5 Best Shortwave Radios (Reviews Updated 2022)

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The shortwave radio was developed in the early part of the 1900s and laid the foundation for wireless communication as we know it today. Of course, technology has come a long way since then, but shortwave radios are just as useful now as they were back when they were first invented.

A shortwave radio serves a variety of functions. You can use the device to listen to AM/FM radio stations and to pick up emergency as well as international broadcasts. You can use it as a ham radio, too! This handy device can do all of these things, and do them in remote locations, making them the ideal mode of communication when you’re in an area where cell signals are weak or non-existent. If you’re going camping, planning a hunting trip, or going to be in any location where you need a reliable way to stay connected, a shortwave radio is definitely a worthwhile investment.

If you’re looking for a shortwave radio, there’s no doubt that you are going to want to select the best device possible. There’s an endless array of options to choose from, so trying to narrow down the options can be a bit difficult. To help you, we’ve put together a list of the top five shortwave radios available:

Best Shortwave Radios


1. Eton Elite, The Classic AM/FM/LW/VHF/Shortwave Radio with Single Side Band

Eton EliteThe second option on our list of the best shortwave radios comes from Eton, a highly regarded manufacturer of advanced communication products. Marine VHF radios, two-way radios, and handheld HAM radios, mobile HAM radios are just a few of the different devices that they offer.

This shortwave radio utilizes RF direct sampling, which allows RF signals to be converted directly into digital data. That data is then processed in a Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), which simplifies the construction of circuits and minimizes noise that would normally overtake weak signals. In other words, with this shortwave radio, you’ll get crisp transmission on the weakest signals.

In addition to clear transmissions, this device is incredibly easy to use, thanks to the 4.3 inch LCD color touch screen interface and built-in auto tuner. The 100 watt transmitter features 10000 channels and can access SSB, CW, RTTY, AM, and FM modes. Other notable features include a built-in automatic antenna tuner, a multi-function meter, and full break-in, CW reverse, and CW auto tuning functions.

What We Like About It

  • It’s a direct sampling transceiver
  • Crisp transmission
  • Color LCD touch screen interface
  • 100 watt output power
  • Multi-function meter
  • Program in up to 1000 channels
  • Built-in automatic antenna tuner

Reasons to Complain

  • There were a few complains about the receiver; some users said that it overloads too easily
  • The price tag is pretty high

Final Verdict: The Eton Elite Direct Sampling Shortwave Radio is premium shortwave radio that features the most advanced technologies.

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2. C. Crane CC Skywave SSB

C. Crane Cc Skywave SsbNext up on our list of the best shortwave radios is the C. Crane CC Skywave SSB. It’s lightweight and compact, so it’s easy to transport, and the intuitive layout and array of features makes it incredibly easy to use. Plus, it’s very affordably priced, which is definitely an added bonus.

This shortwave radio boasts a total of five different bandwidths, including shortwave, medium wave, and air bands. It also gets great AM/FM reception. It can be used as a weather radio too, thanks to the weather and airband, so you can get the latest weather forecast any time.

The LCD screen glows orange and it clearly displays readings in all types of lighting and from all angles. The screen displays frequency or time, and you can opt to set either one as a default. This shortwave radio can also be used as an alarm clock and a timer. You can listen to transmissions on the built-in speaker or plug in a pair of ear buds (which are included). Power options include rechargeable batteries, two AA batteries, or an AC adapter.

What We Like About It

  • Small and lightweight for easy transport
  • Boasts five bandwidths on shortwave, medium wave, and air bands, including a weather air band
  • Can be used as a timer and alarm clock
  • Easy to use
  • Features a headphone jack
  • Very affordably priced

Reasons to Complain

  • Some users said that the sound quality of this shortwave radio was pretty poor

Final Verdict: The C. Crane CC Skywave SSB is a pocket-sized shortwave radio that offers an abundance of features and is very affordably priced. It’s easy to use and can pick up all types of signals, so you can stay connected no matter where you’re located.

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3. Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion Shortwave Radio with SSB

Tecsun Pl880 Portable Digital Pll Dual Conversion Shortwave Radio With SsbTecsun is a leader in the shortwave radio industry, so you can be sure that you are getting a premium quality product with their PL880 Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion Shortwave Radio with SSB. This device is an upgrade of their PL660, which is one of their most popular radios. While the PL880 is pricier than the previous model, it is much more powerful and offers crystal clear reception.

The Tecsun PL880  can pick up frequencies on four different bands, including LW, SW, AM, and FM. The device can pick up signals on all bands with ease and offers super crisp transmission. There is a broadband filtering array, which includes four AM options and one SSB option. This shortwave radio can also function as an alarm clock, complete with a sleep timer, which can be set up to 120 minutes.

The orange backlit screen displays band names, frequencies, time, and the remaining battery life; you can opt to turn off the backlight to converse battery power, if you’d like to. Powered by a lithium ion rechargeable battery,  this unit offers decent battery life; plus, it comes complete with the battery and a built-in charger.

It features both fine- and coarse-tuning knobs, so tuning is pretty easy and straightforward. This device can store an impressive 3050 stations, all of which can be instantly accessed with the push of a button. A telescopic antenna has the ability to draw in a tremendous amount of signals, too, so you’ll have no trouble connected to the desired station.

What We Like About It

  • Lightweight and compact for easy transport
  • Features an array of filtering abilities
  • Offers full range coverage, including shortwave, long wave, single side band, and AM/FM frequencies
  • Features a built-in alarm clock and sleep timer
  • Battery save function
  • Powered by a rechargeable battery
  • Easy to operate

Reasons to Complain

  • A few customers said that this shortwave radio wasn’t as durable as they hoped it would be
  • Others said that they received a defective device

Final Verdict: The Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion Shortwave Radio with SSB is a premium quality shortwave radio that offers the latest technologies and is outfitted with robust features. It’s compact and lightweight, easy to transport, and offers great reception.

