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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: 38 Average rating: 4.7/5 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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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.
 
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.

 
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