Last Updated on October 30, 2020

Shortwave radios are receivers efficient in getting transmissions that vary between 0, 5, and 30 MHz. These are fantastic for long ranges and this is the reason shortwave radios are used for worldwide broadcasts. You may come across the expression “world band radio,” which may be a bit confusing at first, but that’s just how shortwave radios are typically referred to as.

These radios are excellent options for relay stations and communication during emergency scenarios. After hours of tinkering around and testing them, we have narrowed down our top 10, but the best one has to be Tecsun PL-380.

We also cover the following in our extremely detailed and helpful article:

  • Quick recap of why the radio is on our list
  • In-depth review of featured best shortwave radio with quick specifications, pros, and cons.
  • Factors to consider when buying a shortwave ham radio

Quick Summary: 9 Best Shortwave Radio  

Our editors go through and research, test and qualify our recommended products. We receive commissions on purchases from certain links.

  1. Best Overall 1. TECSUN PL-380
    Efficient audio quality with LCD screen and seven types of tuning mode for the users’ convenience, making it preferable for frequent travelers.
  2. Runner-Up: 2. Tecsun PL880
    Shortwave radio with impressive filters with the option of choosing from multiple bandwidth settings with additional features on the buttons.
  3. Best Value for Money: 3. Kaito KA500
    Solar and electric powered short waves radio with 24-hours of weather forecasting other than seven different preset channels.
  4. Best Sound Quality:  4. Tecsun PL-360
    Efficient shortwave radio technology with clear sound quality and ferrite antenna for enhanced capturing of signals.
  5. Best Affordability:  5. Kaito KA321
    Simple installation settings with Digital Signal Processing and external antenna allowing long-distance coverage.
  6. Best Features:  6. Sony ICF-SW7600GR
    Shortwave reception FM band with a PLL circuit with a multi-brand stereo system with a basic display screen and AB built-in button for preventing unwanted changes.
  7. Best Compact:  7. Retekess V115
    Popular with large screen display and built-in speakers for multiple recording styles and micro SD card slot for data storage.
  8. Best Functionality:  8. Sangean ATS-909X
    Compact, portable shortwave radios with alarm clock facility and multiple snoozing options and built-in battery and tone control.
  9. Best Charging:  9. Kaito Voyager Pro KA600
    NOAA receiving corded electric cum solar radio with four types of tuning techniques and numerous stations storing memory.

Frequency Coverage: FM: 87 ~ 108MHz, MW: 522 ~ 1620kHz, LW: 153KHz to 513KHz, SW: 2300kHz to 21950kHz
Power Source: DC
Dimensions: 5.31 x 1.02 x 3.39 inches
Weight: 0.44 Pounds
Price: $$

Our Pick

One of the fantastic features that TECSUN PL-380 offers is its package along with the necessary accessories.

Highlights

Along with a stereo earphone, it consists of an external antenna, a carrying pouch, and a user’s manual. The short wave radio requires two Lithium-ion batteries and its remaining charge displays on the screen. 

As it is compact, the radio is convenient to carry along, especially for avid travelers. Another feature to look out for is its seven different types of tuning mode, thus making the process much more easier. Along with auto-scanning and east tuning mode, it also offers jog dial, presetting, memory presetting, and direct address entry tuning.

The LCD exhibits all the essential details of the channel along with the preset tuning mode. You can also set the timings as per 12 hour or 24-hour format. The power on/off button on the front side gives the user the reliability to turn it as and when required. Also, it saves charge of the battery.

Its keylock functions enable you to relax peacefully without worrying about accidental changes in the settings. For further convenience, it has provisions for attaching a USB cable although the cable is not included.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • It uses a DSP circuit with multiple band provision.
  • Utilizes silicon microchips to convert the broadcasting signal.
  • The new addition of the frequency band does not replace the previous ones.
  • Specific channel setting for alarm snoozing.

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • Buttons are a bit small and emit a loud tone.

Frequency Coverage: FM: 64-108 MHz, SW: 1711-29999 kHz, AM: 520-1710 kHz, LW: 100-519 kHz
Power Source: AC & Battery
Dimensions: 7.56 x 1.3 x 4.45 inches
Weight: 1.15 pounds
Price: $$$

Runner Up

If you want to make the best investment, you will not be disappointed with Tecsun PL880 as far as shortwave radios are concerned.

Highlights

It’s an outstanding shortwave radio from every aspect. It provides broad coverage of frequencies, 4 selectable bandwidth filters on AM and it includes SSB. It can be powered via AC or battery and comes with an alarm clock that operates 24/7.

