Finding the best tabletop radios can be an exercise in knowing exactly what you want. Radio isn’t what it used to be, especially now that you can get radio stations via the internet or through streaming services. As we researched the top tabletop radios, we looked for variety in audio sources, digital vs. analog, ease of use and overall design aesthetic and quality. And before you purchase a new radio, we recommend you decide whether you want only AM/FM stations, internet stations or a combination of both.
To determine the best tabletop radio for your needs, we purchased a wide variety of options and tested them out to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. We ranked radios that combined AM/FM functionality with streaming and Bluetooth functionality higher on the list. We also found some really great AM/FM only options for the purists out there. In the end, the Panasonic RF-2400D was the best option by far. This tabletop radio emulates a classic radio style and combines portability and functionality. Keep reading below to learn more about the Panasonic and the other best tabletop radios on our list.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Panasonic RF-2400D is the best tabletop radio for camping because of its durable design, extra-long battery life and simple operation. If you need something simple and reliable to take with you on camping trips, this is the radio for you.
The Panasonic RF-2400D is one of the simplest tabletop radios on our list. It focuses purely on AM/FM functionality, and it does it well. This radio features a large, 4-inch speaker alongside the AM/FM station tuner. You can tune the radio with the large tuning knob on the side of the radio, as well as control the volume. You also get a 3.5 mm audio jack to plug in headphones for private listening. This simple design leaves out all of the bells and whistles in favor of reliability and user friendliness. The Panasonic is also a radio with good reception indoors and outdoors, making it super versatile.
You can power the Panasonic RF-2400D with either 4 AA batteries or with the included AC power cable that plugs into the wall. We were pleased with the overall battery life when using AAs. The radio will easily last an entire camping trip, plus more, which is one of the reasons it’s the best portable radio for camping. Overall radio performance is excellent, especially when it comes to AM signal, due mostly to the ferrite antenna. There were some occasions when the FM signal was weaker than we expected, but this didn’t happen often and didn’t create a negative experience during regular use. If you want two-way communication, check out the best cb radio.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Sangean WR-11 is the best analog tabletop radio on our list, with reliable and clear AM/FM reception in almost every situation. It’s also designed extremely well, with a nostalgic feel and large, easy-to-operate knobs.
The first thing stands out about the Sangean WR-11 is its classic wood cabinet design. It’s one of our favorite aspects of this radio, and not just because it looks good. The walnut finished material also enhances the sound quality of this radio through its inherent acoustic properties. The AM/FM tuner is large and easy to read, making overall operation much easier. All the dials are also large and easy to use. The best part about the dials is the LED tuning indicator on the Tune dial. It lights up when you’re getting the best reception, so you’ll always have the best listening experience.
While the Sangean WR-11 doesn’t offer much in the way of extra features, you do get several external connections to use on the back on the radio. These connections include a headphone jack, 3.5 mm auxiliary input and a Record-Out jack for connecting the radio to recording equipment. The radio also sounds great; it’s one of the best sounding analog tabletop radios on our list, although it can get a bit bass heavy at times. With its strong signal and classic design, the Sangean WR-11 is the one of the best AM/FM tabletop radios on our list. You can also use the best internet radio.
Award: BEST BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Soundance SDY019 is the best stereo tabletop radio on our list, and it comes in at an incredibly affordable price point. If you need superb sound quality without spending too much for it, this is the radio for you
While it’s true that you get what you pay for when it comes to audio products, you still get an excellent audio experience with the budget Soundance SDY019. We were impressed with the overall sound that this stereo radio could output. It’s clear and crisp, and the bass enhancing technology actually does wonders for the radio’s deeper sounds. You can play music from AM/FM stations, smartphones via Bluetooth, AUX cable and even SD cards.
The Soundance’s design is sleek and modern, which makes it easier to display in the more visual areas in our home. You get a clear digital LED display, with buttons on the top of the radio that you use to operate the device. While having fewer buttons is good for design, it can sometimes make for complicated operation on the Soundance, especially considering how many functions this radio can perform. However, with some reading of the instructions, this setback is easily overcome. All in all, for a budget tabletop radio, the Soundance SDY019 is an excellent addition to our list. For a more modern take on the radio, look at the best satellite radio for home.
Award: BEST RECEPTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Tivoli Audio Model One is the best retro design tabletop radio, with a classic walnut wood exterior, large speaker and large tuning dial. It’s also the radio with best reception on our list, with a state-of-the-art antenna built directly into the unit.
The Tivoli Audio Model One is a retro tabletop radio with both AM and FM functionality with excellent reception on both frequencies. In fact, during our testing, we found that the Tivoli offered the best reception of any option on our list. This is due in large part to the discrete AM/FM antenna built directly into the radio’s internal components. You even have the option of connecting an external FM antenna for even better reception over longer distances.
