I am a Civil/Structural Engineer with great experience in large scale projects that span long distances. In the course of my job, I have had to rely on a portable radio on several occasions for entertainment and news. Without going into intricate technical details, a shortwave radio is receiver capable of picking up radio transmission of between 3 to 30 MHz. Such a radio with SSB transceivers known as single side band is capable of receiving a better quality of audio from radio broadcasters who use this technology. There are important aspects of a radio that you may need to consider before making a purchase.
* Find our research for shortwave radio options through our guide Best Shortwave Radio!
Here is a list of the Best Portable Shortwave Radio With SSB
Portable Shortwave Radio with SSB
Features To Consider:
- Frequency coverage, which is considered the upper end for the AM broadcasting band, shortwave radios should ideally have a range of 540 kHz to 30 MHz and should also be able to tune down to 150 kHz according to recent standards.
- Frequency readout, which in some radios, is a digital display showing the frequency of transmission being received. Cheaper radios often have an analog system that does not display the frequency of the station. This may prove frustrating to use but due to the price, such radios may be awesome backup for when your primary one gives out.
- Modes; For most shortwave radios, AM is the only available mode. However due to the use of SSB by a few broadcasting station along with ham, aeronautical, military, and maritime communications, the listening options are greatly increased. The more modes that a radio can pick up, the more rely-able it is.
- Selectivity options, this may not seem important but in case you are interested in clear audio, the more the options the better your chances are. Good portable radios often have "narrow" and "wide" options. The narrow option improves clarity by minimizing the interference by other frequencies.
- Type of antenna; A radio that has both the provisions for connecting an external antenna and still has its own in built antenna is an ideal radio. Internal antennas are reliable, to some extent in most situations. With the help of an external antenna, the reception can be further improved and maintained even in closed buildings where internal ones fail.
Aside from the features listed above, there are many more factors to consider before purchasing any radio such as cost, complexity, size and the individual's listening interests. It is important to note that there is no "right" radio as preferences may differ greatly between individuals. Here are a few radios I have ever used and consider to be the best ones.
Tecsun PL880 Radio
I have personally used this radio and I can truly say that it works quite well. It is everything you would expect in a Tescun radio and more and rightly so, it is the latest release from the Tescun range. It boasts more power than all other previous models with a longer lasting lithium ion battery. Among the improvements done are digital signal processing on the high frequency band that enable it to receive weak signals and also offers select able IF bandwidth.When I run my tests for the range, I realized that it covers from 100 KHz to 30 MHz which includes the entire shortwave range, Longwave and FM/AM broadcast bands. It has a great sound quality and signal strength.
- Dimensions: 24cm by 16cm by 7cm
- Weight: 1.5 kg
- FM Band 64-108 MHz
- AM Band (MW) 520 -1710 kHz
- Shortwave (SW) 1711-29999 kHz
- Longwave (LW) 100-519 kHz
Tecsun PL880 Radio Video Review
The Tecsun PL880 Radio is quite popular with customers maintaining an overall rating of between 4.4 to 5 stars from over 230 reviews. It can be bought from amazon.com for about 170 dollars and on the official website for about 250 dollars. Most customers are generally pleased with its clarity with AM/SSB even at low volumes and the quality of sound. Personally I feel like it was a fantastic buy.
Sangean ATS 909X
Among all the radios I have sampled for the compilation of this list, the Sangean ATS 909X is by far the most ergonomically sound one. It features a large digital display and extrusions on the back for easy handling. Internal well balanced speakers give out a clear sound especially when listening to FM radio. I had this radio before but unfortunately it got stolen on site and I suspected it was because it had generally appealing look.
- Dimensions: 207.5mm by 134.8mm by 41.3mm
- Weight: 733.5g
- LW: 153 - 519 kHz
- MW: 520-1710 kHz.
- SW: 1711-29999 kHz.
- FM: 76-108 MHz.
Sangean ATS 909X Video Review
The Sangean ATS 909X Radio come in black or silver and is a well liked radio. Customers who have rated it maintain an overall rating of 4.0 stars from over 200 reviews on various websites. It can be bought from amazon.com for about 209 dollars and on the official website. Most customers like the general look and the fact that it has a larger LCD display that features LED lights.
This is a later version of the 7600 series of radios which were produced in the 70's. It is a well built portable radio that does well in field recordings as I have seen from a colleague who owns one. As compared to the Tecsun PL880 and the Sangean ATS 909X, the Sony ICF-SW7600GR has similar features, however, it has a smaller digital display which provides the necessary information. The Sony ICF-SW7600GR is unfortunately underwhelming when it comes to memory functions.
- Dimensions: 190mm by 118.8mm by 35.3 mm
- Weight: 608 g
- LW: 150-529 kHz.
- MW: 530-1620 kHz.
- SW: 1621-29999 kHz.
- FM: 76-108 MHz.
Sony ICF-SW7600GR Video Review
The Sony ICF-SW7600GR Radio is a very common radio with customers helping it maintaining an overall rating of between 4.0 to 4.6 stars from over 500 reviews on various websites. It can be bought from amazon.com for about 140 dollars and on the official website for about 160 dollars. Most customers rave about how much of great companion it can be once you get used to it, they even suggest that they would repair it or replace it immediately in case any damage occurs to it.
The Eton Satellit is quite possibly the hottest radio among this list. It is a well built portable radio that is sure to make anyone who purchases it entertained. As compared to the other radios with similar features, it fits perfectly within the palms of the hands and maintains a true portable frame.
- Dimensions: 16.8cm by 10.5cm by 3.1cm
- Weight: 345g
- AM: 520 – 1710 kHz
- FM: 87 – 108 MHz
- LW: 150 – 285 kHz
- SW: 17.11 – 29.999 MHz
- AIR: 118 – 136 MHz
Eton NGWSATB Satellit Video Review
As of today the Eton Satellit has an overall rating of 3.9 stars from over 700 reviews on various shopping websites. It can be bought from amazon.com for about 159 dollars and on the official website for about 230 dollars. Most customers rave about how compact it fells in the palms and how well built it is. It, according to them seems like the kind of radio that would endure great punishment whether intentional or otherwise.
Although the Tecsun PL-660 is an older model of the Tecsun PL-880, it gives all the newer models and more recent radios a run for their money. Due to the fact that it is older it is somewhat cheaper than it counterparts. It has all the necessary features of a modern radio as it marks a time when the standards in radios were changing. A friend of mine had this radio and from comparing it to other recent radios right now, I would say it is still a serious piece of radio genius.
- Dimensions: 187mm by 114mm by 33mm
- Weight: between 0.6kg to 1kg
- MW (AM): 522 – 1720 kHz
- LW: 100 – 519 kHz
- SW: 1711 – 29999 kHz
- AIR: 118 – 137 MHz
The Tecsun PL-660 Radio is a very common radio. As of today, it has an overall rating of 3.9 stars from over 400 reviews on various websites. It may not seem like much but consider that it has to compete with more recent radios beyond it time. It can be bought from amazon.com for about 129 dollars and can definitely be bought at even lower prices from alibaba.com or eham.net. Unfortunately, I think it went out of production but it can still be purchased from enthusiasts or from the used product market.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no right radio. You alone have the capability of deciding what is best for you. I narrowed down the search for sure but there are plenty of portable shortwave radios with SSB that you may like better than the ones I have listed above.