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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME

Phillip Harris, PhD. P.C. (WB6MYL) on March 29, 2002
View comments about this article!

Did the title get your attention? This opinion article was prompted by Mr. Gomberg's article on "Best HF Tranceivers" There is no "Best"! 

Only favorites and how much enjoyment they provide or the memories that they conjure. 

The most memorable and the rig I had the most fun was the Kenwood 820S because it was the first rig I got after a ten (10) year hiatus from ham radio, but it definitely was not as "good" as my 1000D.

Anyway, the topic is receivers, and I based my subjective criteria on not only selectivity and sensitivity but also the fun it provides listening to and using them. 

After 35 years of listening, collecting, restoring, and/or buying over three (300) hundred receivers, I have the list of my all time favorite receivers to listen to and use. 

This is a rough order so here goes:

  1. R-390A Collins w/ TMC 591A SSB adapter 
  2. 75A4 Collins 
  3. Icom R-9000 
  4. Hallicrafters SX-115 
  5. R-390A Collins w/o adapter 
  6. Drake R-4B 
  7. Collins 75S3B/C 
  8. Hammarlund SP-600JX 
  9. National HRO-500

Common theme: Newer does not mean better! 

How does this compare with your list? 

Please do not tell me how right or wrong I am; these are just my personal favorites. Fodder for thought. 

Have Fun! 

Phillip W. Harris, PhD.P.C.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by NZ5L on March 29, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Right you are - our favorites do not always attain their pre-eminent place in memory from cold, objective performance specs, but how they were perceived in the total experience. With that in mind, I must concur with your short list, but add that I remember the National NC-183D as a great shortwave listening rcvr, despite the bulk. It had a great sound and was fun to use. Right behind it was the Hammurlund HQ-180, for the same reasons (and it was a good ham rcvr as well). Also the National NC-270, on SSB, and venerable Drake 1A. Even the Hallicrafters models SX-100 (versatile, sensitive) and both the SX-110 and SX-111 were quality "boat anchors" I sometimes wish I had had more patience with (and tubes for!).
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by WB2WIK on March 29, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
My favorite is the one I find for $10 at a garage sale and breathe life back into. In lieu of that, my actual favorites, based simply on owning them and really liking them are:

1. 75A4: All-around great.
2. NC-303: Just because. But that flywheel tuning, as in the NC-300, definitely floats my boat.
3. SX-101A: See NC-303.
4. NC-300: The '303's better because of the product detector for SSB use, but otherwise the '300's just great, and will still provide the needed hernia (as will the SX-101A, coincidentally).
5. R-4B. So lovable, so cute compared with #1-4, and did the job.
6. 2-B: Also lovable, very, very cute and while not really in the same league as some of these others, I liked it a lot and could actually carry it around if need be.
7. HQ-180AC. Need the "C" model, to turn the radio on an hour before you want to use it (due to drift), but very likeable. Triple conversion and birdie-free, especially considering the wide coverage.

Alas, I have _none_ of these, now. But maybe one day, again...

WB2WIK/6
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by K3YD on March 29, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
All true classics! I've had the good fortune to use the 75A4 (my Elmer let me copy W1AW code practice on it!) and the Drake R4B. Both were excellent! I'm sure the others were, too.
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by K3YD on March 29, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
All true classics! I've had the good fortune to use the 75A4 (my Elmer let me copy W1AW code practice on it!) and the Drake R4B. Both were excellent! I'm sure the others were, too.
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by NE0P on March 29, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
My favorite was the Kenwood R599. Came with 6 and 2 meter converters-allowed me to copy my first 6 meter signal ever, and to make my first 2 meter CW QSO-using an Ameco TX62 as a transmitter. This receiver came with built in CW filter, was incredibly sensitive, and had a brick wall front end. Never saw it get overloaded. I worked alot of DX and contests with the 599 combo, and someday will own another set-just to use for fun. Mine had the silver front, which was awesome looking.
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by N0SYA on March 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Why, the IC765, of course....
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by KD5LSX on March 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I'll have to agree with NE0P. I have a Kenwood R-599 that has unbelievably sharp (yet full) audio. It took me a while to learn how to tune it, but I love it. I'm currently using it to practice my code copy so I can get my upgrade from Tech. I don't think I could have a better tool to do so!