This tabletop radio also offers one of the most accurate tuning experiences on this list. It’s large tuning dial is easy to spin accurately, and the radio includes an LED indicator that tells you when you’re getting the best reception for the station you’re tuning to. When it comes to audio quality, the Tivoli Audio Model One is surprisingly impressive, especially considering the mono speaker driver. Audio can struggle a bit at higher volumes, but it’s overall really good. For your car, you will want the best satellite radio for the car.
Award: BEST QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System IV is the best sounding tabletop radio on our list, with the classic Bose audio and design quality. It’s also multi-functional, with a CD player, option Bluetooth connection and alarm clock functionality.
There’s a lot to find positive with the Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System IV tabletop radio. The best thing about the Bose is its amazing audio quality. This system can easily fill the room, no matter what audio source it’s using. Unfortunately, this best-of-class audio quality comes with an expensive price tag, but that’s to be expected of any Bose audio products – it will last you the test of time.
This tabletop radio doesn’t just sound great, it also features a ton of capabilities. Of course, it features AM/FM radio functionality, or else it wouldn’t be included on our list. On top of that, it’s also the best tabletop CD player on our list, as well as an MP3 player and internet radio. You can connect the Bose Wave SoundTouch to your home internet and stream from popular internet radio sources like Spotify and Pandora. You can even connect to your smartphone using an optional Bluetooth accessory. You even get a handy dual alarm function so you can use the Bose as an alarm to wake up when you need to. If you don’t mind the expensive price tag, the Bose Wave SoundTouch IV can give you the most immersive and premium sound experience of any of the tabletop radios on our list.
Award: BEST RADIO SCANNER
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Uniden BC365CRS is the best tabletop radio for emergencies and staying connected to various frequencies. With access to weather and emergency services bands and the ability to set up to 500 different channels, the Uniden radio is perfect for those who like to stay prepared.
The Uniden BC365CRS doesn’t look like your standard AM/FM tabletop radio. And while it still performs those analog functions with ease, its main area of focus is providing you access to emergency and weather alert frequencies. With this tabletop radio, you can connect to police, fire, aircraft and marine transmissions. You can even connect to HAM radio frequencies. If you like to stay connected and know about everything happening in your area, the Uniden BC365CRS is an excellent choice.
The radio is a bit larger than other options we’ve featured on our list, but it needs the real estate for all the buttons and dials. On top of being an AM/FM radio and comprehensive scanner, you can also set up to 500 different channels to easily flip through your favorite stations. You also get alarm clock functionality. As you can imagine, all of this functionality can be a bit complicated to set up, but fortunately the included instructions are helpful. All in all, despite the large size and sometimes complicated setup process, the Uniden BC365CRS is a solid addition to our list.
Award: BEST HD
WHY WE LIKE IT: The KEiiD Compact is the best digital tabletop radio with high-definition sound, built-in Bluetooth connectivity and overall excellent audio quality. If you’re looking for a digital radio that can do more than just play AM/FM stations, the KEiiD HD tabletop radio is the choice for you.
The KEiiD Compact tabletop radio offers almost any functionality you can think of, including an AM/FM radio, CD/MP3 player, Bluetooth, USB, AUX and SD card inputs. Unfortunately, you can’t get direct internet access with the unit, but with the Bluetooth functionality, you can use your phone to access online streaming services. You can even use the KEiiD stereo radio as a TV sound bar with the included audio cable.
You get excellent audio quality with this tabletop radio due to its 4 stereo speakers and acoustic wooden design. The only gripe we had was the somewhat weaker bass, which was still rich in its own right, especially when compared to some of the less expensive options on our list. The AM/FM radio stations you get are in HD quality due to the digital tuner built into the KEiiD, so even that sounds great. If you want an impressive, multi-functional HD tabletop radio, look no further than the KEiiD Compact.
Once we received all of the tabletop radios, we started testing them by considering their overall design and functionality. A good design is quintessential to good audio quality, especially when you consider how different materials can enhance or decrease a radio’s acoustics. We preferred radios that have stereo speakers, but also included those with mono speakers, especially since it’s hard to find stereo drivers in more portable tabletop radios. The radio’s power source was also a major consideration during our testing. Not all radios are battery powered, so we awarded bonus points to those that can switch between using batteries and a wall outlet for power.
The best tabletop radios perform their core AM/FM functionality with ease, with clear reception and easy-to-use tuning and volume dials. However, we also favored radios that provided additional functionality. Things like Bluetooth connectivity, headphone jacks and integrated CD/MP3 players only serve to enhance your overall user experience. These additional functionalities also allow you more freedom and flexibility in what kind of audio sources you can play music from.
Last, but certainly not least, we measured each tabletop radio on our list based on its audio quality. A radio can have all the functionality in the world, but if it doesn’t sound good, it isn’t worth the purchase. All of the radios on our list offer superb sound quality, no matter what audio source you’re using. As a final note, we didn’t forget about warranties during our research, but we also didn’t weight this factor as heavily as others. Most tabletop radios offer a limited one-year warranty, like most consumer electronics. You may find some options with a longer warranty, but those are few and far between.