What are your favorite portables in 2022 and why?

I’m traveling this morning and packing up my EDC (everyday carry) bag here int he hotel room.

Last night, I was using the Tecsun PL-330 to do a little band-scanning and it dawned on me that I’ve used this radio along with the Belka DX quite extensively this summer while on an extended family road trip. Even before this trip, both of these radios were in heavy rotation.

I go through phases of using portables–sometimes I’ll dig out a vintage radio and use it for weeks, then I’ll switch it out for a modern rig. I like variety and giving all of my radios a little air time.

I packed the Belka DX and Tecsun PL-330 for our trip because they’re some of the most compact, lightweight radios I own.

I’m curious what radios you’re using now and why–? Please comment!

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40 thoughts on “What are your favorite portables in 2022 and why?

  1. Fabrice

    Hello, I use both a Tecsun PL-680 and a PL-330. During the 80’s, it was the Sony 7600 family 🙂 I like this compact format (7600 and PL-680). The PL-330 I use mainly as a clock radio and as a radio to take on holiday.

    Reply
  2. Sam

    The C Crane Skywave SSB is my go-to radio when away from home. I really enjoy getting out my NW DC RFI clustermuck.

    At home listening is via my Airspy HF+ Discovery and Youloop antenna! I’m looking forward to hearing what it can do on the AM broadcast band this winter.

    Reply
  3. VK5014SWL

    I have always been impressed with my Icom IC-R30. Build quality, receiving versatility, antenna compatibility, and scanning speed leave nothing left to desire. It was a birthday gift from my wife before we married, and I treat it like an ancient sea treasure.

    Reply
  4. Bill Hemphill

    My favorite portable radio for use around the house is the PL-880. I like that it has plenty of audio for when I want to listen to the radio during a shower.

    Last fall, I took the PL-330 for my trip to Indiana. It worked great and didn’t take up too much room. I may take the PL-368 on my next trip.

    Being a amateur radio person, I also take along my favorite HT, Yaesu VX-6r. Turns out the VX-6r has a very good receiver and with a small piece of wire performs quite well on the shortwave bands. Of course it doesn’t do usb or lsb, but for straight listening in a pinch is not bad. I do have a Kenwood TH-F6a HT,which does receive sideband. But it doesn’t perform on the SW bands as well as the Yaesu does.

    I just recently picked up a couple Sony ICF-SW1 receivers and am looking forward to trying them once I get them re-capped. They would make a nice portable for a trip. I also picked up a Sony ICF-SW100 which has sysc and is very small. Unfortunately it’s not working at present – but I have plans to get it restored.

    When I was in middle school (1960), my portable radio was a Philco Trans-World T-9. Leather covered wood case, size of small overnight travel suitcase, very heavy. But all transistor and runs on six D-Cell batteries. I lugged that radio everywhere I went, so it was my portable radio back then. Recently I acquired two of them and one sits in my family room and is used constantly. Beautiful audio.

    73
    Bill WD9EQD
    Smithville, NJ

    Reply
  5. Zack S

    I use a Sangean HDR-14 as my clock radio daily. A nice feature is that it has RBDS which will set the time from a local NPR station (WUOM). Take it when traveling too for use as a clock radio. It is very small and takes up little luggage space. Use my cell phone headset with it as it has pretty good audio.
    Also have a Sangean HDR-16 that I keep in the bathroom. I use it there to listen to the local CBS news station (WWJ) and NPR (WUOM & WDET) when I am washing up.
    Last of all I have a CCRadio 3B that I keep in my bedroom. Use it nightly to listen to WBZ, WCBS, WSM and CFZM. It also lets me listen to CBC Radio 1 (CBEW) which neither of the radios above will receive. I am near Detroit MI BTW. Also have a cheap turntable that I use to rotate the radio with. I take the radio when we go on road trips or car camping. Bought an Apache 3800 hard case for it from Harbor Freight to keep it in on road trips. The radio was not cheap and the hard case provides great protection. The sleep timer it has is a nice feature as I like to fall asleep listening to it the radio. Some nights if there are thunderstorms nearby I tune it to 1710 and fall asleep listening to lightning static.

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  6. Rob W4ZNG

    I’m still stuck on my Tecsun PL-990 and CCrane Skywave. (Unfortunately I have the non-SSB version, because the SSB version wasn’t available until after I had bought mine.) The 990 is a good all-rounder, with a functional sync detector and very good AM DX capability. The Skywave is great for backpacking. It’s much lighter and it is easy to operate in a dark tent.

