A Citizens’ Band Radio is a type of free to use radio communication in the category of Personal Radio Service that allows for communication over short distances. The device does not require any form of subscription, fee or even registration. You simply have to get the right equipment, set it up and you are good to go. Depending on the laws of your region, no license may be required to use the CB radio. However, most laws limit users to a certain number of channels out of the 80 provided channels. In the UK and European regions for instance, only 40 channels are allowed for use.
Here is a list of the Best CB Radio
Today, the use of CB radios is not widespread but it still remains common on job sites and in pickup trucks. Many CB’s are limited by the FCC to 4 watts power output and even spending more does not give you a more powerful radio. However, there is an exception to radios with Single Side Band that have the ability to transmit up to 12 watts of power efficiently. CB radios have numerous features and designs depending on the model and brand. And while it is difficult to directly point out the best CB radio, your individual needs will determine what is most suitable for you.
Types of CB Radios
There are 4 basic types of CB radios you are likely to come across today. Each type has it pros and cons and it is entirely up to the user to determine which type fits their needs best.
Mobile CB Radio
This is the most common type of CB radio. It is simply a small box with a number of dials and a microphone attached to the front under/over dash or floor mounted. The mobile units come in different sizes and with numerous different features. They will require adequate space for mounting and considerations for the perfect location also need to be made to ensure optimal performance of the radio.
All in Handset CB Radio
This design of CB has all controls built onto the handset. This means that you will be getting a slightly larger microphone. All in handset CB’s pay close attention to ergonomics to allow for comfortable one hand use. And because they lack a chassis, all in handset CB’s are small and easy to install. They can also be used in multiple locations or vehicles as moving the device around is easy.
Base Station CB Radio
This type of radio has a built-in power supply that can be directly plugged to a wall outlet. It is meant for use indoors as a home unit. A clear advantage of this type of unit is that the power supply is incorporated into the cabinet so as to create a clean footprint. To enjoy good performance with base station CB radios, mount a good antenna very high.
Handheld CB Radio
Designed like walkie-talkies, handheld CB’s operate on rechargeable or replaceable batteries. Many models feature a cigarette cord for convenient use in vehicles. Additionally, you can connect a magnet or fixed mount CB antenna to any handheld radio by simply removing the rubber antenna and attaching a BNC/SO239.
Features and Specifications That Make the Best CB Radios
This lets you set the cut-off point at which a CB outputs a signal. This way you do not have to constantly listen to static as the speaker only activates when a transmission is received. This may be standard feature but it is very hand and is included in almost every CB radio in the market.
Single Side Band (SSB)
SSB equipped radios give you up to three times transmission range compared to ordinary radios. It allows radios transmit at 12 watts instead of the usual 4 watts. However, for the person on the other end to be hear and reply to your transmissions, they also need an SSB enabled radio. Additionally, SSB radios can still operate on standard CB channels at the usual 4 watts.
This feature allows users filter the type of transmission received by a CB radio depending on the signal strength. This way you can block out transmissions to get rid of background when talking to someone on a stronger signal. The RF gain also works by pulling in weaker signals so that you can hear well.
Just like a radio scanner, a CB channel scanner looks out to see if any of the available channels has any activity. When it comes across a channel with people talking, it stops to scan and lets you listen in. This brings in convenience as you do not have to fine and tune discussions manually.
Automatic Noise Limited
Enjoy quality reception and sound by filtering out static, engine noise and any other interference from the reception signal. The best CB radio models must include this feature to ensure smooth communication.
CB radios with weather capabilities let you receive real-time weather reports and updates. For you to get the weather updates, make sure that the CB radio you choose has the ability to access NOAA radio stations.
A radio with this feature lets you use the CB and microphone as a transmitter for public address systems. A PA horn is usually required to make this possible.
A display screen lets you track important information on your CB radio. The best CB radios feature a backlit display that allows for easy operation even at night or in dark conditions.
CB Radio Additions
It is sometimes necessary for you to buy a few extras to increase the transmission power and sound quality of CB radios. A CB radio antenna is a common and necessary add on that help increase the power output of the radio. A stronger antenna gives greater transmitting power to your radio unit. There are different types of antennas such as magnetic and fiberglass antennas and each has its own merits and demerits. Another extra you may need is an improve microphone for quality sound and transmission. Some radios have low quality microphones and therefore if you feel unsatisfied you can always replace it.
Review of top 5 best CB Radios
Cobra 148 GTL
If you want a long range CB radio, the Cobra 148 is made to give you just that. While most CB radios can only broadcast 4watts of power, the Cobra is SSB equipped so that it can legally broadcast at 12 watts. This means you get to triple the distance in which to share your broadcast. However, for this to be effective, the person you are communicating with also needs to have a SSB radio. I must admit that this radio is super reliable and gets the job done with ease. Installing it is also easy and does not require much technical skills.
