5 Best SSB CB Radio Reviews 2020 – Buying Guide For Newbie
This guide will take you through the best SSB CB radio units you can find on the market today.
While the standard CB radio transmits at 4Watts, an SSB-enabled radio transmits at 12 Watts. This triples the effective range of the latter, giving you more reach.
Let’s get to know more about the SSB-enabled CB radios and some of the top-rated units you can buy today.
What is a SSB CB Radio?
An SSB (Single sideband) CB radio is a CB radio with the SSB capability. The SSB capability is an alternative way of carrying the radio waves through the air. An SSB radio transmits and receives standard channels along with the upper and lower sideband channels, giving you more channels.
SSB radios also have additional power compared to the standard CB radios. The FCC restricts the maximum amount of power for SSB to 12 Watts, which is 3 times the maximum power output of a standard unit. This simply means that the effective range is tripled in SSB CB radios.
The major downside of SSB radios is that it only works if the person you’re communicating with also has an SSB radio. That is, it works for SSB to SSB radio and NOT for SSB to standard CB radio.
Our Best SSB CB Radio Reviews:
1. Uniden BEARCAT 980 40- Channel SSB CB Radio
The Uniden BEARCAT 980 is the best SSB CB radio for those who want a unit that comes at a reasonable price. It’s currently the only CB radio from Uniden with SSB capability.
It presents you with a large, easy to read illuminated control panel that promotes easy use in all lighting conditions. It also comes with a newly designed mic with an ergonomic pistol grip to make it feel comfortable in your hands. Its controls too feel more solid than what you get in other radios.
Also worth mentioning is that this grants you instant access to the NOAA weather channels and the emergency channel 9 with a simple push of a button. This allows you to receive weather alerts and notifications and other important info when traveling for long distances.
Unlike most of the radios in its price category, this Uniden comes equipped with a noise-cancelling microphone. This minimizes the background noises notorious for affecting CB radio communications, assuring you of crystal-clear communication. The integrated SWR meter facilitates perfect antenna matching for enhanced signal transmission.
2. Galaxy-DX-959 40 Channel AM/SSB Mobile CB Radio
Galaxy boasts a list of high-end CB radios with built-in SSB capabilities. And this Galaxy-DX-959 is one of the best CB radio with SSB models from this manufacturer.
The Galaxy has a pretty stable and high-performance SSB capability to ensure you stretch your transmission beyond what the standard CB unit can do. It comes loaded with advanced features such as a built-in SWR meter to let you painlessly tune your antenna and continue monitoring it as you continue with your journey.
Another advanced feature you’ll get from this SSB CB radio is the advanced Galaxy’s noise filter that works tirelessly to block the static and background noise to assure you of crystal-clear reception.
It also boasts an oversized primary display that outputs the digits soo large that reading them will not be a problem. The yellow background of this screen enables you to read in all lighting conditions.
Additional features you’ll get when you order this unit include a roger beep, Delta tuning, mic gain control, Noise blanker, squelch control, tone switch, Automatic Noise Filter (ANL), and talkback control.
3. Galaxy DX-979 AM/SSB Mobile CB Radio
If you’re looking for an SSB CB radio for with compact design, you just found this Galaxy DX-979 unit. The radio features a medium-sized chassis with a front mic jack to allow for easy installation in the tightest spaces (measures roughly 7.25 inches wide).
Despite being one of the slimmest radios on the market today, this Galaxy offers you a full range of features. It incorporates the single-sideband capability on both the LSB and USB modes. It also presents you with RF Gain function that excellently blocks the statics and interferences for crisp-clear sound.
We also like the unit’s pleasing blue backlit display that lets you easily read it without fatiguing your eyes, especially when riding at night.
Don’t forget that this unit also presents you with a built-in SWR meter that makes it easy to correctly tune your antenna for enhanced reception. It even has an SWR alert to let you know when your antenna system isn’t working right.
The variable power output is also a great addition to this radio that you might not find in most of the mobile radios out there. Other features include talkback, variable control dimmer, and variable mic.
