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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF+UHF models) | FlexRadio FLEX-5000 Help

Reviews Summary for FlexRadio FLEX-5000
FlexRadio FLEX-5000 Reviews: 100 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $2799
Description: The FLEX-5000 is the next generation of software defined radios which now integrates all A/D & D/A functions and control over a single FireWire (IEEE-1394a) connection to a user provided computer running PowerSDR. A separate sound card is not required.
* Greater than 105 dB two-tone 3rd order dynamic range at 2 kHz spacing
* Frequency Stability: 0.5 ppm, TCXO equipped
* Individual optimized bandpass filters for all Ham Bands
* Receiver can monitor transmitter spectrum
* SO2R ready with optional second receiver
* FlexWire™ for external control of rotator, antenna, and much more.
* 100 watts output 160-6 meters
* General coverage receiver
* Separate RX antenna connectors for optimal reception
* Optional full performance second receiver (dual watch is standard)
* Single cable connection to computer
* Full Duplex transverter ready
* Fully automatic internal test/calibration. No external calibration equipment necessary
* Standard input/output jacks. Internal antenna switching for up to 3 antennas plus receive only antenna
* Balanced TRS line/microphone input
* Full QSK
* Quiet high volume fan keeps unit cool
* Optional full featured ATU 160-6m
Product is in production.
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IWOQCR Rating: 5/5 Jun 2, 2013 15:45 Send this review to a friend
FLEX VERY GOOD FOR PC-FRIENDLY HAMS  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've been using FLEX 5000 since 2008.
I mostly use it for random Psk31 and SSB, no CW, no contests.The mic is a Kenwood Mc-60.I use no amplifiers.
The incoming and FREE new sofware & firmware updates have greatly improved (for me) the qualities.
No problems with firewire,no rf returns.I'm still working since 2007 with a P5B DELUXE/Q9650/WIN XP PRO 32 bit with no issues (I've used also a q6700/e8500-no problems).
Surely You must be "WINDOWS FRIENDLY" and know enough the tips and tricks to overcome some
hangs that sometimes occur (but I use the pc with many other applications that I install
and remove - it is not a dedicated gear).

In short:




Finally ....I would buy a Flex again !
G7CNF Rating: 5/5 Mar 24, 2013 08:39 Send this review to a friend
2 Years on. . . (4 years total)  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had a 5K for quite a bit more than 2 years but my first brief review was 2y ago. What's changed in that time? It's got better, that's what!

Since PowerSDR 2.2.3 the tracking notch filters arrived and what freedoms they bring! Up to 18 on one active location and an infinite number can be permanently stored (not just in the ham bands either - so good for SWL). Gone are the birdies and local carriers I detest so much.

I've seen some claims that the TNF is not inside the AGC. This is untrue. Whilst FlexRadio haven't at the time of writing implemented the TNF to include the S-meter, the TNF most certainly IS inside the AGC. I've also seen some naysayers bleat about the lack of real-world application of the TNF. Here's one. I like DX. I like the weak ones - you know like on PSK - when all the weak ones disappear inside the AGC pump from the numerous strong stations. On a legacy radio (Y/K/I) one might try folding down the DSP or taking out the AGC and putting in an attenuator. It might work but the attenuator will most probably kill your DX, too. Some decoders can't cope if the audio passband is too narrow, so choosing which stations to null and leaving the noise floor intact is another victory for the TNF (works well for JT65).

So I enable any number of TNFs and selectively mute all the strong signals which recovers the weak ones. Doing this I can work anywhere amongst the strongest of stations and still work stations on the limit of PSK decode capability(IMD/QRM permitting). At times I've closed down the filters and eradicated irritating adjacent signals to my CQ down to 10Hz either side and continued working my QSO partner, imperviously. The TNFs can even be stacked progressively to take out S9++++ stations. Alternatively keep the audio bandpass fully open to, say 4Khz and watch the entire PSK band with the strong ones notched out. You can't do that even with the latest legacy radio (2013)from Kenwood.

