Sangean HDR-14 HD/FM/AM radio review

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.

HD Radio

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.

AC adapter

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.

Lock Switch

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.


AM Bandwidth

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:
Hermit Shell Hard case:

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!


Video Review

I also put together a video review of the radio if you want to check that out.

C.Crane CC Skywave SSB AM/FM/AIR/WX/SWL receiver

I’ve always had a passion for listening to distant stations. It’s a big reason I eventually got into ham radio. Of course growing up there were a lot more shortwave stations out there than today, but there are still a few stations out there. The only shortwave receiver I have had since I was a teenager was my Radio Shack DX-392. I always use to take it with me to my grandma’s house and would listen to it for hours. (no smartphones or iPads back in those days!)

I still have the receiver today but it doesn’t seem to receive very well in my apartment. (not much does with all the electronics and RFI floating around) Still, I wondered if there was something newer that I could get that might work a little better. As you can see from the photo above, my DX-392 is huge and somewhat bulky to carry around. I wanted something a little smaller that I could take anywhere and enjoy listening to various signals. I researched the crap out of various shortwave receivers out there and was overwhelmed at what to get. I had to really ask myself what I wanted in a new radio. Size was the first priority but I didn’t want to give up performance.

I looked at the popular Tecsun models out there which everyone seems to really enjoy. I wasn’t sure but there was something about them that didn’t seem to be a fit for me. Maybe it was the weird signal strength display or the quirky undocumented features. Somehow I ended up looking at the C.Crane Skywave radio that was going for around $90-100 online. Everything about that looked great except no SSB. Being a ham, I like to listen to various digital and voice signals so this was a deal breaker to me.

As I was doing more reviews, I stumbled across a blog post over at The SWLing Post about a new radio from C.Crane with SSB. I went to the C.Crane website and investigated the CC Skywave SSB further. Not only did it have SSB on shortwave, but it also had the aviation band and NOAA weather radio frequencies.

Everyone seemed to be complaining more about the price than anything else. It was going for $169.99 though was on sale (and still is at the time of this post) for $149.99. Apparently they didn’t think the simple addition of SSB was worth almost doubling the price of the radio. Bah! Just take my money already! 🙂 I ordered the radio along with the power cord and some rechargeable AA batteries. I think I spent more time reading through their shipping policies which made me splurge for 2-day shipping as I didn’t want to wait forever to receive it.

Two days later I did in fact receive the radio. As soon as I opened the box I couldn’t believe just how small the radio was. I snapped a picture of it side by side with my DX-392 radio and it’s crazy how small it is. In the box they included one of those shortwave antenna reels that clips on to the telescoping antenna as well as some earbuds. The radio has a regular mini-usb for power/charging so if you have one of those laying around you can charge it that way too. (or charge the AA’s outside of the radio)

Ok that’s great and all but what does it sound like? First off I tried the shortwave bands and trusty WWV. I never expected to pick it up on the built in antenna but I did. I switched to the ham bands and was able to pick up lots of CW signals as well as a few voice stations. The filter choices are pretty nice as it goes from 6 khz all the way down to 500 hz which helps for those digital signals.

SSB: 4khz, 3khz, 2.2khz, 1.2khz, 1khz, 0.5khz
AM: 6khz, 4khz, 3khz, 2khz, 1khz

As for as tuning, there is a slight muting every time you turn the dial or press the up/down keys. I think that is normal with most shortwave radios including my old DX-392. You can switch to a slower 1khz tuning by gently pushing in on the tune knob. There is also a fine tune button when in SSB mode which acts like an RIT button in the ham world. It tunes in 10 hz steps to really tune in the signal which is great for ham conversations slightly off frequency.

A few notes about SSB mode. Yes, it has both LSB and USB! It takes a few seconds to engage once you press the SSB button. Also, I noticed on CW signals that there is a warble sound like the frequency isn’t stable. Not a big deal but just wanted to mention it.

Broadcast FM stations sound great too. It does not have RDS which was something I wanted but gave up for all the other features but I can live without that. The airband hasn’t impressed me much though we don’t have too much air traffic in the area. I can pick up the ATIS weather but the audio is really low. I’m not sure if that’s the signal itself or the radio just having low audio on that band. It’s not a big deal as I don’t monitor the air bands much anyway but just wanted to point it out.

The NOAA weather band works great and picked up the local station full scale no problems. It does have a weather alert feature, but it’s very basic and only works for 4, 8 or 16 hours. I think it’s meant more for people traveling or hiking to temporarily alert them vs a 24/7 alert feature you’d get in a dedicated weather radio.

