Sony ICF-SW1

Manufactured by Sony,Tokyo.

In 1987 Sony introduced another very innovative set, a subminiature world band receiver, a double conversion superhet with digital PLL frequency synthesis which in similar size never has been developed since.

The set suffered one disadvantage due to its extreme miniaturisation; the SMD electrolytic capacitors could not cope with the stress of operation, all of them tend to fail and may lead to defects and corrosion damage due to leakage. Before buying a used ICF-SW1, it is therefore essential to test the function, maybe the electrolytic capacitors have already been replaced by tantalum capacitors by the previous owner.

Variants ICF SW-1Frequency range
Type 1LW 150 - 528 kHz, MW, SW 1.6 - 30 MHz, FM 76 - 108 MHz (incl. Japanese FM band)
Type 2LW 150 - 528 kHz, SW, SW 1,6 - 26,1 MHz, FM 87,5 - 108 MHz (Europe - version)
Type 3LW 150 - 528 kHz, SW, SW 1,6 - 30 MHz, FM 87,5 - 108 MHz
Type 4LW 150 - 285 kHz, SW, SW 1,6 -26,1 MHz, FM 87,5 - 108 MHz (Europe - Version)

* The version sold in a suitcase-like plastic case with accessories (active antenna) was called SW-1E, the receiver is otherwise technically identical.

Sony ICF-SW1

Technical data

Power supply


  • 120 x 71 x 23 mm, weight 0.3 kg


  • Variant ICF-SW1E in plastic case with accessories


In the small grey plastic case, Sony has stowed a complete receiver system with mains adapter, active antenna AN-101 and, of course, the receiver itself. At 120 x 71 x 23 mm, the receiver alone is about the size of a cigarette packet.

The little black box contains a digital double conversion superhet with tuning steps of 5 kHz, covering the FM broadcast band, long, medium and shortwaves up to 30 MHz (in the FTZ-compliant version distributed in Germany up to 26.1 MHz).

On the left half of the front panel are the loudspeaker and the power-on button, the button for the sleep function and the buttons for band switching, alarm and time setting.

On the right is the digital frequency display, which indicates the operation frequency with an accuracy of 5 kHz. Below this is the numeric keypad and the AM and FM EXECUTE keys for direct frequency entry and the UP/DOWN keys for tuning; a conventional tuning knob has been omitted.

When the set is switched off, the display shows the time, it has a sleep timer and an alarm function.

Due to its size, you can understand that the set lacks fine-tuning options and a BFO for receiving single-sideband transmissions, for example from radio amateurs.

The biggest disadvantage are the SMD electrolytic capacitors used by Sony which are prone to fail after two decaed, similar to the electrolytic capacitors in other Sony subminiature sets from the 1990s.

As soon as the set starts to crackle when the volume is turned up or the audio signal is almost inaudible and can only be heard through the headphones output, the electrolytic capacitors must be replaced by modern tantalum capacitors.

Technical principle

Double conversion, PLL synthesis circuitry


The set is equipped with semiconductors, SMD technology makes the set difficult to repair.

Technical documentation


Further information

en/icf-sw1.txt · Zuletzt geändert: 2021/04/28 13:22 von mb