I've not had or operated any other radio with this kind of capability and flexibility - to completely notch out as many or few adjacent stations as one desires.

Add to this the superb selectivity and excellent transverter support, 10MHz reference input, RX2 making it a triplex receiver, full duty 100w TX (blah blah, it's all been said).

And now there's going to be a 6000 with even better performance? Ouch.

FTR I do not have any affiliation with Flex nor receive any incentive for writing this. I can't help how I feel and that is - that there simply isn't a radio out there than can better this - for me at least (maybe a 6k. . .)

I still maintain though that there is a demographic whom will never take to the Flex workflow of a radio entirely inside a PC - and quite understandably. One must never forget that with a Flex, the radio is the PC (except the 6000 series' altered architecture) and if the PC is unhealthy that can easily impinge on one's enjoyment. It doesn't help to load up the Flex onto the office PC with a dozen other major applications running. That said, on my i7 3960x I can operate both receivers on the Flex @192kHz and transcode an HD movie, so processor power does matter!

I can't say 'go buy one, you'll not be disappointed' because we're all different. I was convinced to get an Icom 7600 and didn't like it come the end. I was convinced to get an FT-2000 and hated it. Horses for courses!
ON4AMG Rating: 5/5 Jan 26, 2013 02:45 Send this review to a friend
SDR is here to stay  Time owned: more than 12 months
Strong Positives (besides everything else already mentioned in other reviews)

1. Superb Tracking Notch Filter (as of PowerSDR V2.2.3)
2. Click and tune
3. Integrated 3 & 10 band audio equaliser
4. PowerSdr software is extremely stable (V2.5.3 running on Win7/64)
5. Additional software enables station integration and automation (logbook, amplifier, SWR metering ...)
6. Functionality can easily be expanded through external software (see point 4 below)
7. Balanced and unbalanced microphone inputs allowing a wide range of microphones
8. Excellent after sales support (also in Europe, thank you Claus!)
9. Structured user support and forums for knowledgde sharing

Things to take into consideration:

1. Requires a powerful Windows PC to run PowerSdr and associated software (TCO), low latency (DPC) is key.
2. Requires external speakers and microphone (TCO)
3. VU module for VHF-UHF operations (no longer for sale) was never available in Europe (lack of CE certification)
4. May require additional interfacing software: VAC for digital mode operation (36 us$), VspMgr for Virtual Serial Port creation & management(free), DDUtil for integrating external hard & software (free)
5. Absence of integrated voice keyer (K9DUR is offering free software which is excellent)
6. Firewire interface requirement nearly always involves purchasing a seperate FireWire card (most motherboards do not come with a recommended TI FireWire chipset)
7. Requires external 13.8V DC Power Supply (but who does not have one of these around already?)
8. CW experience is a mixed bag

On the wish list:

1. 200W output
2. Redesign of PA stage attempting to get even better IMD

My overall experience with the Flex 5K is a very positive one, it is a superb transceiver with great sensitivity and selectivity, the panadapter experience is highly addictive.
The knobless experience might be difficult at first for some but I reckon it is not really a big issue for the new generation of HAM's (it certainly was not for me and I have been a HAM for 30 years).
I can recommend this SDR for those who are primarily focusing on SSB and digital modes and that are not afraid of going through a learning curve, some computer knowledge is required to get the most out of this SDR. If I were a keen contester and/or CW operator this would however not be my first radio of choice.

Considering no single radio is perfect and the fact that the Flex answers my operating requirements, my final rating is 5/5. The basic hardware platform is very good and software wise, the functionality of PowerSDR is constantly evolving, basically providing a new and better radio with every release.

