The radio may seem like an old-fashioned device, but it is an essential component in the history of sound. The best of them are in steady demand. If you are thinking about buying a receiver, we will tell you how to choose the right model in our Best AM/FM Radio for Reception Review.
Reliable AM/FM radio is a convenient way to keep up to date with local news and weather. It can also act as an important emergency device, especially when the frequency of extreme weather continues to rise.
Often considered old-fashioned, AM/FM radios offer an affordable and convenient way to tune in to your favorite music or talk show program.
The radios seemed to be frozen in time. For example, on sale, you can find models that have been stamped almost unchanged for two decades. The radio industry did not even reach its peak in the 1990s when mobile phones began to crowd them out.
But the receivers are still on sale. In the conditions of most countries, radio often becomes almost the only source of information in remote places.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best AM Radio
Before buying an AM/FM radio, consider several factors, including its portability, analog or digital input, power rating, reception, and more. What follows are the main shopping considerations for choosing the best AM/FM radio for important news and weather updates.
Several different types of AM/FM radio are available. Some of them are purely for emergency purposes, while others are just for listening to AM/FM broadcasts. Varieties include:
- The emergency and weather radios contain an automatic alarm system that warns users of severe weather conditions. Their excellent reception allows transmissions from major services such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). AM/FM emergency radios sometimes include built-in flashlights, charging stations, renewable energy, and more.
- Clock radios provide the benefits of an alarm clock and a radio in one.
- Shower radios are waterproof, battery-powered devices that are safe for use in the bathroom or other wet environments.
- Pocket radios make it easy to transport in your pocket, bag, or backpack.
Portable and desktop
A desktop AM/FM radio must be plugged into an outlet, while other portable radios are manually started or powered by solar power or batteries. Some desktop AM/FM radios include CD players, power generators, or large speakers.
Analog vs Digital
Analog is a traditional frequency signal first used over a hundred years ago. Both AM and FM radio use analog signals, which are moving sine waves that transmit information through a transmitter to a receiver.
While analog radios are easy to use and less expensive, their signals are sometimes distorted by the weather or competing radio waves, resulting in static electricity and less reliability.
Digital, a newer signal, is considered better than analog because it provides a stronger and more reliable signal, better sound quality, longer range, and the ability to pause and rewind.
However, if the digital signal becomes too weak, the radio may lose transmission entirely. Digital signals can also be delayed and often require more power than analog signals.
The most common power sources are electrical outlets and rechargeable or disposable batteries. However, some models are powered by solar energy or a hand generator.
Some AM/FM radios include an AC adapter in addition to batteries, making them both portable and stationary.
Fewer radio stations are available for AM than for FM. However, some emergency broadcasts, weather and sports reports, talk shows, and other entertainment programs use AM radio waves.
The availability of AM/FM radio programs depends on the location and availability of AM radio stations. Many AM radios also receive FM broadcasts.
Sound quality and volume
The sound quality and volume are determined by the size of the internal speakers and the programmed volume control range or settings.
Many AM radios do not transmit at very high volumes, but they are still loud enough for comfortable listening – the output is 75 decibels or more. The volume is adjusted, often with buttons or volume control.
But there is also the older generation, for whom the little box mumbling in the kitchen is the same attribute of home comfort as the luminous TV screen. In short, it is too early to bury this class of devices. So let’s take a look at what you can buy in the store right now.
Top 7 rating according to KP
1. Panasonic RF-3500 (average price 43 USD)
An unfading classic from the Japanese company Panasonic. The RF-3500 is relatively expensive compared to its competitors, but this is a price to pay for indestructibility and impeccable quality. Albeit with a rather gloomy appearance straight from the 90s. This thing weighs 650g but has a very usable 10cm speaker.
The frequency setting here is analog – a twist on the right side. The RF-3500 works with FM, LW, MW, and HF. Reception is confident – there are legends that he is able to receive a signal even 100 km from the city. One drawback is a 3.5 mm headphone output, but the sound will only go in mono mode. This is such a cute retro.
Unkillable catches where other receivers are dumb.
Not cheap; the sound in the headphones is only mono.
2. Tecsun PL-398MP (average price 78 USD)
Another legend from the world of radios, but of Chinese origin. Tecsun PL-398MP for radio lovers is a kind of “holy grail”. The price at which you can buy an inexpensive smartphone with the same FM receiver hints at the unusual status of the device.
This is a very tiny receiver weighing less than 400 g, but with two speakers. Runs on two AA batteries. Interestingly, they can be charged directly to the receiver – there is such an opportunity.
