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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Hand-held | Standard C558A Help

Reviews Summary for Standard C558A
Standard C558A Reviews: 13 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $Discontinued 150-175 typical use
Description: Twin Band VHF/UHF Transceiver
Product is not in production.
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TUBESHORTWAVE Rating: 5/5 Apr 14, 2016 21:30 Send this review to a friend
The best there ever was  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned my Standard C558A radio for longer than I can remember. It's just always there, and always works.

My very first ham HT was an Icom, and it was great, but suffered horrible intermod from nearby strong signals. I had heard that the Standard radios were better, and that they had better receivers. So, I became the owner of the Standard C558A that I still own today. WOW, what a difference! Besides being able to hear signals that the Icom cannot in some cases, the Standard C558A also doesn't get hammered by strong nearby signals.

Back when I first got the Standard C558A, paging (remember "beepers"?) were still very popular, and the very high powered transmissions were coming from towers everywhere. Paging intermod was just accepted by hams because "it is what it is". It was like a breath of fresh air after getting the Standard C558A to not have paging intermod, especially on weak signals. In my work, I use a lot of Motorola professional radios, and was just used to the rock-solid receivers the Motorola gear had. The Standard C558A is very similar in performance to the Motorola radios.

With the service monitor, on the bench, the Standard C558A rejects signals removed by as little as 10 kc. It's just absolutely amazing.

The transmit audio is very hi-fi. Good, clear audio that seems to have an extended audio bandwidth. The audio limiting works well, with little clipping even when speaking loudly. Mic has plenty of sensitivity so you don't have to eat it.

Battery life is exceptional. Using the stock 7.2 volt pack, the radio puts out close to 3 watts and easily lasts all day. If you use the larger pack or 12 volts (watch that reverse polarity!), it will put out 5 watts with ease. I am STILL using the battery that came with the radio. It just never dies. I have purchased larger packs for it, and they all die within a couple years. The original is still going strong. Also, the original pack has the same coating as the case of the radio and matches in color. None of the replacement packs seem to be able to duplicate that, and just come in plain, smooth black.

The antenna connection is a standard BNC type, not one of those tiny, wimpy SMA's or variant of that. Having a separate volume and squelch for the VHF and for the UHF bands is awesome. The Standard C558A will do cross-band repeat also.

I own a total of 4 or 5 HT's, and all but one has dies from either old age or just electrical problems. The Standard C558A is the most reliable radio I own. I would absolutely pay whatever was necessary to obtain another if I ever lose this one.
N9SSU Rating: 5/5 Jan 29, 2016 16:02 Send this review to a friend
Still one of the best ever, for multiple reasons!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I am amazed by the poor expression & explanations along with bad verbiage used by some reviewers! In simple terms:

The BAD:

The speaker and audio output is terrible! Low volume output. Make sure you have an earphone or other device to amplify output sound.

The display is not evenly lit, as it is lit on the edges using 2 green light sources.


Everything else! Crossband out of the box. No intermod, none, zero, even on an external antenna, solid front end, with HOT receive. Easy to front panel program, after you read the manual which is straightforward. Awesome transmit audio. Output power on spec & 5W using 12v. Great stock antenna. Squelch and Volume for each band. Nice feeling radio while holding it. They still make drop in chargers and batteries for it.

There is always sentiment on old rigs one grew up with, but that sentiment can go both ways. Concerning this one, there are enough good to offset the bad, so it gets 5 stars.

If you can find a nice one, can do without 1000 memories, other bands, etc... try it!
N2WSC Rating: 3/5 Mar 7, 2015 21:51 Send this review to a friend
it's just okay  Time owned: more than 12 months
I owned several c558 and finally I got frustrated
and threw the last one in the trash.
first of all they have very good receivers and works well in cities with a lot of rf interference, it has an attenuator available too
which gives added intermod rejection.
good on conserving battery power, and efficient
during tx BUT you can't hear the speaker in any traffic, I had to use a modified headphone to hear it in new york city, the speaker is miserable! I had to guess the audio output would be around 100mw at best! standard flooded the area of the ptt with this green glue and that cause a lot of problems with the tact's for both func and tx ! they suffer from microphonics in one of the motherboards. and those claiming that this radio is "nearly mil spec" you are delusional ! that was a really delicate radio .
I found that a lot of the plastic
in the front to be very brittle! it's NOT ABS! plastic! and can never take any kind of pressure or it can implode.the only thing that would could be considered "tough" is the batter pack!
I wish I could give this radio
a better mark but I want you all to
know the truth. so here it is
and don't believe the hype.
KA3RCS Rating: 5/5 Nov 18, 2012 21:35 Send this review to a friend
Superb 1990s radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I drove hundreds of miles to buy my C558A new in 1994, as I prefer 'instant gratification' rather than waiting for such expensive equipment to arrive, and hoping that it would be the right model and not damaged in shipment. I never regretted doing so for a moment, as it turned out to be one of the most beautifully refined pieces of gear which I have ever used. It has about the nicest feel of any handheld radio ever made, and performs extremely well.

The C558A was my main HT for about 7 years, until the advance of technology allowed me to have even more capability in an even smaller package (in the form of the Yaesu VX-5). If all one wants is 2 meters and 440 MHz, without alpha tags, 6 meters, computer programming capability, AM/FM/SW broadcast reception, or a waterproof housing, then this is still among the best radios ever made.

Fortunately, AA battery cases are still available for this and similar radios, and today's NiMH cells (with higher capacity than we could even dream of back then) provide great runtime.

