TV Band Radio Buyer’s Guide: Tips For Buying Radio Receivers with TV Sound Bands.

Many radio receivers are capable of receiving the sound portion of broadcast television programs. This feature is useful for portable listening or during power outages. Most TV band radios also receive regular AM and FM, some receive other bands as well.

The vast majority of TV band radios don’t receive every TV channel (2-69). Most receive all twelve VHF channels (2-13), usually split into two bands. Radios of this type include the Radio Shack 12-456, Rhapsody RY-611, and jWin JXM9. A few TV band radios cover all 68 channels, such as the Optimus 12-604A. Keep in mind that a number of radios with TV bands only cover a small number of channels, especially those which also have shortwave bands. For example, the Sunmate 836NL only receives television channels 4-6 on its TV band. Other examples of radios with TV bands of this type include the Altai Multiband Radio and the Borg Johnson HS-912R (both receive ch. 2-6). Many regular FM radios let you hear channel six by tuning to the lower end of the FM band.

Reception varies significantly depending upon the radio model. Larger radios tend to have better reception, although this isn’t always true. It is quite possible to use a radio of this type in a moving automobile, although reception usually isn’t as good as if the radio was outside or the car wasn’t moving. From personal experience, the Radio Shack 12-795 and the Electro Brand 2971 – both fairly large units – have very good TV audio reception, while the small and pocket radios with TV bands I’ve used usually have fair-to-good reception.

It is likely that the smaller antennas on most pocket radios, which often can’t be rotated, are partially to blame for not having quite as good reception. The Optimus 12-808 has better-than-average TV band reception despite being of only medium size. Although I haven’t used it, the Sangean DT200V (which covers ch. 2-13) is said to have rather good reception although it is quite compact.

Most TV band radios have analog tuning. Due to the distance in tuning between television stations, they are generally easy to find and tune in with an analog tuner. However, some radios may randomly intermix FM stations with TV channels in the ch. 2-6 range, making it more difficult to locate television stations in that tuning area.

Digital radios usually eliminate this problem, and make it easy to instantly select the television station you want to listen to or scan several different stations. They tend to have poorer AM reception, however, although this isn’t true for some of the more expensive models. Digital radios with TV audio capability include the Optimus 12-808 and Rodelvox MR-318T.

Some TV shows and movies are difficult to follow without video. However, news programs, game shows, music concerts, and talk shows are generally easy to listen to. You may find that the audio reception is better than that of your television occasionally; consider turning off the volume on your TV and trying the radio if sound reception is ever poor.

Alarm clocks with TV audio reception are also available. This is useful if you want to wake up to a morning television program such as the Today show. Alarm clocks of this type include the Sunhui EJ-5588 (covers ch. 2-6, along with AM/FM/SW, analog clock), the Electro Brand 4438 (covers ch. 2-13 and AM/FM/WX) and the Sony ICF-C153V.

TV band radios can be purchased at department stores, discount shops, Radio Shack franchises, online shopping websites, and internet auction services. Depending upon their features, other bands, and condition, they usually cost anywhere from $5/used to $100/new. They have been manufactured by a large variety of brand names, including Realistic, Gran Prix (GPX), and Panasonic.

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