I love listening to AM radio when I’m outdoors. Even though cell phones and FM radios are popular, AM radios work much better in remote areas. When I go camping, hiking, or exploring the wilderness, I always bring an AM radio to get news, sports, and weather when other stations have poor reception. AM radios are tried and true for staying connected off the grid.
With so many AM radios on the market, it can be tricky to pick the right one. I’ve done research to find the best AM radios based on reception, audio quality, battery life, and useful features. In this article, I’ll share my picks for the top AM radios in different categories, like best reception, best AM/FM combo for rural areas, and best value.
Whether you need an AM radio for outdoor adventures or just listening at home, I’ll guide you to great options without breaking your budget. Let’s tune into what makes a quality AM radio and the best ones I found in my search.
Pro tip: Consider your specific needs before making a choice, as each radio has its own strengths and weaknesses. One might be the best AM/FM radio for remote areas, while another is the best for AM reception. Think about when and where you'll use it most to find the best AM radio for your specific need.
Quick Overview: The Panasonic RF-2400D is a high-performing portable AM/FM radio with a classic analog design and excellent audio quality. Its sturdy build and intuitive controls make listening to radio shows, music, and ballgames a pleasure.
Ideal for using during power outages or on camping trips
Classic analog tuning dial with modern digital tuner inside
Versatile power options – can run on 4 AA batteries or AC outlet
Sturdy metal speaker grill and tuning knobs give a retro look and feel
Made by a leading electronics brand (Panasonic) known for quality
Appealing for radio enthusiasts who want both vintage styling and performance
As an old-school radio enthusiast, I was thrilled to get my hands on the Panasonic RF-2400D portable AM/FM radio. With its classic analog tuning dial but high-tech digital guts, it’s the perfect blend of retro and modern. The build quality is fantastic – Panasonic used real metal for the speaker grill and large tuning knobs, giving it a sturdy feel you don’t find in plastic radios today.
Tuning in stations, both AM and FM, was a cinch thanks to the easy-to-read fluorescent dial and Auto Frequency Control that keeps stations locked in steadily. The AM reception really impressed me, pulling in distant stations with great clarity. The powerful speaker fills the room with rich, clear audio too.
While the FM reception wasn’t quite as strong in my area, the radio is perfectly suited for listening to ball games or morning talk shows on local AM stations. I also like that it can run on batteries or plug into the wall, making it ideal for using in power outages or outdoors on camping trips.
The mono headphone jack, while lacking stereo sound, still let me listen privately late at night. And the intuitive controls and handsome retro styling make this radio a joy to use. If you want a durable, great-sounding AM/FM radio that brings back the feel of classic sets, the Panasonic RF-2400D is a winner in my book!
Quick Overview: The Sangean LB-100 is a compact and durable AM radio, perfect for survival during harsh weather conditions. It boasts reliable performance, great audio quality, and is made of durable ABS plastic encased in a shock-resistant frame.
High bass response
Digital LCD display for precise tuning
5-inch speaker with full and crisp sound
Flexible antenna (not extendable) for durability
Durable ABS plastic and shock-resistant frame
Tuner preset buttons for easy station switching
Ideal for outdoor work and can withstand dust and water exposure
When it comes to surviving the harshest weather conditions, I believe having a trusty AM radio by your side is crucial. That’s why I recommend the Sangean LB-100. This petite radio packs a punch in my experience with its reliability, great audio quality, and unbeatable durability. Crafted from durable ABS plastic and encased in a shock-resistant frame, it is ideal for my outdoor work and can withstand the dust and water exposure I encounter.
The 5-inch speaker boasts a full, crisp sound and can get quite loud, making it a suitable companion for the noisy construction sites I work on. As someone who loves a bassy sound profile, I appreciate the high bass response, although those who prefer more treble or a balanced sound may be let down by the lack of bass/treble adjustment. Its digital LCD display provides the precise tuning I need and the preset buttons are handy for how frequently I switch stations.
Why you may want to look for another radio
The antenna is flexible but not extendable, making it very durable yet sacrificing some reception compared to radios with larger antennas in my experience. If you plan to use the LB-100 in remote locations like I sometimes do, it may not be the best fit. But if you prioritize incredible build quality and bass response like me, this radio may be the right choice.
