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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF models) | Elecraft K3 Help

Reviews Summary for Elecraft K3
Elecraft K3 Reviews: 218 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $1,399
Description: ELECRAFT K3 Transceiver
High Performance 160-6 Meters 100 W
Dual 32bit DSP, "switched mode mixer"
Factory Assembled or No-Soldering Kit
160-6 meter ham-band coverage; optional general-coverage filters
High-contrast, full-custom LCD with with alphanumeric text display
100-W or 10-W (upgradeable) models
32-bit I.F. DSP
Rich I/O complement (see rear-panel drawing above)
All modes: SSB, CW, Data, AM, FM
Built-in PSK/TTY decode/encode allows data mode operation with or without a PC use CW keyer paddle to send PSK/TTY too!
High performance DDS/PLL Synthesizer with TCXO reference
Product is in production.
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WM6P Rating: 5/5 Jun 20, 2014 22:07 Send this review to a friend
Best radio I have ever tried.  Time owned: months
Built this from a kit about two months ago. The more I use it, the better it gets. Filtering is outstanding. Controls are very easy to learn. SSB audio reports I receive are flattering.

It is tightly integrated with its matching KPA500 linear amplifier, P3 band scope and KAT500 external 1KW tuner.

Because of its modular design you only have to buy the features you want such as the second receiver or additional roofing filters. These may be added at a later date if you wish. No other rig allows that option. Its size and weight make it both a perfect base or portable rig. Elecraft service department is there when you need them and will take the time to help you get the most from their equipment. Made in U.S.A.
VY1EI Rating: 5/5 May 23, 2014 20:37 Send this review to a friend
Great CW contesting rig  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I've had my K3 for almost a year now. For CW contesting, the K3 is a very powerful radio. When you hear a CW signal for the first time on a K3, the quality of signal shocks you. There is a signal clarity, and low noise, that separates this from other mid range rigs. The filtering is very strong, and the array of CW contesting tools that elecraft provide make this radio an invaluable CW contesting asset. Using the K3 remote rig option in ARRL Sweepstakes, with N6TR doing all the operating, we set a new Canadian record. This is from the Northern Territories where band condx are always challenging. In the CQ WW DX CW contest in 2013, with N5RZ doing the vast majority of operating my K3 remotely, we set the highest score that's ever been made in the Northern Territories, CW or SSB. So I'm happy.

For SSB contesting, the audio quality comes up short. There are better rigs in this mid range class than the K3, in my view. In comparison to the Icom 7600 and Icom 756 Pro 3, the K3 sounds tinny and harsh. Its hard to describe but the Icom rigs have more "substance". I found the Icom 7600 has slightly better filtering on SSB. The K3 isn't a bad rig for SSB contesting, its just that other mid range rigs do have better audio quality.

This is an amazing CW rig, which is what I acquired it for, and so its 5 out 5 for this radio
YV4GMJ Rating: 5/5 May 14, 2014 16:54 Send this review to a friend
best receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have availibility of several radios (i have a repairs lab with great demand) and i have compared modern equipments with K3. Last weeks particularly i'm listening too much noise and K3 is unique capable of mitigate or eliminate effectively. For example, IC-7700, IC-7600, IC-775dsp, IC-781, all latest Kenwood except TS-990, all this equipments wasn't capable of improve reception compared with K3 using basic roofing filter set.
NU4X Rating: 5/5 May 13, 2014 14:17 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Design  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've just ordered a second K3/10- the Ten watt version of the venerable K3.

Having had the auto-tune KW and yogis, in my elder years I have a new XYL (licensed) and we are in a 2 unit brick condo with the normal HOA restrictions. Prior to moving in I tacked a full wave 40M loop in the attic which works 40-6M nicely. A HY POWER ANT. CO. 35' 80 M Vee takes care of that band very well indeed. The K3/10 is a dream to run here at home- up to 76 DXCC worked mixed bands/modes at 5 watts. I like that the KS/10 's TX power out can be calibrated exactly on a per band basis! This is a great feature if you are a "QRP purest" and want to run the full 5 watts on all bands without constant rechecking (I use a Coaxial Dynamics 8555 terminated wattmeter with 5 and 1 watt ranges.)

