For many people, high-frequency radio broadcasts are more than enough to tune into their favorite local FM stations.

But if you need a radio that transmits and receives frequencies over long distances, look no further than shortwave radio.

Shortwave radio technology has been around for over 70 years and played crucial roles throughout history.

Before the Internet age, shortwave allowed people to access important information and cultures around the world. More than that, these handy communication devices helped coordinate military communication in many wars.

Although smartphones and the internet have brought the popularity of analog radios to a halt nowadays, these communication devices are still very useful in remote areas where mobile internet and analog radio signals can’t be easily received. They are also very commonly used for camping trips, in the military, as emergency radios, and to receive interesting broadcasts across the world.
Image Bands / Presets / Single Side Band (SSB) / BatteryTop 10 Shortwave Radios

Best Stationary – ICOM 7300

Best Stationary – ICOM 7300

A great looking and innovative HF transceiver with high performance real-time spectrum scope and RF direct sampling system. An amazingly refined stationary shortwave radio that is hard to fault.

101 Yes N/A

Compact – Eton Elite Mini

Great For Travel – Eton Elite Mini

A travel-ready shortwave radio that is compact and comes with a handy case. It features an internal AM antenna and a telescoping FM/SW antenna with sleep timer and alarm clock.

0 No 24 hrs

Most Versatile – Eton Executive Satellite

Best Battery Life – Eton Executive Satellit

With an array of bands supported and a high-quality built-in audio this could be your best travel companion. It is a full-featured shortwave radio that boasts the longest battery life we’ve seen.

700 Yes 200 hrs

Best Emergency Shortwave Radio – Kaito KA900

Best Emergency Shortwave Radio – Kaito KA900

All-purpose 5-way powered shortwave emergency radio ideal for recreational outdoor use. If supports NOAA weather channels and comes with stereo sound that you can enjoy via Bluetooth streaming.

9999 No N/A

Premium Shortwave Radio – Tecsun PL880

Premium Shortwave Radio – Tecsun PL880

An ergonomic PLL synthesized digital dual conversion shortwave radio with exceptional sensitivity and selectivity. Despite a compact size, it features a full range coverage with Single Side Band support.

550 Yes 50 hrs

Best Pocketsize – Retekess TR103

Best Pocket Size – Retekess TR103

At 0.14 lb in weight this is the smallest shortwave radio in our review. Three bands, micro SD card and earphone jack support make it perfect for your walking and jogging activities.

N/A No 10 hrs

Top Value – Retekess V115

Top Value – Retekess V115

An extremely affordable shortwave radio with Chinese, English and Spanish language support. It has a build-in recording microphone, clock and a sleep timer.

100 No 50 hrs

Best Display – Sangean ATS-909X BK

Best Display – Sangean ATS-909X BK

A premium shortwave radio with big, clear and beautiful display. Packed with features Auto Tuning System, SSB, RDS, automatic strongest signal station search, world time and many others.

406 Yes 50 hrs

Smallest With SSB – C. Crane CC Skywave SSB

Smallest With SSB – C. Crane CC Skywave SSB

The smallest multiband radio with SSB and VHF (Aviation) we’ve ever tested. Direct frequency entry, auto scan and exceptional sensitivity and selectivity packed in a compact and robust body.

400 Yes 70 hrs

1. Best Stationary Shortwave Radio – ICOM 7300

As an SDR shortwave radio receiver, ICOM 7300 had big shoes to fill, especially considering its price tag for an entry-level radio.

The radiofrequency direct sampling system converts the signals directly to digital data, reducing noise that can mask weak signals. 

The new IP+ also improves IP3 performance, which increases its ability to copy a weak signal adjacent to a strong interfering signal. This reduces or eliminates signal distortion, giving you the clear transmission and receiving you need.

The multifunction knob on the 7300 is a game-changer. Not only does it allow you to make adjustments to transmission and sideband settings easily, but it also utilizes on-screen menus that help you make more complex customizations.

ICOM 7300 does a fantastic job balancing utility and interface. It uses a 4.3” color touch LCD with all the essential settings and operational visual aids such as band scope, waterfall function, and audio scope neatly laid out. Depending on what you prioritize, you can also arrange the elements on the screen freely.

