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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF models) | ICOM IC-7800 Help


Reviews Summary for ICOM IC-7800
ICOM IC-7800 Reviews: 97 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $10,000 US
Description: The ICOM 7800 HF/6M was first introduced at the Dayton Hamvention 2003. ICOM believes it is the most advanced amateur radio ever developed. It utilizes four separate 32-bit floating point TI DSP chips, has a 7-inch wide TFT display, built in RTTY/PSK31 receive and transmit using a USB Keyboard interface, plus compact flash technology. The radio features an IP3 of +40dBm and 110db dynamic range. It features two identical, fully independent, receiver circuits. There is even a separate preamp and mixer for the 6 meter band. More information, brochures, U.S. dealers, and pricing should be available soon.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.icom.co.jp/world/products/amateur/7800/index.htm
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K5JZ Rating: 5/5 Nov 12, 2012 10:48 Send this review to a friend
Best CW, SSB and Digital Receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
Let me begin by stating that I have been a licensed Amateur for 40 years. I have been a DXer since the first day that I was licensed… and a Contester on and off during those 40 years. There has never been a time in my life… after becoming licensed… that I have ever been away from our Hobby.

There are a subset of DXers and Contesters that have been able to own/use the entire list of the top of the line rigs over the past 25 years. The user groups for different models are full of posts where DXers and Contesters have compared and contrasted most of today’s rigs side by side and have written their thoughts and opinions for us to peruse. I have been fortunate to be in a position to own or try out most of the top line rigs and I can testify without a doubt... the IC7800 is a supreme weak signal receiver for CW or any other mode… IMHO… the 7800 is the absolute best of the current crop of high end radios. Flex and their new direct RF sampling receiver will change that and other Amateur manufacturers will follow suit. The technology has already been accepted and is the current state of the art amongst high end communications manufacturers such as Marconi, Racal, Harris, R&S, Telefunken and Collins. BTW, in the 50’s and 60’s all of these companies experimented with the “in vogue today” down conversion IF scheme and dropped it due to its in band IF problems. Direct RF sampling SDR systems eliminate these conversion schemes.

I am in two DX clubs with a combined membership of about 100 and I consistently hear DX stations that at times… my friends cannot copy and these other rig choices are connected to similar antennas and in some cases… the exact same antenna combinations. At times… this is due to their front ends being overloaded for various reasons or signals leaking past their IF filtering. Some rigs still have audio notch filtering that does not remove the offending carrier but only removes the heterodyne. Some noise blankers open their receiver front ends to overload. In some cases, I have had friends call me on the phone and request proof that I can hear stations that they cannot… “Let me hear what you are hearing”. Some of my friends live very close by and some are separated by up to 30 miles or more... and I hear things at times… that my friend’s FT1K's, MKV's, K3's, FT5K's, Orion II's and many other rigs in the club… cannot hear. Many of my old rigs are sitting in their new homes and are included in this group.

K5GDX/K5MDX have used IC7600’s, 7700’s and 7800’s in contests over the past several years. We have also used FT1000MP MKV’s and FT1K’s, Kenwood 2000’s and even an odd ProII and ProIII. Again, when we do find a difference in the performance of these rigs… the newer Icoms always have the advantage… not once has it been any of the other rigs with an edge. During Field Day 2012, I didn’t even have to use a front end filter on my 7600… the FT1KMP MKV had its noise floor elevated by 20db without these front end filters. It was the same with a friend’s 920. The 7600 suffered no ill effects. In many cases, the Yaesu, and Kenwood rigs performed admirably.

During Field Day 2012, in the 3A class (65% CW contacts)… we placed #1 in Mississippi, #1 in the Delta Division and #12 overall in the USA. We have a contest station setup in a cow pasture and it resides inside of our Emergency Communications trailer and we have towers, yagis, ¼ verticals for 160 and 80 (with radial fields), wire antennas and a Hi Z Receive 4 Square system and we run it all on a 15KW Genset. We are surrounded by 4800 volt high tension wires and the environment is noisy… but not when Icom’s world class DSP noise blanker, DSP noise reduction and DSP filtering is applied.

