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Author Topic: Flex 6400 VS IC7610 ARRL lab test review.  (Read 4128 times)
KX2T
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Posts: 1100




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« on: January 22, 2019, 10:39:04 AM »

I have been reading the two reviews on the ARRL web site between the 7610 and the Flex 6400M plus reading comments in between the E ham reviews posted on this site as well for some time now. When you look at the numbers from the lab tests they are both very close except in one area which is the MDS figure without any pre amp in line in which the Flex is -114dbm@400Hz and the Icom is -130dbm@500Hz both in the CW mode and when you look at some of the E ham reviews you see one statement pop out and that is that the Flex is quiet but of course it is cause without any pre amp its sensitivity to the Icom is 16dbm less. Now on the low bands the ultimate sensitivity is no big deal but if you oen both radio's and have tried to compare then you should at least use the attenuation and place in about 16db or within a close amount then you will have a fair comparison. The other comment is the s meter and were it is picked up between the to radio's in which case the Icom's S meter show a lower value when you either use attenuation or the RF gain and the Flex does not, this is simply the fact in which the Flex S meter circuit is placed in a different area of the receiver and if you placed a VTVM on the audio output you will see the effect. I wish Icom would have done it like the Flex but there circuit is done between the DSP and front end agc control in there second FPGA digitally and the Flex picks it off not in any digital AGC circuit.
These two radio's are both outstanding works fro a production radio today yet I feel that most really don't read between the lines in lab numbers and then start some none accurate comparisons between them, regardless of what licence class you may have understanding what these figures meant may give some obvious clues when comparing lab numbers and relating to real world comparisons.
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N6YFM
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2019, 09:30:41 AM »

Not sure if there is a question in there.
But yes, both radios are very good.  Which one to get depends upon what operating
style and personal preferrence a person has.
The Flex provides a MUCH more detailed panadapter, visual notch filter system,
more capable virtual com port system for multiple software apps, and calibrated
spectrum scope in dBm (like a spectrum analyzer).
The Icom provides more physical switches and buttons for those that do not
prefer computer style operation.
But for radio use, both will get you there and back.
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KX2T
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Posts: 1100




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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2019, 06:47:32 PM »

I think what you are saying that the Flex is better suited for the video game generation and the Icom is better suited for us old fart types. Apparently you may not be aware that the Icom does work far better with HDSDR as far as giving you a better more detailed spectrum display but either radio is NOT a SPECTRUM analyzer, for some reason ever since the Icom company placed a spectrum display into there radio's there is a very large group of hams who thought they had a spectrum analyzer built in but it was not. Today Flex and Anan give you a huge big screen display and the Icom has a decent built in one but using HDSDR places it in the rear of these two companies but still in the running. The area the 7610 does slightly better is in price for features performance. The 7610 has two complete receivers or as the Flex calls it slices but both RX sections have a completely separate band pass filters plus Digi select front end filters, to get that with Flex you must go with the 6600 or 6600M  which brings another kilobuck plus to the table. The S meter that Flex says can be calibrated is a nice plus as long as you have the test equipment in the shack to do so  other wise its not really anything special.
The one thing that seems to be lost in translation is the front end sensitivity which for some reason many just don't understand what these numbers mean, when comparing the two try using some attenuation on the icom, somewhere between 12 to 15db and then see if either one is quieter.
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M0GVZ
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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2019, 09:29:10 AM »

but either radio is NOT a SPECTRUM analyzer

Having owned an actual spectrum analyser I'd kind of disagree. Anything which can display a segment of the RF spectrum and display received signals and their amplitude is a spectrum analyser. Sure you can decode signals on either of those radios but my spectrum analyser had the ability to allow you to listen to AM and FM signals too.
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KX2T
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2019, 07:54:39 PM »

A real calibrated spectrum analyzer if far more accurate then some band scope either on any of these SDR radio's but they do look nice but in the end they are overblown fish finders and eye candy for the video game generation.
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K6BRN
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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2019, 09:12:19 PM »

Quote
A real calibrated spectrum analyzer if far more accurate then some band scope either on any of these SDR radio's but they do look nice but in the end they are overblown fish finders and eye candy for the video game generation.

Ack!  Choke!  Ahem....  still laughing over that one.  Fish finder?  Eh!  Smiley

Quote
Having owned an actual spectrum analyser I'd kind of disagree. Anything which can display a segment of the RF spectrum and display received signals and their amplitude is a spectrum analyser. Sure you can decode signals on either of those radios but my spectrum analyser had the ability to allow you to listen to AM and FM signals too.

More like a "Spectrum Monitor".

As pointed out, a genuine spectrum analyzer has both guaranteed performance (in cal), versatility and (just for starters) way more appropriate sampling filters for frequency domain analysis than, say... an ICOM-7610.  I can't EVER recall reaching for an ICOM IC-7610 in the lab and thinking:"Yep!  I'll just grab that baby, set it to 10 Hz RBW and VBW and do a (looooong) sweep for close in spectral products!  Sooo much better, than say a Keysight N9000 or even an (ack!) Rigol DSA815TG. And cheaper, too! (well, except for the Rigol)"

Or....  "Yep!  Fine day!  Think I'll just tune in WTIC and see what the Red Sox are up to.  On my N9000."

