on February 21, 2006
Man, I wish I knew about this radio a year ago when I bought a highly-rated but, as it turned out, temperamental digital pocket radio. This one has most of the digital radio's virtues and none of its flaws. Reception of the stations I listen to is fine, AM sound is good, and FM sound quality is fantastic, comparing quite favorably to the digital. The local classical station sounds sublime, and "Coast to Coast AM" doesn't fade out on me. Construction is lightweight and extremely rugged. The tuning dial is a little difficult to fine-tune; if Sony wants to improve this model, they'll make a large disk-type dial with a recessed window that shows the frequency instead of this tiny and ambiguous linear scale. The included headphones don't do justice to the radio's clean sound--an extra $8 to $10 and you're good to go. The belt clip appears to be rugged, but only time will tell. It holds the radio firmly in place.
If you want a simple pocket radio, this one is the best value for the money. Sony still makes really good low-end stuff.
on January 19, 2008
Sony is offering a nearly-free gift. For fifteen dollars, you can purchase a phenomenal AM and FM Walkman radio complete with headphones. Light as a feather, the SRF-59 is so sensitive that Internet groups have popped up just to discuss its use. Sony's radio has become the standard in a new category of 21st century portables known as ultralights. Hobbyists who relish exotic long-distance reception have heralded the SRF-59 as a technological miracle.
The unit houses a little printed circuit board with two integrated circuit chips. One is a self-contained complete AM / FM tuner and the second is the audio amplifier to drive the headphones. Due to its concise nature, its single AA battery lasts for over 100 hours. The SRF-59's performance is comparable to other radios costing hundreds of dollars. Sony's ultraweight Walkman has been compared favorably to legendary units such as the GE Superadio, The Sony ICF-2010 and the Sangean CC Radio. If you are looking for the ultimate receiver to hear distant ball games or talk shows, this is it.
Seasoned DXers, the skilled sophisticated listeners who often homebrew their own equipment, have devised several modifications for the radio itself along with ideas to augment its circuitry with powerful outdoor antennas. Even as a stock unit, right out of its plastic bubble packaging, SRF-59 owners have heard AM radio stations all the way across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans from places like Japan and Saudi Arabia. The SRF-59 truly has enormous ears.
After using Sony's miracle for several years, only a few criticisms can be made. The headphones are only average quality. Tuning the Walkman is a little fussy. The knob provided to adjust what station you are listening to is pretty tiny even for petite thumbs. With ferocious abuse, you can wear out the radio. After about a year of pounding during train commutes, and walking across Manhattan, I had to buy a new one because I wore out the tuning capacitor. The SRF-59 is worth the price of admission. I used to listen to WWKB in Buffalo, New York, on AM radio, while sitting in an electronic noise nightmare (a steel Metro-North commuter train) on my way to New York City. WWKB was 300 miles away!
Whenever you need a little casual entertainment, the SRF-59 can't be beat. Leave one in your purse or coat pocket or in your attache case. The SRF-59 is low maintenance. You don't need to download to it. It almost never needs a battery. You can hear amazing things nearly everywhere you go. It weighs so little, you'll have to feel into your pocket just to know it's there. For in-depth information, take a look at two radio hobbyist web sites: [...]. As a dyed-in-the-wool radio listener, I couldn't recommend a purchase more highly! At this incredibly low price, you can't miss!
on December 8, 2006
If you want a good, cheap, dependable, lightweight walkman type AM/FM - this one's a must have. I bought mine a few months ago-use everyday for about 3 hours - no problem. Good signal strength, long single AA battery life, and acceptable sound quality. As previous reviewers noted, headphones are junk - mine lasted a few weeks before one channel died - replaced with a $7.99 "upgrade". A simple Walkman is hard to find in these days of the iPod - grab a few of these before they become extinct.
on November 13, 2005
This is the best analog am/fm radio available in the USA.
Excellent sensitivity and selectively for a radio its size. Very low background noise. Digital radios have the convenience of station presets, but background noise is often a problem, so as long as you don't mind the analog tuning this is the radio for you.
NOTE: Sony also sells the srf-84, but it is not available in the USA. The srf-84 has a bass boost and is better if you primarily listen to FM music it is worth seeking out on the web.
(Try Amazon UK)
If you primarily listen to AM talk radio, then the srf-59 will do the job nicely. As with all these types of radios, you will need to upgrade the headphones to get maximum performance out of the unit.
on May 21, 2006
I have been using this radio for close to 2 years now and am now getting two more of those radios on request of my family members. The radio has both high FM and AM sensitivity, comparable to that for a dedicated tuner in an audio system. The power consumption is low. The sound quality is very good and becomes excellent, for a small radio, if you upgrade the headphones. I have used both Koss KSC50 and Sony DR-G250DP. The latter come with a concealable microphone boom and take care both of my radio and on-the-road computer needs.
on March 13, 2007
Fellow worker had this radio & let me listen to it. It got great reception & the analog dial is better because you can dial in where digital skips the weaker stations. I wound up buying 5 for my fellow workers & everyone is very pleased with the clarity & stereo sound. Great little radio and bought for almost half the price than the stores. Won't hesitate to recommend this to anyone..Sony gets 5 stars this time around.
on December 3, 2011
Before I bought this radio I owned the earlier Sony version which I absolutely loved ... it had great reception for both AM & FM and was almost indestructible. After years of great service it finally broke and the only replacement I could find was the model shown here .. which sadly turned out to be nothing like the original. I ordered 2 of these radios figuring I save with the free shipping ... what a sad mistake. The AM reception was OK at first .. FM reception was never any good (and I live in a major city). After a few weeks something happened to the AM reception such that it cut in & out ... volume would almost disappear until you gave it a gently whack after which (if you were lucky) it would come back for a bit. After putting up with it for a couple weeks I tossed it and began using the second radio.
