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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: 33 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $ 4750 Euro
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.linear-amplifier.com
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K1TGX Rating: 5/5 Jun 2, 2016 07:26 Send this review to a friend
Everything I hoped it would be  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've been qrt for several years and last year decided to get active again. At the Boxboro Convention I ordered an Elecraft K3S & P3. In November I decided to order the 2K-FA. I ordered it but because of the estimated delivery time for the amp (5-6 months) I returned to Elecraft for their 500w amp & tuner. Fast forward to May 2016 and Bob called to say the amp would be here in the middle of the month.I was sorry to see the Elecraft amp & tuner go as they were really fine pieces of gear but. . .
My antenna system consists of a 4 element fan dipole at ~ 60 feet (dipoles for 80, 75, 40 and 20).
Setting up the 2K-FA does require reading the manual. I did get the interface cable from Dan at Expert Linears but I still need a 'Y' cable to complete the full integration to the K3S & P3.
That said the only thing I see that is missing is the auto band change as I change bands on the K3S. However, the amp does not require any intervention to change bands. The 1st dit on cw or syllable of speech and the amp auto changes to the correct band. Magic.
The amp contains a 'memory bank' of settings for the antenna tuner. To use it as recommended one must go through every band and have the amp auto-tune to match that particular band segment of each band you use with the corresponding antenna (it has provisions for several antenna connections that you can program to match each band for automatic selection). For each band from 80 to 6 I used about 6-8 segments to program. It matched every band except 10m to my fan dipoles. On 10 it was only able to match above 28.7mhz. The manual says it will match up to a 3:1 swr. In my case it matched a couple of band segments that were 3.2-3.3 to 1 just fine.
Setup took less than 1 hour - even with my being super cautious :)
Operation - This is one sweet amp. My last amplifier was an Alpha 78. Operating with the amp has been awesome. At some point I intend to set up remote capabilities and this amp lends itself perfectly to that.
There are an array of safeties built in. The only one I have exercised is the high swr shutdown. That was before I went through each band and had the tuner adjust for each segment. The highest temperature I have seen in the amp is 84 deg F.
That said I have returned to my old habits and am primarily a dx chaser. Not exactly 100% key down.
Yesterday I was the 1st North American contact with ZD7 in a pretty severe pileup. With the modest antenna I am using a great deal of the credit has to go to the power level.
I was (rightly) concerned with signal quality after reading several 'experts' proclaim how poorly 'solid state' amps perform. I have received several unsolicited comments on how good the signal sounds (most recently a day ago from a SM1). I also worked A92 (Bahrain) last evening and Fabian is using the same amp. If my signal sounds as good as his I'll be more than happy.
The amp is a brute in size. It weighs about 75lbs and is bigger than I thought - even though I saw the dimensions before I ordered it. If you have no psychological need to look at the display it can be put anywhere conveniently off the operating desk.
I guess the test question is would I buy one again. Its a major expense but the answer is absolutely.
 
NM6E Rating: 5/5 May 27, 2016 21:43 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic Amplifier!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have owned my SPE EXPERT 2K-FA since Thanksgiving week, 2015. I placed my order with Bob Hardie of Expert Linears back in early August 2015. I actually ordered both the 2K-FA and the 1.3K-FA, with the intention that I would get “whatever” showed up first. I was replacing a much smaller, yet good amp for me, an ACOM 1011 and obviously this 2K-FA is in an entirely different class.

Knowing my antenna situation “is what it is” (I live in an HOA but was able to put up a Zero Five 30’ Flag Pole for 80-6m, see a separate review for the antenna), I either wanted the 1.3K-FA that I could run off of 120VAC or the 2K-FA primarily because I knew that either has the ability to disengage the ATU (wanted to have it for a later QTH in case I ever needed it) and having about 1.2KW was about bottom/max limit I wanted to run so either would provide the power output I wanted as well as the flexibility to shut the internal ATU off as I am running an outboard tuner, the Palstar HF-AUTO (great tuner as well).

Working with Bob was a pleasure and I would get updates periodically. I am hearing that the wait for most any SPE Expert Amplifier could well vary from 3 to 8 months so Bob is great with giving updates because there are people that get on the wait list and when the product shows up, they are not in a position to pull the trigger as they are not the most inexpensive amp, but they are very advanced!

As destiny would have it, the 2K-FA showed up first and I took it. I was told roughly 2 weeks in advance the 2K-FA would show up so that meant I had to think about having to have a dedicated 220VAC line run from the master circuit breaker to the shack/home office. I ended up running a dedicated 220VAC @ 20A and another dedicated 120VAC @ 20A service just for the shack. The house was wired for 15A service so I had the “dimming” of lights from overloading the plugs in the shack.

