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Reviews For: ICOM IC-R75

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Review Summary For : ICOM IC-R75
Reviews: 87MSRP: 570.
Desktop Communications Receiver
Product is in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KI7AQJ Rating: 2016-11-24
Good for the price, I suppose Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Selectivity out of the box is mediocre at best, and the audio is worse. You need to start dumping money for filters, and an external speaker, and the DSP board, and you know what, I am going back and knocking it back to 3 stars. I have never been overly excited by most of what Icom makes. The Icom stuff I like is so overpriced it's ridiculous. The feel, fit and finish are okay-ish, but on the cheap side. Narrowing the filter (installing a narrower filter) helps. Narrowing it with the setting on the radio turns the audible signal into a muffled muddy mess. Even my EQ, compressor/expander, and preamp into a home brew speaker consisting of some nice Cerwin Vega speakers was not as stellar as with other receivers, and transceivers. You buy it, and it needs help, so you start pouring money into it and it still needs help. I just fixed up an old 1980s Kenwood 100 watt transceiver. It's problem was in the audio output amp, so I just altered it to put out a line level balanced XLR output and the sound is stellar. It's okay, and that is how I rated it. I suppose if you want good or great, spend more money, or something. Budget Icom products are budget Icom products. I have NEVER been a huge Icom fan. Everyone is ooohing and ahhing at the latest Icom with the color waterfall display, & panadapter display, and I just spent $400 on rebuilding an 3 old Dell Latitude laptops with a solid state drives, and as much RAM as the CPUSs can handle. Dell quoted me $3000 for one and I have 3 for half the $3K price, and they give me my waterfall displays, panadapter, FL Digi, etc. They even work with the antiquated 1980s Kenwood, newer Kenwood stuff, Tentec, Japan Radio Corp, Drake, and my Yeasu XCVRs. Icom has always been a bit disappointing to me. They are like Cordoba classical guitars. Until you break the $4000 mark, they are just kinda um, MEH! It's a radio, or it's a guitar, but neither one makes me want to own it or set a goal to do so. Even at the $489-$539 price I still just want to hold out for something better. I have fixed these and played with them, and that's how I feel about them. Their owners seem to like them, and pay me to fix them, so I'll put the 4th star back for them. It's good, but not great. The audio on most of this stuff needs my help anyway. The selectivity lets this one down.
KD8OPI Rating: 2016-05-24
Its great, but now its gone... Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Waiter, can I have a bottle of wine with my crow?

Half a year ago, I wrote a review of the Comradio CR1A, and compared it to the ICOM R-75. In that review I explained why I felt the CR1A was superior based upon band coverage and filtering options. I did not make a direct comparison with the R-75; because I did not own one.

Then, a few months ago I read that the R-75 was going out of production. Realizing that there was never going to be another table-top, analog (3x conversion super het) communications receiver built again for the general public; I took a chance. I got one of the last few new R-75's from HRO in March 2016, the day after ICOM officially discontinued it.

Upon opening the box and laying hands on it, it was like finding a long lost friend you never knew you had.

Lets break it down:

1) Performance

Sensitivity: In a word, outstanding. Hooked up to an appropriate antenna, it pulls harder than a locomotive. With an S9 31' vertical and 32 ground radials, on a random afternoon, I think I lost count after 50 copy-able AM broadcast stations. See my video:

Selectivity: Its OK; not outstanding. The problem is that the R75 has wide filters on AM and SW that are just slightly wider than what you'd want. On AM, its pretty good due to 10 khz spacing, but you can get some slop from close strong stations. On SW, 5 khz spacing between some AM broadcasters is tough to take. You can push it to narrow, but you lose a ton of fidelity. SSB filtering is fine; CW or digi modes are not. The 500 hz filter is available from a few places on Ebay if you need it.