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4. Retekess V115 Portable AM FM Radio

Retekess V115 Portable Am Fm RadioIf you’re on the market for a basic shortwave radio that offers reliable transmission, can be easily transported, and offers all of the necessary features, the Retekess V115 Portable AM FM Radio is definitely an option worth considering. This shortwave radio is the least expensive on our list, and it’s also the smallest in size; but, despite its small stature, it offers an impressive amount of functions and features.

This device is so compact that it could fit into a shirt pocket with ease; however, don’t let the small size make you think that this radio offers sub-par reception, because nothing could be further from the truth. This radio offers quite impressive transmission capabilities and can pick up frequencies from pretty impressive distances.

This radio can be pick up AM and FM transmissions, and it can also be used as an MP3 speaker; just plug in a AUX input and connect it to your MP3 player. There are a total of three built-in languages to choose from, including English, Spanish, and Chinese, and this unit is incredibly easy to use, thanks to the simple interface and the adjustable LCD backlit display.

What We Like About It

  • Lightweight and compact; can fit into a shirt pocket with ease
  • Picks up signals from great distances
  • Offers crisp transmission
  • Adjustable backlit LDC display
  • Can read MP3 files
  • Offers the ability to record from the radio into a micro memory card
  • Very affordably priced

Reasons to Complain

  • A few users said that the signal strength was weak
  • Others said that they had difficulty tuning to certain frequencies

Final Verdict: For an affordable, very lightweight and compact shortwave radio, the Retekess V115 Portable AM FM Radio is definitely an option worth considering. It offers a variety of convenient features, it’s easy to use, it’s very affordably priced, and it’s so small that it can fit into a pocket!

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5. Sangean ATS-405 FM/SW/MW/LW/ World Band Radio

Sangean ATS-909X2 The Ultimate FM/SW/MW/LW/Air Multi-Band RadioThe Sangean ATS-405 Ultimate FM/SW/MW/LW/ World Band Radio is an advanced shortwave radio that offers a wide array of enhanced features and is incredibly easy to use. The performance of this device is outstanding and it comes complete with all of the necessary accessories, as well as a few bonuses. Plus, since it’s made by Sangrean, the makers of a wide selection of high quality handheld two-way radios, emergency radios, worksite radios, and various other durable and advanced products, you can be sure that it is exceptionally well made.

This shortwave radio features 406 memory preset stations with an auto tuning system auto scan. Additional tuning methods include direct frequency, manual, memory recall, rotary, and fine tuning. This device searches for the strongest signal station, so you can have confidence knowing that you’ll receive the best transmission.

There’s a headphone jack, too, so you can either listen to transmissions via the speaker or plug the included earbuds. The backlit display screen is easy to read in all types of lighting. It also comes with an array of accessories, including an AC adapter, an SW antenna, and a carrying case. Other useful features include a built-in battery charger, a signal battery strength indicator, and a switch AC adapter. There are three alarm options, too, as well as an adjustable sleep timer.

What We Like About It

  • Features 108 preset channels
  • Offers an array of tuning options
  • The backlit LCD screen is easy to read
  • Great sensitivity
  • Clear reception
  • Comes with an array of accessories
  • Affordably priced

Reasons to Complain

  • A few users said that it was difficult to operate
  • Others said that randomly switched channels

Final Verdict: If you’re looking for an affordable, feature-rich shortwave radio that offers clear transmission, the Sangean ATS-909X2 Ultimate FM/SW/MW/LW/Air Multi-Band Radio is a great option to consider. It offers an abundance of preset channels, ample tuning options, and boasts an array of features and accessories.

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The Best Shortwave Radio: A Buyer’s Guide

Best Shortwave Radio ReviewsShortwave radios can receive radio transmissions and frequencies up to as much as 30 MHz; frequencies that can be transmitted over great distances, which is why they are often used to pick up international broadcasts and are also referred to as world band radios. Since these radios can receive transmissions over such long ranges, they are well-suited for emergency communication or any other communication over great distances. Whether you’re working on a remote jobsite, you spend a lot of time in the wilderness, or you just want to have a way to stay updated with events in emergency situations, a shortwave radio is a great investment.

Factors to Consider

If you’re planning on investing in a shortwave radio, there are a number of factors that you’re going to want to take into consideration before you select one. Considering these factors will help you choose a radio that best meets your needs:

  • Desktop or portable. Shortwave radios are available in desktop and portable models. If you are planning on using the device in a stationary location and want the most powerful reception possible, consider a desktop model; however, if you are going to be using your radio while you’re traveling, a portable option is the obvious choice. While portable radios aren’t as powerful as desktop devices, they are mobile and they often offer more features.
  • Shortwave radios usually tune into AM frequencies, many models can transmit different modes, such as SSB. The more modes, the more broadcasts you’ll be able to pick up.
  • The methods used for tuning may not seem like a big deal, but it does make a difference in the ease of use of the device. Shortwave radios can feature either tuning knobs or buttons; however, there are some that offer both. Many people prefer knobs, as they allow for more flexibility, but button tuning does offer benefits too.
  • The antenna is important, as it’s what allows a shortwave radio to pick up transmissions. Generally, the longer the antenna, the better the reception. Also, consider the construction of the antenna, as you want it to be durable and easy to adjust.

Summing It Up

A shortwave radio is a handy device that can keep you updated with the latest information; plus, it can be used for sheer entertainment. Whatever the reason is that you are considering a shortwave radio, it’s important that you invest in a high quality, reliable device. All of the options on our list are well-made, feature-rich, and easy to use. No matter what your needs may be, you’ll be sure to find a shortwave radio in this review that will work for you.

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