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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | SPE EXPERT 2K-FA Help


Reviews Summary for SPE EXPERT 2K-FA
SPE EXPERT 2K-FA Reviews: 26 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $7200 USD
Description: The most advanced solid state automatic linear amplifier in the world. the operator has only to move the frequency tuning knob on the transceiver.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.expertampsusa.com
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F6BLP Rating: 5/5 Jun 4, 2014 07:11 Send this review to a friend
Amazing !  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Amazing linear amplifier. Perfect with my TS-990S and Steppir antenna ... nothing to do ! Only tuning the transceiver and all is automatic... Choosing my sloper on 160, 83m delta loop on 80,40,30M and Steppir upper bands. All is automatic and with the tuner inside I don't need my Palstar for tuning the loop....
Incredible amplifier giving full legal power, without any noise on standby and no more noise than my ACOM 1000 in operating. Thanks to I0ZY all the team of SPE Expert for this wonderful amplifier.Congratulations guys.
 
VK4GMH Rating: 5/5 May 13, 2014 03:30 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
What a great Amplifier !
Definately ticks all the boxes for me.
I can run 400w SSB on the hottest summer days and the main fans hardly ever activate.
Sometimes I forget the SPE is even there,
and that's because it just does it's job, every time, time after time, simply by switching it on.
I run it via the radio, and also PC control sometimes, which was easy to setup.
I have had NO problem with membrane style control pushbuttons, but maybe using a PC instead,
during contests etc, is worthwhile to extend their lifetime even further. (you may use the operate & power level buttons, etc, a bit more when busy)

I found the owners manual to be very good,
though took my time and had it all working nicely within a couple of hours.
I do not think fans are too noisy, and with a big solid state amplifier, I would expect to hear all those fans and have no problem with it.
As mentioned, at my usual power settings they hardly ever activate.
Yes, IMD level maybe not quite as good as some tube amplifiers, BUT is that really a fair comparison? I think not.
Driving it sensibly with a "clean" radio is a good start. My SPE has sproven to be more reliable than both my tube amplifiers, but some would say that's not a fair comparison either..
I cannot comment on service/repair, here in Australia, as I havn't had a single issue or reason to need it,
though RF Solutions in Queensland certainly know the product well, and are great to deal with.
The SPE did 36 hours non stop CQWW SSB contest,
for 1,600 contacts and performed better than I did, and cooler. The radio is a Kenwood TS990 which is certainly not let down by the SPE, both work very well together, and I always recieve great audio reports DX and Local.
Very pleased with the SPE 2K-FA !

 
K6XT Rating: 4/5 Feb 27, 2014 21:58 Send this review to a friend
Excellent amp touchy service  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
My 2K-FA was delivered in July 2013. Excitedly hooking it up, I got right on the air. Everything seemed fine for about an hour of operation. Then I began to notice two things: Stations were coming back to N6XT, and power output didn't seem quite right on the fast-responding Elecraft W2. Now N6XT is a good friend but it defied imagination to suppose he was in every pileup I was. An inveterate tinkerer and decent technician, I did some testing. Turns out, the very expensive vacuum relay option was only 50% healthy. The output relay was failing. This is where my 2K-FA experience began to sour. The offending relay hangs right out in the open on the tuner sub chassis. As a factory modification its simply RTV'd in place on top of other PCB relays, duck soup simple to get at and change. From my testing and experience, no doubt at all its defective. Not willing to risk shipping to TX for something I can fix myself, I radioed Expertampsusa seeking a replacement relay. What I got in return is a veritable tornado of opposition. I was told I'm not qualified to be inside a 2K-FA under warranty. That I would (first pass) invalidate (second pass) jeopardize the warranty if I so much as took a cover off. Oops too late, I do an inspection on everything that walks in the door. And more about how only Expertampsusa knew enough, was SMD qualified (Note: No SMD involved), yada yada. Quite offensive conceit, to be sure! Enter I0ZY the president of SPE, who I'd been cc'ing on my emails with the locals. He offered to send along a known good relay that SPE had tested, which offer I quickly accepted. Unbelievably, more BS flak from Expertampsusa - paraphrasing, repairs in USA are their business, not SPE's, and your warranty remains jeopardized etc etc. Cutting to the chase, except for the USA distributor the experience has been excellent. The new relay fixed the issue which hasn't recurred. Nor has anything else misfired. There really is nothing quite like a full power transceiver. Except for turning it on, its almost invisible in the station - and even that can be automated. Thirty watts drive gives full output and with plenty of room to spare. I'm totally satisfied and just hoping I don't have to deal with local support til the 2 year warranty expires. SPE support has been superb. Local support - well, lets just say I've dealt with other support more concerned with customer satisfaction than their rice bowl. Operational notes: SO2R compatibility is advertised. This isn't useful in an actual SO2R station as the SO2R antenna connector is receive only - explained more fully in the QST review. SO2R stations will continue to need 2 amps. The internal tuner is quite good but SWR limited to 3:1, firmware enforced. Cooling is quiet, still, the no-cooling fan feature is for SSB only, a feature that needs improvement to permit temperature controlled no- or low-fan ops in CW. Despite my relay failure, if it weren't for the local support attitude I'd give this amp a high five. Strongly recommended.
 
