11 Best Shortwave Radio Reviews 2020 – Buying Guide

As the twentieth-century getting started, so was the shortwave radio being introduced to the world. Back then, it was a basic device that was used to transmit radio waves. However, things have changed, and these radios have been revolutionized.

Even though the popularity of the shortwave radios declined as the internet and Wi-Fi technology increased, they are still used in different applications. To cut the story short, shortwaves radios are mostly used for emergencies – where the local stations, internet, and satellite are off the air.

If you are in the military, aviation, or naval department, or you are planning to go on a wild vacation in the woods and you are looking for the best shortwave radio, this article is meant for you.

We will look at the top models to consider and how you should shop for the specific shortwave radio that suits your needs.

Our Best Shortwave Radio 2020 Reviews

Before we start exploring our top picks, you should keep in mind that each specific radio comes with its pros and cons. Always ensure you understand the positive and negative side of each radio and if you can work with it accordingly. That being said, here are some of the options you should consider buying.

1. Kaito KA500RED Emergency Radio

Let’s kick it off with this shortwave radio from Kaito. One of the reasons for picking this radio is the fact that it is very versatile in terms of the options of charging it.

Obviously, we weren’t just pleased by the charging options of this radio. Rather, we also loved the multiple band receptions it offers. First off, you can listen to your favorite AM and FM stations without any problem. But most importantly, this radio offers you NOAA weather stations.

All the seven weather channels are pre-programmed, and you can select them by turning the dial. You won’t have to guess the weather channel frequency with this radio. If you set the radio to the alert mode, you will receive alerts of any forthcoming harsh weather conditions.

The radio comes with an AC type brushless generator that offers self-charging, where you need to hand crank if you need to charge it. Alternatively, you can flip up the solar panel to recharge the radio or plug an AC adapter to juice it up.

Still, you can use 3 AA batteries to power it. The company still provides a mini USB charging port and a NiMH rechargeable battery pack to juice up this radio.

Along with the seven weather channels, AM and FM frequencies, this radio also has SW1 and SW2 band receptions.

You can use the onboard LED flashlight in terms of an emergency or flash the Red LED SOS beacon light if you need help pronto. There is a reading lamp too, and the radio can be used to charge your mobile phone.

What We Loved

  • Rugged design to survive harsh conditions
  • It can be charged with solar, electricity, self-generation, or batteries
  • Features an SOS beacon light for help-related emergencies
  • You can use it to charge your phone
  • The radio offers 7 NOAA weather channels with an alert mode

What Could Be Better

  • The antenna doesn’t swivel

2. Retekess V115 Portable Shortwave Radio

If you are on a tight budget but you don’t want to compromise with the quality of the shortwave radio, this model would be a decent pick for you. It might look basic and simple in design, but the radio is fully functional.

This one is compact enough and easy to carry around wherever you go. To be specific, this unit only measures 4.7 by 3.1 by 0.9 inches. It will literally fit in your shirt’s pocket without any problem.

Even with its small size, this radio comes with an incredible volume. You can comfortably play it in your living room, bedroom, or kitchen.

Furthermore, this radio comes with a nice bass sound, along with three recording modes/quality. There’s still a 3.5mm jack for personal listening.

A mount is there for you to place the radio on your desk if you wish to. Besides that, the radio comes with a TF card reader and an AUX input for you to listen to external music.

Besides the basic radio functions, this unit also offers you a sleep timer that helps to preserve the battery. The LCD display backlight is also dimmable. When it comes to charging the radio, you can plug it to an outlet or your PC.

What We Loved

  • The radio is compact and lightweight
  • Comes with TF card reader and AUX input
  • You can record from the radio directly
  • Features a sleep timer and an adjustable LCD display to preserve battery
  • The volume and bass level is impressive for its size

What Could Be Better

  • You cannot connect an external SW antenna

3. Eton Executive Traveler Shortwave Radio

We include this model in our top shortwave radio reviews because we think it is the best travel radio you would want to buy.

Carrying this radio around will make someone think you are carrying a tablet or some fancy notebook. It comes in an elegant, brown leather cover that gives it that appeal. We loved that you can easily switch on or off the radio, turn up/down the radio, or tune the radio even without flapping up the cover.

This radio can receive different frequencies including AM, FM, VHF, Single-Sideband (SSB), longwave, and shortwave. Even better, you can enjoy the PLL tuner that helps to enhance the strength of your AM channels.

The radio also features an alarm, clock, sleep timer, and you can view all these on the orange LCD display. You can power it with 4 AA batteries or directly from an outlet. Just keep mind the batteries are sold separately.

