Old School VS. New School – Is an old Cobra better than a new one?

If you’ve been involved in CB radio for a good amount of time you probably have heard this argument by now.

“Old Cobra radios are better than new ones”.

I’ve yet to hear any verified facts as to why this might be true, but enough people have said it that it’s certainly something that should be discussed.

The question is “Can an old radio work or sound better than a new one?” Certainly.

Radios are manufactured much like any other product. There a numerous individual components produced by different companies that are then sent to one location where they are assembled together by a group of trained employees and the end product is packaged up and delivered to your local CB radio store.

As I’m sure you know pretty much everything is made in China these days, including CB radios. A lot of quality control issues with products made in China have been coming to light and its fairly safe to assume that the products being produced in China may not be meeting the same standards of quality of products being produced elsewhere. This could be because companies inside China are trying to reduce costs by cutting corners or maybe the individual components themselves being made in China are lacking in quality.

Either way the end result is that a product made in China today most likely was not made with the same quality of parts or care that a similar product produced 10 years ago in Japan might have encountered.

Have you heard people say “An older Cobra made in the Philippines is the best kind you can get”?

This comment may be a direct result of the difference in manufacturing methods and parts from the radios produced 10-15 years ago compared to the ones produced today.

But this doesn’t mean that radios today aren’t quality items – a radio produced today may benefit from research and development that’s taken place over the last 15 years. For instance – the technicians at Cobra may have learned that adding a certain component in a certain place will help will adjacent channel rejection, or that adding a resistor to another spot may prevent the radio from overheating. These kind of advances are what give radios produced today better receive ability than the early CB’s of the 60’s and 70’s.

The argument will remain though – do these advances make up for poor components or lack of quality in manufacture. The old CB gurus will tell you that the old Cobra wins every time.

I myself have had the opportunity to try our numerous Cobra 29 models both new and old and on a multiple occasions I have also found that the Philippine made Cobra 29’s tend to have a better “sound” to them. Not necessarily louder…but just a different sound that tends to cut through the airwaves better. But this falls right into the category of the myth and I really have no proof to back up my claim.

Another thing to consider is that by the time a Cobra 29 from 1980 finds its way into your hands it’s possible a lot of things have been done to it. Maybe it has been tuned, had a power mod or had the modulation turned up. If you are trying to compare an old radio that’s been tuned to run like a monster against a brand new stock radio of course the tuned radio will win the battle.

The only way to answer this type of question would be in a laboratory setting where you could test 10 brand new in box Cobras produced last week and 10 brand new in box Cobras produced in 1990. Now that is a tall order. But maybe someday if someone comes across a stash of 10 new on box Cobra 29’s from 1990 in some warehouse they will read this article and have them sent to us so a true comparison test can be completed.

I would be leaning towards the truth of the old is better than new statement, but until someone can complete a true laboratory test it’s all just hearsay.