Again AM reception was OK .. but FM reception was terrible. To get a decent signal you had to orient the radio in a particular direction (not good if you are moving around) .. or even when listening while stationary you had to "arrange" the headset wire in some particular fashion to get any decent reception. I'm somewhat shocked that a manufacturer with Sony's reputation would put out such a lousy product ... makes me wonder if these are not some kind of bogus knock-offs of the Sony product line.
Overall I rate these as JUNK and advise avoiding them.
on January 30, 2016
:I have three of these. Classic lines, easy to use, mobile, rugged, and most important, the best AM/FM reception that any radio lover could want.
I have other designed, updated dated hand held radios that can not perform anywhere as well, are awkward to use. The others fail to satisfy, have poor reception, unfreindly to use, nonsense designs have poor AM reception, that do not measure up to this Sony...
The other portable i used seem designed by individuals that have no radio use nor a radio lover's tradition.
I take this model all over the world, use it jogging, bicycling, sometimes even to put me to sleep at night. I listen with ear buds or over the ears hones. Once in a while I use with external mini speakers.
This revered by me radio is one that delivers. Never fails me.
on January 2, 2009
I've been using these radios for the past 20 years or so, starting with the original model that had a black case but, I think, the same circuitry as this one. I use the plural because I've had to replace several. Most required replacement because the earphone jack quit after about a year's use. I tried to get inside to push the contacts back in place, but the one contact I needed (the middle one) was inaccessible. I think they've improved the jack in the last few years; my replacement frequency has decreased.
I note that my radios receive VERY heavy use, as I am an NPR addict. Moreover, my local NPR station is AM and there is simply no pocket AM radio on the market that can hold a candle to this one. Good AM radios cannot be made smaller than this, because the antenna has to fit within the case, and the bigger the antenna, the better the reception.
The circuit design is an old one with no presets and analog tuning and volume control; it uses a "potato masher" variable capacitor as a tuner, and a variable resistor as a volume control, which, in my opinion, are good things on balance, because you have actual round knobs you turn to perform both of those functions. Another advantage of the "old" circuitry is that when you switch the radio off, it is truly off and not running down your battery. I must admit that one of my radios had a defective volume control that emitted a scratchy sound when you turned it. One downside of the variable capacitor tuner is that it is difficult to tune to a weak FM station that is right next to a strong one (this often happens to me with NPR stations in other cities I visit). For this case, I think the newer lock-in circuitry might be preferable, but those radios typically use AAA batteries and draw power even when switched off.
It almost appears that some radio manufacturers are taking bribes from the battery companies. You see these ridiculous radios and other portable electronic devices that take three AAA batteries. I hate that. I love the design of the Sony, which uses ONE AA battery. Simpler, cheaper, and lighter in weight. It makes it easier to carry a spare. And, by the way, the battery life is the best I've seen in a portable. I use a rechargeable NIMH in mine and it works fine. And, best of all, it doesn't quit when IT thinks the battery is low; it lets YOU decide (here again, an advantage of old technology). As the battery is depleted, and the amplifier section gets more stressed, the sound gets progressively more distorted. Finally when the voltage is insufficient to run the tuner section, it quits too, which causes the radio to emit a scratchy hiss. At that point you can turn it off, wait a while and turn it back on to get another 30 seconds or so of use. It's probably best always to carry a spare battery. But don't put it loose in your pocket with spare change and keys; it will short out and be useless, possibly even setting your pants on fire. I keep mine in a prescription drug vial and that works fine.
One downside perhaps is the set of earphones that come with it. I throw them away (what a waste) and use a cheap set of earbuds (also Sony) that I get from Amazon. Pretty good sound for a pocket unit, much better than others. Certainly good enough for NPR news shows, which is all I listen to. Another downside is that compact fluorescent lights seem to interfere with AM reception, but they seem to do so with all AM radios except for the large ones that are probably well-shielded.
All in all, I'd say this radio is TOO good a deal, which is to say that, because of what must be a low profit, it's hard to find at brick-and-mortar retail stores, who would just as soon you not know it exists, and who would much rather sell you a $50+ radio using the "latest technology." I had one of those once and it was a disaster, even though, it, too, was a Sony. It had the fancy presets (which I don't need because I usually only listen to one station), ate batteries like crazy and quit well before the batteries were completely depleted. Upon battery replacement, all the presets had to be reset.
on March 11, 2016
First off, the reason why the price of this unit has more than doubled in recent months is because it's been discontinued. And what a shame that is. I've read awesome things about this little Sony online. It has fantastic reception. Quite a good DXer, as it picks up AM stations far and near. The headphones that come with this radio aren't any good. Use any pair of ear buds you like. $40.99 sounds pricey and is pricey for this radio. Until fairly recently this radio was selling on Amazon for $15. I highly recommend this radio to those who especially love AM or DXers. Enjoy and buy it while you still can!