1. Retekess V115 Portable AM FM Radio with Shortwave Radio
2. Eton Executive Traveler AM/FM/Longwave/Shortwave Radio with Auto Tuning Storage
3. TECSUN PL 380 DSP FM Stereo
4. Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion AM/FM Longwave & Shortwave Radio with SSB
5. C. Crane CC Skywave SSB AM, FM, Shortwave
Anyone who uses shortwave radio devices knows that they’re a super fun form of entertainment and a highly practical utility device at the same time. It doesn’t matter how you choose to use them, they’ve got a lot of benefits to offer. We spent countless hours searching through the internet comparing features and performing research to present you with a fully comprehensive overview of what these products are and how they work. We want to help you find the best one out there to suit your needs.
If you’re ready to find out how to compare one of these products from another and even what the five best options available on the market are, then simply read on and we’ll instil you with every ounce of knowledge you could ever need about these massively versatile audio devices.
What Is a Shortwave Radio?
Radios of this variety have been in use since the early 1900’s, making them one of the oldest forms of audio technology still in production today. They’ve been used for many varied purposes over the years and are suitable for fulfilling a plethora of different roles. As the name may imply, these radio types can only pick up signals produced using small wave bands. These wave bands are not the same type being used by larger commercial stations or what you might call “popular” radio. This makes for a very unique listening experience.
It’s first worth mentioning that certain services and communications take place exclusively using short wave technology including emergency services, weather reporting, and even political messages that have been encrypted. When it comes to emergency services and weather reports, at the very least, you may wish to freely access this information if you’re planning any long excursions in the great outdoors and you want to keep up with current developments in the area to stay safe.
As for other functions, lesser known media channels and other outlets broadcasting everything from religious to philosophical content can be found within these niche sound waves and they even provide an effective means to communicate with others long distance should you desire to do so. Whatever your preferences are, it’s important that you can find a radio that can fulfil your desired function effectively and for a long duration of time. That’s why we’re now going to move onto the key features to compare when shopping for a short wave radio.
How to Pick the Right Shortwave Radio
In this section, we want to outline what we feel are the most vital areas to consider when browsing through the market for the best short wave radio. By the time you’ve read through to the end, you should feel fully equipped to make an effective product decision that’ll serve your precise needs and preferences for using this type of radio technology.
Does It Have a Synchronous Detector?
You might be wondering what on earth one of these is, and you wouldn’t be alone if this is the case. To put it in very simple terms, a detector like this allows you to effectively lock in on a radio signal and play the audio back while cutting out background noise in the process. This makes for the tidiest listening experience possible and is a must-have feature if crystal clear audio clarity is required.
What Kind of Display Does It Have?
If you’re just using your radio at home, then you probably don’t need a super high tech LCD display to get the most out of your technology, but if you’re planning to use it for potential emergency situations, then this suddenly becomes a crucial area to consider. The best displays make for an accessible and easily navigable radio experience. Benefits you’d welcome if you were stuck in a high stress emergency and wanted to make use of your radio quickly and efficiently.
You’re going to find that you can tune your radio using either a knob or buttons. Sometimes you’ll have the luxury of both, but this isn’t common. This means that you’ll have to decide which mechanism works best for you. It’s worth noting that knobs are widely regarded as being more accurate than buttons.
Additional Antenna Jack
An antenna is what essentially allows you to pick up the signal when using a radio. Though some models have effective inbuilt antennas, they aren’t always very reliable, thus requiring additional support in the form of an extra antenna. Some radios have extra jack sockets for you to install an additional antenna as a means of improving your radio’s ability to pick up signals effectively.
The build quality of your radio is important if you want it to withstand extended outdoor or even indoor use and still project effective audio signals without impedance. For light residential purposes, cheaper models will suffice, but for outdoor use, it’s wise to spend more for a better build. The higher the quality of the material and construction of your radio the longer it’ll last for and the more it’ll be able to withstand.
Some of the best models feature both AM and FM modes for maximum versatility, which just means that you can massively expand your listening options. This can makes what would ordinarily be quite a restrictive device very dexterous. This leads to more entertainment options as well as practicality.
Weight and Size
These areas are important if you’re planning to take your radio on excursions with you as a bulky and weighty unit is going to cumbersome and difficult to carry around. Not only will you notice it while carrying your bag, but it’ll also take up space that could have been used for other items. If you’re using the radio at home, then these two points become slightly more irrelevant, but for outdoor use, you need to pick something lightweight and compact.
The more frequencies your device can pick up, the more listening options you’ll have at your disposal. Typically, radios like this will pick up a range between 1.3 and 30 MHZ, but you can find some that cover more. Whether you need more listening options or not is entirely down to personal preference, but especially for entertainment purposes, the more choice you have, the better.
As with any product, when you’re looking for the best short wave radio, opting for a product that has been created by a well known-brand name can be an effective way to guarantee optimum quality.
Though this certainly isn’t always the case, it’s safe to say that there’s something massively reassuring about spending your money on an item that is already being used to great satisfaction by thousands of other people.
