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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | Drake R8 HF Receiver Help

Reviews Summary for Drake R8 HF Receiver
Drake R8 HF Receiver Reviews: 18 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $980 - 999
Description: All mode shortwave receiver
Product is not in production.
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SIERRAHOTEL Rating: 4/5 Mar 20, 2007 23:06 Send this review to a friend
Overrated  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought my R8 from a friend who needed cash for a new PC. I have to say the basic radio performance was fine, but the ergonomics drove me nuts. Compared to a JRC receiver, the Drake's control layout, and feel is a joke. It's a decent enough receiver though, and if you can get used to the control layout, you will like it. Just don't play with any JRC receiver, they have ergonomics figured out, and switching back and forth showed just how bad the Drake's controls are. The R7's were even worse, but the R7 was a much better looking radio, IMO.

The case just screams "CHEAP", as does the display. The display is the worst looking one I can remember seeing in a very long time. The radio seems to be very warm, even when it's been turned off.

I sold it after about 8 months or so, and made money on it.
K3GI Rating: 5/5 Mar 17, 2007 18:43 Send this review to a friend
Great Receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought mine used in 1998 from the original owner. It has the VHF board installed. It's operated faithfully ever since I bought it. Never a problem whatsoever and still going strong. It has some ergonomic issues as noted in Passport, but the electronic side of it is excellent. It's definitely a keeper.
K2MMM Rating: 5/5 Sep 10, 2005 21:23 Send this review to a friend
The Best!!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Have had a Yaesu FRG7700 and FRG7 and Icom R75 numerous Sonys and quite a few Ham rigs. Simply put-the R8 pulls in signals I never heard with the others. The R8 received signals that were audible and had clarity so I could copy thdm well.I wish I had this radio ten years ago. A lot of good SW stations have gone off the air in that time that I could have heard with the R8!!! 73 K2MMM
KD7RDZI2 Rating: 5/5 Jun 24, 2005 02:48 Send this review to a friend
it has all and good  Time owned: more than 12 months
This rig has virtually everything necessary to have a good listening.

I could not overload, the rig, if not in rare cases even using wideband receiving antennas such as MTA by RF-Systems, DX1 by RF-System and a 20 meters long T2FD by Barker and Williamson put in clear on the roof.

Listening with SSB is pure pleasure.. you can shape the sound tuning the passband.. filters are good.. the unit is rather reliable as it has been operating since 1996 without any problem..

It has 4 antenna inputs.. 3 for HF (one of which is 450 ohm) and one for the 6 and 2 meters converters.. I am adding external hamtronic UHF to VHF converter for the 70 cm and a KEPS converter to vhf for the 2400 Mhz..

you can do virtually everything with this radio..

KA2SHU Rating: 4/5 Jan 20, 2005 12:37 Send this review to a friend
Power Consumption Warning  Time owned: more than 12 months
The Drake R8 radio is all of what the reviewers say it is being a terrific radio but there is something that is NOT told you should all be aware of.

Subject: Drake R8 Energy Consumption

Living in southern Florida where blackouts have left us without power for days, I have become concerned with the power consumption of my Drake R8 (the radio is warm to the touch when not in use) with the unit turned off. I have just completed a home auxiliary power system where stand by power consumption is factor. An accurate watt meter records the R-8 radio "off" power consumption at almost (19.7) 20 watts! When on, its about 33-35 watts! It seems almost unbelievable that almost 60% of the on operating power is wasted doing virtually nothing! IS THIS NORMAL??

The radio works fine but 20 watts for 24 hours/day is 480 watt/hrs/day or a whopping or 14,400 watt hours/month. The $$$$ do add up.

Question asked of Drake about this:

There response:
The power consumption of the R-8 is correct as you
have noted. There is no update, modification, etc. to reduce the power consumption. I can only suggest unplugging the unit when not in use.

My response: OK, I will but you will have to re-set the clocks and timers EVERYTIME you do this.

WA2JJH Rating: 4/5 Apr 27, 2004 19:50 Send this review to a friend
GREAT RX, POOR ERGONOMICS  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Got this one on ebay. Came to about $475 when all was said and done.
I am not going to compare the RX to any of my HF rigs. However if one was blindfolded and you just had the VFO knob to tune thru, you would think the rx was from a typical ham rig. You get into an apple VS orange shrimp coctail situation.

First test I always do with an RX is to hook it up to a dummy load.Tune the RX from 1-30 MHZ.
Look for synth junk, mixer crap, and CPU induced birdies. I found VERY few birdies. Far less than a TW-100 commercial rig. The TW-100 had some of it's design from RACAl.