Another great feature is IC-7300’s real-time spectrum scope, which gives you the freedom to perform simultaneous operations at once like some more expensive rigs. You can listen to music while using the real-time spectrum scope or waterfall to quickly switch signals. It also comes with an AC adapter to keep it charged. d

Bottom Line
IC7300 features a wide range of features that are suitable for both amateurs and hobbyists, especially for those who want to switch to the radio with SDR capabilities. Albeit a bit more expensive, ICOM 7300’s intuitive interface and impressive performance give higher-end transceivers a run for their money.


  • Bands Supported 90% 90%
  • Features 100% 100%
  • Sound Quality 90% 90%
  • Value 70% 70%
Decently sized color touch screen interface
Excellent sensitivity and selectivity
Real-time spectrum scope
Multifunction knob
Effective RF gains
Cooling fan might disrupt CW/SSB transmission
Expensive for entry-level transceiver

2. Best Compact Shortwave Radio – Eton Elite Mini

At 6” x 4.2” x 1.9”, the Eton Elite Mini is roughly the size of a playing card and slightly thinner than a full deck, a compact travel radio that is easy to bring around.

This highly portable handheld shortwave radio features digital tuning, internal AM antenna, and external FM antenna.

With its highly sensitive and selective FM radio reception, you can pick up stations that other portable radios cannot.

Eton Elite Mini is a pleasure to use because of its well-thought-out design. The buttons and controls are intuitive to use, tactile, and well placed, all the good qualities that a compact SW radio needs. Not only that, but you can lock the radio to prevent accidental station changes in your pocket while you are running or going about your business around town.

Although its built-in speakers are quite good for such a small travel radio, using the 3.5mm headphones jack adds a lot more depth and range to the sound quality. On the downside, you might lose a bit of sensitivity when you plug in your earbuds.

Eton Elite Mini also has a high-contrast digital display and clock/alarm. Since the display and clock is always on by default, you might find your batteries drained within days. However, you can turn off the display to make your radio more energy-efficient or install good Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.

Bottom Line
The Eton Elite Mini is a great travel radio with intuitive controls, travel-friendly features, and an affordable price tag. It outperforms many more expensive SW radios, thanks to its digital tuning, highly sensitive AM/FM radio reception, and impressive sound quality. Conversely, it lacks battery life providing mediocre 24 hours of use when the display is left on all the time.


  • Bands Supported 60% 60%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 70% 70%
  • Value 100% 100%
Compact and portable
Comes with a carrying case
Great audio performer with earbuds
Intuitive controls
Lock button
24-hour battery life
Loses sensitivity when earbuds are plugged in

3. Most Versatile – Eton Executive Satellite

If you want all the radio functions in a compact, stylish case, look no further than the Eton Executive.

With a powerful DX built into this compact radio, Eton Executive receives an impressive number of AM/FM, LW, and SW wavelengths.

It can also be used to receive VHF Aircraft Band and SSB. Better yet, it delivers all your favorite radio stations in a crisp, clear sound.

Besides receiving transmissions, it also packs many advanced features, like 5 different ways to tune and automatic station storage that stores up to 700 stations. Thanks to the well-written user manual, you can learn all the functions quickly with a bit of practicing.

That being said, once you spend a couple of hours learning the radio, everything becomes clear. Every ergonomically-sized button serves at least one purpose and placed at a position that makes the most sense. The tuning knob is a treat, giving you the satisfying but subtle click you need to confirm your selection. The LED screen displays clear and concise information without cluttering up the screen.

Eton Executive’s energy management is pretty decent as well as it gives you weeks of usage powered by 4 AA batteries.

Bottom Line
The Eton Executive has all the bells and whistles wrapped in a chic leather case. It is jammed packed with many advanced features, like the ability to receive and transmit most wavelengths and a 700-frequency bank. With sync detection, high sensitivity, and incredible user experience, Eton Exclusive handles all your shortwave radio needs with ease.


  • Bands Supported 80% 80%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 80% 80%
  • Value 80% 80%
International Radio Receiver
VHF Aircraft Band & SSB
Excellent radio sensitivity
Long battery life

4. Best Emergency Shortwave Radio – Kaito KA900

Made for emergencies, Kaito KA900 comes with useful features that will make your life easier even in the worst of situations.

