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PORTABLE
SHORTWAVE RADIOS
WHAT TO BUY?
AND WHY

Shortwave Guide

Shortwave Reception Tips

Shortwave monitoring from around the world using portable shortwave radio recievers.

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Local Live Action Scanning. Hear local news as it happens!


International Shortwave Broadcast
Band Characteristics!




LISTEN TO THE
WORLD WITH SHORTWAVE RADIO!

TALK TO IT
WITH YOUR HAM LICENSE!
The study guide below is all you need!



 

 

 



Shortwave Radio
Listen To The Shortwave Radio World Live With Your Receiver

"Lots of ham radio operators like myself got their start in Ham Radio
 by roaming the shortwave bands with shortwave radios!"


N4UJW ~ WEBMASTER HAMUNIVERSE.COM


What is Shortwave Radio ?
We've all heard AM and FM radio stations on our car radio.
But what about shortwave?


A shortwave radio is specially designed receiver that receives shortwave radio stations from places and countries far away from where you live and are "hidden" in between the standard AM and FM band on frequencies from about 3Mhz to 30Mhz. Some are located within the U.S. but most are located in many other countries around the world. You can almost pick a country and find one or more shortwave broadcasters there.

This article will introduce you to some good basic information about shortwave radio listening and will recommend some excellent shortwave radio receivers to get you started in the exciting world of shortwave radio listening! Read on......

If you live in the U.S., you can easily listen to stations broadcasting from foreign countries like, Radio Australia, Radio Cuba, Swiss Radio International, Deutsche Welle (Germany), Radio Netherlands, Voice of Free China, Radio China International, Radio Japan and many other countries if you have a good shortwave receiver!
Also if you live in the U.S., there are several shortwave broadcast stations transmitting to other countries from the U.S. You can see a list of them by looking at this article we have put together. Come back here when you are finished.

These U.S based stations and many others worldwide broadcast in English at certain times, usually in the evenings here in the U.S. These stations also broadcast to foreign countries, in the language of the people in the foreign countries. Yes, that's right, you don't need to know Japanese to listen to Radio Japan.  Most people who have not actually listened to shortwave signals don't know this.
 
Shortwave broadcasts are in real time! You hear them instantly! They are not delayed like they would be on the internet! You hear them at the speed of radio waves over the air.


These international stations transmit on bands called
World Band Radio or "shortwave".
Shortwave radio receivers can  pick up other signals that are not considered World Band Radio, like Amateur (Ham radio) operators, maritime signals from ships, aircraft including military, coastal weather stations, news broadcasts and much, much more. There are different radio frequency ranges reserved for each type of use.

Shortwave radio signals are capable of traveling long distances, unlike AM and FM stations which usually can only be heard for about 50 - 75 miles from the broadcasting station, depending on your antenna. Some very powerful AM broadcast stations can be heard across the U.S. at night.
Shortwave radio signals are designed to skip around the world and bounce from the ionosphere, meaning they can be heard far away. However, this has always meant that the quality of signals reaching the listener has always been variable, depending how strong the signal is at your location, your receiver and your antenna. The sound might also be almost as good as an FM radio for a while and then be barely heard moments later caused by fading and changes to the ionosphere. International broadcast stations usually direct or "beam" their signals to the designated listening areas during the evening hours when most listeners are at home. So, if you live in New York for example, your best shortwave listening times are usually between 8:00 p.m. and midnight. The broadcast is designed to be best heard at the designated audience location. For example, a broadcast clearly heard in New York State probably can not be heard in Seattle. Most Shortwave broadcasters are on the air 24 hours a day and broadcast on various frequencies depending on the time of day so their signals can usually be heard round the clock in most locations simply by changing the dial settings (frequency) on your shortwave receiver. Much like changing radio stations on your regular radios.

Major shortwave broadcasters, like the Voice of America, (see their frequencies and times here), broadcast on many different frequencies every day to just about everywhere, in many languages. The BBC is listened to by millions of people every day in many countries.
There is a sound sample below recorded directly from a shortwave radio in my ham radio station along with other samples.These major stations also have relay stations all over the world, helping to provide a strong signal. The BBC broadcast from London you are listening to in other countries may actually be re-transmitted from Canada, which pickup the broadcast from a satellite. As a result, the big stations are very easy to hear.

Note that the BBC World Service ceased transmitting on short wave to North America and Australia in 2001 and to South America in 2005. Short-wave transmissions for Central America, the Caribbean and Europe ended in February 2008. Even if you live in these countries, you may still be able to hear them faintly depending on times and radio conditions. Click here for their shortwave frequencies, times, etc for more information.

Many large stations use extreme high power for shortwave broadcasting. Your local AM station may use up to 50,000 watts of broadcasting power. A shortwave broadcasting station may use 1,000,000 watts for each of their stations and very directive antenna arrays! You hear it all in real time with no internet delays or shutdowns!