4. President Electronics AM/SSB Transceivers CB Radio
The President Electronics AM/SSB also made it to our top-rated SSB CB radio reviews. This unit also comes packed with a load of high-end features, keeping it ahead of competitors in terms of quality and performance.
When you purchase this CB radio, you’ll have a really easy time tuning the antenna, thanks to the built-in SWR meter. With a properly tuned antenna, you’ll make stable transmissions and hear or be heard by other CBers crystal-clearly.
The radio has the 40 channel capability, so it enables you to access all the stations of a CB radio. When you consider the fact that it also comes with a built-in SSB feature, you’ll get to enjoy even more channels and talk to other users far from you than what you can get with a basic CB unit.
The radio also comes optimized with features that make it 100% user-friendly and easy to operate. These include the automatic SWR reading Zero In “Beep” for easy antenna tuning, automatic squelch control, the scan feature, dual-channel watch, and even memory channels.
For your own convenience, this unit gives you access to the Weather channels (with severe weather alert) to ensure you stay safe when on the road.
5. AnyTone AT-5555N 10 Meter Amateur Radio
The last spot in our SSB CB radio reviews goes to this 10 Meter amateur radio from AnyTone. This is an excellent radio that comes with multiple high-end features at half the price of what you’ll get in the top-end models, making it the ideal unit for the money.
You’ll enjoy the large LCD display that comes with this radio; it displays large numbers of easy reading, and its yellow background color makes it highly retable in any lighting condition. The panel not only displays the channel but a variety of other helpful data at a go.
Like all the other radios mentioned above, this unit also offers you advanced features. These include the RF Gain control—a sensitivity function that blocks out static and interferences for clearer transmissions. It also features a built-in automatic noise limiter and SWR meter for easy antenna tuning.
You’ll also appreciate that the unit has larger rubber controls that feel comfortable in your hand, ensuring easy operation. Overall, the SSB radio feels quite rugged and durable compared to most of its competitors.
What To Look For Before Buying?
The process of choosing the best SSB radio is relatively similar to that of a standard CB radio. The KEY factors you should consider when looking for an SSB radio include:
Imagine trying to read the SSB CB radio display screen that doesn’t have any kind of lighting at night or in low light conditions? This is doubtlessly going to give you a lot of problems with accessing the current channel frequency and other info displayed on the screen. Luckily, you can have an easy experience with your radio if you look for a unit that comes with backlit display for easy display reading in any light conditions.
How big or small a unit is should also influence your choice of SSB-enabled CB radio. If you plan to mount your new radio on your small off-roader with limited cab space, say a jeep wrangler, then you should go for a compact unit so that it doesn’t give you a hard time installing it. If you plan to use the unit in your truck, in the RV, or as a base station in a building, then you can look for a bigger model.
Yes, a unit with squelch control is also worth your attention. Why? Because this function can help reduce the static on an incoming transmission so that you can enjoy clearer communication. The function saves you from having to continually listen to static and only activates your radio speaker when a true transmission is received.
Automatic noise limiter
Does the unit you plan to buy list ANL (automatic noise limiter) as one of its top features? If yes, you should include it in your list of top choices. This is because the ANL feature plays a significant role in filtering out the notorious static in CB radios, engine noise, and even other interferences from the reception signal. The result is improved signal reception and a boost in sound quality (for crystal-clear conversations).
A CB radio that features weather capabilities means it can access the local NOAA radio stations. This means you’ll get real-time weather updates and reports so that you’ll be able to prepare yourself for the changing weather patterns in time. Or it can help save you from driving into bad weather.
Instant channel 9 and 19 access
Another thing that defines the perfect CB radio is its ability to instantly jump from the current channel to the instant emergency channel 9 or information channel 19. The access to channel 9 means you’ll receive emergency broadcasts. In contrast, channel 19 is the truckers' unofficial channel for crucial info such as accidents, road constructions, traffic tie-ups, and other situations that might affect your trip. Most of the top-rated units achieve this by providing you with a button/switch that you can use to instantly jump from the station to these helpful channels.