73,
Joshua, KD5LSX
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by KD2E on March 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I also rate the R820S high on the list...Perhaps better than my 1000D!
Best on my list (in no special order) would be Drake R4C, 2B, and Kenwood 599D and R820S, and SB301.
Dogs would be Swan R600, Collins 75S series, NC300, HQ110, AX and SX190.
Most fun? HQ180AC, Swan R600, Halli SX117, Drake 2C,
75A4, R820S
There are others that either do not come to mind, or I have never owned that are noteworthy as well.
But I think the three receivers that have amazed me for years with there performance have been the Drake R4C and 2B/2C, the R820S and the SB301.
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by WB3CTC on March 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
My favorite is my RCA CR-88. Great build quality and performance from a pre war design.
73
Mike
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by W4MGY on March 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Great Article Phil! Although my primary activity in ham radio is DXing; my first love in the radio hobby has always been receivers. Having owned at sometime or another just about every major receiver ever made; here are my favorites.

General Coverage: Collins R-390A, Hammarlund HQ-180A, Hammarlund SP-600. The '390A and '180A are super AM receivers, and over the years both have been the top choice of those who enjoy DXing the Medium Wave, or AM Broadcast band.

Ham Band: Drake R-4B/C, Collins 75A-4, Collins 75S-3B. The audio quality these 3 receivers seem to do justice to SSB type audio. The Drake R-4B/C is an excellent choice for those who especially enjoy CW.

 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by K8DIT on March 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I like the Heathkit SB-303. Basic, yet very stable and great audio. I have the AM filter which does a good job. I use it with an SB-401 XMTR.
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by K5PSH on March 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
have to vote for the r-390 and r-390a receivers. as an morse intercept op for 38 months and 7 days in asia during the '60-s, i had reason to love/hate these radios. love overrode hate by a long shot. if it was being sent, i could copy it.
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by WA4MJF on March 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Well, the R-390A/URR with Sherwood Engineering
SE-3 Synch Detector does a GREAT job. I have two
one a Motorola and one a Stewart-Warner.
Have not seen a Collins, but sure that it is good also.

My Second favorite is my Harris RF-550. The 24VDC
regulator is a known problem and after replacin' two.
I just put an external regulated 24VDC supply on it and no more problems. I also have the fast tune option.

I also like the ICOM-R-71As. I have one with the
Gilfer Mod amd one without.


73 de Ronnie
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by N8FVJ on March 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
For personal & serious AM use- Collins R-390A. Never had the SSB adapter. Possibly the best receiver engineering feat ever. Tracking front-end, serious I.F. filters, accurate readout, etc.

Best SSB receive audio- Collins 75S-3. Something special about the tubes and mechanical filter. You guys know what I am talking about.

Big SSB receiver- Collins 75A4. Works fine, does not edge out AM or SSB audio above, but a nice receiver.

Perhaps best all time solid-state SSB & AM SWL broadcast receiver- Drake R7A. 'Run' with a Collins R-390 in many areas.

Most misunderstood gear- TEN TEC OMNI B, D & V. Outperformed most rigs for years and this was unknown to most hams.

Older solid-state HF transceiver that plays 'hardball' with new HF transceivers? The Drake TR-7A.
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by K8AC on March 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
At one time or another, I've owned just about all the receivers mentioned here so far. I think that in judging what's good and what's not, you have to put it in the context of all the receivers that were available at one point in time. Because of techology progression, it doesn't make sense to me to pick a best out of a 40 or 50 year period - the later technology would always win. With that in mind, the 75A4 stands out in my experience as the finest and most revolutionary receiver of it's time. When compared with other receivers of 1955 vintage, there is no contest. The 75A4 was stable, offered accurate frequency readout, excellent selectivity and pretty good overload characteristics. I forgot - the tuning with the optional large knob and reduction gearing was far ahead of anything else. But - the 75A4 was expensive for a young fellow to buy, and only the older guys in our club had them. The Drake 2B stood out in it's timeframe (circa 1964), bringing some of the Collins attributes at a price the average ham could afford. I've owned a couple of R-390As, and never understood how anyone used them on the hambands. For the uninitiated, when you turn the tuning knob on the 390A, you're turning an incredible assembly of gears and cams (yes - cams!) and repetitive tuning would quickly fatigue the hand, wrist and forearm. On top of that, the tuning rate was too fast, and there was no product detector in the base receiver.