What can you hear?  You can listen to news from around the world, propaganda, music, religious broadcasts, sporting events, etc. In short just about anything. Radio Cuba, for example, has probably the best jazz program on anywhere, on any type of broadcast medium, including television. Shortwave radio broadcasts have always been a big part in bringing the truth to oppressed people everywhere........and the not so truthful...... propaganda.

There's so much more on shortwave radio, including Transatlantic commercial and military aircraft, ships at sea, news wire services, coastal and marine weather broadcasts, research vessels and "pirate stations", (stations transmitting illegally), along with Amateur Radio stations from around the world plus lots more! You may even hear transmissions from the South Pole research stations!
A
ll in real time as it happens!

AUDIO SAMPLES:
Sample Ham Radio here! These ham radio operators were giving signal reports to another ham. Most were located in the U.S and some in Canada.

Sample news audio on 6.135mhz from the BBC recorded live at night off the air! (Long download) This recording was made before they stopped transmitting to my area.

Sample....Radio Netherlands from 9845khz Short simple station ID

Hints and Tips for better shortwave radio listening:

Good shortwave listening requires that you know the best hours to listen to various shortwave bands and frequencies.
The frequencies between about 9 and 12 MHz can be heard reasonably well in areas of both darkness and daylight.

If the location where you live is currently in daylight hours, the best reception is likely to be from shortwave transmitter sites (their locations), which are also in daylight and which are on frequencies over 9000 kHz. If you are in a location which is presently in darkness, look for transmitter station frequencies which are also in darkness and which are on frequencies below 12000 kHz.

So in a nutshell, if you are listing in the sunlight hours at your location, tune around 9 to 12 MHz or even higher frequencies. (9000kHz to 12000kHz).
If you are listening in the night time at your location, listen between frequencies below about 9MHZ. (9000kHz) As an added note, you may find many ham radio operators on the 75/80 meter band between 3.5MHz to 4.0MHz. Use the lsb mode on your receiver to receive them. Tune the voices carefully. If you us the AM mode on your receiver, you will near nothing but garbled voices!

How to listen to the shortwave radio bands! What kind of radio is needed to listen?


To be able to hear all of this as it happens LIVE, a shortwave radio has to tune these frequencies and bands.
Your standard AM/FM radio or scanner will not receive these bands!

This author (N4UJW A licensed Ham Radio operator and longtime shortwave listener), has spent thousands and thousands of hours just listening around the shortwave bands since early childhood and I still find myself returning to the excitement of SWLing (Shortwave listening)
. 

I have used several different brands and models of shortwave radio receivers in my time and still have a couple of old "Boat Anchors" that still give me that same excitement and a since of wonder that I had many years ago. In case you are wondering, Ham radio operators call the very old and "huge heavy" shortwave radios Boat Anchors".
In my travels around the world of ham radio and the internet, I have seen many new brands of shortwave receivers come and go and have reviewed many of the reviews to save you the hassel.......

Guess what? Several brands of shortwave receivers stand out among actual customer reviews and consistently stand out over time in the portable type shortwave receiver catagory.

Some of these brands that are very popular and are highly rated by actual customers and ham radio operators alike are listed below.
The two brands that consistently come out on top in portables are........
Sangean and Sony! And with the constant changing of receiver technology, other brands are doing a very good job also.
----------------
SANGEAN
THIS FROM SANGEAN'S WEB SITE

"Sangean Electronics is one of the world's oldest and largest manufacturers of multi-band, portable and pocket sized entertainment centers.

Established in 1974, the name Sangean is recognized throughout the world for its innovative design, unparalleled performance and matchless quality.

Sangean is proud to be the manufacturer of choice for Radio Shack, Siemens, Panasonic, Braun, AIWA, Emerson, Philips, Roberts and a host of others.

A large assortment of Sangean portable radios can be found at Amazon.com. See the listings below.

All Sangean products are high quality, portable and cosmetically appealing with the kind of feel and performance that has made Sangean the fastest growing radio line in the market today.

Outstanding products, combined with excellent customer service support and an unprecedented warranty policy in the audio industry have made Sangean the most appreciated company by customers owning a Sangean radio." 
Copyright Sangean 1998.  All Rights Reserved.


A REVIEW BY RADIO NETHERLANDS SHORTWAVE RECEIVER TEST TEAM

 
Sangean ATS-505


"In our opinion, the ATS-505 definitively ends our search. In summary, we like the radio. Though it has no choice of bandwidth filters, no ECSS and no lineout jack, the performance across the MW, SW and FM bands is, simply stated, significantly better than we expected for the money. To be sure, there are portable radios with more features and better performance, but these radios cost significantly more money.

