Radios: What are your daily drivers?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, John C., who writes:

“Hi Thomas, I love [the SWLing Post] and have been meaning to thank you for all of the amazing reviews. Truly a treasure trove. But as I contemplate my next radio purchase I would like to know what radio you use more than any other. In other words…what’s your daily driver??? Enquiring minds want to know! Thank you. – JC”

Thanks for your question and the kind compliment, John.

Your inquiry is one I get quite a bit, so I hope you don’t mind if I share my response here publicly.

First of all, I should state that I don’t have a single “daily driver.”

Since I evaluate, test, and review radios I spend a lot of time with a variety of new receivers and transceivers.

I’m currently evaluating the Radiwow R-108, so it goes with me pretty much everywhere since I like to test receivers in a variety of settings. I’m also packing the Tecsun PL-310ET and the CC Skywave so I have units to compare with the R-108.

My Daily Drivers

Still, there are a number of radios in my life that get heavy use. Here’s my current list based on activity:

For Travel

When I travel, I reach for my favorite multi-function ultra-compact shortwave portable. In the past, I would have reached for the Grundig G6, the Sony ICF-SW100, the Tecsun PL-310ET, the Digitech AR-1780, or the C. Crane CC Skywave, Currently, I reach for the C. Crane CC Skywave SSB.

When I travel, I try to pack as lightly as I can–perhaps some would even call me a borderline travel minimalist. For example, when I fly to Philadelphia later this month for the Winter SWL Fest, I will take only one piece of luggage, a “personal carry-on” item: the Tom Bihn Stowaway, a pack the size of a small laptop bag. The Stowaway will contain my iPad, cords/accessories, and all of my clothes and toiletries for about 5 days of travel. As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of spare room in there for radio gear (quite the understatement).

I’ll still have room in my bag for the CC Skywave SSB, though, because the receiver is so compact. In addition, it’s a little “Swiss Army Knife” of a radio which covers the AM/MW, Shortwave, WX, and AIR bands.  It also has SSB mode and uses common AA batteries. The Skywave SSB is a welcome travel companion.

For Portable Shortwave DX

When I head to a park or go on a camping trip with the goal of doing a little weak signal DXing, I reach for a full-featured portable. In the past, I’ve relied heavily on the Tecsun PL-660 or PL-680, the Sony ICF-SW7600GR, and the Tecsun PL-880.

After acquiring the amazing Panasonic RF-B65 last year, it has become my choice full-featured portable. Of course, the RF-65B hasn’t been in production for ages, but thanks to a number of friends/enablers (including Dan Robinson and Troy Riedel) I finally found one for an acceptable price on eBay.

I’ve been incredibly pleased with the RF-B65’s performance and feel like I got a decent deal snagging one in great shape for less than $200. Only a few months prior to my purchase, it was hard to find good units under $300. Click here to check current prices, if interested.

For Morning News and Music

Since my staple morning news source, Radio Australia, went off the air, I spend a lot more time in the mornings listening to Internet radio mainly because I like listening to news sources that no longer, or never have, broadcast on the shortwaves.

Without a doubt, my favorite WiFi radio is the Como Audio Solo. I use it to listen to the CBC in St. John’s Newfoundland, The UK 1940s Radio Station, RFI MusiqueABC Radio Sydney, and a number of other news and music outlets.

The Como Audio Solo also serves as an audio feed for my SSTran AM Transmitter which then allows me to listen to all of this excellent content on 1570 kHz with vintage tube radios such as my Scott Marine SLR-M, my BC-348-Q, and my Minerva Tropicmaster.

For Mediumwave DXing

Without a doubt, my favorite radio for mediumwave/AM broadcast band DXing is the Panasonic RF-2200.

I mentioned in a previous post that my buddy Vlado (N3CZ) recently repaired, cleaned, and calibrated one of my RF-2200s.

Let’s just say that Vlado worked his magic and my RF-2200 now operates and performs like a brand new unit. Seriously. It’s simply unbelievable.

Not only does the Panny ‘2200 provide benchmark MW performance, it’s simply a pleasure to operate. It also produces some of the richest AM audio you’ll ever hear from a portable radio.

Of course, the ‘2200 hasn’t been produced in decades, so you’ll have to search for used ones on eBay, at hamfests, or through your favorite radio classifieds.