My opinion of the most over-rated receiver of any time period: the Hallicrafters SX-115. If Joe Walsh hadn't paid over $4K for one on eBay a couple of years back, they'd still be selling for less than $500. The receiver was so prone to front-end overload that it was impossible to use one on field day with multiple stations running. Other receivers that suffered from the same malady: the SB-303 and Hammarlund HQ-215.

Neverless, any of these old top-of-the-line receivers are a blast to play around with.
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by W3GEO on March 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
The best receiver I ever owned was the NC-303 for reasons that have already been mentioned. Although no one has mentioned it, I used a SX-88 (which is maybe THE all time classic) for a period of time in the late 60s and maybe I did not know how to use it properly but I was not as impressed with it as I was with the 303 which came 2 years later.

I agree with the poster who asked about the reasons for using the R-390 as a general amateur communications receiver. These were designed more for fixed frequency point to point communications than they were for massive amounts of frequency hopping. These were and are great receivers for what they were designed for.

The Drake 4B and 4C ties as the next best best stand alone receiver I have owned and the 2B is right behind them. Next on the list is the Hammarlund 170C followed by an SX-101A. An SX-110 has a fond place in the memory as it was my Novice station receiver and performaed quite well. But my all time favorite, though not the best, was a Hammarlund Comet Pro, the receiver my father used to introduce me to the world of ham radio. I still have it, but I wish I had any of the others back.

73
George
W3GEO
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by WA4MJF on March 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Where are you guys findin' all of the Collins R-390A/URRs?? Seems every poster but me has one :-(

I've looked and looked and find boo koo Motorolas,
Stewart Warners and EACs.

73 de Ronnie

 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by NJ2E on March 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
It was easy, sign up for four years and the Army and NSA gave you a room full of them. The standard non morse intercept postion had four of them (Two for each side of the circuit, using space diversity reception). Reference the tune rate, there was a motorized version too.
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by WA4MJF on March 31, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
All Collins!!!!

Funny, I see EACs with the turn counter mod used
by RRDs.


Now most R-390s were Collins, but sure think that
R-390As by Collins rare, only rarer one would
be the Helena Rubenstien. Supposedly only 100
of these made.

73 de Ronnie
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by WA4MJF on March 31, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
The motorized is the R-391/URR which was a converted
390, not 390A.

73 de Ronnie

 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by KA5N on March 31, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
My best receiver was my first. In 1953 I paid $49.95
for a Hallicrafters S-38C. You couldn't tell what
frequency you were on, you couldn't separate signals,
but that was the toughest receiver I ever saw. It took
all the abuse I heaped on it and the paint never peeled
from the blast of curses I directed at it. I finally
got an old SX-28 and thought I had become king. It is
an old joke that to teach one to cuss they should be
be given a mule. For a ham, an S-38C works very well
for the same task.
Allen
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by KU4VQ on March 31, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Most of the recievers mentioned were great. How many Novices started with ARC-5/SCN-274 Command sets? I have both the 80 meter and 40 meter versions as a Novice because the paper route money could not buy a S-38 or a National NC-54. later I got a BC-779 Super Pro from Herb Gordon W1IBY when he had his big surplus place at Harvard, MA. I used it on 80 and 40 and with a RME-VHF-152A coverter for 6 and 2 meters. My favorite older commercial recievers were the NC-183D, HRO-60, and the SP-600JX Super Pro.
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by K1XV on March 31, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
You have not really experienced the true wonders of the R-390 and R-390A until you have had the opportunity to use one that has been rehabilitated to (or beyond) factory spec by an expert such as Rick Mish of Miltronix in Toledo Ohio (no I am not affiliated with him, only a pleased past customer). Take the line output of the unit, feed it to a garage sale stereo amplifier, and then to a nice bookshelf stereo speaker. Wonderful. I give a slight edge to the R-390 because I like the filter shaping better.

The comments posted by others is heavy on amateur radio oriented gear, and less on commercial/military gear now available in limited quantity on the surplus market. The Harris RF-590 and RF-590A are at or near the top of the heap in this sector, and there is a whole line of great RACAL gear available. This gear is oriented more toward stability, intelligibility and sensitivity on clear channels, and not on crowded ham bands with QRM. So they lack pass band tuning, notch filtering, and other QRM fighters, but instead have great IF filtering and wonderful AGC circuits.
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by WA4MJF on March 31, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
My Motorola is a Rick Mish and my Stewart Warner was done by a fellow in AZ, NM or TX. He no longer does them any more and was more of a R390/URR type anyhow.
My computer crashed a while back and lost all that stuff.

