Once upon a time, shortwave radio was the closest thing we had to the internet. Offering a convenient way to listen to broadcasts from location all around the globe, shortwave gave us a perspective of our planet that we never dreamt of before.
Now, the demand for shortwave radio isn’t as high as it once was. Yet you can still find countlessforums dedicated to shortwave radio online. These forums cover everything from the basics of how to use shortwave radios, to what people have discovered during listening sessions.
Even with a slight reduction in the popularity of SW radio to consider, there are still around 350 million people using this technology worldwide.
If you’re interested in the concept of SW radio, but you’re not sure if you want to invest in your own shortwave tuner yet, there could be an alternative option.
Listen to shortwave radio online instead.
How do you listen to shortwave radio online?
The first thing you should know is that listening to shortwave radio online isn’t simple.
Shortwave broadcasts convey information in a similar way to the internet. These high-frequency radio waves are unique because they can travel immense distances and break outside of the straight line that restricts other wavelengths.
Shortwave radio signals reflect off the atmosphere, which means they can bounce around the world.
The history of SW radio goes back as far as the father of radio, Guglielmo Marconi. With support from his assistant, Charles Samuel Franklin, Guglielmo conducted in-depth studies into the potential of short-wavelength frequencies to submit information.
By 1928, over half all long-distance communication happened through shortwave stations.
Usually, when people talk about online shortwave radio, they’re discussing the clubs and applications available to dedicated SW fans. If you know where to look on forums like Reddit and Quora, you can find groups committed to supporting shortwave listening online.
The online world somewhat reduced the need for shortwave radio by giving people access to digital browsing. However, the virtual world has also become a meeting ground for likeminded people looking for reliable frequencies and listening experiences.
Aside from apps and digital shortwave internet radio stations, the web also paved the way for new websites dedicated to shortwave listening. In these environments, beginners can find information about everything from “Universal time”, to how to tune their new radio.
How to listen to shortwave radio on a computer
For a long time, experts assumed that the birth of the internet would mean the death of shortwave radio. With broadband and search engines, people don’t have to spend hours searching through signals to find a broadcast.
Yet shortwave radio listening continues to appeal to a wide group of people.
Many fans of shortwave stations say that they get a unique perspective from listening to shortwave that they can’t get from the web. Often, news reports from around the world are shaped by the people who write about them.
However, when you’re listening to a journalist talking somewhere on the other side of the globe, you get something more authentic.
Rather than overtaking shortwave radio, the digital landscape has begun to birth a new kind of listening for shortwave radio online. You can easily visit websites and find applications to help with your hobby.
There are even sites where you can download schedules and frequencies.
However, you can’t experiment with shortwave radio signals and find new broadcasts on the web. Shortwave listening online is a diluted version of the full “SWing” experience.
The good news is that using a shortwave radio online tuner can make it easier to find broadcasts in your home language.
Locations for shortwave listening online
The more you connect with the SW community and join forums dedicated to the art of shortwave listening, the more frequencies you’ll find. That’s true whether you’re using a shortwave radio online tuner, or you’re looking for something on a traditional set.
To get you started, here are some of the shortwave radio online streaming options to try today:
- BBC World Service (UK)
- National Public Radio (USA)
- Radio Canada International (CAN)
- Radio Australia (AU)
- NHK (Japan)
- Deutsche Welle (GER)
- Radio France (FR)
- Radio Netherlands
- RTE (IRE)
- Radio New Zealand
- Voice of Russia (RUS)
- United Nation (UN)
- Radio Sweden (SWE)
Going beyond the available online shortwave radio broadcasts for different countries, you can also find websites that are committed to specific passions and ideas. For instance, SDR Space is a community-run website of shortwave receivers.
Individuals around the globe open their servers and shortwave radio equipment to anyone running the client.
If you have a shortwave radio receiver of your own, you can use your SDR radio to connect it to your computer and listen in. If you live in an area where there’s too much interference to use traditional shortwave radio, you can also tune in and listen through someone with a server.
Other shortwave enthusiasts sites, like The Listening Post, and HFRadio.org are also available. These sites offer a kind of shortwave radio online tuner that you can adjust and listen into in real-time. The Listening Post also includes links to various other web controlled radios across the globe.
The evolution of online shortwave radio
Just as people have discovered new possibilities with shortwave radio over the years, we’re also discovering new opportunities with SW online. Recently, people have begun creating applications and unique tools that let people do amazing things with shortwave tools online.
The Web SDR, located here, is a software-defined radio that connects to the internet.
There are a lot of these online shortwave radio systems all over the world. With them, you can listen to raw shortwave radio from different locations around the globe. Unlike other shortwave internet radio stations, this SDR streams raw shortwave reception.
That’s a really unique way to do things and something that hasn’t been possible before.
Typically, in the world of online shortwave radio listening, your only option would be to listen to a stream recorded by someone else with a shortwave radio system. This usually means that if you want more control, you’ll need to get your own SW kit.
If you don’t want to invest in your own technology, however, this SDR could be the next best thing.
The technology behind the SDR is impressive because it allows users to select a central frequency and an audio feed using various forms of demodulation. There’s more control here than most people listening to online shortwave radios would usually get.
Discovering a new world of online shortwave radio
Ultimately, the easiest way to listen to shortwave radio will be to learn how to use a high-frequency system yourself. There are tons of tools and guidelines out there that can help you get started.
What’s more, the forums and groups mentioned above offer an excellent resource to people who don’t know what kind of technology they need.
Although you can listen to shortwave radio over the internet in specific ways, the freedom available is limited. You might not be able to get the same experience from shortwave listening online than you would if you were tuning into frequencies on your own.
Since buying a shortwave radio receiver is usually a cheap investment, you might find that an initial attempt to listen to shortwave radio online actually pushes you in this direction. There are plenty of ways to develop your knowledge once you have the right receiver available.
You could even use some of the data techniques of Ham and amateur radio in your listening experience to intercept different broadcasts from around the world. It feels a lot like you’re in a spy movie when you first get started.
Good luck listening to shortwave radio, online and offline.
If you want to learn more about radio technology, check out some of the other articles and reviews here on Radio Fidelity.
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