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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Vintage amateur | Hallicrafters SX-100 (and S-85) Help

Reviews Summary for Hallicrafters SX-100 (and S-85)
Hallicrafters SX-100 (and S-85) Reviews: 10 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $$325
Description: General Coverage Communications Receiver
Double Conversion Superheterodyne. 14 Tubes
Product is not in production.
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N8FVJ Rating: 5/5 Mar 18, 2017 18:26 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Ham Receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
The SX-100 is a fairly good receiver. The audio sound is outstanding. Few receivers sound as good as this receiver. It does a good job on AM & SSB. It does drift, but many vintage receivers drift too. My Collins R-648 outperforms the SX-100 during rough band conditions, but the SX-100 sounds better.

Others sum up the receiver well, so I leave you with this- buy it.
W7MBR Rating: 5/5 Aug 18, 2015 05:13 Send this review to a friend
Hallicrafters at it's best  Time owned: more than 12 months

I picked up a junker SX-100 in an estate sale that was so abused that I nearly parted it out. With lots of time and effort, it regained it's former glory as one of Hallicrafters best efforts. Much lighter and smaller than the SX-101 it performed as well or better and it cost less too. All of the requirements that define a good communications receiver of that time period could be found under the hood of a SX-100 including decent selectivity skirts, sensitivity, selectable sidebands with a good product detector and decent audio. For an old school superhet design, the stability was remarkably good. Collins and Drake, with their crystal controlled front ends and precision PTO's, were more stable with better readouts. I've also owned the highly praised SX-115 with the updated circuits but it still had plenty of warm up drift and wasn't much better than the SX-100 until fully warmed up. For a vintage 50's radio it had good looks as well. If your looking for a usable vintage communications type receiver you will not go wrong with the Hallicrafters SX-100
KG8LB Rating: 5/5 Jan 2, 2014 08:42 Send this review to a friend
A real GEM  Time owned: more than 12 months
I had always passed over the SX-100 up until a very nice Mark 2A version was given to me . I did the usual sweep alignment , replaced a couple of tubes etc . A real treat the first time I listened . Very sensitive and stable . The audio on AM is just fine . The selectivity positions are well chosen . Unlike some other , much higher priced Hallicrafters models , the SX-100 offers either sideband or BOTH sideband AM detection . It is in a moderatly sized medium weight cabinet . The controls are well laid out and thoughtfully chosen . A good looking receiver to boot ! The SX-100 also offers features that were left out of some of it's higher priced siblings . It does indeed cover 160 meters as well aas the WARC bands , a nice advantage that general coverage receivers offer over the ham band only offerings of that era .
If I only had one Hallicrafters , the SX-100 would be high on the list of considerations .
KQ4YA Rating: 4/5 Dec 3, 2009 11:59 Send this review to a friend
It offers more than nostalgia  Time owned: more than 12 months
Like most of you, I have purchased so many radios that I've run out of excuses when my wife asks why I want yet another. But the ancient SX-100 is the only one that draws admiring looks from my friends who care nothing about radios. It's just flat pretty - even to the uninitiated.

And, as a listening radio, it is amazingly good. The other day, just for fun, I tuned in a rather weak commercial shortwave broadcaster on my Pro III and on the SX-100. The SX-100 - on a similar antenna - at least held its own. Obviously, there's no contest on the ham bands, any of my modern rigs blows it away.

Unlike the rest of my radios, the SX-100 sits upstairs in my home office, not in the daylight basement ham shack. As I type this I'm listening to Radio Netherlands on the SX-100 which is feeding an equally ancient National speaker. Even without the push pull audio of some Hallicrafters, it has a very mellow sound - true easy listening.

I picked up the SX-100 at a hamfest, purchased a capacitor replacement kit - complete with can cap - from Hillbilly Hamfest online. That, other than replacing the power cord, was all the work that was done or needed.

Maybe my joy with the radio is partially because, as a one year novice many years ago, I had an SX-99 ... equally pretty but a fairly horrible radio.
W4PTO Rating: 5/5 Feb 4, 2007 10:42 Send this review to a friend
Great rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
Classic looking radio. You can have your I-ken-com job sitting next to it and any visitor in the shack will home on this beauty and "diss" the plastic. Take away the ricebox and replace it with a Ranger. Put a D-104 and a polished J-38 in the mix. Now that's some nice glow-in-the-dark action. Extreme eye candy for the operating table. It's 1957 all over again.

