In this era of mobile phones, who needs the best shortwave radio as a communication device?
If you’re thinking along that line, you’re incorrect! How would you tell someone where you are if you’re camping in a distant location with weak cell phone signals?
Imagine yourself in a condition where you’re a long way inside a jungle, and you fall and break a limb. How will you ask for assistance? In such a situation, your only confidant is a shortwave radio that helps you communicate and seek assistance.
Additionally, your entertainment and amusement choices can be enormous with the best portable shortwave radio. With it, you can listen to global news, entertainment stations, take part in your ham community, and listen to emergency news.
To help you select a suitable shortwave radio, we’ve compiled the best ones to narrow down your options. Read on to find out the ins and outs!
Best Shortwave Radio Reviews 2021
1. Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital Dual Conversion AM/FM SSB Reception – Best Portable Shortwave Radio
The Tecsun PL880 Radio has better performance than other radios as it can receive SSB signals and cover shortwave frequency. It can also receive AM and FM bands well. It has a high sound quality (it’s more detailed and cleaner than other inexpensive radios of similar size and doesn’t sound like a premium speaker).
The radio’s selectivity and sensitivity are excellent on all bands. It has four AM and SW bandwidth filters and five SSB filters. Adjusting the radio is easy and quick. The radio also has a fine-tune knob that’s absent in inexpensive speakers.
It also has not less than 3000 presets, more than you’ll ever use. The Tecsun PL880 radio is sufficiently small to carry it with you when you’re on a tour. It’s also designed perfectly to operate well.
It’s a costly radio, but the price matches the functionality. The radio is sold in an attractive box, and together with the speaker, you’ll receive a removable SW antenna, a USB charging cord, a great zippered tote pouch, a pair of headphones, a 1-year guarantee card, and a user’s manual.
The radio’s speaker is small, light, and portable. It has numerous controls, and so, you may require reading the instructions to comprehend each knob’s role. If you’ve ever owned a shortwave radio, you can even operate it without instructions.
The speaker fills half of the front panel (left side). On the right-hand side of the front panel, there’s a backlit LCD panel and a cluster of control buttons. There are three buttons (volume, tuning, and fine-tuning), bass/treble tone regulation, and an LCD light switch on the right panel.
For external speakers or recording, there’s a line out jack on the left panel, a gain/attenuation button for the shortwave antenna, a carrying strap, and an antenna jack. The radio has a 38-inch lengthy telescopic antenna and a snooze switch that acts as the alarm. The battery compartment is located at the rear panel. The radio uses one 2000mAh rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery.
- It has excellent ergonomics
- Many functions are available at the press of a button. You can also push and hold the button for a couple of seconds.
- It comprises a conscientious fine-tuning control.
- The buttons have a sturdy, tangible buzz and response.
- It has a wide variety of filter choices in both AM and SSB.
- The radio comes with a firmly built carrying case.
- The rechargeable battery is long-lasting.
- It has great sensitivity and selectivity.
- When the battery is charging, you can’t use the AM and SW bands on the radio.
2. Retekess V115 Portable AM/FM Shortwave Radio – Best Budget Pick
If you want a radio with a rechargeable battery and a backup SD card, then the V115 pocket radio with bass sound is a great choice. You can automatically or manually search to find the radio station you want or you can input radiofrequency directly to search.
You can play music in MP3/WMA format stored in a T-Flash card. The radio has a loud sound and you can use it in the kitchen, bedroom, or living room. You can also use the radio during a walk, running, traveling, square dancing, and much more. The pocket radio has a simple display also.
With the radio’s 3.5mm earphone jack, you can use your earphones. You’ll also have some alone time without interrupting other people.
The shortwave radio receiver has numerous displays. They comprise changes in electric quantity, sleep timer, the AM/FM band, and the backlight which will completely light up the screen. This makes it easy to view the time, characters, and clear display numbers during the night.
The radio has a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery with a power output of 1000mAh which can be charged using a USB cable. You can also use the USB cable to connect to the PC and the adaptor with the cord.
