Best Shortwave Radio

Many people believe shortwave radio is a thing of the past. The modern-day has so many avenues for listening to podcasts and radio shows.

Even though shortwave radio appeared way back in the early 1900s, and the last hundred or so years have seen amazing technological advancements, shortwave radio is still in demand.

In case you didn’t know, shortwave radio is an audio network operating on frequencies between FM and AM. It has the primary advantage of transferring data for long distances. This data can then be accessed by millions through just one transmitter.

There may be a few different reasons why you want a shortwave radio but trying to find out which is the best to buy can be tricky. This is why we are here to help you. We have listed our top 5 shortwave radios to help you find the best shortwave radio today.

Your favorite radio show starting soon and you’re in a hurry? Here is our top choice!

OUR TOP PICK

Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion AM/FM, Longwave & Shortwave Radio with SSB (Single Side Band) Reception

Our top pick is the very advanced Tecsun PL880. Whatever feature you may be looking for in a shortwave radio, the Tecsun PL880 will offer just about every one.

Tuning to your favorite radio station is a breeze with easy tuning knobs. The main tuning knob works alongside a fine-tuning knob for easy use.

You also have the option to simply use the keypad to enter the frequency you desire.

When you have found your favorite frequencies, there is an option to save them to presets to find easily and quickly. This helps reduce signal noise hugely.

You will get full range coverage with the built-in antenna alongside a jack for an AM external antenna.

The LCD screen allows you to get the perfect frequency as well as keep an eye on the level of the battery life.

The sound is a key aspect of any radio and the Tecsun PL880 has great quality. It has one of the best and clear audio qualities of any radio in its price range.

The 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery is replaceable so you can bring another one along when it has run out. Nevertheless, this battery should last up to 2 weeks, even with heavy usage.

As well as this, the size and weight are extremely lightweight for easy portability, including a hand strap.

Pros

  • Multiband with access to AM, FM, and SSB
  • Includes an LCD screen for perfect frequency and access to battery level
  • Simple to use with a main and a fine-tuning knob
  • Long-lasting battery with use of up to 2 weeks
  • Very portable measuring only 7.5 x 5.4 x 1.25 inches and weighing 1lb

Cons

  • Plastic kickstand sometimes folds out when the power button is pressed

EDITORS CHOICE

Retekess V115 Digital Radio AM FM, Portable Shortwave Radios, Rechargeable Radio Digital Tuner and Presets, Support Micro SD and AUX Record, Bass Speaker

Our second pick is the compact and affordable Retekess V115. Small enough to fit in your pocket, this is a versatile shortwave radio.

You are able to access AM and FM radio stations on this portable device as well as connect your smartphone to play music.

You can even plug in a TF card with all your saved music to play anywhere you like. The sound quality is very good with a great level of bass.

If you prefer to use headphones, there is an option of using a earphone jack too.

All the information you need is visible through its LCD screen including the frequency you’re tuning in to and the time. If you use it at night, the backlighting allows for easy readability.

It is important to find a good shortwave radio with a powerful battery. The Retekess V115 offers this with a built-in 1000mAh rechargeable battery. This can be charged with an adaptor or a USB cable through your PC.

Pros

  • Very affordable compared to radios with similar features
  • Extremely portable measuring a minuscule 4.7 x 3.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Can tune in to shortwave, AM, and FM stations
  • Can play your own music using a TF card or connect your smartphone
  • Contains a built-in rechargeable battery but can be plugged in with an adaptor or a USB cable

Cons

  • Doesn’t include a clock
  • No tuning knob for easy access of radio stations

BEST VALUE

C. Crane CC Skywave SSB AM, FM, Shortwave, NOAA Weather + Alert, Scannable VHF Aviation Band and Single Side Bands Small Battery Operated Portable Travel Radio

This is one of the smallest portable shortwave radios available today. At less than 5 inches long, and around 3 inches high, the C.

Crane CC Skywave radio can be carried around anywhere and everywhere. For extra safety, it comes with a stylish leather case.

When you’re looking for a new shortwave radio, you will be wanting one with as many features as possible.

The C. Crane CC Skywave radio has an abundance of features to wow you. You can access pretty much any radio source you like such as shortwave, AM/FM, the NOAA band plus the Alert, the Airband, and single sideband.

The C. Crane CC Skyware is technologically advanced with a state of the art circuit board designed for crystal-clear reception.

The audio is plain to hear thanks to a 23-inch shortwave reel antenna which picks up a clearer frequency than any built-in version.

These frequencies can be entered via the keypad or you can scan automatically. Then, simply find your favorite stations and save to over 400 presets.

The backlit LCD screen displays a clock, alarm function, and many more features. The radio can be powered through an adaptor or by using 2 AA batteries.

These batteries should last up to 60 hours with an additional 10 hours if the CC earbuds that come with the radio are used tool.

Pros

  • Extremely compact for easy portability
  • Comes with 400 presets to save your favorite radio stations
  • Fast and fine-tuning on all bands including aviation
  • At least 60 hours of battery use when used heavily
  • Precise reception thanks to a 23-inch shortwave reel antenna for clear frequency and audio

Cons

  • Weather is not included when fine-tuning bands

RUNNER UP

Sony ICF-SW7600GR AM/FM Shortwave World Band Receiver with Single Side Band Reception

There is no surprise that Sony has made a top-quality shortwave radio. The Sony ICF-SW7600GR gives you AM and FM radio along with shortwave and SSB.

