Like many homeowners, I’ll usually have a radio nearby while working on a project like painting or (intentionally) knocking a hole in a wall. I use a cheapie RCA radio-cassette boombox that’s been dropped, kicked, splattered with paint, and otherwise abused, yet it still keeps on ticking in its low-fi way.
There are times when I’m doing these projects and I truly can’t find anything worth listening to on the radio dial. And short of digging out my cassette tapes (or recording new ones) or keeping my laptop nearby (and in harm’s way of flying paint or drywall), there haven’t been too many options.
Then I discovered the C Crane Digital FM Transmitter. This is a unit that plugs into the headphone-out jack of any device and retransmits the audio through any nearby radio that’s tuned to the matching FM frequency. I’ve seen devices like these for use in the car, but this was one of the first standalone transmitters I’ve found that would be suitable for use around the house.
The transmitter is simple to use: just put in two AA batteries (or use the included AC adapter), plug the attached coiled cable into your iPod or computer, select a frequency, adjust the audio level, and tune the radio to hear your broadcast. I had the unit operating within minutes of taking it out of the package.
Audio quality is pretty good. I’ve used the unit while it’s plugged into my iPod and the computer, and it does a nice job. When listening on my “project” boombox the sound is more than acceptable, and it’s even respectable when I tune in through one of my Tivoli radios or the old Grundig 1099. The unit broadcasts in stereo when connected to a stereo audio source.
The range of the transmitter is somewhat lacking; I had to do a lot of re-orienting of the base and antenna unit to get a good signal in certain areas of the house, which was a pain. That said, there are instructions on the internet that describe how to modify the unit to increase its transmission range. I don’t advocate this as it will void your warranty, but there are some impressive success stories posted out there.
Now I can listen to Kermode and Mayo anywhere in the house. Some might find that annoying, I think it’s pretty entertaining.
I bought the transmitter at Amazon for around $70. Not a bad price for the convenience it brings!
(This article also appears on my radio site, www.joesradiopage.com.)