Sony ICF-SW1E Short wave radio

Sale Results at Auction


In 1987 the ICF-SW1E was the world's smallest short wave radio. It is a full featured multiple turning systems and PL synthesized circuitry for digital precision. It was in production until 1993 and remains a most sought after short wave radio.

"Tune In. The World is in Your Hand."

The sample shown here was sold in 1989 for £149. The end of the aerial broke off, so I have put a small pin in the end to aid retracting. It doesn't affect reception and using the retractable aerial picks up even weak stations. Replacement aerials are available but are shorter when fully extended and do not fit completely into the body of the radio. The case for the AN-71 Compact antenna is scratched. The unit developed a fault with the speaker (see below) and has been repaired by Sony. The unit is in good working order.

FM stereo / LW / MW / SW reception
medium wave and shortwave from 150 - 29999 kHz continuously
MW: 530-1610 (selector 10 kHz) or 531-1611 kHz (selector 9 kHz),
LW: 150-528 kHz,
SW: 1,615-29,995 kHz.
FM:76-108 MHz (Japan and CCIR).

4 way tuning, 10 memory presets, auto scan, manual tuning, 10 key direct tuning

Programmable timer sleep function

Digital Clock and alarm

LCD display with light function

Dual conversion system

2 step tone control

key protection

record out socket

supplied with stereo headphones, shortwave guide and compact aerial

3V requiring an ACD2M or AC37, DCC-E127A Car Battery Cord or two AA batteries

Dimensions (WHD) 119.2x71.4x23.7mm

Weight w/batteries  230 grams

The ICF-SW1E was not sold in North American and lacked the accessories of the ICF-SW1S kit which included cloth case, hard system carry case, AN-101 active antenna, AC-301 multi-voltage AC adapter, earphones, Owner's Manual and Sony Wave Handbook. The ICF0SW1S originally sold for $350.

It was replaced by the model ICF-SW100S and then by the ICF-SW07

Most SW1's have quit working due to component (capacitor) failure in the audio section. You can see the problem and cure at  (in German and English) be advised this repair is not for the faint of heart. There are people willing to repair it for $30-$65, £38 in England. Once fixed, you will have a James Bond cool AM/FM/SW/LW radio that will be your faithful travel companion. These can occasionally be found non-working at bargain prices and the parts to fix are like $2 but the complexity of repair will tie up a good technician for a couple of hours minimum. Download the pictures and present them to your technician if you don't fix it yourself. Likely the newer epoxy dipped Tantalum capacitors are more reliable than the aluminium cans they replace so the unit should perform as it is supposed to.


Click on thumbnail to see full side

In it's basic form, the radio can be used without any of the other gadgets.  With the SW1, you can tune into any AM, FM or Shortwave signals as the frequency extends from the bottom of the AM band in the long wave section of 150khz.  Europe still uses these lower frequencies and the band extends into the AM band which is very heavily used both in Europe and North America and also other parts of the world including South America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. 

The radio listener can then expect to get frequencies in the medium wave band that extends into the marine and ham bands in the middle range of 2 to 4 Mhz.  Just above the 4 MHz range, the listener enters into the tropical bands where, depending on your location, you can expect to receive some of the exotic sounds from the Latin and African stations intended for their domestic audiences.  Just above the tropical bands, the listeners then enters into the HF or high frequencies of shortwave where one can receive broadcasts from all over the world at the push of a button.  The frequencies then extend all the way up to 29.995 MHz and cover the rest of the HF amateur radio bands, commercial shortwave bands, and CB bands. And finally, it receives FM broadcasts, the frequencies extend down to 76 MHz to include the complete European FM band to 108 MHz.

The radio has a clock on it that has a built in alarm for travel or bedside use.  Additionally, you will find a dx-local switch so that you can choose between local or distance listening, a tone control for news or music choices, a sleep feature to turn the radio off after you doze off, an onboard scanner to help locate stations, output jacks for both headphones and tape recording (or inputting into your computer sound card), and a dial light for use once the lights go out.  On the carry strap is a plastic tab that when inserted into the back of the radio, gives a nice tilt stand...very clever.  You can use 2 AA batteries or chose to connect the power adaptor for more economical use.  Tuning can be done by direct keyboard entry, slewing up and down the band with the arrow controls, pushing a memory button for a selection or scanning for stations.