And, yes, I still need to finish a Part 2 blog-post about the ‘2200 repair–once I get a few details and photos from Vlado, I’ll post it!

Your Daily Drivers? Please comment!

Keep in mind that my “daily drivers” change quite a bit–the ones listed above are my current favorites and have been for a year or more.

So now that I’ve shared my daily drivers, I hope you will, too!

Is there a particular radio you reach for more than any other?  Please comment and tell us why it’s your favorite!

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43 thoughts on “Radios: What are your daily drivers?

  1. James Barber

    Telling that what seem to be your favorite radios have not been made in decades. Mine too. The only “daily driver” I use that is dtill in production is the Tecsun PL-880.
    At home the Grundig Satelit 800 is my main rig for SW DX. As a ham operator, the Yaesu 102 for HF and the Yaesu 726R for UHF/ VHF are my favorites. They are from the mid 80s.


  2. James Smith

    I really LOVE my Panasonic RF-2200 I just fully restored! Traded a guy $50 worth of food and my ancient Boom Box so he could tape 8 tracks on cassette! Then He gives back the Radio! Great product!

  3. William S

    At this moment for early morning listening using Sony ICF7600D.
    Amazing sensitive little radio,even SSB present,can log State Side ham’s on 80 mtrs and R.Clube do Para on 4885kHz often last months with stock whipantenna here in the Netherlands.
    Also fine travelradio.
    For nice audio (with earphones) the Grundig Satellit 400 does a very well sounding job,full basy and sprankling treble,even on MW/SW,a join to listen the more stronger broadcast stations.

    For more serious DX i use a Sony ICF2001D in mint condition,build in latest production year(2003).
    It’s an unbelievable pleasure to listen with this superb Sony.
    Good on LW/MW and extremely sensitive on completely frequency range of SW,here i hear all my base RX Yaesu FRG100 /pa0rdt MiniWhip hears!
    With using the AN-100 Tecsun Loopantenna the Sony ICF2001D
    Iet me hear stations who are totally not noticable with the stock telescopic,great!
    Using radio’s is a very personal choice,owned the Tecsun PL660,very pleasant with outstanding good working sync-function,also had the PL880,amazing audio.
    But annoying Tecsun sells this one with a totally not working sync !!
    For coming seasons i’m happy with my ones.
    Everyone:join your setup,good DX
    And tnx for posting this article on SWling Post.

  4. Julio Cesar Pereira

    My daily drivers change according to which QTH I’m at. When I’m in Terra de Areia-RS, a very small town in the most southern state of Brasil, in the morning I use a Sony ICF-SW5900w to listen to my favorite AM station distant 140km. Sometimes, I get huge QRM and I switch to FM and then use an XHDATA D-808 to listen to the same favorite station. In the afternoon, I always listen to the BBC for news and other stations for other kinds of programs. For this I use a Panasonic DR-49 and sometimes a Zenith Trans Oceanic D7000y. For SW DXing, I use an ICOM IC-R75 (audio output via phone jack conneted to the aux jack of the DR-49 for audio improvement), a Sony ICF-2010 or an SDRPlay RSP2. As for AM DXing, I may use the Panasonic DR-49 or a Sony ICF-2010 or even the ICOM R75 connected to an LW/MW loopstick antenna and rf amp. When I travel from one QTH to another, I take my XHData D-808 and my tiny Tecsun PL-505 (its ETM feature is a blessing). When I stay in a ground floor apartment that does not allow me to listen to shortwave. So I listen to FM with my XHDATA D-808 or my Tecsun PL-505. I also like listening to AM with the XHData D-808 due to its very good audio quality at 6kHz bandwidth. In the afternoon, I go to a park nearby free of QRM and may take a Sony ICF-7600GR or a Degen DE1103 v1.0 (no DSP). And finally, at my 3rd QTH at downtown Curitiba-PR, another big bustling city, I stay at an apartment on the 9th floor. In the morning I use the D-808 for FM listening. For AM listening I may use the same D-808 and also an oldie like a Zenith Trans Oceanic G-500. In the afternoon, I use a Kenwood R-2000 or a Zenith Trans Oceanic 3000-1 to listen to shortwave. For SW DXing, I’d rather use the R-2000. These are my drivers, but it may change whenever I decide to relive my experience with other radios of my collection. I also have another daily driver, a Hammarlund HQ-140x for AM listening (with a small hula loop antenna) and for SW listening and DXing with other hula loop antennae (AlexLoop and DZ loop). Right now, the Hammarlund is about to be restored and realigned.

