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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | ICOM IC-781 Help

Reviews Summary for ICOM IC-781
ICOM IC-781 Reviews: 58 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $8752
Product is in production.
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W0BKR Rating: 5/5 Jun 7, 2017 04:41 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio Even Today!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Won't go into all the pros of the radio but suffice it to say, this radio performs superbly and has an excellent receiver. Many features and a fun radio to use. A bit heavy and large but that was the 781. Some folks poo poo them today as being obsolete, but I disagree.

Only nits I have aside of the weight and size (my shack is 6x8 foot and not much desk space), is the rear connections are hard to see if you need to hook up something post facto. Means, you have to swing the radio around to see.

Mine was totally upgraded by Burdhardt and has less than 25 hours on it (been in storage 18 years unused and powered up and worked fine when pulled from storage).

Other nit, like my FT-920, the transmit monitor is a bit weak/low but some radios are that way, likely to reduce the possibility of feedback when you transmit with the headphones not connected.

I love this "old" radio and all my friends that have them still have theirs. Will likely hang onto mine for some time. Some folks just don't understand or appreciate the radio.

Ask Rob Sherwood why he has two (2) of them....
W6UXB Rating: 5/5 Feb 9, 2017 20:38 Send this review to a friend
Absolutely fantastic  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have this radio for quite awhile now and I have to say it is probably the greatest radio I have owned and operated, pure analog pure perfection, the noise blanker actually works in real world situations, the filters are a pleasure to listen with, the audio on transmit and receive is beyond anything that is available for any comparable price radio available now. It is big it is heavy it has all the controls on knobs on the front panel for control plus a scope for your housekeeping duties, what a radio. I also own a DZ kits Sienna boy that is so a close modern version of this radio this is radio #2 my TenTec Eagle is radio #3 The 3 best radios I have encountered
WD1V Rating: 5/5 Nov 20, 2015 08:55 Send this review to a friend
High Fidelity + Lot to Love  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just purchased a 781 that had one owner (SK) who babied it for > 20 years. I had never owned one and got it with some trepidation. It was the best Icom offered back when it was announced. But now? Its old. Its heavy. Its expensive to get fixed if it breaks. Reliability and 2 decade old feature sets might be a set of risks greater than the reward. Good news! It performs flawlessly with audio that is stunning. How stunning? Consider that it has concentric front panel controls for bass and treble. Has any other ham transceiver done that? You can listen to your favorite AM broadcast station and it will outplay any home radio you own. Bring that same fidelity and richness to your favorite ham bands and its a gem. The filtering, band pass tuning, built-in tuner, CRT display scope and intuitive menu make navigation through the bands slick. Really glad I'm having the 781 experience in my ham career and didn't miss it. Like an old fine wine or great rock band, seems to get better with age. #ThanksIcom @JohnSeney
W0BKR Rating: 4/5 Nov 8, 2015 18:27 Send this review to a friend
Add'l Comments  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Too bad one cannot update/modify a review.

One nit I have with the radio is the recessed connections under the back regulator/final unit, making it for a very hard to reach (even looking at the rear) connection. If you hook up your interfaces, be sure to have the rear of the radio facing you as it is very difficult to see otherwise and hard to get fingers around the tight area. Once set up, hopefully, you won't have to move the behemoth. A very nice and enjoyable radio to use, but definitely not a light weight....Sorry had to add a review posting but unable to add to existing one.
PA1CW Rating: 5/5 Jun 8, 2015 14:20 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic radio!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I had the IC-781 for about 20 years.
Last year I sold it because I have also the Icom-7600 / 7100.
They are also great radio's but I missed the quality sound from the IC-781.
Now I bought another used in mint condition IC-781 and I am really happy with it.
So if you find a good IC-781 don't think but buy!

