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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Vintage amateur | HALLICRAFTERS SX- 115 Help


Reviews Summary for HALLICRAFTERS SX- 115
HALLICRAFTERS  SX- 115 Reviews: 15 Average rating: 3.9/5 MSRP: $595.00
Description: Deluxe ham band receiver
Product is not in production.
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K2II Rating: 3/5 Aug 5, 2015 19:13 Send this review to a friend
Performance NOT commensurate with good looks  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought my SX-115 in 1964 when I was only 14 years old. I actually used cash but bags and bags of silver coins that I had saved doing odd jobs and shoveling driveways. At Harrison Radio, I traded in a almost useless Hallicrafters SX-140 for a gorgeous almost new SX-115. I actually haul it home in hand, carrying it up to the train and finally getting it home. Why it was light years ahead of the crummy SX-140, I found it to initially drift badly and then slowly stabilize after 20 minutes. It also had big problems handling adjacent strong signals. I had a ham friend about 3 blocks away and when he was operating on the same band as myself, the SX-115 produced images all across the band and drove the AGC crazy. ( Old style 1940's LC filtering in the IF's was the culprit). Terrible and disappointing in many ways! I found sensitivity to be o.k. but truth be told, my other friend's new Drake 2B was a better performer all around.
Filtering for CW was just acceptable but not ever vaguely close to another friends superb Collins with its mechanical filters or the Drake 2B Q multiplier.
In summary, I am amazed that the collector's have found the SX-115 to be their darling. It is like a strikingly attractive blonde that can't cook, can't sew, can't clean, can engage in conversation but sure looks good doing almost nothing well.
 
NQ5T Rating: 5/5 Apr 9, 2015 14:15 Send this review to a friend
It's a 4+, rounded up  Time owned: more than 12 months
I was reading (big mistake) a long thread here on the forum about the SX-115 IF strip and L/C IF's in general. The level of spittle and just inappropriate nasty dialogue was beyond the pale — the usual egos got involved and that isn't always a good thing.. But it got me thinking — why, oh why, do I like my SX-115 so much?

With all the grousing about it being overpriced — have you looked at the price of a 75S-3x lately? Talk about OVER priced. It's a good radio, but hardly worth of a prayer stance and genuflect when turning it on. But I digress.

After some 60 radios of one kind or another that have passed through the 'temporary museum and restoration center" here, I have 3 SSB-built radios left (and too many of other ilk) — a 75S-3C, Drake R-4B, and the SX-115. All of them are excellent radios — they have good parts, and they have not so good parts. You can choose your poison.

The Collins is my least favorite — mostly because of the "S-Line sound", driven by the narrow filters, BFO positioning relative to filter center, 200 Khz tuning range, etc. I am not a big fan — and am surely in the minority and will likely be thrown out of the CCA as a result of that comment ;) It's build quality is excellent, better than the Drake, but no better than the SX-115 and IMO not quite up to the SX-115. I'd rather listen long term to either the Drake or Hallicrafters.

The R-4B is just a great receiver overall. Better than the stock "C" by a long shot IMO, and maybe even a better receiver than the SX-115 by the numbers. Maybe. But are we really going to argue numbers for radios that are there because they exist, not because we expect them to be modern in every respect? The fact that they aren't is why they're so much fun to play with ...

In any case, the numbers aren't the point when you're talking about 50-60 year old radios. By far, the SX-115 is a better radio to "listen" to. Maybe because the IF strip is just a bit wider than the Drake (a LOT wider than the Collins), and with a full range speaker sounds GOOD and can still give you "almost" S-line sound with an R-47 (but better).

It's the first radio I turn on when I walk into the shack (along with a 51J4). I can listen to it all day. It's stable (if yours isn't, then you have a problem with the temperature compensation adjustment on the VFO), and it tunes just like the Drake (NOT backward). And besides — it's just GORGEOUS, inside and out. A work of radio art that far exceeds either of the other radios I've mentioned. It deserves a whole lot more respect than what I see here in the reviews.