    Reply
  7. Kevin B

    I’d like to hijack this well-viewed thread to encourage everyone to click the “Coffee Fund” link on the main page and donate a few bucks. I just did and it felt good.

    I’m not affiliated with the site in any way, and I am not a robot 😉 I doubt our man is getting rich running this place. Every dollar counts. Thank you!

    Reply
  8. Dafydd Jones

    The radio I have carried around everywhere in my inside pocket,when I’m out and about is the Roberts R9962. I listen to Rte Radio 1 on LW and France Inter before they terminated LW transmissions. I get very good reception on LW! I also listen to China’s CGTN on SW,with just the telescopic antenna partially extended (under my jacket or coat!). It’s also very good on Medium Wave for what it is (no filters). Over the years it has survived a fall on a hard floor,bumping down a staircase & crashing into a wall! (Memo: Must be more careful!). I like it so much,I recently bought one s/h from a very nice chap on Ebay & was very pleased when the model I received turned out to be the earlier version of the radio (Roberts R-862). It’s a shame that Roberts seem to have ditched these nice little radios for retro nonsense (Although,I must admit I do own one,myself! ).
    For more serious listening,I use the XHDATA-D808 & very good it is! (Albeit,very poor on LW!) The filters are fantastic & I love the way you can narrow them right down on MW & SW to filter out adjacent interference & even improve the clarity of a signal at times,yet stll enjoy listenable audio! I find it very good on the amateur bands too! I I like the tuning button with it’s clever design whereby you can adjust the tuning rate from fast to slow & stop it altogether when you come across a HAM. Obviously,there are more sophisticated radios for this purpose,but I’m very happy with it! I think it’s an amazing little radio for the price. The Rds feature on FM is nice too. Allowing me to set the clock to the correct time even when I’m not listening to SW! (By pswitching to FM first!) Very convenient! (I also have an old clock,with hands,next to the radio,set to GMT,so I don’t have to think backwards or forwards during BST)
    The other radio I use is the Tecsun PL-880. I’ve had it for a couple of years now. I mostly use it for LW these days! Rte Radio 1 mostly and Radio 4,merely because I like the old analogue sound! Although,I’ll be saying goodbye to that before long,won’t I?! Next time around the Irish diaspora might not be so lucky! (I don’t think I’ll bother to listen to Rte Radio 1 too much on the internet!) The radio is good on MW & SW,but the XHDATA D-808 has the narrower filters! A while back the aerial on the XHDATA broke & I transferred the aerial from the PL-880 to the XHDATA. The Tecsun Pl-880 awaits a replacement,but it still picks up R4 on Fm very well where I live here & the bracket it fits onto got loose & doesn’t tighten up. I wonder if anyone else here has experienced this problem.? Tecsun radios seem to score on the actual electronics but not so well on the actual quality of the build! Also,the radio seems to have developed an unfortunate tendency to change frequency on occasion! And it is very difficult to manually tune! I have to use the keyboard now! Again,I wonder if anyone else here has experienced these problems? I intend to leave the batteries out for a couple of hours before long & see if that does any good?! I have tried the re-set button,but that didn’t help!
    I did own the Tecsun PL-680 for a while! I wasn’t so impressed by the SYNCHRO feature myself! Although,it was a help at times. (The XHDATA D808 beats it hands down in my opinion thanks to it’s impressive range of filters). I remember being shocked when I was tuning the Tecsun PL-680 through the SW bands one evening and the knob snapped right off in my hand!! I have used loads of portable radios in my time,including some very cheap ones (I won’t count an ALBA radio I once took immediately back to Argos!! What did I expect?!!) and I have never,ever known a tuning knob snap off! I was tuning it fast,but then I used to do the same with my parent’s portables when I was a youngster! (Thank goodness their tuning knobs didn’t snap! I’d have had some explaining to do!)

    Reply
    1. Andrew (grayhat)

      I agree about the belka, it’s an amazing little performer, I hope they will consider, in a future, a slightly larger model, with a speaker, a large battery and some additional connectors 🙂

      Reply
    1. Ed

      My favorite portable is also the Sony 2010. It is simply the best portable ever made in my humble opinion. I use it for patio listening. I use it with an AN-LP1 or a Wellbrook portable loop.

      My favorite travel radios are the Sony ICF-SW07 and the Sony ICF-SW100. Of the two, the SW07 is slightly better, approaching the 2010’s performance with an external antenna. On the other hand, the SW100’s tiny form factor and ease of use makes it a joy to use for when I head to a local park etc. With these two radios, I do not have to compromise on performance in the field.

      As others have said, it all depends on how I am using the particular radio. I listen mostly to ham CW and some short wave broadcasters.

