Best Shortwave Radio Receiver 2018 – Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

Last updated: Sep 24, 2018

Best Shortwave Radio Receiver

Despite internet and cell phones that provide access to information and communication at the click of a button, there is a breed of old school technology that has still not lost relevance; shortwave radio receivers. And not without reason! If you are stuck in a situation where there is no internet or phone signal, a shortwave radio is the only device that will keep you connected.

Away from the glamour associated with the modern technology, shortwave radio receiver provides the quintessential experience of listening to news, music, and other broadcasts by tuning into different radio stations.

Using a radio receiver, you can not only tune in to local or national but also international broadcasts, AM/FM radio, and even pick up emergency broadcasts. It is amazing how you can achieve so much from just one device.

There are so many models with different features available today that buying a shortwave radio receiver can be a rather cumbersome and tiring experience.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to the top 3 shortwave radio receivers in the market today and also provide our recommended best shortwave radio receiver based on the design, features, cost and overall value-for-money quotient of the product.

Best Shortwave Radio Receivers

Shortwave Radio Receiver
Features
Our Rating
  • Abundance of unique features like 5-way powered emergency radio, solar powered battery, hand crank generation, LED reading lamp and flashlight
  • AM/FM/Shortwave radio and 7 pre-set NOAA weather channels with alert
  • 180-degree adjustable solar panel

  • Outstanding value in a portable radio for DX medium and shortwave listening
  • Outstanding reception
  • Five different bandwidths and 550 memory presets

  • overall radio sensitivity
  • Convenient size and Portability
  • Excellent Battery Life

Shortwave Radio Receiver Reviews

In this section, we’ll review the top 3 shortwave radio receivers in the market today that provide the best experience in terms of their size, looks, features, and price points. Then, in the end, we’ll also pick our best recommendation of the 3. Let’s review.

Kaito KA500GRN

Kaito KA500GRN

Kaito is known to come up with stunning radio contributions and the Kaito KA500GRN only takes forward this notion. This shortwave radio is a gorgeous looking device that can be used both as a normal shortwave radio as well as an emergency radio. With unconventional looks and a rugged build made of ABS material, this radio receiver is definitely a looker.

The feature highlights are a plenty including some very unique ones such as 180-degree sun powered board, adjustable reception apparatus, LED light and electric lamp, and resistance to water.

The greatest selling point of this shortwave radio receiver is the ability to connect with the emergency service providers when you are stuck in a difficult situation. Since it has its own sun based power supply, you are almost never likely to run out of charge. This device also acts as your path-finder by utilizing the LED light and electric lamp to discover your direction.

Regardless of whether you need a radio for normal home use or for use in a crisis, the Kaito KA500GRN is the radio receiver to look for.

Things we liked:

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    Abundance of unique features like 5-way powered emergency radio, solar powered battery, hand crank generation, LED reading lamp and flashlight
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    AM/FM/Shortwave radio and 7 pre-set NOAA weather channels with alert
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    180-degree adjustable solar panel

Things we didn't like:

  • The Crank Power device is very weak
  • The solar panel charges the battery at a very slow rate

Tecsun PL-380

Tecsun PL 380

The Tecsun PL-380 is a very small shortwave radio receiver that aptly symbolizes the saying “big things come in small packages”. While its small size is an asset when you are cramped for space, the features easily match the big radios in the shortwave radio receiver spectrum.

It is so small that you can literally stuff it in the pocket for your shirt or trouser. The Tecsun PL-380 packs comes with good quality tactical buttons, a reasonably good display with yellow backlight, a lock button to activate/deactivate all the controls, and a three-stage antenna that works very well with receiving all kinds of signals.

The only small issue with this radio is that the sound from its speaker isn’t very loud, but it is still decent. This is in part due to the small size of the built-in speaker.

The Tecsun PL-380 is a sensible choice if you are looking for a small yet affordable shortwave radio.

Things we liked:

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    Outstanding value in a portable radio for DX medium and shortwave listening
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    Outstanding reception
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    Five different bandwidths and 550 memory presets
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    Excellent pricing

Things we didn't like:

  • 2-inch speaker provides somewhat mediocre sound
  • Built in SW/FM telescopic and internal MW antennas limit performance
  • Labeling on the box (including the radio's features) is in Mandarin Chinese
  • Owner's manual is in German.

