Once you’ve found the thrill of shortwave listening, you need to buy a receiver. While the choice of which model and brand are up to you, having some guidelines is useful for making a good purchase. We’ll explain the top five shortwave radios and their features associated with each of them.
Some people want to have receivers for casual uses, while others want a sophisticated desktop receiver that’s filled with advanced features. Fortunately, there are receivers to fit your personal preference and budget. See our recommendations of the best shortwave radios in 2018!
Now that our review is about to begin, here are our recommendations for the best shortwave under 500. Each product on this list is known for their utility and aesthetic appeal. Keep reading to find out which station is perfect for you and your listening needs.
Here is our top five shortwave radios that are in today’s market. No matter which one you buy, you’ll have a high-quality device that’s able to listen to international broadcasts within seconds.
First on our list is the Tecsun PL 880. Am fm shortwave radio reviews view this product as a simple, yet effective way for new radio listeners to enjoy shortwave networks. With its strong battery life and easy tuning, you won’t have a problem locating your desired channel using this device. Some notable features:
More specifically, the low frequencies which are usually hard to decipher are exceptionally audible with the Tecsun PL880 Shortwave Radio. As well as the low frequencies, the midrange on the Tecsun PL880 Shortwave Radio functions at a higher grade than one would expect.
There is an FM Stereo built with the Tecsun PL880 Shortwave Radio that is available to you through the headphone jack. You can also use headphones if you want an even more accurate sound quality while listening in to your radio shows.
Those of you who constantly forget to complete items on their to-do list, then the Tecsun PL880 Shortwave Radio would work perfectly for you. This is because even if you lose track of time and neglect charging the included rechargeable lithium battery, you can very easily replace the very same battery with a standard 18650 model.
The previous Tecsun Shortwave Radio model did not feature the two separate tuning knobs but had a more archaic system that users vastly complained about. This model corrects its predecessor’s issues by including the SSB radio to help users tune into emergency broadcasts.
By swapping out the auto switching tuning speed of the previous model with the more manual system found in the Tecsun PL880 Shortwave Radio, you have total control over your shortwave radio.
Consumers like this shortwave radio receiver because of its compact size. It weighs about 1lb and 3oz which is smaller than competing products. Buy this device if you need a portable shortwave radio receiver that can easily fit inside your suitcase.
Some shoppers were unhappy with the PL880’s tuning settings. They reported that the receiver occasionally turns back from its displayed currency. For instance, when you turn the knob clockwise, the display frequency will increase, but the actual frequency will turn backward.
If you’re a radio hobbyist who needs a simple machine to listen to your stations, this is the best radio for you. It has an external antenna which can be used to find better signals for enhanced listening. It’s currently sold on Amazon at a price about $160.
Ranked second is the Sony ICF-SW7600GR. The radio features a dual standby function which helps users set the alarm for two different wake-up times or radio stations. It’s known as the best world band radio and should be considered if you require a functional portable radio whether you’re camping outdoors or relaxing in your home.
The Sony ICF-SW7600GR is the best shortwave receiver for first-time shortwave radio users. It has Synchronous Detection Circuitry which is used to reduce frequency interference and AM reception distortion. This makes it great for users who want good audio quality even if they’re in remote locations.
Plus, consumers like this radio because of its PLL Frequency Tuning. This feature helps users find their desired AM/FM frequency which optimizes its stability to reduce the drift to a minimum. As a result, users can easily tune into the right station without getting caught in between two different frequencies.
It’s SSB reception offers multiband reception and fine tuning. Doing this reduces the amount of interference that occurs from AM band radio. This creates a better overall sound when listening to SSB channels. Use the radio’s 1 kHz’s fine-tuning feature for better station reception.
When it comes to memory storage, the Sony ICF-SW7600GR is better than its competitors. For example, it’s built-in memory offers up to 100 preset channels that can be used. According to multiple shortwave radio reviews, a user can change the previous preset channels and replace it with your own founded frequencies.
Consumers disliked the poor ergonomics and lack of a useful turning knob. They also were not impressed by the sound quality of the radio’s internal speaker.
Instead, you’ll have to press the buttons on the radio to select your channel frequency and replace the inner stereo if you need adequate sound quality.
The Sony ICF-SW7600GR is recommended for first-time listeners who want a simple to use device. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack that you can use for private listening when you’re out in the airport or other public areas. Buy this on Amazon at a price around $200.
The Eton Grundig Satellit is used by professional and ham radio hosts alike. With over 70 years of Grundig quality engineering and heritage, this model does a great job at finding stations in local and international regions.
When it comes to finding a good reception, the Eton Grundig Satellit does it better than the competition. For instance, it has a 360° rotating antenna which can be used to improve on weaker signals and obtain a better sound.
Also, it has allows users to listen to any radio broadcast. It’s able to find signals in AM, FM, SW, LW, SSB, and VHF bands. This gives you a variety of channels to choose from and increases your listening range.
We like its DSP technology which is used to enhance the sound quality. It works by removing outside and signal interference from reaching your radio. Because of this, users can hear their desired stations without any sound loss.
