SHORTWAVE RADIO- a revolutionary invention in the history of mankind. Which has played a significant role in the prosperity of the human race. Has introduced the wireless communication, which was a novelty as well as luxury in the early part of 1900. Apart from entertaining people, it was the only medium to stay in touch with the outside world.
Notwithstanding, science has come a long way and technology has proliferated exponentially. As a consequence, thousands of devices with innumerable advantages now available out there as the substitution of radio. But the appeal of a shortwave radio is still unwavering.
Comes with a range of versatile functionalities, but selecting a shortwave radio when a countless number of options are available, could be worrying. While your sole intention is to find the best possible device, this article is here to assist. We have arrayed 10 shortwave radios, from where you can easily pick your best match.
How short a shortwave is?
Shortwave doesn’t have any definition that has official recognition. But range it has, successfully covers the entire HF (high frequency band). And in general, stretch from 3 MHz to 30 MHz, which is beyond the MF (medium frequency band) to highest extend of HF (high frequency band).
How useful a shortwave is?
Widely considered as a theurgy, shortwave strike at the velum of the earth called ionosphere, when transmitted. Afterwards come back to the ground at a great distance beyond the horizon, like a ball. As a consequence, transmission covers audiences across a large area and even beyond continents. To cover the entire world two, maximum three high power transmitters are enough. All these conveniences have disseminated its use in energy, aviation, marine and diplomatic purposes.
Is it worth of buying a shortwave radio while there are thousand other devices?
Use of shortwave radio lessened in urban areas, owing to the easy access of different technological advances. But in remote areas, hill tracts, secluded island and various conflict zones, where cellular network coverage is inadequate due to the lack of infrastructure, shortwave radio still plays a significant role. Furthermore, ability to receive ham radio signal has increased its worth by many folds.
Features To Look For In A Shortwave Radio
As we are talking about its usefulness in remote areas as well as its effectiveness as ham radio, portability must be assessed prior of buying one. It should be convenient enough to carry along when you are going away from home. In addition, there is also a desktop version with mighty reception capability. If you are planning to have one to listen broadcasts in your grocery store or in the study, desktop model will offer better performance.
- Battery life
Whatever device you are using which is run by battery, it’s important to be aware of the standby time of the battery. It will help you maximize the use of the device when needed and conserve charge for prolonged use.
- Compatibility with different bands
Shortwave radio supports a range of frequency ranging from 3 to 30 MHz. Generally operates in AM frequency, but other modes such as SSB can also be transmitted by different models. It’s important that the model you are chaffering, functions uninterruptedly with these frequencies.
Radio performance vastly depends on signal receiving capability of the antenna, as shortwave radio receives signal through it. Long antenna supposed to offer improved reception. But you need to check the build quality and the adjustability.
Top 10 Shortwave Radio Reviews
1. Retekess V115 Portable AM FM Radio with MP3 Player
A basic radio from Retekess, V115 has all the features you look for in a shortwave radio. When it comes to reliability in the transmission, V115 will be found in the top 5 of every list till date. Portability is another feature that elevated its appeal as a shortwave radio even further. A great deal of functions come in a stature, which can be placed in the pocket of your shirt.
A humble price tag might confuse you about its effectiveness, but the functions and features it inherits promulgate about its worthiness. Its size, in comparison with other models, is small, so that people often become skeptical about the reception power without properly assessing the product. But in reality, it can take up frequency from an admirable radius.
In addition, transmission capability that it offers, with respect to the features it has, is quite impressive. Can receive both AM and FM frequencies and its usability as an mp3 speaker are an added advantage. All you need to do is just plug in the AUX and connect the player to the radio. In order to enhance the user experience, an adjustable LCD backlit display has installed. A variety of three built in language options consist of English, Chinese and Spanish make it more convenient for various indigenous people.
- Compatible with MP3 file
- LCD display with backlit, which is adjustable
- Able to receive signals far and wide
- Pleasant transmission
- Tuning few frequency could be troublesome
- Strength of signal sometimes becomes contemptible
2. Sony ICFP26 Portable AM/FM Radio
For the people who are in run all the time and love to listen music, news and other radio broadcasts while moving, Sony has popped up with the captivating ICFP26 portable AM/FM radio. As it’s designed to carry along, battery life has a significant role and Sony addressed the issue duly. Two AA batteries will meet your desired performance and you can easily replace them when needed.