Eton Executive Traveler

Eton Executive Traveler

The Eton Executive Traveler is a versatile and inexpensive shortwave radio that receives long wave, AM, FM and shortwave bands. In keeping with its name, it makes for a great travel companion owing to its small size that easily fits in backpacks or luggage. It also has an RDS data display for the FM band making it rather unique among the current generation of radio receivers.

The display has good viewing angles and you can adjust the brightness to suit the surroundings and light conditions when in operation.

Another set of features that sets the Eton Executive Traveler apart from the competition is the ability to set the local as well as world time, alarm clock, sleep timer, temperature display, and a snooze light. We only wish that the tuning knob was more ergonomically placed to make the operation easier.

The Eton Executive Traveler makes a strong case for itself with a compact size and international features not found in many devices in this price range.

Things we liked:

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    Good overall radio sensitivity
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    Convenient size and portability
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    Excellent Battery Life
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    Rugged build quality and a thoughtful and aesthetic design

Things we didn't like:

  • Requires manual tuning
  • Getting stations into memory is cumbersome
  • Increased complexity of operation
  • The tuning knob is awkwardly placed

Buying Guide

Radio Receivers

When you decide to buy a shortwave radio receiver, you must keep in mind certain things that are common to all radios and absolutely essential to making an informed purchase. Shortwave radios are available in different sizes, different bands, prices, features, and complexities.

You should go through these points one by one and choose a radio that best meets your requirements.

Size

The size of a radio is a matter of convenience. Smaller radio receivers are understandably convenient to handle whereas the bigger ones are cumbersome due to carrying and storage requirements. Choose a size that works for you. Shortwave radio receivers come in the size of table tops (large), portable and ultra-portable (very small).

  • Table top radios: These are large radios and not meant to be taken from one place to another. They have special power requirements and can receive very high range of signals.
  • Portable radios: Portable shortwave radios are compact in size and hence portable enough to be taken everywhere. They are the most preferred among the radio enthusiasts and are very good at catching shortwave broadcasts.
  • Ultra-Portable Radios: These are very small (usually fit in pockets) and are usually a compromise between features and size. They are usually preferred by enthusiasts who are just starting out with shortwave radio receivers and do not wish to spend a lot on radio receivers.
Shortwave Radio and Frequencies

Range of Frequency

Every shortwave radio is designed to receive all or specific bands and frequencies. So it is advisable to consult the sales manual what kind of bands a particular radio is capable of receiving to avoid any disappointment later. Ideally, the minimum shortwave frequencies a shortwave radio receiver should be able to receive ranges from 540 kHz to 30 MHz.

Digital Display

There are some radios, although not many, that do not display the frequencies on the display when you are trying to find a station. This can be a very frustrating experience especially if you are new to a radio receiver. To avoid this, simply choose a shortwave radio that has a digital display that shows the frequency the radio is tuned to.

External Antenna

We strongly recommend putting your money into a shortwave radio receiver that has provision for installing an external antenna. While the build-in antennas do their job nicely most of the times, the external antenna takes the ability of radios to receive signals to an all new level.

Whether you are in a remote area or a high-rise building, radios with external antennas almost always receive uninterrupted signals whereas the built-in antennas will fare poorly.  

Conclusion

A shortwave radio receiver is a great communication and entertainment device that not only lets you listen to broadcasts but also help in certain crisis situations. All the three devices in our product lineup are unique in their own respects but our top recommendation is the Kaito KA500GRN.

It has a lot of features to its credit; unconventional looks, great design and build quality, use of ABS material in the construction, ability to reach out to emergency services, solar panel to charge the radio and an affordable price make it a very worthy purchase.

We hope this article helps you make an informed choice in buying the best shortwave radio receiver.

Visit Guide

The Best Shortwave Radios of 2018

We've create a buyer's guide that will tell you everything you need to know to buy the perfect shortwave radio.

About the Author

Brian Wallace decided to put his fascination with radio devices to good use and started WalkieTalkieCentral.com, hoping that his knowledge on the topic will be helpful to others.

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