Another convenient feature that you’ll find helpful in your SSB CB radio is the channel scan. Just like your radio scan, this function scans all the available channels in your unit for activity. And when it finds an active channel—with people talking—it stops the scanning process and lets you listen.
The most significant benefit of this feature is that you can look for conversations without having to manually flip through these channels. For drivers, it means you don’t need to stop your vehicle in order to scan your radio.
Other nice to have features in an SSB radio are listed below:
How To Use SSB CB Radio?
If it’s your first time using an SSB CB radio, then you might get all confused about where to start and whether the operation is the same for your old standard CB unit.
We have put across a few tips below to help you get quickly started operating your new SSB-enabled unit.
Using an SSB isn’t complicated, as you might be thinking. BEFORE you get started, keep the following key tips in kind:
1. Basics and etiquette of SSB operation
It’s important to understand that you can only transmit to another user with SSB radio. In other words, the regular CB radio (AM) and SSB (single sideband) do not get along well. Each can cause interference on another user’s radio. The standard CB radio causes a loud squeal on an SSB CB radio.
Due to this issue, the SSB CB users stick to channel 16 and channels 34 thro’ 40. Although regular CB users also use these channels, you’ll find fewer of them on these upper channels. And there’s less squealing to deal with.
2. How to operate your SSB CB radio
To get started running your SSB CB radio, tune to any unofficial SSB CB channel, say 37, and then choose either the lower or upper sideband from the selector switch.
Next, use the clarifier function to tune your radio until you can hear a clear and understandable voice.
To initiate a conversation on your SSB radio, simply say “CQ, CQ, this is…” You refer to yourself by making a “handle” such as a number or a “unit” call sign, like the ham radio operators do it.
You can make the handle using a number that’s familiar to you, e.g., your age, followed by the world unit. For instance…“CQ, CQ, from Unit 44.” You’ll find some operators referring to themselves as “Lone Ranger” and all the other kinds of handles. There are no specific rules on how you can refer to yourself since using this radio doesn’t require you to be licensed.
3. How far can you transmit with your SSB channel?
As we have mentioned several times before, the SSB radios differ from regular CB radios in that they concentrate more signals into a smaller amount of frequency. This translates to a higher power output of up to 12 Watts. For this reason, SSBs allow you to talk more extended distances. But the FCC limits the maximum reach to 155 miles.
Though you might still hear some users calling “CQ DX” on high-power SSB radios, it’s worth keeping in mind that the DX hobby is totally illegal in the US.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I need SSB CB?
If you’re a radio enthusiast who wants to extend the limits of a basic CB radio, then you’ll need to use a good-quality SSB channel as it boasts farther transmission range and more channels access.
If you’re only interested in a radio that enables you to connect with local CB users or just want to access the emergency broadcast and local weather channels, then you might want to stick to a standard CB radio.
Still at it, keep in mind that SSB CB radios are a bit costlier than the regular CB radios. This means, if you have a limited budget, you’d want to stick to the basic units.
Q: What is the range of a SSB CB radio?
The FCC restricts the maximum transmission range of an SSB CB radio to 155 miles. However, keep in mind that how far your unit can transmit depends on your antenna efficiency, amount of power transmitting/receiving the signal, and the terrain (are there any mountains, building?)
If you want to maximize your SSB radio range, make sure you have a good-quality antenna, the right SWR (i.e., a correctly tuned antenna), and transmit in an open area without any obstructions.
Q: Who makes the best SSB-enabled CB radios?
There are multiple manufacturers of CB radios with single sideband (SSB) capability. However, a few of them stand from the rest in terms of performance, features, and overall build quality. Some of the top manufacturers to consider include the Cobra, Galaxy, Connex, and Uniden.
The CB radios with SSB capability allow you to transmit 3times more power than the standard CB radio. This results in an increased transmission range, enabling you to communicate with CBers far away from you. Now that we have shown you how to find the perfect SSB-enabled radio and some of the best CB radios with SSB capability you can order today, nothing should stand in your way of getting the best SSB CB radio that matches your unique needs and preferences.