- 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 | HAMMARLUND SP-600 SUPER-PRO RCVR Help

Reviews Summary for HAMMARLUND SP-600 SUPER-PRO RCVR
HAMMARLUND SP-600 SUPER-PRO RCVR Reviews: 11 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $895 - 1140
Description: Commercial/military grade tube general coverage 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 HAMMARLUND SP-600 SUPER-PRO RCVR.

Page 1 of 2 —>

SWLDXGUY Rating: 5/5 Sep 30, 2016 16:47 Send this review to a friend
One of the Great Classic Tube Receivers  Time owned: more than 12 months
I purchased a lightly used Hammarlund SP-600 JX-21 in the early 1980's from a local military/government surplus electronics store in California. I paid $60 for it. Back then tube gear was getting unloaded for a song. I used it for a few years but had AGC issues with it. I mothballed the radio and put it in storage. Then I had a long career and raised a family. This summer I hefted the SP-600 out of storage and took a good look at it.

It turns out that this JX-21 was built in 1956 (date on original filter cap can) or 1957 (a factory installed Hammarlund XC-100 100 kHz crystal calibrator is present). The XTAL calibrator also brought the tube count up from the typical 20 to 21. In addition, the fairly late date of production (serial no. 191XX) means that the dreaded black beauty molded capacitors were never installed and that ceramic disc capacitors were used instead. This is a very nice SP-600 in excellent cosmetic condition. The radio features the metal (not paper) faced Marion Electric meter and the black dial escutcheons are the later type with no fasteners visible from the front.

I fired the SP-600 up for the first time in decades by using a variac. I hooked it up to a vintage Jensen 10" speaker with matching transformer to the 600 ohm audio out. Yes, the AGC problem was still there and AC hum was present in the audio. I turned the radio off, left it off, and ordered capacitors. Two weeks later both problems were eliminated with five capacitor replacements. I gave the radio a careful cleaning including all switches and contacts and lightly lubed all shaft bearings. This took a couple of days. All of the tubes tested and substituted good.

This SP-600 is a joy to use. I am a longtime SWL and use it with a simple outdoor 106' random wire/longwire antenna. The SP-600 can tune across the bands relatively quickly for a 1950's radio. The flywheel assisted tuning mechanism must be tried to be fully appreciated. Sensitivity is very good on all bands. Selectivity is superb. I open up the 8 kHz selectivity position on strong stations and the sound from the old Jensen 10" is to die for. The radio is pretty much free of frequency drift after about 45 minutes of warm-up time. I often keep a Sangean ATS-909X nearby for quick frequency spotting. Once in a great while the 909X will do a better job on a noisy signal (DSP is a great thing) but the SP-600 usually runs circles around any portable. As much as I like the way the SP-600 performs right now I know from observing the dial calibration that it could use an alignment. There are no marks on the tuning turret alignment access covers so this radio may have the factory alignment intact. I have the instruments and manuals ready for this delicate job and look forward doing it later in the winter. Who knows? Maybe I can even squeeze out a little more sensitivity, too.

I have other Hammarlund Super Pro and HQ series receivers and a Capehart contract R-390A. All have their strengths, weaknesses and quirks but I consider the SP-600 and the R-390A the best US tube-type communications receivers of the 1950-60's. I'm certainly not alone in this evaluation.

If you have room for a Hammarlund SP-600 and can find one that hasn't been hacked half to death these radios are well worth restoration and maintenance. They are excellent performers to this day and depending on antenna will pretty much tune any AM signal out there for shortwave listeners/DXers.
KB2NAT Rating: 5/5 Jun 4, 2013 16:52 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful Machine  Time owned: more than 12 months
I owned an SP-600 for over ten years and also used one in the military to monitor clandestine Soviet military transmissions. Its operators considered it the most sensitive receiver available, even over the Collins R-390 (another fabulous receiver). Its selectivity was variable from .2-13 khz and I still miss that particular control. The selectivity was so good that I was actually able to pick out a station on the AM band on 1265khz broadcasting from the Caribbean in NYS. Twenty-two tubes made for a warm companion, but they weren't driven hard and lasted for years.
I haven't listened to the absolute newest (and expensive) so I can't compare the Hammarlund to those, but at today's prices it would be clost to $10,000.
I wouldn't want to carry one around, but the feel and performance of its mechanics, sound, silver-tipped contacts and overall feel are truly unique.
F6BGV Rating: 5/5 Nov 13, 2009 08:33 Send this review to a friend
BETTER AUDIO  Time owned: more than 12 months
I own a SP-600 since a very long time.
I replaced all caps, except electrolytic and mica.
I thought it was better to install an audio section more in accordance with the quality of this famous former receiver, which will permit to get a very good sound !
I removed audio output transformer (T 7) and I replaced by another 6V6, with a new push-pull transformer (8000 CT / 8) under the frame.
Then, I connected again V16A in préamplifier (Rk = 1k and Rp = 47k), straight connected to V16B as "phase-splitter" (Rk = Rp = 47k), and the two 6V6 in push-pull (Rk = 220/2W + 47 µF/63V), and a negative feed-back (Rcr = 3,3k from 8 ohms).
- HT on plate 6V6's = from C161B
- HT on screen 6V6's = from C161C
- HT on V16B = from C161C
- HT on V16A = from V18

Like this, I got a very good listening quality of the broadcasts...

