Small Portable Radio's?

PacificMoon

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May 23, 2021
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Thanks for all of your posts and they are great but sorry, I wish I could understand all of what you’re saying.:( :).

I’ve never understood S.V. radios as why would one want to tune into multiple stations all over the world that speak languages that one doesn’t understand? I’ve never understood the attraction and please excuse my ignorance.

I started replying to Bill’s starting this thread years ago as I wanted a way to find out about the latest and greatest AM and FM sensitive radios as I live rural and wanted sensitivity. It progressed into radios that have S.V. that I don’t understand and don’t care for their complexity.

It was fun for awhile when radios were including high sensitivity and other features like BT and micro cards.

Again, thanks for your contributions to this thread but some of the early great contributors are now gone and to me this thread has run it’s course like everything in life.

PLEASE contribute if you may!
There are some stations that broadcast in English at certain times; there used to be a lot more stations broadcasting in English to North America. There are even domestic stations in the US, although much of the content they broadcast is not for everyone. Furthermore, if you speak Spanish that opens up a lot more signals you can listen to. Many of the quality SW radios are also very good AM/FM radios. That said, there are still *a lot* of radios being sold that are AM/FM only with good sensitivity or where SW is not the main priority. If you want a radio with maximum sensitivity you should be looking at relatively large radios since they tend to have bigger telescopic antennas (important for FM reception) and bigger ferrite loopsticks (important for good AM sensitivity). You can always get a cheap, small radio for travel use. Todderbert on YouTube has reviewed a lot of radios as does Radio Jay Allen, who also does rankings based on AM and FM sensitivity (5 stars = the best rating): AM Portables Mega Shootout – 2022 Update FM Portables Mega-Shootout 2022

It sounds like you may be interested in a radio like the Sangean D4W or D5.
 

mightysparrow

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I came back to CPF and to this thread to share my experience shopping for a very small radio with a clock and an alarm to use mainly when I'm traveling, but also for use when I'm out and about closer to home. I hope others might benefit from the information I've gathered in trying two such radios recently.

I have health issues that require me to now be very careful about how much weight I carry around with me when I travel, or anytime I leave my apartment. For that reason, in recent years I have had to replace many items I used and liked very much with lighter weight versions, whenever possible - from clothing to electronics to bags, etc. When shopping for a travel alarm I therefore had to find a radio as light and small as I could, but of course I was looking for quality and the features I like and can use. Not an easy task, it turned out.

I found two products I was interested in, based on my usual intensive search of the web, reading reviews, and watching videos. The first one I tried was the Prunus J-125 (newest version). I found it on sale for about $12 on Amazon. The price was right, and it seemed on paper to have a wide array of features found on larger and more costly radios: it is very small (about 4.0 by 2.4 inches), and has a clock (12 or 24-hour clock), an alarm (awake to beeping or the radio), memory presets (30 each for AM and FM), a sleep function, and a 3.5mm earphone jack. The radio operates on two AAA cells. There is also a key lock function, and the FM mode can be turned on in stereo. There is a nice amber backlight for the display, which is easily readable. Tuning can be advanced one step at a time, or you can hold down the tuning buttons and start a more rapid scan for an active frequency. The reception sensitivity on FM was good for a tiny radio with an equally tiny antenna. Even some weaker stations were listenable, although weaker stations were not coming in as strong as on a larger radio.

When I took delivery of the radio, however, I found that the minimum volume selectable using the volume buttons is way too loud for me when I used the earphone jack to listen through earbuds. The other problem I had with the Prunus was that the alarm always automatically comes on at a very loud volume level, whether it is set to use the beeping sound or the radio. That is probably a great feature for most people - but not for me. I don't need an alarm that loud, and I'm afraid it will disturb people in adjoining hotel rooms. While Prunus customer service was very accommodating and sent me a second radio, due to display cover damage on the first unit, I ended up returning the J-125.

Fortunately, there was another product to try with similar dimensions: the Kaito KA220W, also available at Amazon for about $15. When I received the Kaito product, I could tell it is built solidly - it has more heft than the Prunus product, in my opinion. This radio is 4.25 by 2.25 inches. It operates on two AAA cells. The display characters are larger than in the Prunus product, and the amber backlighting is especially strong and even in this radio. I also like the simplicity of its controls. This radio also has a key lock function, and the clock (24-hour clock only) and alarm (awake to beeping or the radio) are easy to set. Unlike the Prunus product, the KA220W has a dial for volume adjustment. That enables the user to turn down the volume very low for listening through the earphone jack more comfortably. This radio, like the J-125, can be tuned one step at a time, or more rapidly "scanned" to find an active station by holding down the tuning buttons. I am under the impression that the antenna on the KA220W might be a bit longer than the antenna on the J-125, and it feels a bit more solid, too. The sensitivity of the KA220W on FM also seems good for its diminutive size and the small antenna, although weaker stations are not a strong point of this radio. The speaker obviously has limitations due to its size, but it sounds deeper and richer than I expected in a tiny radio.