KA4KOE Rating: 4/5 Dec 10, 2012 04:37 Send this review to a friend
Good Overall with Some Warts  Time owned: more than 12 months
Going on 2 years+ ownership of my Flex. Here are some observations:


1. The 192 KHZ wide panadapter will spoil you quickly.

2. The receiver is fantastic from 160 meters and up in terms of sensitivity.

3. The audio quality is second to none on transmit, especially on AM.

4. The customizable notch filter is a great feature and actually works very well.

5. The radio is imminently customizable to one's operating style.


1. The radio will not do full break in CW well no matter how the settings are tweaked.

2. The DSP filters and NB's are barely a "pass". No documentation is provided to explain how to tweak these filters to get good performance. I very rarely use digital noise reduction.

3. Receive below the AM BCB is a joke. No front end filters = multiple images, thereby making reception of actual signals an exercise in futility. One must buy an outboard filter to enable reception of longwave signals. This is a flaw that cannot be fixed via software, apparently. However, since LW reception is really not a priority for me, this is not a deal breaker.

4. Third party software must be installed to enable use of digital modes in order to route the various signals to and fro inside the radio's digital architecture.

5. Flex discontinued the V/U module upgrade board. However, the pricing point for this module was well over $1K. One could get a great used TS-790 for the asking price.


I would definitely purchase a Flex if I had to do it again.
WB8BIL Rating: 5/5 Dec 8, 2012 19:16 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic Rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have never heard a receiver with such selectivity and sensitivity. The problem with CW has been virtually eliminated with the upgrades to software. I use it mostly for CW and some PSK31 and dabbled with other modes. I worked 169 countries in a little over a year with the aid of CWSkimmer. There is a learning curve, but it is worth it, even though at times I was pulling hair out. Once I understood the corellation of sample rate to selectivity, things are great. It is a great rig for the cost, which is not much when you see what you get.
K3ROJ Rating: 5/5 Dec 2, 2012 13:17 Send this review to a friend
The future of Ham Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I am sure I have other reviews on the 5000A but must tell everyone they are losing out by not experiencing Software Defined Radio. I bought my new Flex 5000A after owning a used SDR1000 for about 6 months using Windows XP. Of course after reading how well the 5000A performed and the many features, I made the plunge. The Flex Radio company is great and after delivery soon opened the box which included the second receiver and antenna tuner option. I then went shopping for a new computer at Best Buy and purchased an HP 4 Quad machine. I must admit it took some a little reading of the included DVD but in just over an hour, actually heard signals and could transmit at 100 watts if I wanted. Once on the air, I realized I needed more than one monitor and soon had 2 each 23 inch LG montitors mounted on the wall for easy viewing. The salesman at Best Buy was very knowledgeable and said I needed a new graphics card and actually took the time to explain how to install it.
Wow, what an experience when using 2 monitors, being able to place my main Flex display on one side and my logging and other programs such as satellites etc. on the other.
Being tired of using a standard mouse, we now have a Logitech Trackball mouse which is so easy to use with just the right thumb to jump back and forth with the cursor.
Anyway, we now enjoy dual diversity reception and full QSK breakin using 2 vertical antennas since we only use CW using the 5000A.
By the way, we had Flex Radio install the 144/450 board and now can operate CW @ 60 watts for weak signal operations.
Don't hesitate to buy the 5000A since you will appreciate the knowledge you gain after using Software Defined Radio.
W6PSA Rating: 5/5 Sep 15, 2012 23:32 Send this review to a friend
FlexRadio FLEX-5000, Welcome to the 21st century  Time owned: more than 12 months
Welcome to the 21st century.

This is a great radio that requires a modern computer. If your computer was bought before 2007, then you should be cautious. Almost any $400 dollar computer sold off the shelf today can handle the Power-SDR software.

Once you use the band scope, and learn how to Frequency hop from station to station with a click of your mouse, there is no turning back.

When using an appliance radio, I feel like I am driving blind without the band scope. Yes, it does require a computer and doesn't have a dial. But within seconds of looking at the band scope, I can tell if the band is dead, and where the stations are.

Everyone hated SSB when it was first released. Don't make the same mistake with SDR radios. The future is here and is here to stay. Stop wasting your time, spinning a dial looking for DX, when you can SEE it 100khz away on the band within seconds.

