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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Elecraft K3s Help

Reviews Summary for Elecraft K3s
Elecraft K3s Reviews: 25 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $10W: 2300.- / 100W: 2900.-
Description: Elecraft’s state-of-the-art K3S transceiver offers a unique combination of ultra-high performance and affordability.

Both 100-watt and 10-watt (upgradeable) models are available. No-soldering kit; also available fully assembled and tested, the K3S is comparable in both features and performance to transceivers listing at up to six times its price.

In a first for the industry, the K3’s identical main receiver and subreceiver each feature a high-dynamic-range, down-conversion analog architecture. This allows Elecraft to provide roofing filters with bandwidths as narrow as 200 Hz, while up-conversion designs have roofing filters typically 3,000 to 15,000 Hz in width. Unlike some competing down-conversion designs, the K3 also provides 6-meter coverage, as well as continuous tuning from 0.5 to 30 MHz. Each receiver has its own bus-switching mixer, narrow ham-band front-end filters, 32-bit I.F. DSP, low-noise synthesizer, and up to five crystal roofing filters.

The K3S is the only deluxe transceiver that is targeted at both home and field use. Weighing just 8 pounds and having dimensions of 4” x 10” x 10” HWD (10 x 25 x 25 cm), it’s well-suited to demanding DXpedition or Field Day operations. Its receive-mode current drain of less than 1 amp greatly facilitates battery or solar-powered mobile/RV/marine installations. But unlike smaller portable transceivers, the K3’s user interface is optimized for ease of use, and its feature set rivals units many times its size and weight.

The transceiver is offered both factory-assembled and as a modular, no-soldering kit. Either way, K3 owners can start with a basic version of the transceiver, at lower cost, then easily add modules later, such as the internal subreceiver, ATU, and 100-W stage. To ensure identical performance of both pre-built units and modular kits, modules are 100% assembled and tested at the factory. Builders learn the radio theory behind each of the modules during assembly, and acquire skills that will enable them to easily add future modules or upgrades.

Two 32-bit digital signal processors provide true software-defined features, along with expansion memory to handle future signal processing tasks and operating modes. The operator will have full control over any operating situation, with 8-band receive and transmit EQ, stereo speaker/soundcard outputs, binaural effects, and advanced noise reduction. Also included is built-in PSK31, CW, and TTY decode/encode, so the operator can enjoy the excitement of data communications with or without a computer. The rig’s rich I/O complement includes an isolated sound card interface, front/rear mic/phone jacks, dedicated serial I/O, and band data. An optional module provides transverter in/out and RX antenna in/out jacks. The latter allow the use of RX-only, in-line filters for extreme operating environments.

Available options include: built-in 100-W automatic antenna tuner with two antenna jacks (KAT3), subreceiver (KRX3), general-coverage front end band-pass filter module (KBPF3), 100-W stage (KPA3), RF I/O unit for RX antenna, IF Out and transverter interfacing (KXV3A), digital voice recorder (KDVR3) and our all mode 2-m (144-148 MHz) all mode internal option (K144XV).
Product is in production.
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F1GWR Rating: 5/5 Jul 7, 2018 15:30 Send this review to a friend
Awsome!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Won't deal about transceiver quality. Probably every praise has already been written.

Received my kit 1087x one day at 9:00 AM.
Took one hour to sort the hardware (mandatory).
And then 14 hours non-stop for mounting. A real pleasure. Was in a hurry to achieve it. Therefore sometimes skipped parts of chapters that I guessed to be oubvious. And wasn't. My fault. So had later some mechanical unmounting and rebuilding. In total lost time.

Therefore my humble advice to new builders: RTFM!
Fully and thouroughly. Definitely. It's worth it.

Just two additional details not mentionned in the manual:
- one spacer in the middle of the front plate circuit needs a insulating washer (otherwise may short two tracks on the circuit)
- if you feel a slight resistance during front plate against circuit assembly do not use force. LEDs might be misplaced.