The surprising band I’m really enjoying is the AM broadcast band. It really comes alive at night when some stations can run more power. I live in downstate Illinois and have consistently picked up WLW-700 in Cincinnati, Ohio, WSM-650 in Nashville, Tennessee, CJBC-860 in Toronto, Canada and even WCBS-880 in New York! This is all using the internal antenna inside of an apartment. A lot of stations have noise on the signal but if you turn the radio one way or the other it often nulls out the noise which is awesome. Since it’s so small and portable, you can move it around and find the best position for the particular station you are trying to receive.

As for battery life, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about running out. Even with the backlight on, it should last you a long time. I haven’t run it down yet and only charged it once. That is a lot better than my DX-392 which requires 3 AA batteries to store the memories and 4 D batteries to actually power the thing. The CC Skywave SSB only takes 2 AA batteries. The manual states around 60+ hours of battery using speaker and 70+ hours using the earbuds.

So if you are in the market for a very portable radio that does AM/FM/AIR/WX/SWL with SSB then I would definitely recommend this radio. I’ve had a lot of fun with it and can’t wait to take it with me wherever I travel.

More info/Purchase: C.Crane CC Skywave SSB radio

FM Bandscan in Champaign IL

I did a bandscan of the broadcast FM band this afternoon for Champaign, IL. It was interesting that for some stations I had to turn the gain almost to 0 to get the interference from stronger stations to go away. I’m hoping that I better receiver would help a little bit in those situations. I’m still impressed though by the number of stations that I can pick up with a cheap RTLSDR dongle.

Receiver: RTL-SDR R820T2
Antenna: Stellar Labs 4-el Yagi (driven element only, indoors)
Software: GQRX v2.7 on macOS 10.12

88.3: W202CF – Champaign, IL – 2.4mi @ 60W
88.7: WPCD – Champaign, IL – 7.7mi @ 10,500W – RDS PI: 7C7B
89.3: WGNJ – St Joseph, IL – 20.9mi @ 50,000W
90.1: WEFT – Champaign, IL – 5mi @ 10,000W
90.9: WILL – Monticello, IL – 20.8mi @ 105,000W – RDS PI: 6AF1
91.7: WBGL – Urbana, IL – 9.6mi @ 20,000W – RDS PI: 57F3
91.9: WUIS – Springfield, IL – 65.4mi @ 50,000W (hard to receive)
92.1: W221CK – Champaign, IL – 1mi @ 195W – RDS PI: F001 (invalid PI code)
92.5: WREE – Philo, IL – 10.4mi @ 16,000W – RDS PI: 81F8
92.9: WRPW – Colfax, IL – 34.7mi @ 6,000 (weak)
93.1: WYDS – Decatur, IL – 43.5mi @ 4,600
93.5: WSJK – Tuscola, IL – 14.2mi @ 5,000W – RDS PI: 8524
94.5: WLRW – Champaign, IL – 1mi @ 50,000W – RDS PI: 7384
95.3: WJEK – Rantoul, IL – 11.7mi @ 1,900W
95.7: WLHF-LP – Champaign, IL – 2.4mi @ 33W
95.9: WEZC – Clinton, IL – 35.7mi @ 6,000W
96.1: WQQB – Rantoul, IL – 7.7mi @ 3,800W – RDS PI: A889
97.5: WHMS – Champaign, IL – 2.9mi @ 50,000W – RDS PI: 686E
97.9: W250BL – Champaign, IL – 1mi @ 250W
98.3: WWHP – Farmer City, IL – 25.8mi @ 5,200W
98.5: WWVR – Paris, IL – 46mi @ 50,000 (weak)
99.1: WYXY – Oakwood, IL – 27.4mi @ 50,000W – RDS PI: 9676
99.3: WXFM – Mount Zion, IL – 40mi @ 1,150W
99.7: W259BG – Champaign, IL – 1mi @ 250W – RDS PI: F002 (invalid PI code)
100.3: WIXY – Philo, IL – 10.4mi @ 13,000W – RDS PI: 6C36
100.9: WZUS – Macon, IL – 43.6mi @ 6,000W (weak)
101.1: W266AF – Urbana, IL – 3.5mi @ 250W
101.5: WBNQ – Bloomington, IL – 44.8mi @ 50,000W
102.1: WDNL – Danville, IL – 35.2mi @ 50,000W (weak as they are in the opposite direction)
102.5: WGNN – Fisher, IL – 16.8mi @ 6,000W
102.9: WSOY – Decatur, IL – 38.3mi @ 54,000W – RDS PI: 85B4
103.9: W280DE – Champaign, IL – 2.5mi @ 120W
104.1: WBWN – Leroy, IL – 37.7mi @ 47,000W
104.5: WRFU – Urbana, IL – 4.3mi @ 100W
104.9: WPXN – Paxton, IL – 25.5mi @ 3,000W
105.1: WEJT – Shelbyville, IL – 46.4mi @ 13,000W
105.5: WCZQ – Monticello, IL – 15.7mi @ 6,000W – RDS PI: 008A
105.9: WGKC – Mahomet, IL – 7.7mi @ 2,500W – RDS PI: 6586
106.3: WGCY – Gibson City, IL – 31.4mi @ 6,000W
106.7: WZNX – Sullivan, IL – 40.7mi @ 9,500
107.1: WPGU – Champaign, IL – 2.8mi @ 3,000W
107.3: WDKR – Maroa, IL – 42mi @ 3,000
107.7: WIBL – Fairbury, IL – 44.2mi @ 14,000W
107.9: WKIO – Arcola, IL – 16.8mi @ 3,600W – RDS PI: 6FEE