Unfortunately, the KA220W has no memory presets, and does not feature an FM stereo mode. The lack of these features is not a deal-breaker for me, as I don't need either of those two features to use the radio for a travel alarm or a handy radio to carry around town. However, like the Prunus product, the Kaito radio's alarm function is not ideal for me. While the alarm starts at a low volume using either the beep or the radio, within a few seconds it rapidly increases to a very loud volume. As explained above, this is not ideal for me, but given all of the other features of the KA220W, and its quality and performance, I am keeping it and will use it as my travel clock radio.

I also recently picked up a Retekess PR15. It certainly seems to justify its excellent reputation among portable radio enthusiasts. The sensitivity, sound, and quality all seem outstanding for its ultra-mini size. Another great value, especially with the NOAA weather frequencies included - and an excellent choice for those of us who must always keep the weight of the items we carry to a minimum.
 
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Flying Turtle

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Thanks for the mini-reviews, mightysparrow. I especially appreciate learning about the Prunus. This is one I was checking out. Like you, however, I listen often with earbuds and would not like the volume being too high. Glad I saw your post. I will check out the Kaito.
 

mightysparrow

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Palookaville, USA
Last week I used a gift card I received for doing a review to get a nice discount on an Eton Elite Mini. I thought it might be relevant to the title of this thread, and as an addition to my recent post, above, to compare the Eton Elite Mini to the two other small radios that I discussed in my earlier post.

I had hesitated to buy the Eton radio due to quite a few reviews I've seen online complaining about quality control issues or disappointing performance. Now that I have the radio in hand, I am very grateful to have it. My unit has no quality control issues I can discern. The Mini measures about 4.25 by 2.75 by 0.5 inches. It is powered by two AAA cells (NiMH cells work fine). The Mini receives the AM (MW) (520-1710 KHz), FM, and two shortwave bands. SW Band 1 covers 5.90 to 10.0 MHz, and SW Band 2 covers 11.65 to 18.0 MHz. The Mini features a clock (24-hour time only), an alarm that can wake you to the radio station of your choice, a button lock feature, and a DC input jack (3 Volt). Tuning can be done with a dial on the side of the radio, or with the Scan buttons on the front. Volume is adjusted via a dial on the side of the radio. There is an earphone jack on the top of the radio. Plugging in earphones/buds produces stereo sound in FM mode.

The Mini comes with a short manual and a leatherette case that covers the display and all of the front buttons except the power button. The case also has holes for the speaker, but the case fits so tight on the radio that I will not insert the radio in it until I have stretched it out. Or maybe never. A DC charger is not included.

A few features of the Mini not mentioned in the manual: 1) in shortwave tuning, the Time button will take you quickly to various frequency bands; 2) the Hour button toggles between the three display digit lighting choices: bright, dim, or off; and 3) the Minute button toggles through 9 or 10 KHz AM tuning steps. Some reviews have complained of fast battery drain in standby with the Mini - but I suspect that comes from users who are not aware that the amber display digit lighting can be dimmed or turned completely off. I think Eton could have ensured higher ratings of its product in some reviews, if the company had chosen to mention the display dimming options in the manual.

The Eton Elite Mini seems to have a superior build quality and sound for a very small radio. To me, the speaker sounds better than the speaker on the Prunus and Kaito radios mentioned in my earlier post. The sensitivity and selectivity of the Mini also seems a bit better than the other two radios, although it obviously is not going to do as well with weaker signals as will a larger radio, especially on AM (MW), with the tiny ferrite bar antenna in this radio. Some reviews claim that the speaker of the Mini sounds distorted at higher volumes - but this is not what I experience with my unit. In all, the feel and look of the Mini oozes quality, and gives off a look of elegance, that is a bit above the cheaper options I've described elsewhere. The amber display digits might use more power than the LCD displays of other radios, but they look nice and are easily readable.

One big advantage of the Eton Mini compared to the other two radios is the ability to adjust the volume of the radio when using the alarm to wake to the radio. The alarm will wake you to the radio at the volume level and frequency you set. That can be a disadvantage, obviously, if you are listening to the radio at a low volume and then set the alarm to wake you the next morning without setting the volume at a volume that will be high enough to wake you. But for me, it is exactly what I have been searching for - the ability to set the alarm radio volume at a level that is not frightening and will not disturb people in neighboring hotel rooms. And the volume dial on the Mini also allows me to use earbuds to listen to the radio at a comfortable volume - something I was not able to do using the Prunus radio.

There are a few features that the Mini does not have that I would ideally like to see on this radio: 1) memory frequency presets; and 2) wider coverage of the shortwave bands. Overall, though, this radio meets all of my basic needs in a small, lightweight travel radio/alarm clock. It costs more than the Prunus and Kaito options, but for me it will work better to meet my needs, and it will also provide a more pleasant listening and using experience. The Kaito radio is also great for the price, though, especially for those who need a loud alarm to wake up.
 
