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Reviews For: ICOM IC-737

Category: Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - non QRP <5W

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Review Summary For : ICOM IC-737
Reviews: 25MSRP: 1,795
HF Transceiver
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
W3DBB Rating: 2014-10-24
good overall performance Time Owned: more than 12 months.
My IC-737 appears to generate at least 100 Watts CW on the bands I have used it on. On SSB the original hand microphone works OK with the rig, as does a Heil ICM. The built-in automatic antenna tuner lets me drive an older linear amplifier lacking tuned input.

There is some hiss in the received audio but it is not objectionable. The receiver audio is such it requires luck or experimentation when selecting an external speaker. Both the passband tuning and manual audio notch filter are useful features.

This particular IC-737 has the crystal aging problem known to occur in these rigs. It degrades the USB audio on the higher bands. Adjusting the passband tuning may help a bit but the practical solution is to realign the receiver section. This compensates for the problem but doesn't make it completely go away. The technical manual describes the procedure and setup to do this.

Receiver shortcomings are the reason for the "4" rating rather than a "5". It's a good early to mid 1990's rig from Icom.

KD5RVO Rating: 2014-10-23
Solid performance, user friendly Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Got this radio from my dad, KG5BV, after upgrading to general. Have used it on 80 thru 10 meters with solid results. It's possible to operate this radio fully without opening the manual, I like that! Its not a modern contest rig, but that's not what I do. Perfect for hours of ragchewing. If you find a good deal on one, it will not disappoint.
NT4MM Rating: 2012-07-09
Good solid performer Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I've had an IC-736, and the IC-738, which were the successors to this radio. I took a short hiatus recently from radio, and when the bug bit again, looked around for a good second hand radio, and decided to give an IC-737 I came across a try.

Unfortuantely, I don't have a/b comparison tests between it and its sibling radios, the 736 and 738, but based on some past audio recordings compared, and my subjective opinon, it is in the same general class for receiver performance. In fact, the particular IC-737 I have has less audible receiver hiss and receive noise, and seems to have about the same selectivity, which by today's standards is only so-so. That said, it is perfectly adequate for rag-chewing, and most DX hunting. I've alos used it in some recent SSB contests, and with careful use of the pass band tuning control, is usable for casual contesting (a seroius contester will probably want a better 2Khz blocking range).

I have made some limited use of the rig in CW, and this particular model has both 500hz CW filters installed in line. With the filters, the CW receive is actually pretty good and quite usable, although some folks probably will prefer the available 250hz filters.

One thing I have noticed is that, at least in my opinion, the internal tuner in the IC-737 is more robust than the tuners I have used in many other radios at the QTH over the years prior to my hiatus (IC-736, IC-738, FT-950, IC-756Pro, TS-2000). The tuner in this radio will match antennas on frequencies that even an external LDG tuner can't match. It also is reasonably quiet.

One nit I have always had with the 736/737/738 radios is the lack of SSB filter options. There is no optional slot for an additional SSB filter. The stock filter is somewher around 2.1 to 2.3 Khz, but has a little bit of a wide shape factor compared to many aftermarket filters. I think Inrad makes some narrower filters than can be fitted to the radio, but be prepared to shell out some money and have to take some boards out of the radio and do some soldering. Frankly, my two cents on that is that for the money it takes to change out the filter (and lose the decent sounding audio in good conditions from the wider single filter), you could almost get a used IC-746, 756, or maybe a 746Pro (not to mention an FT-920 wihch at least has AF DSP built in to help).

The internal speaker is only so-so as well. I use a center-channel speaker from a retired surround sound system wired to a speaker connector, which provides excellent audio with a peak in the appropriate ranges.

It is almost impossible to sound bad on one of these radios. The stock mic is ok, but I highly recommend using the HEIL ICM microphone. I switched to one, and started getting glowing audio reports even with the speech processor on, and punching through pile-ups annecdotally quicker. I think this mic provies some improved punch without compromising your sound.

The radio does have two antenna ports, which is not terribly common in this second-hand price class. For my money, the attenuator (single position only), AGC, and NB all work well (The NB is OK, not great, but does work OK). The pre-amp is also not terribly noisy, and does a good job.

The radio does not have built in VOX, but mine came with the out-board EX-1514 that provides that capability.

The final nit I have with this radio is that the notch filter is an audio notch, and not an IF notch. This means that even when you notch the annoying tone out of the speaker, you still have it in the IF stages - meaning the AGC is getting "pumped" and can cause desensitization of the receiver front end that an IF nothc would not suffer. Interestingly, the original marketing material from the 1990s for this radio initially listed an IF notch, but apprently it was either a typo or Icom changed its mind.