I was able to work DXCC on 160 meters without the aid of a low band receiving antenna and the only reason that I could accomplish that feat is that the IC7800's receiver is just that good at fighting noise… with its DSP and its BRICK WALL filtering. I now enjoy a DXE 4 Square Receive Array but it was not always so. I have friends that come to my rural location to use my station. Not one friend has ever had a situation with my 7800… where any close in station caused them not to be able to copy any weak DX station being pursued. They have to open up the filtering and disengage the APF (on CW) just to hear the offending stations that they assumed were just normal hash that their radios must endure. What is the importance of one single performance specification… one that is more marketing hype than it is an indicator of real world performance, when the state of modern Amateur transmitters produce dirty signals that are filled with wide band noise, phase noise and key clicks in some cases? If you can narrow your filtering down until adjacent signals no longer interfere with the intended signal, if you can remove interfering noise sources using built in tools… then a receiver is doing exactly what we demand that it do. If a signal resides within a receiver’s IF filter passband, then nothing is going to remove that signal. When I speak of the filtering in the 7800, I am speaking of BRICK WALL FILTERING. Crystal filters themselves can introduce IMD into the IF chain… this is well documented and there are treatises written on the subject. The DSP filtering in the newer Icom transceivers do not exhibit these anomalies.

The APF in my IC7800 makes the difference between hearing the weakest of signals and not hearing them. It is not designed to work like the old analog APF filters in some legacy rigs.

If one is considering buying a new top of the line rig and is considering any of the new Icom offerings, one only has to read through this very review thread to come to the conclusion that 99.50% of IC7800 owners that have posted to this review… agree with my findings… and they have in their own words… offered data that are diametrically opposed to some of the competitions accusations about today’s Icom transceivers. I have had the 5K, 9K, and K3 on my bench... hooked to the exact same antennas... and not one single time have any of the other rigs proved to be superior. In many cases… their “performance” is the same... certainly one rig sounds different from the other, there are differences in ergonomics… but the basic performance is close to equal most of the time… but when there is a difference... the IC7800 and IC7600 have always come out on top... in real world conditions. 40 and 30 meters are examples of where the FT5K and K3’s fall behind. The problems on those two bands are IF related and exist because of engineering design choices. I have briefly mentioned those concerns above.

On the evening of 11-10-12, I worked the PT0S on 160 meters and through QSB, QRN, QRM and jammers that made many just quit. Friends in the North East had the propagation as did the Europeans. They were reporting the PT0S signal was up to 10DB over S9. At best here… they peaked at about S7. I was able to use the IC7800’s second receiver… utilizing its incredible filtering aids… to find the stations that the PT0S was working… through the wall of RF that was a roaring hoard of NA, SA and Europeans continuously calling… and I was able to find his operating pattern and spread… and BANG… IN DA LOG! I also worked them for both of our Club calls.

Some friends that were using K3’s and FT5K’s made it through also. None of these newer rigs are poor performers by any means. Another buddy worked them with his modified FT1KMP MKV and still another with his venerable Kenwood 940 and my old JPS NIR12 DSP unit. Opinions are highly subjective and many will testify that their choice of rig is better and they will tell you why. If the IC7800 were as bad as some of the competition and their followers would lead one to believe… I would not have been successful in my quests… and I beat my local friends into the log that night…because I could hear the PT0S Q5 when they could not. I did not have to ask for confirmation of my QSO… with the 7800… one seldom has doubts about things like that.

If I have propagation to a particular part of the world at a given time, then I can hear the DX and I can work them. IMHO and that of many serious DX'ers and Contesters like K1AR, who owns a fleet of IC7800’s in his World Class Contest Station… we know the truth.

What rig to use is an extremely personal choice… and those choices are as varied as there are Ham operators. My advice to all Hams is that you buy the right rig the first time… buy the one that you like best… for whatever reasons you may have. The only person’s opinion that should matter to anyone is the person writing the check and operating the rig. Buy what it is that you want the first time… I have found in my decades of experience that one will save money in the long run by buying what they wanted in the first place and not what they would settle for. Enjoy Ham Radio… it is all about the FUN!

73,
George K5JZ

 
VE6WZ Rating: 3/5 Nov 10, 2012 14:51 Send this review to a friend
Not recomended for weak signal CW  Time owned: more than 12 months
This review describes the defiecency of the IC-7800 for very weak signal CW.

I purchased a new IC-7800 and had it side-by-side with the FT-1000d for almost three years. (7800 purchase Sept. 2006-SOLD Aug 2009)
The 7800 was the latest version with all roofing filters.
It was set up with **INSTANT A-B switching**. A toggle switch operates a relay box to switch all peripherals and antennas between radios.

I tried for three years to like this radio for weak signal DX but as noted above, I sold the radio and have replaced it with he FTdx-9000D.
The Icom is long gone simply because compared to the FT-1000D (with the reverse modified APF) it could not copy the very weak signals bubbling at
the noise that the Yaesu could.