      Reply
  9. Ron Liekens

    The Yaesu FT-817 is still in use since 2004. A Sangean ATS-909 is a nice all-rounder with good audio and a sensitive FM broadcast receiver. More recent, the Chinese ATS-25, is a fun radio with touch screen that I use when on holiday. For portable and biking use, the Icom IC-R30 is just the right thing for me. It all just depends on the actual type of use and location when away from home.

    Reply
  10. Mark

    If I’m setting up and staying at a holiday destination, it will be either the CommRadio CR1a or the FT-817ND, usually with a tuneable whip antenna on the window sill.

    Reply
  11. TomL

    After my Tecsun PL680 died, I inherited an old Lowe HF-150. Works fine off of 8 AA NiMH batteries and I can plug in a whip antenna if I feel like it and has a built-in preamp, or just use the 50 ohm UHF connector. Double Side Band sync reception in “full” (wide) filter setting is I think around 9 kHz and sounds great on strong signals. Also picks up SSB well and used it at the latest ARRL Field Day for people to listen to with its built-in speaker. Who needs Tecsun portables that die of strange malfunctions when the old stuff works quite well?

    Reply
  12. David Elden

    Favourite portable: Belka DX. Very portable, good sensitivity and excellent SSB audio quality. The ergonomics are a compromise thanks to the small size and small number of actual buttons/knobs but I can accept the design solution they arrived at. I also wish there were more than 32 memories, ideally in pages.
    For travel: CCrane Skywave SSB. Audio markedly inferior to the Belka but has BC bands and air (I really like to have the air band while waiting in airports). Commentators sometimes moan about the price of this radio but they never seem to identify another receiver with the same set of features and benefits (weight, volume, features, performance, battery life) for less money (or even the same or more money…)
    Runner up: XHDATA D-808. Decent radio, comprehensive feature set, good sensitivity, very competitively priced, not too large/heavy. Horrible SSB audio though and audio overall quite noisy, mutes during each tuning step.
    Dave

    Reply
  13. John

    I use a Sangean ATS-909 original as it has the best performance on SSB from any portable I have ever used. It has none of the harshness and noise found with DSP chipset portables and is also a great performer on SW AM, LW, MW and FM broadcast. With an external antenna this receiver rivals some tabletop models. Audio is great too although early models had a bit of mushiness in the speaker. I like this model of receiver so much that I’ve acquired every model of this receiver including the Roberts and Siemens versions.

    Reply
  14. Thomas

    I often travel with ATS-405. I rarely listen to SSB signals. I mainly listen to MW and SW broadcast. I think ATS-405 is enough for my daily use. Especially ATS-405 has DSP and has enough sensitivity.

    Reply
  15. Jake Brodsky, AB3A

    I used to travel the world with a YB-400, and I’d probably still be using it; but I think some electrolytic capacitors are in need of replacement. The PLL doesn’t lock up reliably any more.

    Initially I replaced it with a Tecsun PL-680. The radio isn’t bad, but it’s not particularly sensitive on MW and LW. The sound is also lacks good bass response. If you plug in good over the ear headphones instead of those earbuds, it can actually sound okay. However, I wanted better.

    I’m currently carrying around a Sangean ATX-909X2. It’s not a bad radio, but it does have a lot of birdies and the SSB mode audio is lacking. So ECSS with this radio is not quite as good as the synch detection of the PL-680. However, for casual sideband use it’s pretty good. I’ll have a comparison of these two radios written up pretty soon.

    I also carry around an Airspy HF+ If I’m hauling my personal laptop with me. That radio can’t be beat, if you can put up an antenna worth using. Even a plain YouLoop does impressive things with this radio.

    Reply
      1. Jake Brodsky, AB3A

        I don’t have those radios to compare it to. One neat thing about the 909X2 is that the external antenna connector also works on MW and LW. So if you happen to have access to a good active loop antenna you can take advantage of it. However, that’s not really portable operation.

        In general, the limiting factor for MW AM reception is usually the background noise, and the 909X2 hears it pretty well. Daytime listening can be a bit less sensitive than I would like, though, but I also have an external passive loop that couples nicely to the radio. But once again, that’s cheating.

        Reply
  16. James

    I’m commenting mainly to ask if someone is going to check through the responses and make a follow-up post summarizing the opinions people expressed here. But for my part, I only have two small radios: a Retekess V115 and an Eton Elite Mini; both are OK, but I tend to prefer the Retekess. At their price range, they’re not the best around, but I have them mainly for backup and possible travel use for which they seem decent enough. I’m thinking about getting something a bit better, like a mid-range model that’s between these and my main radio (a Sangean ATS-909X2) though, hence my interest in a summary of the comments here. Thanks.

