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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | Drake SW 8 Help

Reviews Summary for Drake SW 8
Drake SW 8 Reviews: 14 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $New Price: $589-799 Used Price:
Description: World Band Shortwave Receiver with FM and Aircraft Bands.
Product is not in production.
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W2WHT Rating: 5/5 Oct 29, 2018 01:41 Send this review to a friend
Well worth the price  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought this SW8 on our favorite auction site and I thought I did rather well at $375 shipped. It arrived and looked better than the pictures portrayed it to be. I received a quality aftermarket wall wart as well for the 9 volts it would need.

I tried it out inside the commercial building where I received it on the rod antenna and I was pleasantly surprised at its ability in both fm and am. I tried SW but the building I was in was less than conducive to SW signals to get inside.

When I got it home I tried it on my vertical 10-80 meter antenna and the radio came alive. I found the ssb reception to be stable and the filters built in worked pretty well. International broadcasts came in clear and the sync on the am was helpful on the more marginal signals.

The sound was full and while clear, it was not hi fidelity. There were not many highs with the internal speaker and I have yet to try an external full range speaker so maybe things are better than it would seem.

I have not bothered with the 6 d cells and probably will never do that. I have read that the radio will operate on 9.6 volts so if I wanted to build an NiMH battery pack for it that I could recharge it would make more sense than using carbon zinc batteries and throwing them away.

Outside of my ham transceivers, this is my go to radio. It is solid and feels like the quality radio that it is. If you are looking for a bench mark standard quality receiver and can find one of these in good shape and at a good price, you will not be disappointed.
WB8UHZ Rating: 4/5 Nov 25, 2016 12:07 Send this review to a friend
good  Time owned: more than 12 months
The Grundig Satellite 800 is an SW8 inside for a good deal less money. Both were designed by Drake but the Grundig was a commercial venture for Grundig and the radio was made by Tuscan a weak link for sure, some are good others had poor quality control like so much cheap Chinese junk that we still buy.

The SW8 was developed and designed by Drake and made by Drake.
KC6RCM Rating: 5/5 Feb 7, 2014 23:35 Send this review to a friend
It's a Charmer.  Time owned: more than 12 months
I purchased my Drake SW8 new, along with the optional blue carrying case in 2000. What it offers: A general coverage receiver from 100 KHz to 30 MHz with an excellent-performing synchronous selectable sideband. The aviation (118-136 MHz) and FM broadcast (88-108 MHz) bands are also included in a handsome metal constructed case. I have my unit on a table in my bedroom and it is in use every evening seeking aviation and shortwave broadcasts. In the morning it wakes me up to my favorite FM station with music and local news. To its credit, it has not experienced any mechanical issues to date. With the two useful on-off timer functions, its overall build quality and reliability along that it was made in the U.S.A., I give it a 5 rating for "great"... it's a charmer.

If one is expecting this receiver to pull out those faint NDB signals beneath the other stronger "pest signals" on the same or nearby frequency in the longwave spectrum, forget it. For that you will need an expensive, "commercial grade" receiver for those duties. For the casual hobbyist who has more modest expectations, it will offer the listener rich sounding AM/FM broadcast, aviation band and shortwave performance in a handsome enclosure. With the lack of more complicated and sometimes seldom used features, it is easy to use and program. When coupled to an appropriate outside antenna, you will be surprised of this receivers potential.

Passport to World Band Radio, 2001, page 125, did an in-depth and comprehensive comparison of the SW8 and the Grundig Satellit 800. The SW8 had the slight edge, mainly for its overall construction and consistent build quality. If you're serious about a late model SW8, you may want to check into that review.
DXTUNER Rating: 3/5 Jan 1, 2013 10:57 Send this review to a friend
I expected better sensitivity for the price.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I owned one of these, but sold it. I'd best describe the SW-8 as a good tabletop-type radio for general listening. Its 100% stable, the frequency readout is pinpoint accurate and the audio sounds good, but it just lacked oomph (!) in the signal gain department. I felt disappointed there, especially considering the ~ $400 price this radio sells for.