  5. Mike Brooker

    While I still consider my 1978 Panasonic RF-2200 pound for pound the best MW DX portable receiver ever made, it is no longer my daily driver. I use it mainly for extended DX listening, e.g. for a Cardinals game on KMOX-1120 and for what little shortwave listening I still do. Most of the loggings I report as Facebook status are heard with my C Crane Skywave (old non-SSB version), Sony SRF-39 FP ultralight intended for use in prison, or my newest toy: XHData D-808 that I got last month via eBay Australia. For traveling, I won’t leave home without the C Crane.

  6. Mark Jordan

    I have a ICF Sony 2010 for my late night listening. I listen to Hams, talk and sports.
    The CC Radio 2E is my dx AM radio, which I love. Was thinking of trying to find a Panasonic RF 2200, but if the 2E is just as sensitive I will stop looking.

  7. Tom Laskowski

    For around the house listening I use my 35 year old GE Superradio II.

    My bedside radio is my CCrane Skywave (usually KXEL, WSM, CFZM or local WSBT).

    My mediumwave DX radio is my Panasonic RF-2200 which I bought on ebay about three years ago. I’m going to have to consider sending it to Vlado for a tune-up/recapping/alignment.

    I also use my Sony ICF-SW7600GR for casual mediumwave DX. I use my Tecsun PL-880 for mostly FM because it is a real dog on MW.

    Out of all of them though I seem to use the Skywave the most.

  8. Jason

    The radio I reach for the most around the house would have to be the Sangean PR-D7. I’ve got rechargeable batteries in it which can be recharged from the wall adaptor.

    For MW DX’ing: the best radio I have is the Sangean PR-D7 (the DPR-45 and the H-201 also by sangean are also pretty good). I also have the Eton Field BT but don’t find it quite as good as the D7 for DX’ing and the D7 is quite portable.
    If the D7 had a handle or a carry case I’d take it everywhere, but it doesn’t. The others are too bulky to take around with me but I was thrilled with the D7 when I took it camping recently.

    I may consider buying the PR-D19, but I’ve just bought the D-808 from XHDATA since it was on sale on aliexpress. Todderbert on youtube gave the PR-D19 a glowing review so I reckon that’s my next purchase.

    For travel: It depends on where I’m going. When I’m travelling light and just have a pocket radio it’s the Retekess PR12 or the Sangean DT-120.
    I’ve also got the Sangean DT250 but that’s more jacket pocket than jeans pocket IMO. I did get excellent results from the Sangean DT250 in an airport recently, picking up ABC Local Radio Bendigo on 91.1 FM, which is 140km away.

    For medium length trips it’s the Skywave or Skywave SSB (I have them both in 2 different suitcases) if I’m not taking the Sangean PR-D7 with me.

    Where I can travel with something a bit more substantial, it used to be the Sangean 909X (and also the Tecsun PL-660 (now in my laundry) and the 600 (now in my toilet) but these days it would have to be the Digitech AR-1780 or Tecsun PL-880. I don’t listen to shortwave much anymore as there is not as much in english to listen to in this part of the world anymore.

    In the bedroom I use a google home mini as a wifi radio (with the Sangean DPR-45 as a backup)

  9. TomL

    Great question! Recently I am using a new Airspy HF+ connected to two condo porch antennas. One antenna is a homemade “FSL”, ferrite sleeve loop, 2 foot long x 4 inches diameter using Russian ferrite and aluminum foil. This is powered by a Wellbrook Medium Aperature amplifier through the coax. This is for MW & SW. The noise is bad but better than any indoor loop. The other antenna is an RCA preamplified FM antenna used for FM broadcast and VHF.

    I then transmit what the Airspy is tuned to over a C.Crane FM Transmitter version 2 device to 4 portables and desk radios – Satellite 800 (desk stereo amp), Tecsun S8800 (living room), Sangean hdr18 (bedroom), Sangean pdr4 (kitchen), and Sony icf19 (bathroom).