    Reply
  17. Sandip Nambiar

    I have been carrying the Tecsun R-9012 or Belka DX a lot more this year because both radios fit nicely my jacket pocket and fun to tune around on my walks.

    Reply
  18. Denis Allard

    This is a fun post and I wish to put in my two cents. Since I live near Montreal, a heavily congested urban area with several 50KW AM and multiple 100 KW FMs, I derive very little enjoyment from the radio hobby (except maybe for those times when I tune to a sufficiently sensitive SDR from a location 80 km away. To me, it’s almost like a local tuner.

    But in recent years, during those times I’ve been lucky enough to travel, I’ve enjoyed the following, in descending order of preference:

    ETON E1 with lots of spare D cells. This receiver will never disappoint as long as you refrain from poking the rear latch and start playing with the trimmer.

    Sony SW55. Short of having an E1, the SW55 will have to do. I took it to Varadero Cuba in 2017 and had quite a good time bandscannning day or night !!! It’s quite portable, has very good FM and high HF sensitivity and despite the lack of an external antenna for MW, its internal ferrite bar yields solid performance and for those who’ve been there, you know that in Cuba, nulling is quite useful. Some “engine noise” from the clock/digital display can be heard but beyond that, I have fond memories of one of the very last triple-conversion Super-Hets.

    Grundig GS350DL. A fun reminder of what things once were. A very nice continuous tuning analog tuner for MW and FM. A relatively quiet and very sensitive MW tuner with near-perfect FM sensitivity (although very poor in selectivity). This radio will shine in the countryside where FM AGC doesn’t kick in, good for MS. Oh and yes, shortwave was a joke in this radio.

    Grundig Satellit 750: A very nice picnic table radio with low noise on MW (although turning the top loaded ferrite antenna make it sound like a crank! FM selectivity is tops but not sensitive enough on its own for MS. Turning the knob is not as pleasent as the 350DL but you forget about it after a while since it doesn’t squelch between frequencies.

    Grundig Satellit 800 with truckloads of spare batteries. Choose your vacation spot wisely when trotting this radio which to me amounts to little more than a big toy for boys who are looking to make a statement! You sure don’t need something that big for good performance although it can perform well from MW to let’s say 8 MHz. I’ve had two of them and they were never impressive on the higher bands.

    Tecsun PL990x/H501x. Two very distant planets in my solar system! Equal in performance since they are basically the same. These will not age well. Sensitive enough when using the external whip on MW but noisy and certainly not worth the hype they’re getting. Menus are complicated for nothing, AM Sync isn’t worth mentioning and SSB is downright noisy. I have owned both in recent years and have quickly parted with them.

    At 60, I’ve had the opportunity to play with some fine toys (my very first was an 8-transistor portable TITAN car/portable AM radio circa 1968, what a gem that was).

    Hope Eton does deliver in the coming weeks !!!

    Reply
  19. Blob

    I’ve both (330 & DX) and much prefer the DX for HF. The undefeatable soft mute if abysmal on the 330. It really ruins scanning the SWL bands. I put a foam rig around the VFO knob on the DX which make tuning around a lot easier & with better precision. I also own a PL-600 which is great for scanning, but less fun on SSB reception than the 330. The 330 would be awesome if it didn’t have the soft mute.

    Reply
  20. Ted Ostrowski

    From what Ive read here portable seems to be dependant on how and where one travels. We just got back from the mountains of British Columbia and I took the Tecsun PL 310ET along. Somehow I thought I was buying the 330 but ordered the 310 but thats another story. Still the ETM is a nice little rig and for the most part I dont miss SSB or band filters, its quite a good performer but I find the rechargeable batteries go flat rather quickly., matters not we have phones and tablets with us so cables and charging is never a problem. Like most of us here we have several SW receivers. The above mentioned ICF 2010 is one of them and that was my travel radio when I intended to have a base for weeks or months, But here at home and on the backyard patio I like sing the Grundig Sattelit 800 that technically is a portable but in reality is a heavy bugger. What’s next? The Icom IC-705 transceiver looks attractive as a modern day portable. Always intended to progress to Ham radio and its a decent general coverage radio too. My two cents 🙂

    Reply
  21. Rusty Knobs

    Recently retired, I am getting back into SWLing following a 20-year absence. My favorite surviving portable is a Sony ICF-2010. I’ve also dusted off a pair of tabletop receivers: A Grundig Satellit 800 and Icom IC-R72. Once reacquainted with all three I hope to pursue at least one SDR for comparisons.