DG8NCO Rating: 5/5 Dec 15, 2013 22:12 Send this review to a friend
Now Perfect Amp  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
please view my review from November 22, 2013 12:22

after 3 weeks in the repair at the manufacturer-SPE in Rome, the error was found and eliminated 100%.
In this state, the amplifier is a 5 by 5 points.

 
KH6CG Rating: 5/5 Dec 1, 2013 19:02 Send this review to a friend
SPE 2K-FA Update  Time owned: more than 12 months
Well it has been about 2 years now that I have owned my two SPE 2K-FA amps. I am overjoyed with the ease of operation of these amplifiers and their ability to meld with my transceivers. All I need to do is tune in a station and transmit. It can’t be any easier. This is anywhere on the ham bands from 160M to 6 meters. The amp knows what antennas to switch to when changing bands, and has them tuned to 1.1:1 SWR wherever I go. How about that! Hihi. I frequently get unsolicited great sounding audio reports from local and Dx stations. I have NEVER had anyone ever tell me that I was splattering or had any bad audio modulation.
I have never noticed any spurious noise on receive either. I have a Flex5000a that I use with my amps and I use PSDR. I can see the frequency spectrum and I don’t notice or see any noise artifacts coming from these amps, with or without the fans running. I also use the amps with my TS-990S and also a Collins KWM-380, circa 1982.
I have ordered a SPE CO1-HF Combiner to use with both my SPE 2K-FA amps. Hopefully this will arrive in the first quarter on 2014. I am looking forward to trying that out. This will allow me to run 1500 watts output continuously on RTTY.
I highly recommend the SPE 2K-FA amp to anyone who wants a “Top of the Line” amplifier that can do just about anything automatically. Stan KH6CG
 
W9KNI Rating: 5/5 Nov 27, 2013 14:42 Send this review to a friend
I am delighted!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After a lot of research on Solid State amplifiers, I ordered the Expert 2K-FA, and received it a month ago. An interface cable from Array Solutions connects to my K-3.

First impressions were excellent. The unit was extremely well packed, complete with carry bag. Fit and finish are superb. The amplifier is HEAVY, a good deal more than I expected, even with its switcher power supply. There is clearly a lot of steel and copper inside.

Included are the manual on a CD-ROM, which also includes a program for remote interfacing the amp to your PC, connectors for making your own control cable, extra fuses and a USB cable for updating the amplifier firmware. The manual is adequate but could be better.

In operation, the amplifier is a dream to use. It automatically follows the transceiver as I change bands, without retuning. It effortlessly puts out full legal power. In short, it turns my K3 into a 1500 watt transceiver.

Having an instant-on amplifier is extremely important to me. I am an avid chaser of the DX Marathon. As such, when an alarm for a new counter comes over the spotting net, I simply can not afford the 3 minute warm up time of most legal-limit tube amplifiers. Having owned such an amplifier at one time, too often I saw my whole life pass before my eyes – twice! – while watching the pile-up grow exponentially, waiting, waiting for the ready light to come on. The 2K-FA is instant-on, a huge operational advantage.

I was concerned about the possibility of RF noise caused by the switcher power supply. I asked several owners about that. All reported that the amp seemed absolutely clean. My own experience has proven the same – I have yet to detect any sign of RF noise from the amp, either from its switcher supply or its computer control.

