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Reviews For: Elecraft KPA1500 HF+6M Amplifier

Category: Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M

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Review Summary For : Elecraft KPA1500 HF+6M Amplifier
Reviews: 42MSRP: 5,995
The Elecraft KPA1500 is a compact, full-legal-limit, solid-state amplifier designed for reliability and operator convenience. It has the following features: * 1500 watts * 160-6 meters * Space-saving RF deck and separate power supply unit * Fast, silent PIN diode T/R switching * Comprehensive, easy-to-read LCD status display * Fast, bright bar graph displays for power and SWR * Advanced thermal design using two PA devices and very large heat sink * Unique fan control system to minimize noise * Built-in, wide-range antenna tuner with VFO tracking and dual antenna jacks * Extensive remote control capabilities * Compatible with nearly any transceiver
Product is in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
N3ETA Rating: 2018-08-07
No problem here. Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have to admit some of the posts here and on the Elecraft email reflector regarding the high noise level of the KPA1500 had me a bit concerned. Well...Ive had mine for a bit over a month now and I am not experiencing any of the noise problems described. I have the power supply on one side of my K3S system and the Amp on the other side. All of this is right at eye level (Which means it is also at ear level) and I am not experiencing any of the problems I've heard addressed. Granted I'm not running a digital or CW contesting station but I do fill-in for several net controllers , so were not talking just an occasional short transmission. I actually had to go into the menu and turn the fans on just to see what they sounded like. The db level on the amp power supply is almost non-exesistant (Much less than the fan on my AL-80B) and even with the amp fans turned up to the second level the db level; was about the same or maybe less than my AL-80B. Keep in mind it at bench top level not eye level. I felt I had to say something so anyone thinking of buying one for SSB and casual digital and CW work wouldn't be put off by what they're reading. I realize that a large portion of Elecraft users are big time contesters and a lot are digital users, but this is a fantastic Amp and you should not be put off by reports of high noise levels if your not involved in long the duration transmissions involved with some of todays popular modes. In the 5 weeks I've been using mine the Amp fans have only kicked on once and that was level one while winding up a particularly busy SSB net session. I' wouldn't have even noticed except for the fact that I had to reached over for a new pad of paper putting my ear 10" to 12" from the front of the Amp. I'll admit that I'm in my 60's and I'm a retired sound engineer, but my hearing isn't particularly bad. I don't use hearing aids and I don't have to crank up the volume of a TV to hear it. Maybe Elecraft addressed the noise issue before mine was released, but I haven't seen anything on the Elecraft sites alluding to that fact.
I'll dig out a db meter and report back with some hard figures and further thoughts as I've had more time with it but my first impression of this supposed problem is basically confusion. Maybe I'm missing something but I'm extremely satisfied with my KPA1500 and I would urge anyone thinking of buying one to go for it.
K3PA Rating: 2018-07-29
Good amp with a fatal flaw Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Everything you read about the KPA1500 is true. It's a nice, well behaved, high power amp that is fully automatic and easy to deal with. What I cannot understand is the total lack of comment on the fatal flaw of the amplifier. Noise level.

I am accustomed to tube amplifiers. Both my ACOM 2000 and ACOM 1000 are very nearly silent and a pleasure to have in the shack.

The noise from the KPA1500 power supply is already annoying. It alone surpasses the noise I am used to from previous amplifiers.

With the RF deck at its default fan level 0, it is, of course, quiet. At level 1, it is already pretty annoying and well louder than my tube amps. At level 2, which does occur under normal use, it is just not acceptable. I don't know what it takes to get the fan to kick to level 3, 4, or 5, but the fan noise is so high there, you'll think there is a jet in the room. Why is no one noting this? I love Elecraft gear too, but c'mon guys, you need to do A LOT better here. Without my noise cancelling headphones, I could not use this amplifier.

Without reengineering of the fans, and air path sonics, this amp can never be the accepted classic the K3 is. Get back to work, Elecraft.
WC4X Rating: 2018-06-30
Fantasic product Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
The big brown truck showed up yesterday afternoon with my new KPA 1500 S/N 300. It looks like Elecraft is quickly working thru the backlog.

