Modern drive-in movies use FM transmitters to transmit the audio from the movie to the folks watching. Only the very best FM radio for drive-in movie can give you the full-on immersive audio with sound effects you’d expect from a cinema.
Sure you can use your vehicle’s sound system. The high-end, expensive car sound system might be even better than a portable boom box. But think how much of the car battery gets drained. And you know running the engine to charge the car’s battery while the movie is going on would inconvenience other people right? That is aside from the gas you’d be burning.
Smart folks understand there are so many upsides to going along with a portable FM radio.
If you are wondering how to get one for your next drive-in movie outing, this guide reviews 5 products that, by any standard, qualify to be labeled ‘the best FM radio for drive-in movie.’
Features of the Best FM Radio for Drive-in Movie
Whether online or in your local mall, when you go to purchase an FM radio suitable for a drive-in movie, the variety of models on display might likely overwhelm you. You could go for the cheapest and end up with a good radio that is very unsuitable for a drive-in movie.
The same could happen if you pick an expensive, blinged-up or even a cool retro design. Point is, without the features below, you would never enjoy your movie like other patrons with the right sets.
The features include:
Sound/Power output – The quality of the audio output is the most important reason to purchase a dedicated FM radio for drive-in movie dates.
The power output of a sound system has a direct impact on the quality of the sound output. Products with at least 4 watts of power would produce enough sound output with amazing volume.
Speaker size – Since we are talking portability and mobility here, you should aim for products with speakers that are not so big to render the product very cumbersome.
With modern technology, smaller speakers are able to produce amazing sound especially if the product comes with bass-boosting and other audio enhancements.
Power requirements – Getting this feature right can be difficult. Most people only find out after purchasing a product that it is not power efficient.
The ideal product must have long-lasting batteries. At least, long enough to last through two feature-length movies.
Also, the product should be able to run on both rechargeable and disposable batteries. Disposable batteries though, are the best since you can easily swap them for fresh ones.
Durability – The durability of the portable radio is also very important. Accidents are inevitable in outdoor entertainment. The product must be able to withstand a few bumps and impacts.
The FM radios in this review were checked to make sure they were all sturdily built. A malfunctioning set, due to bumps or impacts, would be the least of your worries with any of the radios in this guide.
Antenna/receiver strength – The quality of the sound you get would also depend on the quality of the antenna.
Fortunately, for a drive-in movie, you won’t need an antenna of very high quality. After all, the transmitter is just a few hundred yards away from you at the most.
On the flip side though, you might want to use the radio to listen to FM radio stations back home or at an outdoor activity. So, to cover all bases, it is smart to get a unit with a good antenna.
- Connectivity – it should have wireless or Bluetooth connectivity so you can connect to other devices
- Compatible – the radio should be compatible with your smartphone in case you want to route the phone’s audio through the radio. This is great for outdoor parties, picnics, camping, etc.
Top 5 Best FM Radio For Drive-in Movie: Review
#1. Pyle Portable FM Radio Boombox
Don’t let the looks of this portable radio deceive you. You would be in for a surprise when the sound quality hits you. The compact speaker is equipped with a full-range surround stereo sound system in a ported enclosure optimized to create a pulsating bass response.
The portable radio is easy to use and includes other features such as Bluetooth capability to stream music from your digital device; ports for USB flash drive and memory cards to give you extra options for playing your favorite music; CD player; and audio jack with an included cable.
The gadget also comes with a side panel button control center, digital sound amplifier, and built-in rechargeable long-lasting battery.
#2. Sony CFDS70BLK Stereo CD/Cassette/Radio Boombox
Sony are famous for the awesome sound systems in their product line. This portable sound system comes with everything you need for a wonderful night at the drive-in movie.
It features an FM/AM tuner with over 30 preset stations. And the best part is, you could easily save the frequency of your favorite stations including the drive-in movie.
Power concerns would be none of your problem with this gadget. The Boombox can run on batteries 6 (R14) C batteries for up to 19 hours.
As for the audio quality, get ready for the awesomeness. It comes with full function stream sound and mega bass boost to enhance low-frequency bass performance with just a touch of a button.
Other features include a CD player; cassette player if you want to playback those old tapes lying in the basement; aux audio input; and much more.
#3. Pyle Street Blaster X Portable Boombox PBMSPG200
The Pyle Street Blaster is a very modern stereo and sound system that would be amazing at a drive-in movie. The combination of features and functions makes it the complete package for your sound needs.