I have the Sherwood Eng Synch Detectors on each and they are nice both for AM and SSB.

The S-W stays on 8983 CAMSLANT Chesapeake and
the Motorola on either 7290 or 7295 with excursions to
7335 for time hacks.

As someone said earlier the 390s gave you
carpol tunnel long before it was cool! :-)

73 de Ronnie

 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by WB9YCJ on April 1, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
SONY ICF-2010 has outsold anything else mentioned here. Credit where credit is due. Like McDonalds hamburgers; a zillion sold
(well almost)!


By the way, I love my velvety smooth ICOM R-9000 !
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by VE3HG on April 1, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Totally agree about the Drake R4-B as I still own the one I bought over 35 years ago. Front end still better than most. Just about imprevious to front-end overload. Also, more modern, and almost as good is the Drake R-8. Many hams don't know the R-8 as it is a modern all-band, all mode receiver with 100 memories and two vfos (.150 to 30 mHz with built-in VHF converter optional) that is very popular in the serious SWL ranks. SWL for those who haven't tried it, is an entirely different radio hobby. As hams we fire up the xmitter and work whoever is on. The serious SWL types get up at dawn during the equinox to greyline Papu New Guinea's local 500-watt local broadcasters sprinkled between 3 and 3.4 mHz. They id the stations by hearing English id (if lucky) or specific musical station id (more tricky). R-8 superior front end and audio make this almost a pleasure. SWLing very popular during times of trouble on both SW and utility bands. Lots to hear but many ham transceivers don't include an AM filter to allow for reasonable fidelity. ICOM-756 particularly good SWL receiver.
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by LISTENER on April 1, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I AGREE WITH VE3HG REGARDING THE DRAKE R-8. I OWN A R-8B AND TRUELY BELIEVE IT IS THE BEST RECEIVER FOR THE PRICE. I HAVE COMPARED THIS RECEIVER TO MOST HF RIGS MADE FROM 1980, AND NOTHING COMES CLOSE. SURE, THE FT-1000D, IC-775, TS-950SDX, ARE NO SLOUCHES, BUT THEIR AUDIO IS THIN WHEN HEARD THROUGH A HIGH QUALITY EXTERNAL SPEAKER. TRY LISTENING TO THE R-8B THROUGH A NICE SPEAKER AND YOU WILL ENJOY THE RICH FULL SOUND WITH BOOMING BASS THAT NO HF RIG CAN COME CLOSE TO!!!! FOR LISTENING ONLY, THE R-8B IS MY CHOICE, AS IT IS A FRACTION OF THE COST OF HIGH END HF RIGS, AND THE PERFORMANCE SPEAKS FOR ITS SELF!!! TRY IT YOU'LL LIKE IT!!!!
 
Best receivers of all time  
by N0TONE on April 2, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Still puzzling over how much gear you guys go through. Is that all you do in non-work time? I've had maybe a half dozen rigs total over 40+ years hamming. I don't replace anything unless I have used the "new" gear enough to know it's going to definitely do better than what it's replacing.

After a few early Hallicrafters receivers that don't live up to the word, I bought a Drake 2C for about $90 when it was six months old. Cheaper, at the time, than mil surplus, and didn't need mods to go 80-10 meters.

You could go out to FD with it, and work 40CW whilst someone else was working 40SSB at the next tent. Try THAT with today's solid state rigs, without using outboard bandpass filters!

I went from 2C to early solid state junk - gave up the potential for FD operation with a TS-430S. Saw the light of day and replaced said small-knob rig with R-4B and T-4. All of this was acquired used, as I've not the budget some hams do.<BR><BR>
Of course, now I've designed my station around it. I have fabricated a 32-bit DSP unit that works at the 50kHz IF. I can tailor the BW as I like, switch from Bessel to Butterworth, to arbitrary filtering functions, kick in arbitrary numbers of "tuneup" filters, etc, etc. I could not imagine wanting a different RX. What can't the present setup do?

Yes, I know, triple conversion receivers are to be avoided like the plague. But the R-4B was one of the better units, with fewer images than most, and I've also gone in there and added enough bandstops to get the image rejection down to what might be termed "competition class". Better than the mil units (at least the ones designed by my former employer...some of which have been mentioned on this list)

As far as charm for the buck, though, that first 2C takes the prize. Easy on the wallet, easy on the back (which means easy on the wallet because I didn't have to build a bunker to hold it), etc. No way I'd have been able to marry my wife if I had a bunch of moldy old mil surplus stuff in the house.