The shortwave reception on the PL880 is outstanding as the radio can neatly filter through unnecessary signals to receive the ones that matter. The SSB works as good as you can expect and it’s not at all difficult to tune thanks to various fine-tuning knobs. The reception for SSB is also clear.

Moreover, there are eight bandwidths offered by this radio and they can be found in 2 groups. One is for the AM mode, which can also be used for shortwave, and the other is set for SSB and sync modes. AM sounds extremely clear and comprehensive due to the broad 9KHz filter which provides a remarkable degree of clarity comparable to that of FM.

Overall, the radio has 2 knobs for tuning speed for all bands, a volume control knob, a switch for shortwave, and a Hi/Lo Tone switch. This radio is powered by AC and battery and features a high-quality charger that will quickly charge the battery and automatically stop when it reaches 100%. Last but not least, a wire antenna and a set of earbuds come along with the purchase in addition to a handy case for carrying the radio around.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Provision of a USB port and 3.5mm audio jack
  • Smooth operation of the tuning wheels
  • Display light for convenience in darker areas
  • The impressive audio quality of the built-in speaker

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • Bandwidth dysfunctions while narrowing
  • Difficult to charge in remote areas where electricity can be an issue

Frequency Coverage: FM: 88 – 108 MHz, AM: (MW): 530 -1710 kHz, SW: 3.20 – 22 MHz
Power Source: Corded-Electric, Solar Battery
Dimensions: 8.82 x 5.83 x 2.83 inches
Weight: 1.4 pounds
Price: $$

Best Value for Money

If you are planning to invest in a shortwave travel radio, the Kario KA500 is appropriate for you.

Highlights

It has a rechargeable battery and can be charged by both electric supply and solar means. Being a self-powered radio, it charges itself on receiving sufficient sunlight. It comes with a preset of seven channels, so you are good to go as soon as you make the purchase.

With the provision of 5 LED lamps, it makes the surroundings brighter and is definitely convenient for the user in case of no lighting. With fully charged batteries, you can run it for hours on end. Apart from it, the shortwave radio also consists of a LED flashlight.

For complete coverage of the frequency, the Kario KA500 uses two bandwidth for frequency allocation within the spectrum; you can earn advertising fees. The inclusion of a USB port makes the radio ideal for charging batteries of a cell phone. It just requires the connection of the phone to the radio with a USB cable.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Ideal for carrying around to different places
  • Includes a LED emergency light
  • Its long antenna enhances reception
  • Built-in speakers for better sound quality

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • Shortwave behavior depends on solar activity
  • Batteries and USB cable not included

Frequency Coverage: FM: 87-108MHz, AM: 520-1710, SW: 2300-21950 kHz
Power Source: DC
Dimensions: 6.26 x 1.02 x 2.09 inches
Weight:  4.5 ounces
Price: $$

Best Sound Quality

Keeping up with the changing technology, the Tecsun PL-360 has the brilliant idea of integration of DSP for enhanced performance.

 Highlights

For maintaining signal strength and connectivity in the channels, it utilizes an oscillation controller, which forms a phase-locked loop circuit.

For convenient usage, it consists of an easy-tuning button, which helps in providing a more straightforward user interface. It takes up less time and effort in setting up the channels. It is a unique method and can combine both the reception circuit and its controlling procedure.

For smooth transmission of radio signals and uninterrupted radio waves, the antennas form an integral part. As the antenna is a ferrite one, it can broadcast receivers with various lengths of shortwaves. It functions on three pieces of Lithium-ion AA battery.

With clear sound quality and uninterrupted signals, it provides the user with the a smooth listening experience. It can scan all the signals available in the area with comprehensive tuning. Thus, providing you with various modes for connecting to a station.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Ideal for traveling 
  • Effortless ways of connecting the channels
  • Provision of a USB port for recharging mobiles
  • Includes a stereo earphone for continued entertainment

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • Dependency on batteries

Frequency Coverage: FM: 64.0 MHz – 108.0 MHz, MW: 522 KHz – 1710 KHz, SW: 5.70MHz – 21.95 MHz
Power Source: Battery
Dimensions: 4.75 x 0.75 x 3 inches
Weight: 4 Ounces
Price: $$

Best Affordability

Due to its smaller size, the Kaito KA321 is more manageable to carry and resembles a similar size to that of analog radio sets.

Highlights

It has a carrying strap included with the pack, which you have the option to attach or detach. It does not require any sort of complex installation. 

