What's a good shortwave radio for someone on a budget?
November 29, 2007 7:38 AM   Subscribe

What's the best shortwave radio for someone on a budget?

I used to own a shortwave radio and then it died and I never got another one. What's the best shortwave radio for someone with a limited budget? I'm thinking 20-30 bucks. Can anything decent be gotten for that price (or less!)?

This seems like something that would have been asked before, but I couldn't find anything.
posted by Autarky to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Well, you're not going to get the world's most fabulous radio for that, but I like this and this for that price. Later, if you decide that's not strong enough, this is a good page to learn more.
posted by JanetLand at 7:45 AM on November 29, 2007

Response by poster: Yeah, I'm not expecting to get a superb piece of craftsmanship, just something to get started on.
posted by Autarky at 7:54 AM on November 29, 2007

These are showing up on Ebay for nice prices.
posted by JanetLand at 8:06 AM on November 29, 2007

I am a big fan of the Kaito WRX911 (review, more reviews) in that price range. I found one on sale for $15 by froogling and I was quite surprised at its sensitivity. The Grundig 300PE (recommended earlier) is an analog receiver with a digital display, so it's a little deceiving in its capability.
No matter what receiver you pick, remember that we are currently in a solar minimum, so you're not going to get as much as you hope for. Read up about HF propagation and solar activity to get the most out of your radio.
If you can afford to go up a little bit in price, there are some nicer entry level digital receivers in the $60-100 range (like the Sangean 404 or Kaito 1101.
posted by leapfrog at 8:20 AM on November 29, 2007

The best deal going for a shortwave right now is the Chinese manufactured DeGen DE1103 (which is branded in the US as a Kaito KA1103). They're usually around $50 on eBay and elsewhere.

They get rave reviews, and have a PLL synthesized (digital) tuner, SSB, and an external antenna jack -- which are all very rare in radios at this price point -- and very useful (especially if you intend to use it in North America, or want to try to get AFRTS overseas).

I've found that most of the chinese made analog-tuned units have a hard time staying on-frequency for lengthy periods of time on shortwave, which annoys me. They're positioned as emergency radios, rather than something that's going to see regular use. I'm not sure that I'd want to buy one for less than $50 (new), but obviously your mileage or tastes may vary.
posted by toxic at 9:31 AM on November 29, 2007

Push your budget to the $50 - $75 range, even if you have to wait.

Your level of quality will be -much- better as well as your satisfaction during use.
posted by sandpine at 9:42 AM on November 29, 2007

I am jumping on this thread way late, but I definitely second the recommendation of getting the 1103. I have the Degen model and it works wonders (especially for the price), but you will probably fare better with the Kaito model. Shipping to China is quite expensive and time consuming in the event that you have a faulty unit. I'd say it's definitely worth spending just a bit more to get one that's under warranty in the U.S. (assuming you live here, that is).
posted by dhammond at 6:57 PM on December 28, 2007

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