Not sure what my point was, but everyone else is reminiscing and I'm about that age....


AM
 
RE: Best receivers of all time  
by W5HTW on April 2, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Most old timers would have a few favorites and they might disagree with the main choices, but undoubtedly the SX-115 stood very near the top of anyone's list, and right on the top of many. The SX-88 -now as rare as dinosaur hair - and the NC-183D were also top performers.

My own favorites included the 51S1, for ease of operation, though it was not the most sensitive or the most birdie-free; the R4B I have now, as good as the one I had in 1971; the Drake 2B;

For fun to use, I actually enjoyed the SX-71, back in the AM days, but it was not a great SSB receiver, for sure.

The 75A4 stands out, too, but is often overrated. Many companies made the R390A, some already mentioned, but I think I had a rare one made by Remington-Rand. Most of the ones I used in work were the real thing -- Collins, or Stewart Warner. Like the Ronco roaster, with an R390A on RTTY, you "set it and forget it." It didn't wander.

For intercept ops, the SP600JX, and an early Racal (can't recall the model number) were really great, as they could make major frequency excursions rapidly. One of the great fixed-station receivers, and I wish someone would give me one, is the TMC GPR90RX. Great all-round receiver, excellent on SSB with the SSB adapters, or ISB, or RTTY or just about anything else.

What it comes down to, I guess, is the use to which the receiver was intended. For my ham use, the R4B is excellent. Let it warm up half an hour, then park it on the net and six hours later it is still dead on.

Ed
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by K9RT on April 2, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Really not near as many of the Collins branded units made as the others. Contracted out to Stewart Warner, EAC, Motorola, Amelco, Imperial Electronics and several others. The EAC's were the last batches made in the late 1960's. Outside of the nameplate, they were all identical and all to milspec so no differences other than the nameplate.
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by W7NMC on April 2, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Hello, all. Since I am a "Boatanchor" collector, I must get in my two cent's worth. I have used R-390A's in the military, and must agree they are top performers, even by current standards. I am not sure I would own one, though, fearing that something would go awry that I could not fix nor afford to farm out on this complicated piece of equipment. If you forget about finding an exact frequency, having a fairly long warm-up period, and warming up your shack with a "Boatanchor," then enjoy the sound that only a tube rig can provide. That said, in no particular order:

1. I am impressed with my Hallicrafters SX-100, with its low noise floor, high sensitivity, good sound, good selectivity, and overall great performance right up to the 32MHZ limit. It is even stable after about an hour warmup. Its SSB performance is excellent.

2. I enjoy my Hallicrafters SX-42 for its great sound, especially on FM, but equally enjoyable on AM. For a great ten watts of quality sound, this Bandcruiser can't be beat. It even does a decent job on SSB, once you get the hang of tuning in an SSB signal.

3. My Hammarlund HQ-180 runs circles around my Icom 745 when it comes to CW and SSB performance. I have listened to many modern rigs, and for sensitivity, selectivity, and just great sound on CW and SSB, the HQ-180 can't be beat. It leaves much to be desired for its AM audio quality, which is too bassy using the matching speaker.

As a long-time Ham and ex Coast Guard radio operator, I have operated many tube and solid-state rigs, and for receivers, I lean towards the tube rigs. You just can't beat the tone, sound quality, and low noise of these old rigs.