You can access AM, FM, shortwave, and NOAA weather alerts on this emergency shortwave radio.

When you set your portable radio at alert, it automatically turns on when a NOAA message is being broadcasted. KA900 comes with a telescopic antenna that can be extended up to 14” to help you pick up weaker signals.

Besides that, KA900 offers ample charging options. You can charge the radio with USB, built-in solar panel, hand cranking, and AC wall power adaptor that you can buy separately. You can also use it as a battery bank to power your phone.

Since it is an emergency radio, it provides many useful features for when things go south. For example, its built-in LED flashlight enables you to see about 10 feet or so in the dark. It also has a 5-LED reading lamp.

In terms of entertainment, KA900 is one of the rare SW radios equipped with Bluetooth. Its dual 1.5-inch speakers deliver crystal clear audio quality with minimal distortion. You can pair your device with the radio via Bluetooth or use it as an MP3 player by inserting a 32GB SD card.

Bottom Line
Kaito KA900 packs many features that come in handy in emergencies like a built-in LED flashlight, automatic NOAA alert mode, and a telescopic antenna. Besides that, it offers 5 different charging methods and can be used as a portable battery bank for your phone. It is Bluetooth-enabled and sports loud, clear speakers for your entertainment.


  • Bands Supported 80% 80%
  • Features 80% 80%
  • Sound Quality 80% 80%
  • Value 90% 90%
Ample charging options
Automatic NOAA alert mode
Clear audio without distortion
Solar panel charges very slowly
Radio case is a bit flimsy

5. Best Premium – Tecsun PL880

The premium shortwave radio Tecsun PL-880 is packed with features and boasts a solid build quality that has surpassed all our expectations.

The wide selection of bandwidth filters allows you to search and tune into signals that other similarly-priced radios simply can’t access.

It receives all bands you can thin of – AM/FM, LW, SW, and SSB.

If you like a station, you can use its Auto Tuning Storage (ATS) to find and store all stations across all bands.

It has 100-150 memories per page per band, storing a total of 25 pages.

Besides that, this portable shortwave radio features an alarm clock and a sleep timer. If you are a radiohead, you might like the thrill of discovering hidden features like enabling the DNR option and calibrating medium waves.

Tecsun PL880 uses a 18650mAh rechargeable battery, which is a huge departure from the usual AA batteries or a built-in battery. It lasts at least 15 days of heavy usage; more if you are a casual user. Because of the long battery life, you can leave the backlit digital display turned on without it draining your batteries.

Bottom Line
As a Tecsun flagship shortwave radio, Tecsun PL-800 is feature-rich, compact, solidly built, and well-engineered. It offers full radio coverage across all bands as well as many convenient features like an alarm clock, direct keyboard input, recording, and SSB calibration. If you listen to distant AM stations or SSB, Tecsun PL880 is well-worth the money.


  • Bands Supported 80% 80%
  • Features 80% 80%
  • Sound Quality 80% 80%
  • Value 80% 80%
AM/FM, Longwave, Shortwave, and SSB coverage
Rechargeable and removable Lithium-ion battery
24-hour alarm clock & sleep timer
Lots of features
Two-second delay when changing bands

6. Best Pocket-Size – Retekess TR103

Clocking in at 3.46 x 1.77 x 0.71” and weighing a mere 0.14lbs, Retekess TR103 is a tiny AM FM shortwave receiver that you can bring anywhere without any hassle.

For such a small shortwave radio, Retekess TR103 can receive a surprising number of AM stations and a fair number of shortwave stations, even when compared with bigger and pricier radios.

To improve its ability to receive signals, it comes with an extendable antenna.

Since the TR103 doesn’t have a numerical keypad, you can only access the scanned stations with its automatic tuning and storing function. Although the speaker is small, its sound quality is loud and decent. As it is made to be portable, you can use headphones with it as well. It can also be used as an MP3 player as it supports up to 64GB.

The built-in 600mAh battery takes about 4 hours to charge with a micro-USB cable but lasts for around 7. Since it is non-removable, you would either have to replace the battery with some ingenuity or take it to a shop when the battery gives out.