And as for customer service, it's a hit!

You never get such quality at such a price by the big three...
W8NWN Rating: 4/5 May 19, 2018 10:07 Send this review to a friend
3rd review  Time owned: more than 12 months
After two trips to the Ca factory for distortion, I now can say its a good radio. I only wish they had a warranty repair facility more centrally located.


CON'S Plain Jane screen but works ok. No where close to the Icom touch screens.

WB2PDW Rating: 5/5 Jan 25, 2018 07:03 Send this review to a friend
amateur radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
K3s is probably the best radio on the market today. purchased my K3s with every option available, CW operations is the best ever, does it all. My problem after 50 years of being a amateur radio person is that the quality of the respect to other amateur operators has diminished greatly, i hear more terrible things on the air than ever before, i think we have lost the real meaning of the art of radio communication. Its sad to here this happening on the air. For this reason i'm giving my review a 0- Awful because the amateur operators have ruined my ability to grade the k3s, its not the equipment that needs a review, its the operators who need to be reviewed. Furthermore after 50 years of radio, i'm selling my k3s which by the way cost me over 6 grand- excellent condition, maybe its time to call it quits, i'm sorry to say this is not the place , but so mote it be- good-bye 73 WB2PDW
W9SA Rating: 5/5 Jan 20, 2018 14:24 Send this review to a friend
New K Line  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I got the K3s Contester/DXer's package this week. Also got the P3, KPA500, KAT500. This is sort of my dream retirement rig and so far it has been a dream to operate. I won't rehash all the good stuff about the radio but suffice it to say the comments are true. Everything works together seamlessly so you basically have a 500 watt transceiver. My first real DX was So. Africa on 40 meters phone last night and that was using 100 watts. I'm using a Heil HM-12 mic, ZN-SL, and Bencher Straight Key.
KA1J Rating: 5/5 Dec 10, 2017 15:01 Send this review to a friend
One fantastic rig.  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
So much good to say about this radio. It is spec-wise according to Sherwood Engineering one of the top radios in the world. Coming in at #2, it is thousands of dollars less than #1 and the differences are statistical. More importantly, Elecraft constantly updates their radios and provides parts and instruction to keep your K3s as current as the newest release. No other manufacture does that, they just keep on releasing a new radio for you to buy.

My back-up radio is one of the early K3 models, serial #202. It has all of the upgrades available to make it current with the last K3 produced before they went to the current K3s line.

I have been working the ARRL 10M contest today. My antenna is a wire vertical for 160M, I am running 1500W and I am hearing stations clearly that can not hear me, and I have a lot of neighborhood RFI. The receiver in this radio is just stellar. If they had a K3s, they would be hearing me; You can't work em if you can't hear em.

Elecraft's email reflector has the owners of the company in frequent Q&A & looking for feature requests, what other company making transceivers does that?

If Elecraft someday makes a K4, I will buy it, sell K3 #202 and replace it as my backup with this K3s. I've been a satisfied customer for the last 8 years and am more than happy with Elecraft & this K3s.


WB8VLC Rating: 5/5 Sep 1, 2017 19:45 Send this review to a friend
excellent transceiver that replaced an Icom7300  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I got this to replace a crap icom ic7300 that I had for a week and a half and boy is the k3s an order of magnitude above the icom junk.

The icom couldn't handle a neighbor 3 miles away without overload issue when we were on the same band.

Not the same with the k3s, I can now operate within 500 hz of my neighbor who uses a multi stack array on 6meters, stacks on 20 and a 4el on 40 with no receive problems.

Additionally, The k3s noise reduction features are top notch which was a major flaw with the crapcon 7300 which has mediocre noise reduction features.

I can now operate in a suburban neighborhood on the lower hf bands with the k3s and its amazing receive features whereas the 7300 just couldn't eliminate any of the typical urban noise sources and the 7300's receiver was constantly overloading even on moderate signals on all bands.

