Best Compact CB Radios Up For Grabs in 2020 - RatedRadarDetector
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Best Compact CB Radios Up For Grabs in 2020

Whether you are looking to install a cb radio (citizen band radio) in your car or in your home, space may not be a luxury all can afford. A lot of technology these days is about saving space, having smaller and more compact options. 

A cb radio isn’t exempt from this category. Let’s take a look at some of the smallest most compact CB radios there are on the market.

Best Compact CB Radios Reviews

1. Uniden Pro505XL CB Radio

This Uniden small CB radio can fit just about anywhere and only weighs a very light two pounds. For such a small CB radio, it features a whopping 40 channels for you to connect to those around you. 

The backlit LCD display of this Uniden radio takes up most of the interface. It features orange lighting and large numerals. This one is easy to use and fairly intuitive in terms of layout and controls.

It might be expected from our favorite regular-sized CB radios, but you’ll find that even a small and compact one from Uniden can come with great features such as squelch control which helps for higher quality sound.

A smaller unit can also have a public address system (PA function). Address crowds of people with amplified announcements. Keep safe with the instant emergency channel 9 features for any emergency situation.

This Uniden portable cb radio comes with external speaker and pa jacks for other add-ons for more versatility.

Pros

  • Instant emergency channel 9 features
  • Small CB radio
  • Lightweight
  • 40 channel scan
  • Produces better sound
  • A mobile CB option
  • Public address function
  • Easy to install
  • Backlit LCD

Cons

  • No antenna

2. Midland 1001LWX CB Radio with Weather Scan

The Midland 75-822 is a popular handheld option with great mobility. However, the Midland 1001LWX is the best compact CB radio choice for stationary bases and when you’re one who’s always on the go. This mobile CB features a built-in weather scan and offers reception of NOAA weather channels.

If listening to NOAA radio weather channels is important to you, you’ll find that this mobile CB radio comes with that. 

Like in the radio Midland 75-822, the screen clearly shows all the information you need to use including signal strength and info on channels. It features an adjustable RF gain control to help you customize and set the sensitivity of your compact cb radio. 

You can easily access and use the automatic noise limiter on this compact cb radio. Using ANL reduces background noise for a clear sound especially when riding vehicles. If you need a public address system, simply connect a good speaker to your cb radio and use the mic.

Pros

  • Can attach an external speaker for pa system
  • Comes with an automatic-noise limiter to lessen background noise
  • Mobile compact cb radio
  • Can receive NOAA weather channels
  • Customizable sensitivity
  • Handheld

Cons

  • Background noise is reduced but not eliminated

3. Cobra 19DXIV Professional CB Radio

In the field of radio, Cobra produces some of the best you can get. For a popular small cb radio from Cobra, you’re looking at a 4-watt output, which is impressive for one that is compact. With this Cobra device, get instant emergency channels 9 and  19, which are emergency channels to ensure your safety.

Surf all the channels (40 channels in total) on this radio Cobra produced. It gives you full coverage and quality audio with the RF gain control. This will automatically adjust the receiver sensitivity to that of the incoming transmission.

The switchable noise blanker on this compact CB radio Cobra produced also helps reduce and sift through electrical interference.  Using this makes your voice come through clearly through the mic each time. The knobs and switches on this one are very easy to figure out how to use and the large LCD display is illuminated.

With great features, this small cb radio from Cobra won’t disappoint.

Pros

  • 4 watts of power
  • Instant channel 9 and channel 19 access
  • 40 channel scan
  • Features a large illuminated LCD display
  • A compact Cobra cb radio that's great for cars or other vehicles
  • Comes with adjustable RF control
  • Noise reduction
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • This Cobra radio doesn’t seem to be a PA function

4. Midland 75-822 40 Channel CB-Way Radio

We mentioned the radio Midland 75-822 before as a handheld cb- it doesn’t get much smaller than this! It’s a completely handheld, portable CB radio that comes with all the features you would want and the larger compact models possess.

You are looking at 40 channels, 10 NOAA weather channels, and the standard but impressive 4-watt power output. Since the Midland 75-822 is a handheld cb, this compact cb radio uses a battery for power. If you’re not using the battery, the radio comes with a cigarette lighter adapter.

You have instant channel 9 and 19 access plus ANL for clear sound quality. Plus, it comes with dual watch too. Dual watch allows you to monitor channel 9 and another channel. 

This Midland radio is easy to use and the small design still boasts a larger screen that’s easy to read.

Since the Midland 75-822 is handheld, it’s easy to accidentally touch the keypad so the keypad lock function it comes with is infinitely useful to not accidentally change your settings.

Our Midland 75-822 review covers more things you’ll need to know about this good produc

Pros

  • Portable handheld cb radio
  • Powered by battery but has a cigarette lighter adapter included
  • Instant access to 10 NOAA channels
  • Channel 9 and channel 19
  • Automatic Noise Limiter
  • Keypad lock
  • Comes with dual watch feature

Cons

  • Antenna lacks power

5. Uniden PRO520XL Pro Series

For the pros out there, the Uniden Bearcat PRO520XL is a professional cb radio that is much smaller. It’s a heavy-duty yet small cb radio capable of channel scanning all 40 channels. You can expect a 4-watt power output on this mobile CB radio.

The microphone cord is longer, which gives you more range of motion whenever you use the mic. Plus, you get instant access to channel 9, pa system, and much much more. This small cb radio comes with an LED display which is great at night.

