Shortwave radio technology has been around for over 70 years. Before the Internet age, shortwave radios have enabled listening to news and events around the world. It gave people access to broadcast programs in real-time and in a large number of languages.
Today, these radios are still a useful and enjoyable means of keeping in touch with world events. Shortwave radio technology has evolved and advanced with the making of digital-era models.
If you are interested in purchasing a one, there is quite a number of models on the market. Among these are gathered 10 of the best shortwave radios.
The Best Shortwave Radio of 2020
1. Sangean ATS-909X (Our Top Pick)
Wondering which is the best shortwave radio to buy? The Sangean ATS-909X is a high-quality world band radio receiver. One of the aspects that makes the Sangean model stand out is its 5 tuning methods. These include auto scan, manual tuning, direct frequency tuning, rotary tuning and memory recall.
With product dimensions of 8.2 x 5.3 x 1.6 inches, they can be easily tucked in a backpack when a-hiking or going on holiday. But this may not be compact enough to fit into every back pockets. In addition, its speaker will allow you to listen to sounds in good quality and without interference.
This portable radio with rechargeable battery is capable of capturing AM, FM, LW and SW radio waves. It can also read MP3 and WMA content from a Micro SD card. So you will have many entertainment options available for jogging or going for a walk.
It has an alphanumeric memory system that lets you have access to up to 406 preset stations. You have 351 spaces for shortwave, 27 for AM, 18 spaces for AM, 9 for longwaves and 1 priority.
The package comes with features and accessories such as an in-built battery charger, headphone amplifier, and an indicator for battery strength and signal. It also comes with a leather carrying case and allows AC adapter switching. It has an alarm and buzzing system. In addition, the time of 42 world cities are built into the radio.
One of the major downsides of this product is that the AM is more noisy.
However, looking at its amazing loads of features, it’s a good long-range radio with multiple functions which you’ll find useful.
2. C Crane CC Skywave
This model is a portable travel shortwave receiver. Having an alarm and clock, this model comes in comfortable dimensions of 4.75 x 3 x 1.1 inches. It weighs 153 grams, so you can easily keep it in a back pocket. In addition, it has an ergonomic handle. Therefore, you can carry the digital portable radio while you walk with greater comfort.
Some buyers indicate that this option could be the best portable radio since it has earbuds and a volume knob that can be rotated. Hence, it can offer both information and entertainment functions.
Additionally, this product can read strong FM radio waves. It comes with 400 preset memories for easy access. It also has a screen to help you identify radio stations and features, and the remaining battery charge. It is backed by a full 1-year warranty.
The radio has an AC adapter. The advantage is that when not connected, it can be powered by two AA batteries.
The disadvantage, however, is that these batteries don’t come with it.
Nonetheless, the radio remains a very good value-for-the-money equipment with good battery autonomy. The batteries can last for up to 60 to 70 hours of music-playing with the batteries in.
3. Sony ICF-SW7600GR
One of the products that stand out on this list is this Sony World Band Receiver. It is made with good-quality construction materials. It also has several useful functions and large buttons. Hence, grandparents and people with low vision can easily use it.
The compact shortwave receiver has a smooth border design in silver and black colors. This gives it a stylish look to match any environment. In addition to this, this model is capable of tuning frequencies in FM, AM, short, medium and long-distance. So you can listen to many stations and even store up to 100 of them.
Additionally, it has a small screen with a backlight that will allow you to observe the stations and functions of the equipment. It has an antenna system and 10 key direct access tuning buttons. On the other hand, you can use 4 AA batteries with the portable radio while you walk or go for a hike. Also, it has a 3.5mm headset jack for personalized uses.
Sony produces products of a high-quality standard. But we see this as one of the best brands of shortwave radios in this review.
One of the main downsides of this radio is that the sound from the speaker becomes distorted when the volume is turned up to the full blast.
However, we see it as a useful and multifunctional radio. It can tune into FM, AM, and short, medium and long-range frequencies. So you can listen to stations from transborder countries and continents.
4. Tecsun PL-360
The Tecsun brand radio is a portable multi-band radio. After making a comparison of portable radios on the marketplace, we think this radio is among the best portable radios. Available in black color, the radio has an FM stereo. It supports mediumwave, longwave, and shortwave transmissions.
This portable radio gives you access to a wide variety of programs. The tuner makes it easy for you to operate the radio. Practical for long trips, this radio has an external shortwave or FM antenna as well as a longwave or AM antenna. This helps to improve FM, SW, AM and LW signal receptions.
The radio can memorize 450 stations altogether. You can save 250 memories for your shortwave and 100 memories for your FM and medium waves. It also comes with an alarm clock, a sleep timer and snooze function.
