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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | Sony ICF-6500W Help

Reviews Summary for Sony ICF-6500W
Sony ICF-6500W Reviews: 5 Average rating: 3.6/5 MSRP: $240
Description: The Sony ICF-6500W digital portable covers five bands: 0.53-1.605, 3.9-10, 11.7-20 and 20-28 MHz plus FM broadcast band. This double conversion portable has an analog dial and a digital display that is accurate to 5 kHz on shortwave. The controls are very intuitive, blending the best of analog and digital technologies. Advanced features include: Mini Headphone Jack, S-Meter, Tone Control, Sensitivity Switch, Carry Strap, FM AFC, BFO for VW/SSB reception, External Antenna terminals, Dial Lock, Dial Lamp, Dial Lamp Switch and two Manual Tuning Rates.
Product is not in production.
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N0TLD Rating: 4/5 Jan 4, 2018 04:01 Send this review to a friend
Solid and fun  Time owned: more than 12 months
I would have given this a 3 rating, as reception is fine but just middle-of-the-road, so to speak... but the fun factor bumps it up to a 4, I think.

What's fun (to me, anyway) is the bandswitching system. It's fairly unique for most portables at the time, certainly for most Sony portables at the time -- like a solid state Zenith TO, the bandswitch turns a display drum to scroll up or down to get to the band you want.

It has a somewhat useless dial light. WHY did so many manufacturers think ONE single bulb placed, un-aimed, in the middle of a radio between the dial and the S meter would be at all adequate? In this case it's pretty dumb, as it doesn't quite illuminate everything, and certainly not evenly.

But that's not a big deal, just a quirk of mine.

Performance is on par with most of the portables of its size, price point and era. Like the more modest Panasonic radios of the time, this one has decently sensitive, selective FM, though it doesn't quite capture the closest groups of signals as the Panasonic Command series does very well (RF2200, 2600, etc.).

MW/AM is not as sensitive, and I wouldn't really want to use it for amateur SSB on the HF bands because it is, like others of its era, quite drifty, but SW otherwise is fine, and a 15' to 20' hank of wire clipped to/wrapped around the whip antenna makes it even better. For SW program listening of moderately solid signals it's as good as any radio in it class.

I wouldn't use it for MW DXing, as it is not sensitive enough and a little wide-open in the bandwidth filter department.

But it's a nice radio with a fun display and nice audio, and if you can find one for a reasonable price(less than $100USD or thereabouts) you might have a little fun with it.
JAYMOT Rating: 4/5 Dec 21, 2015 01:16 Send this review to a friend
Pretty good tabletop radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I picked up one of these in the '80s from a camera store (of all places) in downtown Seattle. At the time I also owned a Kenwood R-5000 with aftermarket filters and a Sony ICF-SW1 set. My favorites of those three, in order, were the Kenwood, the 6500W and the SW1 with the 6500 being a close second. I actually listened to the 6500 as much as I did the Kenwood.

There were some gaps in coverage between the SW bands (of which there were three, if I recall correctly) that didn't matter much for general SW broadcast listening or even trying to pick up utes, hams or numbers stations as the coverage was adequate.

The only included accessory was a wall-wart power supply. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack and a pair of screw terminals for an external antenna, though that isn't really needed in most locations for casual broadcast listening. Connecting it to an external antenna didn't overdrive the radio, in my experience.

It has a slide-rule analog dial which physically rotates when you switch between bands, which is interesting. The tuning knob defaults to coarse tuning but if you pull on it you get an audible "click" when it locks into place, and then you have fine tuning which is (again, going from memory) about 1/10th the speed of course tuning: perfectly adequate for SSB.

There's no selection for USB/LSB/CW, just BFO on or off. I seem to remember that there were two bandwidth settings, wide and narrow, but I may be thinking of a sensitivity switch.