Quick Overview: The Sangean WR-11 offers a premium combination of style and sound quality. With its solid MDF cabinet and walnut finish, its warm, crisp sound profile and Dynamic Bass Compensation technology deliver an elevated listening experience.
3-inch 65W speaker for indoor use
Tabletop design for home or office use
Solid MDF cabinet with walnut finish for sophistication
Excellent reception with both internal and external wire antenna options
Acoustically tuned cabinet and Dynamic Bass Compensation technology for rich, bass-driven sound
Great high and medium tone replication for clear and crisp news broadcasts
Rivaling offerings from luxury brands like Tivoli, blending style, performance, and simplicity in one elegant package.
For me, as someone who seeks a combination of style and premium sound quality, the Sangean WR-11 is an excellent choice. Its solid MDF cabinet (Wooden) with a walnut finish adds an element of sophistication to my home, while its warm, crisp sound profile elevates my listening experience. With a current price tag of around $91 on Amazon, the WR-11 sits on the pricier side for me, but I feel it’s worth it for the build quality and audio performance I get.
The reviews on Amazon are also solid at 4.6 stars out of 5, affirming that it’s a solid pick if you’re looking for an ergonomically sound radio for your table.
The acoustically tuned cabinet and Dynamic Bass Compensation technology provide a rich, bass-driven sound that’s perfect for genres like rock and classical music in my opinion. News broadcasts also sound clear and crisp on this radio thanks to its great high and medium tone replication. Reception is excellent in my experience, with both internal and external wire antenna options available. Reviewers have noted the WR-11 can even pick up AM stations other indoor radios can’t.
While the WR-11’s 3-inch 65W speaker is loud enough for my indoor use, it doesn’t quite match the volume of the Sangean LB-100. It’s designed for indoor use, with a tabletop design that makes it ideal for my home office. For me, the WR-11 offers a premium radio experience rivaling offerings from luxury brands like Tivoli, blending style, performance, and simplicity in one elegant package.
Quick Overview: The Sony ICF-P26 is a compact, portable AM/FM radio that's perfect for outdoor adventures. With a 100-hour battery life and an extended antenna for excellent reception, it's a reliable and practical choice for on-the-go listening.
100-hour battery life
Sleek black plastic casing
Compact dimensions of 12 x 7 cm
Analog tuner for easy station selection
Mono speaker with decent sound quality
Extended antenna for excellent reception
3.5mm headphone jack for private listening
Reliable and practical option for on-the-go listening
Popular choice with the added reliability of the Sony brand name
The Sony ICF-P26 is my go-to choice when it comes to a compact and portable AM/FM radio. This sleek black plastic-cased device, measuring just 12x7cm, is perfect for my long walks and outdoor adventures. Its analog tuner makes station selection a breeze, and while the mono speaker may lack bass, it still offers decent sound quality.
What I really love about the ICF-P26 is its incredible 100-hour battery life, which is a game-changer for someone like me who enjoys listening on the go. The added 3.5mm headphone jack allows me to enjoy private listening with headphones, adding to its versatility. Plus, the extended antenna ensures that I get excellent reception, making it the ideal choice for on-the-move listening.
While it might lack some of the features of digital radios, like station memory, the analog charm and the extended battery life of this pocket-sized radio make it a popular choice for folks seeking a reliable and portable radio option. The Sony brand name only adds to its trustworthiness and quality, making the ICF-P26 my top pick for a portable AM radio.
Quick Overview: The PowerBear Portable Radio is a budget-friendly option for those in search of a simple and practical radio. Despite the generic brand name, it offers good reception and portability at a very reasonable price.
This one’s easy to use
Long-range good reception
The best price budget-friendly
Compact size for portability
Lightweight (weighs only 3.7oz)
It’s a portable and compact radio
Decent battery life (2 AA batteries required)
Plastic build provides durability and stability
3.5mm headphone jack for a better sound experience
Moving on to our next option, I’d like to introduce the PowerBear Portable Radio. If you’re searching for a straightforward and budget-friendly radio, this one’s worth considering.
Now, don’t let the generic brand name fool you; the PowerBear Portable Radio delivers surprisingly good reception and practicality, all at a very reasonable price. It’s an ideal choice for those in need of an affordable, no-frills radio that can accompany them on outdoor escapades without constant worry about damage.
