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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | Drake SW-4A Shortwave Receiver Help

Reviews Summary for Drake SW-4A Shortwave Receiver
Drake SW-4A Shortwave Receiver Reviews: 6 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $349.00
Description: Perhaps one of the best receivers from the 60s and 70s. I
logged over 100 countries on this set. Tube-type, crystal controlled AM only, with analog readout. With clean contacts and a good antenna this set remains a favorite of serious shortwave listeners.
Product is not in production.
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AA6CK Rating: 5/5 Feb 8, 2017 08:36 Send this review to a friend
The original SW-4 model is very rare.  Time owned: more than 12 months
The first model in this series was the SW-4, made in 1966, with a push-pull tube audio amp. The PTO gears are brass and 3 accessory bands are available. Unlike the various "A" models, the frequency coverage only goes as low as 1.5 Mhz., so no LF European broadcast or old aviation beacon coverage. Probably no more than 200 were produced before the conversion to the "A" series, and mine is serial #0129. Great audio and frequency stability. The calibration is spot on. I listen to the top end of the AM broadcast band, CFRX on 6 Mhz., 40 AM amateurs and 3 WWV frequencies. With a short random wire antenna, it's often possible to hear 10 Mhz. WWVH. If you can find one of these in good condition, it's a great SWL performer.
K3XR Rating: 5/5 Aug 15, 2014 13:20 Send this review to a friend
STILL OUTSTANDING  Time owned: more than 12 months
Gathering up some gear to take to a hamfest in the morning and was planning to take the SW-4. Had put some work into the receiver new caps other components and it is in great shape cleaned and waxed. Well wanted to plug it in as it had been on the shelf for a time I did, tuned around on a 160 mtr OCF antenna...guess what this baby stays. This oldie but goodie just has the best sounding AM. Talk about a contrast put on the operating desk next to the recently added Elecraft KX3. One is and one will be a classic.
K4SPS Rating: 5/5 Jun 14, 2011 15:02 Send this review to a friend
Buy one!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have been a long time radio enthusiast. This radio arrived today from E-bay along with an MS-4 accessory speaker. $280. It has an almost unbelievable sensitivity and great audio fidelity. It sounds so good, it is hard to turn off. Drake is, and remains, the best electronic gear that has ever been produced. I have a TR3, a TR4C, a TR7 and various Drake miscellanea. All of this easily obtainable equipment has true 'sleeper quality.' Best Audio. Best Power Output. Best Long Term Operation, courtesy of easily obtainable tubes. Love them all . . K2KY, Steve in Louisville
N3WAK Rating: 5/5 Dec 30, 2010 06:54 Send this review to a friend
Great SWL Receiver!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
If you're a short wave listener and you like tube gear, this is a great receiver. It only receives AM, as it does not have a BFO, so listening to SSB or CW is not possible. But it has excellent sensitivity and selectivity, and the audio is wonderful. Pair it with a Drake MS-4 speaker and you have a wonderful listening post for short wave listening.

If you don't believe me, try this experiment yourself. Tune in Radio Nederland (or the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio Canada International, Radio Australia, or whatever) on your non-Drake receiver and then tune in Radio Nederland on the SW-4A. See what I mean? The glow of the tubes and the subdued light cast by the blue-tint VFO and S-meter filters, and that super tube audio, make for a much more enjoyable experience with the Drake. There's probably even a QST or Electric Radio article that scientifically, exhaustively, and irrefutably confirms this.

I have a late model SW-4A, serial #2722. It does not have the NY Radio Worldwide logo on it, and it has a "C-line" VFO window and knob, with 1 kHz readout in the window and no markings on the dial skirt. Ron Baker,, did an excellent job refurbishing this eBay purchase for me.

The only minor drawback to this rig is that while the VFO might be spot on at one end of the dial, by the time you QSY 500 kHz it's going to be off by 4-5 kHz. But this is no big deal, and you can adjust it in 1 second by tuning in the radio on a known station in the 500 kHz segment, just as you would with an R-4C or SPR-4. The radio is very, very simple to operate.

73, Tony N3WAK
VE3ES Rating: 5/5 Dec 17, 2006 13:37 Send this review to a friend
A legendary 'vintage' SW receiver.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
While it is not today, nor was back in it's day a top end shortwave broadcast receiver, it was a good all around radio for it's intended us. Designed by Drake to the specifications of Radio New York Worldwide when there were not a lot of quality SW receivers available, that is part of the legend of this product. Listening to AM broadcast stations on SW frequencies is it's speciality and it does it quite well. For a collector of Drake SW receivers, this radio is a must-have! The legendary R-7A and other 4-line products like the R-4C, R-4B and the SPR-4 are great radios, but the history behind the venerable SW-4A makes this radio one to collect.
JPJSW4A Rating: 4/5 Nov 5, 2003 00:20 Send this review to a friend
Classic reception and audio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I Recently revived my interest in SW DX'ing by pulling out the old Drake SW-4A Receiver which I purchased via installments while in college in 1969; paid $326.71 which was expensive back then (& now)! Also included was a MS-4 speaker, AL-4 Loop and Mosley SWL7 trap-dipole antenna. I took the old Mosley 40' antenna out of the attic and strung it outside with a 4:1 Balun and coax feedline.
This receiver will surprise one every time! It's sensitive and has better audio quality than my Icom R75 with its hugh external speaker. It lacks the digital readout, bells & whistles like Sync, NB, NR, passband, etc, but pulls in all but the faintest signals which the Icom snags with clarity. I love it and it's fun to Bandscan.
Radio tunes AM/SW only in the range of 150 thru 1600 kHz and 4.5 thru 30.0 mHz.
The radio sports a Tone control, Volume, Band and Preselector, S-Meter, Tuning knob, and Dial adjuster. Great Sounding Die-hard Vintage Rig.

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