For many years I’d been curious about shortwave radio. Finally maybe five years ago, I broke down and bought a cheap ($30) shortwave radio to see what I could hear. It was ok. Probably among the best AM reception I had out of a radio, but it had analog tuning and a small dial, the switch to switch between shortwave bands was kind of tough to get “just right” and it seemed like I never found the same thing twice.
I could get some of the strongest broadcasts (including Radio Marti) but it would take a few minutes to find and tune in the same broadcast each night. Then, I’d look online to try to figure out what frequency I had heard, since the tuning was analog AND on a small dial it was quite difficult for more than casual, or “get your feet wet” use. I received another as a gift not too long afterwards and ran into the same problems (again it was probably a < $50 unit, with hand crank and light.) I really liked those radios better for their AM reception than anything else.
Well, I finally broke down and bought a Sony ICF-SW7600GR AM/FM Shortwave World Band Receiver with Single Side Band Reception about 1 or two years ago now. I’ve got to say it’s the best radio I’ve ever had. It has the potential to put a lot of presets, which is useful. The first two pages on mine are local AM and FM stations. The last page is devoted to a few CB channels and some of the armed forces radio frequencies. (Single Side Band). The others were devoted to various commonly found services. (Radio Marti has the better part of a page, the BBC frequencies.)
I think this may be the least expensive radio with true single side band reception. AM is usually broadcast with a carrier signal and two side-bands. It’s possible to broadcast using just one side band. (The transmitter uses less power, the signal can still be heard for a long distance.) I live in North Carolina and have successfully listened to an Armed Forces Radio broadcast from their transmitter in Pearl Harbor. (As well as their Key West, and Iceland(?IIRC) transmitters – I don’t think I’ve ever heard Diego Garcia or Guam.)
Anyway, SSB reception was particularly interesting this fall when the hurricane’s were active. Many ham (amatuer radio) operators use Single Side band transmissions and there were several VERY active radio networks using SSB. Besides the Single Side band reception, the radio has full tuning from 150 khz to 29999 khz and the FM band from 76.00 Mhz to 108.00 Mhz It has a clock with local/UTC toggle button. (Which is good for those just learning the UTC offset.) It has digital tuning with PLL synthesis (no drift and you know exactly where you’re tuned/can go straight to an advertised frequency with no problems.)
Probably the only real frustration I’ve had with the radio is the breaking of scan ranges into the traditional bands. It has continuous tuning, but when you’re scanning (say the AM band), it beeps at the upper limit of the band and starts you over at the bottom of the band. (or at the top if you were scanning “down” the frequencies.) Then, you can skip to the next band, but it’s kind of a pain to scan “between” the official bands. There ARE broadcasts of some sort “in between” from time to time and I like being able to do a full scan which always has me scanning up until the beep, stopping it, going the opposite direction to get back to the upper limit of the band, manually scan up a couple steps, then start the automatic scan again.
The radio came with a small random wire antenna in a convenient little spool which adds a great deal to the reception of the built in antenna. I’ve even experimented with longer wires and have had quite good results just clipping them to the built in antenna. (Never have used the 1/8″ plug for an external antenna, but there is an active loop that sony sells LP-1 I think that goes with this model.) More expensive radios have a feature to adjust the bandwidth to help minimize noise from adjacent broadcasts, currently that’s the only real feature I’d wish this had, but you start paying quite a bit for those feature combinations. If you’re looking for a good shortwave radio without spending more than say $120-$170, this is probably the lowest priced/best that there is.
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