Sound Advice: Tabletop radios with CD capability are becoming rarer

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 11, 2014 - 1:20 PM
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The Sangean DDR-63 has Wi-Fi, CD, USB and ­Bluetooth for a street price of $325.

Q: We noted your recommendations of the Cambridge SoundWorks tabletop radios and your recent column advising of the clearance sale. We looked into buying a radio from the sale. While the units have AM/FM and Wi-Fi capabilities, they no longer play CDs. We’re looking for a clock radio set-up with AM/FM and CD playback for a bedroom nightstand.

Do you have recommendations for bedroom radios that can handle AM/FM and CDs? Internet capability is a bonus but not crucial. Bose still makes a unit that meets those specs, but those rigs are pricey.

A: Unfortunately, CD capability is becoming rarer as people switch to digital media on their phones and computers. There are still some models out there, though.

If you want a premium radio, check out the Sangean DDR-63 (www.sangean.com). I haven’t tested one, but the company has a good reputation. The radio is full-featured with Wi-Fi, CD, USB and Bluetooth for a street price of $325. It’s a lot more expensive than the Cambridge SoundWorks models, but still much less expensive than Bose.

If you don’t need something that is considered hi-fi, try your local Big Lots store. It often has clock radios with CD capabilities from well-known brand names (as well as obscure ones). For example, I just checked its website (www.biglots.com) and found a Sylvania CD Micro Stereo System with CD player, AM/FM radio, alarm clock and two small speakers for $36. It looks as if it would fit fine on a nightstand. I doubt the sound quality is anything to write home about, but it might suit your needs.

You also could get a Cambridge SoundWorks radio and use it with a portable CD player (such as a Walkman) or with an old CD or DVD player you might have lying around. Just connect the headphone jack to the auxiliary input with a miniplug-to-miniplug cable if using a portable player or an RCA stereo-to-miniplug if using a CD or DVD player.

This will give you the best balance of sound quality and price, but you’ll be dealing with two components and two power outlets rather than a single, all-in-one unit. The sale will probably be over by the time this column reaches print, but it’s useful advice to anyone to know you can use almost any component with any other if you use the auxiliary input.

Keep AV gear together

Q: I have two tower speakers and an Onkyo 809 receiver. I have the receiver in one corner, and the TV is in the opposite corner with the Blu-ray player and cable box. Is it possible to “beam” the audio from the TV to the receiver?

A: You could, but this will cut down on sound quality and convenience, because you aren’t using the HDMI switching in your receiver.

You really should have the receiver in the same corner with the Blu-ray player, cable box and the TV. That way you can use HDMI for audio and video signals, and switching through your receiver.

Put the Blu-ray player and cable box with the receiver and connect them via HDMI. Use a wireless HDMI connection to send the picture from the receiver to the TV.

 

Send questions to Don Lindich at donlindich@gmail.com. Get more recommendations and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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