73's. Howard

 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by W9CW on April 3, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
As an ex-Navy ET in the mid-60s, one of my many responsibilities included the preventive and corrective maintenance of the magnificent R-390/URR and R-390A/URR series receivers. These certainly receive my vote for the best receiver of all time. Used primarily on CW nets, and tactical RTTY freqs, the R-390's were reliable, stable, selective, and very sensitive. On a destroyer, you don't have much room for space diversity (i.e antenna space separation), thus the front ends of the receivers must be bulletproof - and, this was certainly the case with the R-390 series. They generally ran 24/7 with hardly a failure in the 3+ years I was Leading ET aboard the tin can. Personally, I have a Stewart-Warner built R-390A/URR, a late serial Collins 75-A4, a Drake R-4B, and a Drake R-4C in the shack . . . I wouldn't trade any of them for anything. Overall, however, considering all design and performance factors, my final vote would have to go to the R-390 series.
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by KC1MK on April 3, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Speaking only from my personal experience with receivers I have owned, I nominate the following, in no particular order:
TMC GPR-90: A great receiver for SWLing, and my current favorite for this activity. The epitome of a late-50's shortwave receiver. Sounds great, looks great, and is a pleasure to use.
Kenwood TS-850: My main ham rig for the past eight years. With the INRAD 2.1-kHz SSB and dual INRAD 400-Hz CW filters, it works so well that I have been unable to justify replacing it, though I have tried to do so several times over the years.
Collins R-390A: In a class by itself. A bit hard on the wrists for quick band scanning, but a real engineering achievement.
Kenwood R599D: A surprisingly good ham-band receiver for its time. A pleasure to use and nice audio.
Drake 2B: It had its shortcomings, but with the 2BQ Q-multiplier, it performed amazingly well, and it had a visual style all its own.
Well, that's my take, again only from personal experience.
73,
Jeff, KC1MK
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by AF1Z on April 4, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Re: K8AC's comments on the SX-115 - I'd like to know what the gentleman who dumped 4k into an SX-115 thinks of it now. They're difficult to operate, freq readout is next to impossible, audio is nothing special, and my old 2-B performs better in all areas. My list of receivers , incase anybody is interested, best on down:
Collins 75s3-b
Drake 2-B
Collins 75-A4
Collins 51J-4
GPR-90 (!)
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by KB9WSZ on April 4, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Band cruising on a R-390A is not that bad. Sure, today you can push a button and be anywhere. But remember, in the 50's, 60's and 70's that was not the case. These radios were used in a lot more than fix freq. use. I used one myself in the Army in the early 70's. At that time I would be band jumping all day long. Many many times I would be changing freqs. every ten to 15 minutes. And I could get where I wanted very quickly. Sure digital tuning is going to be easier, but in my opinion, not as much fun.

I own two R-390A right now. I cruise with them a lot, and I am not as young as I used to be. You may be turning a lot of gears and cams but it is amazinly easy on a well aligned radio.
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by N1IGT on April 5, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Hi ,

Well I am new to eham.net. I have owned many receivers over the years. Kenwood 599A, Drake R4B
Hammerlunds etc. I recently purchased a rather expensive JRC NRD 545. I have to say that this really is the best one I have owned. I can hear and do anything with this receiver ( I have the wideband option as well). The passband control, stablility and noise level are really impressive. I have a new transceiver Kenwood 2000 and the receiver doesn't even compare to the JRC though it is still a fine receiver. So I vote for the Digital Technology on this one. Though listening to Collins Radios have always been and still are a joy!


73,

/Joe
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by KU3S on April 6, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Why the Lafayette HE-30 of course.........April fools... but I used it for years as a kid and didn't know better
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by K2IZ on April 6, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
W9CW said it best, the R-390, with the AN/WRR-2 right there with it, I think that was made by Collins also. He was an ET, I was an RM on a tin can. When we tuned in the fleet broadcast on tty the R-390 stayed right there on freq. for the entire watch, plus. And this was during some really bad North Atlantic storms. Ever been on a tin can when the 5" dual gun mounts fired ?, both those receivers stayed right on freq., not a flicker, try that with some of these newer tranceivers. My favorite option was the handles on the front of the R-390, the one we used for copying CW was mounted fore and aft, we sat facing port with our backs to starboard, when that tin can rolled those handles were great for hanging on for dear life, while still copying on the mill or sending something.
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by TORESTEEN on April 6, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Without a doubt the best reciever is the Hallicrafters SX-100. I got mine from my father in 1978 and he bought it new in 1962 from Sears (Shipped to our home in Pakistan - another story).

Right now it's storage as we are building a new home. But the ground rod for it is in the slab right under where the counter will be for it. But by mid-May I expect to be listening to it again.

I can remeber listening LIVE to JFK's funeral via the Voice of America from our home in Lahore, Pakistan over the SX-100. I will never let this radio go!

Tony
KG4SAP
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by W3IYQ on April 7, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I would have to plug in the RME 6900 somewhere. Even on today's bands, it performs very well. Among older receivers, the one I remember as being the best was my old HRO-50T. It was really heavy, but stable and excellent.
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by MSHOLDEN on April 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I'll nominate the Harris RF-550 to the list. It's a hot, quiet radio. The AFC and coherent AGC combine to provide reception that's quite easy on the ear. If you decide to get one, you want the 583 tuning option if you like to scan the bands instead of just tuning to known frequencies.