With this radio tuned into shortwave, you will expect to readily hear China, South Korea, Canada, BBC, Voice of Russia, Cuba, Germany, Vietnam, Romania, Australia, New Zealand and more. The interesting thing with radio propagation, especially on shortwave, as there are so many variables is getting those distant station when conditions are right. 

Here is a great site for getting info on English language broadcasts.

The world of shortwave radio is fantastic as you can not only get stations from all over the world, but each broadcaster has unique programming.  Almost all offer some sort of news, whether local or world or both, but many also offer cultural music...oriental music from China, Latin music from Cuba, and wonderful music from Greece.  In addition, you will learn info as if you travelled through the country, hear language lessons, get cooking tips, hear interviews with historians, authors, entertainers, and other people of interest, hear plays or drama and tune into religious programs or sports. 

"Tune In. The World is in Your Hand."

Sale Results at auction

Faulty units are sold for 65-90USD. Full kit and working ICF-SW1S for $250-325. Repairs are on offer to replace capacitors and LED with bright white LED for £40. Accessories, Power supplies and original earphones are frequently seen on offer.


89/--/-- 149GBP (John Lewis partners)

04/06/27 88GBP
08/08/31 62GBP (needed repairs)
09/03/24 282.77USD (caps replaced)
10/10/24 52.35GBP (faulty)
14/04/06 23GBP (not working)
14/04/27 47GBP
14/04/29 37.50GBP (aerial damage)
14/04/30 75USD
14/05/06 79.99USD (AN101 antenna and cap repair)
14/05/10 59.88GBP (faulty)
14/05/12 75.97GBP (case and instructions)
14/05/28 38.80GBP (case)
14/06/22 65GBP
14/06/29 73GBP (aerial end broken off)
14/07/08 55GBP (aerial end broken off)
14/07/13 43.65GBP (cap replaced)
14/07/15 65USD (faulty)
14/07/20 37GBP (fault when changing volume)
14/07/21 81USD (faulty, handbooks and compact aerial)
14/07/27 52GBP (working)

13/05/12 36.01GBP (working)
14/04/27 48.81GBP (not working)
14/05/06 59GBP complete in box
14/05/11 41GBP (including case and accessories)

06/01/08 92.91EUR
09/06/07 162GBP (original cost April 1988 of 235GBP, full kit, caps replaced)
09/06/31 58.50GBP (full kit, caps replaced)
09/07/29 132.50USD (full kit, caps need replacing)
12/01/13 149GBP
14/01/12 129.99USD (working)
14/03/09 145USD (unknown state)
14/03/20 130GBP (faulty)
14/03/20 150GBP (faulty)
14/04/27 46USD (complete)
14/04/27 174.99USD (kit but no manual)
14/04/29 54.71GBP (complete)
14/05/04 82GBP (complete, caps replaced)
14/05/08 324.95USD (complete, caps replaced)
14/05/13 324.95USD (complete, caps replaced)
14/05/17 345USD (complete, caps replaced)
14/05/29 175.09USD (complete, caps replaced)
14/06/06 169.49USD (complete, caps replaced)
14/06/13 129.99USD (complete, caps replaced)
14/06/13 99.99USD (faulty, also aerial broken at tip, kit)
14/06/14 53.33GBP (complete)
14/06/19 175USD (kit but missing earphones and manual)
14/06/27 115USD (kit, faulty)
14/07/04 200USD (kit)
14/07/04 199.99USD (kit. missing antenna controller, the foreign AC plug adapter, soft case and the earphones are missing)
14/07/07 150.50USD (Power cord Antenna set and carry case and shoulder strap)
14/07/08 80USD (kit)
14/07/11 299.99USD (complete, new in box)
14/07/12 42GBP (kit but no headphones)
14/07/20 124.53USD (complete kit, caps replaced)
14/07/20 72.22GBP (complete kit)
14/07/21 39.99USD (kit only, no radio)
14/07/25 56.77GBP (kit, faulty)
14/07/29 324.95USD (kit, caps replaced)
14/07/29 30.99GBP (kit, faulty on speaker)


English section of handbook

To replace the capactitors

Last updated 1st August 2014