- With the MIC recording, you can record anything you would like to say.
- You can also record music while it’s playing.
- The LCD backlit is adjustable.
- The radio has a sleep timer that automatically switches off after the specified time.
- It’s cheap.
- It comes with numerous control buttons.
- It’s sufficiently small to fit in your pocket.
- Operating the radio is a bit of a challenge.
3. Eton Grundig Ultimate Satellite Shortwave Receiver – Best Premium Pick
This is the ultimate shortwave radio receiver. It’s indeed, among the most versatile receiver that gives you value for your money.
The major reason for the high price tag is the double aerial setup. The AM antenna can turn at a 360-Degree angle to further expand and get signals backing the main one. The shortwave radio has a line-out output through which the radio signal can be transmitted to other devices.
There are other options also for extra external antennas with AM and FM jacks. The Eton Grundig Satellite Radio is well-known for its wide range of frequency bands. It covers both AM and FM bands together with the shortwave band from 1711 to 30,000 kHz.
This best shortwave radio also accesses the aircraft band from 118 to 137 MHz, but, regrettably, it doesn’t have the weather channels. This makes it unfit for an emergency radio that can receive NOAA stations. The AM band can also be switched in steps of 10 kHz. The shortwave radio can memorize 1000 radio stations, 100 of which are dispensed for every band, and 500 that may be completely personalized.
The radio has two antennas. One of them spins in a circle to receive AM signals while the other one lengthens upward. You can also connect antennas to enhance your reception. The Eton 750 Ultimate particularizes in the reception of shortwave broadcasts and can also receive the VHF airplane band. This makes it more than an AM/FM/SW radio receiver.
The audio quality of the Eton Satellite Ultimate shortwave radio is excellent. However, some people struggle to make a good choice between the broad AM filter and the narrow AM filter.
- It receives more bands than many shortwave radios.
- The radio has an AM rotating aerial.
- Both stereo and speaker have excellent sound quality.
- It can also receive SSB (Single-Side Bands).
- You can add an outer aerial port if need be.
- The radio’s bass and treble tuning are entirely adjustable.
- It can receive a wide variety of frequencies.
- The bass regulation impedes the volume level.
4. 5-Way Powered Hand Crank Solar NOAA Weather Alert Radio, AM/FM Outdoor Shortwave Radio – Best for Survival Outdoor
You can change from SW/FM/AM to NOAA weather band so that you can get the correct prediction of the weather every day quickly by turning the knob rather than tuning up and down. The shortwave radio is equipped with 7 programmed weather channels and gives you warning messages to keep you informed when there’s intense weather in your locality.
This FM/AM radio has good signal reception and can also receive shortwave stations even when the aerial is switched off. With the solar panel, you can listen to the radio outside on a sunny day. In case of power failure, the hand crank can power the shortwave radio and provide a backup.
The internal rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery with a power output of 2000mAh can be charged using the solar panel, the crank handle, or the micro USB port. The supplied micro USB cable perfectly charges the inner battery and the mobile phone.
You simply put in 3-piece AAA batteries and switch on the POWER knob to AAA before you begin charging. The radio comes with a luminous 3W LED flashlight that’s very convenient to light up in complete darkness so that you may be safe in case of emergencies.
By turning up the solar panel, it becomes a reading lamp with 6 built-in luminous LEDs that light the way to the bedroom during the night. This best shortwave radio is also a must-have for an outdoor tent camp.
Even if there’s a power failure or the internal battery fails, the hand crank generates power without interruption and recharges the in-built battery. It also connects the incorporated USB output charging cable to charge the mobile phone.
In an emergency, it’ll be easier to ask for help or contact your family using your mobile phone. The red SOS beacon (which is Morse code and sufficiently loud) can catch the attention of would-be rescuers.
- You can easily switch from AM/FM just by spinning the adjusting knob.
- The SOS sound is sufficiently loud to reach far.
- For emergencies related to weather, the radio has a Dynamo Crank that utilizes wind power.