Controls: we have to break this down:

1) Gain/squelch: Outstanding. You have to go into the menus to set up the gain on AM to a weird mix of gain/squelch, but one you dial it in, you're gonna love it. Ironically, what I want to see in a radio like this is a way to DECREASE the gain so the AGC stops pumping constantly (see my CR1A review, a real flaw with that rig). The ability to decrease gain allows the operator to eliminate noise BEFORE hitting NR.

2) The twin passbands: are almost useless on AM because of the width of the filters, but on SSB work fantastically.

3) Noise reduction/ works very well in my opinion. This gets knocked, mostly because I don't think most people know what they're doing. I have BHI and West Mountain Radio DSP speakers, and depending on the the situation, the R-75 noise reduction works better about 6/10 times. I think what most people do is jack up their gain to max (or even set their pre-amp to high - not realizing they are amplifying noise and signal when the do that), hear a buzz, and and then hit NR and believe that magic will happen. It doesn't work like that. NR needs to be used in combination with APPROPRIATE gain or even attenuation to weaken everything but the signal you want, then run it through NR. See my video above, go to 13:14. I pull a signal on 1150 khz that has tone of noise bleeding in from 1160 khz, after reducing gain, attenuating, adding NR, then increasing the volume of the cleaned signal, its sounds peachy.

Pre-amp/attenuation/notch : all work very well. You need to get in there and use them when appropriate. Hint, if you're pre-amping a signal with a lot of noise then hitting NR, you are doing it wrong.

Antennas: Did I mention two antenna jacks? You can select between a standard PL-259 or unbalanced (ladder line) antennas. on the fly. Awesome.

Memories, clock, sleep settings, keypad: They all work well.

2) Ergonomics. Its hard to put into words the ease you have using this radio. Beautiful VFO knob, smaller control knobs, a few simple menus, its great. No quarrels at all. It has a little kick stand thing on the front to elevate the panel.

3) Audio. I have no idea why the front firing speaker in this rig gets a lot of poor-mouthing. I think its pretty good, see the vieo above for a demo. I have an external speaker hooked up - but its more for the DSP/NR in the speaker than for sound.

4) Complaints/I wish list: General FM coverage. Yes, I know its an HF rig, but it does touch VHF going to 60mhz. I wish they could have found a way to put general FM coverage into the rig. Also, it would have been nice if they could have found a way to put a $2 ferrite rod antenna in the thing, but its case is steel, so maybe thats just a pipe dream. This radio at one time had synchronous sideband detection, but it sucked, and they pulled it a long time ago. The ONE ADVANTAGE of finding a used R-75 with the crappy synchronous detector is that you can send it to Kiwa Electronics and have them put in their module that apparently makes it rock solid. Kiwa can also add filters and audio mods.

In summary, the R75 is the last woolly mammoth. Its the last T-rex. Its the last Ivory Billed woodpecker. Its one of those things that were great but are now becoming extinct. HRO doesnt have any more. But, if you're lucky, maybe you can find one in stock somewhere or grab a nice one off of E-bay. Its worth it.

K0KZO Rating: 2016-03-09
Nice Receiver Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I like dedicated receivers because I'm more if a listener than a talker. I also like simple. My main ham rig is the Yaesu FT-950 and I don't use half of the QRM and QSB fighting features it provides, even when working weak DX or contests on CW.

Give me an RF-gain, attenuation, passband tuning, and a narrow filter, and I'm good!

The R75 has everything you need and nothing you don't. It has the necessary basic controls to keep the receiver well behaved. A narrow filter would be nice, but the twin pass-band tuning and my brain work well enough.

CW/SSB sounds good, tuning is nice, MW DXing is great, front firing speaker sounds ok, DSP noise reduction works well, and it's a cool looking rig!

The R75 should not be compared to my FT-950, but for what it is designed to do, it does very simply and competently.

73, Doug NG0K

KC0EKQ Rating: 2015-06-27
Almost great. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have been using my R75 since I purchased it in 2002, with the UT106 module included, and I certainly enjoyed it straight out of the box, stock, with a number of different antennas -- I am a homebrew antenna junkie! -- and it was mostly pretty satisfying for a time. I wasn't happy with the synch function, or the noise blanker for that matter.