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JACKN

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Nov 4, 2019
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I took a chance while shipping a bunch of stuff from Taobao in China to get this small tabletop radio (link below) also, based on the buyers' feedback. It's not really a small portable radio, but a very small tabletop bluetooth mp3 radio with built-in battery in a faux wood casing.

Sangean has a line of small wooden tabletop radio that are highly regarded and costs more. This is China's cheap weak version. For what it costs me (150 yuan, about 24 USD, before oversea shipping), the sound is amazing, more like my bookshelf speakers but softer of course, and better than all the radio i owned. FM (no AM/Shortwave) reception using the analog dial (no station memory) is good, i live in the city with strong FM signals though.

I assume the roomy cabinet contributes to the expansive, easy listening sound. If so, I much prefer this boxy form over the portable radio format going forward; i have no need to bring a radio out of the house anyway. Time to swap my drawer of small, portable radio for boxy tabletop radio, and look for a long discussion thread on small, boxy radio... 😆

The listing below is from AliExpress. I hope it's not the same shop where i bought mine from Taobao. My unit has a long cosmetic crack on the top edge of casing but not worth shipping it back to China. I find it decent value for the great sound. The dial turns easily and it generally works as expected. Look great too, if you don't examine it too closely. The casing is mdf (or plastic?) with wood texture sticker lamination. It may still fall apart in a few months time, or maybe not. Taking a chance there, let see 🙏


A follow-up to the small tabletop radio I posted last Nov. My unit is still holding up and working fine. I found it on Amazon now as well (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09QJTGTJF/?tag=cpf0b6-20) but that costs more than on Aliexpress. Disclaimer: I'm not related to the radio or the shops in any way.

The reason I'm posting again is I discovered this line of small boxy retro radio/speakers have couple more neat tricks up their sleeves. This unit (JY-66), and I believe the original Sangean cabinet editions as well, uses a 18650 (w/wire lead) rechargeable battery internally ! This can be replaced with some careful dismantling. See https://tieba.baidu.com/p/6143229302, or with Google english translation: https://tieba-baidu-com.translate.g...-CN&_x_tr_tl=es&_x_tr_hl=en-US&_x_tr_pto=wapp

It would be perfect if it has a proper battery compartment but the 18650 is clipped snugly against the radiator speaker at the back, so that doesn't seems possible. Yes, the sound on the JY-66 is so good because it also has a passive radiator speaker at the back! I'm not sure why this is not mentioned anywhere in the product description, it would be a good selling point to me. Anyway, I acquired couple more units as gifts when I learned of this.

In summary, the JY-66 appeals to me for the good FM radio, excellent sound, diy replaceable battery, and generous features (bluetooth, sdcard mp3, aux) for the low price. It's by no means the only one of its kind of small, boxy radio. There are lots more, of varying quality of course, if you look up "retro radio' on Amazon. The original Sangean cabinet radio ( https://www.amazon.com/s?k=sangean+...angean+cabinet+radio,aps,333&ref=nb_sb_noss_2 ) are known for their quality. I'm tempted to check out this smaller one ( https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZJM9L1J/?tag=cpf0b6-20 ) but not sure if the battery is of the 18650 type. Happy exploring !
 

mightysparrow

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JACKN: nice looking radio, and it apparently has a lot of features and good sound for the price. I noticed that the version being sold on Amazon claims to have a five-watt speaker. That’s hard to believe, but the passive radiator speaker certainly makes the radio sound good for its size, I’m sure.

There are so many radios out there that it’s difficult to separate the items with decent quality from the more prevalent junk, without hearing from people who have used them. Your comments are interesting and helpful.
 

ezarc

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Jan 10, 2013
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South Australia
I bought a Sangean DT-200X from Amazon and a genuine Sangean antenna for it from AliExpress.

They appear to be discontinued and I wanted to get one before they are gone forever and see how it compares to my old Sony ICF-S10MK2 that barely gets used anymore.

I have the antenna, just waiting on the radio to turn up in a few days now.
Screenshot_20221007_184816.jpg
 

mightysparrow

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ezarc: I’ll be curious about your reactions to the DT-200x. I’ve been admiring the little Sangean portables for years, and considering them as gifts, but I could never decide which would work best for me. Now I can’t really justify another little radio, but I’m curious about what you think about it.
 

ezarc

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It came in the mail today, it doesn't come anywhere close to the old Sony in loudness but it beats it in just about everything else. I just use it to flip between 2 FM stations and it works really well for what I need it to do.

Setting the time and favorites was pretty easy after reading the manual, I still need to change the AM stepping for AU stations which there is info on Amazon how to do it.
 
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ezarc

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Jan 10, 2013
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Some other portable radios I have

The Sangean is 4xD cells and the Tecsun is 2xD cells, both are pretty good depending on the size you like but I've become more accustomed to preset stations. Neither have been getting much use as Ive been using a new (used bits and pieces) home stereo for radio listening most recently.

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