- Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Friends Remembered
Survey Question

DX Cluster Spots

Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement

Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | Drake SPR-4 Help

Reviews Summary for Drake SPR-4
Drake SPR-4 Reviews: 12 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $699
Description: General Coverage Communications Receiver. Drake's first all solid state receiver.
Product is not in production.
More info: http://
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to this review.

My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

You can write your own review of the Drake SPR-4.

Page 1 of 2 —>

KQ4O Rating: 5/5 Sep 6, 2018 00:29 Send this review to a friend
Classic Old School  Time owned: more than 12 months
I was browsing eBay one night a few years ago and someone was selling a very nice SPR-4 in my very town! Of course, not needing yet another receiver I immediately bought it and arranged to pick it up. It was sold to me by the original owner, who was a radioman in the French Navy and bought it in Paris, bringing it to America with him years ago. He liked to listen to CW ragchews and had the 14 MHz crystal installed but grew tired of hearing nothing but contests anymore.
After I got it home, I just had to look and see if I got lucky with the calibrator or noise blanker installed. BINGO! Both were there!
For anyone who has never used one of these rigs, let me tell you this receiver is a treat to use. Signals really do pop out of a quiet background, especially when the notch filter is set just right. This radio was truly made for bandscanning, so enjoyable on LW MW and HF, whether AM or SSB, but the 1 kHz readout (which was rare for its time period) makes it simple to tune to any desired frequency covered.
Later I obtained enough crystals to fill all 23 slots but there were two ranges I desired but couldn't get. That's the only negative I find about this receiver, but the positives heavily outweigh that. I did get an AL-4 loop antenna to insert into the top for LW/MW. It works very well!
The way everything in the world is going, everyone wants what they want instantly, and everything is being geared toward that mentality. The SPR-4 is old school, and thank God for it! Yes, you need to select your frequency range, tune the preselector, etc. No punching in numbers and hitting ENTER. Like I said, this radio is a true bandscanning rig. Sit back and spend an evening or weekend morning exploring what the propagation is bringing in. Even a short random wire works great, this thing is one hot signal catcher! I honestly enjoy using this receiver more than any other that I have ever owned except Drake's own R7A, there it's a tie. Drake really knew how to make receivers enjoyable.
AA4WA Rating: 5/5 Feb 12, 2018 12:37 Send this review to a friend
Great vintage receiver!  Time owned: more than 12 months
When I was first licensed in 1974 at age 17, I never imagined that I would own this radio. Now I have two of them, one of which is a FCC version with the old CB channels listed. Both are very sensitive and have good audio and are stable. I use one as my primary Ham receiver with a Drake T-4X, although I use it in the "separate" mode, as I don't have the xceive board option. Crystals are getting harder to find, even on ebay and the crystal company that used to make the special crystals for them went out of business in 2017. You may be able to order new crystals from a couple overseas crystal suppliers. I have not done any special alignment with the two I have as they both have good sensitivity and selectivity. As the crystals have aged, you will have to make the dial adjustment as you change crystal selection. Mine vary up to about 3Khz. The notch filter works very good, eliminating AM stations on SSB signals. Other than that it's a basic radio. What has drawn me to this radio is that it is a solid state vintage that came out during the heyday of tube radios. With my limited funding for my ham hobby, whenever I look at the wonderful old vintage tube radios and wish I had my original Hallicrafters SX-100 back and other great radios of the day, I remember that this one IS one of the best of those days! The fact that it is solid state that can run off 12 volts DC and runs cool, makes me happy that I have invested in this receiver instead of the tube radios. I also use it listen to shortwave stations, but there aren't too many left. Drake made a FS-4 which is a crystal eliminator for this and other Drake receivers, but they are rare and expensive to find. The only other option is to build the Hagtronics Drake Crystal Eliminator Kit from a QST June 2004 article, which you can still find on the internet, but it only includes the circuit board and a few of the most important parts. You have to procure and substitute the rest of the eighty or so parts as necessary. I am currently in the process of building one, so I will describe how well it works when I finish it. I am very happy to have and use the SPR-4 daily and easily give it a 5 for a vintage receiver!