***This report is all about the lack of an effective APF in the 7800***

Before I am flamed by ICOM lovers PLEASE PLEASE if you have never used the "original" FT-1000d APF and/or a "reverse modified" APF on a newer FT-1000d, or the FTdx-9000d linage radios, then this report might not be relevant to you. This report has nothing do with the overall build quality, SSB capabilities, scopes, digital functions etc. The fact is, the IC-7800 radio is great in every other regard. Also, if you don't chase weak-signal DX CW-(think 160m)- or if you never use an APF to peak weak signal DX, or if you think an APF is too "ringy", then this report is not relevant, and the IC-7800 will be a fine radio for your needs. Not everyone likes an APF, or has discovered its value.

The DX signals I am talking about are those which are JUST AT or bubbling BELOW the noise level. These are the very weak CW signals which are basically ESP and you would normally just tune by. ****For all signals ABOVE the noise, both radios could copy equally well.*****
These very weak signals at the noise will "pop" out when the APF is engaged on the FT-1000d, but will remain unreadable on the 7800 with or without the APF.

I ended up adding an external AUTEK audio peak filter to the Icom to emulate the Yaesu APF, and was able to reproduce readability between
radios.....hmmmm I'm adding a cica 1980's analog audio filter box to a $10k radio??!!

By the end of year two, the IC-7800 was not being turned on, and the radio of choice was the FT-1000d, simply because for the weak ones, it was the radio that provided copy.

Don`t think I did not understand "how to adjust the IC-7800 APF"....everything, and every possible combination of adjustment was tried.
The Icom APF does not have sufficient gain to actually `peak` the signal...it is only a useless audio filter.

It didn't make sense to have a $10k radio sitting on the bench unused, so it was sold and has been replaced with the FT-dx-9000d which is now the only radio of choice. It does have an effective APF and can copy all signals equally to the old FT-1000d. Also, the FT-dx-9000D is perfect for diversity RX which is used all the time on 160m which is just like magic. I would
never go back from using diversity RX on 160.

Please understand, I have no interest in Yaesu or Icom. The IC-7800 was a great radio in all other regards with a fantastic "lab-quality" feel, great DSP and very solid front-end (The DSP noise reduction is much better on the 7800 than the FTdx-9000), I had NO problems with the 7800...no final's problems etc.
I DID NOT want to sell this radio and take a $4K loss by selling it on e-Bay, but for myself, this radio was deficient for very weak signal CW DXing. Over two years of testing, I found **MANY MANY** occasions when I could copy weak DX on the Yaesu, which were simply not readable on the 7800.

I would NOT recommend this radio for weak signal DXing if you are looking for an effective APF.
(yes I tried to communicate this to Icom and was met with a deafening silence)

Why a three rateing if this is the only problem? Beacuse for $10k, it should at least be equal in all performance areas to other compareable radios...I think a three is generous. ICOM has dropped the ball for weak CW (not just on the IC-7800, but on all of their radios: I own or, have owned a 746, 746PRO, 756PROII, and 7000)

de Steve VE6WZ
http://www.qsl.net/ve6wz/intro.htm
 
AA6VB Rating: 5/5 Nov 2, 2012 11:13 Send this review to a friend
A Fantastic, Full Featured, Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
My Icom 7800 is approaching its 5th Anniversary.

IMHO (and I am not an Icom fanatic) it is the best radio I have ever owed (beats my current FT9000D, and the rigs I used to own - FT1000D, Orion II, K3, FT2000). Overall, it’s a fantastic radio (I'm 99 percent CW) and performs exceptionally well under all kinds of tough conditions. The best ergonomics of any radio on the market, an excellent feature set, and much more than sufficient close in BDR and IMD performance - even in contests. The rig has performed flawlessly and I could not be happier.

Icom really hit a home run with this rig.


73,

Bob/AA6VB
 
G0VHS Rating: 5/5 Sep 17, 2012 19:36 Send this review to a friend
Absolutely Tip-top.  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Having been a strict Kenwood fan since being licensed over 10 years ago, the thought of buying an Icom after my poor experiences with 706's didn't encourage me.

The 7800 MKII has changed my opinion immensely, leaving my 850 and DSP-100 not really getting much airing, only just for monitoring my outgoing audio!

The build is comparable with top end laboratory RF test equipment, and I think due to the economic climate, something that may not be re-released by any manufacturer anytime in the near future...I look forward to being proved wrong!

