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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | FlexRadio FLEX-6600/6600M Help


Reviews Summary for FlexRadio FLEX-6600/6600M
FlexRadio FLEX-6600/6600M Reviews: 21 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $4999
Description: FlexRadio Systems Flex-6600/6600M transceiver is a generation 2 model in their
Signature series. The 6600M adds a frontplate with touchscreen. The all-in- one
package also is fully functional as a computer/net controlled transceiver.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.flexradio.com/amateur-products/flex-6000-signature-series/flex-6600/
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N9CHM Rating: 5/5 Oct 13, 2019 00:20 Send this review to a friend
Very good radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Original owner of a Ltd Ed. 6500 which I've had for 6+ yrs, I'm also the 2nd owner of a 1yr old 6600M, which I've had for several weeks. The new radio seems as good as, and maybe a tad better, on RX than the 6500 (close call), similar to what others have said. My take home points:

1) No PC needed is really nice

2) Ability to use Diversity RX with my 160M Inv V on SCU-1 vs a PIXEL mag loop on SCU-2 is great

3) With SmartControl you can have your cake and eat it too..so to speak as changes in SmartSDR on the computer are mirrored on the front of the 6600M, and vice versa

4) No hiccups with v3.1.7 on either rig, still waiting for reports on the v3.1.8 to come in, not really interested in upgrading at the moment. SSB only, don't do digital modes, yet.

5) Only side-by-side comparison to another SDR radio was to the Icom 7300. Super radio, for the money. However, both Flex radios hear much better, able to copy weak stations better and the baseline noise on the Icom is 2S units higher than either Flex. The higher noise levels on the Icom are very fatiguing with high static/atmospheric noise on the lower bands (160M/75M).

6) The internal speaker is just OK, not great, but adding a pair of Bose Companion II speakers (like I have on the 6500) really makes it sing! Especially for listening to Broadcast Band, AM radio.

I really like both radios, but having fun with the new options/capabilities on the 6600M. Lastly, one advantage FLEX radios have in general, which is seldom mentioned, is the use the Hershberger (W9GR) Controlled Envelope SSB algorithm which increase SSB talk power by 2.5db without the SSB overshoot peaks. This results in strong, clean, audio and really helps in driving an amplifier with lower input power. Great feature!
 
N3DF Rating: 5/5 Jun 19, 2019 22:39 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding Radio & Company!  Time owned: more than 12 months
My Flexradio 6600M is a joy to operate. I never dreamed that I would own a radio this capable and this much fun.

This past Sunday afternoon, a Windows 10 update corrupted the Flexradio's digital mode drivers on my PC. I submitted an online help ticket. On Monday morning, a Flexradio technician "Teamviewered" into my PC, repaired the drivers, and got me back on the air on FT8. In 50+ years of ham operating, I have never before encountered such outstanding service.
 
AD7EF Rating: 4/5 Apr 27, 2019 08:11 Send this review to a friend
Incredible performance,but surprising shortcomings  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Ok... I'm thrilled with the performance of the receiver{s} on this radio. The specs say it all, and I have no reason to doubt them. However, I've run into a couple of usability issues that were a real surprise to me.

I bought my Flex-6600 second-hand, while still under warranty. A couple of days after it arrived I ended up shipping it to Flex for a fan replacement. It would start issuing a rattling noise and shut down with a fan fault about 15-20 minutes after power up. I asked if Flex would send me a fan, that I could replace myself, but I was told no... it needed to be checked at the factory.

I got the radio back a couple of days ago, and have just started familiarizing myself with it.

It's a Flex-6600, with no front panel. It can be controlled from a Maestro device, or FlexRadio's proprietary SmartSDR on a Windows PC or on an Apple iPhone or iPad tablet.

I was planning primarily to control the radio from a desktop Windows PC on the same (wired) local network that the radio is connected to. Also, I expected to be able to operate the radio from a Windows laptop computer in other locations in my house, and also be able to use the radio from remote locations either with the Windows laptop or with SmartSDR software running on an iPhone or iPad.

First off, I have a Bluetooth headset that I use regularly with my Windows laptop. This headset works just fine with a multitude of Windows apps, including HRD with my Icom IC-756 ProII transceiver. The short version is that whether I'm connected on the LAN at home, or operating remotely with the Windows laptop, SmartSDR won't play nice with the Bluetooth headset. This is a known issue on the Flex Radio user group... even though the headset works with every other Windows application I throw at it, Flex says it not working with SmartSDR is a Windows problem, and it isn't on their roadmap to fix.

