Attractive, simple table top radio: Sangean WR-11

After futzing around with various streaming radio apps and bluetooth speakers, my wife told me she wanted a real tabletop radio for the kitchen. Here were her requirements:

1. No buttons - knobs only.

2. Two knobs preferred. A maximum of three.

3. Pretty.

4. Easy to use.

I immediately thought of the Tivoli Audio Model One, but the $150 price tag kept me from getting it. Then I saw the wood-cased Sangean WR-11 for $85. Not quite as good looking as the Tivoli, but almost. Certainly attractive enough to be called pretty. No buttons: check. Three knobs: check (the third knob turns it on and selects AM or FM). Easy to use: It sure seemed like it would be. I bought it.

It arrived yesterday. The sound is rich and deep, even when the volume is turned up, and the tuning and volume knobs are pleasantly viscous when you turn them. Not much more to say about it -- my wife likes it, and so do I.

Sangean WR-11


    1. According to the Tech. Specs. on the Amazon page for the Sangean radio: “Inputs: 3.5mm AUX-In”
      So, it looks like you don’t have to pay $65 for an aux input.

  1. I’ve been to the factory and have worked with their engineers a while back on a couple of projects. Great group of people. 

  2. Probably could have checked your local Goodwill/thrift store for something that fit that criteria, would have fit nicely with your reuse/repurpose M.O. 

    1. Yeah. I have an old 60s – 70s Sony transistor radio, wood grain and all, that’s been my faithful kitchen radio for going on 10 years now. It cost less than 5 dollars at a Value Village in Calgary.

  3. What exactly do you listen to on it? Here in OKC it’s KGOU public radio or nothing and I listen to it all day in the car. Even the oldies station hasn’t played the ’50’s in ages. I guess the Aux-in gets it in the stream which is how we hear KGOU on the dockie thing in the kitchen now. (And KOSU is also good out of Stillwater. They’ve been playing actual music!)

    1. I won some records (like Roy Buchanan’s 1st album) from KGOU about 1971 while at OU. I listen to KOSU when not listening to KWGS here in Tulsa.

  4. What is the record player equivalent of this?  I’ve been wanting to get a turntable, but I can only find hi-tech (and by that I mean the 1998 version of hi-tech) DJ designs.

    1. There are plenty of good looking, relatively minimalist turntables out there, the company that comes to mind for me is Rega.

  5. My wife and I have accumulated a grand total of five different Sangean  radio models in our small apartment.  One in the shower (radio in the shower is the bomb), one in the kitchen, two in the bedroom (our alarm clocks) and a portable shortwave which was the first one I bought.  I’m happy with all of them.  One of the reasons I got hooked on Sangean was a couple years after I bought the shortwave, in a fit of stupidity I broke the antenna.  It wasn’t a defective design or part, I had simply mishandled the thing in a way it was not supposed to be used.  I was disappointed because I really liked that shortwave radio.  I sent an e-mail to Sangean explaining the situation and they replied and said if I sent them a check for $8.00 to cover shipping along with information about the model and part, they would ship me a replacement.  And they did.

    p.s. what’s wrong with having buttons?

    1. Buttons are annoying knobs or nothing! ;) 

      I have the Tivoli he lists up there in my studio, and another one with extra speakers and subwoofer in the man-cave, and the Tivoli Pal in the kitchen. I think you and I would have radio wars! :)

  6. Sangean radios are known for awesome reception. We have a tiny pocket size one in the kitchen that pulls in stations no other radio in the house can. Your wife made the right call, though, as ours is digital and the interface is awful.

  7. Sangean makes decent tech. I got an alarm clock radio from them and the killer feature is an in-line super capacitor  that can supply power for up to an hour during a power failure. I was always forgetting to replace the battery in my old radio, and in our neighborhood, the hundred year old + water oaks are always dropping something on the power lines. We are the home of two second blackouts. Plus, it sounds good. Also has atomic time sync but Atlanta is just too damn far from Denver to get WWV.

