Sony SRF-S84 FM Stereo/AM Walkman

The Sony SRF-S84 FM Stereo/AM Walkman is a great little portable analog unit that shows how a simple receiver can fit the bill for everyday listening.

I bought this unit in 2007 in a shop at Tokyo Narita airport.  It cost me about US$35. 

Made in China, this radio came with a pair of MDR-E806 headphones, although I prefer to use my Shure E3c earbuds.   It runs on a single AAA cell, which gives a few months' worth of listening time despite the relatively small power source.  The SRF-S84 is about 3.5" high and 1.5" wide-- about twice the width of the original iPod Shuffle.

Tuning on this version (meant for the Japanese market) runs from 76-108 MHz (FM) and 530-1600 kHz (MW).  This means that I used to be able to pick up the audio from my local NBC TV station (WMAQ-TV, channel 5) on the low end of the FM band before the Digital Transition.  It does mean, however, that I can easily tune in to Chicago's "Smooth Jazz" station, WLFM-LP, which broadcasts on analog TV channel 6.

Selecting an FM station can be a bit tricky:  the tuning knob is very small and tight, and I often find myself catching the knob with my fingernail and ever-so-slightly turning it a fraction of an inch to center on a station.  The good news is that the radio is very sensitive, and I can pick up most of the stations I want to hear very easily in my suburban home, about 20 miles northwest of Chicago.  Reception is generally very good, at least until I get near my office in the South Loop area of Chicago-- then the receiver becomes a bit overloaded with all the powerful stations nearby. 

AM reception is good, too.  The SRF-S84 has excellent selectivity and is not susceptible to bleed-over or "ghosts" like many other radios.

The sound is very good, even without the MegaBass circuitry turned on.  When the MegaBass switch is thrown, the sound rivals other units that cost a lot more.  It even sounds better than some expensive MP3 players I've heard.

There appears to be a community around modifying the S84 and its sister units-- if you Google this radio's model number, you'll see several sites that specialize in modifying these radios for enhanced audio.

A great unit for a great price-- even though it was an impulse buy before I got on a plane... :-)

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