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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | Hallicrafters S-53A Help

Reviews Summary for Hallicrafters S-53A
Hallicrafters S-53A Reviews: 6 Average rating: 4.3/5 MSRP: $$90.00
Description: General Communications Receiver. 540Khz to 54.5Mhz in 5 bands.
Product is not in production.
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KZ4B Rating: 4/5 Mar 6, 2016 12:58 Send this review to a friend
Quality compact SWL (but very poor Communication) Receiver.  Time owned: more than 12 months
The S-53A was my only Receiver as a Novice and beginning General back in 1959 and also served for SWLing for several years before and after that.

I rate the S-53A a 5+ as a high-end but entry-level SWL Receive--being very compact with built-in quality speaker, attractive silver/grey metal enclosure with hinged lid, quality chromed toggle switches, and an all-round professional build quality. Performance-wise it has a transformer type power supply with two 455 KC IF (with no RF) Amplifier(s) and very adequate almost 2 Watts of Low Distortion Audio Output. Sensitivity is more than adequate (with a good outdoor antenna)--but with no RF Amplifier, Image Rejection is especially bad above 80 Meters. For SWLing the Image Problem is not generally as bad as for ham radio communications use.

As a Communications Receiver it rates only a 2 or 3 at best. The handy built-in speaker is fine on AM--but causes additional drift (due to vibration) on CW and SSB (where excessive drift is a problem already). The BFO has marginal injection level with NO variable pitch/frequency control. Selectivity is as broad as a barn door with no narrow filtering of any kind. Therefore, SSB reception is abysmal. The S-53A covers 6 Meters, but Excessive Drift and Image Problems (when there is band activity) render operation virtually useless.

Please see my review of the Hallicrafters SX-99 (Listed under Vintage Amateur Receivers) for more detail regarding a comparison of the (minimally acceptable for Communications purposes) SX-99 and the totally inadequate for same S-53A.
K2PJW Rating: 5/5 Oct 4, 2015 14:20 Send this review to a friend
Good Rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
The S53A is a good little rig. It has very pleasant audio that still surprises me.

The thing I really like is being able to lift up the hinged top to change tubes or do an alignment.

I bought a used S53A many years ago and it was my first "real" SWL and ham receiver. For some reason I sold that one with a bunch of other equipment many years ago. Recently I found another one in decent condition and I am now once again enjoying the S53A.

I highly recommend this receiver to anyone that wants a vintage tube AM/SWL receiver. The S53A is a joy and a lot of fun to operate.
N8XI Rating: 5/5 May 8, 2014 05:07 Send this review to a friend
Great Xmas gift!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Received one for a Christmas gift in 1957 from my uncle. Heard two locals on 75M AM.
One was Ed W8JDZ (SK) who I looked up in the old paper Flying Horse call book. Surprisingly, he lived close to my school ten miles away :)
After a visit to his house he had me find an old B&W TV, which became my 6V6/807 XTAL controlled XMTR.

Anyway it was a very nice RCVR for the time.
If I had a chance I would like to rebuild my old Novice station using the S-53A RCVR and a 35W homebrew XMTR...
K7HZN Rating: 4/5 May 7, 2014 16:13 Send this review to a friend
Memories of years past  Time owned: more than 12 months
I ordered one of these receivers in 1955 from Sears. When I got my novice ticket, this rx and a Globe Chief comprised my first ham station.

I did a lot of swling in those years as well. The old Hallicrafters gave me a lot of pleasure until I traded up to a Hammarlund HQ-110C.

Couple of years ago, I found one in great shape on ebay and bought it. It brings back memories of my early ham years and does a decent job as a general coverage receiver for AM broadcasts.
KC7SBQ Rating: 4/5 Jan 18, 2011 20:33 Send this review to a friend
The S-53A an under rated general coverage receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have heard many talk of the S-53A in a negative way. I have owned my S-53A since 1977. All these years it has been a pleasing radio to listen to. I have used it over the decades for what it was intended, listening in AM mode on the Shortwave broadcast bands and AM band. The reviews always seem to malign the radio for its lack of active BFO so it will not receive an SSB signal. However it has good sensitivity and it has great fidelity. It has 6 meter capability, but I have never used it. I argue it is a great radio for just general listening pleasure. The S-53 series are also reasonably priced on the used market, a plus for the budget conscious radio enthusiast who wants a nice looking, good sounding general coverage tube receiver for not a lot of money.
WI2Q Rating: 4/5 Aug 27, 2006 10:14 Send this review to a friend
Great collector Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Radio is a gem from circa 1951 - 1959. Good stability for it's time and great sound. Has the standard compliment of tubes -- 6BA6 x3 (MIXER, 1st & 2nd IF AMPS); 6H6 DETECTOR; 6C4 OSCILLATOR; 6K6GT AF OUTPUT; 6CS7 AF AMP and BFO; and 5Y3GT RECTIFIER. Another great company that has fallen prey to progress. It brings back lots of good memories from childhood... late night DX'ing. Is very sensative and selective, especially in the AM Broadcast Band. It's a great receiver on 80 meters as well. Stick a G5RV on this puppy and it comes ALIVE!!!!

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