Took a few hours to unpack and do initial testing into dummy load and all went well. Perfect timing---worked the KH1 dxpedition for my first 3 contacts using this amp. (20, 17, and 160 all CW). This amp is a pleasure to use and achieves full legal limit effortlessly and quietly. What a joy!! Integration with the K3s makes operating a real pleasure. For an ultimate station, I do not see how one could beat the K3s/ KPA1500 combination. The K3s digs them out of the noise and the KPA 1500 reels them in. If I could give this amplifier a rating higher than a “5”, I would do so. Expensive---yes. Well worth it---absolutely!!
K9YEQ Rating: 2018-06-26
WOW! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
THis amp is beyond my expectations. Just a few hours of operation... I am a simpleton. I ragchew on 75 and 160. Band condx suck. I have experience with other amps... this one is so far beyond expectations for what I do. I had a THP 2.5 KFX which I sold because it was too heavy for me to move (yes I am getting up their in years and the Co went out of business) so I gave a great deal to a very nice fellow HAM. I then acquired a KPA500, which was very nice. When the KPA1500 came out, I decided to get the extra gain and bought this one. My K3S picks signals out of poor condx, so needed to match my receiver to an amp that would match the situation. Tried it tonight for several hours and whatever I could hear, I could work. On the other end, stations not using K3S's could not hear me on low power, but I could hear them Q5, with the amp we connected. Simple. No issues. No faults. But a very simple setup. Fan noise in my operation... could not hear it. I noted the Power supply was running only by putting my hand above the fan. My shack does have dehumidifier and the receiver has lot of atmospheric noise. This is by far the best in my experience. Hats off to Elecraft for another superb piece of equipment!
K6RIM Rating: 2018-05-16
KPA1500 Hits a Home Run! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
The KPA1500, Elecraft’s new solid state legal limit amp, is exactly the amplifier for which I have been waiting a long time.

It is instant-on, plug and play, compact, lightweight, legal-limit, quiet, robust, perfect QSK - and it includes a lightning-fast built-in antenna tuner! The fit and finish of the KPA1500 is second to none.

In my six decades of hamming, I’ve owned and operated many amplifiers, and hands down, the KPA1500 is by far the best.

The KPA1500 is not my first Elecraft amplifier. I’ve owned a KPA500 for around five years. My positive experience with the KPA500 gave me the confidence to order the KPA1500 sight unseen. The KPA500 has been 100% dependable and trouble-free. Originally, it was purchased to serve as backup for my big-boy Alpha 9500, but very quickly the KPA500 was called upon 95% of the time. I won’t part with the KPA500; it’s now in addition to the KPA1500.

In choosing any radio product, it’s important to consider the support of the manufacturer. Elecraft has a well-deserved reputation for being responsive to its customers. To date, I have not required service from Elecraft, but my questions always received prompt and courteous attention. I have complete confidence in the company.

The new Elecraft KPA1500 was worth the wait!
K1GQ Rating: 2018-04-29
More Remarks Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Fan noise matters to me. My KAT1500 RF Deck is next to my K3, with the power supply in another room. I cannot hear the power supply fans (always running) at all. The three fans in the RF Deck have several temperature-controlled speeds, including off. The first level up from off is loud enough to annoy me without headphones, but actually not much different from the oversized air handler in our home's forced-hot-air heating/cooling system. SoundMeter+ measured 36 dBA with the fans off and 53 dBA with the fans at level 1, with the phone held in front of me at my operating position.

In a slow hour of running EU on CW, with many more CQs than QSOs, the fans spun up at 60C after about 10 minutes. Then the fans toggled between off and level 1, keeping the temperature between 58C and 62C and never reaching the next level up. The passive noise suppression of my headphones was good enough to prevent the fan noise from affecting my ability to copy weak callers. I also noticed that the forward power indicated by the amplifier and two external power meters was consistent throughout the session. I won't admit to owning a microphone; perhaps someone else will remark how whether or not the fan noise is an issue on SSB.

The fans suck air into the back of the RF Deck and force the air out through the top panel and through slots at the front edge of the bottom panel. With the RF Deck tilted up with the bail, the air from the bottom slots wants to flow straight at me -- and can be toasty.

The integration with K3 via AuxBus works flawlessly. The amplifier knows where the radio is going to transmit (even when split) so it can preselect relays as needed. Tapping ATU TUNE puts the K3 in TUNE mode and turns off TUNE mode when the KPA1500 ATU finishes tuning. The BAND buttons on the amplifier change the K3 band; one button tap to change bands is great, and the buttons are arranged with the bands that matter all on the top row in order of increasing frequency -- somebody was thinking about details. Another subtle detail: the brightness of the POWER LEDs various to provide additional resolution in the readout.

