kenwood TS-440SAT. Triple conversion, selectable filters, and great sensitivity once the built in attenuation is bypassed. I was pleased to learn this as my primary receiver is a Kenwood TS-450SAT.




Passive loop antennas of that size really won't help much with a Superadio or radios close in performance, but they do amazing things with less sensitive radios. Although I've used them successfully to block strong stations on adjacent frequencies with a Superadio.

Larger passive loop antennas will help. If you like to build stuff look around for plans to build a 2'x2' passive loop, and I think you'll be pleased with the results. I can't guarantee it'll help with the station you're chasing, but it should make a big difference even with a Superadio.

Also, it's not a bad idea to get your Superadio aligned. Although it seems to be less of a problem with the Superadio II, it can't hurt. I touched up my Superadio III and it made a big difference. The selectivity modification I made to it also helped to make it more sensitive and more selective than my Superadio II or any of my Superadio boomboxes. I also managed to get the dial to track a lot better. It's still off on the higher end of the dial, but it's much better than stock.

That antenna looks like a good antenna, I hope someone reviews it because it looks worthwhile.

I agree, it is hard to beat good old tube radios. The sound is excellent on tube radios.

Surprisingly, I found that my superadio is the original superadio, not the second version like I thought it was. I had not used it much until recently, although I still think that the reception is better on the 350DL or even my old Realistic DX-60. I will have to build a passive loop antenna once I get the spare time, to see if it makes much of a difference.

From that review:

"I do own two radios which don’t improve noticeably with the Twin Coil, a GE SR II and a Panasonic RF-2200. (Note that it DOES improve my GE SR III). It would appear that these radios’s extreme sensitivity is the reason, but I am only guessing."

I've read that other places as well. With a sensitive and selective radio the Twin Coil Antenna doesn't do much. It's utility then is mostly for lesser radios or for people who need a remote antenna because of local noise interference.

To me this suggests that the antenna only performs similarly to small passive loop antennas, because I get similar performance with them. I can then assume that larger passive loop antennas would have superior performance.

Do you know if Terk makes large loop antennas?

As I said earlier, I have decided not to buy any AM antennas until I see what happens with the royalty battle. However, I will consider making my own in the mean time. Thank you everyone for all your help.

Now I just need to figure out how to improve my FM reception significantly. I have been wanting to tune in a station (100kw 96.9) that is a little over 100 miles away, and I can rarely manage to tune in. Whenever I do manage to tune it in, usually another station (97.3) overpowers it, and it is actually about the same distance away, although it has a slightly more powerful transmitter. Any idea on how I am significantly improve my reception? I can't get 96.9 at all with my 350DL, only with radios such as my old Yorx, and I can rarely tune it in on that.
 

Radiophile

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Do you know if Terk makes large loop antennas?

Unfortunately no. Their passive loop is about the size of the Grundig. The only larger loop antennas I know of were made out of wood by a shop in the Baltimore area. They looked like a slightly larger and wooden Select-A-Tenna. Probably not large enough to make a noticeable difference.

Now I just need to figure out how to improve my FM reception significantly. I have been wanting to tune in a station (100kw 96.9) that is a little over 100 miles away, and I can rarely manage to tune in. Whenever I do manage to tune it in, usually another station (97.3) overpowers it, and it is actually about the same distance away, although it has a slightly more powerful transmitter. Any idea on how I am significantly improve my reception? I can't get 96.9 at all with my 350DL, only with radios such as my old Yorx, and I can rarely tune it in on that.

If you have a rooftop TV antenna then you already have your answer. Just point it in that direction and connect the radio to the coax via a TV balun. If not, you may want to consider getting an FM directional antenna from Rat Shack. Put it on the roof or in your attic and point it in the right direction. While both TV and Rat Shack's directional FM antenna are only log periodic in design, they do offer some gain and should help. If you want more gain then look around the internet for some simple yagi antenna designs.
 

Radiophile

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Looking around the internet I found a kit that makes an 18"x18" passive loop which according to the review is better than the Terk or Select-A-Tenna:

http://www.mtmscientific.com/loop.html

Review:

http://www.radiointel.com/review-amloop.htm

The kit is pricey at $79, but they sell the plans, a template, and the hard to find capacitor for $25 which isn't bad, and then you can choose the materials yourself.
 

kaj

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Wisconsin
This is a little more money than you mentioned but you might want to try a Internet radio if you have a high speed connection. As long as the station has a streaming broadcast you can listen. You can even listen to broadcasts from around the country - even other countries as well. Here's a link to one I've been looking at on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002LARRDK/?tag=cpf0b6-20
 

StarHalo

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you might want to try a Internet radio if you have a high speed connection.

If you're on a computer, you already have everything you need for internet radio, no purchase necessary - go to the website of the station you want to hear and click their "Listen Live" link, I'm listening a local radio station right now as I type this on my laptop.. (and if you get bored, listen in on tens of thousands of radio stations from around the world on Reciva: https://www.reciva.com/)

This is part of the joy of a netbook; you can tune in online to your radio station of interest, set the computer to remain on with the lid closed, and presto, you now have a lovely small table radio with no wires and perfect reception..
 
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