All About Shortwave Radio Receivers (And Best Ones to Buy)

Are you a fan of tuning into far-off stations and discovering new sounds from all over the world?

Well, you’re in for a treat! Shortwave radio receivers have been around for ages.

Still, with the rise of digital and Internet radio, it’s easy to forget the thrill of analog radio.

But don’t worry. We’re here to remind you of the magic of shortwave radio and give you the inside scoop on the best receivers to buy.

Introduction to Shortwave Radio: What Is It and Why Is It Special?

Teal blue retro radio against a bright neon pink background
Shortwave radios can send frequencies over great distances so you can enjoy international radio.

In simple terms, shortwave radio is a type of broadcasting that uses shortwave frequencies to send signals over long distances. This makes it possible to listen to international stations, even if you’re far from their transmission source.

But what makes shortwave radio so special?

Well, for starters, it’s not as widely used as other radio broadcasting types, making it a unique and exciting way to access content and information.

Additionally, shortwave radio often provides access to more viewpoints that may not be available through other media outlets.

If you want to try shortwave radio, you’ll need a receiver first.

The importance of Shortwave Radio Receivers

  1. Global Reach: Shortwave radio receivers allow you to listen to broadcasts from different parts of the world, giving you access to diverse perspectives and cultures.
  2. Emergency Broadcasting: Shortwave radio receivers can be a lifesaver in emergencies, as they can pick up broadcasts from government agencies and disaster relief organizations.
  3. Portable and Convenient: Most shortwave radio receivers are compact and portable.
  4. Durability: Shortwave radio receivers are often weather-resistant, making them ideal for outdoor use.
  5. Cost-Effective: Shortwave radio receivers are often more affordable to a broader audience than other radio options.
  6. Versatility: Many shortwave radio receivers come equipped with multiple bands, including AM, FM, and weather bands.
  7. Independence: Shortwave radio receivers do not rely on an Internet connection or a commercial power source, making them an ideal choice for people in remote areas or during power outages.

Key Features to Consider When Buying a Shortwave Radio Receiver

To assist you in your quest, here is all the information to choose the finest shortwave radios.

a) Choice Of Discrimination

The best shortwave radios possess exceptional discrimination features that provide the opportunity for receiving and transmitting clear and interference-free transmissions.

Therefore, when your radio has multiple signals, it must be able to overlook close signals and tune to your preferred frequency.

b) Radio Antenna Accessories

Opting for a shortwave radio with a port for external antennas could be advantageous. Think of a scenario whereby you mainly use your radio from a fixed location like your home or office.

In that case, desktop radios might be a more suitable option as they typically include provisions for connecting external antennas.

c) Long-lasting Battery

A shortwave radio with a lithium-ion rechargeable battery will provide a longer battery life. As a result, these power systems tend to have a longer lifespan.

Conversely, If you use a desktop radio primarily at home, consider purchasing an AC power adapter to keep it continuously powered.

d) Broadcast Modes

Shortwave radios may have basic or advanced broadcast modes such as SSB and NOAA Weather Radio. Consider your needs before selecting a radio with advanced features.

e) User-Friendliness

Consider factors such as navigation method, display preferences, and button style when evaluating the user-friendliness of shortwave radio.

These details can significantly impact the user experience.

Top 5 Shortwave Radio Receivers: A Review of the Best Ones to Buy

1. Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital Shortwave Radio

If you’re searching for exceptional shortwave radio, check out Tecsun.

Tecsun is a reputable brand in the shortwave radio market. Its portable PL-880 is widely regarded as the best by the SWL community. Here are its features:

Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion AM/FM, Longwave & Shortwave Radio with SSB (Single Side Band) Reception
1,311 Reviews
Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion AM/FM, Longwave & Shortwave Radio with SSB (Single Side Band) Reception
  • Full range coverage including AM/FM, Longwave & Shortwave with Single Side Band
  • PLL synthesized digital dual conversion receiver with unparallelled sensitivity & selectivity
  • 4 & 5 selectable bandwidth filters on AM and SSB respectively plus single Side Band receiver with 10 Hz tuning step
  • 24 hour alarm clock plus sleep timer from 0-120 minutes
  • Powered by one rechargeable battery with built-in charger, battery included

● The radio provides full coverage, including shortwave, longwave, AM/FM, and Single Side Band for a wide range of listening options.

