We know it may be challenging to choose a shortwave radio with the varieties you will get in the market. With the advancement of radio technology and how broad the market is getting, you may need a walk through the process of picking the best shortwave radio. We have prepared this list of the best radios to serve as a guide for you.
This relatively cheaper means of staying connected with the world irrespective of your location was originally designed for military use but is now widely used by private organizations, government, and amateurs. These radios can also serve as a two-way amateur radio because there is a designed spectrum for two-way communications for amateur radio enthusiasts.
While our preferences and choices might differ, in other to have a good buy overall, there are certain factors to consider before finally picking your desired radio. Knowing what to look out for will prevent you from just choosing any radio you find available online or on the shelf.
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Considerations for Choosing the Best Shortwave Radio
It might not be easy deciding why you should pick one radio over another, especially when you have multiple enticing options to pick from. These important factors will help you have a relatively easier process in choosing your radio and help you make the right choice just for you.
Type (Size and Functionality)
Based on the structural form and usability, there are various types of shortwave radios. They range in sizes, from portable radios to desktop or tabletop radios. The portable radios are the most common, though not richly packed with advanced features. They are mostly cheaper than the larger radios. Portable radios could either be analog or digital, though commonly analog. Unlike the larger counterparts, portable radios usually have alternative power or charging sources, which aids mobility and makes them well suited as a travel radio.
The desktop or tabletop radios are much older and are larger radio type. They are still very much in use by radio enthusiasts, especially those who would only like to listen at home, where they can connect their device to a power outlet without the need for an extra power source.
Based on functionality, we have the all-in-one radios and the SDR shortwave radios. The all-in-one radios make a large percentage and they pick both AM and FM bands, and this wide range of frequency contributes to their wide use. The Software Dependent Radios (SDR), on the other hand, is a slightly complicated and highly sophisticated option that only recently hit the market. It would have to get a computer to run and use these radios.
There are also analog and digital radios. While the analog radios are considered stronger and more sturdily built, digital radios are high on sensitivity and selectivity hence enhancing improved user experience.
The best shortwave radios are the types that can accommodate your budget and still meet your needs. Comparing the available types, you can decide what radio will be suitable for you.
These radios are also commonly called high-frequency radios, which implies that they can reach far and wide, even beyond continents. They are not your common local radios (the long-wave radios) with low-frequency.
While a standard radio will pick up various shortwave radio frequencies, it is best to go for radio with wide coverage that picks various radio stations. If you choose to go for an all-in-one radio, you might want to look for the different ranges in different modes (FM, AM, or SM).
There are sophisticated radios that can pick very high frequencies. i.e., VHF. While these radios are much more expensive than the standard radio, they can pick up more signals like the airband signals, weather stations, etc. and still give good sound quality.
The sensitivity determines the sound quality of the radio. The radio reproduces based on the difference in amplitude the receiver can detect. The level of sensitivity will determine whether or not the radio will give high-quality audio. The sensitivity of most radios ranges from micro to millivolt.
You should get radios in the FM and AM bands with sensitivity less than 4mv and 6mv for long-wave bands for ideal audio reproduction. Shortwave signals are best decoded within a sensitivity range of fewer than 20 microvolts.
Sound quality is an important factor to consider when choosing a radio. The sound quality is everything with a radio, as much as its frequency coverage. The wide coverage of the radio is only worth it when it can deliver quality audio at those high frequencies.
The use of radio accessories can also affect the sound quality you get with your radio. The quality produced by headphones will be different from that of inbuilt speakers. Suppose you intend to use headphones with your radio. In that case, you should pick a model that has in-built digital to analog converter so you can get the best sound quality.
Generally, the loudness of the speaker will be determined by its diameter and watt. It also implies battery consumption. You should check out for speaker ratings before choosing any radio.
Suppose you want to take your radio with you on a trip or an outing, especially when you have decided to go for portable radio. In that case, the battery life and capacity are what you need to pay attention to. It can determine how much of your radio’s functionality, you will be able to access and maximize, no matter how feature-rich the radio is.
Shortwave radios either use AA/AAA batteries or lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. While you can easily replace and dispose of AA batteries whenever you are out of power and can’t afford electrical energy, a rechargeable battery is much more economical since all you need for continual use is a power source for charging. AA/AAA batteries have a stronger battery life than the average rechargeable battery.