To keep it light and compact, certain features were sacrificed on the TR103. One such example is the small LCD screen that makes it hard to keep track of your radio settings.

Bottom Line
Retekess TR103 is your perfect companion if you like traveling around with a portable radio. Its tiny size doesn’t stop it from providing great AM/ FM reception and audio quality. However, TR103’s small display can’t lay out all your settings. You would also run into some issues with its non-removable battery as you might not be able to replace it yourself.


  • Bands Supported 60% 60%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 70% 70%
  • Value 100% 100%
3.5mm headphones jack
Extendable antenna
MP3 player
Small display
Non-removable battery

7. Top Value – Retekess V115

Retekess V115 is a no-frills AM FM shortwave radio designed to be practical for an affordable price tag.

After scanning the AM, FM, and SW bands, this shortwave radio automatically stores all the stations it found.

It has an exceptionally long range, picking up stations hundreds of miles away from you with only the external antenna.

You can also key in your desired frequency on the keypad with no issues.

The recording feature on this shortwave radio is great. It saves recording directly on an SD card and retains the recorded quality. Audio playback sounds clear and deep. This feature is also incredibly versatile since you can record off the radio, your voice, or from an external source via the USB port.

Its audio quality exceeds all expectations, especially for such a modestly-priced AM FM shortwave radio. It delivers clear sound and great audio depth with its surprisingly powerful speaker. Not only that, but it can handle its volume range with no distortion, hissing, or cracking at high or low volumes.

The only thing to complain about the Retekess V115 is its shorter antenna. As a result, shortwave reception isn’t very impressive as stations picked up sometimes sound scratchy. It is easily fixable with a feedline though.

Bottom Line
Reketess V115 offers a surprising amount of features and quality. It picks up AM and FM radio frequencies from other counties with ease. Besides, the audio playback and recording quality is top-notch for a compact shortwave radio in this price range. The length of its external antenna left a lot to be desired though.


  • Bands Supported 60% 60%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 70% 70%
  • Value 100% 100%
Incredibly sensitive
Built-in microphone
Mic and line-in recording
Can be used as a speaker through USB port
The antenna is a bit short
Shortwave reception is not great

8. Best Display – Sangean ATS-909X BK

Sangean ATS-909X is an upgraded version that addresses all the issues their customers had with the ATS-909.

One of the main issues Sangean fixed was the reception. ATS-909X boasts many new features, like an excellent built-in ferrite antenna and six tuning methods that deliver excellent AM/FM and SSB reception.

ATS-909X is easy to use. Besides better tuning options, it can also store up to 406 memory presets across all bands for your convenience.

Its bright and large LCD screen helps as well since it lays out all relevant information about the station you are listening to and your settings.

Besides that, Sangean ATS-909X has pretty decent sound quality, thanks to its 3” speaker. You can also use the mono/stereo switch to choose your preferred speaker mode.

Besides that, it comes with a range of accessories like individual headphone amplifiers, earbuds, and a leather carrying case. It has three alarms: Wake to the Radio, Humane Wake System, and a buzzer.

However, shortwave reception can sometimes be a bit muddy and weak, but extending the included 23” wire antenna solves this issue.

Bottom Line
Sangean ATS-909X is a sharp-looking portable radio that offers versatility and functionality. Besides its great AM/FM reception, its large LCD screen makes it extremely easy to use since you can see everything you need on the display. Shortwave reception is a bit muddy but can be enhanced with the included wire antenna.


  • Bands Supported 90% 90%
  • Features 90% 90%
  • Sound Quality 90% 90%
  • Value 70% 70%
406 memory preset system
3 alarms
Very durable and sturdy
Bright LCD screen
Shortwave reception isn’t great with folded antenna

9. Smallest Shortwave Radio With SSB – C. Crane CC Skywave SSB

SSB CB radios are incredibly useful, but they tend to be on the bigger side.

If you’re looking for a small SSB CB radio, C Crane CC Skywave SSB is a prime choice.

It earned the moniker “Swiss Army Knife of portable radios” through its wide range of functions. As one of the smallest AM FM shortwave radio with SSB, it allows you to receive transmissions in areas with no cell coverage.