One very cool and unusual feature found on this radio is the user-swappable EEPROM module. The stock radio included a module which offered 40 memory channels, with an optional 200-channel module available. A friend and I determined years ago that the EEPROM chip on the 40-channel module could be replaced with the same part used on the 200-channel module, resulting in an instant upgrade. All it takes is a bit of SMT soldering skill.

This radio has another factor which distinguishes it from most: the included stock rubber duck antenna actually works very well, and is not excessively thick and/or stiff for real-world use (quite unlike the stock ducks for the Kenwood TH-215A, Yaesu VX-5, VX-7, and FT-817, etc.). Of course, for low-profile use, the Maldol Active Hunter is a superb choice.

Even though it is no longer my primary HT, I will always keep this one as a backup, as well as an example of fine radio equipment design and craftsmanship. It is not surprising to see that this is one of those rare pieces of gear to have achieved a 5/5 average rating, and I will happily continue that tradition with zero hesitation.
KC4CQS Rating: 5/5 Aug 28, 2010 09:53 Send this review to a friend
One of the best!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned this HT since around 1993 and I still use this radio as a comparison to most others I have owned and I'll have to say it still has some of the best combinations of receive sensitivity and transmit audio quality of any I've owned. This HT is closer to commercial quality than any I've owned to date. I wish Standard was still in the Ham business. Not the Vertex/Standard version. BTW this rig along with the C228A share the same battery pack type and is also used in ADI transceivers. C558A compared to the following HT's, Icom IC-91A,TH-F6A,VX-6R,FT-60,DJ-580T. Not a scientific opinion mind you just a personal review. All the others mentioned are good in their own right but if the small display does not bother you and if you run across one at a Hamfest in good shape give it a try! Batteries are still available. I think it's a classic!
N5GAR Rating: 5/5 May 10, 2009 01:54 Send this review to a friend
Best hand held I've ever owned  Time owned: more than 12 months
This is the best hand held I've ever owned. The sound quality on receive is excellent. Sensitivity is excellent. It's too bad these are no longer available new on the US market.
VK7ZJA Rating: 5/5 Oct 14, 2006 15:45 Send this review to a friend
Excellent HT, wish I never sold it  Time owned: more than 12 months
I must echo comments of all the others here.
The rig is very sensitive and selective - including out of band RX on the two way bands.
All features are fairly easy to use, and the audio quality is great.
The only problem I had with it was that the front panel imprinting for the buttons wore off after some use. But that shouldn't be basis for complaint - I gave it lots of use!
Marantz really made a nice rig here, excellent design & performance, excellent documentation & service manual; a pity they're not still making items for the amateur market as I'd definitely be a repeat customer.
KG0WX Rating: 5/5 Oct 10, 2006 12:36 Send this review to a friend
Battleship HT  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just picked up mine from a recent hamfest for $125. Included was a dead nicd pack, a dry cell case, 12v adapter, speaker/mic, manual and the original box with a AES catalog cutout showing 1997 prices and options. Nice!

I live near Boeing and they put out a lot of RF but even hooked up to a GP-6 @ 40', I get ZERO intermod. Such is one of the hallmarks of a quality reciever.

I rebuilt the nicd pack with 2500 maH NiMh cells and have 2 caveats if your are thinking of attempting this:

1) The side to side clearances in the pack are tight so you either have to buy cells with tabs or be very good at making low rise solder joints. I had to grind down the blobs with a Dremel tool to make things fit.

2) The OEM charger only puts out 80 ma so with my new pack I was looking at 50 hours to charge it up! I cut the wall wart off the cable and wired in a 160 ma wall wart so my new charge rate equals a 25 hour recharge time. Note when doing this that the stock cable/plug is IMHO inverted as far as polarity goes - the sheild on the cable and the outside of the plug is POSITIVE.

On to the radio itself - like other posters, I feel this radio is about the best choice for you if your not looking for super broadband recieve or other bells and whistles. This rig does 95% of what you would call for. Add to that the extreme rugged construction and you end up with commercial toughness blended with amateur radio features.

This rig DOES do AM recieve but in a funky way - you have to enter a menu and switch the rig out of FM mode and into AM mode. Modern rigs do this automatically based on bandplans but not the C558A. A minor annoyance.

Stock the rig comes with 40 memories, a VFO for each band and 1 call channel per band. There is a micro ram chip in the battery bay that can be swapped out for a 200 memory unit (CMU161 - good luck finding it).

Some of the features I like: A small (UHF size) stock antenna that compares well with a 1/4 wave whip. Also, a real antenna connector - BNC, dual volume/squelch controls, buttons with a light touch, a dedicated power button and a metal handstrap loop. I also took mine apart (easy) to enscribe my call in the rig and adjust the VHF S-meter which was a little "stingy". No alignment file needed - the pots are tiny but well labled (SMV for VHF and SMU for UHF).

Things I did'nt like - The display is rather smallish and the buttons were clearly designed for aisian fingers however there is a good amount of room between the buttons so it's not too bad. I'll get used to it, I'm sure.

Overall, a good rig.

KB9VGR Rating: 5/5 Feb 18, 2006 16:57 Send this review to a friend
2 thumbs up  Time owned: more than 12 months
i loved my Standard C558A until i lost it / it dissapeared last summer i wish i could find it it was the best ht ive had sofar
AC6IN Rating: 5/5 Dec 9, 2005 16:52 Send this review to a friend
GREAT ht's  Time owned: more than 12 months
Standard set the standard in ht quality. To bad they stopped making radios, They made by far the highest quality ht's.

If you can find any of the standard ht's buy them you will NOT regret it.
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