TV DX (7/17/17)

For some unknown reason, I woke up around 4am this morning. Just for kicks, I looked at the current stations being received by the automated receiver on my phone. I noticed lots of stations from Chicago which I’ve never picked up, especially with the indoor antenna pointed to the west-southwest. I then noticed WVTV from Milwaukee, WI (207 miles) and then WTLJ in the Grand Rapids, MI area (232 miles).

Not wanting to get out of bed, I quickly scanned the tuner on my iPhone using the Channels app. I was able to confirm WFLD (127 miles), WQPT (137 miles), KWQC (137 miles) and WQAD (137 miles).

Did anyone else pick up any distant stations this morning?

WFLD - Chicago, IL
WFLD – Chicago, IL (127 miles) via HDHomeRun Connect

WQPT - Lynn Center, IL
WQPT – Lynn Center, IL (137 miles) via HDHomeRun Connect

KWQC - Lynn Center, IL
KWQC – Lynn Center, IL (137 miles) via HDHomeRun Connect

WQAD - Lynn Center, IA
WQAD – Lynn Center, IA (137 miles) via HDHomerun Tuner

VHF propagation (7/17/17)
VHF propagation (7/17/17)

TV DX Log from automated tuner (7/17/2017)
*stations in bold are confirmed

WFLD – Chicago, IL – 127 miles
WCIU – Chicago, IL – 127 miles
WPWR – Chicago, IL – 127 miles
WJYS – Chicago, IL – 127 miles
WSNS – Chicago, IL – 127 miles
WXFT – Chicago, IL – 127 miles
WMAQ – Chicago, IL – 127 miles
WGN – Chicago, IL – 127 miles
WGBO – Chicago, IL – 128 miles
WYCC – Chicago, IL – 128 miles
WQPT – Lynn Center, IL – 137 miles
KWQC – Lynn Center, IL – 137 miles
KLJB – Lynn Center, IL – 137 miles
WQAD – Lynn Center, IL – 137 miles
WVTV – Milwaukee, WI – 207 miles
WTLJ – Allendale, MI – 232 miles
KGAN – Walker, IA – 240 miles
KRIN – Walker, IA – 240 miles
KFXA – Van Horne, IA – 240 miles

TV DX (7/11/17 – 7/12/17)

The tropo propagation was hopping on Tuesday July 11, 2017 into Wednesday July 12, 2017 here in eastern Illinois. With my automated HDHomeRun tuner scanning constantly, I started seeing stations showing up from eastern Iowa to northwestern Illinois to St. Louis, MO to southern Illinois. (KYOU, WTJR, KDNL, KPLR, KSDK, KTVI, KMOV, WSIL, WPSD)

Then I noticed WMYO coming in from Louisville, KY. Then a little while later, several stations from Indianapolis/Bloomington, IN. (WXIN, WFYI, WRTV, WHMB, WTTK, WIPX) Finally, I picked up WSTR over 200 miles to the east in Cincinnati, OH!

This is really crazy because my indoor antenna is pointed to the WSW with buildings blocking everything to the east. Amazing how strong propagation can enhance signals.

While all of these automated hits are great, I don’t consider them to be true captures unless I have some sort of screenshot/photo of the picture. Sadly most of these happened when I was unavailable to scan on a TV. I did, however, capture a couple of new ones to me.

WSIL – Harrisburg, IL (175 miles) via TiVo OTA tuner

WHMB – Indianapolis, IN (111 miles) via HDHomeRun Connect

WXIN – Indianapolis, IN (111 miles) via HDHomeRun Connect

TV DX Log from automated tuner (7/11/2017 – 7/12/2017)
WHMB – Indianapolis, IN – 111.5 miles
WFYI – Indianapolis, IN – 111.7 miles
WRTV – Indianapolis, IN – 111.7 miles
WTTK – Indianapolis, IN – 111.8 miles
WXIN – Indianapolis, IN – 111.8 miles
WIPX – Bloomington, IN – 124.2 miles
WTJR – Quincy, IL – 161.5 miles
WSIL – Harrisburg, IL – 175.2 miles
WMYO – Salem, IN – 178.6 miles
WPSD – Paducah, KY – 204.9 miles
KYOU – Ottumwa, IA – 206.6 miles
WSTR – Cincinnati, OH – 210.4 miles