You can also tune in to the NOAA Weather Radio and the aviation band with this useful shortwave radio.

Thanks to its impressive 23” external antenna, C Crane CC Skywave SSB offers great reception across all bands. It also has excellent sensitivity and selectivity, allowing you to finetune your frequency search on most bands (except the weather band) with selective tuning. If the notary knob is too imprecise for you, you can always enter your desired frequency with the keypad.

C Crane CC Skywave has an auto-scan feature that works accurately across all bands and allows you to save up to 400 channels at once. The speaker isn’t mind-blowing, but you can use the selectable audio filters and the headphone jack to enhance the audio. As an added feature, not found in many other SSB radios is a built-in clock and timer.

Bottom Line
The C Crane CC Skywave is a small multi-band shortwave radio with SSB capabilities. Besides having great reception across all bands, it also offers multiple ways to select your bandwidths to expand your frequency range. Although its sound quality isn’t the best, it is absolutely one of the best shortwave radios for its size, utility, and intuitiveness.


  • Bands Supported 90% 90%
  • Features 80% 80%
  • Sound Quality 70% 70%
  • Value 70% 70%
SSB capabilities
Considerate and compact design for travelers
Selectable audio filters
Direct frequency entry
Built-in clock and timer
Mediocre speaker


Shortwave radios can be very useful in remote areas or as an educational pastime. It acts as a portal as it allows you to access interesting and important news and music out in the world.

Tecsun PL880 has long been a favorite among avid radio operators for its versatility. Its main strength is its sensitivity and selectivity as it catches weak signals that many other radios can’t. This Tecsun radio also offers a treasure-hunting experience as the more you use it, the more hidden features you will find.

If you are in the market for a travel radio, Eton Elite Mini is one of the best shortwave radios for this category. It doesn’t compromise quality and style in favor of size. Rather, it offers intuitiveness and well-thought-out features that work well with its size.

Kaito KA900 Voyager Max will be great for you if you live in a disaster-prone area. This emergency radio allows you to access weather reports and entertainment no matter what, thanks to its charging options.
C Crane CC Skywave SSB deserves an honorable mention as well for being one of the smallest SSB radios on the market.

The best shortwave radios are ones that work well for your needs and situation. No matter what you are looking for, your needs will surely be satisfied by one of these top-notch SW radios.

If, however you are after radios that are better suited for your living room or internal use in general, make sure to check our top 10 tabletop radio review that we have just published.

 How Do Shortwave Radios Work?

Shortwave radios use very high frequencies, ranging from 3 mHz to 21 mHz.

It is beamed into the atmosphere until it reaches the ionosphere,  the ionized part of Earth’s upper atmosphere.

The ionosphere acts as a mirror, reflecting shortwave radio frequencies back to Earth. This is called ‘skywave’ or ‘skip’ propagation, and from here, the frequencies can travel thousands of miles on Earth.

What Are Shortwave Radios Used For?

Domestic and International Broadcasting

These handy little radios can be used to transmit signals across countries and continents economically, which is why it is primarily used to broadcast religious, political, and alternative media. Asides from domestic programs, you can also access international news, music, and even propaganda in certain countries!


Shortwave radio technology is a wonderful tool during a disaster as it can be used to transmit and broadcast information from halfway around the world. When the power is cut off, the best emergency radios can be powered through alternative means like solar power or hand cranking. Some radios can even receive automatic NOAA weather reports to keep you updated on the latest weather patterns.


Some amateur radio operators use shortwave radio technology as a pastime, especially ‘DXing’. This means that these radio hobbyists monitor distant stations and frequencies to communicate with other like-minded people or host their own radio show.

Long-distance communication

Asides from hobbyists, many professional services also utilize the shortwave band for long-distance communication. For example, organic air traffic control and utility stations use the frequencies to transmit weather reportings and encrypted messages. It is also used in marine and military communication.


Like all communication devices, AM FM shortwave radios provide loads of entertainment. Besides domestic news and music, you can also learn about cultures and entertainment all over the world from home. It opens up a whole new world and perspective, making it an educational entertainment tool.

