Radios can be a lot of fun, even in today’s world of the Internet and smartphones. One way to have fun is to get yourself the best radio for AM DXing.
Do you like to fiddle with your radio and see what you can hear from other AM stations from distant areas? You may be able to hear strange broadcasts that you never heard before. It can be a fascinating time. It’s also a lot of fun when you meet people who like to do the same thing.
It’s not all that strange if you think it’s fun to find AM signals even from far away. It’s a common enough hobby that it has a special term for it: AM DXing. The community of AM DXers can be a great way to meet new friends.
But you need the best dx radio to get those signals, and we offer you some recommendations for that.
Best Radio For AM Dxing : Reviews
With plenty of radios to choose from (and not all of them are good), we can immediately give you a list of the good ones with our AM DXing radio reviews.
1. Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion AM/FM
Tecsun sells several small radio models, and this is perhaps the most expensive among them. But you get your money’s worth, as a lot of people also regard it as the very best among those models.
It’s extremely sensitive, which really makes it ideal for getting AM signals from far away. It also receives shortwave, long wave, and of course FM broadcasts.
It’s very easy to operate, though you may need to familiarize yourself with its many features.
The sound is terrific, due to the 3W Mylar speaker and the high-quality amplifier. You can hear the low frequencies so it doesn’t sound tinny. You have a clear mid-range and crisp high frequencies.
To use this for AM DXing, get outside for best results. Some AM signals will come from so far away it will amaze you. You can even improve things by getting an external AM antenna, and this won’t cost you too much.
- Full coverage, including AM and FM, shortwave and longwave, and single side band
- Separate main and fine tuning knobs, with key pad and scan functions
- Portable, as it is compact and lightweight
- Powered by rechargeable and replaceable2000mAh lithium battery, or by 5V USB cable
- 25 pages for memory, with 100 to 250 memories per page
- Packed with many other features
- Very solid build
2. C. Crane CC Skywave SSB AM, FM, Shortwave
This is a small radio too, but it sure is powerful. In fact, it was designed for use if ever you can’t use your phone (even landline) or the Internet to get your emergency info. This covers tornadoes and other emergencies, including nuclear war, zombie apocalypse, or an alien invasion.
Yes, this works if you really need to get info from AM stations even if they’re so far away. You get reception for FM, shortwave, the NOAA weather band, VHF aviation, and just about everything else such as SSB. This lets you get transmissions from ships out at sea, FEMA, and even from space.
Even the circuit board here is the new and improved version, made for better audio and clearer reception.
This runs on batteries, but you have to buy those 2 AA batteries yourself. It can also be powered by the CC Skywave AC power adapter, but you have to also buy that.
- Great for long range information
- Digitally tuned multiband receiver
- 400 memories
- Clock and alarm functions
- Comes with earphones, and faux leather case
- Can last at least 60 hours with batteries
3. Sangean PR-D7 BK AM/FM Digital Rechargeable Portable Radio
This isn’t ’s just compact, it’s very affordable too. In fact, you can buy 3 of these for the price of one of the other radios on this list, and still have some money left for coffee.
But that doesn’t mean the quality is cheap. For AM DXing, it works very well indeed. The sensitivity is amazingly terrific, and you’ll be astonished at how distant some stations are that you can receive.
Each band (AM/FM) gives you 4 presets, and there’s an auto seek function too. The nice thing about this auto seek is that it doesn’t just set to the next frequency on your reset list. Instead, it will actively seek any station across the entire AM (or (FM) band.
- Very compact (8 inches long, 4.5 inches high, weighs a little over a pound)
- Both frequency and time shown on LCD screen
- Automatic off function after a set number of minutes
- Alarm function includes beeper with Humane Wake System
- Powered by AC adapter or 5 AA rechargeable batteries
- Well-balanced tone with 1” by 3” speaker
4. Grundig/Eton S350 AM/FM/Shortwave Field Radio
This looks like something a solider might use, and it’s also quite rugged. This lets you listen to AM and FM radio, along with short wave transmissions. These include 13 international broadcast bands.
It’s known to get stations that many other radios cannot, which makes it terrific for DXing. The manual gain control also lets you adjust for issues like atmospheric conditions. Tuning is easy (though you need practice with fine-tuning) and there’s zero drift.
The sound is great with its relatively large single speaker, and there’s a ⅛-inch headphone jack that works for stereo headphones too. There are controls for the treble and bass.
This comes with an AC/DC power adapter, but you can also use 4 D batteries. You can also power it with a DC vehicle power adapter, if you’re into trying to find strange AM stations while driving around.
Like many modern radios, these come with lots of accessory features. These include a sleep timer function along with an alarm feature. You can then wake up to music on a preset station.
