Sangean Shower Radio: "Good" could be Better
Jun 7, 2012 (Updated Jun 7, 2012)
Review by NewsView
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Sangean brand reputation;
Doubles as an emergency siren/flashlight;
Great battery life;
Cons:AM audio & reception quality could be better;
Buttons need to be more tactile;
The Bottom Line: I recommend this shower radio for those who are tired of replacing its cheaper, failure-prone analog counterparts. FM fans, in particular, will be impressed.
The Sangean H201 AM/FM Radio is one of the few shower radios on the market that offers a high-end look and feel. This purchase represents my first Sangean ownership experience. After using an inexpensive Conaire Hang-On Shower Radio, which sells for about $10 at Bed, Bath & Beyond, the Sangean H201 Shower Radio represents a significant step up.
Recommend this product?
As best I can tell as of this writing, the next closest competitor to the Sangean H201 is the Sony AM/FM Weather Band Digital Shower Radio, which runs about 1/3 less in cost. Because the Sangean H201 is the first high-end shower radio I've purchased I cannot comment on the relative merits between the two.
What to Expect
The first thing one should expect about the Sangean H201 Shower Radio is its size. It takes two "D" batteries, weighs nearly 3 lbs. and measures 5.6 x 9.4 x 2.25". At nearly the length/width of a small shoe box, this could very well be a deal breaker in an extremely cramped space in an RV or the like.
Included in the box are a carrying strap, a multipurpose handle, wall-mount bracket and 3M adhesive squares. It is capable of running off an A/C adapter but one is not included, presumably because the purpose of the unit is to operate it in a damp environment where a power cord would be inadvisable (to say the least).
Audio eminates from a single 3", full-range "water resistant", 2-watt speaker. Apparently, this radio will literally float on water but I haven't tried it. (Interestingly, the box and the sticker says "water proof" whereas the manual indicates the more typical language "water resistant" to the JIS7 standard.)
There are 5 AM and 5 FM presents, seek/autoscan, manual and PLL synthesized tuning, along with the option to adjust the step tuning interval for compatibility elsewhere in the world. The front features a large back-lit LCD display with a jumbo-size clock and battery-level indicator. Features include a sleep timer, nap timer and emergency buzzer --- as well as an LED "torch light" mounted on the side.
The user documentation for this shower radio is what you would expect for a piece of equipment in this price range. The first 12 pages are devoted to English, the remainder appears in French, Spanish, Dutch and German. The warranty information does not appear in the user manual, nor does a customer service or help line number.
The manufacturer describes the product here:
The owner's manual may be downloaded as a PDF here:
The service manual is here:
Sangean warranty terms vary according to the company website. I was unable to find specific warranty details in the user guide or on the website pertaining to this model. When trying to register the product, the Sangean website indicated that the registration feature was "under construction". (I will update the review when I can confirm what those terms are.)
Frankly, the multitude of timers and buzzers strikes me as overkill (not to be confused with a programmable alarm clock, which this unit is not). I can see the point of a sleep timer but the nap timer, which consists simply of a shorter interval, seems excessive. Worse, if you hit the wrong button in the shower --- which is easy to do because the round, rubberized buttons are very uniform in appearance and feel --- you may be startled when the emergency buzzer countdown triggers. In fact, there were more than a few mornings when my spouse discovered the emergency buzzer going off, having had no idea how it set or how long it had been buzzing away on the opposite side of the house! (It's loud but not as loud as one might expect for an "emergency" buzzer.)
Room for Improvement
1) Rather than mutliple timers/buzzers, I would have preferred if Sangean had included a weatherband and/or HD radio tuner.
The unit is marketed as loud but I haven't personally maxed out the volume to see exactly how loud it can go before the 8 ohm speaker begins to distort. Because this is a digital unit the up/down volume buttons are side-by-side instead of on a knob. This presents two problems: First, it is impossible, short of memorizing the 12-button placement, to operate the shower radio when one's vision is impaired by water, lather or any other cause. Secondly, at volume number 12 and below it is far too quiet to operate while water is running. To get to volume ~18 or above there's a lot of button holding to do.
2) More attention to tactile design features would have been helpful given the intended use of this unit.
3) I would have preferred a feature wherein you can preset the preferred volume level to more than one user.
FM reception and its crisp, stereo-like audio quality, given that it eminates from a monospeaker, is quite impressive. AM reception, on the other hand, was not nearly as satisfactory. The unit buzzes even though I live in an area that has strong AM broadcast reception. In fact, the particular AM station I listen to is so powerful that it extends hundreds of miles beyond state lines without drift for much of that area. But alas, AM is seemingly an afterthought for most manufacturers these days. Even so, the Sangean H201 shower radio reviews are almost uniformly five-star rated so I was unprepared for AM to be "acceptable" but not "fantastic". One of the problems is that AM audio is not EQ-optimized for voice clarity and tends to sound, as AM is prone to do, overly bassy. Don't get me wrong: It's far, far better than your typical sub $20 analog shower radios, which overwhelmingly sound tinny and are prone to station drift.
4) AM audio quality wasn't in line with what I expected for the price. This presents a clear opening for C.Crane or similar manufacturer to come up with a better shower radio solution for those who prefer AM listening.
5) I would have preferred the option to have a handful of built in EQ presets to choose from among.
Would I buy the Sangean again? Yes and no. Yes because there is a huge gap on the market at present between a barely passable shower radio that will break down within the first six months and a quality-built device that will provide years of dependable service. No, in the sense that I am an AM fan and with the constant hum it wasn't the vast improvement I had expected over the performance of much cheaper AM-radio tuners when operated in the same area for comparison's sake. Were it not for the fact that a Target gift card knocked a significant amount off the price I might have been inclined to give the Sangean a pass in favor of the less expensive Sony. In fact, I probably would have if it were not for the fact that in reading the Sony Shower Radio reviews I understand it is only "splash resistant" and, ironically, isn't really designed to reside in the shower itself.
If you're going to purchase the Sangean H201 make sure you have in mind where you will place it and how you intend to mount it. Unlike the inexpensive and lightweight Conaire Hang-On Shower Radio mentioned above, the Sangean is too heavy and bulky to hang nicely over a shower door or to suspend from a chrome rack of any kind. The grip on the multipurpose handle isn't adequately rubberized so unless you have a level showerhead or can secure it behind the plate that sits at the base of the stem it may very well slip. Finally, shop around because the price can vary as much as $50.
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