Looking back: What radios did you use the most in 2021?

I’m not sure why, but near the end of the year I always like to look back at my radio routine and figure out which radios I used the most. Often, the answer is surprising.

This year, I realized there was a very clear winner…

The C.Crane CCRadio3

The C.Crane CCRadio3 has taken lead position as my daily driver. I have it turned on most days for as much as 4-5 hours at a time depending on how much I’m at home.

Here’s why it has become my daily driver:

  • Benchmark AM/FM reception: The CCRadio3 grabs a solid lock on my favorite local and regional MW and FM stations. At the end of the day, my favorite news program (Marketplace) is available on a local WCQS and distant WFAE. The CCRadio3 can lock onto both equally well. I’ve very few portables that can do this. In addition, I use the CCradio3 for casual MW DXing when I’m not using the Panny RF-2200 or my Chuck Rippel-restored SRII.
  • Audio: The audio from its internal speaker is superb for voice content, but also robust enough for music. I love the dedicated Treble/Bass controls. The audio can be turned up to the point that it can be enjoyed throughout our house.
  • Bluetooth: I listen to a lot of content online and pipe it via Bluetooth from various devices to the CCRadio3. I stream the CBC, FranceInfo, ABC, and/or the BBC most mornings from my laptop. I use Radio Garden on my iPad to explore a world of local radio. I also stream Apple Music from my Mac Mini to the CCRadio3. When I do workouts on my stationary bike, I’ll often listen to both podcasts and music on the CCRadio3 via my iPhone.
  • Battery life: The battery life on the CCRadio 3 is simply stellar. It takes four D cells which offer up a lot of capacity. There are so few digital display radios today that can quite literally play for a few months on one set of batteries. I invested in a set of EBL D Cells and Charger (this package–affiliate link) and have been super pleased. When in the shack/office, the CCRadio3 is plugged into mains power via the supplied AC adapter. All other times, it runs on rechargeable battery power.

It’s ironic, too, because the CCRadio3 doesn’t cover shortwave which is, without a doubt, my favorite band. Thing is, now that so many of my staple news sources are difficult to reliably get on shortwave in the mornings (oh how I miss Radio Australia) I turn to FM and online sources for news content. I still listen to the BBCWS, RNZ, RRI, and at least a dozen other news programs on shortwave, but due to my schedule, it’s mostly casual listening.

On the go: The Belka-DX

Speaking of shortwave, though, the portable I’ve used the most this year for SWLing has been the Belka-DX. Besides it being a super-performing DX machine, it’s also incredibly compact and portable. I keep it in a small Tom Bihn zippered pouch and it lives in my EDC bag which accompanies me on all errands and travels.

The Belka-DX is so small, I forget it’s there. Even some of my smallest compact portables are nearly three times the size of the Belka-DX.

In the field: The Icom IC-705

If you follow QRPer.com, you’ll no doubt see that I spend a lot of time in the field doing QRP amateur radio activations of summits and parks. As I’ve pointed out in my review and 13DKA has pointed out in his reviews, the IC-705 is a benchmark shortwave, mediumwave and FM DXing machine. At $1300 US it’s pricey for sure, but it offers up a usable spectrum display/waterfall, audio RX controls, customizable filtering, HF/VHF/UHF coverage, and built-in audio recording/playback.

You don’t even need a 13.8V power supply with the IC-705 as it’ll charge from most any USB source via a Micro USB plug and run in receive for at least 5 hours without needing a recharge. Of course, you could invest in a second, higher-capacity battery pack and get even more battery life.

When I take the IC-705 on a field activation, I’ll often do a little listening after I finish the ham radio portion of my outing. It’s a great reminder of how important it is to take your radios to the field these days. With no QRM, it’s amazing what you can receive.

How about you?

What radios did you use the most in 2021? Please comment!

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63 thoughts on “Looking back: What radios did you use the most in 2021?

  1. Jim Tedford

    If you want a tour of Dan’s receiver collection take a look at

    It was made a couple of years ago by Jonathan Marks, formerly of Radio Nederland.

    Dan’s been collecting radios for quite a while, to say the least. After watching it, I came to the conclusion that Dan has a hoarding problem. But a really, really cool one.

