With all of the technological advancements made in the past decade, namely smartphones, you would think that AM/FM radios would have run their course and would now be obsolete.
However, these radios still have a very important role to play in many people’s lives, particularly as they are inexpensive and have been upgraded with several useful functions to cater to the modern world.
You may think that you already know everything you need to know about these radios – they just let you listen to radio stations, right? This is only partly true, and is the reason why we have written a buyers guide to make sure you know everything there is to know.
We have listed the best AM/FM radios out there, catering to different budgets and purposes. For example, we have made sure to include models that come in handy during emergencies, feature alarm clocks, are ideal for seniors, and boombox type models too.
- 1 AM/FM Radio Reviews
- 2 AM/FM Radio Buyers Guide
AM/FM Radio Reviews
The Sony ICF-S10MK2 is by far one of the most popular pocket models on the market with many positive reviews to its name. You need to be aware of one thing, however, which people think is a design flaw but really isn’t.
If you plug earphones in then you can only hear sound in one ear. This is because the radio is designed for monaural use and not to output stereo. You can get around this by plugging in a mono-to-stereo adapter though.
Now that we’ve got that out the way, all you need to know is that the ICF-S10MK2 performs flawlessly. One of the main reasons for this is down to its telescoping antenna that ensures that FM reception is greatly improved, allowing you to pick up more stations than many, many other radios.
Other features include an LED tuning indicator, and an impressive battery life that lasts for 45 hours. The quality of the speaker is also very impressive.
The radio is small enough to fit into your shirt or jacket pocket, so you can take it with you anywhere you go. There is also a carrying strap for additional convenience.
The radio from Panasonic is larger than the model from Sony and also isn’t digital. Its real benefit is just how well-designed it is for the elderly.
You most definitely won’t be fitting the RF-2400 in your pocket, but due to its large, very well-constructed design, large tuning knob, easy-to-read dial, and generously sized volume wheel it is very, very easy to use, particularly for those who have a hard time coming to grips with anything electronic in this day and age.
As the RF-2400 isn’t digital it is very simple in its function, which is another reason why it is such a good model for seniors. The speaker measures 4” and the radio is able to pick up stations with ease without any interference.
The radio can be powered by either 4 x AA batteries or the included power cord.
Jensen CD-490 Sport Stereo
The Jensen CD-490 Sport Stereo is the best-selling boombox on the market. It is easy to see why when you consider just how well it performs for such a low price.
It gives you the ability to of course listen to AM/FM radio, there is programmable memory, and it even features a telescopic antenna. It can be powered by either a power cord or 8 C batteries. There is a stereo headphone jack so you can plug it earphones or headphones just fine. And there is a folding carrying handle.
An auxiliary input jack is another invaluable feature that allows you to connect you iPod, MP3, or any other digital audio player and listen to your music. You can also opt to use CDs, and there is and LED CD track display too with skip/search, forward and back, repeat 1 or all functions.
The Jensen CD-490 does so much right, but it’s the sound quality that really makes this boombox shine. Sure, it doesn’t compare to Bose products, but we challenge you to find a better sounding boombox that is this inexpensive.
The PR-D18BK is a great, little, stylish top rated AM/FM radio that is available in 4 colors from one of the best manufacturers in the industry. It only weighs 12.5 ounces, and stands 4.26” tall, and 6.54” long. It can be powered by either a 4 x AA batteries or an AC adapter, making it ideal for home and outdoor use.
The radio uses true digital tuning to find stations, and there is an auto seek function to seek all the stations in your area that are currently active. You are given the ability to store up to 10 stations – 5 AM and 5 FM.
The clock radio functionality is also a great addition. You are even able to set dual alarm times for being woken up at different times of the day. You can set the radio to wake you up either to AM/FM broadcasts or with a buzzer sound that gently increases in volume so not to jar you. There is also a snooze button and a sleep timer.
A couple of other handy features include an easy to read LCD display with backlight, and a battery power status indicator to inform you of how much battery power is left, so you are never caught out.
Sound quality, which can be considered to be balanced, is excellent, and there is also a headphone jack for private listening.
Sony Portable Mega Bass Stereo Boombox
If you’re looking one of the best AM/FM radios with rich bass, Bluetooth connectivity in addition to many other functions and portability, look no further than this boombox from Sony.
It’s functions are too numerous to mention, but they include NFC One-touch connection to smartphones that streams audio wirelessly from over 30 feet away ; the ability to play CDs; a sleep timer; 30 programmable presets (20 FM, 10 AM); easy to use controls; auto scan; audio jack and headphone output; a carry handle; long-lasting battery life; USB input to connect iPhones, iPads, and other any digital music player; and much more.