For higher frequencies, (20mhz-1.2ghz) I'm partial to my Applied Communications (Norlin) SR-2050. It has very fine tuning, it's rock stable, and has a plasma display bandscope with some interesting features. But my only frame of reference is some analog WJ's.
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by W9CW on April 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Re. K2IZ's comment on the AN/WRR-2 receiver . . . it was manufactured by National, and it was a brute. We had two WRR-2A's on our tin can, and they were twice as large and twice as heavy as the R-390(A)series. The RF and synthesizer sections made up the upper and lower decks of the receiver. But, I still prefer the R-390-series over the National AN/WRR-2(A). The WRR-2 series was a real bear to work on, but worked well when fully operational. And, I agree with K2IZ regarding using the R-390 to "hold on" while riding rough seas in a destroyer. One wonders how work sometimes got done during those periods with the continuous, and major, pitching and rolling!
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by N3BQA on April 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
What is considered a "HIGH QUALITY SPEAKER"?
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by RADIOMAN390 on April 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Hello:
I like your list. I'd like to add that the R-390 is for a broadcast band DXer primarily, better than the 390A's because the "pinging" filters respond poorly to splatter from music. Until I sold all four, I had two of each, in regular use.

The HQ-180A with a digital readout is probably the best bandcruiser around.

Maybe you never tried an HRO-600, but it was far better than the HRO-500. On all frequencies. I had both at the same time. I know.

My current favorite is a Skanti 5001, which on the BCB allows you to tune up and down the dial with nary a whistle. Signals just pop up as you tune up and down the dial, no splatter, almost like cutting through soft butter. I don't know how to describe it, but a similar effect was on an SP600 as you tuned around on the BCB. Great on VLF, by the way, but poor ergonmics.

The best SSB receiver I've ever had, and the best squelch, was the RF-505A. I had it parked on 11175 USB for years and the audio was superb...nothing else came close to it. The squelch rarely responded to noise; signals just popped out of the speaker unexpectedly, always clear. No other radio of mine provided such SSB clarity.

I have three Scientific Radio Co. fixed receivers. That company was started by Harris former employees, and they improved on the Harris syllabic squelch, but at the cost of audio crispness. I keep one radio on 2182 USB, and it only opens up when there's voice. My R-71s (2), and other radios would open up on lightning storms at higher frequencies, but not the SR.


For audio and overall "feel", the GPR-90 reigns supreme. Silky audio from a quiet set. My GSB-1 SSB adapter was not impressive. The CV591 or HC-10 were better.

Another great sounding AM radio is the GEC 400 series (General Electric of England). And a fun radio is the Canadian Marconi CSR5, which could be called a whippersnapper in other times. Another bandcruiser it is.

The JRC515 was beautifully built (I had 2), but audio was dull.

The best built radio was the Rohde & Schwarz EK07D. Bigger and badder than the 390s (110 lbs). All cast iron, superb shielding, smooth dial, but just too big (has four handles; requires two or four men to move it).

Other comments: My Mackays have never been too impressive

The SP-600 may feel better than the HQ-180, but the 180 runs circles around the 600, I think because of the 60 KHz IF stages. (strange, but the Skanti uses 30 kHz IF...could there be a connection?)





 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by SP600HISTORIAN on April 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
The R-390/URR gets my vote, it is a better receiver than the R-390A/URR. Better audio, slightly better sensitivity. And, none of the if deck and agc problems associated with the "A".

Incidentally, Collins manufactured more than 6,000 of the A's, so they aren't that rare.

The "LAST" R-390A's manufactured were the Fowler Industries, Inc. versions manufactured in 1984 for a U. S. Navy contract, there were only 5 manufactured. See Electric Radio No. 71 & 72 March and April, 1995.

Another favorite here is the Hammarlund SP-600 Super-Pro series. What a wonderful band cruiser and great audio to boot.

Modern receivers, hard to beat the Drake R8B.

Too many more to list.

Les Locklear
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by G3UXB on April 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
The Eddystone 730 say no more squire !
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by K3UOD on April 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I really loved my SP600 (I forgot the suffix but it had a built-in pwr supply and covered 500 Kc to 54 Mc) but it took up too much room. I replaced it with an R4B which I also love but having to buy xtals for each new band of interest is the pits. I wish I had the SP 600 back, but I wouldn't give up the R4B for it.

