RadioShack RS-21 Hi-Fidelity Tabletop AM/FM Radio


The RadioShack RS-21 Hi-Fidelity Tabletop AM/FM Radio came to the market during the wave of high-quality tabletop radios that were released in the early- and mid-2000s.  This period included units like the Model One from Tivoli, the Boston Acoustics Recepter Radios, and even the Emerson Simplicity radio.

While it's not quite in the league of the Tivoli Radios, this is a surprisingly great performer. 

I was looking for a radio for my garage workshop, and my wife (who also spends time working out there) requested I get a unit that would also allow her to attach her iPod.  I searched for a while and was reluctantly thinking about getting a used/refurbed Tivoli to put in the garage when I happened upon this unit on clearance for $39 at my local RadioShack.  I decided to take a chance so I picked one up.

The first thing I did was put it side-to-side with the Tivoli Model One, currently the radio that's located in my kitchen.  

The first thing I noticed was the case.  The Tivoli has a real wood case, and the RadioShack unit is made of plastic.  One thing that is similar, though, is the fact that both of these units are fairly heavy: this is not a flimsy plastic radio. 

The controls are laid out a little differently than the Tivoli, but they're equally basic: power/selector switch, volume control, and tuning knob.  The familiar power/tuning LEDs are there as well, along with the front-firing speaker.

The dial scale runs from 88 to 108 MHz FM and 550 to 1700 kHz MW, the standard for US radios. Like the Tivoli, this unit is made in China.  And also like the Tivoli, tuning is accomplished through a very smooth tuning knob that has what seems to be a 5:1 ratio.

As far as reception goes, the RS-21 does a very respectable job-- about the same as the Tivoli. It's interesting, though, that some stations that come in loud and clear on on one radio don't come in quite as well on the other. This is true for both bands.  

The radio comes with built-in AM and FM antennas.  It also comes with a little wire antenna which you can use, or you can connect a regular external FM antenna to the built-in F connector.

This unit sounds great.  It's actually a little "boomier" than the Tivoli, but it doesn't sound muddy.  The higher frequencies are very bright-sounding.

The RS-21 comes with a mono AUX-IN jack at the back of the unit, and a cable is included for you to use.  This addresses my wife's request for a place to plug in her iPod. :-) There is also a headphone jack for private listening.  The unit comes with an adapter to operate on 120 VAC. 

After several months in the workshop, I decided the radio was too nice to keep outside, so now it's sitting on my desk and serves as my office radio.  Sometimes I'll plug my iPod into the unit, and it sounds great.

This would be an excellent radio for a kitchen, den, bedroom, or workshop.  This was an excellent value!

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