It’s a bit on the large side (it’s 7 inches long and weighs more than 3 pounds), but you can carry this around the house or yard.
- Sensitive analog tuner circuitry
- Comes with frequency lock and variable RF gain control
- You also get antennas for AM/FM and shortwave
- Backlit LCD
- Sleep and timer functions
5. TECSUN PL-310ET FM Stereo/SW/MW/LW World Band
This is another inexpensive set, but DXers will certainly appreciate how their hobby won’t cost them a lot of money. This offers AM wide/narrow bandwidth options, which really helps. The wideband boosts the sound quality of radio programs with strong signals. The narrowband helps with resisting interference from adjacent channels.
Then there’s the interference switch. This makes it easier to receive the signals from the AM stations even when you have strong radio interference to deal with.
This also has the ETM function. What this does is scan for new stations automatically, and then it stores those new stations into memory. It has a large memory capacity, and the new stations won’t overwrite any of your other existing stations in the radio memory. With 550 memory slots, you’re fine.
This is powered by either 3 AA batteries or USB 5V/250mA external adaptor. You will have to buy either option.
- It has backlit LCD
- The display can show radio frequency, and other info including battery power
- Works with AM, FM, and shortwave with excellent reception
- Has sleep and alarm functions
- Great browsing function
6. Sony ICF-SW7600GR AM/FM Shortwave World Band Receiver
It’s always nice to see Sony offering modern radios these days. After all, their very best product was a transistor radio. It’s a bit on the expensive side (okay, it’s really pricey), but then you do get a lot for your money.
This is especially true for AM DXers. This multi-band world band receiver radio works as advertised. You can just about listen to any radio station in any country. For AM stations, you also get a ferrite bar antenna built into the unit. This also gives you the 10-Key Direct Access Tuning function that lets you get the stations from far away directly.
Everything here is top quality, and it’s very compact as well. Basically, it’s like having the Bentley of AM radios. It’s a solid machine that offers fantastic sensitivity and reception. However, for best results you still have to get the Sony active loop antenna for it.
It’s complicated too, but that’s what the manual is for. It may not be intuitive, but practice makes perfect.
- AM (LW/MW/SW)/FM
- Single side band reception
- Large LCD screen
- Synchronous detection circuitry fights off fading and frequency interference from adjacent stations
- Accurate and stable PLL tuning (no drift)
- 2 days of battery life
7. XHDATA D-808 Portable Digital Radio FM Stereo/SW/MW/LW
Many people get this with the express purpose of having a shortwave radio, but it also works for DXing. It is very easy to use, and it offers great selectivity and sensitivity. This comes with a bunch of technologies that will help with your hobby, and with getting clear signals.
Aside from AM and FM radio reception, you also get fantastic shortwave reception. Again, it gets shortwave transmissions other radios in its price range won’t receive. This also has SSB as well.
This is powered by a built-in rechargeable battery, which works fine. In fact, the battery power is enough for a whole day of use before you need to recharge it. This also comes with a large single speaker, which takes up half the space in front. With the keypad, using this should be a breeze.
- Fantastic reception and selectivity
- Works with AM, FM, shortwave, and SSB
- Comes with built-in rechargeable battery
- Alarm function
- Comes with fine-tuning knob
Best AM DXing Radio Buying Guide
Sometimes we kid ourselves and think that people just take our word for it about our recommendations. Not that doing so is a bad thing, mind you. It sure makes things easier for you.
However, you may want to look at other radios you can use for AM DXing. So, how exactly do you know which ones are great?
What you need to do is to read many other reviews and check out the following considerations:
You want wide coverage, obviously. Since AM signals are found between 535 and 1605 KHz, your radio has to be able to get the signals from the frequencies in this range.
On all likelihood, you probably want to use your radio for other activities aside from AM DXing. The good news is that just about all these radios also offer FM stations. If you need other bands such as shortwave, then you can look for those too.
Those with a predilection for solitary hiking journeys may also want to get NOAA alerts so you’re able to monitor any possible weather changes.
You may have read our reviews earlier on this article and wondered about what we meant by “selectivity”. Here’s our explanation.
When you’re busy trying to get the signals from AM stations located so far away, often you need to differentiate between 2 signals close to each other. Sure, these signals come from separate frequencies. But they’re close enough to one another that it may be hard to isolate them from each other.
If your radio can separate these signals reliably and effectively, then you have one of the best DX radio units because of its great selectivity. This is one of the more important features you need to look for.
Check for auto-scanning features too, so you won’t have to fiddle with the tuning knobs yourself.
Frequency Readout and Memory
In the old days, you had a band with a dial giving you the approximate frequency of the station you’re listening to on the radio. But if you have to switch stations, you may have a devil of a time finding that station again.