If you don't like Flex-radio, then buy a pan adapter that connects to your 19" monitor. The Flex-5000 is an exceptional radio that offers modern performance at a discount price. What are you waiting for???
NI0Z Rating: 4/5 Sep 11, 2012 18:19 Send this review to a friend
Not bad, not great!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
After 10 months plus ownership I felt now was the right time to provide my review of my Flex 5000A with ATU and 2nd RX. Why now? Well, I have two other radios in my shack that help provide some reference points and for the past few weeks I have spent most of my time on another radio and spent an hour this evening back on the Flex.

Reference point; I am a 1 year ham, this is on of 5 radios I own or have owned and used. I am about 90% SSB in my usage with about 10% use for PSK and RTTY.

This review is about as honest as I can get in my intent. I am not a brand loyalist so I don't get wrapped up that way and feel am objective.

I think one thing that fails to get mentioned in reviews is that with an SDR your results are bound to the computer you use and the quality of ones shack, wiring and antenna along with the peripherals used such as amps and tuners. IE, use cheap stuff around any high performing radio and your not likely to get your money's worth!

The radios are susceptible to RF. if you have RF in your shack already, buying this radio is going to put it right I your face, literally, right on the Panadaptor for you to stare at and wonder how you'll rid yourself of it. While its likely this impacted you before you bought the radio, it's likely it will impact your use of the Flex 5000 even more. There is a lot to seeing and being bothered by the sight of it impacting your ability to make QSOs verses being visually blind to it on a radio without a Panadaptor. These radios probably need some better shielding and or more RFI counter measures. Use ferrites on your audio cables to get rid of half of it, and work on the placement of your flex and your coax cables to get rid of the rest.

If you get past these issues for SSB then you have the potential for some really nice audio using these radios. I run a Behringer front end rack audio with a studio Mic into my rig and get lots of nice complements. Don't forget the iBox before the connection to the unbalanced mic input on the flex if you follow the same path.

The other big part of owning a flex is the software and your computer. I will go ahead and tell you if the computer is your least favorite part of your station, don't buy a no knobbed SDR like this. The computer running PowerSDR is your interface. If your windows system is already unstable today, don't even think about hooking your flex radio to it, it will only get worse. You need a very well powered computer by a stable manufacturer. 3ghz or better quad core at least preferred. I'll stop here on this, other than to say that if your computer running windows isn't fast and rock solid then your going to have a lot of fun figuring it out. My issues went away when I updated the bios and drivers on my motherboard.

PowerSDR is decent for making QSOs. You have some nice tools in the way of filters, nice configurable notch filters, ect. If your system is stable you can have fun making a lot of quality QSOs. PowerSDR though has had a history of loosing settings, freezing up on QSOs. Again a fast fast computer is key here. Mid you know how allocate processors to running programs under windows helps too. With all I run on my system I find that keeping six 2.66 Zeon cores allocated to PowerSDR running above normal and using the remaining two for other programs solves this issue. The latest version of 2.44 is supposed to help this though. I have not tried it yet as I am waiting on the fork by Tobias so I can continue using the knobs I added. Yup, in an ideal world you'll want two CPUs with 4 cores each if they are Intel or 2 8 core CPUs if AMD. Tyan or Asus make dent motherboards for this if you want to roll your own computer. Equipping your computer with 8GB of ram and disabling swap helps make your computer faster as well.

Why all these comments about computers and RFI? Because that's real life for many users with this radio and I have spent considerable time an effort getting my Flex 5000 to run like I wanted and expected it to when I purchased it.

The Flex 5000A is decent for digital modes. Honestly I prefer using my IC7000 and my Yaesu 897D before that for digital work. They are just easier in my humble opinion. That said you may feel different and digital modes work perfectly fine. Using DRM to listen to shortwave broadcasts is pretty nice.

Integrating the flex with multiple software packages on your computer is a strong point using VAC and VSP with DDUtil.

