The diminutive but brilliant Sony ICF-SW100: a few autumn/winter DX catches

Hi there, I posted an article on this brilliant little radio a few months ago because it had demonstrated a level of performance way beyond my expectations. Notwithstanding it’s incredibly small size the DX results I obtained with it were beyond my ICF-SW55 and up there with the iconic ICF-2001D. Armed with synchronous detection, selectable side bands, SSB, CW and sensitivity seemingly boyond it’s tiny form factor I can’t recommend this radio highly enough.


Originally introduced into the market in 1993 and discontinued in 2005, the ICF-SW100 won’t ever be repeated – a point I made in my original post, but of course they are available on eBay and prices remain robust for what is now essentially a vintage receiver. Unfortunately, I don’t get to use my ICF-SW100 very much as I have various other receivers and have been involved in antenna building/testing and MW DX for the past few months. However, on the couple of occasions when I have taken the Sony on a mini DXpedition, it’s resulted in some fine DX. As demonstrated in the examples below, Mali, Guinea, Alaska and Japan are amongst the more difficult signals to copy in Europe and yet the ICF-SW100 delivered them! Text links to reception videos on the Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel follow below and futher down you will find embedded videos. Thanks for reading/watching/listening and I wish you all great DX!

Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.

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10 thoughts on “The diminutive but brilliant Sony ICF-SW100: a few autumn/winter DX catches

  1. Frans

    Een hele fijne radio de Sony sw 100E
    Een constructiefout is het batterij klepje.
    Bij 1 x gevallen op zachte vloerbedekking, helaas was het klepje defect.
    Het klepje stond altijd onder druk , vandaar het stuk ging.
    Heb het opgelost met een stevig elastiekje, werkt prima.

  2. Jim Gordon

    Thank you for this. I recently bought a used SW100. Its the model with the notch. I agree that it is quite an amazing radio; a miniaturized ICF2001D. I have tested it against the Radiwow R108 and the XHDATa D808 and it stands up well against these modern, DSP were radios.

    One oddity I have discovered is that MW reception is definitely improved my extending the telescopic aerial! This contradicts the user’s instructions. Anyone else also noticed this?

    Like a lot of the old Sonys it a bit crotchety and needs to be handled with care. I will be continuing to test it and post videos on my Youtube channel. 73s, Jim

  3. Frank

    True, it is indeed the radio I ALWAYS have with me in my normal bag that I carry to and from work, and on travels, and on hikes, plus an alligator clip with 3 meter wire, to save the telescopic antenna a bit of stress. Every now and then I have an hour free in between. The warbling is not so much an issue to me, it is the smallest SSB-radio i have, and the synch detection works so well.
    Otherwise my always-around choice would truely be the 310ET as well.
    For a while I had both with me but I enjoy scanning the ham bands too much.

  4. Guy Atkins

    Hi Clint, I’d love to see you compare the ICF-SW100 and the PL-310ET sometime, hooked up to your barbed wire fence antenna, or elsewhere in your lovely Oxford woods! Both are impressive radios for their size and price; a shootout of these two over achievers would be very interesting.

    1. Clint Gouveia Post author

      Hello Guy, a very good idea – I’m just about to start uploading reception videos of the Eton Satellit, but will take a DXpedition with the Sony and Tecsun soon. 73!

  5. Daniel Robinson

    At one point in its history, SONY was hitting them out of the park repeatedly and the SW100 was one of those. An incredible example of miniaturization and a technological tour d’force, this little thing is like carrying a SONY 2010 with you but many times smaller. The CONS of the SW-100 — on LSB/USB they suffered from “warbling” — which could be corrected by going into the radio and tweaking it (there are only one or two people in the U.S. who still do this work). And the speaker over-drives — the speakers can be replaced with better ones. Look for SW100s with the notch in the hinge, which were upgraded with improved internal cable connectors.


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