Sound quality is what you would expect from Sony – excellent, particularly the bass. There’s a reason why Mega Bass is in this device’s name. The speakers are designed to enhance low frequencies at the touch of a button, similar to how some walkie talkies do.
The Sony Portable Mega Bass Stereo Boombox can be powered by either batteries or a power cord, and features a classic-look, retro design.
If you ever find yourself in an emergency situation, or simply need a dependable radio for camping, then you want this device from Epica is by your side. It is designed to be tough as nails to withstand the elements thanks to its rugged body, and it is also water-resistant too.
The radio not only has the standard AM and FM broadcasts, but also has NOAA VHF weather frequencies so you can keep up to date with the weather, which is clearly invaluable in emergency situations. All of these broadcasts are picked up digitally.
The Epica Emergency can be charged in one of 5 ways, USB, AC, DC, but it can also utilize the sun’s rays to provide power, and 1 minute of cranking provides an impressive 20 minutes of power too, which is the best in its class.
One of the most appreciated features is the radio’s ability to charge your cell phone. The 3-LED flashlight is another great feature that allows you to see in the dark.
The Epica Emergency is compact enough to fit into a large jacket pocket, and can also be attached to your belt.
AM/FM Radio Buyers Guide
What is an AM/FM Radio?
An AM/FM radio enables you listen to various music genres, news information, or simply anything that is broadcast by radio stations. This type of radio offers people an inexpensive and convenient way to listen to broadcasts without having to obtain access to the internet or charge their smartphone.
AM stands for Amplitude Modulation; PM stands for Frequency Modulation. Both work the same way, but FM has the benefit of being less prone to interference, and has better sound quality.
Why Buy an AM/FM Radio?
Due to all of the technological advancements that have been made in the past couple of decades you would think that these would have now become obsolete. However, they still offer a few advantages over other devices.
These include, as mentioned above, not having to connect to the internet, and not having to charge the radio, as they either work via a power source or batteries. This type of radio also comes in handy in emergency situations during power outages. They are lightweight, inexpensive, and portable too.
Different Types of AM/FM Radios
There are several different types that you should be aware of, so you can make the right choice and purchase one of the best AM/FM radios that is suitable for your needs.
Pocket radios are perfect if convenience, simplicity, and portability are important to you. Just fit the radio in your pocket are you are good to listen to the radio on walks, during picnics, by the pool, at the beach, around campfires, or simply anywhere where you want to listen to broadcasts.
Portable radios don’t fit in your shirt or jacket pocket, but are ideal for when heading out anywhere where you want to be able to listen to broadcasts. They have the advantage of having better sound quality than pocket radios, also making them great for home use.
Boomboxes are synonymous with the 80s and 90s, but they are still popular today for several reasons. They don’t just let you listen to AM/FM radio, but may also feature cassette players and CD players. They can output quite loud volumes thanks to their powerful speakers, making them great for social settings in an environment where there is no power source.
Their sound quality is also better than most other devices with the exception of stand-alone speakers. And they often come with USB ports to allow you to connect music storage devices like your phone or MP3 player.
This type of radio, as you may expect, is great in emergency situations. Emergency radios may feature rechargeable backup batteries, a mechanism to power the radio manually via winding it up, give you the chance to charge your cellphone, and built-in flashlights and backlights in order to see in the dark.
Clock radios have the benefit of giving you the time and having an alarm function built in to their design to wake you up or set a reminder when you have to get up and go. Many models also feature a dock for your phone that charges it and even allows you to play music on your phone.
Factors to Consider
So now that you know all about the different types available to you, it is time to keep a few things in mind before you make your selection. These are all pretty much common sense, but it’s good to refresh your memory so you can purchase the best model for your purposes.
Thankfully, AM/FM radios really are cheap nowadays. You can pick up a very good one for about $30-40 and you will be happy with your choice. However, some models can retail for more, particularly if you’re interested in more functions like Bluetooth capability and phone docking. Boomboxes are also typically more expensive due to their larger size, additional functions, and sound quality.
If you simply want to listen to AM/FM broadcasts then you have a very, very wide selection of models to choose from.
However, if you’re interested in radios that also come with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, so you can listen to your own music from your smartphone or other devices, or perhaps things like phone docking capability and alarm clocks, the options available to you decrease fast. Think carefully about what functions you require out of a radio before making your decision.
One of the best things about AM/FM radios is that they can be powered in a variety of different ways. Many run on batteries and via power cords, but others can function via a wind up mechanism in emergencies, support backup battery packs, and can even be solar powered.
If you’re just heading to the beach then you probably won’t be concerned with models that come with various power sources, but if you’re heading out camping or are in an emergency situation, non-electronic ways of powering the best AM/FM radios can prove invaluable.