● It boasts a digitally synthesized PLL double alteration receiver, providing remarkable sensitivity and selectivity for a superior listening experience.

● This radio provides outstanding control with the ability to choose from four different transmission capacities for AM and five for SSB, as well as a 10 Hz tuning step in its Single Side Band receiver. This results in a precisely tuned listening experience.

● Lastly, you won’t have to worry about buying separate batteries – this radio has a built-in rechargeable battery and charger.

Where to Buy: Tecsun PL880

2. C Crane CC Skywave AM, FM, Shortwave, Weather and Airband Portable Travel Radio

The C Crane CC Skywave SSB is a top pick if you’re searching for a compact SSB CB radio. Some of its advanced features include:

● This radio offers a wide range of listening options and the flexibility to choose between battery or AC power, supporting NOAA, AIR, AM, SW, and FM bands.

● It boasts 400 saved presets, a convenient auto-scan feature, and a direct keypad entry, facilitating the storage and switching between your preferred stations.

● It has a foldable back support, battery meters, and a screen that can display time.

● Further, it boasts remarkable selectivity and sensitivity, enabling you to tune your frequency search across most bands precisely.

● Moreover, the radio comes with headphones and a carry case, making it appropriate to walk around.

● It also has a 12-month guarantee.

Where to Buy: C Crane CC

3. Sangean ATS-909X Shortwave Radio

Sangean ATS-909X2 The Ultimate FM/SW/MW/LW/Air Multi-Band Radio
404 Reviews
Sangean ATS-909X2 The Ultimate FM/SW/MW/LW/Air Multi-Band Radio
  • 1,674 station presets with 3 individual memory banks
  • Air band mode (118 MHz ~ 137 MHz)
  • ATS (Auto Tuning System) on LW/MW/SW/FM
  • 5 tuning methods: direct frequency tuning/auto scanning/manual tuning/memory recall/rotary tuning
  • Fine tuning and quick shift tuning controls

The ATS-909X takes the previous model, the ATS-909, to the next level. It’s also an authentic product with the following properties:

● It allows you to save up to 1,674 different station settings, organized into three separate memory banks for your convenience.

● The radio boasts a sturdy construction that suits it in any location.

● Further, it supports radio bands, including longwave, FM, AM, and shortwave.

● The radio also comes with a rechargeable battery or can be powered by DC. Also, the radio has a large display with a backlight, providing excellent FM reception.

● Moreover, the Squelch technology eliminates any unwanted background noise.

● Lastly, the radio has an alarm clock feature and a headphone jack, making it the ideal camping accompaniment.

Where to Buy: Sangean ATS-909X

4. Retekess V115 Digital Radio AM FM, Portable Shortwave Radios

Many shortwave receivers can’t record, but the Retekess V115 is an exception.

Here are some of the reasons it makes our list:

● Its small size makes it incredibly portable and convenient to carry, fitting comfortably in your pocket.

● The shortwave receiver has digital tuning, allowing you to easily tune in to your desired frequency by entering it directly using the number keys.

● It also offers multiple ways to search for radio stations, including automatic and manual searches. In addition, it allows you to save and store your favorite stations for easy access.

● The Retekess V115 is a versatile device capable of receiving shortwave bands, FM, and AM.

● Additionally, the illuminated LCD is spacious enough to provide legible readings.

● Finally, this radio receiver has an extending antenna that greatly impacts the quality of your reception.

