Top 10 Best Portable AM FM Radio Reviews: How To Choose in 2018?
Now you can listen to your favorite radio talk shows and music stations anytime, anywhere —thanks to the portable am fm radios.
Built with a compact and lightweight design, these radios are pretty easy to carry to any place.
They’re also durable enough to serve you for a long time.
If you want to get the best am fm radio that will always accompany you everywhere, you’ll need to do a lot of research until you get the perfect match.
This is because these radios come with varying styles, models, types, colors, etc. They even come with varying frequency ranges, battery life, and cost.
Simply put, getting your perfect portable radio is tricky.
Here’s the good news:
In this buying guide, we’ll discuss in details the KEY factors that will quickly connect you to the right am/fm radio for you.
We’ve researched and compiled for you the TEN top-best am fm radio reviews that we’ll also share with you below.
What’s an AM FM Radio?
The AM FM radio is basically a receiver of your favorite AM and FM radio channels.
As you already know, the radio stations use AM (amplitude modulation) and FM (frequency modulation) for their broadcasts.
The main difference between the AM and FM is the level of modulation—where the AM is the simplest and FM the most complex. The AM is ideal for transmitting at greater distances while the FM will do well over smaller distances (less than 100 miles).
AM is usually used by talk-show radio stations while the FM is mostly used for music. This is simply because there are higher chances of interference in AM radios compared to the FM radios.
With that said, the AM FM radio has been around for decades; they were actually the most popular electronic communication device in the 50s.
Today, they’re still relevant (even with the entry of the digital radios).
They’ve evolved in various types, with the most common ones being the vintage, digital, Walkman, boomboxes, and the pocket/portable AM Fm radios.
In the rest of this post, we’ll focus on the portable/pocket AM FM radio.
Our 10 Best AM FM Radio Reviews:
1. Panasonic RF-2400D AM / FM Radio, Silver
Our am fm radio reviews kicks off with the Panasonic RF-2400D AM / FM Radio. This is a simple, straightforward model that we recommend to anyone looking for a retro-styled, affordable am fm radio.
The performance score card for this radio soars above average. This is made possible by the awesome features the radio comes with. One such feature involves the large speaker which delivers a well-balanced sound, so that you can listen to all channels clearly.
Changing between channels is done using a manual dial. You’ll love how accurately this dial picks various am or fm stations, unlike in most of the radios out there.
It also comes with a telescopic antenna that you can easily adjust to improve your radio signal reception. Just ensure you point it correctly to prevent different stations from bleeding into each other.
If you don’t want to disturb those around you, you can plug in your earphones or headphones into the 3.5mm audio jack that come with the radio.
Again, this is one of the top old-fashioned, simplistic am fm radios you can get at an affordable cost.
2. JENSEN SB2000RB Portable AM/FM Radio in Red
The Studebaker Portable AM/FM Radio also comes in a simplistic, retro-style design, just like the model we’ve discussed above. Red in color, this radio has a tabletop design which makes it an ideal addition to your kitchen, living room, or bedroom.
The most amazing this you’ll find in this radio is an auxiliary input jack. This means you can connect your mp3 player, iPod, or any other digital audio player to it and listen to your songs, podcasts, and other audio clips.
The radio comes with a large 2.25" mono speaker (with 350mW output). This enables you and those around you to clearly listen to various channels. Besides, it features a telescopic, rotary antenna that you can adjust to any side to improve the reception of various radio programs’ signals.
Other amazing features w found in this radio include a foldable carrying handle that makes this radio easy and hassle-free to carry to any place. Don’t forget it also has a speaker volume button to let you easily balance the produced sound.
3. Sony ICFP26 Portable AM/FM Radio (Black)
Sony is a respected brand in both visual and audio fields. The company has continually manufactured top-quality radios and TVs, and you can always count on their products to serve you better and for longer.
In our third place, we take a look at one of their pocket radios—the Sony ICFP26 Portable AM/FM Radio.
One of the most notable features in this radio revolves around the integrated headphone and speaker jack. This gives you a choice of either broadcasting your radio through the entire room or listen to it alone.