Its weight of 128g allows you to slip it without worry in your pocket or bag and go anywhere while listening to long-distance broadcasts and good music. It is the essential radio for nomadic use. The radio is powered by a set of three AA batteries or DC 5V.
One of the downsides of this product is that it doesn’t come with batteries.
Nonetheless, the Tecsun PL-360 shortwave radio is a piece of good and multifunctional equipment that will serve the money’s worth.
5. Retekess V115
This digital portable radio is compatible with MP3 formats. It comes in a compact design so you can easily insert it in your pocket and is made of resistant ABS. In addition, it has an AM and FM station recorder and has a 2W speaker. So you can listen to music without interruption. It has a Nokia 1000 mAh lithium battery, which will give it a long lifetime. It also comes with music playback with stations and other functions.
On the other hand, it has a backlit LCD screen and auto-off function. Additionally, this model has a microphone that will allow you to record sounds, stations, songs and store them on a TF card.
One of its downsides is that during charging, electromagnetic waves can interfere with transmitters. Also, the auto-off function must be configured every time it is to be used.
Asides these issues, the Retekess V115 is a good-quality and durable model as its protective casing is made of high-quality ABS. This gives it rigidity to withstand different shocks and falls. Also, you can tune AM, FM, record audio and play tracks in MP3 format.
6. Tecsun PL880
The Tecsun PL880 is a world band radio receiver with FM stereo. In addition, it can receive AM, SW, LW and SSB radio waves. The reception range can go from as little as 64 to 108 MHz. This makes it suitable for worldwide FM signal reception.
It has various buttons that make the portable radio comfortable and easy to use. Among these buttons, we can mention the one to turn the radio on or off. Also, this radio has buttons to choose the band that you want to tune, for example, SW, AM, FM or LW or SSB.
On the other hand, there is a button to activate the backlight, that is, the radio offers lighting. This means you can use it even in dark places without any problem. In addition to this, we can mention the alarm button, thanks to which you can access said function more quickly.
Also, the radio can be powered by a 2000mah battery. It has a multi-tuning feature as well as a manual tuning method for fine, slow and fast tuning.
One of the biggest advantages of this shortwave radio is its memory capacity. You can store a whopping 3,050 stations on it. These are easily divided into 25 pages of memory.
One thing to note about the Tecsun model is that it doesn’t come with a battery. Therefore, you would need to get a 2000mah battery for it if you need it outside the home.
The downside doesn’t shroud the qualities of this device. The shortwave radio is also a well-equipped model with high frequency and large storage space.
7. XHData D-808
The XHData-808 is a portable shortwave radio with a 2000 mAh rechargeable lithium battery. It has a micro USB port for you to charge it as if it were a mobile phone.
This product offers tuning to 64 to 108 MHz FM radio stations. It is even capable of storing up to 500 frequency stations. In addition, this radio has a very practical LCD screen. It helps you see different functions of the equipment. These include the frequency number you are currently listening to and the state of charge of the battery. Also, the screen shows the alarm status, time, temperature and signal strength level.
As if that were not enough, it has a 3.5 mm input for headphones and another of the same format for external antennas. In short, it is a versatile product that will be used to listen to your favorite programs almost anywhere you are.
However, its main disadvantage is that it does not play CDs or MP3 music. These are functions that many users may want.
Still, it is a portable shortwave radio that you can take on the road without problems. It is compact and light, and it also picks up the signal well in different cities and towns.
8. Kaito KA550
This is probably the most innovative and highly technologically sophisticated transistor radio in the marketplace. Highly powerful and used by many field professionals, the Kaito KA550 is a 5-way weather emergency shortwave radio. The AM/FM radio has the so-called public emergency alert system (PEAS).
It has multiple ways of sourcing for power. It features a generator (which you can drive with a hand crank), a solar panel, and 3 AA battery compartment. Also, it has a 5V AC and DC input and rechargeable and replaceable NiMH battery pack. Indeed, the radio comes fully ready for the jungle! It can also be used in offices, educational centers, country houses and more. You can use the radio as an emergency charger for your mobile devices, digital cameras, MP3 players and GPS units. It has an LED for reading, an LED flashlight and another red one which serves as SOS beacon light.
It comes with 7 preset channels for 24/7 weather reports, sports, entertainment, talk-shows, and breaking news.
Despite its heavy features, it still manages to be compact. It measures 265 grams in weight and 16 x 9 x 3 centimeters in dimensions.
We think the downside of the radio is that the weather forecasts are only centered on locations in Canada and the US.
Despite the downside, we see this as the most professional shortwave radio. It has fully-packed radio contents, features and power options.
9. Icom 7300
Don’t be let down by its size and price. The premium ICOM 7300 radio is more than an ordinary shortwave radio. The high-end radio is a direct digital sampling equipment.