Sony has included an antenna for AM and LW as well as a telescoping antenna for shortwave and FM.

Synchronous detection helps minimize noise and fading, giving a clear reception. Alongside this is the PLL Quartz Frequency Synthesized Tuning that decreases any drift.

There is an auto-scan function that can scan up to 100 presets at any one time. Before moving on to the next preset, you will be able to listen for a few seconds to check if you have found your beloved station.

Although compact, this radio is equipped with a large LCD screen as well as a keypad for you to find your desired station quickly.

All this needs a good amount of power and the AC adaptor or 4 AA batteries will keep the radio running sufficiently.

Pros

  • Offers a superb reception 
  • The synchronous detection helps minimize any noise for clear audio and frequency
  • Very compact and lightweight for easy transportation
  • Includes two different alarms including the choice to set one to a different radio station to wake up to

Cons

  • No air band

RUNNER UP

PRUNUS J-160 Portable Transistor Radio AM FM Small Retro Vintage Radio with Bluetooth, Rechargeable Battery Operated, Support TF Card AUX USB MP3 Player (Red)

Our final pick is the retro-looking Prunus M-160BT radio. Vintage by name, but definitely not by nature. It may look like it has jumped out of a 1940’s home but its technology is modern and state of the art.

With a tempting price tag, the Prunus M-160BT is a stylish, compact shortwave radio. If you are looking for a desktop radio, this may be one of the best choices, especially in this price range.

You can tune in to AM, FM, and shortwave radio but there are a few fantastic bonuses. This budget-friendly radio comes with aux-in and Bluetooth for you to connect your smartphone as well as attach a TF card to play your favorite tunes.

This is a bundle of vintage looks and contemporary technology and would look great in any environment.

Pros

  • Retro design for a vintage look
  • Very inexpensive compared to many similar models
  • Offers Bluetooth connectivity and Aux-in to play music straight from your smartphone
  • Able to play TF cards and flash drives
  • Comes with a rechargeable 12000 mAh battery for extended use

Cons

  • Doesn’t include a low volume setting
  • No battery backup

Best Shortwave Radio Buying Guide

Many shortwave radios share the same basic features. We are here to fine-tune any considerations you should have before investing in your next shortwave radio.

Standard Frequency Coverage

Your radio should cover the range from 1.6 to 30MHz at least. Nonetheless, if you want a wide selection of radio stations to choose from, you can get a radio that receives lower frequencies.

It is also recommended that you find a radio that works as a single sideband receiver (SSB). This feature will allow you to find more transmissions but there is a possibility of overhearing military chat or the odd weather report.

Types of Shortwave Radio

Shortwave radios can be divided into 4 categories. These are portable, desktop/tabletop, all-in-one, and SDRs. Portable shortwave radios are the most common type.

These are usually the cheapest and the easiest to carry around. Most come with alternative charging methods for prolonged use but have fewer features than bigger models.

Desktop or tabletop models are the oldest types. These are typically rather large with a variety of features and are perfect for those who listen at home as they rely on a power outlet.

All-in-one radios pick up the most AM and FM bands and are similar to portable devices with their wide range of available frequencies.

SDRs, or, Software-Defined Radios, are the new forms of radio. They require a computer to run and usually pick up all radio frequencies with help from a computer’s software.

LCD Screens

Most of us think of a by-gone era when we hear someone mention the wireless or radio. There is an appeal for vintage designed radios with analog frequency displays.

Although these are cheaper, a shortwave radio with a digital display offers so much more. You are able to get the exact frequency you want and save it to a preset mode to return later. LCD screens also give you access to the time and more information such as the battery power state.

Durability

The easiest way to check a radio’s durability is to read customer reviews.

Those regarding breakdowns will help you gauge whether it is a long-lasting model or not. The length of a warranty can also give some insight into the durability of the radio.

Synchronous Detector

The synchronous detector is not as scary as it sounds. It is a feature that allows your radio to lock on to any shortwave signals.

This will give you a clearer broadcast without much fading or noise. This usually costs extra but can be a good investment in the long run.

Sound Quality

Even those who have never used a radio know that sound is the most important part. Without good speakers, you may as well be listening underwater.

You should be looking for a speaker that sounds better than your smartphone’s. The addition of an earphone jack is a great bonus in case you want to listen intently through high-quality earbuds.

Battery

The best choice of power options are those that charge through an AC adaptor or with batteries. If you use your radio on the go a lot, batteries will be your best option. You can use disposable batteries in case yours run out of juice on the road.

There is also the built-in rechargeable battery which saves you replacing any batteries. These may run out if you’re outdoors, however, leaving you with a dead radio.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I listen to on shortwave radio?

The most regular transmissions you’ll tune into are referred to as “ute” or “shortwave utility”. These include transmissions involving sailing, shipping, military, and aviation.

Shortwave radio also lets you tune into amateur radio stations as well as bigger radio stations that still have shortwave transmissions and are listened to around the world.

Can I listen to shortwave radio via the internet?

The short answer is, yes. The longer answer is that only some radio stations are shortwave.

These stations stream online and are accessible by nearly anyone with an internet connection.

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