When you turn on TECH mode, the number of status screens increases from 2 to 11. There is a lot of information available, but not yet well-documented in the Owner's Manual. There are also quite a few mistakes the Revision A8 manual, including incorrect menu item names and wrong descriptions of the STATUS and MENU button behaviors.

And, love that instant-on (well, maybe 6 seconds).

-- Bill
K7ERQ Rating: 2018-04-14
Elecraft Thank You! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Elecraft has done it again! Congratulations.
My observations on the KPA1500. Serial #76
Quick and Easy Install. The Perfect Desk Top Amp.
Top Quality External Finish and Perfect Packaging.
Easy to understand operating manual. Complete.
Set Up in 10 Minutes, 10 Minutes to Tune Antennas
Seamless operation with K3S, Anan7000DLE, Flex6600
RF Sensed Band switching quick & ready to operate.
Quiet, when Amplifier fans are on, Acceptable!
Love the separate Amplifier & Power Supply Units.
Legal Limit on ALL BANDS with Low Drive Power.
Antenna Tuner Handles 3.0 SWR at Legal Limits.
NO requirement for an External Antenna Tuner.
For years my amplifiers have been SPE 2K-FAs.
one in the home station and one in my remote station. only 1 thing I like about the SPE's better than the KPA1500, SPE's have 6 Antenna connections. In my remote setup that helps.
Other than this feature the KPA1500 is a HIT, out of the park.
AB4IQ Rating: 2018-02-23
Great Product Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have used the KPA1500 (Serial #29) now for two weeks and am really impressed. It bolts my K3S together like I have legal limit transceiver. I made a couple of hundred RTTY contacts last weekend and the fans never turned on running close to the legal limit. It's kind of scary when you key down and don't hear a thing but the LED's are swinging to the right and putting out power.

The memory functions are excellent and once I trained the tuner on the different antennas the operation is seamless even selecting the proper antenna port for the antenna just by changing the frequency on the rig. All I can really say is that Elecraft did an excellent job of listening to their customers and hope that they sell a ton of them.

The separate Power Supply is nice and identical in size of the RF Deck. The fans on the Power supply run all the time but are not very loud. I place mine away from the operating table so I don't even hear them.

The equipment came in one nicely packed box and each piece had it's own box inside and the whole thing including the shipping containers were only 54 pounds total.
W9KNI Rating: 2018-01-25
Solid State Power Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I received my KPA1500 a week ago. As reported by earlier reviews here, it was exceptionally well packed. The amplifier is very simple to set up, especially with the Elecraft K3 and the KPAK3AUX data cable which tightly integrates the K3 and the PA1500. But, most or all front line transceiver from other makers will integrate almost as closely; allowing full automatic band tracking. The amplifier manual includes drawings of cable hook-ups making for easy set-up with any transceiver. Data cables for other rigs should be available shortly.

The QSK is flawless, a delight to use for CW. The antenna tuner is very unobtrusive, and easily and quickly set up. Uploading firmware updates is simple and quick, with the required USB cable included. The amplifier is rather quiet; except in heavy competition the fans hardly run at all. A 12 volt line from a switched transceiver outlet can be connected to the amplifier with the benefit that the amplifier will power up automatically when the transceiver is turned on.

Once the amplifier is installed, getting it “dialed in” is quick and mostly intuitive. The manual offers clear and concise instruction. The main issues are correctly setting the drive level for each band and if needed setting the antenna tuner memories. That’s all there is to it.

Bottom line - this is a solid, well designed piece of equipment that is easy and intuitive to use, and is going to be around for a long time.

N6PSE Rating: 2018-01-18
Spectacular new Amp! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I'm happy to echo what Rick-N6XI and Ed-W0YK have written about the KPA1500.

It is truly "plug and play" even with my Flex-6500 transceiver. This amp puts out 1500 watts
with very low drive power. The tuner is quite robust and easily tunes my 80/160 meter antennas.

The fit and finish on this amp is superb. It is very well constructed and designed.

The amp came very well packaged from the factory and Elecraft has been very quick & responsive to
answer any questions that I had.

I've owned many amplifiers and this one is simply the best. Its a thrill to be running the KPA1500 in the N6PSE shack!

Paul N6PSE