With frequent events and constant emergencies occurring throughout the world, the Eton Grundig Satellit has you covered. It provides access to every important news station from your region. You can find broadcasts anywhere in every frequency wavelength.
Another thing users liked about the Grundig Satellit is its unbelievable memory storage. For example, it holds up to 1000 frequencies which can be adjusted to your own preferences. Users like this feature as it helps them keep their favorite channels and still be able to receive news broadcasts with ease.
There are some issues that consumers noticed when using this shortwave radio receiver. They stated that its sleep mode would continue to stay activated. Contact Amazon for a replacement if your radio starts to experience problems with its clock and sleep settings.
For its price and performance, the Eton Grundig Satellit is the best within its league. The shortwave receiver helps users receive broadcasts due to its auto memory tuning and its line in socket makes it open for USB usage. You can buy it on Amazon at a price about $300.
Up next is the Sangean ATS-909X. The features on the Sangean ATS-909X are well engineered and thought out. The battery charger begins charging when the radio is turned off and plugged in the power supply. A light turns on when the radio is charging and turns off once it's completely charged.
Users also like this radio because of its memory storage. The memories are preprogrammed with multiple popular shortwave frequencies. Users can remove them and replace them with their own data. Because of this, the ATS-909X offers great customization options while remembering your favorite stations.
Specifically, its alpha-numeric system lets you store up to 406 frequencies (351 short wave, 9 long wave, 1 priority, 18 AM, 27 FM). The radio has 42 world city times, and the clock is displayed when the radio is tuning. Thus, making this a good product for users wanting a shortwave radio with long-term storage.
Also, the FM reception on this device surpasses competing products. Users can tune into FM stations and only experience slight sound reduction. With its RDS (Radio Data System) feature, users can find their desired station without having to waste minutes seeking through the vast range of frequencies on the FM network.
Plus, the Sangean ATS-909X has a built-in 3” speaker that allows users to listen anywhere. It includes a 3.5m headphone jack and earbuds. This allows you to customize your listening experience due to the device’s sliding tone control.
The ATS-909X can also be used as an alarm clock. The radio features 3 different alarms (Humane Wake System, Buzzer, Wake up to the radio). It also has snooze and nap timers available. This makes it a versatile shortwave radio system that also keeps users alert and gets their day started.
However, there has been one consumer complaint about the radio’s SSB settings. To prevent this, position the ATS-909X in an area that’s not near electrical appliances. This allows you to receive a better signal without any interference.
The ATS-909X is the perfect choice for the radio enthusiast. It has five different tuning methods, good sound quality, and automatically searches for the best signal. You can find this device on Amazon at a price around $190.
The CC Skywave is an innovative radio for multiple reasons. One, its the smallest radio available that can cover AM, FM, and shortwave bands. And it has a DSP chip design which preserves the quality of the FM signals.
Once the radio is turned on, it will display either the frequency or the time on the main screen. While the radio defaults to a time screen, hold the lock button for 10 seconds to show the frequency.
Press the FREQ button to choose a frequency in the SW/AM/FM stations. To scan through the radio bands, move the up and down arrows. Users like this feature and state that CC Skyware has the fastest scanning function in a portable shortwave radio.
The CC Skywave has a switchable filter for music and audio. When its set to “music”, the device’s audio feature will open up and optimize the audio fidelity. When placed on the “voice” setting, the audio becomes enhanced and amplifies the speaker’s voice that’s broadcasting.
Changing the audio filter between both modes is easy. Press 1 or 2 when listening to a broadcast to toggle between the modes. This allows you to get the best sound quality when using this device.
Additionally, CC Skywave had an Air Band feature for international travelers. It helps users listen to air traffic while waiting for plane’s arrival while in the airport. You’ll find this shortwave radio device useful as its adjustable squelch mode helps you find the best frequencies available at the airport.
CC Skywave also has an NOAA Weather Radio feature which allows North American residents to receive detailed weather forecasts. Set the NOAA channel with the highest reception and choose to receive a weather report within 4, 8, or 16 hours. If there is severe weather within your area, Skywave will notify you immediately.
But, some consumers found fault with the device’s weak antenna. The antenna is unable to pick up certain signals on the FM channel. Try to get a longer antenna to improve the reception and hear your stations more clearly.
The CC Skywave is one of the best multiband radios on the market. It has a frequency range (2.3 MHz - 26.1 MHz) which allows you to hear from multiple channels around the world. Get this device on Amazon at a price about $90.
Don’t know what to buy? This section will give you a detailed explanation of what specs that are important when buying your first shortwave radio device.
One of the most important accessories is an antenna. While most shortwave models have antennas, they aren’t strong enough to obtain a good reception. That’s why we suggest that you get an outdoor antenna kit.
The kit contains insulators, lead-in-wire, antenna wires, and a feed-through strip. These kits make it easier to pick up weaker or distant stations.
Another accessory you should consider is a monaural headset. They allow you to focus on the radio transmissions without encountering outside interference, which is useful when searching for smaller signals. Additional accessories include shortwave radio reference books and external speakers.
