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December 11, 2012

Quick & Dirty Personal FM Transmitter — "Own the airwaves"

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Excerpts from a rave Cool Tools review by Karl Chwe follow.

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The C. Crane FM Transmitter II takes a signal from an audio source such as an iPod, CD player, or computer and broadcasts it in FM — where it can be picked up by an FM radio within a range of 100 feet.

That simple description belies its versatility. I use it as a poor man's Sonos: I broadcast music and podcasts from my computer to any radio in the house. I am not limited in the devices I use to hear the broadcast; I use a few Boston Acoustics Solo tabletop radios but any radio would work. Setup is fool-proof: just tune the radio to the proper frequency. Other people can use it to watch movies without disturbing other people in the room. They just use an FM radio like the one in many iPods along with earbuds. Musicians use them for stage performance. Etc.

But there are other FM transmitters. This one stands out in a few ways. It has excellent audio quality, as good as you can get with FM. That is especially apparent in the bass frequencies. The limiting factor for your sound will almost certainly be your receiving radio or earbuds.

You can choose any broadcast frequency from 88.3 to 107.7 MHz, so are nearly guaranteed to find a clear frequency for your location.

It has adjustable gain, so it will amplify even weak signals to the maximum it can handle (an LED indicator tells you when you are overloading it). It runs off AA batteries or its own wall transformer.

It can be very easily modified (by opening the case and turning a little knob) to increase its power dramatically. You can easily find instructions on the web. This is strongly recommended: the only critical reviews are from people who were disappointed with its range out of the box. That is caused by FCC regulations that limit the power allowed in such devices. The modification will violate those regulations, of course, but drastically increase the transmitter's range.

It is cheap. Truly comparable transmitters cost a few hundred dollars. The version II is cheaper and has better audio quality than the original. And C. Crane occasionally has one that has been returned for even less.

There is basically nothing wrong with this device, and there is nothing better for the price.

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$54.95.

December 11, 2012 at 12:01 AM | Permalink


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Comments

Got to agree with Matt.

I once drove routes from 250-450 miles a day.

Just as a book or song was rockin

the static or fading come a nockin.

Posted by: JoePeach | Dec 11, 2012 6:25:06 PM

The only problem I had with this device, having owned one since the first generation, is that it works well for short trips. Make a long trek of say, 500+ miles, and the frequency broadcast has to be adjusted up or down away from the local broadcast stations. That gets very annoying, trying to keep listening to a talking book, driving, and then trying to adjust the frequency to a clear one. I gave up after a couple of trips. I had a smartphone by then, and just hooked it directly, reducing the connections to one, eliminating the need for the FM transmitter. Since Tune-in.com, Pandora, and the like, I can have tons of entertainment via my smartphone with a hard connection.

The device does what it does very well. I just stopped needing it.

Posted by: Matt Penning | Dec 11, 2012 5:52:56 PM

Thanks for posting "Cool Tools." What a great site. Hours of browsing.

Posted by: Kay | Dec 11, 2012 1:02:53 PM

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