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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | SONY ICF-SW55 RECEIVER Help

Reviews Summary for SONY ICF-SW55 RECEIVER
SONY ICF-SW55 RECEIVER Reviews: 9 Average rating: 4.1/5 MSRP: $$360
Description: General Coverage Portable Communications Receiver
Made In: Japan 1993-1998
Product is in production.
More info: http://
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KB8DNS Rating: 5/5 Apr 26, 2010 14:55 Send this review to a friend
Review of two!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have to admit that this radio is a couple of notches below the ICF-2010 but in it's own right it is a good receiver.... It deserves a 4.5 but for the lack of the SYNC. I bought mine in February of 2010 and a good deal at that! Great receiver and the band pass filters are close to my ICOM IC-746, really isolates what you are listening to!
The "second" review is of a SW55 I repaired for a friend. Complaint was that there was no audio, I suspected bad electrolytic caps as that is common with many electronics of this era. Not only the caps were bad and leaking the B+ switch and the power amp were taken out. After a month long repair, mostly searching for parts, the radio is in fine shape and sounds wonderful! Now back to the owner.
The electrolytic cap job is next for my unit and I hope it does as well as the one I repaired!
DB2EH Rating: 1/5 Jan 2, 2008 06:38 Send this review to a friend
Not applicable for Ham purposes  Time owned: months
Have tested two new SW55 one after the other.
Both showing a drastic warble in SSB-mode.
So I have to state: Nothing for HAM use.
G7VAK Rating: 5/5 Feb 22, 2005 06:24 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I bought a secondhand unit for 75 via a private advert in the Short Wave Magazine. It came with mains power pack, manual, travel case, reel in antenna and an active antenna. A real bargain.

My passion is number stations and I follow two particular stations - the polytone XP and the Slavic combination M10 and S10d.

The receiver performs extremely well, it's tuning rate is sufficient and an input antenna allows the user to adjust the magnitude of the RF presented to the first stage.
A tone control on the output allows some 'discrimination' on tonal qualities whilst selection of Mode [AM, USB or LSB] in conjuction with bandpass filter - Narrow or Wide is also of help.
I use a 3.5M wire strung over a bookcase [the wife moans about this] but it works as does the active antenna.

The thing weighs only 900grams is around 1" thick and the size of an A5 sheet of paper.

If I have a criticism it is of the display - it is sometimes difficult to see, the backlamp is not totally efficient, but I use a bedside lamp to illuminate. The other small thing is the automatic selection of Mode depending on frequency - but that can be changed and once you are used to that foible it is troublesome no more.

A common complaint is that the manufacturers left AM synchro off. It's not a problem with me, if you need that facility then inserting a sideband narrows the passband sufficiently to allow a different resolution of an AM signal.

All in all an excellent receiver which I use daily for the reception of Morse.

N7FAE Rating: 5/5 Apr 26, 2004 13:19 Send this review to a friend
I rate as best portable  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
This is a great receiver. Have owned about 6 mos now and absolutely love it. It replaced a Sony SW7600GR (good rx but cumbersome tuning w/side switches & no alpha memories). The sensitivity is as good as it gets for a portable, perfect size, good sound, very easy and versatile tuning, and all keys and buttons on the front. My only complaint is that while it is an excellent SW AM receiver, it does have some instability when listening on SSB. Loud signals wll 'FM' the signal creating a slight warble - otherwise excellent ssb rx as well. (Anybody have a schematic? - I will look into a mod to stabilize). All in all, the best portable receiver I have had to date, (and I've had quite a few). This one has ended my search.
KC8VWM Rating: 4/5 Apr 21, 2004 00:47 Send this review to a friend
It's Portable Too?  Time owned: more than 12 months
Owned and operated this radio since 1993.
Still works fine just like the day I bought it. Receiver is as sensitive as most general coverage amateur rigs I have seen on the market. I once compared the reception of the SW 55 with a US Navy military receiver (R1051-B)I used to own.

The military radio had a slightly quieter noise floor than the Sony portable. However, it pulled in distant signals just as well as the military boatanchor rig.

The only drawback was the SSB tuning for voice signals. It seems to tune SSB voice signals in incremental "digital" steps. This is similar to some DSP filters found on modern amateur rigs that tune in "digital" steps even though you are rotating a variable potentiometer control.

It is a rather subtle thing,and is hard to notice. But if you are used to older variable capacitor BFO tuning knobs found on the bigger rigs, you will notice a very slight difference in how it "zeros" in on a SSB voice signal.

There are more than enough memory allocations on this radio. You can program them in "Pages".

For example you can program page 1 to read on the front display , "Europe" and then you can program that particular bank with 5 corresponding European SW frequencies. The frequencies for this page are chosen on the bottom of the display from "M1 - M5"

Similarly you can program another page to read "Europe 2" and program another 5 frequencies etc. I have included pages like "HAM-80" HAM-40" "Utility" "Military" "Aircraft" "Marine" etc.