It also features an LED tuning indicator that enables you to easily find your favorite radio channels at night or in low light conditions. Besides, it features an LED charge indicator that lets you know the remaining amount of battery power in advance.
With the included carry straps, you can easily carry this top-quality radio to just any place without any issues.
Unfortunately, the radio does not give you the option of using rechargeable batteries. Rather, it only uses 2 AA batteries…but given the fact that it has a few features only, it’s sure to moderately use the battery power.
Overall, this is a simplistic, straightforward pocket radio that you can take with you out there, whether you’re hiking, walking, exercising, etc. its sleek style makes it ideal for displaying in a modern house.
4. Sangean WR-11SE AM/FM Table Top Radio
If you’re looking for the best tabletop radio, you can’t go wrong with the Sangean WR-11SE AM/FM Table Top Radio.
The first thing that pulled us towards this radio was its MDF cabinet construction with real walnut finish. This makes it look super elegant. But most importantly, it improves the overall radio sound quality—thanks to its acoustically tuned properties and design! It gives you a dynamic bass compensation which ensures rich, clean sound at all times.
Because the radio also features a tuning LED indicator, you’ll have an easy time getting the best possible reception from the antenna.
The large rotary facilitates soft and precise tuning which enables you to achieve more strong and stable signals for various channels.
We were also pleased to discover that this radio has a 3.5 mm auxiliary input. Needless to mention, this lets you connect your mp3 player or any other portable media player to the Sangean WR-11 and enjoy your digital music library.
Other notable factors include the 3.5mm headphone jack that lets you privately listen to your favorite music station and a Record-Out jack that enables you to route your audio output to the recording equipment or other devices.
5. Horologe AM FM Pocket Radio with Time, Alarm Clock, Digital Display, Stereo Mode
The Horologe AM FM Pocket Radio is doubtlessly the most affordable radio you can get on the market today. But don’t make a mistake of downgrading it based on its cost.
We did that very mistake and got surprised to know that this is a feature-rich radio that deserves a higher cost, really. We were impressed by top features like the digital LDC screen time display and alarm, and stereo mode.
When it comes to performance, this radio doesn’t disappoint. It’s ‘brain’ comprises of the advanced DSP chip which results in stronger signal analysis and reception, while making the channels more stable.
It also boasts of a super-portable, small and thin design. It has a .9”2.4*0.6 inch body that you can easily put in your pocket, backpack, handbag, shopping bag etc., without any struggles.
With the crisp & clear buttons (and function indication too) that come with this radio, operating is so easy that even the children and elderly can do it.
On top of it all, the radio is made from durable and reliable BS and FR-4 materials. These are eco-friendly, non-pollutant, non-poisonous, and harmless to humans, plants, and animals. In addition to that, they give the radio strong shock and impact resistant capabilities.
6. Sony ICF-P36 Portable AM/FM Radio – Black
Sony makes a second appearance on our list! The best thing about this Sony ICF-P36 Portable AM/FM Radio is that it’s the second most affordable portable radio that made it to our list.
At only 13.2 x 7 cm and measuring approx. 220g light, this radio is the true definition of a portable am fm model. It’ll fit in a large pocket without any issues. Moreover, it features a handy carry strap that makes it an even better travel companion for you.
Sony has a history of making top-performing electronics, and this radio isn’t an exception. It has a great am fm reception to let you receiver you preferred radio programs clearly. With the included LED tuning light, finding the right frequencies has never been so easy for a radio.
We also liked the fact that this radio uses 2 AA batteries (you can go for the rechargeable). You can expect these batteries to last for up to 25 hours, saving you from the hassle of replacing them after every few hours.
Thanks to the included battery level indicator, you’ll always know when your battery power is about to run out.
The extremely easy to use radio also comes with a built-in speaker as well as headphone/earphone jack. This is to mean that you have an option of either listening to it loudly or privately.
7. Sangean PR-D18RB AM/FM/Clock Portable True Digital Radio with Protective Bumper (Black/Red)
Designed with a truly sturdy and rigid body, Sangean PR-D18RB is the perfect portable am/fm radio to bring to camping holidays, outdoor games, picnic, and so on. It can withstand all sorts of abuses out there without getting worn out.
