A review of the Sony SRF-59 — cheap, fun Mediumwave DX thrills

The Sony SRF-59

A few years ago, I heard a lot of buzz in AM/Mediumwave radio circles about a small, inexpensive radio called the Sony SRF-59. Discussions were focused on the incredible performance of this diminutive low-cost radio and how it held it own against some real benchmark receivers. Out of curiosity, I did a search on the radio to see what it looked like–I expected some Tecsun PL-like unit–and found that, much to my surprise, it’s a simple, analog, totally unassuming AM/FM walkman.  Say, what?

The far biggest surprise came with my price search, however. The SRF-59 is easy to find at $14.95 US. Really, you ask? Oh, yes–and it’s readily available at many online and big box stores.

So–carefully counting my pocket change–I took the plunge, and bought one.

The radio came in a basic plastic blister pack, and it also included headphones. I can’t comment on the headphones as I didn’t even bother unpacking them; instead, I plugged my new SRF-59 into my favorite Sony earbuds.

I have to admit, the AM band on this little radio does indeed shine. Not only is the receiver sensitive and relatively selective (meaning, I don’t hear adjacent signals when tuned in), but it also has excellent audio.  Amazingly, it lives up to all of the praise I had heard about it. I’m quite amazed, in fact, at how well this little unit can null out stations by rotating the radio body a few degrees. Most impressive.

Though I’m no major FM radio listener, I can also vouch for its FM performance, which is quite good.

Pros:

  • lightweight–indeed, one can safely say, “ultralight”
  • very inexpensive, by comparision
  • operates almost indefinitely on one AA cell
  • simple design, durable construction
  • AM (Mediumwave) sensitivity and selectivity comparable to $100 shortwave portables
  • because tuning is analog, it works in North America just as well as in Japan (see cons)
Cons:
  • tuning is analog, thus no stations can be saved to memory and there is a noticeable amount of receiver drift if listening over long periods of time
  • no fine-tuning mechanism means that tuning in weak stations takes precision skill on the SRF-59’s very small dial
  • no built-in speaker (this is a Walkman, after all)
In summary, you will regret not purchasing this radio should Sony pull it from the market without warning. While it is a walkman with the above listed limitations, it’s nonetheless a first-rate AM/MW receiver and might be a great avenue into the fun hobby of ultralight DXing.
In short, the Sony SRF-59 is a real gem. But don’t take my word for it, either–go check one out for yourself!
Where to buy:

  • B&H photo
  • Amazon

 

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One Response to A review of the Sony SRF-59 — cheap, fun Mediumwave DX thrills

  1. Pingback: A review of the Kchibo KK-9803 shortwave radio | The SWLing Post

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