The circuit is in the form of a Digital Signal Processing that filters and stops band exhaustion and fading. With the higher accuracy level, the circuit helps in maintaining firm control. The provision of a tuning knob allows in an effortless and faster function. 

It allows you to plug in a stereo headphone for clear audio amidst a crowded area and for privacy as well. A switch on/off button enables a simple power supply. The telescopic antenna converts the voltage into radio signals and has a broad coverage of 64-108Mhz.

The right side of the radio has tuning buttons for finding the singles of the available radio stations. It enables you to set it as per your choice and location. Tuning is quite manageable in darker areas as it has an LED light attached. 

WHAT WE LIKED

  • The circuit follows a DSP structure
  • Enhanced signal reception
  • Requires two AA batteries
  • Consists of a built speaker

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • No LCDs
  • No USB port and neither any extra accessories

Frequency Coverage: FM: 87.6-108MHz; LW/MW/SW: 150-29,999kHz
Power Source: Corded-Electric, Battery
Dimensions: 7.50 x 1.25 x 4.75 inches
Weight: 1.34 pounds
Price: $$$

Best Features

Sony ICF SW Shortwave radio receiver functions on a phase-locked loop circuit which constantly adjusts its voltage to match with the input signal’s frequency.

Highlights

Even if the channels are noisy, you will receive modulated and recovered signals. Thus, proving to be efficient and operating without disruption. 

It can scan around 100 frequencies and will provide you with a broader range of channels to choose from. Moreover, with multiple tuning methods, the scanning of channels is manageable. It almost contains all the features that you would expect the radio to have.

The receiver uses a multi-brand stereo system and consists of a primary display just for the essentials. Whichever country you are in, you can receive a good reception of all available channels. Moreover, it also has a built-in button that does not allow any unwanted settings, which often occurs accidentally. Thus, the original settings function correctly.

You can attach your headphones in the 3.5mm jack and enjoy your space of entertainment. Ferrite bar antennas are adequate for coupling the electric connections and also provide sound clarity. You can also read the essential details of the channel on the LCD screen. 

WHAT WE LIKED

  • The self-scanning ability of the shortwave radio
  • Provision of displaying world clock
  • Pre-installed stations for instant usage
  • Extended battery life

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • The display screen is relatively small
  • Expensive

Frequency Coverage: FM:87-108MHz; AM: 522-1710 kHz (9k); 520-1710KHz (10k), SW: 4.75-21.85MHz
Power Source: DC
Dimensions: 4.7 x 3.1 x 0.9 inches
Weight: 5.6 ounces
Price: $$

Best Compact

One of the popular AM radio is the Retekess V115 providing you with all the essential features that you might be looking for.

Highlights

Its digital screen is large enough to read the details without straining the eyes. It has a built-in microphone that you can use for both line-in and radio recordings. 

Although small in size easy to carry around along with MP3 player settings. On edge, you will find a 3.5mm input area for attaching an aux cable. You can further connect it to another stereo system for sound effects. It has a high-quality bass speaker that is in-built in the radio. Thus, providing clear and impressive sound quality.

The radio features a 1000mAH lithium battery, and you can quickly recharge it with a charger. But the package does not include a charger, and you may use a compatible one. It comes loaded with preset radio stations both FM and AM for instant use. Its telescopic antenna serves its purpose relatively well for capturing signal strengths. 

You can insert a microSD card for storing your recordings or play your recorded items. It enables you to choose from different stations in both automatic and direct mode. Moreover, you can select a station by pressing the number keys on the keypad. Thus, you don’t have to waste time waiting until each station sets its frequency. 

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Tuning-mode locking system to prevent accidental changes
  • Sleep-timer for automatic power off
  • Manual input of specific frequencies

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • No alarm and snoozing facility
  • No time or clock display

Frequency Coverage: FM: 87.5 – 108, 76 – 108MHz LW: 153 – 519KHz, MW: 520 – 1710KHz, SW: 1.711 – 29.999, 120, 90, 75, 60, 49MHz
Power Source: AC & Battery
Dimensions: 8.17 x 5.31 x 1.63 inches
Weight: 1 pound
Price: $$$

Best Functionality

Apart from the sleek appearance of the radio, the Sangeanats -909X is compact and effortlessly portable.

Highlights

With its amazing sound for FM, it also performs well and can access far-reaching signals as well. It can itself search for stronger signals ranging in between SW stations.

The displaying screen is wide enough to show all necessary details, including the brand name, frequency, channel, and the alarm. Furthermore, the clock exhibits the time even when the radio is in its tuning phase, for your convenience.