It comes with auto/manual tuning and offers you 500 memory stations. Even better, the radio comes with a sync detection to enhance the sound quality and minimize fading/distortion. This radio will easily peak the weakest signals.

What We Loved

  • The radio is wrapped in an appealing leather cover
  • Features a sync detection to enhance sound quality and reduce distortion
  • Offers auto/manual tuning with 500 memory channels
  • It comes with Radio Data System that sends more than just radio signals
  • Executive Satellite lets you listen to news from multiple stations around the globe

What Could Be Better

  • It might be complex for a beginner to operate

4. Sony ICF-SW7600GR Shortwave Radio

Sony ICF-SW7600GR

Finding a portable radio that comes with durable battery life isn’t always a norm. However, this radio defies the odds and offers you one solid and super reliable unit.

You can enjoy multiple frequencies with this radio including LW, MW, SW, and FM. There are four tuning methods, which include scan, preset, manual, as well as direct tuning. Along with that, you get the My Memory feature that will memorize stations that are tuned and store up to 100 of them.

The PLL digital tuner helps to make every station crisp and clear enough. To assure you of user-friendliness, the radio offers label presets with 6 alphanumeric letters.

We loved the inbuilt hold button that prevents accidental channel/settings changes. Besides that, there is a Single-Sideband reception that offers you fine-tuning with minimal interference when you are on the AM band.

Be sure of reduced fading and beat frequency interference with the sync detection circuitry on this radio. This radio offers a dual clock for you to set time for different locations. The dual standby function lets you set alarm for two different wake-up times.

What We Loved

  • Features a PLL digital tuner to enhance the station reception
  • It can store up to 100 channels
  • Sync detection circuitry lessens interference and fading
  • It comes with a dual clock and dual alarm wake-up times
  • The sound and speaker quality is excellent for its size Sustainable battery life

What Could Be Better

  • The charging adapter is sold separately

5. Tecsun PL880 Portable Shortwave Radio

Tecsun PL880

Here is another radio that offers you shortwave frequencies, along with AM, LW, and FM. If you are conversant with the shortwave radios and DXing, you would love the full features of this radio.

The sensitivity and selectivity of this radio are in check, and it comes with the PLL synthesized digital dual conversion receiver. You get four selectable bandwidth filters on AM and five on SSB, along with the Single-Sideband that offers you 10Az tuning step.

Do you need the radio to play as you fall asleep and go off when you are in your deep sleep? The 0 to 120minute sleep timer will help you with that. Also, would you like it to wake you up in the morning? The alarm clock feature lets you set it to either buzz or turn on the radio in the morning.

This one runs on a single Li-Ion rechargeable battery, which allows you to carry it with on the go. In terms of durability, the battery is a decent performer.

What We Loved

  • Features a soft muting option for keeping the radio quieter as you tune between signals
  • The LED display shows the battery level too, and you can turn it off if you don’t need it
  • Comes with excellent ergonomics that make it feel good in the hands
  • The radio features a sturdy case to keep it safe in harsh environments
  • Impressive sound quality

What Could Be Better

  • It is costlier than most SW radios

6. Eton Grundig Satellit 750 SW Radio

Eton NGSAT750B

If you want a portable SW radio that comes with advanced features, this would also be a good pick for you. The price is not on the low, but neither is the delivery. You can actually listen to any and every station on this radio.

It comes with a 360-degree rotate AM antenna that will capture any frequency that you might want to tune in. The radio can receive AM, SW, FM, as well as Aircraft Band with Single-Sideband. We loved the chic and classic look that makes it stand out with elegance.

Thanks to the 360-degree antenna, this radio will pull in the weakest signal to assure you of a clear sound with limited interference. Besides that, the radio comes with a DSP technology that will enhance the tuning sensitivity while cutting out the disturbance.

Tuning the stations on this radio is a breeze, and it can store up to 1,000 channels in its memory. There’s also a dual alarm that allows you to set the alarm at two varied times.

What We Loved

  • Good-Looking design (if you value the looks)
  • 360-degree rotate antenna captures more frequencies
  • It stores up to 1,000 stations
  • The sound quality is satisfying
  • You can hook up an external antenna through the jacks onboard

What Could Be Better

  • The bass control can affect the volume level

7. Real NOAA iRonsnow IS-388 SW Radio

Real NOAA iRonsnow IS-388 SW Radio

Any survivors in the house? If you are one, here is a radio option you might want to give a shot.

This model offers more than just the common radio functions. Besides the AM, FM, SW1, and SW2 frequencies, this radio also offers you the 7 NOAA weather channels. With that, you can be sure of getting news about a forthcoming thunderstorm, tornado, flood, or any other harsh weather.

Of course, you can still enjoy your favorite jams from your memory card, thanks to the Micro SD card reader on this radio.