  8. I use a WR-1 as kitchen radio, itlooks like this with an additional AUX input. It has bad reception in my kitchen. The mighty sound is achieved with a bass tube wich has a resonant frequency, i.e. all loud sounds have a hum of that resonant frequency.

    Right now, my phone is my kitchen radio – it tunes to internet radio stations that don’t have jingles & advertisements. Maybe, I should get another Airport express to use the WR-1 as my kitchen Airport speaker.

  9. The Sangean is very good-looking, but I wouldn’t have a radio with manual tuning now. Presets are so much easier – especially in the kitchen. Imagine turning that smooth tuning knob with damp hands.

  10. the $150 price tag


    That’s my counter-offer.

    I don’t care how many tons of carbon you have to put into the air. I don’t care how many people you have to chain to the inside of a giant machine press, necessitating they duck every time a radio is produced. I simply demand, Chinese, that you provide this radio to me for $6 US.

    And if you fail in this task, you already know the forces I’ll unleash: I’ll continue to complain about it on the internet.

  11. Our kitchen radio is an old Sony my wife won from the radio station. We love it and listen to it literally every day.

    She mournfully informed me that analog FM radio is being phased out in Switzerland and that we have to replace her favorite radio. So now we’re looking for a DAB radio, with precisely the same characteristics as Mark’s wife wants, but also it must be rechargeable battery powered, since the radio’s home has no electricity.iTunes in the kitchen is provided by an Airport express + a Ryght wired speaker which is powered via USB from the Airport express. The pair fill about 100 cc together and hide down behind the fruit basket. Apple + Ryght: we love you guys!

  12. Without taking away anything from Sangean: My Tivoli Model One is worth every single penny of its $150. I got it 6 years ago and have used it almost every day, so that works out to…what, 7 cents a day? Call it 10. Incredibly warm sound, have never hooked it up to a second speaker so I can’t comment on stereo, but the mono is fantastic. Warm tone, and the tuning dial has a nice, heavy feel. To top it off, it’s made in the US.

    I know, sounds like spam, but gotdamn my radio’s awesome.

    1. We have two, one in my studio, like you, I listen to it every day, and it’s my computer speaker!
      And another in the man-cave with stereo speakers and subwoofer, excellent sound.
      I love it, the way it looks, feels, and sounds. Unobtrusive and engulfing, lovely lovely radio. :)

  13. I have as similar radio in my kitchen. I believe mine is Teac. It has a rechargeable battery in it for emergencies. It was very handy during Sandy when my power was out for a long time, and perfect for kitchen use. There is an Aux input on the back for iPod connection if I want, but I prefer radio anyway.

  14. I purchased a Roberts STREAM 83i and loved it – it really is amazing (except it has DAB yuk!), and on the back of it I wanted a Wi-Fi radio to wake to mostly as I usually listen to TWIT live this way without having to have a PC on. So I opted for another by Roberts designed for just what I wanted the Streamtime. I wish I hadn’t, it turns out it’s made by Sangean and it’s utter rubbish, it’s horrifically slow to respond to button pushes often not switching off the alarm for more than a minute after hitting the sleep button or frequent reboots. Roberts radio claim I’m using it wrong????? Sadly the Roberts version doesn’t have the USB port and never gets software updates whereas the Sangean version does. I still wonder if the Sangean is worth buying to replace it with.

  15. I have a Tivoli, and love the sound quality, but my kitchen radio is an ancient car radio mounted in a breadbox. Having presets is extremely useful, and being able to pull in distant stations is a plus, but being able to operate it while wearing oven mitts is the real kicker. 

  16. Since I can totally forget radio here, unless I want to hear Amharic yodeling all day long, I went for something surprisingly similar in design (but dang, wood casing, this is utterly great) …   for something simplistic and an iSomething station .. the Yahama PDX 13 ist not bad at all …

  17. I have been on a similar hunt – a VERY easy to use mp3 stero player for my 84 year old mom.  All I want is a power button, volume knob, and a USB port.  Any ideas?

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