Oh …almost forgot … You can't have mine!! :-)
 
WA0HHX Rating: 4/5 Jan 31, 2014 17:27 Send this review to a friend
SX 115: a class radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought it from Henry Radio/Butler, Mo. 1966. Followed my S38e, SX110, SX100. I don't have those. I still have the SX 115. Recently a 1937 Auburn went for $1.6M. Was it worth it compared to a modern Lexus? Nope. Why then? Art of the car. The SX 115 is communications art, to me anyway. I have owned lots of radios in my 50 years as a ham. I have the TS 990 now. Great rig. But, I think there is something about the SX 115's pedigree, its look and feel. An operators radio. Makes you work a little; hands on. But, compared to all the receivers I've run the SX 115 remains my first girl friend. The one you don't forget. In fact, she looks a lot better than my other first girlfriend. Don't get too picky. This radio can hold its own today after 50 years. How many others can say that? Looks great, sounds good, does a nice job. That's why they still command a good price. Character. I'll keep mine I think. Can't buy character with money, comes with age and performance.
 
KG8LB Rating: 3/5 Jan 2, 2014 04:40 Send this review to a friend
Rare , Nothing Special  Time owned: more than 12 months
It seems some are smitten by the "looks" , others by the eliteism of owning a fairly scarce model from the very common Hallicrafters line up . Having owned a few of these has lead to the realization that they are indeed nice looking but performance-wise nothing that rates the current asking prices (Even when considering the prices seem to have dropped considerably in the last few years) . The SX-115 sadly lacks 160 meter coverage and that alone is a huge negative for many operators . On the other hand , the Hallicrafters SX-100 is a fine performer that does work on 160 as well as the WARC bands (General Coverage)Further, the Drake R4 series receivers are stable , compact , selective and priced right . Yes PRICE matters as the performance should follow the pricing , collector interest aside . The collectors have pushed up the price but the performance still does not live up to the typical asking price .
It is entirely fair to include the comparison to other , better performing radios that actually cost less when eVALUating a given product .
 
N9LAP Rating: 5/5 Nov 29, 2013 18:34 Send this review to a friend
Popular! For a reason  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have a lot of receivers , Drakes 2 thru 7 line, had a 1 for years but sadly sold it. The 115 is as I say above, coveted for a reason. It is quiet, it is steady after warm up and the case and guts along with excellent engineering really make this unit special! I use mine with the 32b and a Loudenboomer amp and a Shure 444 mic and love it to death.. I also have a 44 and 117 which are also a nice set, but I will say the 115 is a joy to own, period.
 
W8JI Rating: 3/5 Oct 3, 2010 01:35 Send this review to a friend
OK but not special  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought a Collins 75A2, SX115, and HQ120 and matching speaker for the Collins at an estate auction here in Georgia several years ago.
I paid around $50-100 for the lot of "three CB radios", I forgot the exact bid.

After hearing favorable comments and seeing the price of the SX115, I was really disappointed when I fired my bargain up.

The only radio I kept from the lot was the November 1941 built HQ120, which except for calibration and drift and lack of CW SSB AGC worked about the same as the SX115. To tell you the truth, on AM the HQ120 sounded much better to me and it had 160.

My SX101's were about the same as the SX115 on the lower bands (I rarely work above 20 meters).
 
W7MBR Rating: 3/5 Oct 2, 2010 20:25 Send this review to a friend
A $150 DRAKE 2B WILL EAT IT ALIVE!  Time owned: more than 12 months

I sold my SX-115 a couple of years ago for the big $ they fetch. Although Hallicrafters finally caught on and put in a crystal controlled front end on their SX-115 the old style vfo they kept still suffered from too much warm-up drift. Not really that much better than the SX-101 and SX101A (that I own) on 80-20 meters. The SX-115 does drift initially less on 15 and 10 meters. Old style LC filtering in the IF's still causes agc pulling on strong adjacent signals. Even though the Drake 2B and the earlier Drake R-4 series receivers used LC filtering, R.L. Drake still had his act together and some how made the LC filters work quite well in his radios. The later Drake R-4C and the earlier Collins receivers used either crystal or mechanical filters in their IF circuits. As expensive as the SX-115 was back in the early 60's why did Hallicrafters continue to use 1940's and 1950's technology? No doubt the SX-115 is a beautiful looking receiver but not really any better performing than say a Hammarlund HQ-170 less than half it's original cost. The Moderately priced Drake 2B can almost run circles around the SX-115 in my opinion. I've owned and used both side by side many times. Yet the SX-115 still continues to increase in price but not in performance.
 