- It’s also equipped with a power bank that you can use to charge your phone to stay safe and connected.
- It’s easy to carry due to the pact size and the wrist strap.
- You can adjust to your preferred volume as it has numerous volume control levels.
- The radio gauge appears bent.
5. Kaito KA500 5-Way Solar Powered AM/FM/SW/NOAA Weather Alert Radio with Flashlight – Best for an Emergency
Whether it’s for entertainment, emergencies, or exigent device charging, this shortwave radio receiver has everything you need.
This luminous yellow shortwave radio always cheers you up regardless of the day. Apart from being movable, it also features a hand-crank generator and a 6-way power system. It also has a solar panel, an in-built replaceable and rechargeable battery compartment, room for 3 AA batteries, wall input, and USB.
Together with AM and FM transmitters, the radio can receive 2-band shortwave frequencies and 7 pre-programmed weather channels. Therefore, you can access real-time US and Canada weather reports, global news, updates in sports, talk shows, and entertainment at any time during the day or night.
As the best portable shortwave receiver, you can make emergency contacts using its public emergency warning system. You can also charge your mobile phone with this radio as it has a 5-volt USB connection integrated into the system, through which you can get your mobile phone up and operating.
Besides charging your phone with the radio, you can also charge your MP3 player, camera, and GPS devices. With this appliance, you’ll be well equipped for practically any situation outside because it also has an LED flashlight, a 5-LED reading light, and a red LED beacon for broadcasting SOS signals.
Although the in-built loudspeaker is powerful and emits a loud sound, its telescopic aerial stretches up to 14.5 inches long to pick up debilitated signals and broadcast them. The shortwave radio is guaranteed to last long as it has a waterproof and impact-resistant powerful ABS material.
- The radio is equipped with a 24/7 real-time weather prediction.
- It gives alerts when you’re in risky situations.
- For higher sensitivity, the shortwave radio has a lengthy aerial.
- It also has a public emergency warning system for exigent communication.
- It has numerous power sources.
- The radio’s battery lasts long.
- It doesn’t have a digital display.
6. Sony ICF-SW7600GR AM/FM/SW World Band Receiver with Single Side Band (SSB) Reception – Best Multi-Band World Band Shortwave Receiver
When searching for the ideal shortwave radio, durability and movability are crucial. If you’re one who doesn’t like to compromise on quality, the Sony ICF-SW7600GR radio is your ideal choice. You can listen to news, music, or your preferred radio shows clearly regardless of where you are.
When compared to other previous designs, this shortwave radio has become a favorite for every outdoor fanatic. Among its noticeable features is that it can identify weak signals and frequencies from distant stations.
If you reside in a city where there are a couple of stations with narrow frequencies, the Sony ICF-SW7600GR shortwave radio can help you find a specific station. Therefore, it’s good for lovers of urban music.
This radio is one of those multipurpose all-round world band shortwave receivers. It features enhanced control and sensitivity to help you select the correct radio station. Although the model isn’t unique, this shortwave radio gives you value for your money.
The radio’s coverage in LW/FM/SW/MW channels starts from 150 kHz to 20,000 kHz. All stations will be between these frequencies and you can easily tune them individually.
This is also the best portable shortwave radio that you can take with you on a short trip or camp. A travel radio must have an external antenna, power output, and a good weight for traveling. However, there’s a small issue with the Sony ICF-SW7600GR radio. The supplied whip aerial is non-soldered.
Therefore, the radio loses connection fast. But with enough care, this shouldn’t be a big issue.
- It can receive broadcasts from radio stations that are more than 100 miles away.
- The radio has a manual, direct, preset, and scan-four method which allows you to tune in to any station.
- It comes with both dual and world clock functions.
- It has a built-in timer.
- It can scan and memorize 100 diverse frequencies.
- For enhanced durability, the shortwave radio has a strong, firmly built metal construction.
- The display is somewhat small.