Tuning was a bit more fiddly on the 6500 than the R-5000, but it didn't take very long to tune in to a ham or ship-to-shore conversation on sideband. I don't recall that drifting was a problem as some reviews mention. Maybe my unit was just a bit more stable than theirs.

The R-5000 (of course) fared better at pulling in weak signals than the 6500, but for general-purpose SWLing the Sony worked perfectly well even without an external antenna. I lived in Seattle at the foot of Queen Anne Hill at the time, so bleed-over from strong broadcast stations was a problem on some radios I'd tried, such as a Sangean from Radio Shack: DX440, I think it was) but this was never an issue on the Sony.

While technically a portable, I would class the 6500W as more of a "luggable", especially when it contained its full compliment of batteries (6 C cells, I believe.) Not something you'd want to take backpacking, but fine for car camping, picnics or trips to the beach. Speaking of which, one sunny afternoon I was lying in a small park at the top of Queen Anne hill, sunbathing and snoozing while listening to the Sony on headphones. A tour bus full of Japanese tourists pulled up and stopped. Soon, I noticed that I was in shadow. I looked up to find myself surrounded by smiling Japanese men bowing and taking pictures of me, while their wives stood off to the side laughing and shaking their heads as if to say, "Oh, these men!" I never did find out what that was all about as they left soon after. Weird.

While the 6500W is monaural only, even on FM, the audio from that large front speaker is quite good. It even sounds better if you connect the headphone jack to an amplified speaker and really pumps out the volume with no apparent distortion.

Mine had a few minor issues. Right after purchase I noticed that one or two segments of the digital frequency LED display weren't working but as this was only in the least-significant digit it didn't really matter. Later, a daughter board inside came loose and was rattling around (the radio still worked though.) As I couldn't figure out how to fix it properly I just stuffed an old sock inside to hold it in place. :) Later, the antenna started getting floppy and wouldn't stay upright, and it eventually broke. I just replaced it with a slightly longer antenna from Radio Shack.

If anyone reading this has an ICF-6500W with an antenna that sticks out slightly beyond the side of the radio, and opens it up to find an athletic sock inside, it used to be mine! I owned mine for around 20 years and wish I still had it.
WB9YCJ Rating: 3/5 Dec 1, 2010 09:41 Send this review to a friend
Closed out at $99. SSB/CW drifty  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Very good portable with good audio for amplitude modulation reception on medium wave and shortwave. Nice digital readout.

Noticable drift / unstable on SSB/CW.

>>>>> Closed out retail at $99. <<<<<

Dont let anyone on ebay tell you its "high end".

Degen 1103, Eton / Grundig G5 more ssb/cw stable for less $$.
AE6ZW Rating: 3/5 Nov 30, 2010 17:34 Send this review to a friend
Decent RCVR  Time owned: more than 12 months
this is my first shortwave radio I bought in 1984 ? in Japan.
I listen to many shortwave radio station and trying to learn English with it.
I also monitor many commercial SSB, and CW, as well as Ham
back then shortwave radio were heavly used.
Frequency counter is great, it has adjustable BFO to adjust for USB or LSB.
if you are looking for good shortwave radio today, I would suggest to buy one amateur radio tranceiver with DSP IF, they have much beter noise removing capability.
MKANG Rating: 4/5 Apr 28, 2010 00:47 Send this review to a friend
Good Compact Portable  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is my 3rd Sony vintage portable after 5900W & 6800W. Under-rated unit now from early 80's.

An ideal compact featuring FM/MW/SW 1-3 bands in it's heyday. Covering most popular shortwave metre bands from 75, 60, 49, 41, 31, 25, 19, 16, 13 & 11 etc.

Unique design with central speaker position covered with wire mesh grille and rotating slide rule scale for band switching.

Simple to use by dual speed dial with LCD frequency readout.

Very quite background with cell battery. Good speaker sound especially on FM. Listening to SW & MW is pleasant with minor drifts.

Unique package with very good built quality,hard plastic casing with metallic and strong whip antenna. Get one now before it's gone!

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