The plastic build offers a decent level of durability and stability, and its compact size ensures exceptional portability. Admittedly, the sound quality isn’t top-notch, but the AM signals are quite sufficient given its budget-friendly nature. Moreover, the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack allows you to easily connect a pair of high-quality headphones for a superior listening experience. The radio is user-friendly, boasts a decent battery life (just pop in 2 AA batteries), and weighs a mere 3.7 ounces, less than a lemon!
All in all, the PowerBear Portable Radio may not boast the finest sound quality or the smoothest tuner, but it performs adequately for its price point, particularly if you’re working with a tight budget and are willing to forego some premium features.
No frills or extra features beyond the basics you listed
Hand crank generator on the side for manual charging
AM/FM radio with analog tuner and single telescopic antenna
The Kaito KA500 Emergency Radio is my ultimate survival companion during harsh weather conditions. This 6-way powered portable radio is packed with features that guarantee dependable performance, impressive audio quality, and unbeatable durability.
Crafted from premium impact-resistant and water-resistant ABS material, the KA500 is designed to endure both indoor and outdoor use. Thanks to its hand crank generator, solar panel, slot for 3 AA batteries (not included in the initial purchase), 5V USB input, and 5V AC/DC input with a separate wall power adapter (sold separately), I can power it up in multiple ways, ensuring it’s always ready when I need it.
The KA500 offers comprehensive coverage, including AM, FM, 2-band shortwave, and 7 pre-programmed NOAA weather channels. It even comes with PEAS (Public Emergency Alert System) for real-time weather forecasts 24/7, available in the USA and Canada only. Its telescopic antenna extends up to 14.5 inches, allowing for high sensitivity reception, aided by advanced semiconductor circuitry design and an LED signal strength indicator for precise tuning accuracy. Additionally, the built-in speaker delivers loud and clear sound, making it easy to hear even in noisy environments.
This emergency radio also serves as a mobile battery charger with its built-in standard DC 5V USB output port. It’s handy for charging mobile devices like smartphones, GPS units, MP3 players, digital cameras, and more, ensuring I stay connected during emergencies. The KA500 also features a 5-LED reading lamp, LED flashlight, and a red LED S.O.S. beacon light, which can be a lifesaver during power outages or other emergency situations.
All in all, the Kaito KA500 Emergency Radio is an excellent choice for anyone who values reliability, durability, and versatility. With its 6-way power options, extensive radio channel coverage, and mobile charging capabilities, this radio is an essential addition to my emergency preparedness kit.
Bestselling AM radios on Amazon:
If you’re looking for some best sellers on Amazon, we’ve listed just the right ones for you to buy. Here are the top 5 best-seller AM radios that you can find on Amazon:
When looking to purchase an AM radio, I first think about how I plan to use it.
Best radio w.r.t. affordability:
Before investing in a radio, it’s essential to take into account the specific needs of your usage scenario. If you’re on a tight budget, both the PowerBear and Sony ICF-P26 provide great value with their impressive performance. I’ll also consider the Panasonic RF-2400D because of its lower price and the fact that it’s one of the most affordable long-range AM radios that works best in long-distance locations. So, definitely check it out.
However, a small increment in cost can lead to a significant improvement in sound quality.
Best radio w.r.t. portability:
If you plan to take it outdoors, a small and lightweight option is the way to go. Sure, bigger radios with larger drivers offer improved sound and bass, but they come at the cost of convenience and portability. And, ask yourself this – will you be listening to your radio through the built-in speaker or with headphones?
If you’re using headphones, a smaller radio like the Sony ICF-P26, with its Walkman-style capabilities, might be a better choice. After all, the built-in speaker quality won’t make much of a difference. PowerBear’s radio is also smaller in size and portable.
Best rugged radios:
On the other hand, if you’re going to use your radio in harsh conditions, you need to think about ruggedness. Radios designed to withstand extreme weather or tough worksites are ideal for this scenario, and the Sangean LB-100 fits the bill perfectly! I’ll not phase out the ruggedness of Kaito’s KA500 radio, as it’s one of the best emergency radios you can use in harsh weather outdoors. They’ve also delivered numerous projects for NGOs, the US Army, and the State Department, so it’s a company you can trust when it comes to quality.