I got the TW-100 dirt cheap. I might have a bad one. The R-8 was very silent. very few birdies. it had just a few more than my Drake TR-7

This rig cannot compare with the almost mil spec Drake R-7/A. in general RX sensitivity, it is better than your average DC-daylight mobile rig. I measured .18 with preamp. .38 preamp bypassed. Thr TR-7 has no pre-amp. It measured out at .45uV. however the lack of synth, CPU and pre-amp junk makes it better than most RX's.

The same is true with the R-8. Leave the pre-amp OFF! You get a better RX in general!

The audio was smooth. The tone control is a waste. Like on most rigs it does about nothing.
Passband tuning was not anything as good as the TR-7 ot TS-850. It is far better than the average audio DSP passband tuning on many transcievers today.

The Notch filter was perhaps the greatest dis-appointment. Very little effect.

The ergonomics is like many rigs. Pre-amp for example, you have to go thru attenuation, preamp on, pre-amp off.
Same routine with the filters, HOWEVER the full array of real XTAL filters makes this RX better tan some transceivers. 500hz cw is ring free. 2.3khz for SSB is a good selection. The 1.8khz for SSB was a great pleasent suprise. One can use it for ssb full time. It really gets rid of adjacent SSB, and does not have that muffled sound some rigs with 1.8kHz filtering has!
The 4khz filter is good for ham AM and listening to those that either have an old 3khz filter for SSB,are using too much mic gain, or operating Hi-Fi SSB. The 6 khz is perfect for typical SWLing.

The VFO has no fly wheel in it. It feels like a ft-100D, instead of a ts-850. If you like to rapid tune the VFO, this is not that type of rig.

The S meter is large and very high quality.
Yes I am using tough ham rig standards for a SWL RX. This rig is by no stretch of the imgination the next RX after the R-7/A. It is a SWL rig.
However this RX is perfect for those that like to build thhier own transmitters. With all the memories this is the top of the line for a SWLer.
The exception being the commercial harris or Racal.

For 400-500 bux this is an excellent RX. This RX is better than many of your average low end transceivers of today or 20 years ago.

It is true you can buy the ICOM 718 transeiver for the same money. However cheap audio DSP will not do as well as a full selection of real 8 pole
filters. Audio DSP passband tuning cannot come close to the R8's true IF passband tuning.

High level mixing done by the R8 cannot be faked by DSP either.

If you want a real SWL RX, the R8 with the free ir remote control is a bargain used. You will see them on ebay for $400 all the time. The A,B series just have better ergonomics and more memory channels.

If you always wanted an extra RX for the shack, you will not go wrong. Please do not think the R8 can come close to an R7/a. The R7/a is built mil spec.
However an old R8 will blow away the newer SWL RX's today.(it will work better than many RX sections in a few transcievers) The new RX's do not have the filtering or DRAKES engineering! The new SWL RX's from other companies make a major compromise by having RX capability up to 1 GHZ.
These RX's are subject to IMOD and synth junk!

The construction is good. It looks like a stereo rcvr. The green flouresent display are so much better than the back lite LCD dispalys that other SWL rigs use.
I could not just give this RX a 5 rating. Perhaps I am using unfair high standards I use for transcievers. However the notch was a big issue. The confusing double tier fuction bar has a learning curve. The PBT has no center or off position.

All of the pet peeves aside, it is still a great HF only RX. Great for the serious SWLer or a very nice RX for the shack.

Besides the R8....ITS A DRAKE, FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!!! I will do a follow up in 6 months

DAROBIN Rating: 5/5 Nov 27, 2003 01:04 Send this review to a friend
Still a great receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
Although the R8 came out with great fanfare in the 1990's, in recent years there has been a lot of talk about how inferior it is to the R8B. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Remember, the R8 was Drake's first effort to follow up on the famous R7 line. Although the R8A and R8B greatly improved on the R8 in terms of ease of use, particularly with dedicated buttons for mode and SYNC, the R8 remains one of the best deals around. It is an extremely sensitive receiver, with great audio. I originally purchased mine in comparison with the JRC NRD535 and there was no contest in the audio category.

The R8 also had the original Drake encoder, which was changed in later models, and the heavier tuning knob.
N2MWE Rating: 5/5 Nov 1, 2003 18:23 Send this review to a friend
Oldie but Goodie  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I picked this radio up a few months back on eBay. I decided to pair it up with my Icom R75 and use the Drake for "spinning the dial." Well, the R8 has become the premier receiver in the shack, and it sits next to my Icom R7100. Though the R75 is a more modern receiver, the audio quality, selectivity and sensitivity of the Drake is unequalled. No filters to buy; AM Sync that works and works well. Pulls in the weak ones on HF...from New York, I listened to Sydney Aircomms, not an easy task on the east coast. If you can get your hands on one of these at an auction, you're getting a bargain.
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