DXACE1 Rating: 5/5 Aug 13, 2016 08:39 Send this review to a friend
A sleeper classic....  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My history with the SPR-4 is this -- in 1973 or so, in the earlier but intense years of a 46 year DXing career, my mother purchased a SPR-4 for me. It was a year after my father passed and the hobby provided me with a considerable degree of comfort. At the time, I was using a HQ-180C, so the SPR-4 was the 2nd significant addition to my radio shack. Within a few months, I ended up bringing the radio with me to Africa where I was an exchange student in Swaziland for a few months. Sounds crazy, more like what one would do for a field day expedition, but I lugged the thing in a leather shoe case. It was set up in a school I was attending in the Swazi capital, Mbabane, and I had brought with me about 200 feet of longwire which I set up on the roof of the school which was on a hill. From that location, I used the SPR-4 to DX the heck out of Asia and Africa. I kept the radio for decades after, until about 1996 when I returned from what would become an overseas career as a Voice of America correspondent. I am sorry I sold it -- in retrospect, I now appreciate the SPR-4 for what it is, an incredibly sensitive, quiet receiver that enabled me to amass many of the 200+ SWBC countries I did over the years, including rare Africans and South Americans that are no longer on the air. The radio is so simple, yet brings in signals on a level with super radios such as the WJ and JRCs, which I have in my collection today. You could switch the lamps on and off with a switch on the back, and the notch is superb. Recently, I noted an auction by a noted Ebay seller -- a brand new in box SPR-4 -- a time capsule, with the original manual and accessory box. It was, to say the lease, irresistable, and it is now here in my shack, with a FS-4 on the way (which I have never used). I plan to replace the standard bulbs with LEDs, to avoid the burnout the occurs with the stock hot bulbs. Though the number of stations available on shortwave these days is nothing compared to the sweet spot of DXing in the 60's and 70's, this SPR-4 will stay with me as a valued member of my collection.
IVE611 Rating: 5/5 Sep 2, 2015 09:41 Send this review to a friend
One of the best audios..  Time owned: more than 12 months
Dear friends,
my first review, here... I have sold and equipped my shack 3 times since 1974 (am now 57) and have owned lots of rigs, all in the middle-price class i.e. Hallicrafters, Hammarlund, surplus BC348, Sommerkamp and a wonderful Collins 51J1.
I imported my SPR-4 in 1988 from the now silent key K4UKW Tony Musero, it was a hell amount of money back then, even though shipping and custom clearance were anyway cheaper at those times thn now.
I do not expect to teach anybody when I say that a good audio on a receiver in -IN OUR EARS- the result of a good electronic engineering project matched with quality components and that's exactly what you -WE- can hear coming out of the
speaker of this lovely machine... a clear sound, with no big-boost-blow, notch and filters work fantastically and do not stress our ears even in CW with headphones !
Matter of fact I never owned a Rhode&Schwarz, never tried a Kenwood R5000 with Inrads, not even SDR or a JRC 535, yet this nice receiver still sells for 400/500 U$... Unlickily it needs a monutain of Xtals to have full SW coverage but many of those I do not care to listen to or there
is just nobody there. I also had an FS-4 with it but the tuning in was very slow and also got the synth some out of order while injecting it some RF from a BC-221 to check out its accuracy... bad move, hi !
All in all, this rig was the only one I never sold and it rested boxed in the garage for some years; it took some 50€ to have it back into operation but I am glad I still have it.
Fabrizio from Venice, Italy
WI0H Rating: 5/5 Jul 29, 2015 10:17 Send this review to a friend
Maybe the hottest receiver in the shack  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I needed another receiver like I needed a hole in my head, but when this particular SPR-4 came up on eBay, well, this fool and his money immediately parted. And I'm glad it did too.