Speaking of quiet, blessedly, the amplifier is the quietest legal limit amplifier I have ever owned. When the amp is on, I chose the menu selection that runs the fan at a low level until I transmit. While transmitting the fan speeds up, but instantly drops back to low when I stop transmitting. When I am not transmitting, I cannot hear the fan at all in my headset – I turned the amp off and on to prove this to myself.

Another concern I had was IMD. Solid state amps do have a lower IMD than some tube amps. (The recent QST product review showed the 2K-FA 3rd order IMD at 32 dB down.) But, the important point here is that this is as low or lower than virtually every HF transceiver on the market, except for certain Yaesu models, and they only when they are in the very inefficient Class “A” mode. Thus the limiting factor for IMD is usually the transceiver, NOT the amplifier.

I am working towards having remote capability for operation of my station. The 2K-FA is perfect for that, as well as for “point-and-shoot” DX Chasing software. And thanks to the amp being instantly ready, you will never hear a 2K-FA owner tuning up on the DX frequency!

Taken in sum, I am delighted with the amplifier. It meets my needs and wishes flawlessly.

 
RFEXPERT Rating: 1/5 Nov 22, 2013 12:22 Send this review to a friend
Expected Better Performance  Time owned: more than 12 months
I own 2 of the 2K-FA.

These amps have been reliable. The main reason that I bought these amps were the claimed IMD specifications. The claim was -36Db 3rd order. It was disappointing to read the various test reports on this amp with such a poor IMD specification well below specifications. When you own a amp with poor IMD performance and then consider how interfacing the typical ham transceivers ALC to this amp, the final distortion products are far from ideal.

This problem came to my attention when several hams in the neighborhood complained about my splatter on 17 meters. We checked the amp on several bands and compared the SPE with the tube amplifiers of past. The SPE was especially bad on the higher bands. It was producing a poor quality signal with a lot of raspy edges which is indicative of a amp with poor IMD suppression. The radios used were a FT5000MP and a Hermes SDR with final amp as described below. Both of these radios have better IMD performance than the SPE.

While I welcome technology moving forward, I dont support technology that has inferior specifications just for the sake of technology sake or being new. The last thing the ham bands need is hundreds of solid state amps with poor IMD specifications causing problems up and down the bands.

My radio is Hermes SDR with IMD specifications of -50Db 3rd order. My PA is a homebrew Russian KIT using the same FETS. It has IMD specifications of -40db 3rd order. The end IMD performance using 2 of these models is 15db better IMD performance than the SPE Expert. For such an expensive amplifier per watt I would have expected better performance or at least expecting the amplifier to meet its claimed specifications.

For me a clean amplifier is the alpha 9500 which is head and shoulders above this poor IMD solid state amplifier. There is an alternative way to be lazy but clean. While SPE makes good amplifiers it really needs to clean its act up. I will be moving these SPE amps on to try the new Tokyo High Power amp to see if they can have better IMD performance.

 
KD7DCR Rating: 5/5 Jul 19, 2013 18:44 Send this review to a friend
After 8mo use::: Perrrrrrfect !  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have held off posting a review on this wonderful Amp until I could give it a good work out on 6m - to go along with my HF use over the winter. I feel totally comfortable with it now and ready to tell everyone...GO GET ONE OF THESE!

I am not going to re-write the manual here - it does have a small learning curve, but within a very few hours, and some hand-holding by Bob and Frosty, it is truly a "turn it on and forget it" machine. As close to a QRO transceiver as is possible when mated with my IC-7600.

I do not have a qro capable antenna for 160m, so that one band will NOT be included in this review.

The internal processor, doing all those checks every second, really is your insurance policy! It will NOT allow you to do anything "to it" that will hurt it. That is my biggest reason for buying this brand - it is HAM proof and Mel proof. I almost bought the 1K version, but am now glad that I didn't - the added output on 6m has enabled at least 12 to 15 QSO's this season into the East coast that would not have been made with only 700 or 1kw output! It was a big step for me, coming out of an AL80B, but I am very glad I took it now - I'll never need another amp!..

My only beef is that it's a BIG BOX and weighs plenty - this is NOT a portable or gridexpedition amp. (It's not an 'ol Henry console either).. The carrying case is a very nice "extra" touch... But, it puts the signal out and it's clean about it..