Then I began to notice the audio becoming fatiguing, and along with the synch detection being almost unusable, the DSP having a bit too much artifaction at the levels where it actually quiets other noise, and other annoyances that come along when you've spent a lot of time with a radio, I knew it needed to be improved.

I do *love* how modifiable it is especially for improved audio, and performing all of the audio modification I could find has resulted in a much more pleasant, fuller, far less fatiguing listening experience, with the onboard speaker or headphones. Just much better.

As well, I put in Kiwa's synch mod and finally had a synch that actually worked as it was supposed to work, except it still loses lock quite often on signals that are not weak or warbling enough to justify it. It's still much better than the stock version.

I've essentially done every modification I can find in groups and forums and so on, and with all of that, it is now a much better receiver all around, but the noise blanker is still essentially useless except in narrower filtering modes where it is generally not needed in the first place. There is no mod to improve the NB, sadly. Not that I've ever seen.

Yet, I still give the R75 a rating of 4. It is good. Not great -- certainly I have other radios that outdo it in various situations, and it outdoes other radios the same way, etc. -- but it is very good, where my Drake R8B is *great*, my vintage receivers from Collins and Hammarlund are *great* at their intended use.

What keeps the R75 from being a 5 for me is that I really should NOT have needed to modify anything to get it to stop being fatiguing, noisy, and so on. I *like* tinkering and improving so I'm not complaining, and the solid ease with which I can modify and work on the R75 is one of the important advantages of this radio I really like. But for a $600+ receiver, I shouldn't have to perform any kind of modification to get it to act like it is supposed to act, especially as regards the synchronous detection and the audio. I happen to have lots of experience in electronics and tinkering but many listeners do not, and can't just open it up to bring it up to its advertised performance.

All that said, it IS a very good receiver, and deserves its reputation and praise for all around performance, and I am not planning on getting rid of mine.
KD7CJO Rating: 2013-01-29
good dx rig! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Have used this thing since around `04 and will not part with it! The funny rf/squ knob is very handy once you get used to their function as are the PBT controls. These features have come in VERY handy for dxing the basement band, as well as hf in less then great band conds.

I use it for lf,and mf-hf dx and ut. monitoring. As mine is one of the older models, I don`t know how the newest units stack up. But would think they are still top notch rigs. They stack up well against rigs from Drake and JRD.(the specs are very similar) Rig is very sensitive and is fairly easy to operate.

Got mine on a clearance sale with the DSP board built in and just love it. It`s an old rig now, but still a goodie!(being introduced in early `90`s I think) A very good buy that I don`t regret by any means. Got a LOT of hours on mine. The mem. batt. failed after 5+ years, but that's an easy fix. If your looking for a good rvcr, don`t pass up on this one. 73 and vry good dx de kd7cjo in dn51
BEAM Rating: 2013-01-05
The best HF receiver (with a VFO knob) I've ever had. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Over the years I had several RX and RTX HF: PCR-1000, IC-746, R-5000, TS-480SAT, IC-738, IC-718, PCR-1500, AR-3000A, AR-3030, Perseus and Softrock ensemble II RX.

I must say that for the quality of reception and the layout of the controls, the Icom IC-R75 is the best receiver I've ever used.
It can be easily interfaced with the computer, its price on the used market is not excessive, its dimensions are right and it is very pleasant to use.

The two things I do not like are the front firing speaker which is a bit 'too small (though I think it is appropriate to hear the speech) and the 12V power connector on that tends to unsolder easily from it's card.
Of course you can use an external speaker for a richer sound of bass.

The optional UT-106 I do not think adds much to the quality of reception.

Today I would not spend more money in the purchase of optional filters, rather I would purchase a SDR receiver that allows you to manage much better bandwidths, and has the advantage of having an overview of the band in which you are listening.

But the pleasure of using a real VFO knob is priceless.

