Customer Reviews: Sony SRF59SILVER AM/FM Walkman Stereo Radio
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on May 6, 2003
This is a perfect little radio. The reception is very good (much better than a few headphone/radio setup's I've owned), and it is very well made. It's solid and tough. And it's smaller than a pack of cigarettes.
There are only 2 downsides I can think of:
1. It doesn't have a digital tuner. This can be a major problem with this radio if you're a profuse channel changer. Dialing in your stations is a bit tricky as the slightest adjustment to the tuning dial will send it across many channels. But if you're like me (I pretty much stay on one channel all the time), you'll find this radio to be perfect for you!
2. The headphones stink. They do the job, but the radio is actually much better sounding than the headphones allow you to appreciate.
It takes only one AA battery and it will last a VERY long time. A set of two AA's will last you dozens of hours.
I recommend this radio highly.
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on August 30, 2004
This radio has actually exceeded my expectations. Easily the best pocket radio that I've owned in a good ten years.

As noted by others, this radio has great AM reception. No, the included headphones are not good. But when used with better ones the sound quality is, dare I say, excellent for a radio of this price. A surpisingly warm, rich sound - not the harsh/brittle/thin sound of other radios that I was afraid of. Compare it to a radio like the god-awful RCA RP1667 in order to truly appreciate how great this little radio is. And for the price you can't beat it. I even like the analog tuning and volume controls.

Just to correct a previous reviewer, this radio does indeed receive FM in stereo.

[...I never thought I'd write something so positive about anything... what's happened to me?....]
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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.
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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!
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on November 30, 2007
THANK YOU SONY for not messing up a great design.

This radio is simply perfect for what it does.

I'm on my third incarnation of this radio and will buy another one.

By calling it a "Volkswagen Beetle" I mean that it's simple, efficient and does the job.

I am a radio junky and listen hours every day... in bed, around the house, walking in the rain. I also take this radio overseas, on mountain tops, on public transportation, etc.. I used to really enjoy using it on airplanes until they changed the rules!

I suppose if you only listen to a few pre-sets, maybe you'd like a digital better.

But for "surfing" or finding to far-away stations, an analogue dial is way better. Most old ham radio guys (like me) will tell you that a dial is the best way to get the best signal.

The radio has only a few buttons and dials but they are the right one.
The two thumb dials (frequency, volume) on this radio are perfect -- they are easy to dial but firm enough to hold their positions in your pocket.

The buttons are the only ones you really need:
* A dedicated on-off button.
It's big and in the right place. I love a dedicated button because I can turn it off during the commercials or phone call. When I turn it on again, it's on the right station and at the right volume. Having a dual-use volume and power knob (as many radios do) means you're always re-adjusting the volume.

* AM/FM (no comment needed)

* FM DX/Local
This is a touch of class. You will probably leave it on "DX" (which means far away in ham radio slang) unless you live near a big FM antenna -- then you're very glad it's there!

As for "DXing" on AM -- this radio does well. I have one of the better table top AM radios around (the GE SuperRadio III) and this little Sony holds its own against that.

It goes for hours and hours on one AA battery. I've never timed it but it's so efficient that you don't have to worry if you leave it on over night or similar. I use it for hours every day but change the battery only rarely.

It is loud enough. I happen to prefer hear buds and it is VERY loud enough with those.

Durability -- I have never broken one, despite having dropped it a zillion times. I've never totally immersed one in water but I've had them rained on or used them with wet hands many times.

My only changes in design would be very minor - I wish Sony would add a little hole to attach a lanyard, so I cold wear it around my neck. Also, on rare occasions under pressure, the belt-hook will self release. But this might be better than the alternative of actually breaking (it is plastic, after all.)

Last but not least is the affordable price -- I hate to pay too much for portable devices since it is so easy to lose them. You can find portable radios cheaper than this one but I wouldn't expect them to be half as good.

(I must seem a little nutty about this product! It's just that I rarely get to review something I like so well after having used for so many years. (fifteen years? more?).
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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.
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on July 17, 2004
Excellent sensitivity and selectivity (both front-end and IF) on the AM band--at least equal to and usually superior to the Sangean ATS-909 (digital AM/FM/SW/LW receiver). Analog tuning very easy despite the technology. Single alkaline AA cell estimated by Sony to last 140 hours on AM. No "soft" on-off switch, a plus to prevent accidental power-up. Battery compartment hatch is attached by hinges and snaps shut securely, so it won't just pop open if jostled nor get lost. Note: lack of speaker is also a plus; a speaker on a radio this small would be next to useless, as it is the case with the Radio Shack Optimus (cat. no. 12-610), another analog AM/FM pocket radio just slightly smaller than the SRF-59.
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on July 18, 2006
I agree with all who have talked of its benefits, and echo that this is probably what I'll buy another of, for the emergency box.

Also as mentioned, the dial is a bit tricky as the "gears" (dials) feel "tight" to me, but my two favorite stations (one FM, one AM) come in beautifully and don't take much to focus, but my Mom might have a problem due to arthritis.

The on-off button seems reasonably configured (hard to accidentally turn on or off which was a big problem with the Coby(s) I had). Another well-designed feature is the headphone jack connection on the top, rather than the bottom.

I have one complaint, and that is the clip--it seems tricky and not always reliable. That said, I've dropped it off my pants' pocket or waistband several times to no apparent damage to the product.

One suggestion: place the earphones either slightly behind or slightly in front of your ears rather than directly over them; you can hear traffic, conversation, etc., depending on what is important at the time.
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on September 30, 2006
I initially purchased this model then returned it in favor of the Sony SRF-M37V because of its five one-button pre-sets which make it a no-brainer to use while exercising. However, the SRF-59, perhaps because of its analog tuning, suffers less from co-channel and adjacent channel interference on FM. It's audio is slightly brighter and more musical with a decent pair of headphones or earbuds than its digitally tuned cousin. With this in mind, I purchased another SRF-59 yesterday and spent all last evening listening to it. I literally could not make myself shut it off and go to bed I was having so much fun scanning the FM dial. There was a program which aired last night on a local channel which featured bass-heavy 12" remixes of eighties new wave hits with, blessfully, very limited commercial interruption. Over the course of a three hour listening session, I gradually cranked up the volume. As I was too lazy to fish out decent earbuds, it became apparent that with bass-heavy audio at very loud volumes the SRF-59's tiny amplifier was insufficient to drive stock Walkman style headphones and peak audio was clipped which simply necessitated turning the volume down a tad to restore full musicality (I understand that decent quality earbuds require less power to achieve the same level of high sound output, therefore there will be no audio clipping). Nevertheless, the sound quality from this bargain-priced Walkman through less than ordinary headphones was astounding. The party is literally in your head, and the soundstage ranges from ear to ear, which is somewhat disconcerting when it is located above your sinuses. I also made one pass through the AM band and there the SRF-59 was no slouch either. I hauled in 1200 WOAI San Antonio which is approximately 1000 miles from me. Though no true DX machine, after all how could it be, it is at the least a competent performer on the AM band as well (I suspect early in the evening AM DXing conditions were as good as they have been in a long time). For more on this model and others visit Xin Feng's website. I highly recommend this model for cheap thrills!
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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.
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