Today, you have LCD screens showing you the precise frequency of the station. That means you know exactly how to find it again. Just make sure that you get a screen you can read at a glance. It’s great if it can show you the time as well.
In addition, many modern radios offer memory slots for the stations you want to find again. Your radio can then out the AM frequency into memory, and you can just switch back to that frequency in the future.
Reception and Sound Quality
Just how clear are the signals you’re getting? The best AMDXing radios should have the technologies needed to cut down on noise and interference. That should make the sound much clearer.
This brings us to the quality of the radio speaker. The first requirement is that it should offer clear sound, especially with news and emergency broadcasts. You do want to understand what you’re hearing.
The sound can of course be a bit tinny, but some radios may even offer excellent bass. After all, you may want to use the radio for music and not just for AM station-hunting.
However, for AM DXing you may want to use earphones for best clarity. The earbuds you get may not only offer better sound, but it cuts down on the noise in your immediate environment. So that means you need a headphone jack for your earbuds.
Lots of people like to bring their transistor radios to other places, so if you’re one of them then you need a portable radio. This means it can’t be large and heavy. It’s also great if it comes with a handle.
You will find that when you’re trying to listen to AM radio, you may get better reception at specific points in your home. You may have to bring the radio out to the yard for best results. You may also want to drive around with it, and the results can be better if you’re at the top of a hill.
How will the radio be powered? If it’s a plug-in radio, then you can only use it in places where there’s an electrical socket nearby. Battery power is much more mobile, but it can be somewhat annoying having to buy replacement batteries often.
Your best bet is to get a radio with a built-in rechargeable lithium battery. You can then plug it in at home, and you can still get reliable service outdoors.
Whether you use rechargeable or ordinary batteries, just check on how long the battery power will last. Look for a minimum of 12 hours. Also, don’t forget to bring spare batteries if you’re going to be outdoors for an extended period of time.
Many radios now can also use a USB cable for power. That can be quite convenient.
Generally, this means getting the sleep and alarm functions. The sleep function automatically turns off the radio after a preset amount of time, after which you’re presumably asleep. This keeps you from wasting battery power.
The alarm function wakes you up with some nice music, though that depends on the station. You may want to look for a “humane” alarm system, so that you’re not “alarmed” by the loud music so early in the morning.
All these features are great, but not if the radio just stops working after a while. So, you need reliable quality. It’s better if it can take a bit of rough handling, and if it can work in the outdoors.
Product descriptions are one thing, but you want to read customer reviews to confirm that the radio works as advertised. You also want to check out the complaints the customers may have. You also need to check the average ratings, so you’re not unduly influenced by a handful of reviews.
How to Start AM DXing: Check List for New DXers
If you’re curious about AM DXing, here’s a list of things you may want to do.
- Get a great AM radio. That’s obviously the most important thing to do first. You can’t just go with any radio. You need one that can sniff out those faraway AM stations and give you clear signals. Not all AM radios will work as well as they should.
- Mind the strong AM stations. You’re not AM DXing if you’re only listening to the strong AM signals. You’re just a regular radio listener. So, take note of these AM stations so you won’t have to bother with them when you’re engaging in your hobby. List these frequencies down so you don’t forget.
- Check the gaps in the frequencies. You’ll note that you can have quite a bit of space in between the strong frequencies you get in the AM band. That’s where you go hunting.
- Fiddle with the radio. These signals are directional, so you want the radio to point towards the signal. You may need to rotate the radio slowly to get the clear signals. What you’re looking for is music you don’t usually hear, ads that you’ve never heard before, or weak or wavering signals.
- Pick the right time. That usually means doing this at night, when you can get AM signals from farther away. It also great if it’s raining or if there’s a cold front.
- Pick the right place. You can do this at home, though it’s best if you’re not in your basement. Maybe you can go outside. In fact, you may want to try near the beach or lake because wet ground can pull in AM signals.
Why do this at night?
At night, the AM signals bounce off the atmosphere. This is called a hop (or a skip) and the signal can hop several times to reach your radio.
What’s the point of doing this near the beach?
That’s because half the signal is basically carried by the earth.
Any other tips on where to do this?
Get away from noisy environments. Not just the literal noise you hear, but the noise that some electronic items make on the AM frequencies. Battery chargers, modern TVs, and power lines can cause interference.
How can I prove to others I got a strange AM station they haven’t found yet?
Once you get a new AM station, get the necessary info. These include the station name and call sign, the program you listened to, the date and the time.
Inform the station that you found their signal, using your info as proof. The station will then give you a QSL card confirming that you got their signal.
You do need to practice your skills with this hobby. It’s more than just your radio fiddling skills though. You’ll need to develop your listening skills as well.
But there’s no doubt that the best radio for AM DXing will help.