Where to Buy: Retekess V115

5. KAITO KA900 Digital Solar Dynamo Radio Receiver

Kaito Emergency Radio Voyager Max KA900 Digital Solar Dynamo Crank Wind Up AM/FM/SW & NOAA Weather Stereo Radio Receiver with Bluetooth, Real-time Alert, MP3 Player, Recorder & Phone Charger, Black
823 Reviews
Kaito Emergency Radio Voyager Max KA900 Digital Solar Dynamo Crank Wind Up AM/FM/SW & NOAA Weather Stereo Radio Receiver with Bluetooth, Real-time Alert, MP3 Player, Recorder & Phone Charger, Black
  • All-purpose 5-way powered portable emergency radio, hand crank generator, solar power, 5V USB input, 6V DC wall power adapter (not included), and built-in 2,000 mAh li-ion rechargeable battery pack; suitable applications include everyday use around the house, outdoors recreational activities such as camping, backpacking, picnic, and emergency / disaster preparedness, roadside emergency, and etc., a dependable source of information and a reliable survival tool when everything else fails
  • Comprehensive coverage of AM, FM, Shortwave and 7 pre-programmed NOAA weather channels for entertainment, sports, talk-shows, breaking news around the world, and 24/7 weather forecast (USA and Canada ONLY) with PEAS (Public Emergency Alert System) real-time alert
  • Unique and revolutionary design with dual stereo speakers provides uncompromising sound quality not only for radio listening, but also for playing your favorite tunes via wireless Bluetooth streaming or by inserting a micro-SD memory card or connecting an external audio device to a 3.5mm audio input jack, features a fully-functional MP3 player with built-in digital sound equalizer, built-in recorder for both live and future scheduled recording of radio broadcasting
  • Telescopic antenna extends up to 14" for high sensitivity and selectivity reception assisted by a pure digital tuner and advanced semiconductor circuitry design; 4 tuning methods including manual with tuning knob or keypad, direct numerical keypad entry, ATS & memory tuning with over 1,000 memories for easy access to favorite stations
  • Durable strong premium ABS construction with digital tuner and LCD back-lit display featuring calendar, 24-hour clock with alarm, count-down sleep timer; Works as an emergency mobile battery charger with built-in standard DC 5V USB output port for charging mobile devices, such as smart phones, GPS units, MP3 players, digital cameras, and etc. Other safety features include a 5-LED reading lamp & an LED flashlight

This is a digital solar-powered radio receiver. It has solar panels and a hand crank dynamo to generate power, making it a portable and sustainable option for listening to the radio. Its other features include:

● This shortwave radio allows you to tune into shortwave, FM, and AM and receive NOAA weather warnings

● It has many charging options, allowing you to power up wherever you are.

● It also features Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to listen to your tunes wirelessly.

● Additionally, the audio quality is top-notch, delivering crystal-clear sound without distortion.

● Finally, the KA900 comes equipped with a flashlight, making it a versatile device for power outages or other emergencies.

Where to Buy: KAITO KA900


Collection of old radios on a table
Shortwave radios, although not the most popular technology, still works to this day!

Do Shortwave Radios Still Work?

Yes, shortwave radios still work!

Despite the rise of digital radio and the Internet, shortwave radio is alive and well.

In fact, many countries still use shortwave radio for long-distance communication, including emergency broadcasts and military communication.

Is Shortwave Radio Illegal?

Shortwave radio is not illegal, but there are some regulations.

Depending on your location and the type of station you’re tuning into, you may need a special license or permission to listen to certain shortwave radio stations.

Research the regulations in your area and follow the rules to ensure that your shortwave radio listening experience is legal and enjoyable.

How Do I Listen to Shortwave Radio Stations?

Listening to shortwave radio stations is easy and fun!

You only need a shortwave radio receiver and an antenna to start. Various shortwave radio models exist, from simple portable units to advanced tabletop receivers.

You can tune into shortwave radio stations by adjusting the frequency on your radio or by using the station’s call sign or frequency.

Then, once you’ve found a station you like, you can sit back and enjoy the world of shortwave radio!

What Is the Best Shortwave Radio Receiver?

The best shortwave radio receiver is subjective and depends on individual needs and preferences.

However, we have listed some popular and highly rated options from which you can choose.

Considering factors such as price, portability, and other features is vital before choosing a shortwave radio receiver.


Shortwave radio is a fascinating way to explore the world of radio. With its analog signals and the possibility of tuning into stations worldwide, shortwave radio is a journey of discovery that you won’t soon forget.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned listener, you can confidently embrace the world of shortwave radio with the right shortwave radio receiver.

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