In the field with the Panasonic RF-2200

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I’ve had the Panasonic RF-2200 for just one week, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this classic solid-state portable. Without a doubt I’ve been very pleased with the RF-2200, and I only have good things to say about the eBay seller, volodymyry123 from whom I bought it. Eventually I’ll take the time to calibrate the analog dial, which is about 100 kHz off-frequency.  (I’m obviously in no rush, but if readers with these rigs have suggestions for doing so, feel free to comment.)

The RF-2200 is surely one of the largest, heaviest portables in my collection…still, it begs to be taken outdoors!

Last week, I drove with some friends to the highest point in eastern North America, Mount Mitchell State Park. As I left for our drive, picnic supplies and backpacks in tow, I took a glance at the RF-2200 in my office–and couldn’t resist taking it along.

During our mountain picnic, I turned the RF-2200 on; immediately I heard Radio Exterior de España‘s interval signal on 17,715 kHz. It was loud and clear, at times pegging S9 on the signal meter.

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I also tuned to the medium wave band and was instantly amazed by all of the signals it drew in. I was able to hear one of my favorites, WAIZ, on 630 kHz–the signal was very stable and sounded local, although the transmitter was easily 60 miles away.

In general, medium wave performance on the RF-2200 has been nothing short of incredible. But this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Indeed, just prior to purchasing the RF-2200, I consulted my buddy, Jeff McMahon (the fellow behind The Herculodge); here’s what he says about the ‘2200:

“I borrowed my friends’ RF-2200 for a month in 2008 and I loved it. It picked up stations effortlessly and had a magisterial quality about it, especially the AM sound. It reminded me of why I fell in love with radios.”

Panasonic-RF2200-MtMitchell-3But why is it that when I look at the RF-2200, I feel like I should be taking it to the field? Perhaps it’s the staunch, beefy look of the chassis, or the controls that could easily be worked even with winter gloves? Or perhaps it’s that woven carry strap?

Or perhaps the RF-2200 offers something I miss in the age of compact portables with digital displays: a radio with presence, one that lends itself to pure listening discovery. The RF-2200 demands your attention, and does so with a clear, deep voice…

Yep, the RF-2200 is a true field companion.  But don’t take my word for it:  find one, take it along, and see–or rather, hear–for yourself.

15 thoughts on “In the field with the Panasonic RF-2200

  1. Robert AK3Q

    These are of course great radios. I think the appeal for me is partial at least the feeling of controlling the radio – there knobs and switches and dials to rotate and flip and turn. I can tweak settings, work to get the signal in, and enjoy my “reward” with a sound that is basically unmatched today in the small portables. Let’s face it – it also has personality, something lacking from the all-too-often homogenous offerings of today.
    Congrats on a great radio buy!

    Reply
  2. Troy

    I’ve been anxiously awaiting this review, Thomas. What a great buy! I’ve been looking at that seller myself, but so far I’ve resisted temptation … I look forward to hearing more about it.

    Reply
  3. Dan Robinson

    This all gives me waves of nostalgia for the 2200, which I remember trying for the first time in a backyard many decades ago. It was one receiver I never really gave a thorough workout, primarily because at the time it seemed so complex (strange for me to say given I now operate WJs and high-end JRCs). I might just take a look at them again….thanks

    Reply
  4. Michael Fortner

    I used to have one of these. It’s a great radio. Calibrating the dial is easy. Here’s a link to a .pdf copy of the manual. It’s easier than my attempt at explaining how to do it!

    Hmmm, I may have to find another one now. My original one got left outside by the kids while my ex and I were going through a divorce and got ruined.

    Michael

    Reply
  5. Mike C.

    Great article as always. I’d love that kind of DXing chance.

    I *just* acquired a fine conditioned RF2200 this past weekend, and though it’s just stupidly redundant for me to say so, I have so far been VERY impressed by the MW performance.

    My previous MW ‘king’ was a beautifully restored RF2600 which has wonderful MW performance and when coupled with a good loop antenna can bring in the signals… but standalone, internal antennas only, the 2200 hears so much more than any other MW receiver I’ve ever owned. Stations that do not exist on the 2600, even faintly, are heard intelligibly on the 2200, and trace signals on the 2600 sound much more local on the 2200.

    Good, strong, beefy audio goes along with its good, strong, beefy construction, and it is a pleasure to use. I have always loved radios that allow you to *play*, or ‘knobulate’ as some of the old-timers used to call it. This one knobulates as good as any and better than most.

    Can’t be happier with it unless it somehow starts spitting out hundred dollar bills.

    My 2600 is still my all time FM ‘king’, more sensitive and remarkably more selective (after a good alignment) than any other portable receiver I’ve ever used… but for MW, the crown has been quickly and enthusiastically handed over to the RF2200.

    Reply
  6. Mario Filippi

    Great article, Thomas, on the Panasonic RF-2200. I purchased one of these new back in the 1970’s from Grand Central Radio in New York City, a store that carried short wave and ham radio (e.g. TenTec) equipment. It was an enjoyable radio not only for the SWL but for hams since it had a BFO and covered many of the ham bands. For the AM DX’er, the built-in rotatable antenna was very helpful in nulling out unwanted stations. I can remember receiving stations as far as Chicago on AM with only the built in antenna from our apartment. in NY. I do remember one problem with the radio; often you would hear a strong SW station from a previous band switch position even though you switched bands. One day I might venture to find one.

    Reply
  7. Keith laursen

    Just purchased a Panasonic RF 2200, FM antenna is broken, it’s missing the power cord does anybody know where I can get replacement parts or if anybody wants to buy this one email me back please

    Reply
    1. Jon Gudmundson

      @Keith – Power cords are available for $6.35, including shipping, from a seller on eBay. Can’t remember the seller’s name, but if you search ‘panasonic rf-2200 power cord’ or some such it will turn up.

      Reply
  8. Pingback: Tuning in to AM broadcast history and the venerable RF-2200 | The SWLing Post

  9. Bill

    I agree that the ‘2200 is truly magnificent when taken away from the RFI of an urban area. I owned property out in a very underdeveloped area and was amazed at the number of distant mediumwave stations coming in around high noon! As good as it is at home, it was a BEAST in the clear. Unfortunately, my YL didn’t want me to stay long enough to see if shortwave reception was similarly improved (but I expect it would have been).

    Reply
  10. Juan Pablo Carlino

    Hi. I own one RF-2200 after buying it in eBay in March 2008. Since then it became my favourite portable radio and as everybody wrote above, its a pleasure to hear MW with it. I explain this due to the fact that it has a good rotative ferrite antenna and also because the narrow and wide filters have a suitable shape for MW: at least in my country each MW is spaced from the other by 10 KHz, so you don’t need a very sharp filter. The narrow one is not so narrow, just enough to attenuate maybe 6 db the splatter from the louder station and not loosing audio quality. When you tune around you have the impression that the filter shape suites perfectly for MW, making the audio quality very pleasant. I would never sell it. If you are interested i’ve captured a short clip while playing with it outdoor on 7 MHz band, hearing ham stations on AM, SSB and CW. Pay attention to how loud and clear i was hearing stations at 400 Km in AM.

    Reply
  11. Pingback: Video: Juan touts Panasonic RF-2200 performance & filter shapes | The SWLing Post

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