This professional AM and Single Side Band Radio can be used with all other AM and SSB radios. On SSB mode, the transmitted RF power is used more efficiently to boost the range.
Other features of the radio include adjustable dynamike boost to increase voice and clarity, SWR calibration that allows you tune the antenna to optimum condition, RF gain to regulate the receive audio gain in weak and strong signal areas, noise breaker and tone control. The design is also built to last making and is user-friendly too.
Cobra 148 GTL CB Radio Video Review
Midland 1001 LWX
I was impressed that at a limited budget, I was still able to get absolute value from a CB radio with the Midland 1001 LWX. It may not be the cheapest CB radio in the market but it is one of the best low priced radio that does not compromise on quality and performance. The radio contains some notable features like NOAA weather channels that you would find in high end models and works just as good.
Midland 1001 LWX comes in a small compact package, measuring 7.25 inches long, 4.5 inches wide and 1.75 inches high and is easy to set up. The package includes a microphone hanger, two-wire power cord, mounting brackets and screws and a radio and microphone.
This modern looking radio is compatible with all CB antennas in the market and uses standard CB PL-259 cable connection. Its other features include RF Gain, ANL Function, Squelch, 40 Channel AM, Public Address Function, Digital Power Meter and LCD Display.
Midland 1001 LWX CB Radio Video Review
Cobra 29 series
Cobra has made quite a name for itself with the various impressive and innovative CB radio models they have in the market. For a full-sized CB radios I appreciated what the Cobra 29 Series had to offer. I found this series of radio is ideal for use in trucks and big rig vehicles as they can afford the extra space to mount a full-sized radio. The products in this series can be described as reliable workhorses that have continually fulfilled the needs of full-sized CB radio enthusiasts. There are a total of 29 models in the series and my all-time favorites include;
- Cobra 29 LTD Classic that contains all the needed features without any unnecessary bells-and-whistles
- Cobra 29 WX NW ST which is equipped with weather channels & a full backlit display for easy operation even at night.
- Cobra 29 Chrome has pretty much the same features as the LTD classic, but looks sleek and attractive.
- Cobra 29 LX that features a modern, high-tech color LED display to monitor all activity.
- Cobra 29 BT that is equipped with Bluetooth to let you make night calls right from your CB device.
Most of the models in the series feature the traditional design of a full-size radio frame. They also have a reputation of working without a flaw for even more than 10 years which ensure you get absolute value.
Cobra 29 LTD Classic CB Radio Video Review
Uniden Pro 510 XL
For an entry-level CB or just a basic model, the Uniden Pro 510 XL turned out to be quite satisfying. It is small in size and has a modern design that is also easy to operate. My thoughts are that it will work great for construction and mining companies because of its simple and rugged design. It is also able to live up to demanding and rough conditions making its durability unquestionable.
I observed that it continues to perform optimally in dirty, wet and even dusty conditions and that is probably why it has remained a top choice for many for over 20 years.
Detailed features of the Uniden 510 XL include; volume control, external speaker jack, adjustable squelch, LED display, 4 watts Am output power, transmit indicator, RF meter, signal strength indicator, automatic noise limiter, front microphone connector and 40 CB radio channels. As mentioned commercial and construction companies benefit the most from this radio but also, 4x4 off-road drivers may use the Uniden 510 to meet the demands of rough trail conditions.
Uniden Pro 510 XL CB Radio Video Review
Cobra 75 WX ST
Many CB radios tend to take up a good amount of space which in some conditions may be difficult to accommodate. When you are pressed for space and still need a CB radio, what do you do? Well, the Cobra 75 helped me solve this problem as it comes in an impressive all-in-the-microphone unit. This means that you get access all radio components from an over-sized microphone and thus away with the trouble of finding a convenient place to fit a massive CB.
All I needed with the Cobra 75 was to find an ideal spot to hang the microphone and I was set.
Because of its size, I recommended it for use in jeeps, trucks and cars. It is compatible with all CB antennas and has an external speaker which comes in handy in noisy situations where the built-in speaker is difficult to hear. The Cobra 75 WX ST has a remote mount system for easy dashboard installation and a sound Tracker system that reduces noise up to 90% for clear communication. Other features include NOAA weather & emergency radio, backlit LCD display and channel scanning.
Cobra 75 WX ST CB Radio Video Review
CB radios provide a very cost effective method of communication. They also can be very useful in various situations, such as to report an accident, inform drivers of traffic congestion, or provide directions. Drivers sometimes also find them as an excellent source of getting accurate directions. Besides having these benefits, the devices are easy to use and if you get the best radios, they will serve you for a long time. CB radios fit in where other communication devices cannot like in mines and construction areas to ensure that there is always good flow of communication for quality end results.