How To Pick The Right Shortwave Radio – Buyer’s Guide

Modern shortwave radios often include a wide range of features and perform better than their ancient counterparts. But with so many different brands and models, how do you pick the right shortwave radio for you? To help you get started, here is all the information you need to pick out the best shortwave radios and our top nine recommendations.

Selectivity Options

When your radio is receiving a large amount of transmission, it must be able to reject nearby signals and tune into your desired frequency. The best shortwave radios have great sensitive options that give you the best chance of receiving and transmitting clear and static-free signals.


Some shortwave radios only play AM stations, while others come with advanced modes like SSB and NOAA Weather Radio. While getting a radio with SSB capabilities will significantly expand your listening options, it’s important to keep in mind what you need your shortwave radio for. There is no need to get an advanced AM FM shortwave radio with fancy bells and whistles if all you want is to listen to your favorite FM channels.

Antenna connections

Built-in antennas are decent for listening to major broadcast stations but might perform poorly if you live in a building with steel frames. Because of this, it might be worth getting a shortwave radio with a jack for an external antenna. If you tend to use your radio from home or your workplace, desktop radios might be a better idea since they normally come with connections for an external antenna.

Digital frequency display

Old-school radios have a “slide rule” frequency readout that can be difficult to read. Modern radios, however, often come with a digital or LCD display to indicate the precise frequency your radio is receiving and other relevant information. Not only that, but the digital display can also help enormously when you are tweaking your radio settings.

Desktop radio or portable shortwave radios

Shortwave radios come in all shapes and sizes that largely depend on their portability. Desktop radios typically have more features and better sound quality since size is not a concern. A portable travel radio, on the other hand, often has to sacrifice certain features to make it easy to travel around with.

Ease of Usage

There are many factors to consider when it comes to intuitiveness. Do you prefer tuning knobs or buttons? Do you want everything displayed on the screen or just the essentials? Do you like buttons that click or soft buttons? This might seem trivial, but these are things that make or break your experience.

Battery life

A shortwave radio that uses Lithium-ion rechargeable battery will last you longer as these batteries tend to have long battery lifetimes. If you prefer to use a desktop radio at home, you can buy an AC adapter to keep it plugged in at all times.

Extra features

Besides band selections and modes, many modern shortwave radios also offer a range of useful functions. Some come with built-in alarms or timers, while others provide micro-SD support. Ultimately, it depends on how basic or multi-purpose you want your radio to be.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is shortwave radio AM or FM?

Shortwave radios use shortwave radio frequencies, which includes AM/ MF and FM. That being said, AM, or Amplitude Modulation, is the most commonly used frequency in SW radios.

Do shortwave radios still exist?

Absolutely! Although many people have switched to the internet for entertainment, SW radios can receive weak signals that your phone can’t. These radios are especially popular among outdoor enthusiasts, hobbyists, and people who live in rural areas.

SW radios are less popular in urban areas since there are too many steel structures and interfering frequencies. But in the mountains, woods, or forests, you will be able to receive clear signals and continue listening to the news or your favorite radio channel. Since shortwave radios can transmit and receive long-distance frequencies, you can also use it as a mode of communication when roughing it out in the wild.

At the same time, many countries, such as Australia have ceased their shortwave radio broadcast operation.

Is there anything to listen to on shortwave?

Yes! According to Nigel Fry of BBC World Service Group, there are as many things to listen to on shortwave as there were during the Cold War.

Following the departure of many pioneers in shortwave broadcasting like Voice of America or Radio Netherlands, the shortwave band has been taken over by transmission from rural and remote areas. This is because the shortwave band can transmit across large areas for cheap.

With a shortwave radio, you can learn about the political situation in South Sudan, listen to New Zealand’s top 50 indie rock bands, or even tune into government propaganda in authoritarian states from the comforts of your own home.

Can I listen to shortwave radios on the internet?

Although most shortwave listening has to be on the radio, you can also access shortwave radio stations on the internet.

You will find this particularly easy with bigger radio stations that have scaled back on their shortwave broadcasting. Radio stations like Radio New Zealand and BBC World Service have high-quality radio programs on their website with accompanying articles to enrich your experience as well.