Any time you are looking at purchasing a new scanner, you need to make sure the scanner is compatible with the scanner frequencies in your area. Otherwise, you will be limited in the number of different channels you are able to monitor. The three radio frequencies used are digital, analog conventional, and analog trunking. Each type of scanner radio, whether it is a portable handheld unit, one installed in your vehicle, or one used in the comfort of your own home, picks up specific frequencies. Just like there are three radio frequencies, there are three kinds of police scanner radios designed to pick up the various radio frequencies.
It is important to first find out what frequencies various agencies utilize in your area for communications. There are several online resources available to help you determine what scanner frequencies are used. One of the easiest to use is on our sister site, www.policescanners.net. Simply click on “Choose a Scanner,” and enter in the range and your zip code, to see what scanner models are recommended for your location. We highly recommend using this resource before you purchase your new police scanner radio. It is free to access this information, and it provides an overview of what the various agencies use for their communications and which type of scanner is best. Since radio systems do sometimes change ahead of what is posted publicly on the website, you may wish to call and double check with your dealer for the latest information about the radio systems in your area.
Now that you have a better understanding of what scanner radio frequencies are used in your home town, it is time to start shopping for a new police scanner. To help you select the best scanner radio, look at the frequencies the scanner receives. Analog conventional scanners only monitor basic analog signals on FM and AM systems. These types of scanners allow you to listen to communications by police, fire, aviation, marine, railroad, amateur radio, racing, and FRS/GMRS transmissions. Keep in mind, if local law enforcement and fire agencies use either analog trunking or digital systems, you will not be able to monitor their communications.
An analog trunking scanner picks up both conventional and trunking analog transmissions, but not digital transmissions. Trunking is a widely used communications system, in both large and small communities, as it allows multiple agencies to share the same trunking system. Transmissions jump from one channel to the next and often each agency has its own talk groups assigned to specific trunking frequencies. Most scanner radios allow you to manually program talk groups and frequencies so you are able to hear communications for the agencies you want to monitor.
A digital scanner is a radio scanner capable of monitoring all three types of scanner frequencies. It can be used to listen to analog, analog trunking, and digital communications. Digital scanners provide the most flexibility, especially if you like traveling or have a job where you are on the road most of the time and want to enjoy listening to your scanner. With more and more agencies moving to digital transmissions, you may want to invest in a digital scanner, now, and be ready when systems are upgraded in your city.
For more information or further assistance in selecting the best scanner radio, contact us directly by calling 1-800-SCANNER (1-800-722-6637).