Technological advancements have made radios smaller and more compact today than they ever were. They can not only fit in your pockets better, but they can do much more than they could a few decades ago. While many people opt to use the radios on their smartphones, they often forget that traditional radios offer better reception and great sound quality as well.
If you're in search of radios with the best reception, you've probably come to the right place as we have more than a couple of things to share. Apart from our in-depth review of ten of the radios with great reception capabilities, we also included a guide to help you identify and choose the perfect radio on your own.
- 1 How We Selected These 10 Radios with Best Reception
- 2 Quick Comparison
- 3 Reviews of 10 Radios with Best Receptions
- 3.1 Sony ICF-P36 Portable AM/FM Radio
- 3.2 Sangean PR-D18BK AM/FM/Portable Digital Radio
- 3.3 Rolton W405 Portable Mini FM Radio Speaker Music Player
- 3.4 Panasonic RF-2400D AM / FM Radio
- 3.5 Sony ICF-S10MK2 Pocket AM/FM Radio
- 3.6 Retekess V115 Portable AM FM Radio with Shortwave Radio
- 3.7 Sangean LB-100 Ultra Rugged Compact AM / FM Radio
- 3.8 Sony ICF-F10 Two 2 Band FM/AM Portable Battery Transistor Radio
- 3.9 DreamSky Portable AM/FM Radio Alarm Clock
- 3.10 Sangean TB-100 (Toughbox)
- 4 Buying Guide for AM/FM Radios with Best Reception
- 5 Final Verdict
How We Selected These 10 Radios with Best Reception
First off, you will notice that most of the radios on our list are portable radios, but we have a perfectly good reason for doing so. Portable radios are often far more affordable than other kinds of radios. In addition, they are also better at what they do than smartphones with FM capability.
We picked these radios based on their overall build quality and the reviews that the radios have amassed online. As you may have noticed, most of the radios on our list also come from reputable brands who are keen on quality. Consequently, you can expect all the radios to perform exceptionally when it comes to reception capabilities.
Radio with Best Battery Life
Rolton W405 Portable Mini FM Radio Speaker Music Player
Most Compact Radio
Sony ICF-P36 Portable AM/FM Radio
Most Durable Radio
Sangean LB-100 Ultra Rugged Compact AM / FM Radio
Reviews of 10 Radios with Best Receptions
The Sony ICF-P36 could very well be the most elegant looking radio on our list. Its nice black finish and minimalist controls on the side really complement what a modern radio ought to look like, but that's not all. Its pricing, performance, and features really set it apart from the others.
First off, this radio is lightweight. Weighing in at only 200g, you can tuck it away in your pocket and remove it any time you feel like tuning in to your favorite station. Since it has an integrated AM and FM tuner, you get to also enjoy a wide variety of radio stations from both bands.
You will hardly struggle with reception issues when you have the ICF-P36, and that's simply because Sony goes overboard with most of its products. While small, this little radio can manage an output power of 100mW while using just two AA type batteries.
The best thing we loved about the Sangean PR-D18BK was its strong focus on durability and portability. Though it has a wide array of cool features waiting for you, we must admit that the protective bumper it has all around its body was innovative.
Feature-wise, the PR-D18BK does not disappoint as well as it comes with a twin alarm system which consists of a buzzer and a humane wake system. Very few portable radios think of incorporating such features.
Besides that, you also get a neat little LCD display that is also backlit. It displays all the relevant information like the current frequency you've tuned to and even the battery levels so that you know what time you need to plug in.
On the radio's front, you will also find a number of useful buttons which also consist of the 10 station presets that let you save your favorite channels with ease.
Rolton's W405 is a good example of how far portable radios can go when it comes to good reception. It is a portable mini FM radio that comes with a TF card that makes it versatile. For its price, we had very little to complain about.
First off, the radio weighs a mere 128g which is far lighter than the Sony ICF-P36. Secondly, it comes with a 1500mAh rechargeable battery, and this means that you don’t have to keep buying the AA batteries each time you run out. However, since Li-ion batteries also deteriorate with time, you would also need to replace the W405's battery after long use.
The radio also offers multiple power methods such as using a USB or a power adapter. This kind of versatility lets you choose the most convenient method of powering the radio. Unlike other radios, you can always just plug it in whenever you run out of battery rather than heading out to buy a fresh pair of AAs.
Panasonic is an equally trusted brand just like Sony. Claiming that the Panasonic RF-2400D radio is not a good choice would be a big lie. To us, the RF-2400D is a relatively modern radio that will win the hearts of modern folks and those who still fancy the look of classic radios.
The mere fact that it requires 4 AA batteries shows you that it does take performance seriously. After all, powering the 10cm speaker isn't such a small task. While newer radios come with digital synthesizers, you won't find this on the RF-2400D because that would kill the whole classic look and feel of the radio.
We were equally impressed with the build quality of the radio, but we somewhat expected this since Panasonic has been known to produce high quality products in the past. All in all, the RF-2400D is a radio we'd recommend to anyone who wants simplicity and is nostalgic about classic radios.
Sony's ICF-S10MK2 Pocket radio is the perfect radio for anyone who loves Sony products and wanted to enjoy the retro look. Though physically similar to the Sony ICF-P36, the ICF-S10MK2 is a telescoping antenna with decent battery life and impressive receive capabilities.
The radio has a small extendable antenna on its top which you can use whenever you feel the signal quality isn't so great. Like the Sony ICF-P36, this unit also uses two AA batteries and has an output power of 100mW.
However, battery life on the radio varies depending on the band you are tuned in to. If you are on the FM band, you can expect battery life of up to 40 hours while in AM, you can get up to 45 hours.