You may want to think twice before getting a radio with built-in batteries. You may also consider using features that will not place a high demand on the battery if you have to. For example, it might be better to use headphones rather than built-in loudspeakers to extend battery life.
The display of a radio can be influenced by various factors, including battery capacity and quality. Most shortwave radios have LCD screens for ease of display. This screen is mostly low on battery consumption except when there are additional features like the backlight or adjustable brightness or contrast, which improves readability irrespective of your environment’s lighting condition.
The LCD screens may come in various colors, most common being green, grey, and orange. The orange-colored LCD has been known to be the best for readability. You may want to consider that when choosing your radio.
It is typical for a radio enthusiast to want radios with high functionality. This is mostly accompanied by several buttons to navigate through the various features. If you want a simple radio or less complication in handling your radio, you may go for radios with a well-defined button layout and a minimal number of buttons or knobs.
While they may determine the radio’s functionality, the button layouts also have to be correctly designed to confer some level of ease of use.
While these features are not compulsory for basic user satisfaction, they have added advantages, making using a shortwave radio even more enticing. More often than not, radios with these advanced features are costlier than the basic shortwave radios. Depending on the budget, a customer can opt for a radio with these features or not.
Advanced features of a shortwave radio include but are not limited to; City/Country time and time zones, availability of Lock buttons and sleep modes, Signal strength gauge/meter, Improved (stereo) speaker(s), enhanced antenna for better reception, and Fine-tuning knob.
It would be best if you considered the compatibility of accessories while picking a radio. Accessories like an external antenna, headsets, earphones, battery packs, and so on improve the radio’s functionality and usability.
A customer or radio enthusiast should be concerned about the wide range of available accessories for radio and the affordability before making final decisions on what radio to pick.
15 Best Shortwave Radios
1. Retekess V115
Retekes V115 has some of the best features any radio should have. The radio has a high-quality speaker that makes the radio clear and loud. With the speaker, you can also record voice and radio broadcast sound. It uses a 1000mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery. It also has an FM/SW antenna. Channels can be selected by auto-tuning, manual search or direct input digital selection.
It’s a shortwave band radio that also features an AM station.
FM: 87-108 MHz
AM (Medium wave): 522-1710 KHz/ 520-1710 KHz
SW (Short wave): 4.75-21.85 MHz
- It is portable and compact.
- It supports a TF card (TransFlash card) up to 32GB.
- The backlit LCD screen makes it easy to see everything on your screen.
- The shortwave reception can be affected by many factors.
2. Eton Elite Executive
The Eton Elite Executive is a radio that receives other radio wavelengths besides the shortwave (SW)- AM (Medium wave), LW (long-wave), FM with RDS (Radio Data System), and it also receives SSB and VHF aircraft band. The radio also comes with a PLL tuner that ensures a strong AM signal. You can select a channel through the auto and manual digital tuning. Any radio listener can get FM stations and AM stations on the radio. It has internal FM/SW and AM antennas.
- Station spacing and frequency are easy to set.
- The Eton Elite comes with leather that makes it easy to carry.
- It features Bluetooth with which you can stream your music.
- It does not come with an external antenna.
3. C Crane CC Skywave Shortwave Portable Travel Radio
The C. Crane CC Skywave portable radios are great devices for outdoor camping, even in the wild. This portable radio is a Single Side Band radio which features multiple radio stations, weather stations and NOAA Weather band Alert. This radio is great for areas where internet coverage isn’t so great. It also features an alarm clock to help you with the accurate time and scheduling of your day.
- It is the best portable radio gift for family members.
- It can intercept radio waves and frequencies over a wide area.
- Convenient to carry about and easy-to-use.
- Not great for marine SSB
- Poor air traffic reception
4. Sangean ATS-909X
If you ever need a companion while offshore or on a long journey, then the Sangean ATS-909X is a great fit for you. This portable radio features an LCD screen capable of displaying FM and AM stations, NOAA weather alerts and other things a normal portable shortwave radio can do! However, the ATS-909X radio should not be classified as just a normal receiver because of its amazing specifications rival that of an expensive tabletop receiver.
- Great battery life.
- The Sangean radio is built to have a long shelf life; hence it is very durable.
- It is capable of receiving short distance radio waves.
- Depending on your offshore location, you might need an external antenna to get reception.
- The battery might weaken due to excessive use.
