How to choose a portable radio receiver: basic criteria and parameters

Despite the ample capabilities of modern smartphones, tablets, TVs, laptops, and other electronics, radios are still popular. Listening to radio stations allows you to stay up to date with the latest news, updates in the world of music, weather forecasts while at work, in the country, outdoors or at home.

The smartphone is not a substitute for a separate portable radio receiver, which guarantees a sensitive search for radio waves, sensitivity to weak signals, and excellent sound clarity even in urban noise.

Let’s take a look at what criteria to consider when buying.

Main technical parameters

When choosing a radio receiver, it is important to evaluate the following characteristics:

  • Tuner type. There are analog and digital. The first option is the familiar inexpensive receiver with a wheel and an arrow. The desired station is tuned manually. In such devices, the auto search of a signal and storage of stations are not provided.
  • The digital tuner is controlled by the processor and ensures frequency stability. It can have various additional functions, automatically search for stations, store them, display the name on display. It always costs more.
  • Sensitivity. Indicates the ability of the device to pick up a weak signal. It is measured in microvolts (μV). The lower the value, the weaker the station the device can reproduce. The optimum value is 1-3 µV. Inexpensive models, the sensitivity is adjustable.
  • Selectivity. This parameter determines the device’s ability to receive a signal when there is a powerful radio station on an adjacent frequency. Selectivity is measured in decibels (dB). In cheap receivers, this indicator is low, which affects the quality of broadcasting – the receivers broadcast the signal of two stations at once. More expensive devices can separate frequencies and suppress the adjacent channel. The selectivity should not be lower than 60 dB. It is better if the value is close to 100 dB.
  • Output power. The maximum volume depends on this parameter. Please note that the characteristic affects the power consumption of the device. You should not buy models with high power ratings and work from a battery or batteries. It is worth looking at devices with several watts or tens of watts for fans of loud sound. Average volume – 1 W.
  • Wavelength. A very important characteristic that determines the number of broadcast channels with which the device can work. If you intend to operate the radio in an urban environment, it is better to choose a VHF range (FM) – 87.5-108 MHz. It is characterized by a low level of interference, broadcasting with the highest quality sound from all ranges.
  • For a country house, summer cottage or outdoor recreation, a device with a short-wavelength range (2.5-26.1 MHz) is suitable. Signal transmission, in this case, is characterized by a high range but lower quality sound.
  • It is worth looking for a model with support for medium and long radio waves (150-1610 kHz). But it would help if you were prepared because interference and signal distortions are common in such devices.
  • Antenna type. There are internal and external. In the latter case, the receiver receives a better radio signal.
How to choose a portable radio receiver: basic criteria and parameters
  • Dynamic range . The parameter indicates the strongest signal that the device can receive without distorting the sound. It should not be less than 70 dB.
  • The number of speakers . There can be one speaker, sometimes several. In the latter case, the device will provide more surround sound. The sound quality is also affected by the size of the speakers. The larger their size, the brighter and more realistic the sound.
How to choose a portable radio receiver: basic criteria and parameters
  • Food method . The device can be operated from the mains, accumulator or battery. The first option is relevant for use near an outlet, as well as if the device has a high output power. Self-powered power supply is appropriate for users who plan to use the receiver while hiking, traveling, picnics.

    Please note that models with their own battery need to be recharged regularly, which may be inconvenient when using outdoors.

    This problem is eliminated in battery operated receivers. A couple of spare batteries and the device is ready for use again. Sometimes combined meals are the most convenient option.
How to choose a portable radio receiver: basic criteria and parameters
  • Connectors . The device can work in conjunction with other devices. For example, a line-in allows the receiver to be used as a speaker. Thanks to the card reader, work with SD cards is supported. The USB connector will help you connect an external drive, hard drive or even a smartphone and play audio files from an external device. Bluetooth module is relevant for wireless connection. If the user often uses headphones, then the mini-jack is useful.
How to choose a portable radio receiver: basic criteria and parameters

Additional functions

  • Pay attention to the weight of the device and its additional functions. For portable models, mobility and portability are important. In this connection, the body should not be heavy and bulky. The optimal weight is 250-500 g.
  • The design can be protected from moisture and dust, which is important for outdoor use – precipitation and splashes will not cause damage. Also, for outdoor use, a built-in flashlight is useful – a very handy addition that will be needed during evening gatherings around the fire.
  • A comfortable handle is important for portable radios. As a rule, it is retracted into a special hole if not needed.
How to choose a portable radio receiver: basic criteria and parameters
  • If the choice fell on a digital tuner model, then the design must have a display. In addition to the current frequency, it can display time, date. Some models are equipped with a thermometer, so they measure the room temperature and display the results on the screen.
  • Digital radio receivers can automatically search for radio stations and save them in memory, eliminating the need to adjust each time manually. Pay attention to the number of memory cells; there should be at least ten for comfortable use.
  • For those who like to fall asleep with music, a timer (or an automatic shutdown function) comes in handy. As soon as the user’s time has passed, the device will automatically stop working, which will reduce power consumption. To wake up with your favorite radio station, you can consider models equipped with an alarm clock.
  • Any radio has a volume control. Also, an equalizer can be provided in the design to fine-tune the playback. With its help, you can carry out frequency correction, give the sound the desired color, eliminate distortions that can arise for various reasons: the shape and size of the room, wall covering, etc. The function is relevant for demanding music lovers.
  • Some devices have a recording function. The option would come in handy if you liked the song being played, or the user does not want to miss a single detail from the long-awaited news release.
  • Built-in memory will allow you to use the radio as an MP3 player and listen to your favorite music at a convenient time. Some devices can be controlled remotely using the remote control.


Often, radios are used to get ready for work, cook, and do household chores. Thanks to this invention, you can listen to music, news, weather forecast, horoscope, information about traffic jams.

When choosing a radio receiver, please pay attention to how loud the speaker is in front of you, whether the device provides clear sound, picks up weak signals and separates them from an adjacent frequency.

If you do not take into account all these points, then there is a risk of purchasing a device that, in addition to music, will broadcast interference and signal distortion. Also, do not forget about the type of power supply (network, batteries or accumulator) and additional options – there can be a lot of them, you should not overpay for those you are not going to use.
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