If you want to broadcast your pa further, the small cb radio also comes with an external speaker jack that will amplify your sound to outside your vehicle. Some options like the previous Cobra item don’t have this available. 

This radio offers everything you need to mount your new compact cb radio right out of the box.

Pros

  • Channel 9 access
  • Good sound quality
  • Comes with jack for amplification
  • PA system available
  • Robust build and comes with a longer microphone cord
  • 40 channel scan
  • Small and compact
  • Lightweight
  • 4 watts power
  • LED display

Cons

  • May take longer to install

Compact CB Radio Buying Guide

Small cb radios are sought after for their size. It’s the convenience they offer for those that are often on the road and need something small, portable and mobile. Many may think that the small size will affect the features and functions of the cb radios, but that is where you are wrong.

It won’t affect the range and they provide you much more versatility. Below are a few points you should pay attention to when you are buying small cb radios.

multiple towers beside each other

Size

The first thing you must consider is the size the radio comes in. Since you are purchasing a compact cb radio, this should be your first criteria. Smaller cb radios like Cobra don’t measure more than 10 inches and can fit easily into your car or vehicle.

When it comes to radios, cb is usually compact. But you should know the potential placement of your cb radio before you purchase and ensurethe measurements fit.

Weight

Small CB radios are also lightweight. They usually don’t measure more than 3 pounds. If you plan to install small cb radios permanently inside your vehicle, then the weight isn’t as important as if you wanted a mobile option.

NOAA Weather

Depending on your line of work or for safety purposes, having access to NOAA weather broadcasts (like in the Cobra 19DXIV) will do you great favors. You can receive real-time weather transmissions on your best cb radios for the latest report and updates.

Is there a tornado or flash flood warning? You will get notified first thing through NOAA channels and avoid driving into a disaster zone.

CB radio installed in a truck

Channels

There are about 40 cb channels, which are vital for your cb radio device to be able to scan. Your CB radio should have access to all 40 channels. Additionally, look into the dual watch function. Dual watch offers a way to monitor two frequencies for convenience. 

Squelch Control

squelch control is one very important function on a cb radio.

Lots of truckers and drivers might be used to sitting in silence listening to static waiting for transmissions inside their vehicles, but this will no longer be the case. With the squelch control, your best cb radio (like Cobra devices) will be able to stay on a channel and only activate when there is a transmission coming through.

PA Function

This may not be necessary for all, but many small cb radios come with a pa function. This allows you to amplify and broadcast announcements to a wider audience through the microphone. If your cb radio also comes with an external speaker jack, your voice can reach outside your vehicle. Not all radios, like the Cobra 19DXIV, has a PA feature in its system.

RF Gain

This is a very handy feature that lots of drivers swear by. The RF gain allows your cb radios to filter out transmissions based on the signal strength. 

What it does is it blocks out weaker transmissions on your cb radio when you are speaking to someone with a stronger signal. It will filter out weaker signals on a channel and enhance weaker ones to allow you to hear them better.

ANL

When it comes to radios, CB options like Cobra or Uniden should feature automatic noise limiters for clear reception. The best cb radio and hopefully even the most basic ones will definitely have this feature.

The ANL will filter out any excess noise such as vehicle hum, static and more.

white trucks on the road

Channel 9 and 19

Instant channel 9 and access 19 is incredibly useful and saves you time. Channel 9 is for any emergency and channel 19 is one that is used for truckers and highway transmissions. Most options like Cobra or Uniden have this feature available.

Display

There is only so much space the interface has to accommodate a screen. Large screens do not always mean they are easier to read. 

Make sure your LCD display has a backlight. A backlit display (like in Cobra or Uniden products) makes it best to read day or night. Your cb radio should also have large letters and numbers that won’t require you to squint and strain your eyes to read.When driving vehicles, you should focus more on the road.

You’ll see some radios that operate on batteries allow you to adjust the backlight. Dimming or brightening reduces the burden on the batteries.

How Can I Boost My CB Radio Signal?

Boosting the range on your cb radio means increasing the signal range [1]. There are a few ways to do this. Since the antenna is responsible for pulling in reception and transmission, you can opt for a more powerful external antenna for your cb radio

Just be sure the antenna is specifically manufactured for your radio. You can also change the placement of the antenna. Try to mount the antenna as high as possible in an area with no obstruction, such as the roof of the vehicle.

Do not max out your squelch control. Turned up to the max, it will actually reduce the range of your radio antenna.

The wires between your radio and antenna need to be secure. Make sure they lay flat and there is no coiling or snagging.

Our Top Pick: Uniden Pro505XL CB Radio

When it comes to purchasing the best compact cb radio, know that there are many  factors to look into before you make a choice. The reasons the Uniden Pro505XL CB Radio makes it to the top of our list is that it excels in features.

Uniden has included all of the categories we have touched upon in our buying guide. The small size of the mobile cb radio is convenient and it’s lightweight as well (weighing only 2 pounds). The PA function can be amplified with the jack when you attach an external speaker.

Get access to emergency channel 9 instantly for any emergency and the RF gain control will filter out weaker transmissions. The 40 channel operation and the backlit display on this Uniden radio shows all the information clearly and the cb radio itself is easy to use.

It’s a popular choice for those who drive cars often. The included mic will provide clear audio too.

The squelch control is the most admirable feature on this Uniden unit. It eliminates weaker signals to help you boost stronger transmissions.

William