Apart from being so bloody heavy it makes moving it around difficult, it's a beast. QRM is no more, and believe me, when you main wireless station antenna is a vertical GP mounted 200' up, QRM/QRN IS a problem normally!

The menus could be a lot more intuitive and I would like to see a much more flexible and user configurable GUI.

The price is very reasonable taking into consideration the enjoyment and longevity of ownership.

Just wish that the display would be a bit brighter...it's tricky in reflected sunlight (although that is a rarity in the UK!)

You get what you pay for - simple.

Tally-ho,
G0VHS
 
ON9CC Rating: 5/5 Mar 30, 2012 12:53 Send this review to a friend
Best TRX ever owned! Pure joy to use!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought my V2 second hand from a HAM in Northern-Ireland about 1,5 years ago. TRX was/is in pristine condition and an excellent performer on 160m and 6m (only used it extensively on these 2 bands). Wkd many (weak) DX on 160m, EME on 50MHz, 95% CW. Also participated in the 2011 and 2012 CQ160 CW and SSB contests.

2 months ago I bought an Orion2 (second hand) and have been comparing both. After 2 months I decided to sell the Orion2 since it was getting dusty more and more and in the end would not even switch it on any more due to obvious reasons :-) ...

- I like the RX of the 7800 better. It's just easier to filter out the extreme weak ones.
- NR works and does not distort the signal (as the NR on the O2 does).
- Excellent filtering, even in the CQ160SSB contest where is it´s extremely busy and filled with HP neighbouring stations!
- the Icom user interface is superior ... just can't get used to anything else it seems (used an FT-5000 in a contest lately and that thing got me some extra grey hairs). Every 7800 knob/button is there where you expect it and does what you expect.
- equal dual receivers (unlike the Orion's)
- the 7800 spectrum scope is very good. OK, no Perseus but compared to the Orions (1 and 2) which is not useable at all.
- the 7800 looks and feels great and is qualitative miles ahead of the Orion (the Orions buttons were not or "over"-responding).

OK, I wouldn't have bought the 7800 for $10k+ ... but for the second hand price I payed for it, nothing of the current TRX's available beats it IMO (IMO!).

Have sold the O2 to a HAM friend who is Orion minded. He will certainly enjoy the O2 more than I do.

Bottom line: the 7800 is just a pleasure to use and has an excellent RX! If you can get your hands on a good cheap one, you won´t regret it!

73
Frank
ON9CC

NB: and if this thing would break down (or 'self destructs' as one reviewer calls it ...) I would just get it repaired and still rate it with a 5/5. Why: simply because things DO break down!!! Bentley's, Bugatti's, Lexus, BMW, Mercedes (and other premium/expensive cars) they all can breakdown.
 
K4VUD Rating: 0/5 Jan 10, 2012 04:50 Send this review to a friend
7800 Self destructed  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Another similar problem with IC-7800, sn 0201781, mfg in 2007, sold March 2011 (new at old price).

Operation for 2 hours on 18MHz, one hour CW and one hr. SSB using 200watts into 2:1 or less antenna.
No problems and working great.

Immediately went to CW to test SWR on 24, then on 10.1, ALL OK AT 200 WATTS AND KEY DOWN 1.5 MINUTES EACH BAND, and then on 7.0-7.2.

On low end of 40meters, with key down at 200 watts (30 seconds) the rig shut down completely with the POWER switch going blank; radio totally dead. Switched off the rear AC switch, waited 30 sec and switched rear switch back on and the radio came back on to receive immediately with green ON POWER light on.

Changed RF POWER knob to full CCW (lowest power), listened to 40meter signals are ok. Key down and radio turned off completely, again.

Now, rear AC ON POWER switch on, but no function on the front switch ON POWER, no orange light, and
no green light and negative function on all.
Now Dead.
 
ZS2DL Rating: 4/5 Aug 24, 2011 06:19 Send this review to a friend
Expensive!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have owned several HF transceivers in the past 20 years, and I am and always will be a DXCC fanatic approaching Honour Roll.

The IC7800 has been in my shack for about 9 months now, and believe I have played enough with it to give fair commment. All other Icoms I have owned, including 746PRO and 756PRO3 suffered from what we CW ops call Tinny audio on RX. The IC7800 Suffers non of that. It is also phenominal when it comes to the PBT and digi -Sel is oustanding.
The Display is fantastic to look at and add a 24' Flat screen monitor and you shack looks like a military control room.

