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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | Drake R8 HF Receiver Help

Reviews Summary for Drake R8 HF Receiver
Drake R8 HF Receiver Reviews: 19 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $980 - 999
Description: All mode shortwave receiver
Product is not in production.
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IZ2EAS Rating: 5/5 Mar 7, 2018 00:06 Send this review to a friend
The best classic receiver in my shack  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought my Drake R8E (the European version of the R8) second hand in 2004, after a long search. I had it for a good price and it was in almost mint conditions, there were no marks or dents and it was working perfectly; the only drawback, the previous owner was a smoker, so every time the radio warmed up, a sweet smell of nicotine filled the radio room; it took a couple of years for this effect to disappear.

The radio worked flawlessly till 2007, when the “classic” problem with the leaky electrolytic capacitors in the audio stage developed: when the two capacitors (C125 and C126) between the audio amplifier U104 and the loudspeaker start to leak, they short the unregulated voltage supply rail to ground, and the radio shuts itself off in a puff of smoke. Replacing them requires some extensive dismantling of the radio, but luckily it is not a difficult job since all the board are connectorized. You just have to take your time and take good notes of what goes where – I actually took pictures of the connectors and of the boards, just in case. Anyway, after replacing the capacitors, the radio was back in great shape.

In 2014 I replaced all the electrolytic capacitors in the radio, as a precautionary measure (I think they were still ok, after almost 25 years); it is not a difficult job, since the PCBs are solid and there is plenty of room; you just have to work without hurry, since you have to replace about 130 capacitors. I was a bit worried, but everything went fine and the radio still worked (!) after my extensive recapping… so I will just enjoy it for the next 25 years.

Performance-wise, I think it is an excellent receiver. It does not overload easily, it has good sensitivity and you have plenty of “weapons” in your arsenal to tackle with difficult receiving situations: pass-band tuning, 5 IF selectivity values, audio notch, attenuator/preamplifier, noise blanker, etc. Someone complains about the “hostile” ergonomics; I don’t mind, having used much more “hostile” radios – have you ever used the otherwise excellent AR7030 ? Or an all-bands, all-mode mobile transceiver, like the FT857 ?

By the way, I found a practical solution that greatly improved the receiver’s ergonomics, i.e. to make large use of the memories. I programmed the memories with the starting edges of the CW and SSB segments of all hams bands (with proper mode and bandwidth selected), as well as the starting edges of the BC bands. So, if I want to move, say, from the 49 meters broadcasting band (AM) to the 20 meters ham band (SSB) I just select the corresponding memory, then transfer the content of the memory to the VFO with the press of a button… and voilà, the VFO is immediately set to the new frequency with the correct mode and bandwidth… I don’t have to go through the carousel to change all the parameters manually every time.
When needed, I can program the memories with my computer using the now-discontinued Smart R8 Control Pro, a simple and effective piece of software developed in 2004 that still works (kind of) well on Windows 10.

Will I keep this radio ? You bet !

73, Michele
VK2JEM Rating: 5/5 Jul 25, 2017 16:57 Send this review to a friend
GREAT! enough said?  Time owned: more than 12 months
I had one of these years ago and sold it. Decided it was a mistake and bought another.

What a beautiful Rxer these are. I like the syling and buttons, some people think it looks "cheap" I think its stylish. Yeh you have to multipel press many buttons to make a change to mode/filter/ tuning step ets, but i can live with that. I guess the A or B gets round most of that.

What you do get is a good sounding ( i really like the audio quality on AM broadcasts) sensitive, stable rxer with multiple bandwidths, good Synch, PBT, notch, NB, good dynamic range.

If you can live with the menus and multiple button presses, you will love this radio.

Its a keeper.

WD5ENH Rating: 5/5 May 18, 2017 05:12 Send this review to a friend
Great addition  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Just recently purchased a Drake R8 from Universal radio. The radio is in excellent condition not a scratch on it anywhere. The radio is stock it does not have the UHF VHF converter. I did look at the serial number and looked on the Internet and I believe this is 2001 model. It has been an excellent addition to my shack. I know my Kenwood TS 2000 has general coverage on it, but it is nice to monitor two bands at the same time. Also this has brought back a lot of fun for shortwave listening. The antenna for the Drake is a par-end fed swl which for me is a good setup. I'm know shortwave listening has changed over the years but for me it's still a lot of fun. The only downside to the radio and it is not a deal breaker by no means when you have to change modes you have to continuously hit the button to the right mode you want. I know that the Drake R8A and R8B has the buttons to go directly to the right mode you want immediately. Nevertheless it is still a great radio to have in your shack. Should you come across a radio like this and it is in decent shape I would pick it up. These radios definitely hold their value, but as far as I'm concerned they are worth it. This radio is a keeper.
KD7RDZI2 Rating: 5/5 Nov 18, 2016 13:06 Send this review to a friend
Long Term Treasury Radio!!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Time owned: more than 20 years!!!! Bought it used but nearly new with the latest serial number, operating since 1996 without any problem. Have also VHF converter which is a very nice allmode add-on (for 70cm I found that an ukrainian transverter 432 to 28 Mhz made by UT5JCW does a good job for RX). The service manual is a nice interesting book that explains how good the radio is made. I never actually needed it as I had no issue so far! I still have it connected with a Pentium 100 running its very nice DOS program!!! It also has a PTT to be used with a TX. I agree with others about SSB, never heard other radios that sound as good as this one.

Here below my previous review in 2005
This rig has virtually everything necessary to have a good listening.