In a shack that includes a WJ-8718a, and an R-390a, this SPR-4 is the hottest performer of the bunch. It kind of pains me to say that, but it is true. In fact the only radio that can keep up with it is the Perseus SDR, and that may only be due to its DSP filtering. That is mighty high praise for a radio that's about 45 years old. Yes, you have to turn a lot of knobs to get the signal to peak, but hey, that's radio right?

I think I'll go ahead and spend the extra money on an external VFO for this rig just to give me general coverage. In my mind it's well worth it.
VE6ND Rating: 5/5 Mar 20, 2015 20:13 Send this review to a friend
Great for mobile  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Well first a little history. This was listed in a general non radio buy and sell in Banff.
This particular radio was purchased in Zürich in 1972 and made it's way back to Alberta where it sat in a box for 40 years, literally. The previous and original owner had it all crystals installed as well as the 5-NB and the calibrator.
It came with the ms-4 as well.
After a little cleaning and replacing the dial lamp, checking it through the bands, it turns out that it is one heck of a receiver!
Now I believe the Drake line is great equipment and I own Collins as well but, the selectivity, reception and performance is equal to my 51S-1 if not better.
The notch filter is by far one of the best from that era and holds its own.
This is very close to mint and the inside is spotless. Would I trade it for a Collins? Perhaps but just knowing that I lucked out on this I think it's a keeper.
A fine piece of Drake communications gear if there ever was one.
W8AAZ Rating: 5/5 Apr 11, 2012 21:28 Send this review to a friend
Was tops in it's time  Time owned: more than 12 months
Got one of these that was a clean nice looking set on ebay, but had issues. Sent it to WA8SAJ to make it work great. Mine was barebones except for the desireable calibrator option. Get that. The noise blanker is not so nearly important. If you don't need the blanker, you can flip it on ebay for $$$. Has excellent audio on AM and SSB. SSB tuning is touchier than on current radios(typical for pre-digital)CW is nice thru the narrow CW filter, too. When working right, like after Jeff goes through it, it is very sensitive. No fancy bells and whistles that you will get from newer radios, and SSB selectivity is not outstanding on real close QRM, but on a station without close QRM, it just sounds great. Would be nice paired with a vintage AM ham transmitter. Or a backup rec. or just SWL radio. A vintage rig that spares you the weak tube and heat and excessive drift issues and decent dial calibration versus those old sliderule tuning rigs. Hot enough to use a random wire antenna indoors, unless you have too much RFI in the house. There are plans for the LF loop antenna online, as originals are really overpriced, usually. Easy to make one. Get the matching MS-4 speaker, it has nice "tone". And is matching, of course. I bought additional xtals for ham bands. Those can be had without too much trouble, newly made or from ebay sellers.
N3WAK Rating: 5/5 Sep 8, 2010 10:32 Send this review to a friend
Great Receiver!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I am extremely fortunate to have an SPR-4 in excellent shape, with the calibrator and the noise blanker. After locating it on ePay, I sent it to Ron Baker,, for alignment and servicing. As always, Ron did a fabulous job...and I've been enjoying the radio for more than a year now. It lacks the bells and whistles of newer radios, but it's a Drake and has excellent sensitivity, and the audio's FB through an external MS-4 speaker.

Although outfitting it with extra crystals is expensive, it's wonderful to have a Drake. I regularly listen to shortwave broadcasts with it, and it does a fine job listening to utility stations--e.g., aircraft weather broadcasts, military, and the like. I've purchased extra crystals through International Crystal Mfg, in Oklahoma, and I recommend them.

The radio covers 150 khz to 30 mhz in a number of 500 khz segments (plus about 50 khz of overtravel on each end of the dial), and whatever ranges you buy crystals for. The stock ranges cover all of the most popular SW broadcasting bands, to include 41 meters and the 40 meter ham band.

It would be nice to have various switchable bandwidths for AM, especially, but the radio has only a 4.8 khz AM bandwidth. This, though, is a very minor complaint. The radio receives SSB, CW, and AM. I consider the calibrator to be a highly-desireable option. If you can't find one, there are two work-arounds. You can simply calibrate the dial (for free!) by first tuning in a broadcaster on a known frequency, and adjusting the VFO dial. Or, you can buy and build an aftermarket calibrator, such as the one from The VFO dial is very accurate, and reads down to one khz.

This is a great radio, and exactly what any Drake enthusiast--or any admirer of outstanding vintage radios--needs in his or her shack. Now, just bring back "The Happy Station Show" from Radio Nederland, and other wonderful shortwave offerings of yore.

73, Tony N3WAK
N4UE Rating: 5/5 Feb 16, 2009 18:42 Send this review to a friend
As good as I've heard!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have a small Drake collection. I had been wanting an SPR-4 ever since I became interested in Drakes about 10 years ago. I have been watching ePay (er, eBay) and the prices for a 'good' example are quite stiff.I put out some "WTB" specifying a "nice one". I got quite a few replies.
However, I bought one from a Drake collector 'up North'. This radio looks like the day it left Drake's plant in Ohio. It came with the original Manual and the radio is a VERY high serial #.
It has 23 xtals, the Cal, and the Noise Blanker.

It's performance is as good as the other reviews state. Very sensitive, selective and stable as a rock. I cranked it up to 10.000 MHz and there was WWV EXACTLY on frequency.

Although I also love my pair of R-4Bs, it's cool to turn on the SPR-4 and it's instantly on. Quite simple to operate, similar to a Yaesu FRG-7.

One thing that I didn't even think about until I started playing with it..... because it covers the spectrun in 500 KHz bites, even with a full set of xtals, you only have 11.5 MHz available.
I guess the next project will be a 'clone' of the Drake freq syn. I believe there was one in QST last year.....

have fun, you only go around once...

VE3ES Rating: 5/5 Dec 31, 2007 22:31 Send this review to a friend
Great vintage receiver!  Time owned: more than 12 months
One of the legendary radios to come out of the Drake factory in Ohio. Very nice product back in the early 70s when it was new and even 30+ years later.
Page 1 of 2 —>

If you have any questions, problems, or suggestions about Reviews, please email your Reviews Manager.