If you and your group of friends just decided to go on a hiking trip in regions where internet connectivity is a bit problematic and the mobile network is poor, you will need something to communicate with in case an emergency strikes. One of the most effective gadgets that you could use is a shortwave radio. Many individuals do not know about shortwave radios because they are vintage gadgets.
If you are in this category, you should know that a shortwave radio is a portable gadget that receives transmissions of certain frequencies, particularly those that fall between 1.7 and 30 Megahertz. If you are looking to get yourself a shortwave radio for your next backpacking trip but you don’t know where to start, you don’t need to worry. We have conducted adequate research and tested a couple of shortwave radios to select the right ones for you.
This article will carry out a comprehensive review of each. You need to understand that there are numerous brands in the market, and you need to consider specific details such as your spending limits and the specifications of the radio. Some of the major advantages of shortwave radios are their portability and convenient communication where other devices find difficulty.
Shortwave Radio Buyer’s Guide
Before you venture into the market to get yourself the perfect shortwave radio, you have to make a couple of considerations. Making the right selection ensures that you get a product that gives you value for your money. Here are some of the things you should keep in mind.
When you are out shopping for a shortwave radio, one of the major considerations to make is its frequency coverage. Shortwave frequencies mostly range from 1700 kHz (1.7 MHz) to 30 MHz. the minimum range that you should consider is 540 kHz (0.54 MHz) to 30 MHz. Today, you could even find a shortwave radio that you can tune down to 0.15MHz. The ideal shortwave radio should have a wider frequency coverage.
The most common band allocations are FM Bands, AM bands, International commercials, Aircraft frequencies, Amateur radio, Longwave bands and Coastal stations for shipping forecasts and local weather radio reports.
Shortwave radios are built differently. There are those that tune only AM mode stations, while there are those that transmit through SSB (Single Side Band) and other modes. Much as the former is adequate for listening to shortwave broadcasting stations, a radio that can transmit using SSB and AM will immensely increase your listening options.
Majority of the shortwave radios in the market today come with a digital display. It shows the frequency that you are tuned into. However, there are those that come with an analog readout. Those with a digital readout are preferable because you get to see the exact frequency you are receiving. A shortwave radio with an analog display makes it harder to find a station on a certain frequency, but they are more affordable.
There are numerous shortwave radios on the market, and each is constructed differently. It would do you good to settle with a shortwave radio that features a sturdy and quality construction. This ascertains the longevity of your shortwave radio, plus you get the value for your money. Ensure to compare different devices in the market to get the one with the best build at a fair price.
The antenna connections
Another vital feature to look out for in shortwave radios is the antenna connections. There are portable shortwave radios that come with only an inbuilt antenna. There are others that come with a jack to enable you to connect an external antenna. Majority of the tabletop shortwave radios come with connectors for external antennas that use the insulated wire or 50-ohm coaxial cables. A shortwave radio that allows you to connect an external antenna provides you with better reception than one with a built-in antenna.
When you are choosing a shortwave radio, it is imperative to consider the selectivity options. It is imperative to keep in mind the selectivity bandwidths that you can choose. Some shortwave radios give you the option between wide and narrow selectivity options. There are also desktop shortwave radios that present you with up to 5 selectivity options. It is advisable to select a shortwave radio with narrow selectivity options because it minimizes interference from other stations. Keep in mind, however, that as the selectivity is narrowed, the audio quality of your preferred station will be minimized.
Another major consideration you are supposed to make when you are choosing a shortwave radio is the available tuning methods. The tuning methods make it easier to use your shortwave radio. There are receivers that only designed with buttons, while there are those that are fitted with knobs. A lot of users have been known to choose receivers with knobs because they are easier to operate.
OUR #1 SHORTWAVE RADIO
Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion AM/FM radio, Longwave & Shortwave Radio – SSB (Single Side Band)
The Tecsun PL880 longwave and shortwave radio is top of my list when it comes to the Best Shortwave Radios on the market. I can’t stand touch screen, digital buttons. I like my radios old school with analog knobs and dial in radio station functionality. The Tecsun portable radio has excellent controls and gives the feel of a strong and quality product. For a portable shortwave radio, the reception on AM/FM radio frequencies are very good and clear. The Tecsun PL880 is also quite loud with its 450mW amp speaker. Another plus point is that it only needs one 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery to power the radio. It also has a built in charger, so there is no need to take out the battery and recharge it in a separate battery charger.
