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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | SONY ICF-2010 Help

Reviews Summary for SONY ICF-2010
SONY  ICF-2010 Reviews: 64 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $449.95
Description: SW/AM/FM/AIR Portable Communications Receiver
Product is in production.
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WF7I Rating: 5/5 Feb 14, 2010 07:15 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful old portable  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought mine in the late 1980s as a relatively new ham and used it as a station monitor. It has been a great resource and definitely comparable to many ham rigs. I didn't realize how sensitive the performance was and how handy the sync detector was until I started playing with the other portable receivers that were available. It was one of the best purchases I've made in radio.

Recently my unit has developed some signs of old age and the SSB functionality comes and goes. I was thinking of selling it or donating, but have decided to opt for looking into a repair, because I value the radio too much as a piece of history and a collectors item. I wish Sony would produce a worthy successor.
OE3SGU Rating: 5/5 Feb 4, 2010 05:47 Send this review to a friend
a real radio with real knobs  Time owned: more than 12 months
This radio is one of the pieces that will remain in the shack, it is a collectors item and a piece of radio history. I bought mine second hand some years ago and regret not buying one much earlier, when I did much more listening. Easy to use, superb reception and the synchrone detector works nice too. A radio that - even if old - newer radios have to compete with.
KC2TAU Rating: 5/5 Jan 15, 2010 22:08 Send this review to a friend
Does things it shouldn't do...  Time owned: 3 to 6 months

There is very much a reason why these radios still command the prices they do. They tend to do things that you don't expect them to do. This radio was far ahead of the industry when it came out and even today it really hasn't been matched. I have a feeling manufacturers would be unable to justify the per unit cost versus the expected market.

The unit itself is really built with a sense of quality. A fair amount of it is made of plastic but it isn't the sort of plastic you'll be afraid of going brittle on you. All of the buttons feel great and everything just has a great feel to it. You certainly won't get heaps of memory slots like you do get in today's newer portables but it doesn't lack much in terms of timer operation as well as a well engineered scan feature. The radio itself is really something else,technology certainly has advanced over the years but in terms of outright performance this Sony does not show it's age one bit. Overall sensitivity is fantastic though my example did come with a blown Q303 so I replaced it with an MPF102 however I felt sensitivity was not all it could be due to the fact that it was neck and neck with my Eton E5(a very good radio but the Sony should have edged it). I then sourced some 2SK152-2's and installed them and found that the sensitivity certainly had increased and now had little trouble besting the E5. It seems that the gain tolerance for the MPF 102's is quite wide and unless one can hand select them to fit the spec given by Sony they can be a bit of a hit and miss affair. With everything up and running the ability of this radio is staggering. I've compared it to my Icom 703 or Heathkit HW-101 which are connected to a 60ft random wire up about 30ft or so and it is usually within about an S unit of them which is simply fantastic. I can listen to DX on 80m at night with no trouble at all and using it to catch numbers stations or low power shortwave broadcasts is a true pleasure. I use it in conjunction with a homebrew loop made out of a milk crate for LW and at night I have no trouble receiving long wave broadcasts from all over Europe from my location in New York. In summary it really does things you would not expect a radio of it's size to do.

It plays well with outdoor antennas as well,at school I have a 50 or so odd foot random wire antenna at 25ft coming out from my 1st floor dorm and with the 2010 hooked up to it I have a lot of fun DX'ing transatlantic MW stations. It takes a lot to overload this radio and when it does occur the two step attenuator works well at reducing the signal level down to a level that the front end can work with. The RF gain slider is also very handy when trying to find the best signal to noise level. Overall tone quality is just fine thanks to the 3 selection tone switch and,like most say,the narrow filter is a bit muffled but it really does help cut down on adjacent signals. The wide filter I know a lot of people replace but when conditions are right so that you don't get any whistling from adjacent stations the wide filter's fidelity is really fantastic. I plan on keeping mine because if I really want to fiddle about with filter settings I'll just run the 2010 into something like a Timewave DSP.

The sync detector does a wonderful job at both cutting down QRM as well as helping with fade. I use the sync nearly all the time when doing LW and MW DX'ing as it definitely helps with reducing the noise floor as well as adjacent splatter. It also does a good job at digging signals out of the mud on shortwave when they're right on the noise level.

It does relatively well on 3 D cells,just don't spend long amounts of time with it playing on high volume through the speaker. The included AC adapter is noise free and works just fine. The only real pickle with this radio is servicing as it all comes apart and goes back together easily enough but there are a few things that you NEED to know when working on this radio.

1) The wires from the AM and LW loop stick are extremely fragile and will break if you put too much strain on them. They can be soldered back together but it is a fiddly job.

2) The ribbon cables that connect the main board to the keypad are a bit temperamental as they need to be seated all the way in their slot for proper operation. In addition the sliders that hold the ribbons into their slot are very delicate and must be treated with extreme care.