7. C Crane CC Skywave AM/FM/SW Weather and Airband Portable Travel Radio with Alarm and Clock – Best Compact Portable Shortwave Radio
The C Crane Skywave radio is the most versatile of all the shortwave radios in this list as it can receive distinct signals from diverse radio bands. It can intercept into AM/FM/SW/MW and VHF bands so that you can switch between all available channels globally from a small and pact outer shell.
The shortwave radio can receive signals from the NOAA weather channels and has in-built alerts so that you can be notified when you’re approaching potentially risky weather. It can also get signals coming from the aviation band in the VHF.
This movable shortwave radio has a 5W 30mm loudspeaker that delivers sharp and accurate sound, though it strives a little with bigger open areas and exterior noise.
When it comes to power sources, you can either charge the shortwave radio using 2 AA batteries or power it using AC. It can operate for up to 70 hours on 2 AA batteries. If you’re traveling, it’s recommended that you get two pairs of rechargeable batteries, both of which have a lifespan of over 70 hours and are a far better investment in the long run.
The backlit LCD features an orange context, which is the best for daylight viewing in very luminous surroundings. However, the batteries get drained faster.
On the right hand side of the radio, there are knobs for volume and tuning. By pressing the tuning knob, you can select between quick and slow tuning. Fast tuning is great if the signal is powerful.
However, when tuning to a weak AM signal, consider gradual tuning (on the LCD, you can see which tuning speed you choose). You can actuate the squelch function simply by compressing the tuning button when listening to the AIR band. Nevertheless, if the signal is weak, this isn’t a great idea as you’ll not hear anything.
- This shortwave radio is light, pact, and movable and can be carried easily outdoors.
- It has a fast button to alternate between time display and radiofrequency.
- For both novices and experts, it’s easy to use.
- You can alter the tuning speed from rapid to gradual by rotating the tuning knob.
- The tuning knob doesn’t generate any hash sound.
- The radio’s battery lasts long.
- It’s somewhat costly.
Best Portable Shortwave Radios Buying Guide
You want your shortwave radio to last a while and give you clear broadcasts from your preferred radio stations. Therefore, before investing in one, take into account the following factors so that you don’t regret the decision later on.
- Broadcast Quality and Signal Strength
The antenna’s length ascertains how effective the device can receive strong signals. The longer the radio’s aerial, the better it’ll be at picking up waves, leading to clear broadcast quality.
Additionally, look at the technical specs. The frequency coverage shows the number of radio stations the device can transmit. For standard coverage, select 1.6-30 MHz but with a lower range of fewer than 1.6 MHz, you can receive more stations that are transmitted on lower frequencies.
Apart from the radio’s body, the antenna also ascertains how long the radio will last. Before purchasing, check the aerial’s strength to see if it’s firmly built or not.
When looking to purchase a portable shortwave receiver, it’s crucial to check that the material of the radio’s body is sturdy so that it can endure long-term handling effects. Moreover, it should be pact and light, particularly for convenient use in an emergency.
- Sound Quality
A short wave radio with excellent signal strength generates a good and static-free sound. Using a higher sensitivity, the shortwave radio can broadcast the signals well even in situations with low frequency.
- Desktop or Portable
You can choose a desktop shortwave radio if you want the best reception quality and you prefer listening to a particular station. However, portable shortwave radio is the best for you if you travel a lot. They may not provide the same broadcast quality but are expedient.
Most brands of shortwave receivers are equipped with accessories such as a carrying pouch for movability, antenna, adapter, and earphones for you to listen to the radio in private.
- Extra Features
There are numerous features offered by the diverse shortwave radio brands. Depending on the user’s preferences, some are more important than others. Here are several important features that you may want to take into account before making a purchase.
The number of radio stations you can listen to is determined by the number of modes. The best shortwave receiver mostly receives AM channels. However, several designs provide diverse broadcast modes so that you can listen to more channels, comprising FM stations.
The user-friendliness of your shortwave radio is determined by the tuning options. It may be in the form of buttons or knobs. Several brands have two options. Most users choose a knob because it gives them more control and suppleness.