The portable radio comes with an ultra-compact size (measures 6.54" long, standing 4.26" tall). It has a feather-light weight of 12.5 ounces which makes it even more easier to carry.
The Auto Seek function makes the radio completely easy to operate as it seeks all the active stations in your area, unlike the manual dial that you need to keep rotating with your hands.
Concerning the power, you can choose the standard AC adapter when around your home or 4 AA batteries when outdoors. Since it also features a battery power status indicator, you’ll always know how much power is remaining in the battery.
We also can’t fail to mention the fully functional alarm clock integrated into this radio. It has dual alarm settings that you can use to wake you up for job or when attending an important even or meeting.
Probably the best thing about this radio is the fact that it comes in up to 4 exciting colors. This is good news for you because you’ll get a model that comes in your favorite color.
8. Sangean WR-2 FM-RBDS AM Wooden Cabinet Digital Tuning Receiver (Walnut)
Still looking for the best tabletop radio? Well, Sangean WR-2 FM-RBDS is another great tabletop am fm radio that we recommend you to buy.
Featuring a simplistic, wooden cabinet (walnut) construction, this radio comes designed to deliver exceptional audio reproduction. This is made possible by the unique acoustically balanced enclosure plus enhanced frequency response speaker and the manufacturer’s advanced audio circuitry— all of which gang up to deliver the sound and features that can only be compared to the large home stereo systems.
The radio also boasts of digital tuning system which makes it even easier to operate. It presents you with Radio Data System (RDS) that a short message on all the available stations as well as other crucial info.
It also features a real-time alarm and clock that you can set to wake you up to a buzzer or your favorite radio station.
Remember you’ll be accessing all this info (radio station, alarm clock, etc.) on a large easy to ready LCD display with up to 3 settings for comfortable view.
And the best part? It has back up power function. This lets you listen to your radio for an additional 6 minutes in case of a power failure, while retaining the alarm and clock settings as well as the station memory presets for up to one hour!
9. Sangean PR-D7 BK AM/FM Digital Rechargeable Portable Radio – Black
This radio won a spot on our list because of how light it feels (at around 1.4 lbs.) and how ultra-compact it looks (at 4.5 inches tall, 8 inches long).
Besides portability, this radio will surprise you with its exceptional level of selectivity and sensitivity. It is capable of pulling even the most distant stations you can’t imagine. Adding to its excellent performance is the integrated PLL synthesized tuning system which ensures exact, fade-free reception at all times, in all places.
It features a large LCD display (measuring 3.2" x 0.9") that shows you the current station and time. The fact that the screen is backlit means you’ll be able to easily view the displayed info even across the room.
We also love the ten memory presents that come with this radio—5 for AM, 5 for FM stations. If you fill these presets with the Auto see function, you’re sure to find all active stations around you automatically and quickly.
Like all the previously discussed Sangeans, this model also features an alarm clock with buzzer or radio settings.
As for the power, this radio can run on 6 AA rechargeable batteries which you can simply charge right in the radio. And whenever you plug in the radio via the AC power, it will start charging the batteries, so they’ll always have enough power to sustain you while out there.
10. Sangean LB-100 Compact AM/FM Ultra Rugged Radio Receiver
We close our portable radio reviews with the Sangean LB-100 Compact AM/FM Ultra Rugged Radio Receiver.
We strongly recommend this radio to anyone looking for the best model for use in a job site, building site or any other harsh outdoor conditions. This is because the radio has a durable ABS plastic material construction. This is not only makes it an incredibly rugged radio but also resistant to drops and impact resistant.
As if that’s not enough, the radio also comes designed with a rainproof, dustproof design—meaning you can use it in rainy/wet conditions without worrying about water getting into its internal parts and damaging it for good.
The radio boasts of a flexible pivoting antenna which works hand in hand with the integrated digital PLL tuner for enhanced (exact, fade-free) signal reception.
The large LCD display gives you clear visibility of the current station as well as time. Because this display is backlit, it’s extremely easy to see even at night or in low lit conditions.