I have just ordered a second K3/10 for variable power experimentation on a new EFW off of the back deck. That should be fun. A KX3 is on order for motorcycle outings, etc. (fixed use!!)

The folks at Elecraft are excellent to deal with. I would respectfully suggest a physically larger version of the K3 with a forward firing good quality speaker and perhaps a built in supply. My eyes aren't getting any younger and my paws are still fairly large.

I'm betting there is a large market niche of older ops who would like a reasonably priced rig with a larger foot print.

Well done Elecraft. Engineering, service and an ear to the customer and potential user- a great combination- you folks "get it"! de NU4X
WA6KYR Rating: 5/5 May 13, 2014 09:55 Send this review to a friend
Audio "perfect don't change a thing"  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had my K3 for many years(maybe 6).
It is nice to have a radio that is world class and only weighs 7 pounds. Recently I finally got around to hooking up my Yamha cm500 mike to the K3.
All I did was set the compression to 10 and adjusted the ALC per the manual. On my first SSB contact I asked how my audio sounded. The reply was "perfect don't change a thing". I think the radio performs well. Another thing I finally got around to doing was not running the RF gain all the way up. It is just as sensitive and not noisy
that way. I also find that setting a pitch around
460 Hz is nice on cw. Another major point is that everything on the receiver really works. NR,NB ,Spot,etc.
WA4FOM Rating: 0/5 May 4, 2014 09:22 Send this review to a friend
I tried to love the radio but failed  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have a K1 and love it. I have a K2 and love it. I have a
KPA500 and a KAT500, and I love them. I have a K3 and I tried
so very hard to love it, but I just can't.

To its credit, the receiver is outstanding. It's pleasant to
listen to for long periods and the filters provide more than
adequate QRM rejection ability. The noise filtering is, I have
to say, mediocre but is not a show-stopper for me. The Mark One
Earball is still the best filter I've had.

The K3 transmitter is a different story. On CW, I have no
complaints. I would, however, rate the trasmit audio as
atrocious. I came to this discovery after a QSO with an old
college buddy when he informed me that my audio just wasn't
right. Listening to my own audio on a separate rig verified
that claim. I'm not expecting to sound like an FM broadcast
station, but for $4000+, I expect to sound crisp and clear.

Those comments initiated a long, long series of tests intended
to get to the bottom of this. Running the K3 into a dummy
load, I tried different microphones, cables, power supplies,
and even tried substituting battery power. I made sure that
the mic gain was set "by the book", with no other hardware
in the chain. I updated the firmware. I even relocated the
test away from the house. I verified the filter alignment.
I performed every other alignment I could find, including the
"REF CAL" adjustment. I thought it got better, but that was
just wishful thinking. I could never get my transmit audio
to the point I would call acceptable.

In a last-ditch effort, I tested a *SECOND* K3 at the same firmware
level, and was astonished and disappointed to see precisely the
same results. These were not early production K3s, either. My
only conclusion was that the K3 either (1) is not capable of
audio quality approprite to a radio in this price range, or (2)
there is some kind of class problem common to some, if not all, K3s.

Unfortunately, as a primarily CW operator, I did not discover
this (obviously long-term and not unique) problem until the rig
was out of warranty. Elecraft's response was, as one would expect,
to send it in and they would investigate it at my expense. In all
honesty, my conversation with the nice (and I mean that sincerely)
folks at Elecraft ended before I tried the second K3. Perhaps
then their response would have been different, but at that point I
was just completely tired of and disgusted with the radio. I
boxed it up and put it on a nice, dry shelf where it sits to this day.