Sound quality is generally good on this radio even at low levels, and this goes to show that Sony has always lived up to its promise.
If you wanted to have some little control over your portable radio, then the Retekess V115 could come in handy. We loved this radio because apart from having great reception, it also had almost all the features you could get in the other radios on our list.
Trying to record a broadcast? No problem. Simply insert a microSD TF card in the radio and hit the record button and the V115 will do the rest. Since it also has a 1000mAh rechargeable battery, you won't have to worry about buying AA batteries every now and then. This is helpful as the V115 can use power a little faster than other radios. This is majorly because of the multiple features of the radio.
Other than that, you also get a fairly large LCD display that is also backlit. You can adjust its backlight levels with ease, and this makes the radio fun to use even in the dark.
The Sangean LB-100 is a minimalist radio that seems to have taken ruggedness and durability to the next level. Everything from its compact roll-cage protective design to its rubber shock-blocks tells you that this is the perfect radio for an outdoor event.
All the tough exterior of the LB-100 is great for keeping it safe, but it does not lag behind when it comes to performance as well. First off, it is worth mentioning that its antenna is compact and flexible. This means you can adjust it easily without having to worry if it will sustain damages after an impact.
Though the LB-100 is ideally a digital radio, it does come with a rotary dial which helps you get precise signals. The large 2" LCD display will come in handy when searching for a signal as it will indicate the current band you are in as well as the current frequency.
Though the Sony ICF-F10 is the third radio from Sony on our list, it is far different from both the ICF-S10MK2 and the ICF-P36 mainly because of its design. It is a compact radio with a large 3.75" speaker that has great performance and boasts an impressive battery life.
You can get up to 200 hours of battery life from the unit. Compared with the other Sony products we had featured, you can already see why the ICF-F10 stands out despite looking more retro than the ICF-S10MK2.
The radio uses two type D batteries which are larger than the regular AA batteries and this can somewhat explain why its battery life is great. It also features an earphone jack which can come in handy especially when you want to enjoy a broadcast privately. Of course, you can always turn down the volume of the large speaker if you lack a pair of headphones.
Other than being highly affordable, the DreamSky Portable AM/FM radio is a feature-packed radio much like the Retekess V115. However, since its design and build quality are equally impressive, it would be unfair to rank it in the same category as the V115.
The radio weighs a mere 9.6 ounces which means that you can carry it almost anywhere without feeling burdened. In addition, it comes with a small but easy to see LCD display that shows information such as the current time, the band you're tuned to, the frequency, and even the battery level.
DreamSky also included an alarm system just like some of the other radios we've already reviewed. Nevertheless, few of the other radios had a sleeper time function that automatically shuts down the radio to save on power. This can greatly extend the life of the two AA batteries that the radio uses.
Its name says it all. The Sangean TB-100 is indeed a tough box much like the Sangean LB-100. In fact, both radios physically look the same. You do get the same compact roll-cage protective design and the rugged look, but this unit comes with plenty of power input methods.
The TB-100 can use either AC power or four type C batteries. It can also use a rechargeable battery, but you won't have to worry about the charging process since the radio features a built-in battery charger. The charging LED indicator on its backlit display also informs you when the battery is fully charged.
Sound quality from the unit is good thanks to its 5.25-inch full range speaker. However, we found the unit to be a little bulky even though much of its body was built using ABS plastic.
Buying Guide for AM/FM Radios with Best Reception
Before we get started on what you should be looking for in a radio whenever you want the best reception, it'd be good to first understand a thing or two about signal transmission. A transmitter is what creates a signal. The closer your radio is to a transmitter, the better the signal strength will be and the clearer the audio will be.
However, since your radio is the receiver, its sensitivity also counts and can affect the audio quality. While factors such as the power of the transmitter and atmospheric noise determine the signal strength, a radio's sensitivity also plays a small part. This is the main reason why radios generally lack "cool specifications" like computers or smartphones.
As such, we'd be lying if we were to say that reception capability is a factor you should look out for because it is difficult to quantify. Rather, you should infer a radio's reception capabilities from its features and even the kind of power it uses. With that said, let's now look at some of the considerations you should make.
Most small and compact portable radios often don't have extendable antennas. They use internal antennas which are still great, but they can at times fall short when you are too far away from a transmitter.
Consequently, you would be better off choosing a radio that has an antenna. In most cases, you will notice that audio quality improves once you extend the antenna compared to when you leave it retracted.
Batteries don't necessarily dictate your radio's reception capabilities, but they can give you a clue about the kind of power that the radio has. You need to be sure about the kind of battery that your radio needs before you purchase it.
Most of the radios on our list use small batteries like the AA batteries but still offer great reception because the power is used solely for AM/FM reception and outputting audio. On the other hand, radios with a couple more features will need slightly bigger batteries and they may end up running out faster.
Don't let our selection of portable radios limit you from going for other types of radios. There's a high possibility that those radios will still have great reception capabilities. Whether it's a car radio, a clock radio, or a table radio, reception capability is not something you'll need to worry about. However, it would still be a good idea to check and ensure that the radios either have antennas or can accept third party antennas.
Believe it or not, but price also affects not only the reception capability of a radio but its overall quality. Radios that are often too cheap won't have great reception. This is because these radios often use basic components which won't offer you performance. The best way to know that you are dealing with a quality product is by ensuring that your radio's price is not too far off from the price you'd find from a reputable brand.
If you're worried about reception capability when it comes to radios, you can put your worries to rest because you are likely to get a radio with good reception anyway. However, you shouldn't be too laxed when picking too because there are a couple of factors that you need to consider before you get the radio you wanted. Focusing on the quality of the radio is usually a good way to start as it will give you a heads-up of what to expect from the radio when it comes to reception and audio quality as well.