  2. Zacharias Liangas

    This year I used my Airspy hf+D with the laptop till once I seen bleed from overloads then use the backup SDR RSP 1a
    At all in once moved to another place and the used the pl380 in home till I received the pl330 as replacement and giving the 380 to another who is interested only in FM listening and on a few stations only even if I proposed him something much simpler as the degen 108
    Doing in home SDRing requires moving ? equipment and cables in the bed
    Noises is also high mixed with router
    The easiest to do for some day DX is to move outdoors…..

  3. Chris

    EP PRO is my choice . My original CCradio , CCradio II and CCradio II enhanced started malfunctioning around the two year mark and that’s totally unacceptable to me.

  4. Stan

    Ancient low tech favorite::
    Mostly use a Venturer 2959-2 portable bought maybe 40 years ago. Technology has moved on so the CB and TV bands are now obsolete. But a good am-fm reception and for a low cost radio the short wave bands are actually useful. Eg air, city services, weather, occasional ham , foreign broadcast band. Uses 4 D cells. An external power supply convertor inside the radio failed so I had to remove it and rewire the input power to take 6 V dc. Occasional spray of the volume control and band switches needed

  5. Bruce Carleton

    I’m mostly a broadcast listener, rather than a utility listener. I’ve used my Eton Executive Traveler III the most. I primarily use it for AM and FM broadcast. I use WWV for setting my watch, and the Eton’s clock. I love the time zone wheel. I use it frequently. I’m an infrequent shortwave broadcast listener. It’s been a while, but I really enjoyed the Encore classical music broadcasts. The Eton has some downsides. It doesn’t do HD radio, and the headphone circuit is too noisy for quiet listening. Other than that, it’s perfect for the way I use it.

  6. David McCormick

    Tecsun PL-330x (Anon-Co), Tecsun H-501x (Anon-Co kit), Tecsun PL-368x (Anon-Co), Tecsun PL-990x (Anon-Co kit)
    SDRplay RSP1. ATS-25.
    MLA-30+ loop antennas.

    Looing for input on a replacement SDR.

  7. Barry

    I have QRM that pretty much wipes out HF at my apartment. Part of it comes from inside the building, but at least a fair part of it comes from the assisted living place next door that has something near the ambulance entrance that generates all kinds of hash. So with that, most of my stuff is gathering dust. My NRD-525, Kenwood TS-850SAT, Kenwood R-1000, Icom R71a, and the dozen others haven’t been turned on since the middle of ’17. I should sell most of them off, so someone can enjoy them.

    Since I can’t listen at home, I get in my car and either toss a hunk of wire out the window or use a mag mount antenna on my various portables and SDRs, including a Malachit clone that works pretty well, and
    the newest toy a HangRonDa HRD-747 that I got a couple of weeks ago(as long as you keep the signal levels fairly low, it works ok, but that tiny display!). I have an RSDplay that I use with a cheap laptop that generates RFI on it’s own, and a couple of there SDR’s that work about as well. The Malachit clone on a CB antenna does fairly well for daytime listening, as long as you are away from any and all FM stations. An FM BC filter is a huge help, but it’s not a miracle. Best thing with the clone is to get away from any transmitters and it works well. I wish the touchscreen responded better, but I guess I can’t complain too much about it.

    1. TomL

      Have you tried two loop antennas with a phaser unit like the MFJ-1025/1026 or the TimeWave version? Phasing antennas can be useful enough to making things usable. Just an idea.

  8. Frank Lowry

    It’s a tossup between my CCrane Skywave SSB and my Sony ICF 2002.
    I use the Skywave primarily for airband listening at home and the Sony in my car for HF, especially along with my smartphone while using the Robot 36 app for SSTV catches.

  9. Ward

    DFW listening shack.
    PRD-4w – MW
    PL-600 – SW
    I’m starting to experiment with the Radio Shack 2000669 with C-Crain TCFA together.
    I have a PL-330 & MLA-30, on the way here now.

    Happy new year!

  10. Richard Bittner

    2021 brought a mixed bag of receiving challenges. I used my Grundig750 for most of my home SW listening and I also used it to monitor the busy aircraft traffic here in the DFW metroplex. I have my Panasonic DR28 in my study to keep me company while doing tasks on my PC. My travel radios are my Sony 7600GR, my Radiwow R-108, my Retekese V115, and my newest radio, the Tecsun PL-330.
    I have an end fed long wire antenna connected to my 750. The others I operate mostly off their built-in antennas. My new year challenges are to find someone to replace my display backlight on my Sony 7600GR and installing and comparing a MLA 30 loop to my long wire.
    Happy new year to all!