    With one central place, I can change what I want to listen to (including any noise reduction settings needed) and hear it in any room I want because of the FM Transmitter. I use this setup now for the last month Everyday! Quite enjoyable to hear, say, WRMI while taking a shower and not having the listening interrupted when I move about afterwards. And it beats having to wire up every room with speakers. And I can still take any portable outdoors as well since they are out and ready to be put in a day backpack if needed.

  10. Michael Meyer

    For morning listening in the livingroom with coffe and breakfast on my off work days: Sangean 909X with a small outdoor antenna.

    When doing my 24-hour shifts as paramedic: XHDATA 808.

    When in the summerhouse on Bogø island: Sony ICF-2001D / 2010

    When traveling (just been two week in my Kenyan wife’s home country): Eton Satellit Grundig edition.

    At home at my “dx-shack” (right now, listening to VO Greece): Icom IC-7300 and Yaesu FRG-100.

    Best regards,

    Michael from Denmark

  11. Bill Hemphill

    It’s great to see that there’s a lot of users of the Panasonic RF-2200. I have two that have been completely restored by Vlado. I would recommend him for all your radio restoration work. They both came back looking like they just came from the factory.

    One RF-2200 is in my home office and is used everyday for morning NPR news and some during the day for various other programs. The second is in the dining room, which has less electronic noise. It has great audio to listen to various music programs on shortwave.

    For most portable use, I use a PL-880. I find it’s ergonomics is probably the best of any radio out there. When holing it in my hands, my thumb just naturally falls over the three controls, which are silky smooth. And SSB is a breeze to tune.

    When space is a premium, it’s the PL-310ET. It has everything I need except for SSB.

    For desktop, it’s the S-8800. With the remote control, it’s a breeze to use. Good audio.

    I just recently acquired a Yaesu FRG-100 and finding that it’s a super receiver. I have been using it a lot on AM DXing with a newly acquired Quantum QX Loop V3.0 by Radio Plus. Fantastic antenna.

    All day long, I listen to stations on Tune-In radio. These may be programs by shortwave broadcasters. My favorite is Radio Swiss Jazz. I usually drift off to sleep with something being streamed from Tune-In.

    If I could ONLY have one radio, then I would select the PL-880.

    Smithville, NJ

    1. Thomas Post author

      Vlado is certainly the best, in my opinion. Thanks for sharing, Bill. Nice to know I’m not the only guy with an RF-2200 obsession!

  12. Edward

    My favorite is the Heathkit GR-78 that sits on the night stand that I turn on first thing in the morning for the last 20 years

  13. Claudiu

    Probably Tecsun PL-880 is a bit overkill for morning news and music, but I start my every weekday listening to it. And it’s great for travels as well.

  14. Charles

    Mirroring another comment I use an Amazon echo for a lot because it’s so… Frictionless. But I have an s2000 at my desk that’s on all day and when I travel (which is often, writing from 4b somewhere over Northern Georgia right now) I have a tecaun pl880 that Santa brought me this year. I also get tons of laughs out of my rtl-sdr dongle which I hook up to my cheap kindle tablet or sdr#

  15. Jake Brodsky, AB3A

    I have a 20+ year old Grundig YB-400. It still works, and sounds pretty decent. The battery life is not good, but I use it on an old wall wart most of the time next to my bed.

    That radio has been around the world with me. But nevertheless, I keep reading about other radios and I get curious.

    Lately I’ve been playing with an Airspy HF+ since I travel a lot with a laptop. My results have been mixed, probably because wire antennas and hotel rooms don’t really work all that well. I need to find ways to get this out in to the field.

  16. Gafer

    Well this is fun. Radios I own and how I use them:

    Sangean ATS 909-X. This one is truly my “daily driver”. It sits on my kitchen table where I do most of my listening. However, I find it too heavy and bulky to pack for traveling.

    Grundig Eton Executive Traveler III. Like the name says, this one is for travel. I also throw it in my backpack and take it to work with me every day. I love the time zone setting feature for travel. I set GMT as “Home” and then just turn the dial to whatever time zone I’m in. The alarm function is awesome in that it sets relative to the time zone you have selected and not to your “home” time zone like another “travel” radio I own – see below. The Auto Tune system for AM and FM listening is great when you’re in a new town and want to know what’s on in the area. I really like the RDS feature on FM as well. On SW it’s as sensitive has my Skywave which is next up.