Back in the late '80s, I bought an earlier version from a college ham friend for $75. I had a ball with it. Only one problem was that the audio output transformer crapped out. I replaced it with a conventional 10k to 8 ohm replacement. Worked real fine except now I didn't have the alternative 4 ohm/600 ohm output selection.

I wouldn't trust it for regular SSB/CW ops unless I make a super conscious decision not to bang on the operating table. That's what I like to call "incidental contact instability." It's unsettling to be in a CW QSO only to have your station disappear in a disconcerting bang while you madly scramble to find your signal again. AM is a different story. Fat, solid and nice sounding.

Had it for about a year before I sold it (drat!)
But, I recently swapped for a Mark II (with SX-111 type knobs). It's the "famous" one that was written about in Electric Radio. That's my "keeper."

So if you find one, hang on to her for dear life. I know I will!
SWL377 Rating: 4/5 Jan 29, 2007 21:59 Send this review to a friend
Great looking, good performing  Time owned: more than 12 months
If you marry for looks, get an SX 100. To my eye it is one of the best looking 50s era general coverage receivers made. It is just flat out gorgeous. Can it cook? Well... yes but not nearly as well as its plain (but not homely) sister, the Hammarlund HQ 180. I own both. The SX 100 consistently loses in side by side shootouts with the HQ 180. The HQ 180 is quieter, at least as sensitive, better SSB performance, and more stable on high frequencies. Still, I just love my SX 100. It performs well and looks GREAT. Til death do us part.
VE3DJY Rating: 5/5 Dec 26, 2006 01:43 Send this review to a friend
A Fixit Yourself CW Operators View of the SX-100  Time owned: more than 12 months
We all know that CW can penetrate the poor propagation conditions where PHONE often fails to make it. The SX-100 is perfect in many ways but lacks full breakin like most receivers of its time. I have owned my Hallicrafters SX-100 since 1978 and it has always served perfectly for me, but for one instance where the 2nd mixer screen resistor went open which is accessible only after considerable effort and care to remove the module - too bad Hallicrafters did not make this a plug-in module. It hears everything my modern equipment hears and the audio is comparable. However it is aimed at Amateur Radio so the fidelity is restricted somewhat - if I want better fidelity, I use my SX-62A. The frequency indication is of course analogue but is spring loaded gear driven and bandspread in the usual Hallicrafters philosophy so resetability is quite acceptable and backlash minimal for tuning in faint Morse signals. Finding the edge of the band is facilitated using the 100 Kc Crystal calibrator. Its sensitivity is comparable to my modern receivers but is more pleasant to operate. The STBY switch kills reception, a good thing for PHONE ops but not for CW as most TXs of this era had no sidetone. It could have benefitted from having full breakin featured. The SX-100 is remarkably sturdy compared to lesser offerings like my SX-99 and weighs accordingly a bit more. It is not so compactly layed out that one cannot get in to do any service or repair work. However, if you have to remove the module, pull in hookup wire leads so that the module's leads can be pulled back in along their original path. The "lid filter" works nicely and notches out annoying heterodynes very well. The feel of the controls is typically Hallicrafters, quality and elegance combined with practicality makes for success, and are easy to use. I am loath to modify any classic gear and I will refrain from adding QSK and keep it 100% original. In pursuit of repairing the second mixer above, it was discovered that the screen grid resistor, as well as being open, had never been soldered to the lug. Unfortunately Hallicrafters is like many radio makers now only a fond memory of the peak of American achievement in radio ranking. Their new owners seemed to not understand what it was that made them great, it is a fragile lifeline not well understood by all.
I have never used a better receiver, even though I have an HRO-60 and an AR88-LF which occupy prominent places in my shack. It does all the others do but uses less space without being cramped.
KC0LUL Rating: 5/5 Oct 24, 2006 11:49 Send this review to a friend
SX-100 or SX-71  Time owned: more than 12 months
I did have an SX-100 but it was destroyed by a house fire,my SX-71 survived and it I believe is just as good of a radio as the SX-100.
(Both radios are first rate!)
KA8DLL Rating: 5/5 Oct 24, 2006 11:21 Send this review to a friend
best general coverage radio make by hallicrafters  Time owned: more than 12 months
Best general coverage radio made by Hallicrafters. Second best is an SX122. Variable selectivity and notch filter do a good job on bring in ssb. Very attractive front panel. Geared tuning feels like a precision instrument while tuning. Comes close to a general coverage SX101.
W2XS Rating: 4/5 Jun 9, 2004 23:00 Send this review to a friend
Fun Vintage Radios  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I decided to combine both of these receivers into one review even though they are somewhat different.
The SX-100 was a high-end radio in its day and the S-85 was more low-end, but they both work very well for AM broadcast and short wave listening today. I own and use both of these radios (along with a bunch of other
vintage radios).