  11. Bill

    I went back to my old school stuff. I got the Yaesu FRG-7 and Allied A2515 out, realigned them and have been using mostly the FRG-7 for SWLing and MW DXing using a loop-on-ground antenna..


  12. giuseppe morlè

    This year I have mainly used my Tecsun pl 660, Tecsun S8800, and lately Tecsun H501 for my field and home listening … I have compared these a lot with my home station receivers, Yaesu frg 8800, frg 100, frg 7, Kenwood r1000 and AOR 3030 …
    I always like to listen in outdoor areas and by the sea for my long distances without electrical noise.
    Thanks to all of you and Thomas for this great community.
    Wishes for 2022-
    Giuseppe Morlè iz0gzw.

  13. Tim Myers N4TCM

    C Crane Skywave SSB. Better radio than I expected for the size & price. Shortwave is still fun. An swl since the late 70’s

  14. David

    My main radio in the shack for SWLing in Icom 7300. That’s right a ham radio transceiver used mainly as a shortwave radio. I absolutely love this radio! I have a Compactenna in my attic and it works awesome. My second radio is my Tecsun PL 880 bedside, and my third is a Sangean 909 that plays my favorite FM station all day long in the house.

    1. Tim Myers N4TCM

      C Crane Skywave SSB. Better radio than I expected for the size & price. Shortwave is still fun. An swl since the late 70’s

    2. EastTroyDon

      David, I would be interested in knowing if you acquired the 7300 primarily for SWL’ing or if your decision to purchase the 7300 over the (far more expensive) R8600 was based primarily on the fact that the 8600 is a receiver only.

      1. David

        Hey Don, I have my technicians license with the desire in the future to get my General’s so purchasing the 7300 has supported two fold. With that said SWLing is still my one priority and I’ve been doing it for over 30 years now. I’ve been having so much fun with the 7300 as a receiver I haven’t even started studying for the General yet. So yes I wanted a radio that could do both.

    1. Rob

      Wow! Those are some very exotic radios!! I have a few very rare radios in my collection, but nothing in your league.

  15. Robert Richmond

    My Kenwood R-2000 likely has the most listening hours this year, which has been the usual for a long time now since it has a home on my nightstand, though I have been leaning heavier on an Airspy HF+ Discovery if I am in the den away from my various desktop receivers.

  16. Peat

    Still on my trusty ICOM R75 for shortwave and MW. I bought a Wellbrook Loop over the summer and put in on a RCA rotator. For me this really changed the game for MW.

    My GE Superadio 3 has been my go-to for ballgames on FM. While I love my C Crane CC-2E, I still find my GE Superadio 3 outperforms it on FM, albeit only slightly. I know this flies in the face of every review on the internet, but it’s been my personal real world experience. Could be the longer telescoping antenna, but whatever it is, it works. CC-2E for MW though, no doubt.

  17. Roy Unger

    My Grundig Satellit 800 remains my heavy hitter desk rig. For portable listening to shortwave I’ve dug out my old Grundig Yachtboy-400 which still works great and have been using more than my usual portable, my Tecsun 310ET. For MW, CC Radio EP Pro remains my favorite, followed close by my CC Radio-2.

  18. TheZ

    I use my CCPocket radio at home in the mornings & on the weekends. During the day, I listen to the credit card sized RETEKESS V112 from about 6 am till 4 or 5 pm. I use a single over the ear earpiece & keep the volume low, so that I can carry on conversations at work. I switch ears every so often to give each one a rest. The radio needs to be charged nightly for 4 to 5 hours & then I can get up to 12 hours of continuous run time. I switch between FM & AM stations depending on the Talk radio topics being covered at the time.

  19. Scott K8SEA

    My most used radios are my Tecsun H-501x, which I’ve used for local listening and Bluetooth streaming in STEREO! The other is my Hermes Lite 2, which I used to make my first ever HF contacts! That little QRP radio has helped me to contact 27 states so far on FT8 and 2 SSB contacts, including a POTA hunt! I’m just getting started with antenna experiments, so I’m hoping to get more countries than just US and Canada! Thanks for your inspiring blogs and videos!