3) Soldering in a 2010 is tight quarters and the pads will lift with little encouragement if you put too much heat on it so use a low wattage iron and don't apply heat for too long to the pads.

4) Be careful when tightening down the main board,tighten down the screws to the point where either it begins to feel snug(tighten to snug and not to tight!)or when the board starts to bend,whichever comes first. If the board starts to flex then back off until it returns to being straight.

5)Move slowly when handling the main board as the small brown wire that is attached to the top of the board can easily break free.

6)If something won't move,do *not* force it as the plastic parts,although tough,are still plastic and can break if you try and force them.

7)Remember when you're putting everything back together to put the tone,RF gain and volume slides that are on the main board to their lowest position and then set the sliders that are on the plastic chassis to the same position. I cannot recall how many times I have put the radio back together and have had one of the sliders in the wrong place so the two switch surfaces were not mated up and thus would not move.

8)Perform the diode mod to save your Q303 and 302,it takes only a few minutes and with it you can use your external connection for AM without any fear of static discharge!

9)Tighten everything to snug,don't overdo it and always use small screwdrivers so that you stand even less of a chance of creating too much torque.

I hope these tips help,this radio is logically put together and thus everything is there in front of you but there are a few quirks about if that you should learn to save you some time in servicing it. Just be careful,work slowly and you'll be fine!

What do I think of this radio? It is a true friend to me and has served me well so far and I will never part with it. Even though I've only had it for about 6 months it feels like I've had it for years. It's been around for quite sometime having been manufactured around 1988 and with the way it is built I do not doubt it'll be around for many many years to come. It continues to surprise and amaze me with what it can do. If you're thinking about picking one up then do not hesitate,you'll have a radio for life!
WB5AGF Rating: 5/5 Aug 15, 2009 21:13 Send this review to a friend
excellent late 1980's portable SW receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
The Sony ICF-2010 portable shortwave receiver is a late 1980s design that was so good that Sony had trouble discontinuing it.

It isn't a perfect receiver (those are what I used to dream about when going through the AES catalog) but it is very, very close when you add the requirement that it be portable.

Over the years I've read that some 2010s were prone to static induced blowing of the front end transistor and that others had trouble with an unstable coherent AM detector. Thankfully my receiver was OK in both respects (I take care when touching the whip antenna in low-humidity environments).

The 2010 is extremely stable, with the 1980s synthesizer 'chuffing' only a bit when the receiver is tuned (again I've read that some receivers show this to a greater degree than others). If you're going to be listening to a lot of SSB then be advised that the 2010's synthesizer tunes in 100 Hz steps so you'll find that you won't be able to tune some stations exactly as you'd like if you have a very critical ear; a station might be as much as 50 Hz off.

The front of the 2010 is covered with buttons and a lot of them are there because of the (in today's thinking) rudimentary memory channel technique that the Sony Engineers went with in the 1980s. Instead of having dozens (or hundreds) of memory channels, which can be called up with a 'recall' function associated with a 10 digit keypad, many of the buttons on the front of the 2010 are there to recall a single memory channel.

The 2010 has a feature that later top-of-the-line Sony portable shortwave receivers didn't have; it covers the 108 to 136 MHz AM aircraft band. I've listened to aircraft a fair amount and the 2010 works OK.

The 2010 also covers the Low Frequency band below 500 kHz; my success using it there has been very limited.

All things considered the Sony ICF-2010 is an excellent portable shortwave receiver and it is difficult to realize that the design is now over 20 years old.
N2RBJ Rating: 5/5 Jun 18, 2009 08:01 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
I replaced my ICF-2001 with this receiver over 15 years ago and I still like it. Much better on battery power and perfect for both SWL and Ham monitoring.
CORBINTECHBOY Rating: 5/5 Aug 8, 2008 09:19 Send this review to a friend
Still nothing touches it!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I did some heavy research before purchasing the 2010. I'm very glad I did! The unit is a absolute pleasure to use, the audio is good (for my ears your mileage may vary), the storage of memories is the best I ever seen and I could go on all day long bout the wonderful little gem.

I came to the conclusion to purchase it over the E1 when I kept reading "The Eton E1 is not as good off the whip as the Sony, but it more then makes up with features, hook up a external antenna and it can now hang with the Sony", guess what? This may come as a shocker to some people but THESE ARE PORTABLE RADIOS!!! You hook up a external antenna and it loses the portable ability. I have slapped pretty hefty external antennas at my 2010 and it walks on with stride not batting an eye!

I would just like to say to the E1 fans out there, All the features in the world amount to squat when you can't pull in a signal to use those features on!

You keep your pretty little less sensitive radio and I will enjoy my outdated sensitive little wonder!

WA7OCZ Rating: 5/5 Jul 10, 2008 09:45 Send this review to a friend
Great Receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had this receiver for about fifteen years with out any problems. I did the front end FET upgrade to a more robust semiconductor that can be purchased at Radio Shack for less than $1.40.