The following manufacturers are all known to engineer outstanding products within this niche: Sangean, Sony, Tecsun, Retekess, Eton, SSB, Kaito, Midland. Any product purchased from any of the above manufacturers is likely to deliver utmost quality and satisfaction.
Top 5 Best Shortwave Radios
In this section, we’re going to present you with what we feel are unquestionably the five best options currently on the market for anyone looking for a highly effective shortwave radio that’ll tick all the boxes. All of the options here have been included because they’re particularly strong in certain areas, though they are all reliable all round options as well. Any of them will meet your satisfaction requirements.
1. Our Pick: Retekess V115 Portable AM FM Radio with Shortwave Radio
- V115 transistor radio
- Built in three languages
- Portable shortwave radio
- AM FM radio
This is an absolutely outstanding option that packs an incredible number of features into a compact unit that can fit into a shirt pocket. For the money, it’s quite unbelievable what you’re getting with this offering from Retekess. First, we’ll address the basics. You’ve got both AM and FM compatibility here, meaning that your listening options are enormous as are the practical functions on offer with this radio. It makes for a perfect entertainment device or a practical tool to use when exploring the great outdoors.
- Insane value for the price
- Lots of additional features
- Compact enough to take anywhere
- Caters for different languages
- Not the most robust of products
- Might offer more features than most people need
It’s the massively expanded options here including the ability to record audio, use the inbuilt speakers for mobile playback and even the variety of languages on offer that make this one of the most versatile offerings on the market. If there’s a negative at all, it’d be the build quality. Because it’s small, it isn’t necessarily going to withstand repeated impact damage and the housing itself isn’t very robust. Still, there’s a great deal on offer here for the money.
Public Review Summary: This radio is very loud but has a high quality sound at the same time. It is compact and has clear and easy MP3 operation. Another pro is the 99 memory settings. FM and AM both work great. But the SW reception isn’t that good and doesn’t work properly all the time.
2. Best for Travelling: Eton Executive Traveler AM/FM/Longwave/Shortwave Radio with Auto Tuning Storage
- Travel radio
- Continuing a legacy
- Versatile and portable
- Stay safe and have fun
This is absolutely one of the best shortwave radios ever made for those who want to travel safely and effectively. It even comes with a stylish and elegant high-quality carry case so that it’s well-protected while not looking out of place regardless of your on-the-go fashion choices. Because you can tap into both AM and FM, you’ve got a hugely versatile device for playback here combined with a practical world map display that shows different time zones and a selector knob for choosing different countries to optimise playback based on your current location.
- Great looking device and case
- Easily the most extensively tailored travelling radio
- Very straight forward functionality
- Works perfectly for both entertainment and travel information
- Limited tuning options
- No rechargeable battery option
The build quality is thick plastic and highly durable, meaning that it’ll last regardless of where you take it and the interface is incredibly easy to use thus ensuring maximum accessibility. The price is also quite cheap considering the practicality on offer. If there’s a negative then it comes in the form of a lack of broader features when compared to other products, but it’s perfect for what it’s designed for.
Public Review Summary: It can reach stations for about 200 miles away and has a lot of features. AM and FM work well and the radio displays content information for participating FM stations (call letters, format, song titles, etc.). The quality of sound is on a high level. The only downside is that it doesn’t receive SSB and some customers admit that it is complicated in usage.
3. Best for Ease Usage: TECSUN PL-380 DSP FM Stereo
- Seven tuning modes
- Light and snooze function
- Small and exquisite design
- Includes additional accessories
For the practically-minded person who wants a super easy to use option that’s pretty self-explanatory straight out of the box, this offering from Tecsun is going to tick that box very nicely thanks to its accessible interface and large LCD display. The sturdy unit housing allows for extended on the go use, making this a great travelling companion, and the selectable seven different tuning modes means that you can hone in on your preferred radio signal no matter where you are.
- There’s an included 1-year warranty
- Very easy to use
- Robust and durable housing
- LCD display is large and easy to read
- More expensive than some other basic options
- No AM frequency pickup
There are some useful additional accessories that serve as a welcome bonus including a carry case and ear phones to make playback and transportation more effective. Not only that, but features like a light and snooze function plus a carrying handle make it very easy to use. Compared to some other options, it’s a little pricy considering that it’s relatively basic. But as a reliable pick up and use option, it’s incredibly hard to find better out there.
Public Review Summary: This radio is small and compact. AM is sensitive and FM works great. It also comes with ear buds, a carrying pouch, and SW antenna. Variable selectivity filters work pretty well. Construction is well-made and sturdy, but some customers admit that it can have problems with working.
4. Best for Tuning Options: Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion AM/FM, Longwave & Shortwave Radio with SSB
- 24-hour alarm clock
- Full range coverage
- Powered by a single rechargeable battery
- 4&5 selectable bandwidth filters
Another great product from Tecsun, this PL880 model radio proves itself to be the most efficient for pin point accurate tuning options thanks to the variety of means it provides you with to hone in on your preferred frequency. You’ve got full AM/FM coverage on offer, meaning an optimised frequency range with excellent quality audio in the process to serve both your entertainment and travel information needs should you wish to use the device for either purpose.