Moving on... on the desktop system (on the local network}, I'm listening to receive audio from the radio through the system audio on the computer. When I plug my Hex-Key into the radio and transmit a test message no side tone can be heard on the PC. I checked the Flex web site on how to monitor the side-tone on the PC, and the short answer is "you can't". To hear side-tone, you must plug headphones into the back of the radio. Given that the PC is the control interface for the radio, I find this inexcusable.

There are work-arounds for these issues, but they detract from the overall "experience" that you'd expect from a radio in this price range.

With the receive performance I'm seeing on this radio, I'll find some way to live with these shortcomings, but I can't really give the radio a '5'.
 
K4FX Rating: 5/5 Mar 20, 2019 14:47 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I had owned a SDR-1000 many years ago. It was an amazing radio, but had a very complex interface with a sound card, it was not a radio for the masses.
The 6000 series changed all that. These radios are plug and play.
I have hammed for over 40 years and I have owned some top-of-line radios. Nothing I have used comes close to the Flex 6600M. It hears things other radios can't hear. The filtering is amazing. I use it with the KPA-500 and KAT-500. It works like a 500 watt transceiver.

I am now using it with a transverter on 2 meters. As far as contesting, weak signal work, this radio is an advantage you want in your corner.
In addition to the SDR-1000, I have owned the 3000, 6300 and now the 6600M.
 
K2AQ Rating: 5/5 Jan 25, 2019 20:42 Send this review to a friend
Flex 6000 Station  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Been operating for over 46 years and had many of the cutting edge super-hets over those years. A few years back I determined it was time to look to the future again and chose the Flex 6500 transceiver. I was absolutely amazed and impressed with the selectivity, sensitivity and quality of design. Since that time I purchased a 6600M, Power Genius amplifier (PG), Antenna Genius (AG) and Maestro console.

It is so gratifying to operate a well thought out seamless radio server platform. The integration between the radio, amp and antenna switching is very impressive! In addition, I have the same connectivity to my shack components when traveling via my Maestro or iPad.

I was privileged to be part of the PG alpha team and observed many of the engineering team members in action. They are the “A” team, first class, when it comes to customer service and listening to details. The amp has operated without issues since the last firmware update and loafs along at legal limit under high duty cycle modes.

BTW, my AG is located outside and in NH, we have experienced some sub zero F temps and operation was flawless.

IMHO, the SSDR interface for the PC is represented in a crisp presentation, and rather intuitive across the various interfaces. I am using version 2.xx and looking forward to V3 and the automatic antenna tuner under development. I am sure it will be another well designed, seamlessly integrated addition to my station.

The price and performance is difficult to beat, their pricing has certainly been a market disruption. The real excitement is certainly in the software future…. every update is a new radio! One can not make a mistake purchasing these products and if your a contester, its a must.

73

K2AQ
 
W3DIY Rating: 5/5 Jan 15, 2019 15:14 Send this review to a friend
Terrific SDR  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
From the previous owner of a 6500/Maestro my 6600M has significant improvements. With the contest filters I am able to operate when my ham neighbor is on the air and on the same band. The AT finds a match in a few seconds, the 6500 seemed to take forever, if a match could be found. The 6500 on 40M...the base band noise would ramp up from the CW portion to the broadcast stations operating above 7.2Mhz, the 6600M 40M base band noise is linear. Lastly the dial tuning is silky smooth.
 
N3DF Rating: 5/5 Nov 27, 2018 05:42 Send this review to a friend
Easy and Excellent Remote!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I greatly enjoy operating my Flex 6600M while traveling, using my iPhone, iPad, or Mac or Windows laptop computer. I am not technically-oriented, but found setting up the rig for remote operation was a snap. Couldn't be easier. Only real requirement is a decent internet connection. Very enjoyable to check into nets and otherwise operate from restaurants, friends' houses, etc., even halfway around the world! Only wish I could have had this capability for the past 50 years!
 
K7HIL Rating: 5/5 Nov 24, 2018 10:31 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
After the 5th or 6th major failure of my IC-7800 I decided to switch to a SDR. Initially I purchased a Flex 6700 and after some initial setup problems it worked flawlessly for about a year. At the Dayton Hamvention I saw the Flex 6600.

Over the year I had the 6700, except for show and tell sessions, I never took advantage of having 8 slices (receivers) available. In 2017 I traded-in my 6700 for one of the new Flex 6600 radios. I won't get into the comparisons except to say that the 6600 does everything at least as well as the 6700.

Since there are two antenna ports on the radio I usually have my SteppIR selected as antenna 1 and my dipole setup for the lower bands on antenna 2.