    C Crane Skywave. Just never really connected with this radio. It’s great, don’t get me wrong. It just doesn’t meet my needs for home or travel. SW/AM/FM/WX/Air what else could you want? Yeah, SSB. We’ll there’s a model for that too. I just have never liked the operation of this radio and find the alarm setting clunky when traveling to different time zones.

    Sangean PT-50. PT = Pro Traveler. It has a cool little time zone wheel but the alarm is relative to your “home” time zone so it’s pretty useless as a “real” travel radio. SW is also discontinuous with 7 bands. Cute radio but again, not a daily driver.

    CountyComm GP-5/SSB. My first shortwave radio. Ultimate in portability but I really just use it’s Auto Tune Feature at home to take a quick scan of what’s on the shortwave bands when I’m at the kitchen table. Then I dial up the station on the Sangean ATS 909X since it lacks Auto tuning across all shortwave bands. The Sangean is just a lot better listening experience than the CountyComm

    Grundig Mini 400: This one is really handy if there are no flat stones available for skipping across bodies of water.

    So, for me a “daily driver” really depends on where I am. If I’m at home the Sangean ATS909X with an external antenna. For travel is the Executive Traveler III.

  17. Rob

    My go-to radio is a Tecsun PL-660. Add-ons include an AN-200 MW loop antenna and an LNR EF-SWL.

    Bedside I’ve got a C. Crane Skywave, non-SSB version.

  18. Tom Servo

    Like Tudor, my go-to radio is now an SDR, the SDRPlay RSP-1. The convenience of timer recording, the versatility with filters/notches and the visual aspect are all major selling points (the performance, less so!)

    I can’t express how much having recordings has helped me enjoy SW listening, it’s like having a DVR for HF! I listen to favorite broadcasts on my schedule, things I’d otherwise miss for being occupied elsewhere during the evenings.

    For portable operation, I find myself splitting usage between a CountyComm GP-5/SSB and a Kaito KA1103. Both offer very good HF and MW reception in small packages. The Kaito sounds better and is easier to use, but the CountyComm is super portable and flipping between memorized stations with the tuning knob makes quickly checking saved frequencies a breeze.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Recordings revolutionized my listening–especially spectrum recordings. And the RSP1 is a fine and incredibly versatile machine!


  19. DanH

    I listen to several hours of radio a day and own quite a few radios. To be brutally honest only two radios qualify as daily drivers. Both radios are stationed side-by-side in my man cave where I have coaxial cable connections to outdoor antennas.

    Sangean ATS-909X. This four year-old portable is used daily for shortwave listening and for listening to all-news KCBS AM 740 in San Francisco, seventy miles away. Excellent sound from the speaker and RTS make it my favorite FM portable, too.

    Hammarlund SP-600 JX-21. This sixty-two year old, 21-tube cold war veteran is still very spry. The only time this radio is powered off is when I leave the house for more than a few hours. Still my best shortwave receiver this radio (with a vintage Jenson 10-inch speaker) can be heard anywhere in the house when I have RNZI or BBC tuned in for multiple hour sessions. I have enjoyed the pleasure of owning and maintaining this radio for nearly forty years.

    I travel light with one carry-on bag which is either a well-worn 90’s vintage B.U.M. Equipment olive duffel bag or a High Sierra rucksack. I will pack the 909X most of the time but if room is scarce I will compromise on sound quality and shortwave performance and pick one of my smaller portables like the Eton Grundig Edition Satellit. Thanks to Dan Robinson’s recommendation of the Evecase recently on The SWLing Post I have an excellent new padded case for the 909X.

    Weaker shortwave DX is the norm during the solar minimum and RFI is on the increase in my suburban neighborhood. I drive a few miles out of town to a rural area away from houses and power lines for serious shortwave DXing. I pack the 909X and a portable 25-foot mag mount whip in the Subaru WRX for this purpose.

