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Reviews For: ICOM IC-735

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

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Review Summary For : ICOM IC-735
Reviews: 124MSRP: 849.95
Compact HF Xcvr
Product is not in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
ZL2AUA Rating: 2023-09-24
A great little rig Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought mine new in 1986, installed it on a yacht and sailed it half-way round the world. The only problem it gave was the connection from the final board to the SO239 breaking. The only wire I could find on board of exactly the right diameter to take the tiny toroid was the centre wire of a rubbish bag tie – so I have been talking rubbish ever since...
A couple of years ago it developed the trimmer problem, and a couple of the dial lights died – the usual problems. Now that's all fixed, it's good for another twenty years, I hope. Incidentally, I have never replaced the internal battery.
I now use a bhi NES10-2 DSP speaker with it, and that has made a big difference to the receive audio on SSB. It's much quieter, and noticeably better on low signals.
If I ever win Lotto I might get a more powerful rig – but I'll certainly hang onto the dear old 735, dated though it is.
Update, 24 September 2023. Well, though I have yet to win Lotto I have in fact bought another rig, an IC7410, but I keep the dear old 735 as a back-up. Since writing the above review I have had to replace the internal battery, which is not too difficult to do. I have sold the NES10-2 speaker, as I now use a Heil headset for both radios. The cooling fan packed a sad and the agents couldn't get a replacement. But I found that the fan shaft has a tiny o-ring on it that had moved against the casing of the motor, thus preventing the fan from starting. Moving it to its proper place fixed the problem. And despite its age, the 735 behaves perfectly with my new SPE amp, which has two inputs. So I am still very fond of the old thing.
KC3NHE Rating: 2020-09-16
A fantastic starter rig, and a great backup rig too Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I picked this rig up used as my first HF rig a little over a year ago. Paid $275 from a fellow club member and considered that to be a fair price with the matching power supply. I’ve come to realize that was a deal as the rig was used for CW/RTTY most of its life. It has all the usual flaws such as the encoder issue and the need for an alignment. It does not affect performance in any way as I get consistently strong DX reports. A fair price on these is in the $200-300 range when needing the routine repairs such as trimmer caps and alignment. You won’t find a door anywhere for it nor will find the optical encoder for the VFO. If it works and is in the right price range buy it, the HM-12 mic that comes standard has up/down buttons for VFO so the knob is almost unnecessary. I have two HF rigs now and this is my go to, I’ll work it until it dies and then rebuild it and work it again.

If you’re a SWL/AM DX’er this rig can’t be beat, I run mine with a Grundig loop for AM and sensitivity is super deep. I pull stations out of the noise that I can’t get otherwise, some as low as 50w
WB0RXL Rating: 2020-09-08
Great beginner or secondary rig Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Purchased used from EBay under $ 200 several years ago. Installed the electronic keyer and CW narrow filter. Rig has been solid performer. It sounds good and receive audio is great. Audio via the headphones and internal speaker is good. I use it primarily for data communications and with proper grounding have had no RF issues. Solid radio.
W1RC Rating: 2020-05-20
Best HF Solid State Radio.... Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Great iconic HF transceiver with general coverage receiver for very short money. No menus! Also they are repairable but finding parts may be an issue. Plenty of great features. I have had one since the mid-1980s. Currently I have two.

Known problems include the VCO trimmer caps need replacement, the digital encoder LEDs go South and the ubiquitous missing plastic door. Notwithstanding, a super basic radio that is easy to use and has all the right features.

KD8ZKW Rating: 2020-02-04
very pleased with this rig Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
ive had this radio for about a week and have had good audio reports and thats with a junk Chinese mic from ebay....I got the radio off ebay for 300.00 it has been worth the money so far.i have a yaesu ftdx 1200 and i ended up liking the icom ic 735 more so far,.its a simple to use rig and i like simple.
K0INN Rating: 2019-09-10
Man, I'm a happy camper! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
So I'm thinking about getting an older rig to play around with. I already have a KW TS590S (great rig by the way), but I wanted something older and a simpler for the heck of it.

I see this IC-735 on eBay. A ham is selling it for a SK's widow. There are links to several YouTube videos of the rig transmitting and receiving. The first video proves that the rig transmits full power on all bands. When I hear the audio of the rig receiving SSB and CW, it sounds great! At that point I knew I wanted it. I checked the reviews on the rig here and then pulled the trigger. I paid about 350 bucks including shipping which I thought was a good deal since shipping is rather expensive these days.

I get the package and the rig is packed very carefully with brochure, owners manual, QST review copy, and schematic.

This rig is very handsome to my eyes. It's pristine except for a few very light scratches on the left side of case. I've since used some car wax on the scratches and they have pretty much disappeared.

So, does it work? Yes, it works FB. I've checked every function and I can't find any faults. I suspect the radio was not used much by previous owner. I've made about 20 CW and SSB contacts in the past two days with good reports on both. I suspected the rig might be off frequency or need alignment, but, it's either spot on or very close according to CW reverse beacon network. The receive audio is great. I love the analog S meter. There's one sentence in the owners manual about using the passband tuning to reduce the audio bandwidth to 800hz for CW. That works very effectively if you don't have an optional CW filter.

I'm a CW op and the rig has decent full break in and the relay is not obtrusive.