We also believe that the ATS-505 would be a good choice for a first-time purchaser of a shortwave radio.".......(From The Radio Netherlands Test Team)


"Sangean radio's without a doubt, are some of the best buys for your money if you are looking for a good shortwave (all band) receiver in a portable type radio. Sure, there are all band radios for sale that have lots more "bells and whistles" for lots more (hundreds) of $$$, but for your hard earned bucks, a Sangean radio is hard to beat until you get in the higher price range bracket like the Sony radio below!" (editor)


SONY

The Sony ICF SW 7600GR review!

"EDITED FROM THE RADIO NETHERLANDS TEST TEAM REPORT"
The Bottom Line


"The bottom line is that we like the SONY ICF SW 7600GR.
We like the sensitivity, the filter choice for prowling through the SW bands, the synchronous detection, and the line out jack in a reasonably priced radio. We believe the ICF SW 7600GR is the lowest price portable radio with the sync and line out features.

The "GR" is slightly smaller than the Sangean ATS-505, a good entry-level radio. For a few dollars more the user gets a significantly better filter on AM and SW and synchronous detection for better reception, a line output to record, and more memories. We think the $ difference is worth it.

While the dollar increments of US $30-40 and the varying feature sets between manufacturers and models can make the final choice of a radio difficult, that choice is eventually yours.

For those with inexpensive radios and looking for something with better performance, you should take a hard look at the ICF SW 7600GR.
Those also buying a SW radio for the first time will not be disappointed.


Accordingly, we give this receiver a 5 stars rating.
As always, please remember the rating is based upon price versus performance and features.".......from the Radio Netherlands test team.
Click Picture below for more info:

The Sony ICF SW 7600GR
===========

Editors note:

 

When it comes to recommendations for good shortwave receivers, the bottom line is a matter of opinion. Each short wave listener has his own preferences and requirements to fit his personal needs. So if you would like to see how others have reviewed other brands and models of some of the most popular radios rather than take my word for it, take a look below at some of the  offerings out there on good to excellent shortwave portable radios from the Hamuniverse.com selection below!

These are very popular shortwave receivers s on Amazon.com in most all price ranges and features.

Bottom line...buy the best you can afford the first time! Don't start out with the cheapest one you can find!
When buying shortwave receivers the old saying, "You get what you pay for" counts!

 

Shortwave Receiver Audio (sound) Enhancement!
Many people who love shortwave radio like to enhance the audio from their shortwave receivers to get the most from the sound that travels many thousands of miles that may not be produced with the smaller speaker in them. Even the built in speakers in high end receivers like those shown below are not designed to produce anything other than "communications quality sound" due to the small speakers contained within a small space.
So we recommend that you add an external sound system that will enhance your listening pleasure. Many amplified computer speakers can be used to enhance the audio coming from your receiver. Check some out at the link above! 

Another excellent method to enhance your listening pleasure and listen in "private", is to add a good pair of Headphones to your receiver if it has a headphone jack. By adding a good pair of headphones, they will help to block out room noise and may help you hear that weak station much better.



High End Shortwave Receivers!

If you had rather go all the way and invest in a high end shortwave top of the line receiver that is so much more than just a portable then check out the line of receivers at ScannerMaster made by AOR.
 
One model that comes to mind is one of the best high end consumer models available anywhere!
It's a bit expensive, and you really get what you pay for in this case, but it is designed to give you extremely increased receive capabilities not just on shortwave but on just about any band you would want!  It comes down to the old saying, "You get what you pay for"!
It is the AOR AR8600MKIIB shown in the picture below:



The AR8600 Mark II reflects AOR's ongoing commitment to improving its products and maintaining its leadership in designing and building high-end receivers. The AR8600 Mark II sets several new standards that make the receiver desirable to professional users and monitoring enthusiasts INCLUDING SHORTWAVE RADIO.
Get more information direct from ScannerMaster here OR CLICK THE PICTURE! 
This receiver is highly rated by professionals in the field!

A good shortwave receiver for home or portable use is a matter of personal choice and recommendations from folks like myself and there are many brands and models to choice from from many suppliers and outlets. Selecting a well known and respected brand such as Sangean, Sony or the higher end models like those from AOR will give you years of shortwave radio listening pleasure and excitement!
I have attempted to give you my recommendations based on my experience in over 50 years of listening! Have fun! Remember, you get what you pay for.....a good to excellent receiver will cost some hard earned dollars. Don't expect that $29.95 receiver to hear much further than your local station.

If you recall, I am a licensed amateur (ham) radio operator that uses "shortwave radio" on the air and if you are interested in getting more information about amateur radio and or you want to be a Ham Radio Operator and be heard on the shortwave bands.......it's much easier now! 
YOU CAN DO IT! CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.YOU WILL BE SURPRISED AT HOW EASY IT IS TO GET YOUR ENTRY LEVEL HAM RADIO LICENSE AND PROGRESS FROM THERE!


Check out the AOR receivers from ScannerMaster!




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