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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | SPE Expert 1.3K - FA Help

Reviews Summary for SPE Expert 1.3K - FA
SPE Expert 1.3K - FA Reviews: 47 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $3250 euro
Description: Solid state linear amplifier, up to 1.5 KW, the world's
lightest. fully automatic, perfect in the shack,
irreplaceable in the DXexpedition.

High reliability, just one LD Mosfet used. Switching power
supply and ATU inside.
Product is in production.
More info:
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NC6K Rating: 1/5 Jun 18, 2019 04:47 Send this review to a friend
Good when it works, very easy to kill it  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had this amp for several years. I used it for FT8 on all bands, as well as CW and SSB. Long story short, it burned up one day when I was using it on 6 M, so I sent it back for repair. The US rep basically told me I was abusing it and they'd never seen the transistor vaporize like it did, but they'd fix it under warranty. He also gave me a bunch of suggestions to prevent future occurrences, and I stuck to them religiously.

A few months later, the power transistor again went up in smoke, so back to US rep for repair. He consulted with factory and again basically blamed me and said they'd never had one fail like that. They fixed it under warranty and said, "This is the last time".

I got the amp back and only ran it on the low setting for FT8 after that. A few months later, on 80 M at 750 W output, I smelled smoke and immediately stopped transmitting. Not only did the transistor go up in smoke, but it took much of the RF deck with it. I have pictures if anyone's interested (email me at (my call)

I know many hams that have Expert amps that they use for contesting and FT8 without issue. Maybe my amp is just an aberration. In any case, I'm out $4k and very unhappy. I cannot recommend this amp to anyone based on my experince.
N1DL Rating: 5/5 May 5, 2019 00:30 Send this review to a friend
great amp for travel  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After having owned a 1K-FA for many years and using it remotely I bought a 1.3K-FA to match up with my Elecraft KX2.
Just got back from a DX trip to Vieques Island IOTA 249.
Both performed perfectly and I was able to bring the 1.3K-FA as hand luggage into the planes.

Great product and unbelievable gain. 8 watts in and 1100 watts out.

Thanks Gianfranco and staff - great product.
ON4VP Rating: 5/5 Nov 19, 2018 08:49 Send this review to a friend
Solid performer so far  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have been using the original 1K FA model (got it second hand) but was disappoited after failing relais that needed to be replaced. Next I owned a Acom 600S for a few years. I was very pleased with that amplifier. But looking for a new Acom end 2017 I waited almost 4 months for delivery of my order so I cancelled it and got myself the Expert 1.3K FA with tuner in less than a week.

So far the amp performed perfect. Strong points to me are the two radio inputs, 4 antenna connections, Ultrabeam (or SteppIR) controlling, tuner bypass. Things imho that could be a little better is the fan noise (better than old models but still louder than Acoms) and I would prefer a bit more drive needed. The gain is so high in the EU model that only a few watts drive will give you rated output in CW or RTTY. The only way to reduce power lower than 600 watts is to further reduce the driving power (1 to 3 watts or so).

As noticed by another operator (and in the manual) there's a way to set power with the PC=XXX command but I just can not find it. The manual is not clear on that subject. Nevertheless I'm using ALC lines on both of my radios and that seems to work fine.

