Best Portable Radios (FM & AM) in 2018 to Rock Out to

In recent times we’ve seen the rise of all sorts of music streaming services, and it seems that people don’t listen to radio anymore. But that simply isn’t the case.

Some still do simply because they are nostalgic and it’s in their nature to not let go of little rituals like listening to radio. Other people simply can’t be bothered to choose what to listen to, so they prefer all the perks of a quality radio broadcast.

Whatever the reason, if you’re on the lookout for a compact radio, the choices are huge these days. That’s why I've rounded up a few of the best portable AM/FM radios that definitely deserve your attention. Read on to find out why.

My Favorite Portable AM/FM Radios to Enjoy Anytime Anywhere

It’s hard enough to narrow down the choice to just a few products, but I’ve managed to do just that. Here are the portable radios I liked the most.

Let’s start things off with one of the most reputable manufacturers of portable radios. This is a tough little guy meant for those who live very active lives and spend a lot of time outdoors, so they’d need a portable radio that’s rather sturdy.

That’s why the Sangean PR-D18 comes enclosed in a protective rubber bumper around the sides. If you drop it, it should land safely on the bumper, which is a simple and clever solution.

Also, it’s meant for people who like colorful gadgets, as there are five different color options to choose from - Black/Grey, Black/Red, White/Blue, White/Grey, and White/Red.

The radio features a backlit LCD display which is easy to read, and it isn’t cluttered with too many buttons and functions. It’s pretty straightforward and easy to figure out, even without reading the manual.

This digital radio has 5 AM and 5 FM presets, and setting the preset stations and recalling them are straightforward for anyone who’s used an AM/FM radio before. It runs on AA batteries, but there is no AC adapter included, so you won’t be able to plug it in right out of the box. The AC adaptor is sold separately – it’d make sense to get it if you plan on listening to this portable radio at home.

There are two alarms settings so you can also use it as an alarm and a clock.

  • Sturdy and well designed
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    Five colors to choose from
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    Protective bumper
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    Dual alarm settings
  • Doesn’t include an AC adapter

If you’re looking for the most portable radio out there without sacrificing the sound quality too much, you probably shouldn’t look any further than the Sony ICFP26.

This little fella is very competitively priced and one of the lightest portable radios I’ve ever seen. Still, don’t let this scare you off, as it sounds pretty mighty, considering its size and weight.

If you don’t like the sound coming from the built-in speaker, you can always pop the headphones in and enjoy your favorite broadcast.

A bit of an old-school moment - it even has a telescopic antenna, just in case you radio channel suffers from poor signal coverage.

In case you don’t have a pocket to spare for the little Sony radio, it comes with a carrying strap, which is another neat touch.

There are LED indicators for AM or FM signal strength as well as for battery power.

  • Very competitively priced
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    Simple and easy to use
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    Very compact
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    LED indicators for radio signal and battery
  • Runs exclusively on batteries
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    Flimsy build quality

All things considered, the Kaito KA500 is probably one of the best portable radios money can buy. Sure, it could be mistaken for a gadget from a superhero movie, but it sure packs quite a punch when features are considered.

There are five different colors to choose from - black, yellow, blue, green, and red. If you want the least flashy one, make sure to go for the black.

Besides being able to handle regular AM, FM and shortwave frequencies, it also features seven pre-programmed weather channels. It’s built to last and quite sturdy. It also has a telescopic antenna and three different lights - LED light, LED flashlight, and even a beacon light.

When it comes to power source options there are several of them to choose from. You can power it with AA batteries, USB power (mini USB input), the built-in rechargeable battery pack, built-in solar panels, electric power, or you can just crank it up by spinning the hand crank generator.

Note that for the wall electric option, you need to purchase an AC adapter separately. In addition, it can also be used to charge your cell phone or GPS device. It goes without saying that the sound reproduction is nothing short of excellent as well.

  • Sturdy and weather resistant
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    Six different power source options
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    Five different color choices
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    LED light, flashlight and beacon light
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    Can be used as a charger
  • Black looks good, but other colors make it look like a toy

Here’s one for all you retro sweethearts out there. While everyone is trying to look modern and put out gadgets that belong in sci-fi movies, Panasonic went the other way around with the RF-2400D portable radio.

Simple, effective, and easy to use, just like in the good old days, this is a solid portable radio with a telescopic antenna for improved signal quality. There is even an old-fashioned 2-way switch for choosing between AM and FM radio frequencies.

There is also a dial, which you need to turn to change stations, the good old analog way. You can’t really expect miracles to come out of the tiny speakers, but it sounds pretty good for its size. The Panasonic RF-2400D can be powered by an AC adapter or four AA batteries, which are not included in the package.

  • A simple old-school radio
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    Portable, with a carrying handle
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    Two power source options
  • Looks quite ancient

Once you get past the quirky name, you’ll find one fine little radio with quite a convenient pack of features. It is one of the best portable AM/FM radios available on the market simply because it is quite hard to find any serious flaws.