Tecsun PL-398MP receives a signal in the FM, VHF, DV, MW, and HF bands. This kid calmly catches a wave 100 km from the radio tower. Finally, there is a slot for an SD card, so you can play your own music, but the player here is primitive – for example, it doesn’t remember the position before turning it off, which means you can’t listen to audiobooks.
Excellent reception quality, charging, and many additional functions.
Exorbitant price – will have to look in the sale.
3. Sony ICF-306 (average price 33 USD)
Sony is one of the few companies that have at least slightly refreshed the appearance of their radios. Although this is how you look – in the Sony ICF-306 case, you can guess the design notes of audio equipment from the 60s of the last century. So, we will assume that this is a kind of retro-futurism. The receiver is extremely simple – there is nothing but a radio.
The ICF-306 even lacks an external antenna, so you shouldn’t expect good reception outside the cities. The receiver is powered by two AA batteries, please note that the device is simply not powered by the mains.
The frequency here will have to be adjusted with the good old analog “lamb”, but for older people who are accustomed to the radio frequency scale, this is even a plus. They completely forgot about the sound – even though there is only one speaker, the audio is good here, and the sound is velvety and with a volume effect.
Cute, good sound
No external antenna – outside the city, reception can fail
What other radios are worth paying attention to
4. Ritmix RPR-088 (average price 29 USD)
The receiver from the manufacturer is known to many as an ultra-budget. But the RPR-088 is not that cheap. Apparently, you have to pay for a deliberate retro appearance, which in the older generation of Russians will cause associations with the Soviet “Records”, “Speeds” and “Festivals”. However, there is nothing “warm and tube” in this model.
But in the presence of USB, a slot for a memory card, and Bluetooth. The latter greatly expands the functionality of the receiver – it can be used as an external wireless speaker for a smartphone. RPR-088 works both from batteries and from a power cord.
The sound here, despite the two speakers, leaves much to be desired. Problems can also arise with setting the wave – the switch here is analog, but the twist is not made of as high quality as that of more eminent competitors.
Lovers of antiquity will like it, a lot of non-radio functionality.
The sound is so-so, there are complaints about the quality of the tuner.
5. Hyundai H-SRS200 (average price 25 USD)
Yes, Hyundai is not only a taxi driver’s car but also a manufacturer of affordable household appliances. The company just has a whole mountain of radios for every taste. One of the most popular among buyers is the Hyundai H-SRS200. The receiver’s appearance can hardly be called pretty – it’s some eclecticism.
This thing only works on the FM and AM bands. By the way, the power here is only from the power cord, so you won’t be able to listen to your favorite wave in an open field. But there is USB and as many as two slots for SD and microSD memory cards / We don’t know why but let it be.
You can also listen to radio or music with the help of headphones, there is an audio jack here. The wave setting here is analog, using a massive twist. But it is massive only at first glance – users complain about the backlash. The manufacturer also messed up with the frequency scale, it does not always coincide with the one.
A lot of things at once, good sound from the built-in speaker.
The backlash of the wave twister and an indistinct scale of stations.
6. Bosch GML Soundboxx (average price 142 USD)
A very expensive radio receiver from the famous German company Bosch. The device can be called an accessory for fans of the tool from the Germans. There is even compatibility with the branded L-BOXX case.
The device does not just look massive – it is able to survive falling onto a concrete floor from a height of 1 m. The radio wave setting here is digital, so you won’t be able to make a mistake in the search.
Working with peripherals here is completely entrusted to Aux-In – take a 3.5-3.5 wire and use the receiver with your smartphone as an external speaker. Although, for such a price, Bluetooth could also be supplied. There is also an on-screen clock.
The sound is clear and even bassy – the stereo pair works as it should. Well, what to say – the reception of radio channels at FM and AM frequencies is excellent.
Protected housing, excellent sound.
For radio, the price is fantastic.
7. Signal Electronics RP-231 (average price 28 USD)
EAnother radio that plays on the nostalgia of the older generation. True, the appearance of the RP-231 already refers to the products of the 80s, the design of which largely repeated the Japanese cassette players. However, these are details.
So, the radio works with four bands – FM, VHF, MW, and HF. The frequency setting here is analog, using a twist. The assembly here is not of the highest quality; some even in their hearts call it a “Chinese basement”. But this is how lucky you are with a particular instance.
Together with the SD and USB connectors, the manufacturer added LED backlighting. But not all users like this “light music”, and you can’t turn it off. The receiver copes well with “catching” the wave, even at a distance from the city. RP-231 works both from a network and from batteries.
The appearance will appeal to those who are nostalgic for audio equipment of the 80s and stably picks up a signal.
Assembly is not of the highest quality, not have a switchable LED backlight.
Radios are still used in many countries today. In this article, we have discussed the best reception radios for your convenience.