The Expert controls my Ultrabeam antenna so no extra CAT cables needed. Only Icom CAT to the linear. I regret that there are always two small fans running even in stand-by. In a very qiet shack it does makes a difference. So far no bad things after almost one year of operation in both SSB and CW. Never needed full power out, most of the time using low (500) or mid (1000) power setting.
VK4SX Rating: 5/5 Oct 7, 2018 19:52 Send this review to a friend
still breaking ground  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have been using this particular SPE model near 4yrs,
4yrs in JAN 2019,
RTFM, read the manual, 99% of issues have been Driver Error,
Rock solid,
nothing else to say,
Keep up the excellent work,
Dennis vk4sx
N4DJT Rating: 5/5 Mar 7, 2018 02:29 Send this review to a friend
Maybe the best money I ever spent..  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I decided to go solid state and after looking at my options.
Ameritron, Acom and Expert.
Ordered a Acom 1200S. Mistake, after waiting 3 months and not even a hint on a delivery date I canceled the order and called Expert.
Elva, Bob and Dan were awesome and they shipped my SPE 1.3K the next day!
Great customer service!
Works almost flawlessly with my Icom rigs and full output and then some.
A few notes, The built in ATU is very picky as to what it will tune.
The built in protection circuits do work and will keep you out of trouble most of the time.
This amp will just loaf along at 1KW all day ,I run RTTY.PSK and FT8 though it no problem.
Is it a bit pricey? sure. but for me best money I ever spent.
K8JH Rating: 2/5 Dec 30, 2017 07:01 Send this review to a friend
Disappointed  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have been a ham for 40+ years and had high hopes for the SPE, but have been disappointed. I have owned a lot of equipment and believe myself to be a decent operator who takes care of his equipment. I do not have a history of having equipment problems or needing repairs.

However, after having to return this amp for repair the second time in a year, I have decided it's time to sell. Each time it went in they said it had been over-driven too many times. I am normally careful, but I admit that over a year's time, there were occasions where I forgot to reduce the drive from my transmitter. However, an amplifier like this, claiming to be of the highest caliber, should be designed to withstand mistakes and protect itself.

It claims to have safety protections, but in reality there is a problem with the design of these if they are this sensitive to occasional over driving. I have had a dozen amps of other makes over the years and have never had one fail or need repair. These are simply way to sensitive, at least for my use.

I have sold mine and will not buy another.
W8LLL Rating: 5/5 Dec 28, 2017 20:15 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After owning a 1K-FA for about 3 years trouble free, I decided to add a 1.3k-FA to the shack. Right off the bat I noticed improvements such as the weight the 1.3k is so much lighter (23 lbs) since it uses a switching power supply compared to the toroid wound transformer in the 1k. The ability to bypass the internal antenna tuner per band and antenna and still use the amp was the main reason I upgraded compared to the 1k which would only pass rf through input one to antenna port one if the amp was turned off. The internal antenna tuner button is improved, you push the tune button then give it a shot of RF and the tune button automatically disengages once the antenna is matched. My flex is like a 1300 watt radio, the amp just follows the radio around from band to band and frequency to frequency it just sits there and does what it is suppose to without making a sound.
VE3EY Rating: 5/5 Dec 9, 2017 16:03 Send this review to a friend
Travelers dream  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I occasionally travel to Caribbean for CQ WW contest and I have always struggled to bring along an amp which is light enough to be taken on-board the airplane and yet produce reasonable amount of power. First, I had a 17Kg Acom 1010 followed by a smaller KPA500 but with somewhat less power. I had no complaints about either model though.

I first saw 1.3K-FA in Dayton when Mr. Gianfranco, I0ZY presented the demo unit which was still in development at the time. I think it was back in 2012 or 2013. I could not believe that there can be an amp which can produce 1.3Kw+ output power and yet weigh 10Kg including the integrated ATU and not be larger than a shoe box. I had to lift the amp myself to believe how lightweight it really was.

I was at first skeptical and didnít think much of it, but year or two later the amp went into production and quickly found its place in many multi op and single op DX expeditions around the globe Ė and prominently on the Low Bands. The lucky ones who ordered it initially got their early units and soon enough as the news of its reliability spread around, the wait time for the amp ballooned.

I ordered mine directly from Rome factory and waited almost 15 months until I was told it was ready. I finally picked it up in February 2017 during the stop-over in Italy and until recent CQ WW, I used it occasionally here and there in my home shack.

The real test for the amp came when I took it down to 9Y4 for CQ WW CW contest. I matted it with a 10-watt K3S and I had the entire shack powered from a single 110-volt outlet. The amp took the pounding even before the contest, but it was driven especially hard during the 46 hours use over the weekend. I ran it in the MAX mode and it delivered anywhere between 1.1Kw and 1.2Kw depending on the band. The temperature never rose above 60c degrees and the amp never dropped down to MID mode while it was subjected to rigors of Ďpedal-to-the-metalí contest regime.