Really does not happen.  For a reason.

Brian - K6BRN
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AE5X
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Posts: 1464




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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2019, 08:19:35 AM »

More like a "Spectrum Monitor"

Which is also an eZine:
https://www.thespectrummonitor.com/

If, at my age, someone want to consider me and my Flex as "the video game generation" I'll gladly accept!
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K0UA
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Posts: 4781




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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2019, 12:13:40 PM »

Quote
but in the end they are overblown fish finders and eye candy for the video game generation.

So they are not useful for day to day amateur operations?   Dang! and I thought all along that "eye candy" was helping me... dog gone it. Learn something new every day.... Roll Eyes Roll Eyes
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73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist
KX2T
Member

Posts: 1100




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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2019, 06:38:25 AM »

I didn't say they were useful but they are eye candy plus ever since they started building radio's with any type of spectrum displays you have the spectrum police running around the bands, LOL they think what is in there radio is a spectrum analyzer but all I am saying is it is not. As far as the video game generation with the large displays on 32 to 42 inch monitors yes this does come from many who are into gaming stuff and do like displays on large monitors.
To Brian you would be surprised on how many hams really think what is displayed on there Flex,Icom,Anan or whatever radio they are using feel that what they have is a spectrum analyzer and could be used as such, I am sure you have seen You Tube video's relating to such a thing but all I am saying is NFW there are huge differences between the two, you know this, I know this and a bunch of the technical ham population may also but there are some who think otherwise just listen on the ham bands sometimes between QSO's and you will see, I have also seen this posted in many forums on the net as well.
The displays are useful, I use them myself but if they could give me the best receiver section ever instead of placing a display into a rig I would chose the better RX section, its a nice addition but it is not an absolute necessity for operating a radio unless you have a black box SDR.
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KA4DPO
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Posts: 1320




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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2019, 08:58:19 AM »

I didn't say they were useful but they are eye candy plus ever since they started building radio's with any type of spectrum displays you have the spectrum police running around the bands, LOL they think what is in there radio is a spectrum analyzer but all I am saying is it is not. As far as the video game generation with the large displays on 32 to 42 inch monitors yes this does come from many who are into gaming stuff and do like displays on large monitors.
To Brian you would be surprised on how many hams really think what is displayed on there Flex,Icom,Anan or whatever radio they are using feel that what they have is a spectrum analyzer and could be used as such, I am sure you have seen You Tube video's relating to such a thing but all I am saying is NFW there are huge differences between the two, you know this, I know this and a bunch of the technical ham population may also but there are some who think otherwise just listen on the ham bands sometimes between QSO's and you will see, I have also seen this posted in many forums on the net as well.
The displays are useful, I use them myself but if they could give me the best receiver section ever instead of placing a display into a rig I would chose the better RX section, its a nice addition but it is not an absolute necessity for operating a radio unless you have a black box SDR.

I agree with you, the displays on our modern radios are spectrum scopes, not spectrum analyzers, there is a big difference.  Having said that, I also agree that receiver performance is paramount since you don't work stations with the display, radio is an audio medium, with the exception of digital signals, and even those are transmitted by phase shifting audio tones.

Back to the OP, the IC-7610 has a higher MDS which means that it is a more sensitive receiver.  I really can't find anything about the Flex 6400M that makes it better than the Icom radio.  Sherwood only shows the 6600M, a more expensive radio, and even the lowly little IC-7300 stacks up nicely against it.  The IC-7610 and the Flex 6600M are only separated by 1db, any ham with a technical background knows that one db in not significant and the Icom', 7300 and 7610, best it in several other key measurements. 

Lets face it, the Flex M series was rushed to market to compete with the Icom's and they have suffered a lot of problems as a result.  I am convinced that the Icom 7610 provides a lot more radio for the money than the 6600M, and certainly beats the 6400M.   Especially when you take into account the reliability factor, the Icom just works and you don't need to call the factory every other day to fix some stupid glitch.  I'm sure all of the Flex fans are turning inside out right about now.  Just take a deep breath, turn off the volume, and just sit back and stare at that pretty display.  Yeah, that it, computer screen, that's what radio is all about. Grin Roll Eyes Roll Eyes
« Last Edit: January 26, 2019, 09:11:49 AM by KA4DPO » Logged
N4UE
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Posts: 926




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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2019, 04:03:50 PM »

Hi to all. Just an observation I've observed by all the various 'fan boys' in the last 55 years as a ham.....
I brought back a new Icom 756PRO from Tokyo, the week it was announced.
Once home and working, I commented somewhere (maybe even here on eHam, it's been a LONG time), how impressed I was with the performance of the Icom's receiver.

I only had about 5 receivers to compare it to at the time, a couple of Drake TRs, R4-B, a R4-C and a recently refurbished 75A-4, and others.

I took a bunch of abuse from the TT fans because the Icom had a "fish finder".

When the TT Orion was announced, the TT guys now proclaimed it was the best invention since the wheel.

