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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | FlexRadio FLEX-6500 Help

Reviews Summary for FlexRadio FLEX-6500
FlexRadio FLEX-6500 Reviews: 41 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $4299.00
Description: Software Define Radio Transceiver with 4 independent full performance receivers from 0.03MHz to 77MHz
Product is in production.
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KM4EKZ Rating: 5/5 Jul 6, 2015 09:22 Send this review to a friend
The Future Now!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After researching technical information and forums for every radio out there, I am very happy to report that I purchased the FLEX 6500.

The radio setup and software install was pretty straightforward. I will admit the software grooming took a little time but the result is SmartSDR, CAT and DAX working perfectly on an iMac 27, using Parallels Desktop 10 with Windows 10. I am also using HRD and MacLoggerDX with great success.

Receiver performance is outstanding, 4 slices monitoring 4 bands at the same time. The Panadaptor and waterfall displays are clearly superior to anything else out there. The receiver controls are very easy to understand and use. Just point and click, you can't break anything. Band monitoring has never been more simple, you will never miss a thing.

Transmitter puts out full 100 watts+ on all bands. Once again, controls are very easy to understand and use. When connected to an ACOM 1010, it becomes and awesome combination. Using a Radio Sport Headset/Mic, I get nothing than excellent audio reports.

It took a lot from me to finally decide on this radio, but boy I definitely made the right decision. The Flex Team has been great with information, support and most importantly, a solid design that will stand up to the future. I look forward to years of future improvements and refinements.
K9SO Rating: 5/5 Jul 1, 2015 16:53 Send this review to a friend
Wow! What an experience!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I hesitate to even call this a radio since it is so much more than that. I own an Icom IC-775DSP, IC-746PRO, IC-706MKII, and a Yaesu FTDX3000D This "radio" blows them all away.
I was very impressed with the receiver in my Yaesu, but this is even better.
The high resolution panadapter and waterfall display experience is like seeing for the first time after being born blind.
An incredible paradigm shift in radio development. I operate via my LAN and I don't think I can ever go back to ordinary radios again. An extraordinary CW rig.
DH2ID Rating: 5/5 May 21, 2015 23:43 Send this review to a friend
Getting better with every update  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I took the plunge in January 2015 and bought my Flex 6500 because I was curious and I wanted to be involved in the development of a great new transceiver. I haven't been disappointed. I especially like the Flex community forum where you can watch development and new ideas in making.
To all those who moan about missing this and that feature I can only say: You knew what you were buying.
Here we have got what nobody a few years ago would have thought possible: A ham radio transceiver/software combination where hams are participating in development.
With the last SmartRadio updates we got FM and DV waveform and full remote control in a LAN, WAN is on the horizon.
And I watch new programs developed for the SmartSDR API. I can control my radio with a Behringer CMD controller now or with my tablet and I use SDRBridge to use CW Skimmer.
I kept my "old" analogue TRX'es, TS-2000X and IC-756PRO, but they get used only for special purposes like CW or PACTOR.
W9OY Rating: 5/5 May 16, 2015 15:21 Send this review to a friend
Constant upgrades  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've been a 6300 owner for a little over a year,and I am on the alpha software development team. I do not work for Flex but work with Flex in a voluntary capacity in the development of the software. Last week I decided to give the 6500 a try. I found one used at a good price and I'm very happy. My present software is v 1.4.11, which the Alpha team has labored long and hard to bring to the users, and I think it's very good software. I say this because as I look through the various posts in this forum, I notice how it's difficult to get a clear picture of the actual state of the "radio". What one reads about is past experience of past software. One may complain NO NB!! Then the next day a new release completely fixes the NB. Another complains No FM!!! The next day FM is there in spades complete with memories and offsets and PL tones and wide and narrow etc etc. So my review is of this version 1.4.11. I see one review is kind of hyper-concerned about the cost of V 2.0 I'm not even sure when that is coming. Clearly there is constant and significant progress but so far it hasn't cost me a dime so that is not on my radar. I would have had to purchase say an Orion 1, Orion 2, Orion 3, Orion 4, etc etc to get the upgraded feature sets I have gotten for free with the 6000 series. Not to pick on TT but just to point out a legacy radio is not very plastic.