If you come across one of these in the $300-$400 range, it is probably worth giving a try, especially for a casual radio or beginners ot intermediate radio in the budget-used price class. For those who care about aesthetics, the radio looks good, and has an attractive display. Even the YL likes the look (much better than the F-950 I had, which she thought looked "messy").

I gave it a 4 rating based on what it is today in its own price classon the market. There are some other competitors in the similar price class that have different feature sets. I'd really give it about a 4.2. In its day, for its price class, it probably deserved a 5. Obviously, a used radio in this price range is not fairly comparable to a modern radio in a price class over $1,000, much less $2,000 or more. I do have a lot of fun using this radio, and to be honest, there is very very very little I can not hear or work with proper analog control settings on this radio that I think I could have worked with the FT-950 I had, but of course that is subjective. I certainly can work everything I hear (but that of course is more to the anetnna system, and some to the radio's audio output).

I hope this review is helpful for anyone considering the radio today.
JP1DJV Rating: 2012-05-03
Ordinary Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I bought mine at 220usd. The price is reasonable for its ordinary performance. ANT1/ANT2 selector is useful. Built-in ele-key works OK. The sensitivity is not so bad. Mine has the display problem, but it's not a big deal for me. The only thing I don't like is the noisy rx audio. This is probably a LIKE/DISLIKE problem. My ears are well trained with 80's Kenwood sound,hi. My 5 star rigs are TS-950, 850, 830 and FT-990. Relatively, I rated 737 3-star.
CO1839 Rating: 2012-03-04
this is a good radio. but icom don't make parts for it Time Owned: more than 12 months.
why i give it a 3 is can't get parts for it
NM2K Rating: 2010-09-24
Sorry I sold mine Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I really miss my IC-737. I sold it to buy a Yaesu FT-890, which is a terrific radio. However, the IC-737 was so intuitive to program that I miss it very much. I could do many things with the 737 without referring to the manual. Can't say that about the FT-890/AT.
VE7IEF Rating: 2010-03-09
16 Years of Reliable Use and Great Fun! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
On March 22nd, 2010; it will be 16 years since I bought the Icom 737 from HRO in Portland, OR.
It was my first HF radio. Every time I turn it on, and conditions on the bands are ok, the 737 gives me much pleasure, with good local contacts and lots of DX.
I use it with the stock microphone, so the audio is not powerful, however, the reports I get over the air refer to the quality of my audio as natural, pleasant to hear, and not over driven. I don't have an amplifier, so I've only run the 100 Watts it generates.
With my set up, 4 ele. tribander 60 feet high, if the signal of a DX station is 5/3 and up, with skill, breaking a pile up is not that difficult.
Antenna tuner works great!
Receiver is quite good, although not necessarily stellar.
Full Bk in is a bit noisy, but works great.
The only small "problem" I had with this radio was the Mic gain pot that needed a little cleaning. That's it! Never a serious issue with this excellent radio produced by Icom.
I also have the Icom 706 MKIIG as a mobile, and have great fun with it!
I guess I have not much to add, except to say that this radio is reliable, and will give you good performance!
73 de VE7 IEF
DL5MCQ Rating: 2009-05-04
solid performer Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Have it since 1996. Working flawlessly from 1st day on. Put 250Hz cristal filters in 9 MHz IF and 455 KHz IF which makes it a great cw receiver. Receiver is quiet and excellent anyway. No overload problems on 40m during nighttime. Using SM-8 deskmike the rig is sounding very good on SSB. Automatic antenna tuner is working fine,too. Full-bk is a bit on the noisy side, so I use semi-bk.I don`t care about no VOX for SSB. Transmitter is running cool except excessive FM qsos.
If you need a secondhand solid performer try to catch one. You won`t regret it.

73 Edgar
VE6CPU Rating: 2008-01-14
Great rig Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I've been using the 737 now for 6 months or so. I got it used from an SK. The ease of use is one of the nicest features, especially when your a new ham and would like to just get on the air with out having all the bells and whistles. I've used this rig as my main base for voice and digital (RTTY/PSK). The acc port on the back makes very easy to interface with a computer. I've also used it portable while camping using a simple home made buddy pole and can still get great contacts. The receiver is quiet and easy to notch out unwanted signals. I've never had a complaint on my audio although I have never heard what it sounds like.

If you can find one of these get it. Its a true work horse.
MI1CTQ Rating: 2007-01-05
A solid radio that I'll never sell! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Great performing radio, easy to master and remember where every feature is when needed! All settings except the most obscure are readable at a glance without digging through menus. Works well with HRD except for S meter which doesn't display on PC as it is analogue only. Not a problem as I prefer a needle to any bargraph!
Very stable VFO and good audio reports with HM-36 and SM-20 mics, in shack and mobile. Big clear unambiguous display, fast tuner never fails to match in seconds.
I'd recommend an external speaker for shack use, it's well worth spending a few quid here as results are excellent.