It has a large back-light "control panel" looking display and it is very easy to read. Reminds me of the "control like" GPS displays they are now installing in the newer cars. It also features UTC and the local time. It has a LCD world map on the display that darkens parts of the world according to the time of day.

It features an built in alarm and you can program several different "start" times for the radio to turn on. This is a good feature for listening to your favorite SW programs at specific times. the radio also has a "Sleep" function (similar to a TV set) that turns the radio off after a specified amount of time.

There are several impressive methods of tuning this radio. It features an "Up/Down" scanning feature similar to a scanner radio, direct access frequency tuning through the keypad, band selection for quick band hopping, and a shuttle jogging tuning dial that can tune either "fast" or "slow". The tuning features available are quite similar to what you experience on a modern day amateur radio transceiver like a Yaesu FT847.

I would have to say all these tuning and frequency programming features are pretty darn good for a pocket sized general coverage receiver.

This radio has jacks on the side for the most discriminating SW radio enthusiast:
AM EXT ANT. Tape Remote Switch Line Out Headphone DC In 6V

The headphone Jack operates in full 2 channel Stereo when the radio is operated on the FM broadcast frequency band. (88-MHz.) That's right this article is included in "General Coverage NOT AM/FM broadcast band." However this radio not only recieves the General Coverage HF bands but also the AM/FM bands too!

There is also a built in RF "amplifier" circuit with 3 settings. Local - Normal - DX
The DX setting will significantly "boost" weak signals. The local setting on the other hand is useful for attenuating stronger signals.

The Sony SW 55 radio was designed years ahead of its time.

It is rather amazing that one can fit all this into a small backpack. It has all the features you would normally find only in a full sized desktop general coverage receiver.


Charles - KC8VWM
K5OPD Rating: 5/5 Dec 25, 2003 02:56 Send this review to a friend
Max-Features  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I agree with the other review, that its odd that this great unit only has one other review. In the course of having three of them, I've learned that its a very stable unit, amazingly enough it performs right along side of the newer 7600GR. Filter choices by Sony renders its performance outstanding for a unit without Sync. All you need do is pick it up, and you'll immediately know its a quality component. Features abound and since they are available in a million places on the web, they're not necessary here. I also have the YB 400, and 7600G, as well as the GR. The 55 is the sole unit with jog shuttle (rotary tuning) It lacks the bass resonance of the YB 400 - but the display features more than offset that. Its a real kick to be able to push a button and see exactly where the earth is in darkness at any given moment. Evidently Sony thought this was going to replace the 2010 in the minds of the consumer. Its built with the same heft, although about half the size, so its a much better traveller. They're getting fewer and further between, but you can still see one available on eBay here and there. It can't be beat for the number of features packed in a unit this small. SWL is fine compared to my two Kenwoods which are on external antennas. Amazing!
2E0WPZ Rating: 5/5 Jul 16, 2003 20:29 Send this review to a friend
Well under estimated radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I noticed a SW55 on sale with E bay and wonder why this is the only report on them. I have owned one for a number of years and I can tell you it does everything i want from a radio. When I compare it to2010D I would say that other than the airband on the 2010 the sw55 seems to have a lot more going for it and the SWL on ssb is superb. run through an external speaker you could think you were listening to a table top. You don`t expect a portable to have TBT so have to put up with adjacent stations and that can be a bit off putting when you are used to a table top rig with all the bells and whistles but as portables go it aint half bad.FM is really good and the timer functions work a treat. Quite an expensive radio new but if you can get hold a good second hand one then you will not be dissapoited.
WB9YCJ Rating: 2/5 Jan 4, 2003 17:09 Send this review to a friend
Unstable in ssb/cw mode  Time owned: more than 12 months
Unsuitable for general utility and ham listening.
Unstable SSB, CW (bfo injection ??).
This was evident on several examples.
Dont be sucked in by its tech look.
This opinion is shared in other reviews of the radio such as WRTH and Passport. Good for general mw sw am brdcast.
Alternative -
ICF-2010 is hard to beat but overpriced by todays standards. 2010 still priced at 1983 introductory price.
N7PPZ Rating: 5/5 Jan 2, 2003 18:24 Send this review to a friend
Finest portable I have ever seen  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I cant understand why Sony discontinued this model. The filters in this unit are incredible. Sony has packed so many features in the front of this receiver. A light/dark display on a small map of the world, direct entry keys, a dial for those who still like the "feel" of one, and scanning features.

The memories with alpha tags is so handy but the real guts of this receiver is its ability to separate and pull the weak ones out of the mud. This receiver outperformed my SW77 and my R2000 and stayed right there with my FRG-100 with stock filters. (The extra $100 KIWA filters wouldnt be a fair comparison)

Even without Synchronous detection - a combination of 4 levels of attenuation, the superb filtering and a tweaking through "sideband tuning" this unit can hear it all.

All in all, if you want a portable for DX, this is one of the best I've seen.

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