I wouldn't recommend the SW-8 if you're wanting to Dx for weak or distant signals. To have around the house as a good radio then sure, but you shouldn't have to pay a high price for such a thing.
K2VI Rating: 5/5 Dec 3, 2009 17:07 Send this review to a friend
excellent recieve excellent design  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have a 8d ser# which is 1998 with the upgrades. I purchased it from a person who sold it for a silent key. box manual ect. It looks like he never took it out of the box.Im overjoyed to aquire one in brand new condition.The radio has a beutiful warm sound and it hears everything down to s-1 and the sync locks on very weak AM signals.This radio will always be in the shack.Great radio drake.
NI6S Rating: 5/5 Oct 22, 2006 00:54 Send this review to a friend
Poor Man's R8B  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I'd always wanted an R8B, but with their used prices these days, it's more than I wanted to spend. Plus I have too many receivers as it is, so it would've been hard to justify. I therefore decided on an SW-8 because it represented a good compromise and best bang for the buck. When hunting for one, however, I discovered how difficult they are to find, especially in good condition. Plus, >1996 copies are nearly impossible to locate, as people tend to want to hang on to them. I finally resorted to Ebay and got one for the going rate (~$400). The seller indicated that "the pilot light did not work" and that the whip antenna "could be pulled out of its socket." In preparation for these anomolies, I contacted Drake for a replacement whip ($15) and John Kriner (Drake Tech) for misc parts. Had to get these before they became extinct. Once I got the receiver, I switched out the antenna, followed the Drake troubleshooting guide on cleaning the LCD display contacts (on the Drake website), and changed out the knobs, which improved the cosmetic appearance. I've read reviews that cite "cheap knobs, etc." I disagree, as the knobs are metal and the PTO knob appropriately weighted, as this is afterall, a portable. The performance is outstanding and the synch detection holds its lock well. The tone knob makes a difference and the stock speaker is adequate. The bandwidths are good and do especially well in SSB mode, where you can listen, using the 6 kHz bandwidth! I find this receiver to have a decent front end and is a good performer on the Tropical bands (60/90m), even using just the whip antenna. The Air Band is neat, though the squelch control on the rear leaves something to be desired, as it's inconvenient to access. Overall, I am quite happy with the purchase and am thankful that a few parts are still available from Drake and other third party sources. But get those parts while they last! Drake is no longer servicing this radio, so I imagine replacement parts will not be around for long. If you've always wanted an R8B but don't want to shell out the $$$, go for the SW-8 and be sure to get a 1996 or later build, as it has all the factory revisions and updates. Good luck and e-mail me if you have any questions. 73 de Ed, NI6S(
VR2AX Rating: 5/5 Feb 16, 2006 05:51 Send this review to a friend
Swansong  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought mine new from Universal Radio in 1997, new model with synchronous am detector. I still have it, now at my GW qth. My first experience with the synch which seems to work. It's a Drake and therefore, by definition, 'great' (5++!). Objectively, as far as I can, a really fine sensitive and selective shortwave communications receiver, with the added benefit of airband. Top cover seemed to be of dubious quality, faded in the sunlight when left on my desk for a year or two in the living room. At first I thought someone had spilled talcum powder on it, anyhow the cover faded slightly in colour for whatever reason. No modern polish that I will dare to apply removes it so I suspect a chemical chnage in the paint. I would put it head to head with my IC-R9000 and expect the synch to make a difference in convenience when listening to sigs under high QSB. But heck, who expects hi fi quality from shortwave. Nevertheless for sentimental reasons mainly, this must be a 5.
WPE9JRL Rating: 4/5 Apr 22, 2005 08:49 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio With a Few Exceptions  Time owned: more than 12 months
I owned one of these for about two years. I bought one of the "later" SW-8's with the SELECTABLE SIDEBAND sync detection and expanded Long Wave coverage down to 100KHz. It is an extremely good performer on HF and MW just using the built-in antenna....that was a real surprise. No other portable that I have owned since can live up to that.

The sync detector firmly locks onto fading AM carriers and provides superb audio. FM Broadcast band sensitivity and overload immunity was excellent. It is really, a nice radio. I can see why Grundig picked up the design and cloned it as their Satellit 800.

Some problems that always bugged me about the radio: The squelch control works on the Aircraft Band only...the control is on the rear of the radio and the squelch action was poor, producing pops when squelch is broken with an incoming signal. The tuning knob is cheesey, unweighted and has a "tight" feel much like all of the Drake receivers of this vintage. The display started going bad on mine. I had to remove the LCD display and clean the edge contacts to make it work again 100% (don't try this at home, a very delicate procedure). It eats batteries like a pig. Good quality alkailine D-cells only lasted about 6-10 hours of use. As a portable, beware of this. The AC adapter is large and clunky.

I sold the radio after two years of use mainly due to the fact that it ate batteries so rapidly and I was afraid that the display would go bad again.

Overall, an excellent performer. Built in the USA, one of the last consumer SW portables made within our borders. Pleasure to use and listen.....despite annoying quirks. If Drake was commited to any longevity in its manufacture of this radio, I'm sure we would have seen a SW-8A and SW-8B that incorporated upgrades to correct a few of the quirks. Unfortunately, the SW market did not (apparently) support this. We all know where R.L. Drake sits now in the communications recevier market: RIP
MMAGHAKIAN Rating: 5/5 Aug 5, 2003 20:02 Send this review to a friend
supurb radio for the money  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned an SW-8 for about a year now and the only radios that compare are the R-8B and Satellit 800. the 8B cost a lot more and the 800 is quite large. The Sync detector is nothing short of incredible. I have owned about 100 radios in the past 25 years. most can't hold a candle to the SW-8. HOWEVER YOU MUST GET THE ONE WITH SELECTABLE SIDEBAND SYNC DETECTOR. serial number beginning with 6 or higher.
WB8ETHJR Rating: 5/5 Apr 13, 2003 06:02 Send this review to a friend
A serious choice  Time owned: more than 12 months
I am an SWL (son of a silent key- hence the "JR") and have been one since the late 80's when I got my hands on an old S-38c.

The SW-8 (later version with sideband selectable sync) is a well build rig- this thing screams quality ! I have one for my main receiver and love it. While it many not have every single possible feature- the features it does have work almost without flaw. The Sync detector is very forgiving and will lock onto weak and off-tuned signals (off-tuning with a sync detector and a narrow filter setting can salvage many a QRM laiden signal).

If you are looking for a great revceiver- BUY IT !

Mine had no birdies or anything like that- just the odd "churp" when spinning the tuner fast.
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