I didn’t like the aesthetics that much, as it looks quite bland and uninspiring, but in terms of usability and convenience it is quite good.

The CC Skywave is quite small, lightweight, and portable. It features a telescopic antenna. It can handle AM, FM, airband, shortwaves, and even weather channels.

It comes with a tiny but backlit LCD screen, which makes it quite easy to use. You may need to use the manual to figure out all the buttons and button combinations, but in time you’ll realize it is fairly easy to operate.

It can be used as an alarm clock and included in the package are a pair of earbuds, a folding backstand, and a carrying case. If you want to switch from batteries to an AC adapter, you’ll need to purchase one separately.

  • Simple, no-frills portable radio
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    Covers 5 different bands
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    Has a backlit LCD screen
  • Uninspiring looks

Even though it looks a little silly, perhaps as if it is meant for those who want to listen to the radio while scuba diving, the Running Snail MD-088s is actually quite a respectable little piece of gadgetry.

Besides the usual AM and FM bands, it can also handle the NOAA weather stations to keep you safe in stormy weather.

The bright red color strongly suggests this is a rugged product, meant for outdoors and rough weather conditions. You can also use it to charge your cell phone or GPS device.

When it comes to power sources, it can be powered by its own rechargeable battery, solar charging, or hand-cranked manual generator. This is especially convenient if you’re stranded somewhere without electricity or batteries and need to keep that LED light on.

  • Designed for emergency and rough weather
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    LED light
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    3 power sources
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    Covers NOAA weather stations
  • Doesn’t run on wall power

This is another cool little device from the masters at Sangean. The PR-D7 portable radio is a tech-oriented device, which is easily reflected in the design.

The design is really sleek and understated, and the device comes in a choice of black or white. Coupled with the small backlit LCD screen which shines orange, it should fit any lifestyle and outfit.

It comes fitted with a PLL synthesized tuning system, which means that the radio signal doesn’t suffer from fading and always stays true and clear.

The little PR-D7 can handle both AM and FM stations, and there are five different presets for AM and FM.

You can also use it as an alarm clock, and it has the clever Humane Wake System which won’t make you want to smash it into little pieces in the morning.

Unlike most affordable portable radios on the market these days, the Sangean PR-D7 comes with an AC adapter. It can also be powered by 6 AA batteries. They are not included and that’s a lot of batteries, but that’s what it takes to drive this portable radio’s relatively powerful audio circuitries.

  • Sleek design
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    Clever alarm system
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    Powered by batteries or included AC adapter (universal voltage)
  • Only available in black or white

Things to Consider Before Buying a Portable Radio

Though they are small in size, choosing a portable radio isn't the easiest thing in the world. You need to keep several crucial factors in mind, to ensure that you're getting something that'll suit your needs.

Weight and Dimensions

When looking for portable AM/FM radios, it is quite important to consider the size and the weight of the little gadget.

The radio you’re after needs to be small, so you can carry it in your pocket or your bag, and it also can’t be too heavy, or you risk missing the point of being portable in the first place.

Also, you may consider choosing a model which comes with a carrying handle or strap, so you can really take it anywhere with you.

Powering Options

The more, the merrier, right? This is definitely applicable here, so you may want to opt for a device that supports different power sources. Most portable radios are battery powered, but you should also consider that once you run out of batteries, you might need to rely on wall power.

Some models on the market are even powered by solar energy, so that’s a huge plus for those who like to spend a lot of time camping or fishing. Consider this, for many people battery power and wall power alone are enough, so you don’t have to automatically dismiss a radio for lack of fancy charging options.

Battery Life

While we’re on the subject, don’t forget to take the radio’s battery life into consideration when making a choice. If it has a backlit LCD, it will drain the batteries much faster than one that doesn’t have such modern features.

Speakers and Sound Quality

Last but not the least, you should be able to try the radio and listen to how it sounds, which means buying from somewhere with a liberal return policy. Of course, not everyone is an audiophile with a precise ear, but you should pick the one that sounds the best to you.

Obviously, the size of the speaker will greatly affect the quality of the sound, but this isn’t always the case.

Other Functions

Some gadgets are just radios, but most of them also have certain other features, so you can use them as a clock or alarm. The latest models on the market also come with advanced features such as acting as a power bank for your cell phone.

Final Verdict

Hopefully, I have managed to shed some light on what to look for in the best portable AM/FM radios. You can’t go wrong with any of the models on our lists, though they all serve slightly different purposes.

Gavin Whitner
    Gavin Whitner

    A guitar player, songwriter, composer, and also the lead editor of MusicOomph, Gavin is one of the four musician friends behind this site. Outside of music, he's an avid sports fan and hardly misses anything from football (soccer) to F1.

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