Additionally, to safeguard you from being out of battery, a battery status indicator also included. Its vertical outfit which is extremely compact can be accommodated in a tiny space; an advantage missing in the horizontally designed models. If you want to listen something without bothering others, a dedicated 3.5mm headphone socket is there to serve you. Headphone also ensures improved noise free audio.
And if you want to enjoy your favorite program with others a built in 100 MW speaker is more than enough. Comes with an analog frequency display and an antenna which is extendable up to 17’’. Integrated tuning for both AM and FM along with an indicator placed just underneath the battery indicator. Has a weight of approximate 190 gram and a built in hand strap provides additional safety as well as increased portability.
- 17 inch antenna
- Insignificant weight
- Built in hand strap
- 100 MW speaker
- Battery indicator and LED tuning
- Mono sound in headphone instead of stereophonic audio
- Some customers complained about the volume knob
3. PRUNUS Portable AM FM Shortwave Rechargeable Radio
For those radio enthusiasts, who are fond of colorful items, this M-160BT engineered by PRUNUS is the perfect fit for them. Receive AM FM SW transmission with utmost precision, thanks to the extremely powerful DSP chip. To stabilize the signal further, there is a Copper retractable antenna, which can be extended up to 21 cm. A 270 degree, tuning space accommodates a circular tuning knob; impressive accuracy in tuning ensured. Its countenance will revive the traditional feel of listening radio, when you place it on the table.
A measurement of (130 x 70 x 90) mm and a weight of approx. 383 gram speaks about its portability. You will have a feel of coziness while operating this as its operation vastly simplified by using separate switches on the front bottom, for each function. Compatibility with flash drive and TF card up to 32GB paved the path for MP3 music. Can be used as speaker as it supports Bluetooth up to 10m and there is an AUX port also. Doesn’t have any headphone jack, but the built in 3W magnetic speaker will provide smooth base and treble. Has a non-removable 1200mAh rechargeable battery and a USB port to charge it by any portable power source.
- AM/FM/SW compatibility
- Powerful rechargeable battery
- Bluetooth and USB port
- Powerful DSP chip
- No headphone jack available
- Some people might not like the glittery color
4. Panasonic RF-2400D AM / FM Radio, Silver
Panasonic- a name that has drawn immense respect worldwide by producing various types of electronic devices over the past century, including shortwave radio. And became a common name in every household for the quality they offer. RF-2400D AM/FM radio is not any exception, rather it has all the necessary features a shortwave radio needed. Materially it’s an update version of R-2400, which was in service from 2015. Despite the upgradation its price still doesn’t put any heavy pressure on the purse. Comes in splendid silver and gorgeous black color. Inclusion of a built in AC power supply makes it one of the best choices for the desk; you don’t need to worry about the battery usage.
In addition, can also be run by batteries, 4 AA cells will ensure its service for you, while you are on the move. But bear in mind that the AC power source will provide better sound quality. Operation is very simple, powering on and off, FM/AM selection is being done by a sliding selector switch, while there is a rotary knob attached to the right hand side for tuning. There is also a thumbwheel for volume control and microphone jack for additional convenience. Finally the fluorescent pointer over the dialing scale is there to assist you in dark night or during power failure.
- Fluorescent pointer
- Large dial scale with larger frequency numbers
- 10cm speaker provides crystal clear sound
- Ferret antenna for strong signal reception
- No DSP chip availability
- Battery not rechargeable
5. iRonsnow Real NOAA Alert Weather Radio with Alarm
Being alerted of any natural disaster or any warning about special weather condition beforehand it takes place means staying one step ahead of the disaster. It’s a real advantage for the people live in the areas prone to those natural events and iRonsnow IS-388 is doing exactly that. All you need to do is set it on ‘Alert’ mood and it will notify you the fastest possible time.