The Boombox sound system’s speakers include a digital amplifier to adjust the treble, bass and echo to the desired level. It also comes with audio recording so you can save the audio from incoming transmission either from Bluetooth devices or FM transmitters in a USB flash drive.
This is a very rugged and durability radio/sound system with an in-built rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery capable of delivering power for up to 5.5 hours. And if you have to recharge, the DC charging feature means you can recharge do that using your vehicle’s battery.
Other features of this awesome set include wireless audio streaming options; NFC to easily pair smartphones; audio aux input; LED strobe lights that pulse in sync to the sound; and much more.
#4. Jensen CD-490 Portable FM Radio
The Jensen CD-490 is a budget-friendly, compact, portable sound system. Don’t let the price tag misled you though, this is a fully-featured system capable of delivering exactly what you need at a drive-in movie.
It comes with a top-loading CD player, programmable memory and a bright red display with all the functions indicated on it. To further increase its flexibility, it also features a headphone and aux jack inputs to play music from your digital devices seamlessly.
You would love the quality of the audio from the twin front-facing speakers. The sound output is top-notch even without being amplified. So you would get exactly what is coming from the drive-in’s FM transmitter.
It is a dual-power AC/DC system. But you would be more interested in the fact that it uses 8 ‘C’ (UM-2) batteries.
#5. Lonpoo Portable Boombox FM Radio & CD player
This sound system packs the ‘wow!’ factor in the compact streamlined body.
Let’s start with the sound experience you get from it. The two side facing speakers would deliver quality sound output that’d surprise you. You have a choice of loud sound for outdoor activities like a drive-in movie or using the headphones to quietly enjoy your music.
It uses just 4 type C batteries to power the system when you are outdoors for several hours. If you are close to the mains, you could always use that option to power it.
The system is easy to use and apart from the intuitive FM tuner with digital display to show the frequencies, it also features a top-side CD player that can play audio CDs, CD-RWs, and MP3 CDs. And if you have music on a flash drive, there is a USB port at the front to play the MP3 tracks stored in it.
FM radio for drive-in movie maintenance guide
- Carefully follow the instructions in the user’s guide
- Don’t bring any strong magnet close to the radio or take it close to magnetic sources. Magnets are known to damage the speakers.
- Ensure you protect it from the direct heat sources, rain, snow and dust.
- Use slightly damp cloth if you want to clean the exterior
- It is not advisable to turn up to the volume to the maximum when you are playing the radio. This would increase the rate of deterioration of the speakers
- You should clean the speaker grills from time to time to remove accumulated dust. Ensure you use compressed air to do this.
Top Drive-in Movie tips
- Use your lights wisely – If you arrive late, dim your headlamps as you go into the parking lot. Once there you are safely parked, turn them off completely
- Turn off the engine – The sound of a running engine is distracting to other patrons. Besides, the fumes from the exhaust are bad to the health of other people.
- Dress wisely – Dress according to the weather so you don’t have to turn on the car’s AC or heater for the duration of the movie. You can turn them on during intermissions.
- Think of other people’s view – If you have a huge truck that is capable of blocking others from comfortably viewing the screen, be nice and park your vehicle further back in your parking lot.
Bring out folding lawn or camping chairs and set them up in front of your car. You can watch while sitting on them.
If you have to raise the rear hatch of your vehicle so you can sit out back and watch, make sure the hatch doesn’t open all the way up past the top of your car.
Use a rope or some string to tie it down so it never goes past that point.
- Watch out for kids – Drive in slowly and carefully because there could be kids running around. If your kids tagged along, try as much as possible to keep them from wandering about.
Don’t bring in food – Most drive-ins depend on the snacks and drink they sell to keep the place functional. Bringing your own food would deprive them of that income.
Help to keep the business running by not smuggling in your own snacks and drinks. Come along with enough money to buy these things.
Now you know all about how and where to get the best FM radio for drive-in movie, what’s next? The obvious next step, if you are about to purchase one, is to go over your budget and see how much you can spare.
The products in this review have different price tags. That was a deliberate decision to give you five options as far as pricing goes.
That said, all the reviewed products come with the basic and most important qualities of the ideal portable FM radio needed for a wonderful experience at a drive-in movie. They are all durable, have amazing sound qualities and can be used for a variety of outdoor and indoor activities too.