Whilst cell phone reception has made rapid gains in coverage over the last few years. Old-school AM radio receivers continue to be the most effective and reliable way of keeping informed in remote areas. Whether on a camping trip, an adventure in the wilderness, or climbing a mountain, long-distance AM radios are vital for getting the latest news, sports, and weather warnings, even in extreme conditions where mobile signals and FM radio could be disrupted.
The key to staying connected is to trust in a quality AM radio that fits the needs of your adventure. Though, with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to tell the great from the rest. In this list, we’ll be looking at our picks for the best and most reliable AM radio receivers.
Each product has strengths and drawbacks, and one radio might be more suitable than the others for your use case. The sound quality, build quality, and portability of the respective radio options are key factors to pay attention to.
5 best AM Radios for Long Distance
1. Sangean LB-100 Ultra Rugged Compact AM FM Radio
Great for: Build Quality
For those daring expeditions in harsh weather, you’re going to need an AM radio companion that can take the beating of the elements. That’s where the Sangean LB-100 comes in. This compact radio offers the reliability and great sound quality of the other entries on this list and the best-in-class durability. Built with durable ABS plastic and held in a shock-absorbent frame, this radio is great for construction sites and other outdoor work and is rated for both dust and water resistance.
The 5-inch driver delivers a full and crisp sound and can get quite loud: ideal in noisy situations like construction sites. Reviewers comment on its high bass response, which is perfect for those who prefer a bassy sound profile. Though you prefer a more treble-heavy or balanced sound profile, you may be disappointed at the lack of bass/treble adjustment. Its digital LCD allows super precise tuning, and those who regularly cycle between stations will love the tuner preset buttons.
The antenna is flexible but isn’t extendable. This means it won’t snap, but also that reception isn’t as great as radios with larger antennas. If you’re looking to use this in super remote locations, the LB-100 may not be for you – but if build quality and bass response is what you need, this could be your choice!
2. Sangean WR-11 Wood Cabinet AM/FM Table Top Analog Radio
Great for: Style and Premium
With its solid MDF cabinet with a walnut finish and warm and rich sound profile, the Sangean WR-11 is the choice if you’re looking for that premium edge. Whilst the WR-11 can be pricey, hovering around $85.58, you pay for the state-of-the-art build and elegance. The acoustically tuned cabinet brings a warm, crisp sound, and its Dynamic Bass Compensation delivers a rich bass response.
The sound signature of the WR-11 makes this ideal for bass-driven rock or warmer classical sounds whilst news bulletins will be clear and crisp with its great high and medium tone replication. The reception is great, with options for both an internal and external wire antenna, with reviewers commenting on how this radio picks up AM stations not receivable by any other indoor-use radio.
The 3-inch 65W speaker gets decently loud for indoor environments but does not match the volume of its Lunchbox LB-100 cousin. The WR-11 is designed to be an indoor radio and is advertised as a tabletop radio for desk and table use. It would make a great companion at home or in your office – blending style, performance, and simplicity to deliver a premium radio experience to rival offerings from luxury brands like Tivoli.
3. Sony ICF-P26
Great for: Portability
Sony is a well-known brand for quality and reliability in audio and radio products, and this handy radio is no exception to this rule. The Sony ICF-P26 is a compact vertical AM/FM radio that is intended to be a successor to the legendary ICF-S10MK2 – and it delivers. Housed in a sleek black plastic casing, the 12×7 cm dimensions make this perfect for sticking in a pocket for long walks in the countryside.
This unit is operated by dialing an analog tuner, and you can pick from many different stations on AM and FM radio. Whilst its mono speaker lacks bass, the ICF-P26 makes up in portability and 100-hour battery life. Though, for personal listening, you could also use its 3.5mm headphone jack and listen with your favorite pair of headphones.
The ICF-P26 is a powerful radio receiver for its size, and it’s a fantastic pick if you’re looking for a portable AM radio with a loudspeaker. Its extended antenna’s reception is excellent – making this product great for listening to on the move. Whilst it lacks some features of its digital counterparts, such as station memory, the charm of an analog pocket radio is undeniable, and it comes with a significant bump in battery life compared to its digital counterparts.
4. Panasonic RF-2400D
Great for: Sound and Portability
Spending a few extra bucks lands you another fantastic portable radio from a reliable radio brand, this time, it’s Panasonic. The RF-2400D Portable AM/FM Radio packs together both great sound and on-the-go portability. Whilst the casing is plastic, reviewers comment on how sturdy but light the build quality is – making it great for adventures outdoors as it’s likely to survive a beating! This radio is quite a bit more expensive than other portable units from the cheap Chinese brand, but with the higher price tag comes the quality and reputation of a top electronics brand.
This unit runs on both 4x AA batteries and mains power, and as the DC power adapter is built into the unit, there’s no need to carry around a bulky power brick. It’s one light lead, and you’re good to go.
AM reception is very excellent, with expectedly great results in picking out your favorite stations in the day. But, the RF-2400D also performs with enough selectivity to separate signals and tune at night, making it ideal for after-dark listening, perhaps as a bedtime relaxer or on a camping trip.
The Panasonic RF-2400D is a good allrounder, delivering the sound and performance to keep you tuned in to your favorite AM stations. A boombox is not, but this unit packs a bunch for a portable radio – a great portable choice.