Next to it I have an FT2000. This is why the IC7800 does not get a 5. If used correctly My FT2000 can match the IC7800 in between the low band noise. And this at a third of the price.

YES the IC7800 has far more bells and whistles than the standard FT2000 but not everyone needs all the bells and whistles, and while trying to break pileups and while running pileups very few of these bells can be used because you don't have time to play.

So if you already have everything and have money to burn you need to get one of these radios. However, the radio make not'eth the operator and you can get away with a lot less.

Other than the price I cannot fault this radio. And I can see that attention to detail is of the highest order in the manufacturing process.

73
Donovan
Zs2DL
 
NS0W Rating: 3/5 Apr 5, 2011 09:12 Send this review to a friend
Too expensive  Time owned: more than 12 months
I only operate SSB ragchew and some DX. I never contest and this review is based on my experiences doing that.

Unfortunately, we also have to factor price into every review - if not, how would anybody be able to give a radio like an IC-718, FT-450 or similar ever a 5/5. My other radios are a TS-870 and base K3/10, so most comparisons are based on these. I am also not reviewing Icom's service or the reliability of the radio - I never had any problems in the year that I own this radio. The radio is the second gen i.e. 3Khz roofing filter and firmware is 2.20.

What I like:
Display is beautiful - end of story.
The dual PBT is very nice for getting rid of QRM. So does the auto notch filter in getting rid of those inconsiderate tuner-uppers.
The manual notch filter is also excellent.
Noise Reduction is excellent.
Standard serial port on the back for remote control is great.

Shortcomings:
No waterfall spectrum display and ...
No IF-out or built in antenna splitter that allows me to run a SDR receiver that will give me the panadaptor with waterfall display.

Irritations:
Recovered audio is not as good as what I get out of my Kenwood TS-870. I used an Icom SP-20 on the 7800 and Kenwood SP-31 on the TS-870. Audio out the ACC connector or optical connector on the back into external amp and speakers, is excellent, though.
DC voltage on Microphone pins. On the K3, you simply go into the menu and turn the bias voltage on or off and on the Kenwood it is on a separate pin. On the Yaesu 9000 you have a XLR mic connector on the front and conventional connector on the back. I know you can use the ACC connector on the back of the 7800 but that bypasses the mic gain circuit.
The implimentation of Twin PBT is complex and filled with non-essential information compared to the simple effective K3 or Kenwood implementation.
The SFT filter indicator is confusing and there is virtually no documentation on it in the manual.
The same goes for the Manual Digital Selector adjustment. There has been posts on the 7800 Yahoo group about folks not being able to figure out of this does anything useful - and I am in that same category.

Performance:
I have done many A/B comparisons between the IC-7800 and the TS-870 and a few between the K3 and the IC-7800. Most of these test were a weak signal close to a real strong one and I was trying to dig out the weak signal. So far, I could not find a situation where any one radio of the TS-870, K3 and IC-7800 could do it better than any other radio. I have to admit that my K3 only have the stock filter installed and the TS-870 only has one fairly wide roofing filter.

I would have overlooked the shortcomings and gave it a 5 if the price was below $7000 but neither the performance, nor the features makes it worth the new price to me. Seems the best price you can sell a pristine used one for these days is around $7.5K - so the used market has come close to what I perceive the real value to be.
 
K8RA Rating: 5/5 Jan 15, 2011 19:20 Send this review to a friend
Great radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
Trust me, I have owned a lot of radios. The 7800 is my all time favorite. I love the features and user friendliness. ICOM has the best sounding DSP noise reduction software of any of the manufacturers. Everything in the radio works as advertised. I could go on praising this radio but others below have said it all.

I do agree with the amplifier sequencing issue but I purchased a sequencer from DX Engineering and the problem was solved. The other issue in my opinion is the weight of the radio. It is expensive to ship if you do have a problem
 
K3MD Rating: 5/5 Jan 8, 2011 12:44 Send this review to a friend
Follow up 6 years  Time owned: more than 12 months
Blew finals then driver stage 1 year ago.
Still the best rig I ever used. Much better cybertic design than the Elecraft K3. FT-1000 2nd best rig I ever used, IC-765 third best rig.
Extremely easy to use when you are contesting. Don't use the bandscope most of the time.
This rig is impossible to overoad no matter how you misadjust the settings. Never got the narrow roofing filter mod... works fine with 6K roofing filter. Ant tuner FB, RTTY operation excellent, 6 meters excellent, voice processor excellent, etc.
 
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