    1. Edward

      The Hammarlund SP-600 JX-21 will not fit in the well-worn 90’s vintage B.U.M. Equipment olive duffel bag. But I bet the SP-600 keeps the bedroom warm

    2. Thomas Post author

      In a way, I really regret letting go of my SP-600, but I sold it to a good friend for a song. I knew he could give it a dedicated place to spend quality time on the air. I simply didn’t have the room.

      You’ve got some great daily drivers there, Dan.

  20. Tudor Vedeanu

    My main radio is now an Airspy HF+ SDR (and a Surface Pro 4 device). I love SDRs. Watching the signals on a waterfall display is so much more fun than simply listening. My other radios are mostly gathering dust now.

  21. Chuck Mound

    My list is also conditional for several reasons,but most of all is that I have a serious radio problem or addiction ,to be more accurate.

    TRAVEL: C Crane Skywave (phone jack now longer functions). Because of that , at night in bed I use one of the following : Sangean DT-160CL or for AM DXing – Sony SRF-39FP

    SW portable DXing : Tecsun PL-310et

    Morning (news,weather) in bed: C C Pocket
    Kitchen: Tivolio Audio Pal
    MW DXing : several— XHDATA ,SONY IRC-S71 ,GE Super Radio ll ,C Crane CCRadio EP (analog)

    The above list is in heavy rotation…… but there is a multitude of others that are moving in and out of my addiction.
    I do have a serious problem starting in the mid 60’s with a crystal radio, late at night and a local station the played Cleveland Indians baseball and a little
    rock n’ roll. Plus my father’s Zenith Trans-Oceanic.

  22. Mario

    The Panasonic RF-2200 is my favorite all time radio. It runs all night by my nightstand tuned to some far away AM station, usually WSM, WBBM, or KYW. I had a new one back in ’78, purchased from Grand Central Radio in Manhattan. Decades later I bought a used one and did a complete realignment. Then I bought it’s Euro-cousin, the D22 on EBay which I’ve yet to align. Big beautiful sound, covers AM/FM/SW, has a BFO and fine tuning control, crystal calibrators (VFOs are spot on frequency after all these years), real D’Arsonval
    S- meter, they are big, heavy, and use 4 D batteries which last forever. The dial/S-meter light is especially a plus in the dark. Never has a radio been enjoyed so much as the RF2200.

  23. Neil Goldstein

    Such a simple question, but as Thomas stated the answer is not always straightforward. For me it’s locational. depending on where I’m listening I have different radios.

    For a kitchen radio, oddly enough I’m using an Amazon Echo these days. I moved too far from my favorite local stations to enjoy the sound, so I’ve been streaming them. However if I’m monitoring Shortwave in the kitchen or living room, I am usually listening to a Sony ICF-2010, which is also my forst choice for field DX-ing and checking the Ham bands before heading to the shack.

    In the bedroom, or around the house, it’s the XHDATA D-808, which is very similar to Thomas’ go-to for travelling, the C Crane Skywave SSB, A second runner up is a Sangean ATS-909X.

    In the garage or on my workbench, I’m usually listening to an old Nordmende Globetraveler, or an Eton field radio (non-BT). This is also usually my driveway radio when I work on the cars, or garden. I have to add that I have a Panasonic RF-2200, but it’s rough and needs restoration. When finished it may replace both of these, and possibly some others.

    For travel, it depends. If I’m really tight on space I’ll pack my Kenwood TH-F6A. Being a Ham, I like the Kenwood in that it received EVERYTHING I may want to listen to, and is also a 5 Watt tri-band Handy Talkie. The TH-F6A even has BFO for SSB signals. IF I have more space, usually the XHDATA gets tossed in the bag along with a spare battery.

    In the Ham Shack, I have an old Kenwood TS-440 That sounds wonderful with an external speaker.

    Complicated answer, I know, but I think many of us have similar stories.

    1. Thomas Post author

      And that’s the thing. I think this is always a complicated answer for radio enthusiasts as we choose daily drivers for various roads, I suppose! I can say that my choices aren’t always based on performance. For example, the RF-2200’s tuning is sort of loosy-goosy on the shortwaves, yet is sounds amazing and the band-scanning experience is so fulfilling.

      Consider contacting Vlado to restore your RF-2200 if it’s electrical (although you might have the skills to do it yourself!).

      Someday, I too will own a ‘2010 and would love a Normende!



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