An LCD shows the explicit frequency that a specific radio station is playing at, making it an expedient property for you to use. This digital display helps you to fine-tune so that you can do it more precisely. This is not the case with an analog radio that doesn’t display the exact frequency.
There’s a jack that enables you to plug into an outer antenna for more clear broadcasts. Contrarily, the shortwave radio’s in-built antenna fulfills the necessary functions.
The Selectivity of the Bandwidth:
Narrow selectivity bandwidths offer the advantage of less noise. This implies that there’s a less possibility of other radio stations interfering. While you can choose between a broad or narrow bandwidth with portable devices, the desktop model offers more than five.
The number of presets ascertains how much effort you require to find the correct channels for you. The more the number of preset channels, the less effort you’ll use and, therefore, more convenient for you.
A synchronous detector is another feature to take into account. It enables the shortwave radio to latch on some signals more efficiently and produces a clear noise-free sound.
A Timer and Alarm Clock:
Frequent travelers like to have these two features on their shortwave radios. In case the alarm on your watch or bedside clock fails, your shortwave radio will wake you up on time.
FAQs on Best Shortwave Receiver 2021
- Is it Worth Buying a Shortwave Radio?
Contrary to the reception of local mediumwave or VHF transmitters, shortwave reception relies heavily on the number of sunspots and how the ionosphere is getting charged by the sun.
When the sunspot is minimal, tuning the shortwave bands – particularly on small movable shortwave radio – will possibly produce a few, weak, rarely intelligible signals. It’s a great idea to have a shortwave radio. However, rather than a shortwave radio, get yourself an all-band radio.
- Are Shortwave Radios Obsolete?
Yes, for some people, shortwave listening is still a thing. Unfortunately, the number and varieties of global shortwave transmission stations have extremely become smaller over the years.
- How Far can a Shortwave Radio Reach?
In the shortwave band, radio waves can be reflected from an electrically charged atoms’ layer in the atmosphere known as the ionosphere. As a result, short waves that are aimed at an angle to the firmament can be reflected in the earth at great distances, further along the skyline.
This is known as “skywave” or “skip” propagation. Therefore, a shortwave radio can be used for long-distance communication, as opposed to higher frequency radio waves, that travel in straight directions (line-of-sight proliferation) and are restricted by the visual skyline, around 40 miles (64 km).
- Why is AM Radio Bad at Night?
When the ionosphere cedes back upwards during the night, signals can be reflected much further on the earth. Therefore, AM waves are transported much further during the night than in the daytime. Due to this, many stations have to lessen their wattage and use directional aerials from dusk to dawn, so that all the stations in the country don’t begin impeding each other.
AM dissemination is much better during the night than at daytime as the ionized layers in the atmosphere are fortified. These reflect AM waves and enable long-distance reception through the skywave.
During the day, the reception takes place almost entirely on the ground wave. As a result, several stations are permitted to increase power during the day but required to lessen power at night to stop any impediment between radio stations on the same frequency, but a long distance apart.
Final Verdict on Best Portable Shortwave Radios
A shortwave radio can be an excellent entertainment gadget, a device to keep in touch with the world, and also an emergency tool to contact the authorities when in difficult situations. All of these appliances in our shortwave radio reviews are excellent on their own.
However, for our top pick, we suggest the Tecsun PL880 Digital Portable Dual Conversion shortwave radio as the best portable shortwave radio.
The Tecsun shortwave radio has the most one-of-a-kind features you can get in similarly priced radios. Besides, it’s so cheap that selecting it over others is a breeze. The shortwave radio can also be a lifesaver in case of an emergency.
The radio offers you the most pleasant experience even if you use it as an ordinary radio because of its great reception, long-lasting build, self-charging capability, and display.
We also select the Retekess V115 AM/FM Portable Shortwave radio as it’s a cost-effective option. Therefore, if you’re on a tight budget, this is the best option. You can also play MP3 music stored in a T-flash card using this shortwave radio.