With my 6300 and a vertical antenna and a KW I worked 6 band DXCC, 80, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, and 89 on 10 and 250 total DX entities, all CW, all in 7 months. My experience is the 6500 has an even better RX. The audio sounds beautiful. Digital modes are trivial to set up. The DAX audio and I/Q server sends and receives signals to and from 3rd party software without a cable or a hitch. The Flex uses a server/client model where the radio acts as a server and 3rd party programs communicate with the radio using a IP address. This means if you have several programs connected to the radio (server) all of them communicate, with no apparent degradation in performance between any program. I use N1MM+, WriteLog, CW Skimmer, DXLab, Flexdigi, WinWarbler, a memory program called FRStack which gives very deep access to the memory stack and all the functions in the radio like AGC volume DSP, filter, transmit audio, keyer settings etc, and all of this intercommunicates. I use a program called DDUTIL to interface my station, so my 6500 switches my antenna switch ( a modified Ameritron RCS-4) and my amp, (Ameritron ALS-1300) automatically. There is a deep and rich macro language which allows me to use a 48 key keypad on my desk or screen based "switch pad" to perform customized and multiple complex configurations with a single button click. If I want 20 M PSK or RTTY I press a button and the 20M antenna, the amp, the filters the passband and offsets, the correct signals to the external programs, and a typical freq like 14.070 all pop to attention. I have the FlexControl connected and it gives me 1 hz dial resolution across 2 VFO, plus control of RIT, XIT, Audio and AGC and many other functions including up to 9 macros. Some of these features come by adding the 3rd party software but that for the most part is free and ready to be integrated into the Flex ecosystem so I think it's fair to include it in the review. A couple programs like Skimmer and WriteLog are nominal. This is how I have my radio configured, and how I use it every day, and reveals the power of the system Flex has designed.

A new feature with this software is the inclusion of a "Waveforms" API. This means you can write your own codec and include it into the radio. A recent codec was published for FreeDV a digital audio scheme and I simply downloaded the codec, installed it in Wavewforms and it was completely integrated into my radio as a new mode choice. It shows up in the mode screen, when I memorize a FreeDV frequency, FreeDV is remembered, etc etc. The correct bandwidth and offset is chosen just as if I chose CW or LSB. The Waveform API is published and anyone can write code for this API. Flex is flying 2 6700R radios on the ISS to be used in an experiment called Global ISS. The 6700R uses this exact Waveform API to integrate a specific doppler receiver system, off the shelf.

Recently LAN remote base has been added as a feature and people are now coding apps for Android tablets (like a Nexus 7) to remote control the radio. Imagine being able to turn your transmitter off and on and change bands and freq while working out at the antenna, or using the radio from the tablet while in the office across the house. Eventually WAN will also be added. A new keyboard memory keyer has also been integrated. So that's the state of the art with 1.4.11 who knows what's coming next. The 6500 has bandpass filters and preamp/attn -10,0,10,20, 4 slice receivers as opposed to 2 in the 6300, balanced audio input for the audiophile, high resolution gps based freq stability and a more complicated antenna switch which allows receiver loops for preamps etc. It also has better ADC compared to the 6300 and slightly better numbers like dynamic range. I think the RX might be a little quieter, but the 6300 is also very quiet. I'm listening on 6M as I write this and the receiver is very good. I'm hearing stations pop up out of the noise on a closed band. This radio is a flat out gas.

73 W9OY
W3PH Rating: 5/5 May 16, 2015 07:31 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic & keeps getting better  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
To say I'm happy with my 6500 would be an understatement. There's a learning curve but it didn't take long to get comfortable, even without reading the excellent docs. Firmware has been updated twice since I got the rig, with nice enhancements each time.

My operation is 99% CW, 1% SSB. Haven't tried digital modes.

Filters are amazing - makes all my previous crystal filters seem sloppy. Love being able to run split, with DX on the left, split on the right. The binaural audio is very nice. With 1.4.11 NR is effective (depending on conditions) and several times has made the difference between copy & not on weak DX. Remembers power by band so I don't need to remember to turn it up on 30m and down where I use an amp. Remembers tune power so I can trigger tuning in the HF-Auto at relatively low power, then automatically increase to full power (or whatever I've set) when I operate. The panafall display is incredibly useful - I can see where there's activity, even where a station has stopped transmitting so I'll find stations between CQs even if they're not currently transmitting.
W8GN Rating: 4/5 May 15, 2015 15:04 Send this review to a friend
FlexRadio is on the cusp of greatness  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have struggled with rating the Flex 6500. We have many components that make up the whole. Iíll first rate the Hardware; itís top notch, well made and fit and finish is what you would expect from a fine hand-crafted USA made product. I currently have mine mounted in a rack and canít say enough about the quality of the hardware. However, the fan is noisy. I think they should have engineered better to cool the box and make it less noisy by using two, less velocity fans strategically located. My grade on the hardware: 4.5

Software is what either makes or breaks the Flex 6000 series. This series of transceivers has been available for over 2 years now and we are still missing a few features that are standard on other rigs. After all, the Flex experience is all about the software. The panadapter, waterfall display, digital modes, and ease of use are all paramount to the Flex experience because the hardware is really no more than a black box. Flex currently has no FM mode. Noise blanker, Noise Reduction, etc are currently being developed. I must say SmartSDR is easier to configure than previous versions. My grade on the software: 3

Finally, we have to rate the company that is responsible for the Flex 6000 series. Iíll preface this by stating Iíve owned a SDR1000 and a Flex 5000a before purchasing my Flex 6500. I enjoy SDR and have enjoyed Flex along the way. Their entire roadmap is no longer date driven but feature driven. FRS is a top notch company and Gerald and his team stand behind their product. My grade on the Company: 4.5

Iíll close by saying I truly enjoy using my Flex 6500. It's fun to watch FRS build a new radio each time they upgrade the software. My final overall rating is: 4
ZL1WN Rating: 5/5 May 14, 2015 14:47 Send this review to a friend
Amended review now 5+  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I am pleased to amend my previous review of the 6500. With excellent assistance from Flexradio support I now have 11 digital programs operating seamlessly on the 6500, as well as their advice in locating the manuals which are well written.
If I could give this radio a 10 out of 5 I would, so it is definitely a 5+. My only wish I could have afforded the 6700, then I would sell my 2 other rigs.
K3GC Rating: 5/5 May 12, 2015 07:58 Send this review to a friend
Second only to the Flex 6700  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I had a 6700 and after a while realized that it was more radio than I could justify so I traded to the 6500 - I can't use diversity mode in my HOA neighborhood.