But then there is also ergonomics and high level of automation which I like about this amp. I especially liked the fact that I could configure my two verticals and enable or disable the ATU per band and per each of the 4 available antenna ports. One of the verticals was a SteppIR which I hooked up to the amp. The antenna followed the amp around and also prevented the amp from keying (and frying the brushes) while the vertical tape was moving in or out.

Many manufactures these days are coming out with LDMOS designs and various approaches are taken with the design (and cost), but I think 1.3K-FA is still the best all-around travelersí amp which offers this kind of power, ergonomics in such a small and lightweight package which you can easily stash under the airplane seat protected in the custom carry-on case which SPE includes with every amp being sold.

AA6VB Rating: 5/5 Dec 9, 2017 12:17 Send this review to a friend
Updated Review  Time owned: more than 12 months
I had previously given the amplifier a rating of "5" and the tuner, should you select that option, a "2" because it "needs help". Well, SPE recently came out with a firmware revision that has cleared up the issues in my tuner, and it now performs as it should.

This little amp is a gem. It has been flawless for the year or so I have owned it. Fit and finish, and construction quality - to all outward appearances - is excellent. It works as advertised in all respects. No tune, no warm up, automatic band switching, and automatic antenna selection of up to 4 antennas. I have no trouble getting 1.3 KW output and assume it will do more but don't see the point of stressing the unit. I love the fact it is light and portable, controls up to 4 antennas, and works with two radios, all automatically.

The fans are quiet in standby but a bit loud for my taste at full output. The temperature rises (as one would expect) when running full power but cools down "very" fast after the transmission stops.

Lots of useful information on the screen, such as output, voltage, current, tuned SWR and SWR on the output side of the amplifier which is nice to know.

One thing to keep in mind, and I don't consider this a fault, is that the amp will only tolerate an SWR of 1.6/1 before an alarm sounds, so be prepared with resonant antennas or get the optional tuner (more on that below)

I highly recommend the control cables made by Dan Tassell, which makes the installation process simple and less tedious.

The manual lacks clarity in some respects and is missing some needed information, such as how to save tuner settings when tuning in manual mode, but the Yahoo Group is very helpful.

Both the amp and the turner are wonderful so I rate them both a solid "5".


K0CWO Rating: 5/5 Nov 27, 2017 19:09 Send this review to a friend
Expert  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Iíve owned the Acom 600S for a year. It is an excellent little amplifier. I was happy to see that DX Engineering is supposed to have the 1200S in stock for $3450 soon. I was all set to order one when my attention came across the SPE Expert 1.3K-FA. I had seen this amp before but was turned off by the $4400 price. Then I found out one could be had for $3600 without a built in antenna tuner. This put it in the price range of an Acom 1200S. After conversing with Bob Hardie W5UQ, I found out that the 1.3K-FA will put out close to rated output fed with a stiff 120 volt line voltage. I decided to order the Expert instead of the Acom. I also got a set of serial cables from Dan Tassell KC5PCB to connect the amplifier to my IC-7300 & 7600.

I have run the 7300 & 7600 with the 1.3K-FA feeding an MFJ-998 auto tuner into an OCFD for a couple of weeks now. On 120 volts the amplifier puts out 1.2 KW effortlessly/quietly with 15-20 watts of drive and it follows both radios like a dog on a leash. With the exception of low power tune for the MFJ-998 the setup is almost fully automatic. Weíre I used have two amplifiers and two tuners, I now only have one of each. So far Iím really impressed with this literally little powerhouse. At 1200 watts the amplifier appears to run a clean signal verified on SSB by operators close by. I think I have a keeper here.

Bob Hardie and his team run a first rate distributorship.

I love tube amplifiers but I think Iíll put my dependable AL-80A up for sale. Heck, I may even sell the Acom 600S and get another Expert for my second QTH.

FWIW, 73

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