A couple of months ago whilst working away from home on a rural island, I found myself pinning after a radio CD player. I had already bought my iPod with me, but it wasn't enough when there were plenty of CD's to play but no machine to play it on and oh how I missed listening to the radio through proper speakers instead of putting up with the tinny experience on my Mac! I do like computers in general but they still haven't perfected laptop speakers whether you are on a Mac or a PC! So, having found a few private electrical shops in the nearby village, I realised that my options would be limited by the lack of well known products and there weren't many alternatives available past the £75 price mark. Then I found the Bush radio CD player looking at me from the furthest part of the top shelf and very pleased to find it cost a more reasonable £45. The model in question had been cut down in price from £50 and according to the sales person, they weren't very popular due to its weird design. I could see what she was referring to as the Bush has a squashed bee look in silver which is reasonably good looking - what is strangely weird is that it has a flip up tape control button door - an inclusion of plastic I've never seen before on a stereo and looks just plain weird!
Bush appliances don't really exist - well of course they do but they're not made to one exclusive design compared to Sony, Philips and other leading brands on the market. Bush now stands for budget buyers who are after no-nonsense products at low prices - very much the same reason to why supermarkets now have their exclusive "value" brands, who want a slice of the action! Bush products sit on Argos shelves for most of the year, but they are strictly an umbrella of companies producing Alba rebadged products from audio/visual equipment to small household appliances. If you've ever experienced an Alba or Goodmans product, then there's every chance it will also be sold as a Bush product with a different face or a different colour. Bush used to be a British brand but the name is all but alive in our once, thriving industry. About the only aspect where Bush products thrives in these days is in the Argos catalogue and others like Littlewoods where various products can be found bearing the Bush name - and sometimes you can get a good product - which builds to the average reliability and inconsistency when you don't get a good product.
The SCA06 model is nothing short of a basic CD tape cassette player with AM and FM radio. It offers nothing new other than a basic player for basic means - and that's exactly the kind of product I wanted and got. Out of the box, the player is predominately swathed in silver paint with black inserts and a most surprising extra - a remote control unit powered by an AAA battery. This seems to be an Alba/Bush/Goodmans trait when something as lowly as a music player seems low on spec and power and then you get a free controller as a boon. It was the same with my Goodmans iPod alarm clock - and the glossy smooth "Apple" like rectangular credit card thin RCU unit (but in likewise silver and black) is pretty similar to what the Bush controller is like, giving you a restricted zapper to control only the CD player such as Play/Pause, Repeat, Program, Stop, Skip Forward, Skip Back. There is no volume button, no on button and it only works with the CD functions. Still, it's better than nowt! The CD player is located on the top of the stereo with a handy large grab handle that folds down and I was surprised to find that for all that this is an old design, the Bush happily plays CD-R/RW discs too! The radio aerial however seems to get in the way of the handle - a downside to its clam like, Alien head design!
One of the greater aspects and delights of the Bush is the sound quality. Gone is the 1980's tinny sound replaced by a bit of decent bass. Okay it's not going to win the contest for thumping the floor boards, but this little Bush doesn't disservice itself on sound quality, and whilst the tone is bright, there's also a fair bit of stereo imaging and contrast available - though for the price here, you only get to select bass via a button and no other sound settings. The downside to the Bush is that it isn't particularly powerful, so for students looking for a boom blaster, this isn't going to be the ideal model! Plus, the Bush stereo was sold between 2003 and 2009, so finding the stereo can be difficult against a lot more modern rivals. In terms of total sound output, it's a miserly 2 watts - but even at that rating I find the sound quality okay without crackling - but it isn't ever going to be a model that will get you into trouble for maxing out the volume and disturbing anyone!
The tape cassette player came in handy for listening to audiotapes I tapped into as a resource when TV channel signals were not available due to bad weather. However the quality of the actual cassette door was better than I've tried from other companies and I got used to the idea of having to flip open the rather unnecessary flip up door that hides the control buttons - at the very least, it prevents the buttons from getting dusty, I suppose! For the price here you won't get Sony's similar "AMS" Auto Music Search or review and cue feature, but the Bush is pretty good on what it offers and the buttons move with a softer tactile mechanism than I assumed with equal soft-sprung precision to the tape door that opens at a snail's pace!
Aside from the availability of this product, and for the most part a brand name and product that buyers will probably be put off by, the downsides to this product are few and far between - if you are prepared to give this model a chance rather than slate it just because it doesn't bring anything new to the table. The downsides consist of the little details that make other brands' offerings easier to use. For a start the ball shape of the Bush is difficult to put on a short width shelf and often requires to be put on the floor or a chair - something with a wider width than normal. The volume control is like a hidden half dial that sprouts out to the left hand side of the unit and there are similar small, ribbed slider switches to change the radio band from FM to AM.
On the silver plastic poorly detailed body, you're left wondering what you are selecting unless you lift up the less than 500g Bush stereo to have a decent look! There's also a beat control that cuts out extra interference when listening to the AM radio band (though I've never heard much of a difference) and a separate Mono/Stereo facility slider too. On the top of the main part of the stereo, the actual radio wave band window is also rather narrow and curves down underneath the grab handle in a "C" shape. Clearly whoever designed the product must have forgotten to add the radio wave band window in and appears as an after thought, always having to pull up the handle just to see it. The actual size of the window can also be tricky to see the exact radio station you want - but luckily the radio controller is at the front of the CD player that acts as a multi functional dialer, also dialing the tracks on a CD when the CD function is activated.
A rather large red LED square screen gives you the number of each track you choose on the CD function and the Bush has the basics in terms of being able to repeat all tracks or one track specifically and lights up with three lights to the right hand side of the LED screen. It's hardly moving technology on though but I didn't buy it for that, purely to keep me entertained with the news and supplying music via CD's or story tapes.
At the end of the day, the Bush SCA06 isn't going to set the world alight just because it was mega cheap to buy. However it is a robust, hardy little stereo that should be considered if you are looking for a kitchen radio or something handy and small to have around that happens to have a CD and tape cassette player on hand as a bonus. Perfectly sized for guest rooms and just for keeping as a handy stand by for all manner of audio CD's, the Bush SCA06 isn't likely to light the fires of music devices, but at least it's capable and it's a good little radio just to have on the side. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2012