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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | ICOM R-8500 Help


Reviews Summary for ICOM R-8500
ICOM R-8500 Reviews: 23 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $1999.99
Description: All mode receiver.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.icomreceivers.com/
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VK1ZIP Rating: 5/5 Dec 30, 2004 21:50 Send this review to a friend
Could have been better  Time owned: more than 12 months
The IC-R8500 cosmetically is a very attractive receiver. I really like its looks and its ergonomics. Technically it could have been better. IMD/BDR is not so great but it is acceptable, not a problem if you live out of town. Sensitivity is excellent and selectivity very good overall. Lack of track tuning of the BPF's on VHF is an oversight that cannot be excused. FM Dxers forget the R8500, it will not compare to a quality dedicated FM receiver like the Onyko T9090. As an general listening receiver for HF/VHF/UHF the 8500 is a great receiver. BUT if your a serious VHF/UHF dxer then for the same price you can purchase a second hand IC-R9000. The IC-R9000 is a far superior receiver in every respect. I still like the IC-R8500 but it needs modification on several fronts to bring it up to the performance level that I expected from such an expensive receiver.
 
KI3P Rating: 4/5 Feb 24, 2004 17:20 Send this review to a friend
Is It Really an Icom?  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have the Icom R-8500 and a Drake R8B. I bought the Icom with the intention of replacing the Drake, since it has extended VHF/UHF capability, while the Drake is confined to low and high band VHF only.

This is a weird Icom radio - not in the tradition of other Icom products through the years. Looking at the construction and circuitry, it does not even closely resemble Icom manufacturing. My feeling is that this receiver was built by a another company for Icom.

The radio has good sensitivity, and fair selectivity. Missing from a receiver of this caliber (and price) are bandwidth/notch/DSP/filters and other tuning niceties. This receiver does not have a VFO! That's right - NO VFO! It only has tunable memories. If you change memory banks, the radio always returns to the preset frequency. There is no way to return to the previous frequency used in the "VFO".

For example, if you are listening to 75 meters, and want to jump to your weather channel memory bank, when you return to the "VFO", it defaults to the preset frequency - you lose your previous frequency. The exception to this, which I find very odd, is that when you turn on the radio, it returns to the exact memory bank and frequency it was on when turned off last.

If you want to return to a particular frequency (and settings), you must either memorize it, write it down, or use the M-SET button (temporary memory), and reset the frequency when you return to that band (bank). I find this ridiculous.

The R-8500 also has a terrible display lighting system. As mentioned here by another reviewer - "..it's either too dim or too bright.". When you view the radio on a slight angle, the back-lighting bulb glares in your face through the side of the S-Meter. Really cheesy.

The Drake is superior in all of the above respects, except it too has it's idiosynchrosies. From the stand point of quality, the 8500 appears to be right up there with the rest in this class. As for receiving quality, this radio is comparable, but missing many 'pro' level receiver controls. As for ergomonics and usage, it is very clunky to use and not the best for display of information.

So now I look at both of these receivers and think that if I had another $5000 or so to burn, I could try the R-9000L. Otherwise I will keep one or the other. Try one before you buy one!
 
N2DY Rating: 5/5 Aug 8, 2003 08:52 Send this review to a friend
Excellent DC to Daylight Receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had my R8500 for about 5 years now. I love it! It's real strength is a sensitive bullet-proof receiver, particularly on VHF and above.

On HF it is as good as most but, as one reviewer pointed out, it lacks some fairly basic controls such as a notch filter and pass band tuning to name a few. That being said, it is as sensitive as most of my HF transceivers on the amateur bands and is much better than the amateur rigs down below 160 meters. I like to listen for AM broadcast and longwave DX. It works well for that although my Drake R-8B is even better.

On VHF and above, no other receiver seems to come close in terms of consistent excellent sensitivity and high immunity to intermod over such a broad range of frequencies. I own or have used many of the wideband scanners out there such as the Uniden 785D and they just do not compare. On the other hand, the R-8500 scanning capabilities are primitive compared to the Uniden.