A range of signal reception, including FM/AM/SW1/SW2 and 7 NOAA weather channels to deliver news regarding flood, tornado, thunderstorm, and other warnings. Apart from supporting wide range channels, it also accepts micro SD card; listening mp3 music ensured. Produce quite loud siren so that you wouldn’t miss any warning.
Usability as iPhone power bank has elevated its appeal by many fold and multiple options available to charge. 2300 mAh power source can be connected through iPhone charging cable, which is not included into the package. For back up option, 3 AA is enough to keep it operational. Comes with two flash light; one to lead you in the dark and another is a reading lamp comprise of 11 LED, produce bright enough light for reading.
- Multiple flashlight
- 2300 mAh rechargeable lithium battery
- TF card player supportive
- Can be used as power bank
- It’s not a professional solar power bank
6. Kaito TECSUN PL-380 DSP FM Stereo. MW. SW. LW. World Band PLL Radio
TECSUN PL-380 comes with the Silicon Labs Si4734 DSP to give a taste of modern software technology to the radio enthusiast. Analog signal broadcasting of MW FM and SW have been digitalized and the radio principles also modernized. Simple but appealing design, convenient small size; perfect for carrying in a backpack while walking or even hiking.
This model drains the battery very slowly, especially when you are using headphone as a result batteries last for a long time. Battery level also visible in the LCD display along with digital timer, clock and temperature. Support both 12 hour and 24 hour time format. Has seven modes of tuning and 550 preset memories. Build quality is no less than impressive, the antenna used is telescoping whip type and can be extended up to 19.5 inches.
A set of small but effective spring attached button for functioning placed on the right front side while the 1-3/4 inch round shape, loud enough speaker is on the left front. The strength of the signal is visual on the display and the radio will turn off automatically if you set the sleep mode. For improved sound quality headphone is advised while the speaker produces fair audio also.
- Ultra smooth tuning
- Immense sensitivity
- Removable, rechargeable battery
- Alarm with snooze
- Battery cover in the back isn’t hinged
- Audio output of the speaker is average
7. Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion AM/FM
As one of the pioneers in the radio industry, Tecsun always bring something new and innovative with their products. PL-880, for example a PLL dual conversion shortwave radio comes with single-sideband modulation (SSB). The Tecsun has upgraded one of their much beloved models PL-660 into PL-880. The much needed development work made it a bit of pricey, but the features it inherits worth every penny. Supports four different bands, namely LW, SW, AM and FM and the transmission are impeccable.
The most innovative feature it has is the broadband filter, which has four bandwidths setting for AM and five for SSB; selecting one couldn’t be easier. Press the AM BW button to see the current setting on the display and then use the tuning control placed under the power button to broaden and narrowing down the filter. For more precision in tuning there is a fine tuning knob below the tuning control.
Time, battery life, band with frequency can be seen in the orange backlit display. Offers a standard battery performance, thanks to the rechargeable Lithium ion battery. A telescopic antenna ensures strong signal reception and the radio can store a staggering 3050 stations. Trademark Tecsun alarm clock and timer also available.
- Wide range of filtering
- Selectivity and sensitivity is somewhat splendid
- Muting is not a thing to happen between frequency shifting
- Long battery life and fine tuning option
- Performance of sync detector is average and compromise audio fidelity sometimes
- Changing bands will take at least two seconds
- Well expensive
8. Sangean ATS-909X BK AM/FM/LW/SW World Band Receiver – Black
ATS-909X BK is the flagship model of SANGEAN’s shortwave product line. This compact as well as stylish radio offers features that only can be expected in highly expensive models. The performance of this table top radio is outstandingly advance and receives a range of bands including AM/FM/LW/ SW. Its wider band coverage of AM/FM in long wave, short wave and medium wave has made it the perfect fit for the people who are on the go all the time. Comes with three programmable timer and the clock is visual even when you are tuning. Time of 42 cities across the globe also pre-stored. All your favorite channels are going to have a slot as it has 406 memory channels.
When you are listening at home, you can use the AC power supply to reduce the battery cost and when you are on drive 4 AA batteries are enough to entertain you. Improved LCD display makes it even more convenient and shows all necessary info including signal strength and battery life. Have a bunch of other features, SSB and AM filter is the most notable example, while there are a lot more. After inclusion of all these features you will still feel the extreme ease while operating the ATS-909X BK.