It really didn't need it since the original FET was working fine, but I was dismantling for cleaning and thought I'd just do it while I was in there tinkering.

I see some people have trouble with this radio over time of cutting out and resetting the memory if held a certain way. The reason for this is that the board "connection" for the memory batteries is held in place by the pressure of a spring against the PC board. To fix this, you'll need to crack the case and do a bit of minor dismantling of the guts and just rebend the spring a bit to make a more solid contact.

When you do this, make sure you either take the front end board away from its mounts, or just be extra careful. I wasn't, and managed to break two of the lines going to the ferrite antenna. This would have been a major hassle if I hadn't been able to find a copy on-line of the schematic. Whew...

All in all, a great receiver. Every time I think about replacing it, I talk myself out of it.

SWLDENNY Rating: 4/5 Jan 18, 2008 14:44 Send this review to a friend
Great radio, poor audio  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I am giving the 2010 an actual rating of 3 1/2 to 4 out of 5. I was very surprised at the sensitivity off only the whip antenna. My only problem with the 2010 is the audio quality and filter choices. With the bandwidth on "wide" and no adjacent channel interference no problem. When you have to use the "narrow" bandwidth due to interference, the audio does get very tiring. I did find it could be overcome sometimes by adjusting the synchronous selectible sideband to find the sideband with less interference. A good pair of headphones also helps improve the audio, as would either a variable tone control or different settings on the stock one. The only other complaint was my reluctance to use an external antenna due to the possiblity of overloading the front end with strong signals and static charge. In the end I did find out I had a "deaf" unit with a blown FET, but still I couldn't believe the sensitivity and would recommend this as a portable. I was very happy to own one. A very well built and reliable radio.
K4JAH Rating: 5/5 Nov 7, 2007 16:14 Send this review to a friend
just keeps on recieving  Time owned: more than 12 months

ELJAY Rating: 4/5 Nov 6, 2007 07:16 Send this review to a friend
A mixed bag, mostly good.  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had an ICF-2010 for about 10 years. Can't complain about the price - found it in a pawn shop for $25. But at full retail pop I'd have been a bit disappointed.

On the plus side, it's very capable throughout the entire frequency range. The scanning feature is really handy when you don't want to hover over the radio trying to find a station. Reception and selectively are excellent. It doesn't have any really bad habits.

The manual tuning wheel has a nice feel and hasn't become flimsy with use, which I'd expected to happen. Chuffing is moderate when tuning around and the radio doesn't go brain dead, so you can listen even for weak signals while spinning the wheel.

On the down side, some of the highly touted features are overrated. The synchronous detector isn't nearly as useful as I'd hoped. With so many stations competing within a narrow range of frequencies the sync detector goes nuts, whining and growling while trying to lock onto a signal. Most of the time I leave it off.

Audio gets tiresome after a while. Wide mode is often too wide and hissy. Narrow is wooly. The three position tone switch doesn't help matters much. A good outboard speaker with amplifier helps, but that defeats the role of a portable. SSB is sometimes useful for straightening out difficult broadcasts.

And SSB works fine for listening to hams. The "slow" (0.1kHz) option helps.

There's no manually operable noise blanker but the radio does pretty well without it.

It isn't an ideal choice for folks interested in running the radio through the computer for translating CW, RTTY, FSK, etc. Neither the tape out or earphone out jacks deliver quite the right levels for programs that go straight through the sound card unless the signals are strong and background noise is low.

Mine has a quirky habit of cutting out briefly when I'm holding it a certain way, resetting the frequency to 150. So it's not practical for hoisting onto the shoulder while aiming the internal ferrite antenna around for MW DXing.

The slider switches - volume, gain - have become crackly with age and use. Knobs might have been more resistant to intrusion of dust, but the sliders keep the profile flat, and Sony intended this to be portable - sorta.

It needs only three D cell batteries when off the wall wart. That makes better sense than forcing half a dozen or 10 AA batteries into the same space, which seems to be the trend nowadays. The ICF-2010 seems to get pretty good mileage out of the batteries.

Forget trying to figure out all of the features without the instruction manual. But with the instructions some of the features can be useful, even the sleep timer.

Some nice touches: A pop out stand on the back to tilt the radio (it pops out a bit too easily); a simple graphic map of time zones; a slide out information plate, blank on the front for jotting down favorite programs, and with tips on the back for using the timer, scanning, etc.; loops for a shoulder strap, large enough to accomodate makeshift straps in case the original Sony strap is missing.

It's almost as though Sony wanted to build a tabletop but squeeze it all into a portable. For folks who just want a pleasant listening experience with a simple radio for world band broadcasts and don't plan to tote the radio around, the ICF-2010 is overkill. Something like the Lowe HF-150 or Palstar R30 might be up their alley. But for serious listeners who just want one radio to do it all fairly well, it's a pretty good choice.
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