73 Theo PA1CW
I1QII Rating: 5/5 Jun 3, 2014 02:17 Send this review to a friend
NIce Top Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I purchased an Icom IC-781 last year. The radio is in excellent condition
both electrical and cosmetically and it works nicely.
I'm Ham for over 30 years and I had many radios.
The 'IC-781 that I really like is excellent one for reception quality in cw and ssb.
I tested it on the same table for two months with an IC-756PRO2 and an IC-7400 than I sold the two newest radios
and I kept the 'IC-781 with great satisfaction.
The reception quality of the IC-781 is more natural and clean particularly in cw.
In Tx with 150W and the excellent compressor in ssb is vy good and in cw the note is shaped and crisp.
Now I'm thinking to buy a second Icom IC-781.
Best 73
Diego (I1QII)
OE1TRB Rating: 5/5 Apr 14, 2014 23:52 Send this review to a friend
Great transceiver performance  Time owned: more than 12 months
I had the chance to get a IC-781 2 years ago. I was very positively surprised that this unit has that great RX performance. The transceiver is easy to handle, a nice - nowadays a veteran tube display - the analog band scope is easy to read.
With respect to my IC-7700 , without the DSP and filter functionality the 781 does still a top job on shortwave. That unit is nailed down in my shack and will not leave it anymore.
vy 73 de Thomas
VA3PWC Rating: 5/5 Feb 14, 2014 19:58 Send this review to a friend
Top HF radio  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I was very luck to find one IC781 in a mint conditions. I know there are only few numbers of 781 down here in Brazil, probably 4 or 5 of it... and only who has operated one knows the quality of TX and RX of these radios.
For my suprise, I had a chance to compare it with FT1000MP, Icom IC 745, IC 730, Tentec Pegasus, FT 950, IC 7600, IC 736, TS 870 and TS 590 and my results was the IC 781 did beat them all in RX aspects. Without any doubt, this is a real Quad RX conversion with all filters for SSB, CW and Digital. What else do I need? I only use radio for contest and DX..and btw this radio is Excelent for contest and DXīs.... Amazing audio TX with Heil HC-5... Just plug a cable on the back and connect it to a monitor screen and now you will have the 781īs display on a big screen too.
On CW my opinion is simply the best radio that I have seen in my life. Weak signals are very easy to copy specially when you use Pre-amp, PBT or Notch.
I live in free-noise area, so I donīt need radio with DSP that makes some noise on the radioīs reception. Too many SMD components are not good for radioīs RX... I donīt know why, but my feeling says that analogic radio still the best. Just remember, most of moderns radios have been made in China... take a look on its microphone and open the top cover to check the quality of its components... These kind of analogic radios were made by Icom in Japan... Sorry, but I canīt compare the quality of materials made in China vs. Japan ... Can you???
Expect to pay around USD 2000 for a IC 781.
Sorry again if I have disapointed you with my comments, but that is true !!! 73 from Rick PY2EL / VA3PWC
KI5SO Rating: 5/5 Jan 5, 2014 18:22 Send this review to a friend
Brick House  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This is a later serial number rig with fan mods. Love the big size and the large analog meter. Most adjustments are right on the front. It does have a menu, but it is not too in depth. This rig introduced a lot of firsts to ham radio. The scope, the ability to write your call sign in the window, PBT, and others. The knobs are not cheap like on Ft-2000D and the rig has a real feel to it, not some artificial feel and sound. There is something about analog I just love.
TI2TL Rating: 5/5 Aug 25, 2013 22:38 Send this review to a friend
adendum to my first review, Simply GREAT RADIO  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had a lot of radios in my past, and I have to be honest, I don't see a real progress in radios in the last 30 years.
You can talk IMD numbers and Wide spaced or Narrow spaced dynamic range all day but this values are important just in one main case, contests. Were you have 9++ stations all over the place and you need to find yourself a good spot and not have interference from a close by station.
Now since I don't like contests and I don't work CW (where the actual narrow spacing measures are taken using the narrow CW filter), I see no real progress in SSB rag chewing from newer radios. Actually I see quite the opposite. After testing numerous modern radios out there I can honestly say that the older rigs can do better (in many cases) or at least equal the modern rigs.

Now I don't understand how people are spending thousands of dollars in modern equipment if they could do the same with an older radio, and save many green bills and still be happy with the results.
Now I am not saying that older rigs are all the same, as I am not saying the new are all bad. My meter of compare is my actual radio, an old IC-781 from Icom. Probably I decided to compare modern rigs to what was a legend in the top of the line analogue radios of some years ago, but to date I still need to find a radio that performs better than the 781. It might be "noisier" than the modern top of the line DSP radio, but for me the DSP is just too robotic, modulation is not natural, it is just "fake", on the 781 you might hear some hiss on the background but modulation is nice and warm, it's analogue, as modulation should be, not digitalized.

Many might disagree with this review and say that there has been progress in the last years and the old radio designs have been discontinued for a reason, and you are 100% correct, the reason is $$$$.

If you build a new radio by older standards, having a quad conversion like the 781, than adding all the DSP mambo jumbo, ecc...ecc.. you will have more likely a radio that has to sell for $20.000 or more USD, since the market is not so big anymore and ham radio is actually dying slowly, not many would ever purchase such a rig, and it wouldn't be rentable for the company to produce such a radio.
Solution to all this was to "digitalize" all the radios with the DSP BS that is found on modern rigs. You get a "decent" performer at lower prices.
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