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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | Hallicrafter S-120 Help

Reviews Summary for Hallicrafter S-120
Hallicrafter S-120 Reviews: 19 Average rating: 1.9/5 MSRP: $60-70
Description: General coverage 4 tube radio
Product is not in production.
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KG6AF Rating: 2/5 Nov 10, 2006 19:47 Send this review to a friend
You never forget your first insensitive receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
When I was a 13-year-old aspiring to a Novice license many, many years ago, I bought one of these things at Fort Orange Radio in Albany, NY, run by the late Uncle Dave Marks.

The S-120 was not much of a receiver--tough to tune, wide as a barn door, deaf as a post--but I have to give it at least two points, because it pretty much worked as advertised. You could pull in lots of foreign broadcasting stations, and I was even able to use it for my first ham contacts after getting the Novice ticket.

Hallicrafters must have made these things by the thousands, because you usually can find at least a handful of them on E-Bay at any given time; if the photos are any indication, half of them have been stored under leaky sinks for 40 years. While I would never recommend one to an aspiring ham, it might be worth a few nostalgia-fueled bucks to old timers like me, who'd like to plug in a radio that glows in the dark, and that speaks of a world in which international communication was a much chancier, far more exciting thing than it is today.
SWL377 Rating: 1/5 Aug 21, 2006 15:05 Send this review to a friend
BOW WOW  Time owned: more than 12 months
The S 120 is simply a dog, but nostalgia overcomes rational thinking and they still sell quickly on eBay. When I was a poor kid I had my choice of a ratty used S 40 or a like new S 120. I wisely chose the S 40 and slowly made it into a decent looking set. The S 120 is an AC DC set and can kill the unwary, always use and Isolation Xfmr when servicing this rodent of a rcvr. It is so deaf on the higher freqs that I wondered if something was broken, but nope, that's just the way it is. You can hear CBers if they are running 1KW or more. Selectivity is terrible. Why do I own and S 120 you ask? Well, I got a nice looking one for $5 at a garage sale. Even at $5 I feel like I paid too much. I'll probably sell it on eBay for 10x my purchase price to someone who had one as a kid and is nostagically re-creating their childhood shack. Hallicrafters could have done a lot better with this basic design without spending a lot more money, but they didnt even try. Shame on them.
N2KZ Rating: 4/5 Jun 9, 2006 20:00 Send this review to a friend
Great First Receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
A Hallicrafters S-120 was my first shortwave receiver back in 1965. A four tube design, it resembles an "All-American Five," but the traditional 35W4 is replaced by a early solid state rectifier. It is broad in selectivity, but as a 11 year old kid, it opened up a world never before imaginable. Soon, I was receiving exotic QSL cards from all over the world and saving up for more IRCs for return postage. Mine still works nicely, and I have a second one, as well. This certainly isn't a R-390, but it is light, compact, attractive and good enough to listen to most major stations using a simple wire antenna. If you used it long enough, you knew where to find things. I used CFCX as a marker for 49 meters, CHU for 41 meters, and WWV for 31 meters. I could find Cairo or Switzerland in a second, even without an interval signal. I made paper charts and found my way around nicely. Boy! Did Australia come in strong every morning on 31 meters! I loved mine inside and out and did everything I could to experiment with it. I could never kill it. I really love my S-120 and will never let it go. Now, I use it with my Tuna Tin II to work people on 40 meter CW. It glows beautifully to this day!
KB1IKD Rating: 0/5 Oct 21, 2005 12:04 Send this review to a friend
Hallicrafter S-120  Time owned: more than 12 months
In the 1960s, I was dreaming of becoming a ham and looking for a radio for SWL. I acquired a used S-120 for a Christmas gift and expected good reception because of the Hallicrafter name's standing in ham radio.

S-120 performance was a huge dissapointment. The fixed passband is very wide, signal sensitivity poor, and discrimination between signals very poor. My grandparent's pre WW2 era console Philco for AM BCB/SW reception having a loop antenna in the cabinet was a far better performer than the S-120 on a random length outdoor wire antenna.

The S-120 is virtually useless for even AM phone mode ham reception. The radio was destroyed by a house fire two years ago and I do not miss it one bit.

73 de KB1IKD
N8AUC Rating: 1/5 Jul 14, 2005 19:10 Send this review to a friend
Better than nothing...  Time owned: more than 12 months
The S-120 was the first "real" shortwave radio I ever owned. Once it warmed up it wasn't bad. The sound wasn't terrible. But it was deaf above about 12 MHz. It had a BFO, and if the phase of the moon was right you could copy some CW on 40 meters with it. You never really knew what frequency you were
on, because the bandspread wasn't calibrated.