The frequency coverage is important because it describes the range of frequencies your radio will be able to pull up. Shortwave frequencies are founded within the 1.7 MHz - 30 MHz range. You should look for a model that lets you listen between 0.5 MHz to 30 MHz.
Different radios have different numbers that determine the bandwidths. Basic receivers allow you to choose from “wide” and “narrow” selectivity bandwidths. There are advanced machines that allow you to choose from over 5 different bandwidth selectivity options. As a rule of thumb, narrower bands reduce sounds from adjacent radio stations.
Most shortwave radios, especially the more affordable ones, only have the AM stations. While most of the shortwave radios transmit in AM mode, more advanced options use SSB and other modes. Buying a shortwave radio with multiple modes will increase your listening options.
There are two types of frequencies that are displayed on modern shortwave radios: analog and digital. We suggest that you get a digital display because it lets you fine-tune the station you’re searching and is easier to read.
Most portable radios have antennas built in, but don’t have an option for external antennas. Most of the time external antennas have better reception than built-in antennas. Always look for a shortwave radio that lets you install external antennas.
Shortwave radio has a lot of uses in today’s society. Some are simple amateur radio stations that broadcast in AM/FM areas, while there are some that help communicates during emergency situations. Here are the most common ways shortwave radios are used for today.
People buy shortwave radios to find stations that play FM and AM channels. Both channels have short ranges and are about 50-120 miles away from the broadcast point. Some operators have their channels on AM/FM channels, such as music and news, on various shortwave frequencies.
This helps people in less populated areas to tune into commercial radio programming. And it helps travelers find local radio stations. While most of these stations are legal, others are “pirate radio stations,” which broadcasts on a channel, but without a license.
Amateur radio is the usage of multiple radio frequencies by individuals for entertainment, educational, emergency communication, and information. As its name suggests, amateur radio is simply people connecting with other amateur radio broadcasters, broadcast their own shows, or conduct recreational experiments.
People who want to use amateur radio have to receive licensing through the right radio regulatory body based on their country. In most regions, a test that examines the broadcaster’s technical abilities and knowledge is required before obtaining their own radio channel.
If someone passes the exam, they receive a call sign and are a licensed radio operator. In the US, there a series of advanced tests that are used to give a different license level. Obtaining a US broadcasting license gives users increased privileges and smaller call signs.
Once approved, users are can broadcast personal content. These networks use SSB and FM frequencies. FM provides the highest quality but has a limited amount of range. SSB (single side band) uses a wider range and is used for emergency broadcasting and international broadcasting.
Most radio operators broadcast on SSB bands because it takes up less data than FM and AM modulation; this makes it efficient and better for amateur radio hosts. If your shortwave radio is compatible with SSB networks, you can listen to ham radios for more variety.
Amateur/Ham radio is viewed as a hobby and is used to communicate through long distances. It provides a practical way to experiment and learn radio frequencies. When starting your own amateur radio broadcast,
Shortwave radio and amateur radio enthusiasts utilize radio transmission to communicate to their audience through long distances. During emergency situations, this skill is proven to be useful.
Most survivalists include shortwave radios in their survival kits. It gives a simple way to tune into emergency broadcasts during natural disasters, or other emergencies where the cell towers were compromised.
Most survivalists act as amateurs radio operators; this helps them transmit communications and receive them. During emergency situations, it can be used for survival situations, communicating with friends, family members, and survivalists within the area.
90% of shortwave radios work without needing electricity, reserve batteries, solar power, or cranks (manual power) to operate. If the cell service or power is turned off, and there a reliable internet connection present, how else will you gain information besides shortwave radio?
Shortwave radios are great for emergency broadcasts and delivering information to a wide audience. We recommend obtaining to ensure that you can stay informed and tune into amateur radio and emergency stations to remain safe during dangerous conditions.
There is a multitude of good shortwave radios available. Buying the best radio model will depend on your preferences and desired features. Here is list of the most common shortwave radios available:
Travel shortwave radios are small radios that can be either solar powered or battery powered. Because of this they are very useful during emergencies. While portable radios are affordable, they don’t cover a wide range like most advanced desktop radios.
From a survivalist point of view, portable shortwave radios are essential in an emergency sash. Most survivalists use portable radios for portable usage and an advanced radio stored in their home.
Desktop radios are larger, have more features, and are used by (ham) amateur radio hosts. They must be plugged into an electrical outlet, making them less portable. On the other hand, they have higher audio quality, can find a larger frequency range.
All in one radios are the best SW radio type as they allow you to pick up AM/FM stations while also picking up shortwave frequencies. They are great for everyday usage because they have more variety of radio stations to choose from.
They can find music stations which can be used for entertainment. And, they can use shortwave frequencies for international radio and emergency broadcasts. Most advanced portable radios and desktop radios are used as all-in-ones as well.
We believe that the CC Skywave Radio is the winner. It’s inexpensive, allows users to connect to SSB, AM and FM channels, and has over 400 places of memory storage. Overall, get this shortwave radio device if you want accurate signals and the ability to tune into the best stations in your local and international network.
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