This radio is not by any means a compromise. It is still the best of the best. It does everything that FRS claims that it will do and then some.

I find it interesting that previous reviewers slam it for not having features that are not claimed to be there. Do you not read?

I carefully read all the available literature and then made my decision based on what is
there now; not what I wish was there.

In the past three months - MOL - there have been three updates to Smart SDR that add features - not just bug fixes.

Most radio manufacturers do not even offer bug fixes.This radio is great and will do nothing but improve with time.
WQ5O Rating: 5/5 May 11, 2015 15:36 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I was a Kenwood HF Fan for over 30 years (TS-430S, TS-520S, TS-850SAT, & TS-2000X). I've only owned one Icom HF rig (IC706MKIIG and still have it). I loved those radios. They were great. Then I found the Flex 5000A. Wow! What a difference. Took a little getting used to but I'm relatively computer literate so the learning curve wasn't all that bad for me. The F5KA was good but has some drawbacks concerning how it's connected to the computer. There was some latency issues that I had a hard time getting used to and it was useless for CW if you didn't have an outboard keyer in my opinion.

When the 6500 came along I debated long and hard before buying. I visited the Flex booth at the Frisco, TX, hamfest and was won over by Greg. I purchased the radio in late 2013 and had to wait for it due to the backlog. I'm really glad I did. I wouldn't be satisfied with any other rig after using the 6500 (well, maybe a 6700 ;-0). It has the most sensitive receiver I've ever used. It's got great features and it can only get better.

The software upgrade to v1.4 was a big help clearing up some of the bugs that it had. This radio isn't for those that are not computer literate, period. It does some weird stuff sometimes and you just have to restart the radio or reboot/restart. Just the nature of the beast.

If you prefer radios with knobs then don't buy the Flex 6000 series radio. If you don't want to pay for the future software upgrades, then don't buy the Flex 6000 radios. Stay with Kenwood/Yaesu/Icom, etc and you'll always have the same radio from the day you bought it. Good luck asking the manufacturer anything in any forum, too, for any upgrades or new firmware/software. That ain't happening.

I think that buying the Flex and then paying for the upgraded software (V2.+) at a nominal fee isn't all that much to plunk down when it really will give you a better radio every time. You surely can't do that with the Japanese rigs. They want full price for a new radio and the new high end rigs are really up there. Or, you don't have to buy the updated software at all. You can keep your flex just like it was after the last free upgrade. Same for Microsoft, HRDeluxe software, etc. Or you can bite the bullet and pay. Someone has to pay the software developers a salary and free doesn't pay anyone.

I watched the Flex community for months complain about the slow roll out of v1.4. Was painful to watch how much hams were dissing Flex Radio over this pay thing with the next full version and them trying to get the software right before sending it out. It was worth the wait. V1.43 is a leg up on anything they'd put out in the past.

As for the radio, the receiver is great. Much better than just a dial and a knob. I can see pile ups like never before. I've really enjoyed working those hard to get DX contacts usually on the 1st or second try just by being able to see where to put my transmit signal for the best chance of the DX hearing me. Really makes a big difference.

I rate this radio as 5 out of 5 and it's only going to get better. I look forward to all the future upgrades that Flex will employ as they upgrade the software and I'll happily pay for the new V2.0+ when it comes out.


W2NER Rating: 2/5 Mar 1, 2015 06:32 Send this review to a friend
Not worth the money  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have had MANY HF radios, Yaesu FT-1000mp, 1000D, 990, 2000, ICOM 746, 756, 7000, 440 and many others. The Flex is a good radio with good potential however, it lacks basic things like having all the modes (no FM). Also, I don't like that Flex uses their customers as a beta testers. I had the flex 6500 for 6 months, many patches and had more issues with things not working then I care to talk about. Also, when you are dishing out close to $5,000 for a radio that you still have to add a computer to, that's a big nut with not much payoff. I have spoken to many flex owners and they all stick to the side of flex like "the never release anything till its ready" crap... Be honest guys, you know who you are, flex does just that uses you to test their product.

Sorry, I would rather have a normal knob radio Like an Icom that just works, no BS.. Also, Flex is a good radio, no questing that but with that said, they need allot of growing to compete with the big boys. I went back to a knob radio, ICOM 7600 and that does remote right out of the box and flex is STILL struggling with that and FM mode..
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