I've been listening since I was a little kid. My first radios were National Panasonic analog models, given to me by a family friend. I have owned many of the legendary portables from the 70's and 80's including the Panasonic RF-2200, Sony ICF-6500W, Sony ICF-2010, and Sony ICF-SW7600GR.
Current inventory: Radio Shack DX-160, Redsun RP-2000, Tecsun PL-390, Eton E100, Degen DE-1123, Degen DE-321, Sony ICF-SW20, Kchibo D96L, Bulova 885. The first SW radio I ever bought (at age 15 I think) was given
to my late brother Paul, and is still in use in my sister-in-law's home, the previously mentioned Panasonic RF-2200.
Good online info for the hobby:
SWLing.com: http://swling.com/ great starting point
The SWLing post (blog): http://swling.com/
Herculodge (posts about radio, watches, and more): http://herculodge.
My own blog: http://fofio.blogspot.com
Prime Time Shortwave (schedules): http://www.
I belong to a group called Ultralight DX at Yahoo. They are primarily for AM DXing on very small radios, but a great resource for SWLers too, since most of the radios are AM/FM/SW, and many of the members are also SWLers. Lots of MW and LW antenna projects too. Here are some links for them:
the ultralight DX file area of DXER.CA has reviews of some of these and a little tech talk: http://www.dxer.ca/home-
The Ultralight DX group on Yahoo is more for AM DXing but frequently has reviews on these radios: http://groups.yahoo.
One of the members of the group, Tao Qu, has an eBay store that comes highly recommended: http://stores.ebay.com/
SinoRadios/_i.html?rt=nc&_dmd= 1&_sid=167592691&_trksid= p4634.c0.m14&_vc=1
There are 2 magazines:
Popular Communications (not my favorite. published by the same people who publish CQ-Amateur Radio
Monitoring Times (much better than PopComm for SW listeners, but a bit campy at times)
both are available at Barns & Noble usually
The World Radio TV Handbook (2012 edition just came out) http://www.wrth.com/
Klingenfuss Guide (never had one, but many SWLers swear by it) http://www.klingenfuss.org/homepage.htm
There are several main categories of radios these days. I will list what the reviewers say overall about some, and indicate which ones I own or have owned. I tend to buy and sell a lot just to try things.
Tecsuns and Degens are available on eBay (usually from Sino Radio store) or from Amazon
|Grundig S450 DLX|
I won't cover the large professional ones.
Redsun RP-2100 / C. Crane CCradioSW: Good sounding, and sensitive. I own a Redsun RP-2000 which is a 2100 without memories. Build quality is so-so
Grundig S350 / Tecsun BCL-2000 and BCL-3000: An analog with digital readout. Great audio so-so performer
Grundig S450 DLX: This is a Grundig version of the Redsun. Re-designed, and better quality. Sometimes goes on sale cheap.
The Redsuns and Grundig 450 DLX models can accept an SSB adapter, but otherwise no SSB on any of these. I have a spare SSB adapter for them.
Sideband, book sized:
Grundig G3 - Degen DE-1106: Degen makes this radio for Grundig. Has SSB and also Synchronous mode.
Tecsun PL-660: This is Tecsun's Synch mode radio. Also has SSB. Supposed to be a better radio than the G3/1106
Sony ICF-SW7600GR: This is one of the best made. Not as sensitive as the radios above, but best Synch detector and built like a tank
Degen DE-1103, Kaito KA-1103: These are inexpensive book-sized radios with SSB. Rated very high for performance, but have strange ergonomics
Degen DE-1102, Kaito KA-1102: A little different than above, not as good a performer, but better ergonomics
Tecsun PL-600: Basically the 660 without Synch
Grundig G4000a: oldie but goodie. A little dated, but good performer. Bargain at $89 from Universal Radio
Sangean makes several radios in this range, but they have fallen out of favor lately
A little smaller:
Tecsun DSP portables: These use a Silicon Labs radio-on-a-chip that is VERY impressive. These are the most sensitive radios with just a whip that I own. Amazing on AM and FM too. Has 4 to 5 bandwidth settings. Most have lots of memories and some form of auto tune. Some of the newer ones have a feature called ETM which scans all of the bands, and saves any readable station to a bank of separate memories from the main memory. None of these have SSB.
Here they are:
PL-300 - Grundig G8: no keypad, decent but limited
PL-310 - Larger AM ferrite but no ETM
PL-380 - ETM with smaller ferrite
PL-606 - no keypad, 4 bandwidths, tiny, but performs like the 390. ETM. cheap!
PL-505 - similar to 606 with slightly different styling
PL-390 - Stereo version of 380 with even longer ferrite than 310 and ETM. This is the one I have. Amazing radio.
PL-398 series - 2 different models similar to the 390. One version has an MP3 player with an SD slot, the other lets you play a Bluetooth device through it.
PL-360 - Mini version. Shaped like a TV remote. less performance but fits anywhere for travel
Degen DSP portables: Degen for some reason uses the DSP chips to make ridiculously small radios. Super thin. Not as good performing as the large ones, but great for travel. I keep one in my backpack. Many have MP3 players, but also record to MP3 with an electronic timer like an old VCR. I think the model of mine is DE-1123
Degen is about to release a new radio, the DE-1128, which looks a lot like the Tecsun PL-398 series. They will NOT be selling an English language version under agreement from Grundig which will be selling their own version called the G2
I have a few others worth mentioning. I have the older version of the Tecsun PL-210, which is sold as the ETON E100, or Grundig G100. Tiny non-dsp radio that performs great
I used to own a SONY ICF-2010. the 2010 is known as one of the best SW portables ever made. They don't go cheap, but are worth it. The first Synchronous portable.
I have a Degen DE-321 which is a DSP-tuned analog radio. Interesting little thing. The tuning circuit is actually just a variable resistor. Dirt cheap and works well. Very few components. most of the radio is on 1 chip.
1 Radio: Tecsun PL-660
1 Radio on a budget: Tecsun PL-390
2 Radios (small): Tecsun PL-660 and Tecsun PL-606 or 505
2 Radios (larger): Tecsun PL-660 and Grundig S450 DLX
3 Radios: Tecsun PL-660, Grundig S450 DLX and Tecsun PL-606 or 505
73 and good DXing!