  20. price K

    I shipped my HRO-50T (boat anchor) to my nephew in early 2021 and after my Icom IC-R71 died a smoky feature I have become strictly an SDR user though I still have a Tecsun PL-880 as a backup. I have been playing with the SDRPlay RSP’s since they first came out. I used the SDRPlay RSPdx until I was given an Airspy HF+ Discovery for Christmas 2021 and have used it almost exclusively since then. I use a MacBookPro with Parallels and Win10 and SDR# and for an antenna either a W6LVP loop or a “cluge” of long wires (60 feet max) in my back yard. We have a lot of RF noise in the San Diego area so find the loop quite handy.

  21. Julio Cesar Pereira

    I used a great number of radios in 2021. I like listening to the news on FM, and despite my favorite station being 122km away from my qth, some of my rigs are sensitive enough to pick it up easily with their telescopic antennae. And they are the 1971 Grundig radio cassette recorder, a Sony ICF-5900w and a Degen DE1103 version I. For shortwave, I used an Icom IC-R71A, Drake R8A amd Yaesu FRG-7700 (no longer have these two), CommRadio CR-1a, Tecsun PL-660 (with auto-squelch filter disabled), Malachite SDR, Sony ICF-SW55 and SDRplay RSPdx. For AM, the ones that proved to be great for AM Dxing are the CommRadio CR-1a and SDRplay RSPdx specially due to their very precise and symmetric lsb/usb filters, fine tuning combined with pass band tuning. For airband, I used the XHdata D-808 and Yaesu FT-70D/R HT. For ADB-S, I used the SDRplay RSPdx with SDRuno and its plugin for this mode. On the field, I used the Yaesu FT-817ND, a radio I had wanted for a long time and finally got almost brand new and use it with an AlexLoop antenna. By the way, I’ve only used loop antennae, whether passive or active. I also used tube radios, i.e. a 1955 Zenith AM/FM receiver and a Trans-Oceanic G500 which I love listening to AM with the aid of an external loop antenna. I can pick up stations further than 1,000km easily with this set.

  22. Ronnie

    Again last year I could not better my old bedside Sony ICF-2010 setup with ATU and a MFJ noise-cancelling signal enhancer, however I also resurrected my Drake R8B (some new caps) with my other antenna, pre-amp and noise-cancelling signal enhancer to use that setup more during the daytime. Both are very fine receivers but need help to tame the significant noise patterns around my QTH.

    All the best for 2022 to everyone.

    1. Ken Carr

      Like you I still consider my Sony ICF-2010 the very best portable. I use it from home when I want to relax and am in a good listening position. I also have a Tecsun PL-880 which is nice and compact. I use it at home and on trips. The Sony is for home only. I will not risk damaging it on a trip.

  23. Steve Allen

    It’s a toss up between three; the Belka-DX, my FT-817 with an outboard DSP filter, and my SDRPlay RSP2. Unfortunately the ‘Little Squirrel” is on it’s way back to Bulgaria for an LCD replacement due to the forces of gravity. Happy New Year to all!

    Steve, KZ4TN

  24. Rob

    Without a doubt, my most used radio in 2021 was my Icom IC-7300! As solar conditions have been improving, I’ve become more and more mesmerized by the features and performance. And when things weren’t that interesting on the amateur bands, it seems to be a very capable shortwave receiver. It’s great to see the spectrum and go straight to signals!
    Another ‘radio’ that I’ve spent a lot of time with in 2021 are the WiFi radios! Not so much listening to them (my wife does that) but rather getting all the Reciva stuff sorted out. In a way, the demise of Reciva was a blessing in disguise. I didn’t do much with the WiFi radios until the aggregator was an issue, and in the process of filling 99 presets with ‘something’, I discovered a lot of new content that my wife enjoys tremendously. Because of the impending Reciva closure, the radios are now used tons more. And so far, the workaround of pls files instead of a direct stream from Reciva has been working extremely well, considering that it was destined to become a doorstop.
    Good DX to all in the upcoming new year and new solar cycle!

