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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Vintage amateur | Drake R-4A Help

Reviews Summary for Drake R-4A
Drake R-4A Reviews: 7 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $(missing—add MSRP)
Description: Part of the famous Drake R4 series of Ham band receivers, manufactured about 1966-1967.
Product is not in production.
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K6CTW Rating: 5/5 Mar 16, 2014 21:29 Send this review to a friend
Super Receiver  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Got my R-4A on eBay and it was in nice physical condition. Replaced the electrolytic caps and some others and a couple of resistors that were out of spec and a couple of tubes. The result is great! The selectivity is fine, the noise blanker works well, and it has a very nice audio sound (especially on AM) when going through a very good speaker I have for it.

Another great feature is that it is easy to work on. Especially with the manual set from K4OAH.

It's not the equal of my fully Sherwood mod'd R-4C but a wonderful addition to the shack.
STEVEQ Rating: 5/5 May 18, 2010 07:44 Send this review to a friend
Great Receiver  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Just picked up a clean R4A at Hamvention 2010 in Dayton, OH. Fired it up over the weekend, it performed in the classic Drake fashion, solid no drift, good audio with the filters doing the job they were designed to do. The Noise Blanker is only fair but I rarely use it. There were 5 additional XTALs installed and they worked fine

Decided to compare this new arrival with my R4 and a restored classic Drake 2A. First using a sloper then a long wire all performed well. The R4A had a softer audio tone, the 2A bold, clean. The R4A did not detect some signals the 2A was picking up, that surprised me. But once on the long wire the R4A caught the signals, you figure.

I know most people go after the R4B but I am very pleased with the R4A. A lot of radio for not a lot of money
HFRF Rating: 3/5 Oct 19, 2009 17:14 Send this review to a friend
Mediocre  Time owned: more than 12 months
Not a bad receiver but side by side with a 75S3B, the Drake had inferior selectivity compared to the Collins mechanical filters. VFO stability wasn't the greatest either. If I were to buy another one of these receivers for a spare or an occasional use receiver I sure wouldn't pay much for it. There are a lot better receivers out there in a transceiver package.
K6LO Rating: 5/5 Oct 19, 2009 13:59 Send this review to a friend
Refreshing  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased a really nice example of an R4A recently from eBay. The ceramic filters do not offer great skirt selectivity, but it handles strong signals with ease, has marvelous audio, and our cat likes to snooze on it. I use it as a spotting receiver in my shack. I was comparing it to my FT-102 and TS-940S last night. It heard everything they did, and it was more pleasant to listen to. It has that cozy tube sound. I think I'll go find a companion transmitter for it.
W4ET Rating: 5/5 Oct 25, 2008 09:13 Send this review to a friend
Good rig  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I recently picked up a Drake R4A from ebay along with a T4X transmitter. The receiver works great. It is in excellent condition and I am very satisfied with it. I have owned the R4B in the past, and, in my opinion, the R4A is just as good. This one is the 13 tube version, serial number 2816. For a 40+ year old rig, it holds it's own with modern gear. If you have the opportunity to pick one up a a decent price, I would recommend it. Now if I could just find a good AC-4 power supply, I could put my Drake Twins on the air. 73.
G4AON Rating: 5/5 Sep 23, 2007 04:09 Send this review to a friend
Good vintage receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
Maybe I really should give the receiver a 4, but considering it is over 40 years old and is still fully working without needing any modifications, it deserves better than "good". Mine came from eBay and is in remarkable condition with no chassis corrosion, no modifications and no sign of having been repaired. It even has the original mains lead (I added a safety electrical earth as the original mains lead is only two core).

On SSB the audio quality is superb. On CW the performance isn't quite as good as SSB, but I'm being very critical here. The LC filtering is pretty good and gives bandwidths of 4.8, 2.4, 1.2 and 0.4 KHz without the need to buy extra filters. There is a crystal calibrator and noise blanker fitted as standard.

Image performance is not as good as a modern "up conversion" receiver, on 40m at night there are times when artefacts appear around 7.0 MHz. For all practical purposes this is not a problem.

I believe my receiver dates from 1965, it is one of the earlier 13 valve units. I've added crystals for 160m and the WARC bands, QuartSlab in the UK sell crystals for the Drake receivers ( One of the big advantages of the Drake 4 series receivers is the ability to add up to 10 auxiliary bands.

Sometimes I use my R4A in conjunction with the transmit side of my Elecraft K2, details of how to interface the two are at:
N6CIC Rating: 4/5 Sep 3, 2006 22:15 Send this review to a friend
Excellent receiver for its time  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned two of these fine receivers, as well as an R-4, and an R4-B. There are two versions of the R-4A, an earlier 13-tube version, and a later version with 11 tubes. I find it hard to tell the difference in performance, and the R4-A seems to perform as well as the later R4-B.

The audio is excellent, the selectivity for SSB and CW is good, and this vintage receiver even has notch filtering and passband tuning! The only reason I do not give it a 5 rating is its propensity to suffer from corrosion on the tube, switch, and crystal contacts and on the copper chassis. If you clean up the corrosion with some contacts cleaner, the receiver will perform like a champ.

If you can find a used one in good condition-go for it.


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