Physically the radio has extremely high build quality. It is solid as a rock.

So if you want an extremely high quality wideband receiver that goes just about everywhere you want and are not concerned about bells and whistles, then this is the radio for you. Also, if you live in a high intermod area and your scanner is failing you, the R-8500 might solve your problem.
 
N2PQQ Rating: 5/5 Aug 7, 2003 23:39 Send this review to a friend
THE SECOND TIME AROUND  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I really enjoy this radio. I had one once before back in 1996. I just bought one again. This time it will stay here. Radio is simple to use and easy to lisen to. This is not a scanner but a receiver. It may not be fancy by todays standards but it will receive with the best of them. You really cannot go wrong buying this radio.
 
K9XK Rating: 4/5 Jul 14, 2003 13:56 Send this review to a friend
A decent compromise  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I had owned and R-75 for years and sitting along side it was the trusty Radio Shack scanner. One day my wallet was just bulging and I said, "okay why not?"

The first thing that strikes me about this radio is that is does not seem, well, as "advanced" as some receivers (like the R-75) and especially modern transceivers. The meter looks like something from 25 years ago, and if you dim down the display -- which you need to if it's a bedside RX -- you see the two "bulbs" backlighting it.

If you are an HF buff, you'll notice it's missing many features that make a good receiver: filter options, DSP, continually adjustable AGC, dual IF shift. It is also missing a bit of the sensitivity that the R-75 has, but not much. On that end of things, it does pretty well, with the exception of some receiver noise on some bands that the R-75 never had.

So why does it seem a little "dated?" Well, it IS. The 8500 has been around a LONG time!

On the "scanner" side, the rig does well but you still cannot select more than one bank for scanning, a terrible shortcoming, IMO. It is either one bank or everything. A workaround, if you are not going to use all your banks, is to manually combine memory info. For example, on the '8500 I have a "Police" bank and a "Police/Fire" bank. That is a labor intensive workaround but it gets the job done.

One feature that is noteworthy is that you can shuffle the available memories between banks. By default, you 'only' have 40 memories per bank, which is plenty good enough for most but if you wish, you can pull some memories out of one bank for assignment to others. You could have some banks that are 100 memories, if you wished.

The display only has two settings - too bright and too dim. And as I noted earlier, the dim looks like Thomas Edison is inside the rig holding up two bulbs.

Aside from this and the very silly and cheap S-meter, the radio is quite good looking and rugged, with rubberized buttons throughout and a nice face. My IC-910H has the same feature - beatitiful face and controls at the same time their expensive HF rigs of that era had cheap plastic faces and even cheaper plastic buttons. Go figure. They are coming back around on the HF side, though.

So, no, this is not the perfect radio, but I really like it for its DC-to-daylight capability and I am a big Icom fan, so in the shack it will stay until I need to sell it to pay for their new $9,000 HF transceiver. Then I will pick up an R-75 and a Radio Shack scanner again.
 
REEF2K Rating: 5/5 Mar 17, 2003 18:03 Send this review to a friend
high quality all-rounder  Time owned: more than 12 months
i've owned a couple of these,both second hand but like new condition.
the best thing about these is that they're so easy to use without many multi-funcion buttons to confuse you. the build quality is very good with good fit and finish to the unit.
performance is great,it'll do the job of a good hf receiver if that's all your mainly into and on vhf,uhf and above it has good sensitivity but handles strong pager splatter and images very well,much better than other cheaper base scanners offer so i guess you get what you pay for.i had a yaesu vr 5000 i think it was called and it was awful as it could'nt handle the strong pager noise which would break-through everywhere,so i returned it and looked for another second hand 8500 which is in a totaly different class,but again so is the price when new.
it realy is a great all-rounder and makes a good second hand buy if you want high performance receive accross the spectrum.
 