- Memory slot for 406 radio station
- Super convenient LCD display
- A wide range of tuning option
- Reception and transmission is ultra-strong
- There are a few incidents of random channel switching
- Doesn’t features a base or treble tone control
9. C Crane CC Skywave AM, FM, Shortwave, Weather and Airband Portable Travel Radio
Small but extremely compact C CRANE CC SKYWAVE has all the features a shortwave radio needs. Its run time of 70 hours by 2 AA batteries is quite impressive in comparison with other models available in the market. Its compatibility with 5 different bands is excellent, which includes air bands, AM, FM shortwave and medium wave. Latest weather update also can be checked by no time, since it receives weather bands and air bands.
Portability is not a concern with CC Skywave; small size along with long battery backup make it an attractive option during travelling. Besides its usability as an alarm clock is an added advantage. A pair of ear buds comes along the package to enhance your listening experience, while the built in speaker also provides standard audio output.
In order to save your expenses, you can use the AC adapter, when you are at home; battery drainage minimized considerably. 400 preset memory, a case for carrying, hand strap for safety, 16’’ antenna are some other notable features belongs to CC Skywave.
- Swift auto scanning
- USB port for charging
- Controlling is simple and size is compact as well as small
- It’s a weather radio too
- Questionable speaker performance
- Antenna doesn’t extend much
10. Eton Elite Traveler AM/FM/LW/Shortwave Radio
The word traveler at the top describe a lot about this radio. And the look it has, will definitely make you fall in love with it at the first glance. Comes with both digital and analog (manual) tuning and supports the shortwave band, AM, FM and long wave band. Digital tuning is there to produce a precise frequency setting so that the broadcast you are up to can be heard loud and clear.
To ensure loud and clear audio output, the speaker Eton used is more than enough. Versatility in outfit doesn’t affect its portability and to listen broadcast during travel you just need 4 AA batteries to keep it working. In addition, there is also a DC jack where you can plug in a 6V AC adapter.
Features alarm clock as well as a timer and the display comes with orange backlit. Signal picking is outstanding and inclusion of RDS makes it easy for you to see the details of the music you listening. The leather cover that acting as encasement simply just showcasing the aristocracy it belongs.
- Multi option tuning
- Alarm clock with snooze
- Earphone jack and telescopic antenna
- Support both local and global time settings
- Sensibly priced
- If switched off owing to battery shortage, setting might be compromised
Q: Can I listen local Ham to a shortwave radio?
Ans: Yes, you can. USB/LSB ham signals should be available on HF SW bands. But as the shortwave stretch from 3 MHz to 30 MHz, ham signals of 50 MHz can’t be read by shortwave radios.
Q: Shortwave radios come with preset stations, but how to use them?
Ans: At first you have to scan all the available station automatically. Afterwards, by following the procedure stated in the manual, which will vary according to each brand and model, you can do it.
Q: Can I record my favorite program with shortwave radio?
Ans: Yes, you can. But not with all the models. Should you have an intention to record any broadcasts, you need to buy the brand that offers recording. And you will have to buy a micro SD card additionally.
Q: Is it mandatory to keep the radio off during charging?
Ans: Not necessarily. All the radios come with rechargeable battery are fully functional when charging.
Q: Can I use one without an antenna?
Ans: Firstly, most of the radios come with built in antenna, which in general remain folded and need to be extended. Secondly, for noise free audio an antenna is a must as it ensures strong signal reception.
Q: Do all the radio can be used as an mp3 player?
Ans: Not all of them, but most of them can. Those models which have a memory slot and compatible with mp3 file, can be used as mp3 player.
To Sum Up
It admissible that the golden era of radio, when hundreds would have gathered to listen the commentary of sporting events and partying at outdoor where the radio was on the centrum playing music, has annihilated. Cable TV channels along with the easy access of internet equally responsible for this situation.
Notwithstanding, radio still has a lot at stake. It’s an advantageous piece of device that will keep you in touch with the world of information. But make sure that you are paying for the appropriate device. Hope the aforementioned list of products will make your selection process uncomplicated.