Good battery life. The PL880’s lithium batteries will run for hours and hours before they need to be recharged.
Loud speakers. Plenty of power for such a little radio.
Excellent radio receiver for weather and shipping forecasts.
24 hour alarm clock. Comes with 0-120 minutes sleep timer.
Really good at detecting weak AM/FM signals. Picks up majority of FM stations
USB connectivity. This means you can power the radio via a laptop or USB charger on a socket, rather than use up battery power.
A handy carrying case comes with the Tecsun PL880, which helps to protect the radio when you’re not using it or if you’re traveling.
A little expensive, but as they say, you get what you pay for!
Our 9 Best Shortwave Radios – Reviews
If you have been looking to find yourself the ideal shortwave radio, you might consider getting yourself the Sangean ATS-909X BK. This radio includes five tuning methods – memory recall, direct frequency tuning, manual tuning, auto scan, and rotary tuning to make operations much easier. In addition, it automatically scans for the strongest signal stations within shortwave stations.
Moreover, it is fitted with a large LCD readout that has a bright LED backlight to allow you to see the exact frequency you are receiving even when it is dark. The digital display readout measures 3.33 by 1.95 inches. The ATS-909X is also fitted with an alpha-numeric memory system that allows you to store 406 preset stations. It also comes with an inbuilt 3-inch speaker and a headphone jack to optimize your listening experience.
• It includes accessories such as a set of earbuds, an AC adapter, an SW antenna, and a very useful carrying pouch, ideal for when you’re on the move.
• Its lightweight and portable
• Has a high-quality and sturdy construction
• Excellent FM tuner reception and audio
• Auto tuning system which will search and save new radio stations to the memory bank
• Falls in the higher price range
Eton Grundig produce great radios. The Executive Satellit model is a fully featured shortwave radio that comes with lots of features and accessories. It’s ideal for using around the home, in the garden or travelling the world, with complete access to all the fm and am stations, news, weather, sport commentary and lots more, wherever you are in the world.
The Eton Grundig allows you to access a variety of band such as FM, AM, Longwave, Shortwave, VHF aircraft band and Single Side Band (SSB). Although the audio quality isn’t great, it’s more than sufficient for the personal use of a casual radio listener.
Other features include:
- Headphone jack which allows the user to plug in the radio to speakers or listen through earbuds or headphones.
- Stylish leather carry case to provide protection to your shortwave radio when you’re on the move.
- Long battery life. The Eton Grundig takes 4 AA batteries.
The next item on our list is the TIVDIO V-115 Portable Shortwave Transistor Radio. This receiver is not only economically priced but also compact and super-portable. It will easily fit into your pockets to offer more convenience. Additionally, it produces a great bass sound and it also has a line in recording and MIC recording. This shortwave radio delivers quality 96kbps, 3 recording mode and simple 64kbps, and 128kbps 3 recording quality.
Interestingly, this shortwave radio also comes with an Mp3 player speaker and a 3.5mm Aux input. You can also connect it with a USB cable to utilize it as a loudspeaker. With a 1000mAh rechargeable lithium battery, this receiver has 100 radio presets, plus it has three built-in languages – English, Chinese, and Spanish.
• Has three built-in languages
• Compact and lightweight
• Can be charged by a laptop using a USB
• Has a loud and clear audio quality.
• Economically priced
• Has a sleep timer
• Can act as a recorder
• The Am and Fm reception has a lot of static
• The battery doesn’t last long when playing Mp3
If you are looking for a convenient shortwave radio to go with on your next backpacking trip, you could get yourself the Kaito KA500. This receiver is ideal when you are going in areas where the weather may be a little harsh, and that’s why it comes with 7 pre-programmed NOAA weather channels. This is a 6-way powered emergency radio with a hand crank generator, a compartment for 3 AA batteries, and a solar panel. It also includes a built-in NiMH replaceable and rechargeable battery pack. That notwithstanding, it has a 5V USB input.
You can rely on this gadget to charge your mobile phone and other similar devices when they run out of charge through its USB output. This shortwave radio is made of sturdy ABS material, and it is both waterproof and impact –resistant. Additionally, it has a 14.5-inch external antenna to deliver better reception. It also includes an LED flashlight, a 5-LED reading lamp, and a red LED S.O.S. beacon light.
• Can be used to charge other electronic devices
• Sturdy construction
• Picks up weak signals from FM bands and AM bands.