These receivers came out in the mid 50's when SSB was in its infancy. They both share a tunable first oscillator system and a fixed second oscillator- unlike the Drakes and Collins that use a tunable second oscillator and a
fixed first oscillator - a big difference in stability and dial calibration. The Drake/Collins approach resulted in a design where all of the bands have the same dial readout. If good CW and SSB reception is wanted for use with a transmitter, then any Drake or the later Collins receivers will win hands down. Neither of these two Hallicrafters has a product detector nor do they have AVC in the CW/SSB modes. The SX-100 would be my choice for a vintage AM station, and the S-85 is a good choice for general SWL use. I like having the general coverage of these types of receivers as opposed to a ham-bands only receiver.

Keep in mind that these tube type receivers will need some maintenance at some time - tube replacements, new electrolytics, etc. Keep an eye out at hamfests and you will be in good shape.
The internet (eBay, e.g.) has loads of tubes too, some NOS. I can keep my Hallicrafters going
for several generations thanks to people selling tubes at reasonable prices (unless BPL wipes us out, that is).

Here is a list of differences and similarities:

General coverage, with calibrated ham-band band-spread tuning.
6SC7 and 6K6 audio amplifier stages - plenty of audio, good sound.
Separate BFO circuit and diode detector (no product detector).
CW/SSB listening with AVC off, AF gain turned up, and RF Gain turned down.
Pretty good sensitivity (even on band 4).
Pretty good dial calibration.
Automatic Noise Limiter (old fashioned).
Automatic Volume Control (useable only on AM).
Variable BFO pitch control for CW.
Tone control.
Large half-round dials.

Double-conversion (1650kHz/50kHz).
L/C filters at 50kHz (like the Drake 2B and R4, R4A, and R4B).
500Hz to 5kHz selectivity - a tiny bit narrow for hi-fi SWL use.
Single-signal selectivity on CW. Good rejection of opposite sideband.
The 50kHz IF section is on a sub-chassis. Very difficult to get to.
Really nice lit-up dial using 4 bulbs.
One RF and three IF stages - a lot of gain!
Antenna trimmer control (for peaking the signal).
Nice S-meter calibrated in S units and microvolts.
Notch filter.
Needs an external speaker.
Very smooth gear-driven dials. Very good re-settability. (Tuning knobs also have scales).
Voltage regulation for better stability.
"Miniature" tubes like the 6BE6 etc.
Criss-crossed front panel that is easily scratched.
Built-in 100kHz calibrator that puts out a strong reference signal.
The SX-96 is similar but without the notch filter (and 1 less IF stage).
The SX-88 is also similar but who has $10K to spend on one.
The S-76 and SX-122 have the same IF frequencies.

Single conversion (455kHz) - some images at higher frequencies.
No selectivity other than the IF transformers and a tone control.
No S-meter (but one can be added externally).
2 bulbs light the dials. Not as brightly lit as the SX-100.
One RF and two IF stages - pulls in a lot of stations (more than my S-38).
Built-in top-facing speaker (works OK - and convenient).
Requires high-impedance headphones (which I don't have).
Slight backlash on the main tuning control (not gear driven).
No voltage regulation (OK for AM listening but CW can sound warbly).
No calibrator.
Uses larger tubes such as the 6SK7.
The SX-99 is similar but has a one-crystal filter, S-meter, and no speaker.

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