We also liked the 10 memory presets that come with this radio, 5 for FM and 5 for AM. All these presets are easily visible on the LCD display and makes operation of this radio much easier.
Even better, the radio features up to 5 easy touch memory preset buttons that grant you fast access to your favorite am/fm stations.
Portable AM FM Radio Buying Guide: What To Check?
When looking for the best portable am fm radio, you’re likely to get confused and overwhelmed by the many choices at your disposal?
The secret to getting the right model for you easily and quickly lie in focusing on the factors we’ve for you below:
Yes, we’re dealing with portable radios here… but did you know that the level of portability varies within these portable models?
You’ll find models with different sizes and portability features. Some radios will be more suitable for use in your home. Others will be easier to carry when exercising, sporting, traveling, walking, etc.
So, how do you go about the portability feature?
You should have a clear picture on your mind of where you plan to use your radio. If you plan to use it when walking, you’d want to look for something that can fit in your pocket or hand. Having additional features like belt clip, carry handle, etc., will make it even more convenient.
And if you plan to use it around your home, you can look for a model that comes with a tabletop design.
The power options for any am fm radio you wish to buy should also play a central role in your selection.
If you go for a model with rechargeable battery, you’d want to ensure the battery has a reliable life and does not last a few minutes’ when fully charged. This will ensure you continue enjoying listening to your radio even when you’re far from power source.
If you go with the battery operated radio, then make sure it uses batteries that are readily available. Plus it’s always good to carry some spare batteries with you, just in case the current ones run out of power.
NOTE: We noted that most people complain about their radios batteries not lasting as stated. This is because the battery life depends more on the features the radio comes with. (I.e. some features/functions are notorious for consuming more power, e.g. large batteries, LCD screen, etc.).
A portable am/fm radio with waterproofing is great for people who intend to use their radios outdoors in extreme weather conditions or water sports.
You don’t want water, dust, etc. to get its way into your new radio and damage it beyond repair.
So, make sure you get a model with a waterproof and dustproof design if you plan to use it outdoors in harsh climates.
If you don’t get a radio with excellent sound quality, how will you enjoy your favorite stations?
Check for the radio’s ability to produce good sound. Ensure it enables you to control the treble and bass— so you get a more balance sound.
A radio featuring an adjustable antenna is a plus when it comes to sound quality. By using the antenna, you can easily reduce the static so that your radio receives the channels more clearly.
Something else…if you intend to use your portable radio’s speaker so that everyone around you listens to it, then you’d also want to ensure the speaker quality is good.
Imagine having to manually scan through multiple channels until you find the one you’re looking for? That will be time-consuming (and you might even miss a show).
This explains why going for a radio with several presets is essential. These functions are convenient and will make your life easier.
Keep in mind that you can come across radios without a single preset. Still, you can find models with plenty of them (the most we found were 15 presets). These can be divided into AM, FM, and weather stations presents.
Just ensure all the presets on the radio you wish to buy will serve a purpose.
Let’s face it: we all have different tastes for styles as human beings.
The radio manufacturers seem to understand this fact better. And they’ve come up with radios of all styles and appearance to ensure you get something that best fits your style needs.
That said, we can divide the radio styles into two broad categories—the simple, vintage models that bring back the memories of the 90s and the modern-day models that come with all the frills plus a variety of colors to pick from.
Which style would you prefer for your portable am fm radio?
Speaker or Earphones?
By now, you already know that some portable radios come with either the speaker or earphone option. Others come with both features.
If you enjoy listening to your radio with earphones, then you should go for the radios with earphone/headphone jack. This feature is also ideal if you want to listen to your radio without disturbing those around you.
And if you want to share your new radio with others in a room or anywhere else, then it should come with a speaker.
All in all, we recommend you to get a model that comes with both the headphone jack and speaker to ensure you can enjoy both features where convenient.
On top of all this, you need to check the cost of that particular radio you’re planning to buy.
The truth about radios is that they also vary in terms of price, just like any other product you’ve bought before. And as the rule of thumb goes, the higher the cost, the better the radio quality and features that come with it.