    1. Zack S

      My wife and I also listen to internet radio a lot. Have a newer Grace radio in the kitchen. My wife prefers XM 60’s oldies on it. But when I am making my breakfast I put on either BBC Radio 2, WOMR on Cape Cod or KRVM. KRVM is an all volunteer station BTW and they have a great blues show everyday until 11 AM EST.

      In the living room we have a Denon receiver. We listen a lot to WFCC (classical), WVKR, Radio Caroline Gold, Kriola laut.fm (an African music station in Germany), WQXR (classical in NYC). WOMR is real treasure. As a volunteer station they play a huge range of music.

      Perhaps out favourite show is Backwoods on WMBR Saturdays 10am-Noon with John Funke, “The best in vintage rock ’n’ roll, country and western, and rhythm ’n’ blues. More songs about Cadillacs and chickens.” If you want to hear a fun show with a lot of obscure county blues give it a listen. You can listen to past shows too at https://wmbr.org/cgi-bin/show?id=7177

  25. John

    For shortwave listening I use an Alinco DX-R8T and Yaesu FT-891 as my main rigs.

    For portable use I keep coming back to my trusty Sangean ATS-909 (original), a Panasonic RF-B45 and a Degen 1103 (Non DSP).

    I’m not impressed with the audio and performance of the many DSP based portables and prefer ro stick with superhert radios.

  26. TomL

    This year saw most use with the AirSpy HF+ and two phased wire antennas on the porch. The setup gives usable performance of the strong stations like WRMI, R.Espana, etc. I am surprised by how good R.Rebelde can come in at night with authentic Cuban music, as well as the nightly music from WTWW.

    The balance has been new Ham contacts on the Kenwood TS-590S since getting my General license about 2 months ago. One of the phased antennas is my 20 meter “Slot” horizontal loop fed from the side (for vertical polarization which avoids some ground effects on the 2nd floor condo porch). It seems to work OK, I spoke to one of the “Christmas Train” special event stations, N0I, Jose who lives in Puerto Rico. He said my signal was S7-S8, so I must be doing something right!

    All of this audio is fed into my laptop. I have a software Equalizer shape the audio depending on if it is music, talk, or SSB Ham stuff. The audio output is fed into a C.Crane FM transmitter as I can have up to four other radios and one stereo amp with bookshelf speakers, all playing what is heard on the AirSpy or the Kenwood if I want, or into Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro headphones if I want.

    I did use an old Lowe HF-150 that my late Brother had used. It did remarkably well from an outdoor park and a loop-on-ground antenna, picking up some Brazilian and African stations very clearly. Of course, it was a completely Noise-Free environment!

    Also, I sometimes use a Samsung DT200 when falling asleep at night.

    Despite the local noise, it was a good radio year. 🙂

  27. EastTroyDon

    For desktop listening I alternate mostly between the ICOM R75 and the Yaesu FRG 7700 depending on the meter band. For portable listing its the County Comm – its more sensitive on shortwave than the Tecsun 990X. The 990X is a better MW DX’r .

  28. Zack S

    I have a Sangean HDR-14 that I use everyday. It is in our bathroom and I use it daily to listen to either CBS news (WXYT-HD3), CBC Radio 2 (CBE) or NPR (WDET) news when I am washing up in the morning or at night.

    Also have an CCRadio 3 that I use every night to do some MW DXing before I fall asleep. I use the sleep timer too nightly to fall asleep to WSM or CFZM. Also this is the radio I take car camping and for road trips. I have a Logitech phone headset that does double duty with the CCRadio 3. Bought an Apache 3800 hard case for it from Harbor Freight so that I don’t have to worry about damaging it. Also have it on a cheap turntable for easy rotation next to our bed.

    The CCradio3 has an amazing FM receiver. I can listen to CBC Radio 1, CBEW, running 2.3 – 13K ERP 27 miles south of me. Now that does not really sound that remarkable right? Well right below it is WXYT, 97.1 which is in HDRadio, is 3 miles away and running 15K ERP. Right above it is WJLB, 97.9 which also in HDRadio running 50K ERP and is 7 miles away. So here is little CBEW squeezed between two HDRadio stations near me and I can receive it full strength. Oh and to top it off our house has a metal roof and metal siding.

    I really wish that the CCRadio3 had RDS and more memories but that is another story.