K8AC Rating: 3/5 Sep 25, 2010 08:36 Send this review to a friend
Over-rated and over-priced today  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
When the SX-115 was new, one of our club members convinced everyone it was the receiver to use for our 80 meter CW station on Field Day. By 10 PM, we had enough of the intermod problems caused by our 20 meter CW station and one of the guys ran home to get his 75A-4, which had been our FD receiver for a few years. The SX-115, for all its good points, couldn't hold up in the FD environment where the 75A-4 excelled. It would have little value today if Joe Walsh hadn't paid a small fortune for one on eBay many years back (I recall it was over $4K). If you're a collector, it makes a very attractive display and conversation piece, but to rank it anywhere near the best of its time is just wrong.
 
W6OU Rating: 4/5 Apr 11, 2010 14:13 Send this review to a friend
Attractive appearance  Time owned: more than 12 months
The SX-115 has nice styling. The color scheme with silver, black, gray, and a touch of red make a very attractive package. When you pop up the top cover it's like opening a treasure chest--the chassis and tube shields have a nice golden finish. Electrically, the receiver has even consistent gain from low band edge to high band edge and from band to band. This is unlike the HQ-170 which has gain that varies widely from band to band. The only thing I don't like is the tuning knob. It is placed for right-handers (I'm left handed) and it tunes backwards.
 
WA7VTD Rating: 5/5 Aug 18, 2009 19:58 Send this review to a friend
Love at First Sight, and Worth Waiting For  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have coveted the SX-115 for many, many years, and recently I came across an opportunity to acquire my old "dream station" I never had -- HT-32B, SX-115 and HT-33B. Prior owner home-brewed a beautiful, diminutive, matching, solid state keying/antenna relay switching box that truly made the system "plug & play;" a far cry from the hours spent as a youth interfacing my SX-100 and HT-37.

Upon firing up the SX-115 and permitting it to warm up, my first observation was how stable it is. I connected a DD-103 digital frequency readout via shield of V-7 and calibrated both it and the receiver. Changing through the bands, the digital readout was spot on and linear though each band, tracking the VFO dial almost perfectly, the VFO dial being within 3-4 kHz from band edge to band edge.

The second impression was how QUIET this triple conversion receiver is. It actually had me worried for a while, as I tuned across 40 meters and heard NOTHING from the speaker. Until that is, I came across a moderately weak CW signal, which literally jumped out of the receiver and made the S-meter wiggle; the signal was not too strong but the internal receiver noise was SO LOW that it was armchair copy. That turned out to be typical on all bands and modes. I'll probably get some brickbats, but honestly, this has a quieter receiver than my 756 Pro II and although not as sensitive as the modern rig, it is pretty darn sensitive and it makes up for it by its low, low internally-generated noise.

And aesthetically...well, there just isn't art, design and craftsmanship like this any more, period. The sculpted front; the vertical red frequency-indicating line that moves up and down the tuning dial to match up with selected band; the attractive and sturdy-looking coloring scheme and over-sized screw heads along the face plate; the masterful matching of styling with the HT-32B; the unique square front shape that actually saves space despite the bigness of this radio; the easily-readable, well-lit S-meter that really moves; the notch control that really works and feels as if one is actually doing something other than "flying by wire..."... this is an ENGAGING receiver, and a lot of fun. YOU WORK THE RIG, THE RIG DOESN'T WORK YOU!

As you probably have surmised, so far the receiver has surpassed my expectations. In fact, I'm probably going to grab another one or two, to always have parts and at east one in perfect condition...although the construction is superb and aside from replacing the caps as one should always do, there isn't much to be done to this rig.
 
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