The Tecsun PL-380: a great travel radio

My Tecsun PL-380 and Eagle Creek pack

SWLing Post reader, Alan, commented on our “most durable radios for travel” post:

You should include the Tecsun PL-380 [on] the list. It is an excellent tuner with good selectivity. The ETM feature was made for a traveler. The radio is cheap enough that it won’t bother you if you lose it or break it.

I have to say, I agree! In fact, I travel with the PL-380 quite often. It has become my back-up radio when I make field recordings (my primary portable for field is the Sony ICF-SW7600GR).

Eagle Creek pack with contents: Tecsun PL-380, Zoom H1 recorder, earphones, audio cables, external antenna, spare batteries and Kindle. Click to enlarge.

In fact, I have a small Eagle Creek bag with a shoulder strap that holds my field recording kit and other electronic “necessities:”  Tecsun PL-380, Zoom H1 recorder, ear buds, audio cables, roll up antenna, spare batteries, and, of course, my Kindle (so I can read while waiting for my plane/train/bus). In a pinch, it can even accommodate a Sony AN-LP1
active antenna (which I use primarily in hotel rooms with inoperable windows). To help you visualize, check out the photo on the right.  It’s my grab-and-go bag.

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22 thoughts on “The Tecsun PL-380: a great travel radio

  1. Johann G.

    Hi, thanks for that very useful information about field recording.
    The Transcend MP330 is not available any more. Could you recommend another one?


    J’aimerais savoir si le Tecsun PL-380 présente le même défaut insupportable que tous les autres Tecsun et dont personne ne parle, à savoir les claquements intempestifs du scanner lors de la recherche des stations ondes courtes à un tel point qu’à présent je tourne les molettes de syntonisation, ou j’affiche les fréquences au clavier numérique c’est d’ailleurs la même chose sur le RADIWOV R-108
    Par contre je possède deux Crane Skywave SSB qui ne présentent absolument pas et fort heureusement ce défaut lamentable.

  3. Kathy

    Not sure what’s happening with the manufacturing quality, but I picked up a Tecsun PL-380 based on the various reviews and the reception was virtually non-existent. Local FM that I can pull in with, well, anything, was barely audible. Same for the big 50k stations in Boston (I live on Cape Cod)–again usually something that’s completely clear. I never really got the scanning SW. Yay for Amazon’s return policies I guess.

  4. Zach

    I use it quite much and i am very happy. it is quite durable. About 90 or more hours with he built in battery and only using earphones . I had a minor problem that sometimes it overloads on SW . and has quite high audio level using eaphones Just on 5 it is OK inside buildings!

  5. Jai

    Hi Sir, Which one best radio from following
    TECSUN PL-380
    ETON Traveler II
    Grundig G2 (NG2B)
    ETON Globe Traveler G3
    Kaito KA11
    Kaito KA1103
    Kaito KA1102
    Sangean PT-50
    Sangean ATS-404
    Sony ICF-M260

    Thanks Sir.

    1. Thomas Post author


      That is a tough call because some of those radios have SSB and some do not.

      I am quite partial to the Tecsun PL-380 or new PL-310 for a radio that lacks SSB. I also like the Grundig G3 and Kaito KA1103 (Degen DE1103). Be careful if searching for the G3, though, as the series has been discontinued and some online retailers (Amazon, for example) have shipped out used and faulty ones.


  6. Jeremy Betteridge

    I bought this radio and was initially pleased. The airband was easy to tune but I could not work out how to save the frequencies to memory and no help from the manufacturer.

    Then after about 3-=4 months it stopped re-charging the batteries and so I changed the re-chargable batteries – to no avail.

    No response whatever from the company.

    Very under-whelmed by this; a waste of nearly £100

    1. Thomas Post author

      Sorry to hear about this, Jeremy. Sounds like you may have gotten a lemon. If you purchased domestically, perhaps there’s a warranty to claim?

    2. SWLer 22007

      Hey Jeremy, I believe you may be referring to a different model. Unless I am completely wrong, the only Tecsun radios that receive aeronautical frequencies are the 660 and 680. The PL-380 is small, nearly pocket sized and it can be found for only 30 pounds. I am sorry about your bad purchase and I hope this helps solve any issues you may have with the dealer. If you are still looking for a new travel shortwave radio, I would recommend the C.Crane Skywave, although it doesn’t receive SSB, it is pocket sized, sensitive, selective and has similar features to the 380 mentioned above, only it is more reliable and includes the 117-137 MHz aeronautical band.

  7. Noble West

    I bought this reciever from Amazon seller Lycheers and got it on Friday or Saturday.I must say this does a great job pulling in stations and includes almost evcerything you need to get started out of the box! Did not take long to setup either.Radio Australia coms in great on 9580 here in my mornings.the Decibel meter is a nice change from the normal 5 step graph design.Tecsun is tops with this portable!


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