Best 73's
KB1OKL Rating: 5/5 Nov 25, 2007 15:33 Send this review to a friend
still an excellent receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought a restored one about 2 years ago. Turning the big tuning knob is like driving a vintage Cadillac, very smooth. Mine has excellent sensitivity and selectivity, is a great BCB DX machine. Picks the TA's out of the mud easily. The dial readout is very good and is right on, I don't understand people who say they don't know where they are when using these. This is one of the all-time greats. There is nothing new that can compare with this receiver and not many oldies either. I own many of the finest boatanchors and this is one of the best.
W5XE Rating: 5/5 Jun 20, 2006 19:05 Send this review to a friend
Excellent search receiver  Time owned: months
You're correct in that the SP600 is a great
receiver. I went to 6 months radio school learning
the SP600 in the late 50's and used
them in several overseas locations. Very little
drift, and stable like a rock once on frequency.
One could get it pretty close to the desired
frequency by using the logging scale. When using
on RTTY, they were crystal controlled but for the
most part in the Air Force Security Service, no
crystals as they were a general search receiver
and the ability to roll onto a frequency rapidly
was required. Nothing like seeing a couple
hundred SP600's in the consoles stretching from
one end of the room to the other. After military,
I used them as the main receiver at
FBI communications stations, and there the
crystal positions were in use. Incidentally the
monitor receivers were NC400 - not near the
quality of the SP600jx main receiver. They could
hear anything the R-388 or R-390 series could;
just didn't have the direct frequency readout.
Used for about 25 years, all totaled.
W8ZNX Rating: 4/5 Jun 20, 2006 14:01 Send this review to a friend
fb swl receiver, dog as a ham receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
its a lovely radio
for over 40 years
lusted after a SP 600

no other receiver
has such a wonderfull dial drive

makes other receivers
main tuning feel crude

was one of the best BCB dx
and SWL receiver ive ever used

ham use its a dog

maybe i expected too much from it

owned mine for about 5 years
few years ago
traded it for a NC-183D

if offered to trade back
would keep the NC-183D

do i miss the Super Pro
no not realy


W8VCK Rating: 5/5 Sep 21, 2004 19:01 Send this review to a friend
Rock Solid  Time owned: more than 12 months
I love my SP-600-JX/17, listen to commercial AM on it almost every day. Nothing compares to it in sound quality. What's really amazing about this radio is how little heat it generates compared to my KWM-2A or TL-922.
K3UOD Rating: 5/5 Oct 7, 2003 16:19 Send this review to a friend
Seller's Remorse  Time owned: more than 12 months
Add me to the list of those who had one of these fantastic receivers and sold it, much to our regret.

Incredible stability. Zero-beat WWV, come back next week, it's still zero-beat. took up too much room... and I knew a novice who needed a

Oh well.
N4QA Rating: 4/5 Apr 13, 2002 08:42 Send this review to a friend
USE that XTAL OSC !  Time owned: more than 12 months
I was lucky enough to acquire an SP-600-JX-26 many years ago. It serves as the primary receiver in my secondary (barnloft) shack.

The xtal-control feature is great for fixed-freq name it. I had to replace V3(a 6AC7) and C63, C64 bypass caps in the xtal unit to restore its functionality and then I was in XTAL CONTROL :)

The receiver is single-conversion from 540 kcs to 7.4 mcs and is dual-conversion from 7.4 mcs to 54 mcs.

The antenna connector is a dual-pin affair and the receiver's input impedance is 100 ohms balanced. A 2:1 balun should be employed when feeding the receiver with standard 50 ohm coax.

In addition to being a pretty good receiver, my SP-600-JX-26 helps to keep studio BL warm on cold winter nights :)

Bill, N4QA

W9LBB Rating: 4/5 Apr 13, 2002 02:46 Send this review to a friend
An Oldie but a Goodie...  Time owned: more than 12 months
In the past 25 years I've owned four of these beasts. I still have two of them, and still regret giving up the other two. THAT in itself should tell you SOMETHING.

Hammarlund designed and built a warhorse that really fits the (much overused and abused) title "Classic". Even in these days of digital readout, ten tons of bells and whistles, do everything for you receivers, the old Super Pro has a definite place in the ham shack. But, it's a receiver that requires a good operator to bring out the best in it.

I've got a TON of different receivers here, of all vintages and qualities, but the SP-600 and Collins R-390 are the ONLY ones I even consider using (or for that matter, even consider hooking to an antenna!) in a transmitting environment. My Drake R8 or JRC NRD-525 may be great performers on the ham bands, but I really don't want to put them in situations where stray RF is gonna take out front end devices if something goes wrong. About the only way you're gonna damage the front end of an SP-600 is run coax from the transmitter output to the receiver input, and drop a book on the key! <>

There's a LOT of different versions of the SP-600 out there.