I wanted as much automation in the shack as possible, even with my non-resonant antenna. I was able to use the 2K-FA with my former Kenwood TS590s successfully without issues as I had Dan from Expert Linears make up the cable for me. His service is well worth the time saving effort for cable creation to make things run smooth. I also had Dan make up the cable set for my Elecraft KX3 that I also use and it works great as well

I subsequently replaced the Kenwood TS590s with a Yaesu FTDX5000 and had Dan also make another cable set. The one thing I did was that in my ‘haste’ to get the amp connected with the Yaesu FTDX5000 and the new cable, I slipped on connecting the chassis ground of the FTDX5K to the common ground buss bar that the amp was connected to so I thought I had a bad cable but ‘signal/control’ voltages were not quite there.. Once the grounding issue was resolved, all worked great with the FTDX5K and Dan’s cable, the Amp turns on/and off automatically with the FTDX5K power on signal.

With Elecraft KX3, the auto power/on off feature for me does not work as the ouput signal voltage from the KX3 is too low for the 2K-FA to recognize and turn on but no big deal. Prior to the KX3 firmware upgrade, the KX3 was limited to 12w Max Output on all bands but with the Expert 2K-FA and the KX3, I had an average of about 280-325 watts with 12w drive. I recently upgraded the KX3 firmware that now allows 15w Max output on 80-20m and on those bands, the 2K-FA gives me anywhere from 400-500. So I have a nice 500 watt setup with the KX3. I am contemplating picking up a KX2 for more portable work but having the ability to connect it to the 2K-FA will make it a good 200 watt station as well with the KX2.

Prior to having the 2K-FA, using my old ACOM 1011 600 watt amp, I was able to listen to the AM Broadcast Band (500Khz – 1700Khz) and using the Yaesu FTDX5K was a pleasure to listen with. Once the 2K-FA was put in-line, the 2K-FA Band Pass filters really prohibit me form listening to local AM broadcast stations so I need to feed the antenna directly to the transceivers for that purpose but no big deal.

I did have one minor issue that Bob quickly resolved within days of having identified that it had to do with an intermittent issue with the temperature control board sensor that would shut the amp into standby to protect it. Bob meticulously trouble shot the issue and identified the root cause and resolved it.

The amp has worked flawlessly aside from that one minor issue. I’ve pushed the amp in Max mode and have seen an ‘easy’ 1.8Kw-2.1Kw output in Max mode. I run it 99% of the time in MID power out range that gives me ~ 1.2Kw and it just loafs along with 50w drive and the ALC controls everything in case I slip up and the power out is up at 200w drive when I operate barefoot.

I like having both HF rigs connected simultaneously to the rig , the FTDX5K (totally automated for power on/off with the cables) and the Elecraft KX3 and with the HF-AUTO and a few dits the (amp in standby mode) the tuner tunes my Zero Five 30’ Flag Pole Vertical and the amp comes on line by either pushing the front panel button or when I contest and have the control via the software program/utility tool while running WriteLog etc.

I have all the automation that I can do with my little setup (PC/Contesting program/Rig Control/Amp Integration via the utility and no more “manual” tuning.

Overall, I am very happy with the sales process and service I have received from Bob Hardie of Expert Linears and having had an Alpha 87 for 9 years (sold it) as well as the ACOM 1011 (manual tune amp), the SPE Expert 2K-FA is much better because of it’s instant on capability and I wanted to not worry about tubes going south as I had with the Alpha 87 and 2 sets in the ACOM 1011. This turns my station with either of my rigs into an instant on 500w transceiver with the KX3 or a 2Kw+ with the FTDX5000 but I am conservative and run it in MID range and 1.2Kw for 80-10m

The 2K-FA is not inexpensive but I am loving it very much and pleased with it’s self protection mechanism and all the information available that it can display on the computer screen with the utility program or on the display itself and setup is a breeze and I strongly recommend having the cables made up if you want to get it up and go quickly but you can solder them up yourself, I just don’t have time with my busy schedule and family time so the investment is worth it to me to maximize my time.
 
W7DXX Rating: 5/5 Sep 9, 2015 07:58 Send this review to a friend
The 2K-FA at W7DXX remote base  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I finally retired my 87A and bought a 2K-FA from Bob, W5UQ, Expert Linear America. I have to say that purchasing this amp is the smartest thing I have done in 50 years of ham radio.
The 2K-FA is an extremely well built amplifier, and it is built to perform.
It is in use at W7DXX remote base.
Not only does the 2K-FA operate 24/7 at 1500 watts, its many failsafe features make it 100% reliable.
Operate it yourself via the internet at www.w7dxx.com
THANK YOU SPE
 
K4VUD Rating: 5/5 Aug 24, 2015 15:41 Send this review to a friend
System-by-system evaluation  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Eval is on a brand new SPE Expert 2K-FA, 5mos, no vacuum relay, all factory standard, 220VAC.

Book: read prior to plugging in, yes it matters due to antenna tuning system, ant output sockets, and 232 interconnects to radios. Setting up ants is not intuitive.

