If you got to this chapter and still need help, I'll presume that
you've exhausted all practical antenna options discussed in Chapter
2 and now are in search of a better receiver (or tuner...which is
the receiver minus the big audio amplifiers).
First let's start with a few basics to be aware of when receiver
shopping. As mentioned earlier, a key to good weak signal reception
is a good antenna. If the receiver has no external antenna input
then you're already in trouble. So rule 1 is always be sure the
receiver can accept an external antenna. This can be either twin
lead or coax.
Next you'll want to consider the two most important tuner tech
specifications: sensitivity and selectivity. Sensitivity refers
to the ability to hear weak signals and selectivity deals with being
able to reject adjacent stations. Anything in depth here will quickly
run away from the concept of keeping this series easy for all, so
I'll simply suggest that if shopping for a new receiver, be aware
that a good receiver should be both sensitive and selective.
Sometimes the importance of the selectivity of a tuner is under
emphasized. In a crowded radio market such as Cleveland, this is
a big mistake. Often the receiver with superior selectivity, will
outperform the more sensitive, yet less selective one.
Finally, I recommend that whatever you end up with, try to make
certain that it has: a stereo/mono switch, the ability to switch
to mono if the signal is too weak for good stereo or is a mono receiver.
Weak stereo signals equal noisy reception! Although one of the nice
things about FM 91-5 is the stereo presentation, I'm sure you'd
rather hear a clean MONO signal than a nosy annoying stereo one.
So if the radio isn't stereo, so much the better...remember our
goal here is a BETTER 91-5 signal and one that you can enjoy all
OK...you may be saying: "Enough teckie talk.... what's a good receiver
and try to leave me a few bucks for food and rent."
PULL the CAR INTO THE HOUSE!
If you're NOT a "Do-it-your-selfer," then I suggest you skip this
But, if you're a bit handy...and want a superior system that often
meets all the guidelines above and won't cost you a bundle, then
allow me to refer you back to Chapter One. This is the chapter that
discussed why you can receive 91-5 so well in your car and not in
your home. A bad suggestion was to run speaker wires from the car
into the house. Another bad one is to drive the car into your living
But...if you were to take just the car radio into the home, connect
it to a decent antenna....add a 12 volt 120 vac power supply and
a couple of speakers...you'd have an excellent FM receiving system
in your living room or bedroom. Many excellent auto radios are available
from "junk yards" or flea markets for a few dollars ($5-10)! Every
time someone replaces that factory AM/FM job with a fancy CD or
Cassette model, another perfectly good surplus radio hits the used
OK...it does take some handiwork to connect it up. You have to
properly connect: a DC power supply (about $39.99 from Radio Shack
and cheaper elsewhere via mail order), a pair of speakers and an
antenna (even an auto whip antenna might do the trick). But if you're
handy and you've never considered it before, you may want to give
it a try. I think you'll be pleased with what you get for about
$65.00 or MUCH less (depending on what you have around the house)..
"I'M NOT HANDY...But not willing to spend lots of bucks either!"
OK...I have several specific bottom line recommendations... all
easily available by toll-free mail-order....or on the internet.
First, allow me to suggest the famous "GE Super Radio III." Although
this radio is very popular with AM fans (due to its excellent AM
tuner/antenna), it's also a most excellent FM performer. It is essentially
a big portable mono radio with a large built in speaker system and
bass and treble controls that gives it a most impressive sound,
especially for the price. It also has those important FM (& AM)
antenna terminals on the rear (requiring a transformer for coax
cable). The built-in whip antenna even does an impressive job by
itself. It's not digital which allows the advantage to offset the
tuning slightly when faced with a strong adjacent channel that's
splattering onto 91-5. Although it runs on AC, it also takes 6 big
"D" cells, which may come in handy when the lights go out!
The downside with this receiver is that it's NOT built for much
abuse...so you'll want to set it on 91-5 turn it on and leave it
alone! The price seems to typically be in the $65.00 (& s/h) area.
However, after a bit of searching, I've found a most excellent price
of $39.50 (plus $9.00 s/h) from Bennett Brothers in Chicago. Their
number is 800-621-2626.
If you're looking for something that looks a bit classier (in a
wood grain case) ...and still has an excellent sound, is mono (for
less noise), has an excellent tuner is amazingly simple to operate
(aside from the on/off switch and volume control it has just a big
analog tuner dial), and is $99.00 (plus s/h)....then...
I suggest the "Tivoli Audio Henry Kloss Model 1." This small package
has quite the big sound and is available in three color schemes
(I liked all three). If you remember the old KLH table radios, this
will bring back a warm feeling. Details are available on their website:
www.tivoliaudio.com or their toll free number: 1-877-297-9479.
If you're tempted to run to the phone to order one of those Bose
Receivers whose infomercials and print ads are EVERYWHERE...I might
suggest that (unless you have money burning a holes in your pockets)...you
consider one of the two options above. If you insist on Stereo and
digital tuning...then you might wish to consider the "Model 88"
Stereo FM receiver offered by Cambridge Soundworks. This is another
Henry Kloss receiver creation only this one is stereo with a digital
tuner. Although I've not personally tested this one, some of the
reviews (especially when compared to the far more expensive Bose),
are very favorable. This receiver is available for about $169.00
directly from www.CambridgeSoundworks.com.
Another inexpensive possibility is the Sony ICF-9740W. This is
a nice looking mono analog Table Radio has a 6.5" speaker, variable
tone control and according to Sony, provision for the all-important
external FM antenna. Cost is only $59.99 from J&R Music World (1-800-221-8180).
I also believe it's available locally from Sears "Brand Central"
stores. I haven't personally tested this one so can't elaborate.
Those that remember the Proton radios might find interest in the
Sangean Model RS330, which took over the Proton line. The RS330
is a high quality mono digital clock radio that sells for $129.00
(although J&R sells it for $99.99). I couldn't verify the existence
of an external FM antenna jack, but I would guess that such an upscale
item would be remiss not to have one. They also sell a companion
stereo speaker deal but I would think the additional $80.00 pushes
it beyond our mission of affordable quality FM 91-5 reception.
Of course the list of old and new high quality tuner and receiver
offerings that could run into many hundreds of dollars is endless.
These high quality stereo component products should all do a fine
job....as long as you give them a fighting chance by connecting
a good FM antenna.
Ah yes...we return again to that fringe radio basic. The finest
receiver, is only as good as its antenna. So if you already own
a fine tuner or receiver, make sure you provide it with the best
If you held my feet to the fire, all things considered, I'd probably
pick the $99.00 "Tivoli Audio Henry Kloss Model One" as my first
choice for best tuner, quality sound, appearance, simplicity, required
antenna jack (switch able) and dollar value.
If a quality CLOCK radio is the goal, the $99.00 "Sangean RS 330"
would be the likely candidate.
Should AM reception also be a big concern, then it would be the
GE Super Radio III.
If you have experience with any others, good or bad, feel free
to pass them along. It's always fun to hear how YOU fare with your
efforts to pull in a better, stronger FM 91-5.
I hope some of this information was helpful with your efforts to
pull in a cleaner stronger FM 91-5!
If nothing suggested seems to help, then we may have some relief
from our end in the near future.... stay tuned!