Best aesthetically sound radio:
Lastly, the best AM/FM radio for your tabletop that satisfies aesthetic needs is Sangean’s WR-11. If you’re looking for something solid, something that lasts longer while also giving a retro aesthetically pleasing feel, this is the one that you should pick.
No matter what your long-distance AM radio needs are, each of the options on this list delivers fantastic quality and performance at their respective price points. Check out the Amazon links to get the latest prices and make your choice with confidence!
A good AM radio should have strong reception capabilities, especially for picking up weaker signals. It should also be portable, easy to use, and have decent sound quality.
What are some key features to look for in an AM radio?
Some key features to look for in an AM radio include a sturdy and durable build, good battery life, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a clear and easy-to-read display, and a reliable tuner for easy station selection.
What are some of the best brands for AM radios?
Some of the best brands for AM radios include Sony, Panasonic, Sangean, and Tivoli Audio.
What are some of the best portable AM radios?
Some of the best portable AM radios include the Sony ICF-P26, Panasonic RF-2400D, and PowerBear Portable Radio.
Can I use an AM radio to listen to FM stations as well?
Some AM radios come with FM capabilities, but not all of them. Be sure to check the product specifications before purchasing to ensure it includes FM reception.
Are digital or analog radios better for AM listening?
It ultimately comes down to personal preference, but many people prefer analog radios for their simplicity and charm, while others prefer digital radios for their convenience and additional features.
Can I use rechargeable batteries in my AM radio?
Yes, you can use rechargeable batteries in your AM radio, as long as they are the correct type and size specified in the product manual. Just keep in mind that rechargeable batteries may have a shorter lifespan and require frequent recharging.
What is the average battery life for an AM radio?
The average battery life for an AM radio can vary depending on the model and usage, but it typically ranges from 50 to 200 hours on a set of batteries.
Can I use my AM radio overseas?
It depends on the radio’s frequency range and the region you will be traveling to. Be sure to check the product manual or manufacturer’s website for information on compatibility with international frequencies. Some radios may require additional adapters or voltage converters to work properly in certain regions.
Can I listen to AM radio with headphones?
Yes, most AM radios come with a 3.5mm headphone jack, which allows you to listen to your favorite stations with a better sound experience. The PowerBear Portable Radio is a budget-friendly option that comes with a headphone jack and is easy to use.
What is the best AM radio for sound quality?
If you prioritize sound quality, the Panasonic RF-2400D Portable AM/FM Radio is a great choice. It has excellent AM reception, even at night, and delivers good sound and performance overall. Its sturdy and lightweight plastic housing makes it suitable for outdoor use.
What is the best AM radio for outdoor adventures?
If you’re looking for a radio to take on outdoor adventures, you want something that is compact, portable, and durable. The Sony ICF-P26 Portable AM/FM Radio is a great option with a sleek black plastic casing, an extended antenna for excellent reception, and a 100-hour battery life.
Can I use an AM radio for emergency situations?
Yes, AM radios can be a great tool for emergency situations as they can provide important information about weather alerts, evacuation orders, and other critical information. Look for radios that have additional features such as a built-in flashlight, solar or hand-crank power options, and can receive NOAA weather alerts.
What is the best AM radio to buy for remote areas with weak signals?
If you’re living in a remote area with weak signals, it’s best to look for radios with long-range antennas and good reception capabilities. The Kaito KA500 5-Way Powered Emergency Radio is a great option that can pick up AM/FM frequencies and shortwave signals, has a long-range telescopic antenna, and can be powered in multiple ways.
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Muhammad Abdullah, aka "abdugeek," is a computer scientist, tech writer and certified Growth Hacker. Abdullah has an 8 years of experience with technology gadgets, apps, software, hardware, and information technology. He loves playing with gadgets, exclusively Mac, iPhone, Android, Windows, Drones, Radios, Smartphone accessories, and any other device that he gets in his hands. He has a versatile expereince in the digital marketing world and has an entrepreneurial mindset. Founder of multiple digital startups in technology sector, he's constantly pushing boundaries and seeking new opportunities. He's also into movies, especially, Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC stuff. Follow him on social media where you can learn more about what he shares with the world.