5. Retekess TR102
If you are looking for a great product suited for aged adults, then the Retekess TR102 radio is great for you. This high-frequency emitting radio is a great device for older adults who need company when they are going fishing and also a great travel radio for adults driving on a long journey. It features a 3.5mm auxiliary input and can also be used with its loudspeaker function.
- It is effortless to use.
- It is lightweight hence, easy to carry.
- Features a sleep timer to conserve battery life.
- The device lacks seek control for selecting the desired channel.
- It also lacks a scan button.
- Experiences static most of the time.
6. Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital Radio
This radio is a portable radio which is perfect for outdoor camping and other forms of recreational activities. It comes available with an in-built MP3 player that supports TF Card external storage for music files, a 3.5mm earphone and an in-built rechargeable 800mAh Lithium-ion battery for longer listening time. Suppose you enjoy solace while traveling but still want to enjoy the comfort of information and music. In that case, this radio is perfect for you!
- It is simple and easy to use.
- It has long battery life.
- It can be used with or without an earphone.
- It supports recording mode.
- Its battery can weaken due to prolonged charging.
7. Sony ICF-SW7600GR
The Sony ICF-SW7600GR offers a wide range of frequencies: LW (long wave) and MW (AM) to SW (Shortwave) and FM. The SSB(Single Side Band) reception with KHz fine-tuning allows a better sound and precise station reception. The Sony ICF has a built-in headphone jack that helps you enjoy good and clear sounds even in noisy environments. It also has a built-in antenna for AM and LW, with a telescoping FM/SW antenna. It uses AA batteries for operation, and this lasts up to 47 hours. It’s a portable radio, which means you can take it anywhere with you.
- One of the best features of this radio is that it has built-in station memory presets that allow you to tune in to about 100 stations saved in its memory.
- It’s one of the few shortwave radios that have the world clock and dual clock functions.
- Long-distance reception is poor with this radio.
8. Eton Grundig Satellit 750 Ultimate
Eton Grundig Satellit is a receiver that receives every other radio wavelengths: AM, FM, LW, SW and Single Side Band (SSB), VHF band frequencies. It can program about 1000 radio stations so you can quickly get a wide range of access to news and music around the world. The Shortwave band is (1711- 30000KHz). Grundig satellite radio receiver also has a dual alarm clock function. The FM band is 88-140MHz, and this covers the aircraft band. You can tune in to your favorite station by auto-tuning or manual tuning, direct frequency key-in and station memory tuning.
- It features external antenna jacks for both AM/FM.
- The AM antenna can rotate 360 degrees to get the weakest of signals.
- It has poor AM reception.
9. Tecsun PL-360
The Tecsun PL-360 radio is an AM, FM, SW receiver; it can pick up a wide range of AM, FM, and shortwave stations and accommodate about 450 memory channels. Tecsun PL is one of the best portable radios available. That means you can take it anywhere with you and still get any info you need. It comes with an external AM antenna, stereo earphones, soft antenna and carrying pouch. The radio features an alarm clock, thermometer, sleep timer and built-in battery charger. The AM antenna picks up long-distance AM stations. You can tune the channels with the tuning knob, memory, ATS tuning and Easy Tuning Mode.
- The Easy Tuning Mode makes it easy to find audible stations.
- The radio is easy to program and use.
- The radio does not receive SSB transmission.
10. XHData D-808
XHDATA D-808 receives FM, MW, SW (Shortwave), SSB (Single Side Band) and Air Bands. It comes with an external antenna that can pick up radio stations that have the weakest of signals. This radio technology comes with high and good sensitivity and selectivity. The radio has an LCD screen and a USB port. The radio has FM bands: 87.5-108 MHz; Longwave bands: 150-450 kHz; Medium-wave bands: 522-1620 kHz; Shortwave bands: 1711-29999KHz; Air Bands: 118-137 MHz.
- Radio enthusiasts can easily carry the radios around or use them as desktop radios.
- It has a Radio Data System that helps FM stations transmit analog and digital signal data.
- Antennas are weak and not multidirectional.
- The shortwave frequencies can’t receive weather frequencies.
11. Kaito KA550
Kai to KA550 shortwave radio is a powerful radio covering AM, FM, SW1 and SW2 channels. It also includes 7 NOAA weather channels that give you updates on weather conditions. The transistor radio can be powered in 5 different ways: 5V mini USB, solar panel, AA batteries, hand-crank generator and AC/DC wall charger. With the 5V USB port, you can charge your phones, cameras, etc. The radio also features a telescopic antenna that allows clear reception. The built-in speaker ensures the sound quality is high, so you get the best of any radio station you listen to.