I only own one TT, (thank goodness) and would never consider another.  Smiley
To each their own. Enjoy.

ron
N4UE
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If you're not the lead sled dog, the view never changes......
KX2T
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Posts: 1100




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« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2019, 07:40:18 AM »

I think at 2018 Dayton or whatever you wanna call it the Icom CEO had seen that Flex was having some difficulties just like were Icom was in 2017 trying to show a not working radio and placed almost in the back of the exhibit in 2017. I think Icom did what any company would do and that was drop pricing for the show and payback can be a real bitch, they had enough inventory here in the US and sold nearly a 1000 radio's that week, maybe not at the show but between all the participating dealer network in the USA.
A month before that ended up buying the 7610, I should have waited cause I would have saved $400 but I didn't want to have no radio for a month but I more than likely would do it again but I must say I was not an Icom Fan Boy, if the radio with all its feature works to my liking I am good to go, after 50 years and too many different brands that I've owned I buy what works best for me plus try to stay within my radio budget but I must say the 7610 went a little above but that's OK.
I did look long and hard at the Flex but from what I was reading and hearing with there new 6400 and 6600 before 2018 Dayton I did get cold feet yet I have buddies that ordered there radio's and they have been extremely pleased, as they say on TV its all good!
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K6BRN
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Posts: 1335




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« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2019, 03:44:03 PM »

Regarding MDS and receiver sensitivity...

I cannot remember when I've last had a real issue with sensitivity.  I repaired a Heathkit HR-1680 a while back and it could hear anything my Icom R75 receiver, Yaesu FTDX-3000 or FT-991 could hear, with pretty low noise and decent slectivity with the preselector, to boot.

Usually, I have much more trouble with a noisy receiver (R75 without DSP noise reduction, TS-440S, etc) or poor selectivity more than with sensitivity.

Ahhhh..  I DO remember.  My HR-10B receiver.  It was pretty deaf on 10M.  1970's low-cost, Novice equipment.  My 1st receiver.  THAT could have used a bit more sensitivity.  And a tuning dial that is more than notional.  Which it probably why it had a "crystal calibrator".

And it had these weird transistors in it, that came covered with glass.  I used a nutcracker on those puppies to open 'em up and let come cooling air get in to 'em.  Sure smelled funny afterwards, though.  And deaf as a stone.  (OK.  I made that part up!)

Brian - K6BRN
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KX2T
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Posts: 1100




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« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2019, 11:02:00 AM »

What I find is with newer op's that many times the complain about a noisy receiver but when I ask them if the pre amp is on they say yes and that is sometimes the culprit cause they think cause the S meter reads higher that is better, wrong answer. Many of the Icom rigs since the late seventies had pre amp built into there front ends in which to be honest was not really needed cause without pre amps these radio's were almost over sensitive, placing a small amount of attenuation was almost a required tool that I still use today along with the RF gain control which some newbies say that's the old school way of doing things. On 160,80/75 and 40 I run anywhere between 6 to 12db of attenuation and the signal to noise is vastly improved plus I find the copy is soo much more pleasing. I also remember another ham told me its a must to use the pre amp on 10 meters, well the last CQWW phone contest we had a few north south trans equatorial openings, the signals were not even moving the meter without pre amp engaged but the copy was just like 2 meter FM but when I placed the pre amp on it only increase the noise floor, there was NEVER a time I have ever needed the pre amp even on 10 meters, maybe on 6 but its a big maybe.
When I used the Yaesu FTDX3000 I would maybe use pre amp 1 but also 6db of attenuation which gave be the best overall gain plus better S/N on the higher band but here again on 40m and lower I never used the pre amp stages, but I hear conversations on the air all the time guys using the pre amp and complaining about received noise just because they want that s meter to wiggle more, really#$%?* or they want there pan adapter display to jump higher with a more solid line in the waterfall display. Again it stems back and I mean way back to nobody seems to RTFM, they all must be experts yet this hobby is called amateur radio for a reason.
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K6BRN
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« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2019, 08:38:05 PM »

James (KV2T):

FB regarding use of RF gain.  An almost forgotten skill.

With the old Heathkit HR-1680, I'm able to use the RF gain control, AF gain and preselector in combination to pull in just about anything the FTDX-3000 can hear, and completely avoid ear fatigue.  I've had to actually demonstrate this, because a lot of newer hams just don't believe it. Part of this "easy listening" is because the HR-1680 does not seem to have much high frequency (3000-3500 Hz) distortion or signal processing chain noise in its RX.  My old TS-440S (which otherwise is a great rig) is pretty harsh in this respect as is my R75 receiver.  Easy to get ear fatigue.  So I use a CLRdsp unit to tame these radios (or the built-in DSP noise reduction in the R75, which is just so-so)

The FTDX-3000, -1200 and FT-991 on the other hand just have very good sound quality with regard to ear fatigue, noise reduction on or off.  The noise reduction DOES help with random channel noise, and this helps reduce ear fatigue, but this is over and above the out-of-the box pleasing sound of the receiver.  Kind of like my old HW-101.  Had a VFO that liked to "walk around" the dial a bit (lots of drift) but VERY easy to listen to, otherwise.

Brian - K6BRN
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