The R4B's AGC (called AVC on the panel) has gone up. The voltage appears to build up until the signals are almost compleatly cut off. I need to find the time to trouble shoot it. I'm guessing that I have a cracked bleeder resistor in the circuit somewhere. Works OK with AGC turned off but then, of course, there is no AGC action.

A friend lent me a Sony IC 2001 for a couple months. Terrific performance for it's size. In that category, I have a Grundig YB 400 which I take traveling with me. I'm not sure it's as good as the Sony, but Im glad I bought it.

First receiver was a Layfayette KT-154 superregen that I built from a kit when I was 12. Very sensitive but selectivity was non-existant. I still managed to make a few 40 & 80 M CW contacts with it. SSB reception was impossible but most people still used AM back in 1962. I replaced the superregen with a National NC-98. Not a great receiver but at least it was a superhet.

I also own a Yaesu FRG-7. It works. Not much else I can say about it except that the forward firing built-in speaker sounds pretty good.

 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by AA7VP on April 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
How about the Heath HW-16 it had a supurb rx with more than adequite tx power. It was a real nice "first rig".
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by WB8CAC on April 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
A lot of fine receivers mentioned here. I've had most of them at one time or another ( many of them right now ). Can't let this pass without putting in a good word for the old HQ-129X. When I get on the air at 0300 and try to pretend it's still many years ago, I use my DX-100 ( with most of the "B" mods ) and the HQ-129X. Not high tech, not high performance but all the fun ya could want!
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by LISTENER on April 12, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
If you do not know what a high quality speaker is, then you do not need to know!!!!
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by M0BOL on April 13, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
High Quality Speaker?....Anything that isn't built into the rig!!!
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by N7EXN on April 26, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Nice to hear someone else extolling the virtues of the Harris RF-550. Just about my favorite receiver, too, and I think an often-overlooked top performer. Was told that a Harris engineer referred to it as "the radio we couldn't afford to make".

--howard n7exn
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by W9DPY on April 29, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Well, I have only used a few of the many mentioned receivers. However, the OM (the original W9DPY, SK 1985) owned just about all of them. He absolutely hated the HRO-500, loved the R-390 and used the 75A-4. This was form a guy who was licensed in 1927 and had just about everything ham including an S-Line and a KWM-2A in his car. The A4 was (is) a much beloved radio! FYI, I'm in RF for a living now and used a friends Drake R-8B recently. Superb! Comparing it against my TS-570 and a friends IC-746 I was amazed. The only draw back in my view; non-replaceable filters (uses internal LC network filtering). Hams, take note. SWL receivers do work!
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by DK1WC on May 7, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Hi, I am looking for any available information about the receiver Norlin SR-2102!
Can anybody help me to make this computer controlled receiver work?

Cheers
Peter, DK1WC
 
BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by VA7OJ on May 13, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I would add the following European "oldies":

Siemens: E311
Telefunken: E52 Köln
Rohde & Schwarz: EK-07
Racal: RA-17, RA-117
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by KD9MF on June 10, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
well, in my opinion, the best were the old boatanchors.
the sx-28 by hallicrafters is my personal favorite
followed by the sx 17, sx42, and for ham band, i like the kwm-2 and the sx 117.
 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by NI6S on September 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I just came across this thread. Here is my "Top 10
List" based on personal experience:

1) EAC R390A
2) WJ HF-1000A
3) Harris RF-590A
4) Icom R-9000
5) JRC NRD-93
6) Collins 51J4
7) Hammarlund SP-600
8) Collins 75S3C
9) Collins 75A4
10)National NC-303

**Would welcome any discussion or comments regarding my posting. I'm a receiver nut!!!

Ed NI6S
aidehua@aol.com

 
RE: BEST RECEIVERS OF ALL TIME  
by VK2MS on October 19, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Hi Helena Runinstein didn't actually "construct" any (breaks your naails dahling!!) but re-labelled some after a makeover....I have a Collins made sn 454...and have heard of a 457 recently....they do not abound..A Japanese chap, Collins collector, paid $1300 US the other day for one (Nov 2005) PLUS $400US for airfreight!!...I noticed it was Collins brewed sno 50. You are right, though, Helena's WOULD be rarer than a penguin using lipstick and they went to Navy...
 
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