You know what else you get on this radio? A loud siren that proves to be helpful enough in times of an emergency. The radio also offers you a reading lamp that you can use while you are out in the woods or when there is a power outage at home.

Carrying it around shouldn’t be a bother, especially because it comes with a convenient handle to help you with that. What’s more, you can enjoy the 2300mAh power bank that you can use to juice up your phone.

What We Loved

  • You can charge it with the hand crank, solar panel onboard, USB port, or AC adapter
  • It supports NOAA weather channels with an alert
  • Supports TF card player
  • It offers you a siren and a reading lamp, along with a flashlight
  • You can use it to charge your phone

What Could Be Better

  • The LCD screen doesn’t show the battery level

8. XHDATA D-808 Portable SW Radio

XHDATA D-808 Portable SW Radio

While this radio might come with a basic design, it performs decently, and the sound quality is also satisfying enough. We noticed the crisp reception of this radio, which made us include it on this list.

Here, you enjoy frequencies such as Airband, LW, MW, FM, and SW SBB. The high sensitivity and good sensitivity are other things that we thought were worth pointing out on this radio. Generally, the user-experience when it comes to operating this radio is very friendly. You might not even need a manual to show you how to use it.

Unlike most shortwave radios, this one comes with the Digital Signal Processing technique. This technique will enhance the reception of the signals while reducing any chance of interference. You can save up to 500 channels on this radio, which are grouped into 50 storage pages.

It does come with a sleep timer that helps to preserve the battery life of the radio.

What We Loved

  • Features the DSP technique to reduce interference
  • You can connect an external SW antenna
  • It allows you to save up to 500 channels
  • The radio comes with a sleep timer
  • Durable battery

What Could Be Better

  • It might not be the right radio to take out to the harsh outdoor environment

9. PRUNUS M-160BT Retro Shortwave Radio

PRUNUS 8541720434

Not every SW radio will come with advanced features. However, we would consider this to be among the best shortwave radios if you are looking for one you can connect to your mobile device remotely.

Long story short, this radio offers Bluetooth capabilities, which we thought was a good feature. Besides that, it comes with a unique look that makes it stand out of most SW radios out there. This baby comes in blend of a classic and modern look that is very easy on the eye.

Along with its unique look, this radio comes with a powerful DS chip that enhances the sensitivity of the AM, FM, and SW channels. A circular tuning window is there, which offers a 270-degree turning space. This helps to enhance the reception accuracy. The retractable antenna is made of copper to boost signal stability.

This radio also supports flash drives and TF cards, along with the aux input and Bluetooth connectivity. As you enjoy your music, the radio offers you a stereo speaker as deep bass and smooth treble. Keep in mind that this radio doesn’t come with a headphone jack.

What We Loved

  • Elegant retro-modern look
  • It comes with a flash drive/TF card reader, along with Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Excellent sound with deep bass and soft treble
  • DS chip enhances the frequency sensitivity
  • The battery is decently durable

What Could Be Better

  • The volume knob can easily move to loud when adjusting
  • No 3mm headphone jack

10. Sangean ATS-9009X BK Shortwave Radio

Sangean ATS-9009X BK Shortwave Radio

Our tenth item on our list is this shortwave radio from Sangean. This one also comes with plenty of features that make it to qualify among the best out there.

You can enjoy multiple frequencies including MW, LW, SW, FM, and AM. You also get EEPROM for memory backup. Tuning the radio is easy as it allows you to explore multiple options. You can tune directly by imputing the numbers, auto scan, manual scan, rotary tune, or use the memory recall.

Speaking of which, the radio can store up to 406 memory preset stations. Plus, you can automatically search for the strongest signal station with the shortwave station pages and the 42 world cities' time. In addition, there is a DST device with two editable city names that will help you with that.

We loved the squelch function and the step on fine-tuning features. With these two features, you can be sure of enjoying your stations with minimized interference.

This radio lets you set three different alarm times, and there is an inbuilt charger to juice it up when needed.

What We Loved

  • Inbuilt battery charger
  • It offers you five tuning options
  • Speaker quality is excellent with the tune control
  • The radio searches for the strongest signal station automatically
  • Offers three alarm times

What Could Be Better

  • You cannot save SW, AM, and FM next to each other

11. C. Crane CC Skywave SSB Shortwave Radio

C. Crane SSB

Last but not least is this SW radio that happens to be among the most compact units out there. It means that you can easily carry it in your shirt’s pocket and take it wherever you wish.

To be exact, the radio measures 4.7 by 3 by 1 inch. Even with its small size, this radio comes with excellent performance. It supports AM, FM, SW, NOAA weather channels, along with SSB and VHF Aviation.