For those on a budget, you can get smart when doing your research and end up with an affordable model with great quality plus most of the high-end features.
Though these are not must-have features for a portable am/fm radio, they’re nice to have in your radio. They include:
How an AM FM Radio Differs From Other Radios
Remember what we said earlier?
Well, the AM FM radios used to carry the day back in the 50s. They were the most popular electronic communication devices around.
Fast forward in the modern day, other types of radios have emerged.
The good news is that despite their modernity, they haven’t managed to completely wipe out the AM FM radios. In fact, the am/fm models still enjoy widespread usage across the globe.
But have you ever asked yourself how the AM FM radio differs from all the other radios known to humankind today?
Let’s try to understand this in our quick discussion below…
You already know that AM stands for Amplitude Modulation while FM stands for Frequency Modulation.
Now, what sets the AM and FM radios from the others is that they’re transmitted via the air, in the form of radio waves. For those who don’t know, these waves are part of wide range of electromagnetic waves.
The waves carry the program signals of various radio programs from the huge transmitters connected to the stations all the way to the smaller antenna on your radio.
The main catch here is that successful transmission of the program involves adding it to a radio wave- known as a carrier- through a process known as modulation.
If the program is added to the carrier such that the program signal causes carrier frequency fluctuations, then that’s frequency modulation (fm). And if the transmission involves making the peaks of carrier wave smaller or bigger, then it’s known as amplitude modulation (am).
AM FM Radio vs Apps: Which One To Prefer and Why?
Nowadays, it’s possible to listen to various radio channels right from your smartphone, thanks to the advent of the am fm radio apps.
In this section, we’ll weigh in our opinion on whether you should go for the am fm radio or the apps.
One thing we can all agree is that both the apps and the portable radios give you one advantage— letting you listen to your favorite statins anywhere, anytime.
That said, one of the factors you should focus on when comparing the two options is the cost. While the am fm radio requires you to spend once on them and enjoy using them forever, the apps require you to subscribe monthly in order to access them. Pandora, one of the most popular apps, has a subscription plan of $9.99 per month for the premium version.
If you compare this with the radio that costs $40 (one-time cost), you’ll all agree that the radio is a money saver.
Yes, there are free am fm radio apps…and even Pandora has a free version. But you don’t expect them to give you the same great features and transmission quality of the premium apps.
Regarding the signal reception, you’ll get the best if you invest in the best am/fm radio. Keep in mind that the radio comes with an antenna that lets you improve the signal reception, in just any place. This is something your smartphone might not have.
As for power, the radios are made to serve only one purpose, so their battery power is sure to last longer than that of the device in which you’ve installed the app. What’s more, the radios can use both the rechargeable and extra batteries without any issues, unlike your mobile device.
We believe that am fm radio will be a more suitable for you given its cost-saving nature and better signal reception. However, we leave you to make the final decision on which option you should go with based on your personal preferences.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much does a portable am fm portable radio cost?
As we mentioned earlier, the cost of these radios varies from model to model, depending on the features and quality.
You can expect the cost range of a quality radio to run from $20 to $50, though it’s also possible to find model above $50.
2. Does the am/fm radio support two-way communication?
No. An am fm radio is basically a receiver, a one-way communication device that lets you listen to your favorite radio programs.
3. I’m having reception issues with my am fm radio. What should I do?
Most AM/FM radios are prone to this particular issue. Luckily, there are certain steps you can take to determine the cause of this problem and even fix it on your own.
Check out this article on how to troubleshoot your radio reception issues.
We’ve come to the end of our exhaustive best am/fm radio buying guide.
Though these radios were most popular in the 1950s, they still enjoy extensive usage up to now. The portable models, in particular, have become popular today given how convenient they’re to carry to any place.
When looking for the right am fm radio for you, we advise you to be extra careful so that you don’t end up with the wrong model. Our buying guide section will show you how to navigate through the countless radios on the market today until you find the best one for you.
And as we promised:
We’ve shared with you the top TEN most recommended portable am fm radios that you can order right now and start enjoying your favorite radio channels—anywhere, anytime 1
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