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I have an old Philips walkman that has AM/FM radio. I tried AM radio. Really I can get clearly 2 country radios. I catched very poorly 4 foreign radios or different countries, but they do lots of noise.

I plug in headphones with quite a long cable, and those headphones are pluged into the splitter that came with it, so that it can connect to headphones input and mic input since it's a cpmplete headset. However this does not improve much the quality.

The frequency range in this walkman is from 530 to 1180 Khz I believe, since the lowest number says 53 and the highest number says 118 and below it says "10x". I guess it means you have to multiplay those numbers by 10 so that you have the Khz number.

The walkman doesn't have any external attached antena, since I guess headphones do that function, however is that an easy way of improving the reception of AM signal? Is there a headphones cord optimal length?

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  • $\begingroup$ That radio likely has an internal ferrite loop antenna, which usually are better than a short wire antenna. It appears that you are in western Europe; are there that many AM stations there? And do your friends' radios pick up more stations than this radio? Also, signals propagate much further at night; have you tried it between sunset and sunrise? $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Aug 12 at 22:09
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    $\begingroup$ @MikeWaters From Spain, I'm getting an Italian, British, Arabic and another Indian "Bollywood-ish" music station, with a bad quality sound though, except for the wollywood and arabic ones. The tuner is tough to manipulate since some stations are very near in frequency from each other apparently so it gets hard to tune in perfectly enough. And I tried at night, yes. Didn't try with another radio. I'm thinking about buying some muliband radio. $\endgroup$ – Lorthas Aug 12 at 22:33
  • $\begingroup$ yeah, you won't be getting any German medium wave transmissions – the last transmitters have been switched off for more than five years. Basically, all of Europe is switching off their AM transmitters – for the listeners simply dying out, being reached by much richer FM or internet programming and because you need to switch off these century-old transmission systems to make space for better systems like DRM+. It hence doesn't surprise me that you're getting arabic-language transmissions primarily! $\endgroup$ – Marcus Müller Aug 13 at 0:42
  • $\begingroup$ @MarcusMüller The thing I like the most thinking about is that radio is kind of free (once you have the receiver). The problem with internet driven radios is that you need internet connection which is not always possible. You may not have mobile data or wifi. And being able to catch foreign radios only with a receiver sounds better to me than depending on internet. Since you have mobile limited internet data you can't depend entirely on it when traveling. $\endgroup$ – Lorthas Aug 13 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Lorthas you don't need to tell the users of this site that radio is cool ;) still, it's very logical that countries and broadcasters in Europe reduce their medium wave transmitters – the audience simply disappears. By the way, Spain is part of the EU – and the EU mandates that you get the same mobile data tariff as you get at home in any member state. $\endgroup$ – Marcus Müller Aug 13 at 12:28
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The genuine Sony Walkman, and most of the Walkman-style radios from other makers, did indeed use the headphone cable for their antenna. My experience (with an early 1980s Sony model) was very good on FM, and even then AM was mostly talk, news, and sports, so I didn't listen much on that band.

That said, AM radio isn't what it used to be. Fewer stations broadcasting at lower power means you may not nave a broad selection of strong local stations. Further, many AM stations (at least in America) now broadcast a digital sideband (which carries station and track ID information as well as the HD/stereo signal if offered) that can come through as a "buzz" or similar distortion in the analog signal.

As you note, most "pocket" size AM sets have a tuner that covers the whole band with less than half a turn of a small wheel; these are almost impossible to tune with high precision. Add that to the relatively poor discrimination of many less expensive pocket AM sets, and it's fairly likely your antenna isn't the problem.

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I would recommend getting a multi band radio that can receive these and other frequencies. In the late 1980s I used to listen to AM radio using an old FRG-7 communications receiver. I loved that thing - it was a joy to use. Even its power switch was big and red, just like they should be! The only problem with that was that it worked best with a large external antenna. But you could make a ferrite bar antenna (effectively a magnetic loop antenna for LF/VLF) that would work well enough to pick up some distant long- and medium-wave stations.

The world has moved on, however, and many stations have now closed down and moved to the internet or VHF (usually on FM). A communications receiver and a decent antenna will help you find the long-, medium- and short-wave stations that are still broadcasting, as well as the many radio amateurs out there across the globe. Maybe one day you might even hear me! :)

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  • $\begingroup$ You can still buy a multi-band receiver for under $200. And they're at least as good as the ones that were common in the 1960s. $\endgroup$ – Zeiss Ikon Aug 13 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ Also check eBay, of course. A transistor unit from the 1980s is likely to be still good, especially if it was high end hardware when new. $\endgroup$ – Zeiss Ikon Aug 13 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeissIkon I guess DAB(+) need internet. Don't they? Alsgo looked for SDR usb but I haven't seen any good enough option online $\endgroup$ – Lorthas Aug 13 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ I don't recognize the acronym for DAB(+). Personally, I prefer a radio that doesn't just digitize whatever voltage is on the antenna and let a computer sort it out -- i.e. analog for me, thank you. $\endgroup$ – Zeiss Ikon Aug 13 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ DAB+ is Digital Audio Broadcasting (second generation). No, it doesn't need internet at all. It's what's planned to replace FM broadcasting all over the world, except the US. Compared to FM, it's way more robust (and it's way less tending to just drop out than first-gen DAB)). The successor for AM broadcasting, in Billion-audience deployment in India, and increasingly Australia and I think Brazil is called DRM, Digital Radio Mondial. Both can be received with inexpensive SDR hardware and free software, or dedicated hardware. While DAB(+) really has had a hard time getting popular, DRM really $\endgroup$ – Marcus Müller Aug 13 at 14:38
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A tunable high-Q loop antenna, such as:

https://www.amazon.com/Kaito-Tunable-Passive-Antenna-Panasonic/dp/B001KC579Q/

placed near your small AM radio can inductively couple into the internal ferrite antenna or RF front-end, and add to their gain.

Here's an example of one built around a crate than you can put your radio inside:

https://swling.com/blog/2017/06/how-to-build-a-milk-crate-am-broadcast-loop-antenna/

Basically, you construct a large (larger than your radio), multi-turn air-core inductor, and tune to stations in the AM band using an air variable capacitor. The much higher Q of the large air-core inductor and air variable capacitor can also help separate adjacent frequency AM stations better than the tiny dial on your pocket radio.

If you just want to add a long wire antenna, and have a large enough yard or field to put it in, around 250 to 750 feet of wire suspended above ground might be suitable for improving AM broadcast band reception.

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