- The weather radio is made with ABS material, and this makes the device water and shock-resistant.
- It has safety features; LED flashlight, reading lamp and LED S.O.S light.
- The radio does not transmit or receive SSB (Single Side Band).
12. TIVDIO V-116 Portable Shortwave Transistor Radio
TIVDIO V-116 Radio is a portable radio that can easily fit into your pocket. The shortwave radio is user-friendly with some awesome features that only a few shortwave radios can boast of. It features an alarm clock that will wake you either with a radio station, buzzer or music. You can also set up a sleep timer on the radio, between 0-90 minutes and be rest assured that the radio will wake you up on time. The radio uses an 850mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can last up to 5 hours. It works on FM, MW and SW frequencies. The Backlit LCD display helps you see everything you need to see at a glance.
- TIVDIO V-116 supports TF card up to 32gb. This allows you to listen to your favorite music and store e-books that you can read on the radio.
- With the 3.5mm AUX input, you can get increased sound quality.
- V-116 radios are transceivers; they are two-way radios that can receive and transmit signals.
- It does not receive long-wave signals.
13. Tecsun PL-380
The TECSUN PL-380 radio receives FM, AM, Longwave, shortwave frequencies, but no SSB. With this radio, you can listen to radio programs from broadcast organizations that transmit on these frequencies. The radio can store up to 550 radio frequencies, and it has high sensitivity and selectivity. The telescopic antenna and internal antenna pick up weak signals and have good bandwidth selectivity. NiMH rechargeable batteries power the radio.
- PL-380 is easy to carry.
- You can tune in to a channel through 7 different methods: easy tuning, a manual search of stored stations, a manual search of frequencies, auto search of frequencies, auto search of the stored station, direct input of frequency and direct input of channel number.
- The features are not so easy to operate, and instructions on the manual are not clear.
14. Eton Field BT
With high sensitivity and selectivity, the Eton Field BT Radio is an ideal radio for radio enthusiasts. It accommodates 50 memory stations and can pick up AM (Medium wave), FM and SW, but does not support SSB (Single Side Band) and long-wave. With the Bluetooth feature, you can listen to music from any other Bluetooth device. It also comes with a telescopic antenna.
With this radio, you can receive long-distance signals and receive information from anywhere around the world.
- The audio quality of the radio is great.
- It features treble/bass control and fine digital tuning.
- The Field BT radios work perfectly well and are durable.
- The radio has great customer reviews on Amazon.
- It is an amateur radio, so you need a license to use it.
15. Icom 7300
ICOM 7300 is a shortwave radio that has a high power output of 100 Watts. It receives FM, SSB, CW, RTTY and AM signals and has 101 channels. You can regulate the power output in the menu settings. Other features of the radio include a built-in auto tuner, LCD touchscreen and spectrum scope.
- The battery of the radio has high battery life.
- It has high sensitivity and is easy to use, either by an expert or amateur.
- The spectrum scope makes it easy to find weak signals.
- The radio has good reception.
- ICOM 7300 is a ham radio and requires a license to use.
Overall Best Buy
Based on this review, the overall best buy for shortwave radio of the listed radios is the Tecsun PL-880 portable digital radio. Though not the most expensive in the market, this digital shortwave radio will give you an all-around package, from audio quality, through standard accessories like the antennas, battery, etc. to an incredible user experience. The frequencies accessible by the radio make it a good wide coverage radio with access to numerous shortwave radio stations.
This radio has been proven and certified by various customer(s) to be among the top best in the market.
Best Budget Buy
For a customer with a limited budget, a pocket-friendly deal is everything. While looking for cheap options, it is also important to consider the value and functionality to choose from. It is not budget-smart to purchase a cheap radio that is of no significant value.
We recommend the TIVDIO V-116 Portable Shortwave Radio as the best budget buys for the sake of this review. While you may still get cheaper radios in the market, this is one radio we can assure you of the maximum value for the price worth. You get basic features that enable the smooth running of your radio and a satisfactory user experience.
Can I listen to shortwave radios online?
Yes, you can have access to shortwave radio online. The online shortwave radio broadcasts or streams radio stations online, which improves accessibility by all sorts of people.