Panasonic RF-2400 AM/FM Radio
Definitely a no-frills set the Panasonic RF-2400 is a basic AM/FM portable radio with a pleasing retro look and a large slide rule tuning dial. At a street price generally below $31 it offers good utility where maximum performance is not needed nor expected. The fact that it has a built-in AC power supply (no external wall wart needed) means it will be perfect for a desk or kitchen counter where it can operate for long hours without draining its batteries. However, being a totally analog design, it sips power from its batteries and will give many hours from a set of 4 AA alkaline batteries unless it is played very loudly which will consume the batteries faster. Controls are basic – you get an On/Off AM/FM Selector slider, a rotary tuning knob, thumbwheel volume control and a Tune LED. It’s a cute little radio and it has a convenient carry handle which also acts as a support to rest the radio at an angle if so desired. There is also a mono earphone jack. (Note: Although the model number is similar this radio has nothing whatsoever in common with vintage Panasonics with similar model series numbers, such as the highly regarded RF-2200, RF-4900 etc from the late 70’s and early 80’s…those radios are from a different time and another place – you can see my reviews of them here on the site).
AM Performance is better than I thought it would be. Although it certainly doesn’t attempt to compete with truly sensitive AM radios it nevertheless did a credible job when I did my usual midday AM band scan. Even most of the weaker signals were there, albeit with more background noise than on my best radios. I’d have to say that for typical listening the RF-2400 is not bad at all on AM. At night the AM band was full of signals and selectivity was good enough to separate most of them easily.
FM Performance is another story. While still not bad for the price the FM is plagued by many images..weaker ghosts of signals at places where they should not be on the dial. There they may interfere with a station you want to hear. Whether or not this is a problem for you is very much a matter of your specific location and what stations you want to hear. Certainly I was able to tune in many FM stations which came in just fine but there were several I could not hear clearly because they were covered up with images and bleed-over of other stations. This image problem is one which is completely absent on better FM portables…at double the price the Sangean PR-D4W would run rings around the RF-2400 on FM (and offer better AM too…in this case you get what you pay for). The FM is mono only.
Sound is OK for this kind of radio. While it’s no boombox it sounds alright for casual listening and it sounds a heck of a lot better than the shirt pocket radios I’ve reviewed elsewhere. It also offers more volume and better AM reception than the Sony ICF-S10MKII or newer ICF-P26 but to be fair those radios do cost less and you are paying a bit for their miniaturization. I also compared it with the long available similarly-sized Tecsun R-308 and Sony ICF-38 (read a comparison review of those two here) and the RF-2400 is in the same league. It just about matched the ICF-38’s AM sensitivity while the Tecsun did slightly better on FM selectivity. All three of these are roughly comparable so your tastes can decide which appeals to you and at these prices you can’t go too far wrong with any of them.