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Best Shortwave Radios

There are many different makes and models of shortwave radios, and they vary greatly in cost, features, size, complexity, and other factors. There is no one "right" shortwave radio for everyone. The best shortwave radio for you depends primarily on your listening interests.

However, there are some features and specifications you should look for in any shortwave radio you consider. They are:

  • Frequency coverage. Shortwave frequencies are usually considered those from the upper end of the AM broadcasting band, 1700 kHz, up to 30 MHz. The minimum frequency coverage you should look for is 540 kHz to 30 MHz. Most shortwave radios sold today also tune down to 150 kHz, covering the longwave band.
  • Frequency Readout. Most shortwave radios sold today have a digital display showing the frequency the radio is tuned to. A few radios, usually less expensive models, have an analog "slide rule" frequency readout that does not indicate the precise frequency the radio is receiving. It can be very difficult and frustrating to find a station on a specific frequency without a digital display, so a digital frequency display should be a "must" for any shortwave radio you’re considering. However, an analog readout shortwave radio can make a good, inexpensive "spare" radio for traveling, etc.
  • Modes. Some shortwave radios tune only AM mode stations, and these can be satisfactory for listening to most shortwave broadcasting stations. However, SSB is used by a few broadcasting stations in addition to ham, aeronautical, military, and maritime communications. A shortwave radio that can receive SSB in addition to AM will greatly expand your listening options on shortwave.
  • Selectivity Options. Selectivity is discussed in more detail below, but you need to consider how many selectivity bandwidths you can select. Some portable receivers allow you to choose between "wide" and "narrow" selectivity bandwidths, while some desktop shortwave radios have as many as five selectivity bandwidths. Narrow selectivity bandwidths let you reduce interference from stations on adjacent frequencies, although the audio quality of the desired station will be reduced as the selectivity is narrowed.
  • Antenna Connections. Some portable radios come with a built-in telescoping antenna but have no provision for an external antenna. Other portable shortwave radios have a jack that let you connect an external antenna. Most tabletop shortwave radios have connectors for external antennas. These usually include connectors for antennas using 50 ohm coaxial cables and others for antennas using ordinary insulated "hook-up" wire. External antennas normally give better reception than built-in antennas, although built-in antennas are usually satisfactory for listening to major international broadcasting stations. However, built-in antennas give poor results inside buildings with steel frames, like a high-rise condominium or apartment buildings. In such cases, the ability to connect an external antenna (even it is only a few feet of wire outside a window) can make a significant improvement in reception.

Before you choose a radio you should priorities the features that you require. For example if you or the person you are buying a radio for is elderly, you may want a radio with nice clear easy to operate control knobs. Whilst a business man travelling the world and living out of a suitcase would want a compact, light, shortwave radio.

With so many different makes and models of shortwave radio, choosing one can be difficult if you don't understand the technical jargon. Shortwave radios vary greatly in cost, features, size and complexity. There is no one shortwave radio right for everyone and different people have different listening interests.

There are a few factors that you will need to know before considering a ‘AM FM Shortwave Radio’

Your Budget

Prices will vary depending on your needs. Do you want plenty of features, a wide coverage or a powerful receiver. Do you need portability? The size of the radio will also impact on the price.

A factor you should consider when selecting an ‘AM FM Shortwave Radio’ is how portable it is. Do you want a shortwave radio you can easily store, Maybe one that you can take with you on a camping expedition or other outdoor pursuit. Portable am fm sw radio’s are convenient, but they don’t have the strength you can get from a tabletop shortwave radio. A tebletop model is generally a lot heavier and larger, therefore, it is not convenient to carry in your backpack.

Frequency Considerations

One should consider the shortwave frequency range. While the am fm shortwave radio vary in their scope, shortwave frequency almost always ranges from 2300 to 26,100 kHz.

A good rule of thumb is to follow this minimal: Between 5730 and 21,850 kHz for an AM FM SW radio. If you are a CB Ham operator then SSB (Single Side Band) may be your choice, that is part of a lot of SW tuners. A digital frequency tuner is also an option if accuracy of tuning is needed. Digital tuners are more accurate than manual dial tuners.

Antenna Types

The built-in antennas of portable and pocket shortwave radios are adequate for picking up major international broadcasters, but are less effective for fainter signals. Another weakness is when trying to use them from within a steel frame building. A better reception will be received with a tabletop shortwave radio due to the external antenna jacks. It is possible, however, to purchase portable am fm shortwave radio with an external jack as well as a built-in antenna.

UK Sales Email or International Sales Email alternatively you can contact us on +44 (0)1256 76 66 00.

Simone Icough, Basic PLUS Author

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