• Waterproof and impact-resistant
• Has an external telescopic antenna for better reception
• Loud and sharp audio quality
• Has a coverage of AM, FM and 2-band shortwave.
• The solar panel charges the battery at a slow rate
• Fairly weak crank power
This is yet another ideal shortwave radio that you might consider purchasing. It is compact, lightweight, and portable. It receives AM, FM, NOAA weather, and shortwave channels efficiently. Designed with a knob and buttons, using it is quite easy. You could also set an alarm on this device. Viewing the channel you’re tuned into is also easy because it comes with a lighted LCD display, plus it has a stereo headphone jack. Its 2 AA batteries can last between 60 and 70 hours at moderate volumes. With 400 memory channels and Autoscan tuning, this receiver can also be charged with an AC adapter. It also has a 1-year warranty and a carry case to enhance portability.
• Has a lighted LCD display
• Lightweight and portable
• Includes both knobs and buttons
• Comes with a carry case
• Has a 1-year warranty
• Excellent battery life
• It is a bit pricey
• The shortwave reception is a bit weak
If you are willing to go old school with a shortwave radio that has an analog readout, you could get yourself the Tecsun R-9012 Shortwave Radio. It receives AM, FM, and SW 12 bands stations. This gadget is powered by 2 AA batteries or a DC 3V adapter, which you have to purchase separately. Tecsun has designed this receiver to feature a small and lightweight design for easier portability. Its portability is further enhanced by its carrying strap. Furthermore, it delivers high sensitivity and selectivity, plus low noise.
• It is economically priced
• Has a knob to make tuning easier
• Has a great construction and a lightweight.
• The sound quality from the speaker is a bit cloudy
• Reception is not so clear
If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you could benefit a lot with a shortwave radio in your possession. You might consider getting yourself the C. Crane CCRadio-2E Enhanced Portable AM FM Weather and 2-Meter Ham Band. This receiver as excellent AM reception thanks to its built-in twin-coil ferrite antenna. Besides AM, this radio also receives FM, NOAA weather, and 2-Meter Ham Band. You could use it to get information about incoming natural disasters in areas you intend to go hiking. With a long-lasting battery life, this shortwave radio has a digital display with a backlight to allow easier viewing. It also has a clock, alarm, and a sleep timer. Additionally, it has 5 one-touch memory presets.
• Has great FM reception
• Excellent battery life
• Great noise interference
• Has issues with its durability
• A little expensive
Besides affordability, the portability of a shortwave radio is one of the most essential things. Fortunately, the TIVDIO V-117 delivers both. If you are not so enthusiastic about technology, you could get yourself this analog receiver. It is powered by AA batteries and operating it is quite easy because it is fitted with an on-off-volume wheel control. This receiver gets AM, FM, and SW bands, and it is small enough to fit in your pocket. Its sound quality is enhanced by the DSP chip plus a large speaker. It also includes a 3.5mm audio jack. That notwithstanding, it features a sturdy construction – impact-resistant ABS material.
• Has a strong construction
• Very affordable
• Easy to use
• Very portable
• Delivers a loud and crisp sound
• It has a lot of static
Lastly, we have the Tecsun PL-660. If you are willing to spend more on a shortwave radio, this could be the gadget for you. The PL-660 features dual conversion, A, SW-SBB, and AIR Band reception, providing you with more listening options. This receiver also blocks out interference from adjacent stations courtesy of its SYNC detector for AM. It has 6 tuning modes, and a digital readout for precise viewing of the frequency you’re on. Moreover, it has a wire antenna, a stereo earphone, and a carrying pouch for easier portability. The PL-660 also has a built-in charging system and a Dc 5V USB jack.
• Has a multi-function digital display
• It includes a key lock function
• It has excellent reception
• Has great selectivity and sensitivity
• Very portable
• Falls in the higher price range
• Has issues with durability
When a weather emergency or a natural disaster strikes, you’ll be happy that you have the Kaito Voyager Pro KA600P in your home. This shortwave radio can give you official updates from NOLA and help you stay informed of new warnings and watches in your area. It lets you chose from four methods when tuning the radio to receive those broadcasts and can remember more than 300 stations. That makes it handy for those who travel often and use different stations in different cities.
A solar panel on the top adjusts in various ways to help you get the power that you need when the electric goes out. The radio also features a built-in lamp that you can use as a reading lamp and a flashlight that helps you see in the dark. You’ll like the included AC adapter too, which lets you quickly charge the battery in between uses.