You can adjust and set a timer for automatic sleep time, and it provides you with multiple options for alarm. You can set the wake-up time by either changing it to a buzzer, music channel or a news channel. You can convert the ATS device into a medium frequency band and a remote keyless system for storing data. 

It is equipped with a built-in battery charger for a manageable charging option. You can tune into your preferable channel with six varieties of tuning techniques. The radio already has around 400 preset stations, which you may auto scan for a quick start.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • PLL circuit enables it to generate multiple frequencies
  • Displays time of 42 different world cities
  • 3 inches speaker along with 3.5 mm headphone slot
  • Possibility to adjust the tone of a sound

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • SSB fine-tuning only till 40Hz
  • No noise reducing capability

Frequency Coverage: FM: 88 – 108MHz, MW:520-1710KHz, LW:150–521KHz, SW:2,300-23,000 kHz
Power Source: Corded-Electric, Solar, Battery
Dimensions: 9.5 x 2.25 x 5.5 inches
Weight: 1 Pound
Price: $$

Best Charging

If you’re looking for a shortwave radio that can receive both AM, FM, and NOAA weather signals, it is an apt choice. In terms of power, it can function on diverse options.

Highlights

It is a corded radio, and you can charge it through an electric power supply. Moreover, if you are traveling, you can use battery power. While in remote areas, you can rely on solar power.  

You can tune into various channels through four different methods. Thus, it provides you with diverse options for fine-tuning. It has memory space for 335 stations, and you can easily access them, instead of tuning every time.

It facilitates the display of the calendar, the alarm clock in both 12-hour and 24-hour frame along with settings for the sleep timer. It also has background light in the display screen for easy visibility in dark and low light areas. Thus, it is convenient for you if you are a frequent hiker or a camper. Being heavy, it comes with a sturdy handle for easy portability. Its ability to function as a digital thermometer and humidity meter provides an added feature. It enables you to access multiple weather channels for an instant update.

You can charge the built-in battery with an AC adapter and also has a USB port for fast charging. It has an average AM reception but excellent FM reception. Thus if you are looking for just listening to music stations, it is appropriate for you.  

WHAT WE LIKED

  • It has a 3.5mm headset port
  • Requires three pieces of Nickel-metal hydride batteries which are rechargeable
  • Follows standards of Radio Data System
  • Ideal for both daily use as well as emergencies

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • The radio is not water-resistant
  • Requires frequent charging

Our Pick Again

Efficient audio quality with LCD screen and seven types of tuning mode for the users’ convenience, making it preferable for frequent travelers.

Factors to Consider When Buying

Having the right combination of features can prove to be tremendously useful and helpful when investing in shortwave radio. Here are some important ones you ought to look out for when making the final decision:

 

Frequency Coverage

If you prefer a larger frequency range, this is the first thing you should be looking at when searching for your ideal shortwave radio. Although many feature frequencies in between 1, 6, and 50 MHz, there are some units with broader ranges which can be much better options.

Transmission Modes

Shortwave radios normally tune AM mode stations however it’s not unusual to discover some that can transmit via extra modes like SSB. If you get one with numerous modes, you can enjoy tuning into more broadcasts. (1)

Digital or Analog Output

The market supplies both radios with analog and digital frequency display screens. Analog is less expensive however if desire additional precision and clearness, digital readouts transcend so this is the suggested alternative.

Build Quality

The way a shortwave radio is constructed can be an essential element to consider. This is particularly the case if are looking for a durable design that you intend to bring along with your travels. It must be strongly-built to facilitate you accordingly during emergency situations. If portability is necessary for you, take note of information like size and dimensions since a small and lightweight radio can make a significant difference in some situations.

 Conclusion

Selecting the best among the list was quite tricky, but our top pick has to be the Tecsun PL-380. With being one of the best shortwave radio for travelers or radio enthusiasts, it is a fantastic device featuring a DSP circuit, LCD screen, and uses silicon microchips. Moreover, it has multiple tuning options and a unique alarm snoozing setting and is also cost-efficient. (2, 3)

You may also check our other guides such as best coax for HF ham radio, best spy camera, best multimeter, and a lot more.

Click here if you want to read more learning articles about electronics, home & garden, cars & travel. We hope these learning guides help you in your future purchases for a great device.

References

(1) SSB – https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-0-387-74886-3_7
(2) DSP circuit -https://www.analog.com/en/design-center/landing-pages/001/beginners-guide-to-dsp.html
(3) silicon microchips – https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/208501-what-is-silicon-and-why-are-computer-chips-made-from-it

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