If I had started on HF with one of these rigs, I probably would not have purchased a newer one. My TS590S in comparison is kind of like a computer running HF. The IC-735 is like a true HF rig that has everything you really need to do HF and you use operator skill to do the automated things the newer rigs typically do.
AG5ND Rating: 2019-01-25
Simple, super radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I've had this radio for eight years. I bought it used for $300. Since then, I've logged thousands of contacts with it all over the world. SSB and digital are easy using the IC-735.

If you want a good, easy to use, reliable radio that doesn't have twenty menus to configure, this will fill the bill. AG5ND
AA7BI Rating: 2018-07-20
High Performance and Durable Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Picked one up a "non-smoker" for $200 that had spent years in a tractor-trailer rig in Canada un-garaged, outdoors in extreme cold. Looked kind of worn and dirty. I had to fashion a new on/off switch out of Bakelite before it hissed to life. Cleaned up the exterior as best I could and stuck it in my car with a 4' Opek OVT-600 mobile antenna.

Much to my surprise, this old, abused relic immediately racked up the first station I heard, an S51, with a report of 59+20 on the first try. And that wasn't a freak accident, as every day thereafter, if the band was halfway open, I enjoyed a QSO on my 20 minute drive to work, mostly with Europe and Oceania.

Controls are intuitively laid out, and most of it is set-and-forget, so one need not be distracted from driving. It is ever so slightly smaller than most standard rigs and thus fits nicely at the bottom of the armrest of my old Buick.

Then I discovered my two much newer Kenwoods at home were double-conversion while the IC-735 I had stuck in the old car was a triple-conversion. Ugly as it is in its worn appearance, it's probably the best radio I now have. Go figure.

My first Icom. One must take such quality seriously. I am impressed!
VK2JEM Rating: 2017-07-25
a keeper Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
Picked one up at a fair price. Needed the caps redone and a tune up. Once I did that its a sweetheart.
I rarely transmit as im more of an SWL/DXer but enjoy the occasional ragchew or CQDX call. This does all i need and has a permanent home in my shack.

Same size as a R75 or 718 very similar performance as R71A on receive. Yes the little buttons and sliders are fiddly, but i have thin fingers. I really like it!

And I love how it looks with its green display and smokey plastic door. I think its very handsome and does all i need. AS long as it keeps going I cant see myself buying another HF TXer.

N2MDV Rating: 2017-07-22
A surprising AM performer! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This rig isn't actually mine, but my brother-in-law's. He was a fan of my IC-745, and he regretted getting rid of an IC-R71A receiver. A mutual friend of ours had an IC-735, and was the same friend where we've bough an IC-745 and the IC-R71A earlier, so he bought it. (Forgot what he paid in the late 1990's for it.) Anyway, my bro-in-law asked me to put it on my test bench and put it through its paces, since I have the test gear and various antennas set-up. I've found the RX side not bad at all, not as sensitive as my IC-745, but kicks butt over the stock sensitivity that today's lower priced, and mid-priced, rigs have today with preamp off. Having the preamp is actually another +20dB additional. (I miss that on today's rigs since Preamp ON with most newer rigs is what was the stock sensitivity of most of these older rigs.) Being a late 80's rig, it has 1/2 the controls in a flimsy door enclosure with those 80's style slide POT's for NB Level, RF Gain, RF Power, VOX Gain / Delay, and MIC Gain, that are very tiny and kind of difficult to fine adjust those. (If you have really small fingers, then not as much of an issue for you. And myself, I was never a fan of slid POT's on audio mixers and stereos, so that includes amateur gear as well. Just my take here being a rotatory POT fan.) One of my biggest complaints about Icoms is RX audio. An Icom, sounds like an Icom, sounds like an Icom. TX SSB audio was punchy, with the COMP (Audio compression on.), and fine for working DX pile-ups and quick QSO's, but certainly not enjoyable for rag chews. I found the RX SSB audio very mediocre. (OK for utility station monitoring and quick QSO's, but certainly not good to listen to rag chews and music.) To my surprise, AM is a different story here. The RX audio sounds very natural and the bass has surprisingly nice tight sound to it when listening to MW, music SW, or those broadcast quality guys on 3885kHz AM. An EXT speaker is needed to appreciate this as the top mounted internal 1.5" speaker is more like an HT quality. On Kenwood radios, I use Radio Shack Nova-15 speakers to bring out their audio quality, and a Nova-15 on the IC-735's speaker output on a good sounding AM station sounds very pleasant with nice sounding tight bass response that rivaled the Kenwoods. TX audio was another surprise here. Someone previously set the AM Carrier to 40W. There's a Phillips head POT setting to adjust that in the rear of the rig, and I set it to below 25W, and added a decent sounding mic with good bass response, and this rig put out some surprising decent sounding AM TX audio. (Probably could have sounded even sounded better if I had used an EQ, but still a nice to know for you AM fans out there.) FM, sounded nice and crisp on both RX and TX. For 10M FM repeater you can use the dual VFO, A for RX, B for TX, to set-up your repeater splits. However, no CTCSS PL tone set-up here, but then again very few HF rigs had that back then. Most likely, you can set that up with an after market CTCSS board. On 29.600MHz FM 10M National Simplex, a decent performer there. Apparently, these are good contest rigs, since I've seen, and operated, these rigs on Field Days for well over 20-some years in SSB and CW, and have racked up the points with them. All in all, a decent performer well worth considering, even today, despite the 1980's controls ergonomics. And, with an AM RX / TX quality surprise to boot. And I've read where ops have used the IC-735 as an AM DX rig with a good long wire antenna, so I'm not to only one to discover this rig's hidden AM secrets.