  29. Sandip Nambiar

    Hello. My radios has been the Tecsum R-9012 and Belka DX. Both radios are small enough to fit in my jacket pocket and so it comes with me everywhere. 73, Sandip EI7IJB

  30. Haluk Mesci

    Belka DX. Sony 7600G, Yaesu FRG 7700, Panasonic B65… Grundig YB500 for FM and local MW.
    (Alas! Away from my Eton E1 and Icom R75…)

    Best wishes to all.
    May your receptions be 55555

  31. Matt Todd

    IC7300 for ham stuff and SRDplay RSPdx for SWL, recording, and other messing around. Just got an RSP Duo so Im going to play with some diversity reception stuff in the new year.

  32. Steve

    Tecsun PL-380.

    From your post I see the CCRadio3 has a Bluetooth receiver. I would like an AM/FM radio with a Bluetooth transmitter for my earbuds. I listen to stations online but sometimes programming, such as sports, is muted on the stream but it’s still going over the air.

    1. Thomas Quinn

      Hi Steve,
      .You can buy an adapter to enable both transmit and receive Bluetooth.
      The one I have is quite small and charges from usb. Do a search on The Big Shop,
      Best wishes to all for 2022.
      Tam Frae Scotland

  33. Ken Carr

    The radio I most often turned on for pure shortwave listening was the Hammarlund model SP-600 (Super-Pro), Northern Radio version R-450/FRR-28. It is also designated the model ‘SP 600 J’ (JX) Communications Receiver. This rack mounted Hammarlund was modified by Northern Radio to serve as a diversity receiver on a US Navy Destroyer. As I understand it, as a diversity receiver it would be networked with several other receivers all attached to different antennas. The best signal at any one moment would be the one heard by all the separate units. Judging by the documentation I have the unit was made sometime between 1951 and 1963. The exact tuning and great sound on this radio makes it a pleasure to listen to. Band changing is a bit of a bear, sort of like doing a 3-point turn in cobblestones with a ‘41 Buick. This radio was given to me by my friend who got it from a Navy veteran who saved the radio from being trashed when his ship radio room was being updated. My buddy carried this monster to my second floor all by himself. I read that the radio weighs about 66 pounds. At my age it feels more like 100. I really like this great example of American engineering!

      1. Barry Bogart

        I am old enough to remember them. Halli made a diversity receiver too. I had an HQ129 but now just an SX-99, S38E, RS DX394 with RS sound processor, Sony 2010 and 7600G, Elecraft K2 and KX3, Icom 703, and a few Kaitos, Etons, Grundigs, etc….

  34. Tom Stiles

    My favorites are Grundig 800, Tecsun H-501x and Grundig 750. You can see them on my YouTube channel (hamrad88).

    Tom Stiles

  35. Frankie

    Hello. I must say I love the Malachit SDR a lot, I use it with a random wire or with the Sony AN-LP1 loop and often use this for an 80-meters-European amateur radio group to listen in (“Schwarzwaldrunde”).

    Next and closest comes the XHDATA 808, mostly for AM (“Lyca Radio” being a favorite, with ECSS tuning the fading is greatly reduced and a joy to listen to with the largest SSB bandwith).

    Third the good Eton E 1, works fine with the AN-LP1 and a long time favorite. Equally the Sony PRO 80 which is a joy on AM as well after a friend helped me refurbishing it again this summer.

    Radio I lost this year was the Tecsun 606 – pity because it was good on AM. Volume encoder broke off, it is still useable with headphones with a volume poti. Guess I took it out too often in the past years when looking out for Charleston Radio (the HXDATA has a big scratch on the front for the same reason).

    All best for 2022!

    1. Barry Bogart, VE7VIE

      I have an AN-LP1 as well but the preamp/tuner doesn’t seem to work. So I wonder if the loop will work without it. I should put my NanoVNA on it, I guess.

      1. Frankie

        Without the preamp tuner, it does add some reception, but only moderately I´m afraid.
        But if you have, say, the Tecsun MS 31 loop, you can hang one on top of the other and simply use the MS31 preamp for precise tuning. This setup I have used greatly with the E1 in past years and got Peru better this way 🙂
        The Tecsun MS 31 loop is surprisingly good for MW btw.


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