The recording features are a bit flakey, but workable. Diversity receiving is interesting and sometimes useful. Running dual antennas on dual receivers works flawlessly and you can see Panadaptors for both antennas and receivers side by side. This is really nice for DXing with a beam and a vertical. The vertical being more Omni directional can help you see and hear signals that your beam may not be pointed at. Great for hunting down DXs. This is a niche right now for PowerSDR and the flex I believe.

In a side by side comparison with a KX3 SDR the KX3 was able to dig out weaker signals better using NAP3. This was an unscientific test that could be flawed. I think it's worth mentioning since the Flex 5000A is starting to get a little long in the tooth and we are going to see a new wave of more capable SDRs when it comes to Dynamic Range. The Flex 6700 while sporting a huge price tag in theory should greatly surpass the flex 5000.

To balance all this, if you like computers and enjoy a good challenge like I do, then you can have a ton of fun getting all this to work. See my website for the articles there that journal my adventures.

So here are my ratings.

Build = 3.5 -> poor RFI shielding, variety of nice strong connectors, should provide better FireWire cables and 3-5 ferrites and instructions on where to apply them.

Radio Performance = 4.5 -> computer aside you have a great performer here when it's all working correctly.

Value = 3.5 -> the radio is too pricey, buy used if you can!

I'll give the Flex 5000A a 4 as it applies to my uses and needs by virtue of rounding up a little.

Real rating for me is 3.75.
WX9DX Rating: 3/5 Aug 24, 2012 00:58 Send this review to a friend
Hmmm  Time owned: more than 12 months
Mine took from May to July to get after buying it at Dayton, then had a problem right off and was replaced, and that was a real nightmare. Then the new one came up with problems similar to the first one just before the original warranty ran out. So what is next. Now tonight the guys on 160 tell me my audio has a Flex Radio sound and has drop outs??? Now what???
Guess I have to call Dudley again! They said KJ9T has figured this peroblem out. Hmmm? :(

Jimmy, WX9DX
W6UV Rating: 3/5 Aug 7, 2012 20:08 Send this review to a friend
Good Attempt at SDR  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had my Flex-5000 for 20 months and it's been the workhorse of my shack.

Digital modes are where the Flex rig shines. Since the majority of the rig runs on a PC, the interface to digital software, such as Fldigi or HRD, is trivial and requires no cables, just VAC and some configuration settings. Recent versions of the control software (PowerSDR) have automated almost the entire process of running digital modes.

SSB operation is as you'd expect for a rig in this price range, but I don't do a lot of operating on phone, so don't feel my experiences justify mentioning in this review.

CW has always been an exercise in frustration for me on the Flex-5000. Up until the spring of 2011 CW was virtually unusable, but most of the issues were finally corrected in an update to PowerSDR. I still have issues with timing when using paddles plugged into the 5000 and listening to the rig's sidetone in headphones. There's enough lag to throw off my timing to the point where I start sending errors at higher speeds. One cure is to use an external keyer and listen to its sidetone instead of the rig's sidetone. These CW issues probably cannot ever be completely fixed due to the architecture of the rig.

Other problem areas (in my experience) have been with the noise reduction and blanking features that work unevenly (or not at all, in some cases), PowerSDR freezes that sometimes happen right in the middle of a QSO (grrrrrrrr...), and quirks in the user interface. There was a well-known problem with spurs on the 160M band a few years ago that Flex promised to fix in software, but ultimately required a hardware fix.

Customer support is good. Flex maintains a knowledge base on their site that contains the answers to most configuration and usage questions. Phone support is also good. There are two email reflectors (FlexRadio Users and FlexEdge) that are very active and can often provide quick answers to problems, although I have heard of users getting banned for being too vocal about issues with the rig.

Overall, I'd give the Flex-5000 a solid 3/5 for the reasons outlined above. I personally feel that Flex has put too much effort into fancy eye candy in PowerSDR and not enough in making the interface robust and bullet-proof. Perhaps they feel that in this iPhone age, eye candy is what sells rigs.
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