I won't leave out the k3s tx performance either, the audio equalizer for ssb, the essb feature, even AM and FM sound excellent on the K3S especially AM/FM something that sounded crappy on the Icom.

Other k3s pluses are The amazing cw features, both tx and rx, the built in soundcard and easy digital mode integration, dual receivers....
W0SZ Rating: 5/5 Apr 2, 2017 19:56 Send this review to a friend
Long Time User  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
So I've been long time user of Elecraft products. I was a field tester of the K2 which was a fun experience and introduction to Eric and Wayne. I had an early K3 which I put together. I updated the radio with numerous modes and improvements. When the new Synthesizer board came out I put them in the K3 which made a significant improvement in CW. Anyway, I upgraded to the K3s about 3 months ago. I was doubtful that I would see any improvement between the K3 and the K3s. I have noticed improvement in the NR in the K3s. I was disappointed in the NR in the K3 but subjectively the K3s is clearly a great improvement and I use it most of the time. I really like the USB connection to the computer and sound card in the K3s. RTTY modes work quite well without using FSK demodulator and using AFSK. It is an expensive rig if you put in all accessories but compared to all the other rigs available the K3s is at the top of the list insofar as selectivity and ease of use. The VOX is the best I've ever seen and CW is amazing. CW and digital decode in the radio works amazingly well. I still have the K3 and will use it for trips and contests but the K3s will stay in my prime operating position. One of the best things about the Elecraft rigs is that you can add components as you desire and keep the rig current with mods as they come available without voiding the warranty or buying a new rig. I used most of the other rigs available including the SDR radios but the K3s is at the top of my list. 73
WJ1R Rating: 5/5 Mar 20, 2017 13:25 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had this radio for more than a year since I assembled the kit. It is a truly remarkable radio. The noise blanker on CW does an amazing job in reducing by about 3 S units noise on 20m from an array of solar panels about 800 feet from my antenna. The roofing filters are also able to eliminate interference from strong CW signals a few hundred hertz away in contests and can similarly eliminate interference from close SSB stations.

I waited for the K3S because I did not like the sound of the speaker in the K3. I have not been disappointed. The radio's built-in speaker has a high quality full sound comparable to my old Kenwoods and Icom 756 Pro. In this regard, the 8 band receive equalizer allows you to tailor the signal to your liking.

I use a Heil HM-12 mic. It took some effort to set the 8 band transmit equalizer to the SSB transmit quality that I like, but I now receive compliments on my transmit quality. This radio has a great deal of flexibility that allows you to alter various radio characteristics to your preferences.
W8NWN Rating: 5/5 Oct 27, 2016 18:58 Send this review to a friend
Kit building experience   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
As a kit, it was easy for me. I come from the old HeathKit era. I have built a lot of kits in my day but that was a long time ago, so today if you have a hard time with tiny screws and small parts, better get a factory built one. Here's a little hint: If you combine the stainless screws with the zinc ones by mistake, use a magnetized screwdriver to separate them.

The paint, fit and finish on the panels are the best I have ever seen. Individually wrapped. Excellent!. All the hardware, screws etc are very high quality and not the cheap Chinese stuff you see in the marketplace. It all goes together perfectly. If something doesn't go together right, you've done something wrong!.....

A very expensive radio. One can save a little by ordering the kit version. Which I did.

Suggestion: Elecraft needs an ordering warehouse someplace in the mid west. California is just too far away and shipping costs are too high. Elecraft might sell more radios on this fact alone.
W8MSP Rating: 5/5 Oct 4, 2016 10:03 Send this review to a friend
Simply the best  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Bought a K3S kit about 3 months ago. Easy to assemble great directions.
Wow is all I can say about performance, pulling out weak stations is pretty easy. Recently purchased a used P3 from an estate sale with an SVGA card and together the K3S and P3 are amazing. Seeing the weak ones I am able to hear and seeing how weak they really are proves the value of the K3S and at the same time proves how valuable the P3 is.
I am extremely happy with both purchases.
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