HERALD123 Rating: 4/5 Mar 8, 2003 20:36 Send this review to a friend
have had problems  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I'VE OWNED THE 8500 SINCE OCT. 02. THE PROBLEM I'M HAVING IS THAT SOMETIMES WHEN YOU TURN IT ON THE FREQUENCY STARTS FLASHING. YOU HAVE TO SHUT IT OFF AND START AGAIN. IT HAS BEEN TO ICOM ONCE, NO LUCK. I FINALLY MADE THEM A VIDEO TAPE OF THE PROBLEM. AM WAITING TO HEAR BACK. I REALLY LIKE THE RADIO BUT THIS BUG IS DRIVING ME NUTS.
 
DF1AS Rating: 5/5 Feb 28, 2003 06:08 Send this review to a friend
Well equipped  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have it for some years now and would never sell it. The oven controlled oscillator (OCXO) and the 250 Hz CW Filter are plugged in.
I adjusted the OCXO CR-293 with a <1E-9 source. Frequency stability in fact is better than specified - but adjustment is a must. I have in total four ICOM transceivers/receivers with this TCXO (CR-293) installed and they all were originally calibrated bad (one was ok, three were even out of spec.!).
The 250 Hz CW-filter is the expensive 455 kHz type and works very well for the SW bands (even if ICOM tells that only the 500 Hz filter cold be plugged in - nonsense).
I'm working mostly in the GHz bands with homemade transverters. The 8500 is very helpful in calibrating oscillators and mixers, which fall in the covered 2 GHz range of the receiver.
The remaining time I don't switch the receiver off and use it for all ham bands from 160 m up to 23 cm, SSB, CW and FM. Sometimes as an FM radio - three IF bandwidths for FM and for AM are well designed.
The receiver sensitivity is an optimum on all bands. With a long wire connected you need the attenuators, but you may not compare this receiver concept with that from a 775 or PRO2.
I sometimes also miss a notch filter on SW, and sometimes one or two more antenna connectors. There are two (and a half), an SO-239 up to 30 MHz, above type N. The third one is a cynch socket for long wires.
I guess the next step at ICOM should be to integrate a TFT display for a spectrum scope, NF DSP ... we will see what comes.
Yes, I know ... the 781, 970, and 9000 were great (and big) things. But the time of 19" racks seems to be over. Today you can put the same performance or even more into less space. If you had a look into an 8500, you know that in principle they even wasted space to get a housing that fits to some other ICOM rigs ...
73
 
DRACO Rating: 5/5 Jan 11, 2003 15:42 Send this review to a friend
High Quality Receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've owned the ic-r8500 for about 2 years, the design and build quality is superb and with a very high quality LCD and VU signal meter making this receiver very Handsome indeed, but that's unuff about how it looks. The VHF and UHF performance is great, but its on HF were it
even outshines some of the dedicated HF receivers on the market.

For me the icom ic-r8500 is a very high quality receiver which will give its user great listening pleaser.

 
AA5CH Rating: 4/5 Mar 14, 2002 17:11 Send this review to a friend
Expensive but Good  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Trying to save some money and desk space, I initially purchased a Yaesu VR5000. After five days it completely locked up and I had to "hard reset" the microprocessor, losing all memories. It was plagued with intermod / image rejection problems and was difficult to operate with the multilayered menus. It was returned and I ordered the R-8500.

After five minutes, it was obvious that I had made the correct decision in spending the additional money for the R-8500. If you are familiar with the operation of most modern amateur radio transceivers, you will quickly master the R-8500. The receiver sensitivity appears equivalent to my HF/VHF/UHF transceiver on all frequency bands. I have experienced no image rejection / intermod problems. Some might prefer a digital signal strength meter, but I enjoy the analog meter.

So far the noise blanker does not appear to be very effective. The relays that engage as the receiver scans are mildly annoying. It would be nice if a clock and bandwidth scope were integrated into the display. The display dimmer seems to be "all or nothing." Given the larger picture, these are all minor problems or perceived shortcomings.

The bottom line...the R-8500 is an expensive, but good general coverage receiver.

73,

Brad
AA5CH
 
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