On Episode 2 of On The Airwaves, I reviewed a tabletop radio that also has Bluetooth connectivity. It has been about three weeks and it must be said that the Sangean WR-22 is a fine receiver with lots of functionality.
This model was ordered through DataVision, a seller on Amazon and it was priced around $130 US. Shipment was expedient, but it was sent through FedEx. I have a bit of bias against that company, especially since I used to work there as a handler and know how well boxes are not treated.
It was no surprise that the box was a tad dented, however the radio and most of the materials were intact with an exception of the included FM antenna. However, the WR-22 accepts any TV antenna with coaxial inputs and can serve as a spare FM antenna.
Once the packing was unwrapped, I powered on the radio and was immediately impressed.
Sangean has a reputation of making fine radios, especially notable receivers like the ATS-909X. It was that appeal alone that made me decide on a clock radio with excellent build quality. The WR-22 is no exception.
Upon lifting it out the box, I can feel the weight of it and it certainly is heavy. There are many variations on the WR-22, but mine has a walnut finish on it. It’s not real wood but the look and feel is just as solid.
The rest of it has a glossy black plastic cover. It doesn’t seem cheap, have any creeks, or weak spots in the design. It is a fingerprint and scratch magnet though, but that doesn’t bother me much.
Buttons and connectors are clicky, responsive, and well-constructed. There are no loose connections.
Also, you can connect devices to USB and an audio auxiliary input.
On the back, there are inputs for an external antenna for AM and FM. While the radio does have an internal ferrite antenna, there is an option should anyone want better reception out of the radio.
A headphone and subwoofer jack can also be found on the backside.
To begin, this radio has dual alarms and a sleep timer.
The top of the screen shows the time, which can be manually adjusted or synced with FM RDS stations.
The bottom shows the tuned frequency, station name and other RDS information on FM, song name and artist if an media player is connected through USB, and the name of the connected Bluetooth device.
The display is also backlit and even lights up the buttons and Sangean logo on the front panel. You can also adjust the brightness if you wish it to be brighter or dimmer.
Tuning, Volume, and Presets
On the front panel are tuning and volume knobs and preset buttons. Turning these knobs are somewhat similar to the ATS-909X. There are notches in the tuning where you can come to a stop.
For example, pressing down on the tuning knob in Bluetooth mode pairs your device. Hitting down on the volume knob changes the treble and bass adjustments.
Also, the WR-22 has 5 preset buttons for AM and FM stations. This is fine for me, but someone may want to have additional presets to program more than 5 stations. There’s also no frequency input so you’ll have to manually tune to the station.
Additionally, you can use the included remote for tuning and volume adjustments.
The front of the radio sports a 3 inch 7W single speaker. The sound is only in mono, but it sounds great. I can’t really compare this to a tabletop Bose system or similar products but it does sound much better than cheaper clock radios such as iHome. Even my portable Jambox Mini sounds tiny compared to the audio coming from the WR-22.
It can fill the room and gets really loud without much distortion. The radio favors more bass, but you can adjust treble and bass settings if you want something more mid-range. For me personally, I like to have a bit more bass.
Reception of AM and FM stations is a similar experience to the ATS-909X. Local stations come in clearly and sound great. There is a low noise floor with the received signal.
Depending on what you are looking for, local station listening is great. If you’re a DXer, then you may want to invest in an external antenna.
It’s not to say that distant signals can’t be received. However, there is a bit of static on faraway AM and FM stations.
I have tested this with two benchmark distant stations: KMOX 1120 in St. Louis and WMAV 90.3 in Oxford, MS. Both broadcasters are not too far from Memphis and could be received. They did come in loud, but not as clear. Some static could be heard on both signals, and KMOX had a bit of fading.
It may seem as a negative, but it’s not bad at all. I would get the same results from a Tecsun PL-660 or any high-quality radio. I just want to be upfront in stating that this is not a DXing rig.
However, this radio does have external antenna connections and I’ve only used the internal antenna and a TV antenna. I can imagine a better antenna could bear better results, but my setup was fine in getting distant stations with a tolerable amount of static. It is impressive, indeed.
Here are some audio clips of stations that I am able to pick up here in Memphis. Hopefully these samples will give prospective buyers an idea of terrestrial radio performance and audio quality. I have three audio files for both AM and FM reception and each last roughly a minute long.
The Sangean WR-22 is equipped with a Bluetooth receiver. Any device that has Bluetooth functionality will connect with it.
For instance, my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Surface 3 syncs up with the radio flawlessly. It pairs up with your compatible device easily and quickly.
For comparison purposes, I have used the Jambox Mini and it takes nearly 20-30 seconds to connect to my devices. With the WR-22, it took about 10 seconds and sometimes faster than that if Bluetooth is already turned on.
As for range, the WR-22 works well across a bedroom and a little bit beyond through walls. It has better range than the Jambox. It also holds the connection and has yet to drop the signal. Unlike the WR-22, my Jambox will drop the signal once in a while and is less stable.
Here’s a fun fact. The WR-22 can also charge up your device while connecting a USB cable in Bluetooth mode (in addition to USB mode). The radio has to be on for the device to charge, but it works.
The Sangean WR-22 has a USB port for charging and syncing MP3 players and USB drives. While using this mode, you can shuffle through any audio files stored on the device and play through the radio.
If you plan to use an iPod or even a smartphone through USB mode, it will not recognize the file system. Smartphones have Bluetooth, but for incompatible devices like an iPod Nano or Zune, you’ll want to use the auxiliary input mode to play music through the WR-22.
I am quite impressed with the Sangean WR-22. It has performed better than I expected.
Audio quality is top-notch and sounds pleasant to my ears. I didn’t notice any static, distortion, or speaker pops on clear signals.
Connecting to a Bluetooth device is easy and it is fast too.
Reception on AM and FM performed well especially on local stations. If I want to take further advantage of DXing, then I am glad that I have the option of installing an external antenna.
The build quality is rock solid and I can see this lasting a long time.
Perhaps the only negative I have is that it can’t be battery-powered. There is no internal rechargeable battery or battery compartments.
The large size alone makes it solely a tabletop radio. For a portable option, there’s the Jambox Mini.
Overall, the Sangean WR-22 is my primary radio. It is great for local radio listening, and works well as a music player and internet radio when using radio apps on my Note 4. This receiver is also a great device for listening to podcasts as well.
The Sangean WR-22 is simply a fantastic radio.
Build Quality: 5/5
Sound Quality: 5/5
AM Performance: 4/5
FM Performance: 4/5
Bluetooth Connectivity: 5/5
Overall Score: 4/5