I could not overload, the rig, if not in rare cases even using wideband receiving antennas such as MTA by RF-Systems, DX1 by RF-System and a 20 meters long T2FD by Barker and Williamson put in clear on the roof.

Listening with SSB is pure pleasure.. you can shape the sound tuning the passband.. filters are good.. the unit is rather reliable as it has been operating since 1996 without any problem..

It has 4 antenna inputs.. 3 for HF (one of which is 450 ohm) and one for the 6 and 2 meters converters.. I am adding external hamtronic UHF to VHF converter for the 70 cm and a KEPS converter to vhf for the 2400 Mhz..

you can do virtually everything with this radio..
N4OI Rating: 5/5 Nov 17, 2016 15:21 Send this review to a friend
Still the Best, Jerry, THE BEST!  Time owned: more than 12 months
After seven years since my last review, my 23 year-old R8 is still the best for hi-fi listening to SSB, AM and utilities... Beats my K3, FT-920, Hammarlund and anything else. Note that I am talking about comfortable listening, not digging DX out of the QRM or copying CW over S9 QRN on 40 meters (K3 is go-to for that). But for tuning around the HF spectrum, nothing comes close... just sayin'

W2FKN Rating: 5/5 Sep 20, 2016 11:27 Send this review to a friend
25 Years and Great  Time owned: more than 12 months
Purchased in 1991 direct from RL Drake. Still running quite well with no complaints!
DXTUNER Rating: 5/5 Sep 27, 2012 21:19 Send this review to a friend
Another comparison to the Icom IC-R75  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My R-8 with the VHF converter installed cost more money, used, than my Icom IC-R75 did brand new. Was it worth it? Without a doubt, yes. Is it better at Dx'ing than the IC-R75? Well that's almost impossible to answer - they are completely different radios. Its like the difference between a spinning fishing reel and a spin-casting reel. Both catch the same kind of fish, but each feels entirely different and the method of use isn't exactly the same. The R-8 is more of a knob twiddling radio, relying on certain adjustments by the user. In the end it gets the same excellent results that the IC-R75 does. What I like most about the R-8 is:

- An excellent bank of stock filters, none of which are insanely wide - 6, 4, 2.3, 1.8 and 0.5 kHz. The choice comes in handy.
- The passband adjustment knob is highly effective. There are cases where it makes the difference between hearing a weak utility signal, clearly, and not hearing it at all. Drake nailed it on this part.
- The audio is superb. I wish the IC-R75 sounded like this.

My only complaint is the construction. A radio of this caliper should be inside better material. Otherwise I highly recommend the R-8. Clearly its a unit that Drake put a lot of care into planning.
AD4C2006 Rating: 5/5 Nov 8, 2011 20:31 Send this review to a friend
Excellent receiver  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
For years I have been reading and hearing only good comments from friends and also from the net about this radio but one thing is what you read and a different one is what you hear in it.
I had the luck to find one on for a decent price that look like brand new and works great.
In spite what other reviewers say,for me its a pretty front panel with big numbers on the display easy to see from any where on the room.
Well it arrived,open the original box,feels very lite,then conect a 40M half wave dipole and first impression was WOW !! band is full of stations from Europe,all of them very strong with an excellent audio quality on SSB even with the BW filter set to 2.3 Khz,great selectivity for a LC bandpass filters and not been xtal filters as today modern receivers and transceivers use,audio quality is super and best of all its very stable,since the first minutes of warming,the tuned station did not move a hertz,after one hour use,it drifted just 10 Hz,the stability in freq is compared with higher price modern radios.I do have at my home two high end radios,the TT O2 and the Elecraft K3 and this radio is very close in performance than these two transceivers I own.
For two nights of use I am very impressive with this R8 that will make a good bed companion.
Only one dislike,why Drake did make a dual 24 hours clock instead of one for 12 hours and another for 24 hours.That don't make sense to me but other than that this radio is a keeper.
EI4GMB Rating: 5/5 Nov 3, 2010 16:23 Send this review to a friend
Drake R8 Series Comparisons  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have been in touch with RL Drakes tech.dept over the years and in that time I've managed to get some interesting information about comparisons of all the models in the R8 series.The first notable difference between the original R8 and it's european counterpart the R8E is in frequency coverage. The R8E's coverage starts at 150khz as opposed to 100khz on the american R8 version. When comparing the R8(E) to the later R8A the latter was said to have a slight edge DX-wise but only marginally so. However, the audio was said to be better on the R8(E) than either the R8A or R8B. The tuning wheel, the optical encoder and the less busier facade of the R8(E) were also said to be better.
Although there were big improvements in the R8B, more incrementally so in the case of the R8A the men from Drake said that given the choice they would choose the R8(E) above the 2 other models because as they said there was very little spurious on the original R8(E) and that most of the money went into it making it a very well built and well made radio. So there you have some interesting information gathered over the years from conversations with the RL Drake technical department.
KG8LB Rating: 5/5 Mar 17, 2009 03:43 Send this review to a friend
One of the very best  Time owned: more than 12 months
After looking at some of the very sorry receivers here that some how rated a 5 and having owned an R8 as well as 3 R8A Drakes I am giving this one a 5. For those who whine about the syncro detector I would have to say compared to the Asian offerings the syncro detector in the R8 is at least as good and likely better than most of them. Ergonomics are more a matter of operator adaptability. This is NOT a hard receiver to master or operate. It is a great performer all around. The build quality is excellent. Unlike my premium priced JRC NRD545, Drake still supports their product. JRC abandoned the people who bought the top end products they offer. The warranty agent was unable to service the JRC 10 months after purchase. The Drake has had no issues 10 YEARS after purchase and IF it had Drake is there!
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