Shortwave Radio Bands 101

October 19, 2012, by Ken Jorgustin

Understanding the concept of shortwave bands

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If you are new to shortwave radio, then the first thing you need to understand is the concept of bands (shortwave bands).

If you have ever listened to AM or FM radio, then you already know what a band is. The AM band is the frequency range stretching from 530 to 1710 kilohertz (this is a ‘band’). The FM band is 88 to 108 megahertz. A band is simply a frequency range where stations are located.

When you look for stations in these ‘bands’, you simply tune around with your tuning buttons (or the tuning knob) until you find a station that you can receive clearly. Shortwave is very similar in concept except that there are multiple shortwave bands with names like 25 meters, 31 meters, 49 meters, etc. (these are abbreviated as 25m, 31m and 49m respectively).

Some radios show frequency in megahertz and some in kilohertz (abbreviated as MHz and KHz respectively). On some shortwave radios, frequencies will look like 15100 KHz, 15105 KHz or 15110 KHz, whereas on other radios they might look like 15.1 MHz, 15.105 MHz or 15.11 MHz.

The exact frequency ranges for shortwave bands may vary from one radio model to another. This is completely normal and due to design differences among manufacturers and their radio models. On some radios, bands are clearly marked while on others they are not marked at all.

In the chart below is a list of the shortwave bands used for international shortwave broadcasts and their corresponding frequency ranges.

shortwave-band-chart
Source: Grundig

Because shortwave signals depend on such factors as the sun, the ionosphere, and interaction with the earth itself, signals cannot be heard on all bands throughout the day. Some bands are best during the daylight hours, and some are best at night.

In general, the bands with frequencies below 13 MHz (13000 KHz) are better at night and the bands with frequencies above 13 MHz (13000 KHz) are best during the day.

Generally speaking, the best time for listening to shortwave (when signals are strongest and clearest) is the time around sunrise and sunset. Usually there’s a two-hour window for optimal listening, but it may extend up to three or four hours.

Shortwave DAY bands

shortwave-radio-day-bands
Source: Grundig

Shortwave NIGHT bands

shortwave-radio-night-bands
Source: Grundig

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Grundig S350 Deluxe AM/FM/Shortwave Radio, Black
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