KI7M Rating: 5/5 Apr 17, 2014 17:43 Send this review to a friend
4.8  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
After many years of using my FT-1000MP and FT-1000D as my primary XCVR's, I bought a used K3 with 2.7/1.8/0.200 filters and 100 watts amp. Immediately I added the 2.1 and then the 6.0 filters as well as the digital recorder unit and the broadband receive capability. Don't have the second RCVR or internal tuner.
It took me about 3 weeks to finally pull my FT-1000MP out of line and put the K3/P3 in it's place. The Yaesu had almost all the IntRad mods except the roofing filter that I did not want due to my using AM sometimes. Watched many U-tube videos on the K3 and learned alot. Mine has 04.67 software which I have yet to learn to upgrade which I'm a little scared of (if it ain't broke why fix it).
The receiver is excellent, clear and handles QRM very well. In CQWW 160mtr phone I had some group move onto my frequency and I was able to shift from 1914.5 up to 1915.0 and shift the passband and eliminate S-9 interference very well. That impressed me alot knowing my FT-1000MP couldn't do that. Running barefoot it is surprising how well I can work people on a crowded band. Most of the time I run my CommTech HF-2500 with the K3 and run high power. One small complaint is the way you have to used a DB-15 connector to hook up the amp ALC which I have not done (why not a BNC or RCA? No room I suppose). I usually drive the amp with 20-30 watts with no problem. Installing the filters and activating them was a little challenging but I finally got there. I find I rarely use the 1.8Mhz filter position but it's there if I need it. I like a wider passband most of the time for the fidelity and comfortable copying.
Without the second RCVR you can't listen to two frequencies at the same time so you can't search a split frequency pileup easily while copying the DX station at the same time. One thing I did not like is the difference betwn split frequency operation and RIT/XIT. On RIT/XIT in TX or RX you see your frequency on transmit. With split you only have LED indicating you are split so you better know where B-XCVR frequency is at all times. A good way to find you are transmitting out of band...a real gotcha (watch that second frequency display)!
Compared to my FT-1000MP with InRad mods and filters, the K3 is what I wanted, much more capable of handling QRM on crowded contest bands. I'm not real impressed with the noise blanker but upgrading software may help that. It does work. The NR for the second (DSP) IF takes a bit of getting used to and can be quite effective. This was always a complaint of mine for the FT-1000MP EDSP which seemed about useless on phone except for strong signals due to the severe attenuation. The K3 handles it much better. NTCH automatic notch is terrific. It may be just my getting hard to hear but I always find myself running AF at half or higher which I don't like to do but it works. I'm now always using my sennheiser headphones these days (which the wife may appreciate).
This is my first use of the Panadapter (P3) and one of the things I notice is how different bands have significantly different levels of noise floor (12 vs. 10 or 15 mtrs). -95 compared to -135 like. May be wideband local noise but it is very significant and noiticable.
The receiver is EXCELLENT and if I can hear it I can work it given a chance against the QRM/Pileup conditions. One thing I find I don't like is moving up/down bands that there is no 100Khz shift for fast excursions unlike the Yaesu. Changing from 28.5Mhz to 29.0 for 10 mtr AM or 10.0Mhz to 9.5 for SWL'ing takes awhile. I believe I could go in and change the 'course' frequency from 10Khz per revolution to a higher number but that may effect the fine shift too. I can live with that and can't call it bad, just different.
Cost compared to others on the market isn't bad especially for what you get. It will at least compete if not out do any other XCVR I believe availiable and for about $3000-4500 you have a fully capable XCVR that will do 160-6 mtrs just great. You could even add 2 mtrs for that I believe.
What I find most useful is the width adjustment that deals so well with QRM and other band conditions. I don't use the NB or NR that often but the Preamp, S/F AGC, and NTCH as well as A to B RCVR freq get used quite a bit. One of these days I suppose I should learn to use the memory too and that may solve at least one of my complaints. Over the years I've had various XCVRs like FT-101E,FT-101ZDMKIII,FT-980,FT-1000MP,FT-1000D,TS-940SAT,IC-736,IC-775,swan 100MX,atlas 215x and maybe a few others. I checked out the FTDX-5000 and IC-7700 and liked the Icom except for the price. While the FT-1000D is my favorite easy to use, great sound, 200 watts, ease of split frequency operation XCVR I think the Elecraft K3 is the most capable for DX and contest or just all around general operation. That is really saying something when I compare it to my FT-1000D. And of course the technology is a couple or more generations newer. The shear flexability with being able to select filters, the software defined receiver capability, the light weight and great display lend itself to most any style of operation. It can easily be setup for remote operations like so many people are doing now days. So far aside from the little things I've mentioned (the biggest being the split not showing TX frequency but using an LED) the K3 compares as a winner against anything I see on the market. I held off for a long time on getting a 'new' transceiver since my FT-1000MP gave me such solid performance for years but it was time and the K3 so far has given nothing but excellent service. The factory people are very responsive to quaries and support too I have found out (I even complained about the K3 having everything I wanted except 200 watts and they suggested buying the KPA-500). For about $3500 I have a radio that compeats with any on the market. I'm sure as I get a little more used to the memory and upgrade the software I'll find the K3 with the P3 panadapter will become something I can't do without. Knowing how I am about learning all the features of a XCVR I suppose there will be things I never learn or use about the K3 just like my FT-1000MP. Pound for pound I can tell you nothing can touch the K3 that I know of. They way it is designed it's extremely flexable in how you set it up and can fill so many different roles.
I know I haven't had the K3/P3 that long but for what I wanted, something that would be able to handle QRM so much better than my FT-1000MP for a reasonable cost (I don't buy $6K + radios) and give all around solid performance and great sound, the K3 suited me well. Just took me two or mor years to make up my mine.
AE7G Rating: 5/5 Apr 9, 2014 07:17 Send this review to a friend
Long term review  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have now owned my K3 for about five years. During that time I have had it both in my shack and on numerous field efforts including serving as the prime transceiver in five Field Day efforts.