The most common ones (both civilian and military manufacture) cover 540 KHz - 54 MHz in six bands. Most of these have a (seldom used) crystal oscillator for fixed frequency operation. A few are military variants that are modifications of the basic design which allow them to be used as either a MASTER or SLAVE receiver in a diversity system.

I have a civilian SP-600LF. No fixed frequency crystal oscillator, and a frequency coverage of 100 - 400 KHz and 1500 - 30,000 KHz in six bands. Other than the different range, it's pretty much identical to the other SP-600 versions.

I also have an SP-600VLF, ex- Royal Canadian Navy. THIS is altogether a horse of a different color! While the design philosophies, physical construction, and high quality are pretty much the same as the rest of the series, virtually NOTHING in the SP-600VLF is interchangable with the rest of them. This was necessitated by the unusual frequency coverage; 10 - 600 KHz!

As far as using the receiver is concerned... double conversion makes for MUCH better than average image rejection for a receiver of early 1950's design vintage. It makes a great "cruising" receiver for checking out a lot of spectrum in a hurry. If the rig has been aligned right and kept in good shape (ie, a decent set of tubes in it), sensitivity is MORE than adequate for most uses up to perhaps 25 MHz. The noise figure starts to deteriorate a bit above that when compared to more modern designs, but it's STILL quite useful all the way up. Considering the state of the art at the time they designed this rig, the engineers at Hammarlund did an EXCELLENT job. In fact, in terms of resistance to front end overload from TV and FM broadcasters when listening above 30 MHz, the SP-600 beats out a WHOLE LOT of much newer designs!

Below maybe 15 MHz, frequency stability is MORE than adequate for hobbyist purposes. I use mine for RTTY and FAX reception quite frequently, and the rig really delivers. This is the kind of service it was designed for.

Selectivity is quite good, using the stepped bandpass positions (tapped IF transformers) and crystal filter. Bear in mind that shape factors are NOT going to be as steep as with modern mechanical or crystal lattice filters... skirts are wider than we've become accustomed to with modern receivers.

I've made some mods to my SP-600LF to improve audio response; my big thing is 160 metre AM. Even UNmodified tho, the audio response and distortion figures make ANY of my fancy, modern solid state receivers look sick by comparison!

The front end is virtually overload-proof as compared to even the BEST current designs. That's what tube rigs are all about! Intermod is virtually nonexistent, no matter HOW many high power stations are blasting away on the 31 metre international broadcast band! <>

The SP-600 really shines as a BCB DX receiver... at least the common version that covers the entire AM broadcast band does. When I still had one that did, it was ALWAYS my weapon of choice!

The proliferation of SSB in the 1950s is what eventually killed the SP-600 design, like MANY receivers of the period. The detector is a simple diode, NOT a product detector, which is obviously necessary for easy, low distortion SSB reception. Likewise, the AGC isn't suited for SSB. That's not to say that you CAN'T receive SSB with a Super Pro 600... you just have to work at it harder, sans AGC.

As a CW receiver, it's STILL quite good, tho I personally have always felt the tuning rate is a bit fast for the ham bands.

The downsides of this rig...

For those who aren't old enough to be accustomed to analog dials, the frequency readout seems crude, and it IS... but remember, we're talking state of the art in the 1950s. Collins had digital readouts in this period in the R-390 / R-390A / R-389 / R-391 / R-392 series, but it's accomplished by means of a mechanical design nightmare of gears, clutches and other gadgets, and what's essentially a modified automobile odometer!

For "close" frequency readout with an SP-600, you have to learn to use a "logging scale" on the dial (simple for those of us who once learned to use a slide rule! <>), and for anything closer you need an accurate signal generator next to the radio (in my case, a trusty WW2 BC-221 frequency meter). Awkward, but once again we're talking 1950s state of the art.

One thing I've had trouble with on EVERY SP-600 I've owned... the main tuning dial.

While lubricating things, invariably somebody manages to get a drop of oil on the smooth, brass pulley just behind the front panel that is turned by the heavy dial flywheel. As a result, the whole business slips.

The first thing I do with a "new" SP-600 is take a hunk of rag, saturated with wood alcohol, and clean the friction drive pulleys.

Next, there is an S - shaped spring that takes up slack in the dial drive, forcing the pulleys tight together by means of an intermediate "idler" pulley. Usually, over the years the spring has taken a "set", and is too compressed to apply the required force to make the drive turn smoothly. I take the spring out, stretch it slightly, and put it back in.

The result of this simple cleanup / adjustment is that the wonderous, fast, and silky smooth Hammarlund flywheel drive works BEAUTIFULLY!

All in all, I have to reccomend the old timer as STILL being an excellent rig, if you can find one at a decent price... it really is one of the finest tube receivers ever designed.


Tom, W9LBB

Page 1 of 2 —>

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