Yep - it was better than nothing....but not by much.
ACWOLFF Rating: 4/5 Aug 4, 2003 15:26 Send this review to a friend
a good set!  Time owned: more than 12 months
actually alot of "trouble" with a radio isn't the
set at all? location, ground , plus antenna characteristics ? as well as condition of the set
make the diffence..
i have a batch of old hallicrafters radio a S-120
S-108 , S-41w. all work well.
remeber many of these sets are very old? much changes with time? i had some sensitivity issues
with my S-41.. i replaced most of the caps, a few
out of value resistors. as well as the weak tubes.
it has NO drift , little difficulity in getting
signals across it's bandspread?
alright it's a mass prouduced receiver.
but for the money? it's as capable as any other radio.. you just have to work on the thinga bit ?
age takes a toll ..
thanks, wishin you happy Dx.
N1IX Rating: 1/5 Jun 23, 2003 10:25 Send this review to a friend
Time owned: more than 12 months
I think that I first saw the S-120 in the Sears catelog in 1961 or 62. I saved up enough money from my paper route to buy one. Up until that time I had been listening to an old console radio that my grandfather had given me. I was able to listen to a few "hams" and was really excited to hear someone in the mid-west (I was in VT. at the time). I was a SWL for a year or two and then got my ham license. I tried using the S-120 with my DX-60 and soon realized that it wasn't good for more than local QSO's on 75 meters. I bought another one recently from eham classifieds just for old times sake. I turned it on once to verify that it worked and have not had it on again since.
DT593 Rating: 1/5 Jun 23, 2003 04:38 Send this review to a friend
I Thought It Was Great...Until...  Time owned: more than 12 months
In the summer of 1962 I saw this radio in a small parts shop downtown. I had a old Philco living room type radio with the guts mounted in a metal box (to look more professional)so this fantastic piece of electronics equipment was imedietly my New dream toy. The old philco bit the dust along with the tip of my index finger while I was (tuning it up) I was 11 years old at the time and my dad was an electrician who saw the need to get rid of this electrocution waiting to happen... My birthday at the end of September brought me the S-120...My ma felt sorry for me so got dad to dish out the $69 for it...a tidy sum back in the early sixties. I set up a nice little 45' long wire and sat up many a night sitting in the pleasant illumination the S-120's two Pilot lights spilled into my bedroom. the radio performed ok below about 8 "megacycles" (old school)..above that it was almost deaf. and occasional CB'er would light it up on 27 meg if he was within a mile or so of my home..I didnt realize how bad the thing was until I got hold of a national NC-400 boat anchor a while later. at any rate it truely entertained me as an 11-14 year old back in the early 60' also opened me up to lifetime hobby and a lifetime of enjoyment. I am looking for one on e-bay just for "old times sake" but have noticed the going price for them has been a bit higher than I would say even one in excellent shape would be worth (about $35...45 at most)..I will keep watching though...a hell of alot of memories at stake.
N4UE Rating: 0/5 Aug 28, 2002 10:38 Send this review to a friend
My first 'radio'  Time owned: more than 12 months
See, I told you I had some of these reviews coming......
My buddy and I first got interested in SW radio very early. The first radio we built, was simple: a wire wound ferrite rod, in parallel with a variable cap. Used a diode detector. Connect a large antenna, a ground, and a $3 audio amplifier and speaker. Bingo. Instant SW radio. We couldn't believe we could hear Radio Moscow on around 10 Mc. Also heard some other stuff as well. After we exhausted that technology, I saw a sparkling, new, S-120 at the parts store. $69 was a King's ransom for me, but I saved my money and worked part time.
I guess my first disappointment came when trying to 'tune' it. No flywheel here. Took effort to go from one band edge to the other.
Deaf as a rock on higher frequencies. AC/DC design tought me great respect for 120VAC. I became interested in Ham radio about this time and thought it would surfice for my first receiver. I bought, built and installed a Heath Q-multiplier. Made a few CW contacts, but I knew even then, it was a real bow-wow. I know that MANY guys have used much less, but people don't live in caves anymore.

I next bought a Lafayette HE-80. (See that review). I thought that I had then gone to 'Ham (hog) Heaven'. The flywheel tuning alone made the new radio 'better'. The Japanese construction left an impression on me, that is still with me today.

Although this was my 'first' radio, I have no (none, nada, zero) thoughts to add another to my collection. It was that bad!


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