I have many comments that surprise me:
BEST signal on the band...
ONLY signal readable on the band...
What are you running up there???...
You are first on the band this morning...
Etc.

I am seeing about 50-cents per day average for the QRO power bill "add-on"...very efficient!

The auto tuner handles "most" normal mismatches with ease...I do have a single antenna within my tall "stack" that only likes 1,200w but not QRO. The "fold back" is noticeable when you start getting above 1.5+, at least on 6m ...

I would buy another of these if the need ever came up...but, built like a brick outhouse, I doubt that will ever occur.
 
WA1GZY Rating: 5/5 Feb 26, 2013 06:17 Send this review to a friend
Performs as advertised  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Retiring my microprocessor controlled Alpha 87A was not an easy decision but decided it deserved a rest after 20 years.

The new technology winner is clearly the SPE 2K. (Be sure to order the optional QSK vaccuum relays!) The amplifier easily outputs between 1800 and 2400 watts depending upon the band and allows up to two transceivers via input 1 and 2 and allows up to six antenna inputs (with up to 3 antennas user-selectable per band).

Another great feature is the internal antenna tuner which may be bypassed for antennas which are tuneable (like the SteppIR) or resonant below 1.5/1. The internal antenna tuner is also available even when the amplifier is in standby mode for barefoot operation! It monitors SWR both at the antenna input and following the tuner along with digital watt metering and a host of other operating parameters.

The suggested ALC drive control cable enables the user to use transceivers with up to 200 watts without damage. (Can't do that with the old Alpha 87A which drives with 45-50 watts).

The internal tuner can perfectly match SWR up to 3.5/1 but will fault (jump to standby) if the SWR rises beyond 2:1.

The amp. autotunes by band and frequency via CAT transceiver cable control or via its internal frequency counter. It also enables the tuneable SteppIR band and frequency auto-tracking with a single "port" cable even if you are using two transceivers (mine are the Icom 781 and Kenwood 480) without the bother of re-programming or switching baud and mode functions within the SteppIR controller.

A very useful feature is the free terminal software which enables complete computer or cellphone control of the amplifier from any remote location. All metering functions are readily accessed by cellphone or computer as well.

Weak points: The English language version on-line manual is poorly written and requires time and patience to set up the initial programming. There are no short-cuts to programming and it will take an hour or two to get it running. Be sure to have a dummy load handy.

An SPE blog indicates that the front panel ribbon control soft push/pressure buttons may fail prematurely after the 2 year warranty. Same for the final amplifier modules with reports of power loss of 50% for the 1K model. Failure to correct "fault" shut-down conditions can and will damage the final transistor modules. Solid state amps cannot take the abuse like tube amplifiers. Treat them accordingly.

At this early stage my amplifier is performing as advertised and I trust that it will stand the test of time.
 
I2DMI Rating: 5/5 Feb 12, 2013 05:39 Send this review to a friend
Last Experience as SO2R  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
SPE 2K - Last Experience as SO2R
I have just concluded the WPX RTTY contest and I feel to report my positive experience with this RF Amplifier. I had decided to use its features at maximum, namely:
A) Possibility to have two radios connected to one PA (Radio A=FTDX5000, radio B=Kenwood TS480HX)
B) Possibility to utilize one antenna (SO2R) to RX only (HF9V Butternut- automatically associated to the radio in RX)
C) Possibility to use the internal antenna switch (Ant1= Optibeam 12-4, Ant2= 80M dipole)
I used the fantastic software N1MM with SO2R setup and I have to say that I am fully satisfied. I worked both with Radio B= Run and Radio A=S&P setup and 2 radios in S&P. In both cases the band switches between Radio A/Radio B and Ant1/Ant2 were numerous. My SPE2K worked flawlessly with no hesitation or interferences. The radio connected in RX to the HF9V received impeccably all average and strong signals even when the SPE 2K was in TX. As for the weaker signals I noticed a slight saturation effect. I suppose it was because the HF9V is only “3 meters” below the Optibeam antenna.
My activity during the contest was: 29 hours activity, 1082 QSO, 563 prefixes and about 2.1 million points. It is not a record but not that bad for a 62-year-old buddy who lives in a 7-story condo with a limited space on the roof to have an optimal antennas separation.
I will get in contact with SPE technicians to ask to design a filter system for RX to reduce all reception problems for those who work SO2R.
 
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