This is a digitally-tuned radio that features excellent sensitivity and selectivity. The multiple bandwidth settings help to enhance the performance of the radio. All the channels come with a fine tuner, except the weather channels.

You can easily tune the stations on this radio, and it offers you 400 memories channel, with ten aviation memories. There is a clock onboard and a fold-out back stand allows you to set the radio on a desk or a flat platform. The faux leather carry case is another feature that we thought was worth pointing out.

What We Loved

  • Excellent run time
  • Digitally-Tuned multiband with excellent selectivity and sensitivity
  • It comes with NOAA weather channels
  • Easily fits in a shirt’s pocket
  • Comes with a faux leather carry case

What Could Be Better

  • It doesn’t pick all the NOAA weather channels

Does Shortwave Have a Future?

While the shortwave technology might be over 20 years old, it still does play a role in receiving radio signals in the remote areas. However, it might have a future, but in a different way.

Shortwave can be important in emergencies and where local and regional radio stations, internet, and satellite are off the air. Yes, broadband is getting more affordable, but it is scarce.

The arrival of digital shortwave, which you can also name 5G, is imminent. Even though the analog shortwave era is over, the band is still serving a huge role in communication around the world.

What Makes the Right Shortwave Radio?

Choosing the best SW radio is not only about going for the high-rated models. Rather, you should choose one that meets your needs accordingly.

Here are the things you need to look for in shortwave radio;

Frequency Coverage 

You need to consider the frequency of the radio before you purchase it. I recommend that you go for one with a wider range. Most of the shortwave radios out there come with frequencies that range from 1.7MHz and 30MHz. If you can find a radio with 0.54MHz to 30MHz frequency, the better.

Synchronous Detector

A synchronous detector allows the radio to lock on to the signals and frequencies. This feature will eliminate the interferences and noise as it enhances the audio clarity.

Modes Supported

The majority of shortwave radios will support FM and AM modes. Nevertheless, you can get some that support LW, SW, and SSB modes. Ideally, choose one that offers you more mode options.

Selectivity 

A lot of people have complained about having a hard time finding a clear frequency with their radio. It is important that you choose a radio that can reduce the interruptions to assure you of precise and clear audio. I suggest you go for a radio that has more than five selectivity options.

Shortwave Radio

Display

The LCD display doesn’t only show the radio stats. Rather, it helps you to tune accurately and even higher. Radios with displays give you an easy time when using them as they offer you accuracy and visibility.

External Antenna

Does the radio come with a port for jacking in an external antenna? An inbuilt antenna can work perfectly, but an extra antenna will only boost the waves and give you better reception. So, consider choosing a radio that lets you include an external antenna, especially if you are in a remote area.

Tuning

How will you be tuning the stations? Do you prefer turning knobs or keying in buttons? This depends on what works for you. However, buttons tend to be easier, convenient, and more accurate when tuning the channels.

Construction

The build of the radio should highly depend on where you intend to use it. If you need a survival radio to take out for hiking or camping, then you should opt for a rugged radio that would last for long without breaking or wearing out.

If you find one with some sort of rubber finishes, you should take it. But for the cheap plastic radios, they should only be used indoors.

Make sure that the radio is reliable, durable, and functional enough. Don’t forget to go through the shortwave radio reviews to see what other customers are saying about a specific model.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is shortwave radio?

This is a radio/device that is capable of picking up transmissions and signals that range from 1.6MHz and 30MHz. It can still pick and transmit signals even when there is a long distance between the transmitter and the receiver.

2. Can I use an external antenna with my shortwave radio?

As long as there is a jack for an external antenna, you can use one to boost the signals of your radio if the inbuilt antenna doesn’t deliver appropriately.

3. What’s the difference between SW and LW radio?

Shortwave radios pick frequencies that range from 1.6MHz to 30MHz, while longwave radio pick frequencies ranging from 30KHz to 279KHz. The shortwave radios will further cover a wavelength of up to 85meters , whereas longwave radios cover a wavelength of up to 150meters.

4. Is a shortwave radio different from a normal FM radio?

The only difference is that the shortwave radio pick frequencies ranging from 1.6MHz to 30MHz, while FM picks frequencies ranging from 88MHz to 108 MHz. An SW radio is just the same as any regular radio with the features.

5. Are shortwave radios expensive?

Some of them will cost more than $200, but you can find reliable SW radios that go for less than $20.

Final Words

Now you know about the best shortwave radio, and how you can buy one. Even though we cannot push you to buy one of the products we listed above, just make sure you follow the buying guide and choose a radio that is durable, functional and works for you perfectly.

  • June 24, 2020
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