    Reply
  22. Tim Francisco

    I really like the Tecsun pl-330, it’s a good performer and much lighter than my 1960s era Zenith Trans-Oceanic. Which is the radio that got me started in dxing as a kid ?

    Reply
  23. James Fields

    This largely depends on my listening targets. I love the PL-330 as a general travel radio – the ETM tuning is nice, and I really like being able to plug in a piece of wire and force the radio to use it for MW AM.

    If my destination provides a good opportunity for air band listening, I like the C. Crane Skywave SSB.

    Sadly, shortwave performance has become less and less important to me in travel portables as it is SO dependent on antenna quality which is usually lacking in portables, and also there is so little left on the band that captures my interest.

    Reply
  24. Ken Coble

    my favorite portable is my CommRadio CR-1a
    it resembles a simple desktop communications receiver but smaller and is an SDR that don’t require a desktop PC or laptop (runs on its own)

    Reply
  25. Daniel Robinson

    A fun topic. As I write for the upcoming August edition of the NASWA journal, I think the hobby has shifted because of the decline in stations on the air, to a focus on appreciating new and old receivers and their capabilities. In recent months I have been in a back-to-the classics mode, and obtained a ICF-2001 in NIB condition. It’s been a real blast using it and it brings back memories from when the radio first came out decades ago. Like others, I too have become a fan of the XHDATA D-808. I also obtained a ICOM IC-R30 before they stopped production on that receiver, and I find it extremely enjoyable as a HF receiver, since it has a narrow bandwidth in addition to wide as well as an onboard recorder. And of course, what more can be said about the BELKA? On the “mega” portable side, in the 1960’s I used a CRF-160 and always appreciated that radio and in recent years I have re-obtained two of those receivers — it’s a blast getting back to slide rule tuning.

    Reply
  26. Frank

    For inside, this year, actually since beginning of 2021, I have a small carry bag with AN-LP1, 3 meter random wire, powerbank and – I admit to it! – Malachite Chinese clone. Main reason: The noise blanker helps against my neighbors´ solar panel RFI.
    For outside, no radio these days I find more comfortable than XHDATA 808. Wish I had a Belka tho….really do.

    Reply
  27. Paul

    Still just the Tecsun PL-380 for me. It’s my go-to travel radio as it’s a decent FM receiver, has a nice time/alarm/thermometer and light, and it makes scanning short wave easy. I’ve had it for years though and the keypad is getting ‘stickier’ with some of the number buttons quite stiff, which makes it unpleasant to dial in a specific frequency. I had a look inside to see if I could clean the keypad but couldn’t get into the membrane area.

    Your picture of the PL-330 makes me lust after a device with SSB capability. But I can’t really justify replacing the PL-380 with another very similar model just for SSB… Can I?

    What I’d ideally like is a good FM and SW portable which also has RDS decoding for FM – makes picking up international FM signals a bit easier to identify when they drift over from the continent.

    I picked up a cheapish Retekess SW/FM receiver with an SD card slot for recording, which works great, but it’s not as good a radio as the Tecsun, and I’ve found myself not using it much.

    Finally I almost always have a pocket DAB/FM radio with me – either a Roberts Sport 5 or a Majority somethingorother. Both have decent FM sensitivity and RDS, and it’s always fun seeing what DAB multiplexes I can get, particularly when European muxes drift over the English channel to the south coast.

    Reply
  28. Paul Mitchell

    For myself, when we do camping in our small caravan, size is an issue. So I pack my radio gear in an aluminum carry case for my Tecsun PL990 (no x) as mine was one of the first models to land in Australia behind the driver’s seat in the 4WD.

    I like to listen to it in the sun with either local AM stations in country towns we are visiting where ABBA is still in the top 100 and there is nothing wrong with that as I am 59. If radio stations are bare in rural OZ. I have a multitude of classic audiobooks that I will one day listen to even including Homer’s Iliad. One day this is on the micro SD Card which is almost a full 32GB.

    Then as dusk and the mozzies come out I retire inside and have had a lovely friend install a connector on the outside of the van and one under the lounge seat inside to allow me to run a short wind-out antenna, I think you know the ones and a separate N type to 3.5mm mono to connect to the radios external antenna input. N for no special reason as the cable under the seat is in sma 3.5mm again for that is what is on hand.

    I think I might try and find a better solution to the roll-out antenna as it is a bit of a bugger to wind in before we leave for the next stop. Which might be a week away.

    For the purposes of the post, this is how I used my Tecsun PL990 before the plastic hard cases were available.

    Sunny days from,

    Mitch in Down Under.

    Reply

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