The better comparison is the Flex 6600 vs my older IC-7800. I was unable to find any meaningful performance differences between the two. Considering the huge price differences that is huge. The Pan-adapter / Waterfall capabilities of the Flex are far superior to the Icom. I leave the radio on and have four different bands shown on my 43 inch monitor. If any band starts to "come in" I get a visual heads up! The S meter on the Flex reads in both S units and dBm.
There is an audio equalizer on the Flex that is really simple to use and have had multiple, unsolicited, reports of great audio.

These are just a few the reasons I enjoy the operating conveniences of the Flex 6600. Recommend for everybody.
 
KR6W Rating: 1/5 Nov 2, 2018 20:49 Send this review to a friend
Not Worth It  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I purchased a Flex 6600 and Maestro about 3 months ago. The radio worked for about 2 hours then failed. After shutting it down and attempting to re-boot, it failed in the boot cycle and froze. Incredibly frustrating. Flex had to send me a complete replacement which has functioned normally so far.

The Maestro also failed immediately and dealing with Flex about that has been nothing short of a nightmare. The touch screen, it's primary interface for most things, works OK (but not great) at start-up but starts to become "sluggish" almost immediately. Within about 1/2 hour it gets pretty painful to use and after an hour or so, it's basically useless from then on. Also, it will spontaneously "re-update" it's software out of the blue for no reason. The radio has lost profiles and memories twice, once when one of these s/w updates occured (which is strange because they are stored in the radio itself, not the Maestro).

But the most serious problem is the Maestro drops its audio connection to the radio randomly as soon as about 5 minute after connecting but almost always does so within an hour or two though it can take several hours. It occurs in both the receive and/or transmit direction. I can't conduct a QSO with it because there's a good chance it will do this leaving my contact hanging (and possibly losing a wanted country). The only way to restore audio is to shut
everything down and reboot which takes several minutes. I have to do this several times a day.

So out of the two products, both had terminal issues out of the box.

At first, I was impressed with Flex's customer service. In retrospect I realize I was only lucky. Working the problems with the Maestro has been an absolute nightmare. Customer service coccus via email only. It takes about a week between email interactions. Each week I receive an email asking me to provide information. After a few of these I began to notice I'm being asked for the same information over and over again and the person I'm working with isn't actually tracking what's going on. I believe it would have gone on like this forever with no progress being made and not being able to properly use the product until I finally complained. At that point I was told to send the unit back for repair and advised they were backlogged (big surprise...) resulting in an undeterminable wait time. I asked if they could just replace it and was told they're backordered and I would have to wait until they received units and filled all their backorders (at least a month and a half). In other words, they prioritized me below customers who ordered after me and hadn't spent months fighting a major issue with their product.

So that's the final straw. I don't even know if the fixed or replaced Maestro will work any better than the one I have now. Perhaps more importantly, I now realize that Flex's customer service, at least for major problems like this, is so poor it's basically useless. And Flex deals with major problems by just stalling and sort of prioritizing you out of their way.

After all of that, it's hard to care much about the radio itself. There certainly are things about it that are good and I love the idea that essentially everything about it can be upgraded via software. But I'm not going to try to describe it because it doesn't make sense to buy a product that is so abominably supported in the first place. How well it performs if and when it works is kind of irrelevant.

I have to say having gone from being impressed with Flex the company to start with to becoming flatly appalled after a real exposure to them, I couldn't recommend any Flex product under any circumstances to anyone.
 
W8DCQ Rating: 4/5 Oct 25, 2018 18:33 Send this review to a friend
software need help  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
After owning a Flex 5000, I was ready for an SDR with knobs and buttons.

Good Features:

Beautiful 8 inch high definition touch screen (although I'm not a fan of touch screens)

Does not rely on a separate Windows computer

Easy to operate

Really like the easy to read back lit buttons

Balanced mic audio input available which eliminates most cases of RF getting into the transmit audio

Bad Features:

Loud pop from the speaker(s) on shutdown; very annoying!

Panadapter display inflexible, I don't need the waterfall and can't eliminate it to expand the size of the panadapter

Most common controls like band select and mode select should be on the front panel, not inside the menu

Sometimes locks up in the middle of a QSO; the flashing power button indicates a "boot error". Takes several restarts to wake up the radio

Smart SDR software not nearly as good as the older Power SDR used by the Flex 5000

There should be more options for the function button assignments

My Anan 200D out performs the 6600M in almost every category although the Anan does require a computer to operate

The Anan "pure signal" feature is amazing and reduces the transmitted odd order IMD products from about -35 dB to around -60 dB. The new Flex products missed the boat by not offering this feature!

 
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