I have thrown a lot at this unit and it has been rock solid. This despite being packed around a lot and in difficult environments. I remember in particular one Field Day involving a rain storm in a leaky tent.

I have had antenna and feed line failures that caused big spikes in SWR.

Throughout the unit has performed flawlessly.

It is a high performance surgical instrument. Pair it with a decent antenna (in my shack a 3 element Steppir) and I can go pretty much anywhere. I regularly break DX pileups with just 100 watts.

I have come to really appreciate the layout of the controls, everything you really need becomes intuitive and at your fingertips so I rarely have to go into the menu system any more.

All this in a lightweight easily transportable box.

I am very happy with this unit.
AD4C2006 Rating: 5/5 Mar 26, 2014 04:49 Send this review to a friend
The best radio   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Well, after many years of use, almost seven with my very first K3 serial 2192 made a big mistake and sold it to a friend of mine, he was extremenly happy, I was very sad, reason why I made this mistake? Wanted to try the "TS-990" from Kenwood after some other friend pushed me so hard. End of the story with that 65 pounds radio is that after I found several design issues, sold it after a month, then here I am with no radio for a couple of weeks and then made my mind and went back to the glorious K3, ordered a fully loaded (except the 2M module) K3/P3. My new K3 serial 8077 works even better than the first one. Rx audio is smoother, TX audio is excellent as the first one, they fixed the NR issues mine had before, now I enjoy how it work, I like the feature of having output level adjusted for the builtin digital recorder and the best of all, now I do have the second RX with roofing filters and I can work split operation dx stations, having the vga video card on the P3 allowed me to see much better small signals and the entire band with the 17" monitor I have connected.
One thing I noticed is that all the knobs on this new K3 are solid, firm, the controls are not lose like my previous radio, apparently they are using better quality potentiometers.
Not much to say about what you all know, still is the best radio to have after the KX3. Sherwood labs put the german PT-8000 as the first performer, I don't know about that until some day I test one of those but for me so far K3 is the best performer.
After been using this K3 for a month now, I have not been able to find any issue so far, its simply perfect.
For reference, my previous radios were:
TS-950,TS-2000, TS-590 and TS-990.
FT-1000MP, FT-990, FT-2000 and FTDX-5000MP
IC-756ProIII,IC-746Pro, IC-910, IC-7600 and IC-7700.
Thanks Elecraft for having not only a very high performance radio but also having the best technical support in this world.

M0ZMX Rating: 5/5 Feb 6, 2014 20:07 Send this review to a friend
The best so far  Time owned: more than 12 months
Purchased direct from Elecraft,, great company with customer support second to none..

Never missed a beat,, Able to resolve signals that other units just can't do.... Owned for two years and haven't even looked at another radio.
Receiver is spot on and keeps on amazing me day after day after day...

Previous radio yaesu FTDX-9000D
Would not swap back if a gun was held to my head ...

Well done Elecraft, my money is with you.. thank you so much for a great product and support.

Mark (m0zmx).

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