- Massive array of tuning options
- Highly effective as an entertainment and travel solution
- Simple and easy to use
- Can freely stand on any flat surface for convenience
- Not as many additional features as other option
- Design isn’t as stylish and compact as some other offerings
A built-in alarm clock function is welcome and the fact that it’s powered by a rechargeable battery means that you’re going to make some big savings in the long run due to not having to constantly replace batteries. An included stand at the back of the radio allows it to stand freely on any flat surface, but like the rest of the products, the housing it isn’t necessarily the most durable and hard wearing of builds. For a simple, effective, and precise option, though, it’s hard to beat.
Public Review Summary: People admit that this radio has incredible sound quality. The tuning is super easy and memory assignment is good. Tuning controls are smooth and solid without any play on their shaft. Comes in the box with a carrying case, USB cables, antennas, and earbuds. The only thing it has quite weak AM and short wave reception.
5. Best Premium Option: C. Crane CC Skywave SSB AM, FM, Shortwave
- Clock with 12 and 24-hour format
- Direct frequency entry
- Digitally tuned multiband receiver
- One of the smallest multiband radios with SSB
This is absolutely the best option on the market for anyone who wants to spend a little extra money to get the most effective shortwave radio possible with a host of high quality features to match the price tag. If you’re looking for something that you could rely on in an emergency situation without question, then this highly refined unit with a super sensitive multi-band receiver will deliver every ounce of travel information you could ever need and with crystal clear clarity.
- Incredibly high sound quality
- Very robust unit housing
- Includes additional accessories
- Very easy to use
- Very expensive compared to other options
- Doesn’t have as many features as you might expect for the money
As you can pick up pretty much any station anywhere, it’s also a great entertainment solution, too. The included ear buds and a high quality carry case only serve to enhance the premium experience on offer here and the housing even looks very high-end with its textured matte finish. With a run time of between 60-70 hours depending on ear bud use, there’s really not a great deal left to be desired here. The only down side of course is the price, but it’s to be expected given the quality on offer.
Public Review Summary: This radio works for a long time just on a couple of AA rechargeable batteries. It is compact and comfortable to take on the road. The sensitivity is very good with features to reduce noise along the way. AM and FM works well and it also has SSB. But at the same time, people are disappointed with quality and say that it is cheaply made and can stop working fast.
Types of Shortwave Radios
In this section, we’re going to summarise the different types of shortwave radios available on the market so that you’re aware of the full range of options at your disposal. This will help you to establish which variety is truly going to suit your preferences the most before you make a final purchase decision.
Whilst being slightly bulkier than their portable counterparts, a desktop short wave unit is capable of offering a much more well-rounded sound quality and array of features due to the product housing accommodating a wider array of internal technology. This can make them useful for all home or office-based options for entertainment or weather updates.
As the name implies, these product types offer a perfect portable solution for those wanting to use their radio for entertainment and weather updates on the go. They don’t offer the audio quality of desktop variants, but they’ll usually more than meet the requirements of the majority of users.
Very similar to a desktop radio, tabletop radios are based on much older technology and offer a clearer display and interface that some individuals prefer. Their audio quality isn’t regarded as being the best, but an additional antenna can easily resolve this.
Software Defined Models
These radio types make extensive use of digital technology to massively expand the number of audio options and features that they present to the user. Though slightly more expensive than most traditional radio types, they’re often worth the money for the enhanced practicality they offer.
All-in-one units allow the user to make use of the AM and FM frequencies and make the perfect in home entertainment solution. They’re also entirely capable of providing excellent weather update assistance.
Best Shortwave Radio FAQ
In this section, we’re going to list the five most commonly asked questions that prospective short wave radio buyers have before making a purchase so that we can provide you with the total peace of mind you need to make a final purchase decision. We’ve ensured that the answers are conclusive enough to leave no stone unturned regarding any uncertainty you might have about these products.
Why are shortwave radios different to longwave radios?
They both cover different wave lengths. Long waves cover up to 150 metres and short wave variants cover up to 85 metres, thus impacting the number of frequencies they can pick up and tune into.
Can i use a shortwave radio as a ham radio?
It depends on the type of model you’re using. Ham radios offer two-way communication, therefore this would require that your short wave or ham radio could integrate the features of the other radio type respectively. If this was the case, then yes, you could.
Do you need a licence to use a shortwave radio?
No, luckily not. No licence is required.
What should i use my shortwave radio for?
The best shortwave radio varieties can be used for entertainment purposes, weather and travel update purposes, or a combination of the two.
Are Shortwave Radios Waterproof?
This depends on the model type. Not all products are weather resistant, so always check manufacturer specifications before buying to see if it’ll withstand extended outdoor periods in the rain.
Now that you’ve read through to the end of our guide on how to buy the most satisfactory short wave radio variety, we hope that you feel completely confident about making a product decision using the key comparison features we laid out for you.
Radios of this type can be used either for practical travel information on the go or as a one-stop entertainment source for you and your family to utilise while you’re going about your daily lives. Regardless of your preferences, this is still highly relevant audio technology being used to great satisfaction all over the world.