Physical: bigger, heavier, and better looking based on Web photos. Has "film type" front panel switches which are not tactile, not cap touch, and require a learned touch--not too hard, not too soft; requires trials. But overall subjective "feel" is very strong and positive. Design is not pretty, not military.

Hooking up: 232 connection is best to radios and works to change bands and antennas automatically. Factory says USE ALC which seems to kick in at full power only; some users say 'no ALC." Works both ways with manual control of RF from driver. Also senses RF frequency to switch same functions and that works good.

Setting up: It helps to use the factory Data Disk, supplied, to display front panel and controls on computer and to operate the buttons; but computer not necessary. The most important set-up is antennas/output sockets/and which of 2 driver radios is in use. Select Radio, select output socket and what you want done with that for all bands. The book is unclear what "t" display means: it means "tunable antenna" (like StepIR), and does NOT mean 'interior ant tuner." You will appreciate this tip greatly.

Go ahead and use tune/key down for all antennas, bands, and band segments; yes just do it like the book says; tip is turn OPERATE off.

Using: Invisible; it just works with no additional tweaking. You forget it is there except you keep being heard so well.
If you like 1200 watt level, use MID RF power setting. Its input is not swamped.

Antenna tuner: this is not a tank circuit tuning; it is a REAL antenna tuner which handles, as per specs. from 3:1 down, and is very fast and close to instant after programming as per book. It is fun to watch SWR come down fast and very low.

AC power: seems to handle range of AC input from 195 to 240VAC flawlessly; you never know otherwise; it just puts out RF power even with fast AC supply changes, a real plus for bad AC locations.

If you do not use the SO2R rear socket, short it to ground to provide extra isolation between 2 radios.

Overall: This amp is flawless. It sets the convenience and performance standard. It is the absolute ideal remote amp because it just works. It, along with its brother, 1.3K-FA, should be in every shack that wants more RF. Problem is demand now rather far exceeds supply... and for good reason.

These SPE's walk all over the KPA-500 with its add-on ant tuner, SWR meter, and price-to-power consideration. The 8kg/17lbs makes 1.3K obvious DXpedition choice.

(my amp history: Alpha 87a, 9500, 76pac, Titan I, DTR-2000, SB-220, and IC-2KL; guess which is not sold.)
 
PY2YP Rating: 5/5 Jan 3, 2015 04:32 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Last May I was fortunate to visit Rome for the first time in my life, a wonderful city to say the least. There is a "must visit" place for DXers located at Via di Monte Verde, 33 where the SPE is settled. I had previously ordered an Expert 2K-FA, paid it cash and asked to be shipped to Frankfurt where I was booked to fly home. I brought it to PY2 land, unpacked and put in the air immediately after arrival. Wow! It works great, it communicates flawless with the radio and the automatic antenna switch, switching the amplifier to the wrong band is now history. Despite of its low weight it is very rugged, well constructed and reliable. Yes, I did open it just to see its interior: a very clean assemble impressed me very well. When on the air the 2 kW does the difference into a pile-up, this power is a great deal mostly on low bands, I worked a RTTY contest and had no overheat, of course I housed the amplifier in a well ventilated position. Just one note: read the manual before even unpack it; read the manual again before plug and wiring; read the manual all over again before firing it up. Gianfranco told me to do that and I did, I really read the manual. Believe me: it works.
 
KO7AA Rating: 5/5 Dec 3, 2014 19:56 Send this review to a friend
Amazing!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just worked 22 hours of CQWWCW and this amp is everything I have ever wanted.

I operate contests skimmer assisted, which means chasing a lot of spots at the end of the contest when CQing is not producing. On a Sunday this means I need immediate band changes 10-40M. I had been using a two radio two amp configuration, but that still meant a lot of amp tuning.

I was building up a new station this last Spring and stumbled across a small ad in QST for the 2K-FA. Then I read the QST review. I consider myself a serious contester and still can't believe I hadn't heard of the 2K-FA.

In short, with my K3 I now have a 1500W tranceiver with 6 antenna ports AND it controls the SteppIR Yagi with a frequency change. The antennas are all set by band, the variations and flexibility are mind boggling. The amp is not on the radio desk, there is USB connectivity that remotely places all the info and switching of the amp in a box amongst the N1MM+ boxes on the computer desktop.

N1MM+ showed 94 band changes in the last 3 hours of the contest. A 9Y4 on 40M, a 3B8 on 20M, a VK4 on 10M in 2 MINUTES with just a few mouse clicks.

The 2K-FA does work with 2 radio input for true assisted (skimmer) SO2R operation, someday I may explore that option....
 
K6JR Rating: 5/5 Dec 2, 2014 20:28 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The 2K-FA has turned my Kenwood TS 990 into a 1500 watt transceiver. I have had both the 1500 and 2500 tokyo highpower amps both of which were great, but the SPE Expert 2K-FA is in a league by itself. The build quality is superb and the operation has all the flexibility one could ask for. This amp is as good as it gets.
Dealing with the folks at ExpertUSA was a pleasure.
 
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.
 
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