5. PowerBear Portable Radio
Great for: Affordability
For those looking for a cheap, no-frills portable radio – look no further than the PowerBear Portable Radio. Don’t let the no-brand name fool you; the PowerBear offers great reception and portability for the price. Being the cheapest option in this round-up, this product isn’t going to blow you away. But this is an excellent option as a burner radio you don’t mind getting damaged as a companion on daring outdoor adventures.
Its plastic build offers adequate sturdiness and rigidity, and its tiny size makes it incredibly portable. The small driver doesn’t produce the best sound, but for AM signals, it is good enough for the price, and the 3.5mm headphone jack will easily solve this problem with a pair of good-quality headphones. It’s easy to use, has decent battery life after sticking in quality 2 AA batteries, and weighs less than a lemon (3.7oz).
The PowerBear portable radio doesn’t have the best sound quality nor the highest quality or smoothest tuner. But this little handheld radio performs well enough for the price and is great if your budget is tight and you’re willing to skip out on premium feature comforts.
What does AM and FM radio stand for?
AM stands for Amplitude Modulation, and FM stands for Frequency Modulation.
What is an AM radio?
The eerie crackle of a distant, unfamiliar voice echoing through the night. This is the sound of an AM radio, a form of communication that has been used for more than a century. But what exactly is an AM radio, and what purpose does it serve?
An AM radio is a type of radio receiver that operates in the amplitude modulation (AM) frequency range. It is used to receive broadcast transmissions from AM radio stations, which usually transmit in the frequency range of 535 kHz to 1700 kHz. These stations typically offer music, news, talk shows, and other types of programming.
The most basic component of an AM radio is the antenna. This is the part of the radio that receives the transmitted signal. This signal is then amplified and processed by the radio’s circuitry, resulting in the sound that we hear. Some AM radios also have a speaker built in, allowing the user to listen to the radio without the need for headphones.
In addition to AM radio stations, AM radios can also be used to receive other types of signals, such as aircraft transmissions and marine weather forecasts. In fact, some AM radios are specifically designed to receive these types of transmissions.
The quality of an AM radio signal is dependent on several factors, including the distance from the transmitter, the presence of any obstructions, and the quality of the antenna. If the signal is weak, it may be difficult or impossible to receive. This is why some AM radios come with an external antenna to help boost the signal.
AM radios have been around for more than a century and have been used for many different purposes. They are still used today for both entertainment and communication, and their use is likely to continue for many more years to come.
What is FM Radio?
Picture yourself driving down a long, winding highway on a warm summer day. The sun is shining, the windows are rolled down, and the music is blaring. Suddenly, you hear a familiar voice come over the radio, introducing your favorite song. Welcome to the world of FM radio.
FM radio, also known as frequency modulation radio, is a type of radio broadcasting technology that uses frequency modulation to transmit sound. It was first developed in the early 1900s, and has since become the most popular type of radio broadcasting technology in the world. FM radio is used to broadcast music, news, and talk shows to listeners around the world.
FM radio signals are broadcast over a wide range of frequencies, typically between 88 and 108 MHz. The higher the frequency, the better the sound quality. This makes FM radio an ideal medium for broadcasting music and other audio content.
The signal quality of FM radio is also superior to other types of radio broadcasting. FM signals are less prone to interference from other radio signals or electrical devices, making it a reliable way to broadcast audio.
FM radio also offers a unique listening experience. Listeners can tune in to their favorite stations, talk shows, and music programs to hear all the latest news and entertainment. FM radio stations often have dedicated DJs and personalities who keep their listeners engaged and entertained.
Finally, FM radio is an affordable and accessible way to enjoy radio. FM radios are readily available at most electronics stores, and many new cars come with FM radio receivers installed. This makes it easy for anyone to access radio broadcasts without having to purchase expensive equipment.
In conclusion, FM radio is a reliable and cost-effective way to enjoy radio broadcasts. It has been around for decades and is still the most popular type of radio broadcasting technology in the world. Whether you’re listening to your favorite music or a riveting talk show, FM radio is sure to keep you entertained.
It’s important to consider the needs of your use-case scenario before purchasing a radio. Affordable radios like the PowerBear and the Sony ICF-P26 offer great bang-for-the-buck performance to fit a tight budget, but pledging just a few extra dollars can get you a higher-quality driver.
Also Read: Best long-range outdoor WiFi extender for 2023
Portability is also a key factor in your decision. If you’re looking to use your radio on the go outdoors, a small and light portable radio is your best bet. A bigger radio with a larger driver will deliver better sound and especially bass response but at the cost of convenience and portability. Will you be playing your radio through the in-built speaker, or are you using headphones? Using a radio with headphones Walkman-style might be easier with a smaller radio – especially as the in-built speaker quality wouldn’t matter anyway.
Ruggedness is key if you’re going to face harsh conditions, whether it be extreme weather or hazards on a worksite. Radios built for ruggedness are ideal for this use case, and the Sangean LB-100 is a great choice for that.
Whatever your needs are for a long-distance AM radio, all the recommendations on this list offer great quality and performance at their respective price ranges and are all great picks for AM radios. Be sure to click the Amazon links to check the latest prices of all these products.
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James Egan says
I have a JENSEN under cabinet fm reciver with Bluetooth which I like but would like to have AM stations capability. It has a Line in capability. It there an AM receiving device that I use for Line In connection?
Tom Brian says
I have a PowerBear. This radio’s portability is one feature I adore. It just has a 95 gram weight.