I had originally purchased this radio back in May 2020 from Amazon as a renewed item to save a few bucks. Unfortunately, something was wrong with it as it struggled to pick up even the 50,000 watt power house FM station one mile away from me. After talking with folks who had the radio and loved it, I thought I would give it another chance. In October 2020, I purchased the radio brand new. When I received it, I was blown away at all the stations it was picking up. Now that I’ve had it a few years, I thought I would do a review of the radio.
One of the biggest features of this radio is how small it is. It fits in your hand and you can take it anywhere.
Why do you need HD radio capabilities? Despite slightly increased music quality, I think the real benefit of HD is having multiple stations on the same frequency. Two of our stations here in Champaign, IL have three separate HD channels on the same frequency.
WILL has two of their HD channels for classical music. The third is crystal clear audio of their AM station which sounds a lot better than what you would hear on an AM radio.
Then you have WIXY which also has three HD channels. HD1 is country, HD2 is hip hop and HD3 is top 40. That seems pretty cool from a technical perspective of only needing one transmitter for three different genres of music. However, many of these stations are also on FM, albeit on different frequencies than their main transmitter. Their HD1 channel is on 100.3, HD2 on 92.1 and HD3 on 99.7. This allows folks without an HD radio to enjoy those stations with a regular FM radio. Of course this requires the station to have three different transmitters which reduces the cool factor and increases their costs.
If you are curious what HD stations are in your area, you can visit the address below.
Getting back to the radio… The HD reception on the radio works very well. It seems to detect and lock on to an HD signal in a few seconds which is nice. Audibly, you really don’t hear any difference with an HD signal on the built-in speaker other than no static. If you plug in headphones, you can sometimes hear a slight improvement in signal.
Radio Data System (RDS)
On the FM side, one of the wonderful features is RDS. This is the system that shows you the artist, song title, station call letters and more. Most car stereos have this built-in but most portable radios do not. This radio does a good job of detecting and then decoding the RDS portion of the signal to display the information on the screen. I also enjoy using this feature to DX or listen for distant stations outside your normal listening area. When certain atmospheric conditions are right, you can hear stations from hundreds of miles away. I’ve picked up FM stations in Wyoming (I’m in Illinois) before just using this radio and the built-in antenna. Being able to see the call letters on the screen is a huge help in determining where a station is located.
In July during this past summer, I picked up WXOS out of St. Louis, MO which is about 160 miles southwest of me on this radio. Not only did the RDS show me the call letters but their HD signal was decoded as well!
This radio uses three AA batteries to run. The nice thing is you can find AA batteries at just about any store so you should never run out of power. I use rechargeable AA batteries so I can use them numerous times. Sadly, there are no batteries included with the radio.
Don’t fret about batteries not being included. Sangean has included an AC adapter with this radio. They do mention in the manual that if you use the AC adapter when listening to the AM band, you will hear increased noise due to the electronic components of the AC adapter. It doesn’t affect the FM band though.
There’s nothing like throwing your radio in a bag and getting ready to use it at your destination and you notice the batteries are dead. This is why I like the lock feature on this radio. It prevents the buttons from causing the radio to come on inadvertently.
I noticed when moving the radio around on an AM station that the bandwidth changes based on the signal strength. It gets more narrow on a weaker signal and wider on a stronger signal. Technically that’s a pretty cool feature but I would appreciate the ability to adjust the bandwidth manually. I have that capability on the C.Crane Skywave SSB radio that I’ve reviewed in the past.
No direct frequency entry
I’m nitpicking here again, but there is no way to enter a frequency by typing it in. You must use the up and down arrows to change the frequency. Of course you can store up to 20 frequencies per band as a preset which might save you some time.
The backlight on the radio is nice but there is no way to leave it on continuously. Even plugged into AC, it shuts off after a few seconds. It would be nice to have an option to leave it on all the time or leave it off all the time.
If you’re looking for a cheap portable AM/FM radio, this radio is probably not for you. This radio costs $80. However, if you want a radio that has AM, FM and HD radio with RDS built-in, then this is definitely a radio to consider. I think it’s actually worth the price for what all you get with it.
Where to buy
You can buy this on Amazon for around $80 + tax. I would also recommend getting a hard shell case for it to protect it.
Sangean HDR-14 Radio: https://amzn.to/3sOHKxA
Hermit Shell Hard case: https://amzn.to/3SxCEzS
Note: The links above are affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission should you buy anything through those links. If you do purchase through those links, it helps support my site and I greatly appreciate it!
I also put together a video review of the radio if you want to check that out.