Designed in black, it is a 50 MHz transceiver with a 4.3-inch colored LCD touchscreen. This gives you audio information in real-time. It has a built-in automatic tuner and a spectrum scope. It is a radio transmitter with pre-programmed 101 channels and 100-watt output power. It also has a single sideband (SSB), RTTY, FM, and AM modes.
Its biggest disadvantage is its weight, which makes it not very easy to be moved around.
However, its price is definitely not a downside as most users are satisfied with their investment.
In all, it is the go-to equipment if you’re in search of your HF radio.
10. LCJ Portable Radio
The last in this review of the best shortwave radio but definitely not the least. The LCJ model is a very portable digital shortwave radio with a rechargeable battery. Available in 5 colors (red, blue, black, silver and gold), this is one of the cheapest high-quality shortwave radio models on the market.
First, it is powered by a good-quality and large-capacity lithium-ion battery. When the radio is on its loudest volume, the battery can ensure it keeps working for up to 2.5 hours. However, this radio can work autonomously for up to 8 hours after a full charge.
The radio lets you have access to FM, AM and shortwave signals. It features an antenna that can extend up to 21 inches.
Beautifully designed, the digital operation gives it its own additional aesthetics. It also features a wide LED screen as well as memory space for station storage. Lastly, the quality of the model is backed by a 1-year warranty.
Some of its downsides are that it has no battery indicator. Also, the shortwave signals are too weak, and the memory storage space is too low.
Still, this remains one of the best, most compact and cheapest shortwave radio you can get.
With the above, you now have a couple of options to choose from if you want the best shortwave radio. However, you may still need to have more information on what it takes to make a good choice. For this purpose, below are a number of things to consider to get a good shortwave radio.
An important general indication when choosing a shortwave radio is that of the price. You have to decide on the amount you want to pay for a shortwave radio. The price range for shortwave radios can be divided into four groups. These are under $100, $100 to $400, $400 to $900, and $900 and over.
The first group represents the bulk of shortwave radio sales. Meanwhile, the second group meets the needs of professional organizations that require top-of-the-line equipment.
The quality of the radio obviously increases with the price. The more expensive radio devices are more suitable for Dx-ing. They are also preferred by broadcasting companies.
Analog or digital technology?
Most shortwave radios in the $100 group and less make use of an analog line to locate a signal. Although less expensive, it is more difficult to lock into a line station using an analog.
Digital technology, typical of the $100-to-$400 range, makes it possible to simply punch in the numbers for a station on an LED display. Digital shortwave radios offer a memory function that allows you to preset your favorite stations.
The number of preset options varies from 40 to over 100, which is reflected in the price as well.
The SW radio is nevertheless useful for use at work, home, or in the garden if you want to get a little atmosphere. Thus, it is important not to neglect the appearance of the device.
By having a practical and elegant model in your possession, you will also contribute to the ornamentation of your decor. On the market, you will have a wide choice on the appearance of these types of equipment.
They are available in classic, vintage, retro, or modern look with refined patterns. The main thing is that you find a model that you will not get tired of looking at and that you will not risk abandoning after some time of use.
The quality of reception of the tuner
The tuner is the main element that will receive the waves and pick up the frequencies. If the signals are poorly received, you will experience interference or cutouts. It is true that the crackling makes listening unpleasant. Today’s equipment, however, has the capacity to adapt to all conditions.
It is always nice not to have to waste 15 minutes of your time looking for the frequency of your favorite station. We risk missing the start or even completely missing our favorite shows or news broadcasts.
Depending on the model, you have two modes of recording frequencies: manual or automatic. The first, as its name suggests, requires that you number the channels you will come across during your search, one by one.
For the second, the device will do all the work. Just start the scan, and the device classifies the waves according to what it picks up. The storage memory can vary between ten and a thousand stations for the most sophisticated.
Keep in mind that the more backup space you have, the more practical time you save in scanning frequencies.
Some portable shortwave radios offer an external antenna option. This complements the radio’s built-in antenna and increases your listening options. Other features include audio output jacks, cassette output jacks for recording, clocks, and alarms. On other devices, you have USB ports or memory card slots.
Their use is simple because you only have to insert your data carrier, switch to USB or card reading mode and voila!
If you don’t want to miss your favorite foreign radio shows, you need a shortwave radio. If you are looking for the best shortwave model that has all the necessary features for transistor radio, we recommend the Sangean ATS-909X.
This model is our top pick for many reasons. It can capture several types of frequencies short, medium or long, including AM and FM. Its 5 tuning modes make it stand out among this pack.
In addition, its added accessories and extra functionalities endear it to us. You can purchase this SW radio, but any other model in this review will equally be a wise investment.