Il migliore ricevitore HF (con la manopola del VFO) che abbia mai avuto.

Negli anni ho avuto diversi RX e RTX HF: PCR-1000, IC-746, R-5000, TS-480SAT, IC-738, IC-718, PCR-1500, AR-3000A, AR-3030, Perseus e Softrock ensemble II RX.
Devo dire che per la qualità della ricezione e la disposizione dei comandi l'Icom IC-R75 è il miglior ricevitore che abbia mai usato.
Lo si può interfacciare molto facilmente con il computer, il suo prezzo sul mercato dell'usato non è assolutamente eccessivo, le sue dimensioni sono giuste ed è molto piacevole da usare.

Le due cose che non mi piacciono sono l'altoparlante frontale che è un po' troppo piccolo (anche se credo sia adeguato per ascoltare le comunicazioni vocali) e il connettore di alimentazione a 12V che tende a dissaldarsi facilmente.
Ovviamente è possibile utilizzare un altoparlante esterno per avere un suono più ricco di toni bassi.

Il modulo opzionale UT-106 non credo aggiunga molto alla qualità di ricezione.

Oggigiorno non spenderei altri soldi nell'acquisto di filtri opzionali, piuttosto li investirei nell'acquisto di un ricevitore SDR che permette di gestire molto meglio le larghezze di banda, ed ha il vantaggio di avere una visione panoramica della gamma in cui si sta facendo ascolto.

Ma il piacere di poter utilizzare una vera manopola del VFO è impagabile.
K0INN Rating: 2013-01-04
Will never part with it! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I've had all Kiwa mods done on the radio. Prior to the mods, the audio was harsh and the synch was useless. After the mods, the audio was vastly improved and the synch works.

The very good points of the radio:
1. Solid build with precise tuning knob and controls.
2. Very stable - no drift.
3. Sensitive.
4. Filtering works well (once you understand it and get it set up correctly).
5. AGC works great when you back off the rf gain.
6. Rich audio with the Kiwa audio upgrade.

Again, this receiver is a keeper for me!
DXTUNER Rating: 2012-09-09
Good for VHF low band Dx'ing Time Owned: more than 12 months.
My opinion of the IC-R75 hasn't changed in the past 5 years - its still my all-time favorite. The 2 things keeping me attracted to it are (a.) the extended coverage, i.e. 30 kHz - 60 MHz, i.e. more Dx'ing fun if one gets temporarily bored with HF, and (b.) advanced controls which really facilitate weak signal Dx'ing, i.e. twin passband tuning and, if the situation requires, adjustable DSP function and separate built-in preamps. Oh sure, the audio isn't like grandpa's old tube radio, but one thing you can't deny its sharp and clear. There's never an issue with intelligibility.

Recently I've discovered that the IC-R75 is great for VHF-low band Dx'ing. I found that out by chance, the other night while tuning through. I got police transmissions on a 42 MHz frequency I wasn't familiar with. When I looked up the FCC call sign I was shocked: Missouri State Highway Patrol - I am in eastern Virginia. Since then I've gone back nightly and have received Pennsylvania, and various other (yet) UNID local agencies which aren't local. So folks, don't dismiss the VHF-low band. Use the IC-R75 to Dx it. You might get a pleasant surprise.

I'd like to mention the receiver's MW Dx'ing ability by saying this: It doesn't need Kiwa modifications. The stock unit is really good on MW, the internal attenuation pad is literally nothing. Sure, you can open the radio and bypass it, but there won't be a noticeable improvement in MW Dx'ing range if any. I've had a Kiwa modified IC-R75 before and I could not tell the difference between it and stock. The radio is fine the way it is, I dare say real good.

In short I can always get something on the IC-R75 that I can't get on another general coverage receiver. More fun. Whether or not its $700 worth of fun is something you need to debate with yourself.

Earlier 5-star review posted by DXTUNER on 2008-10-27

No need to ramble about all the technical gizmos on the R75; they are well described below in others' posts. For me its nice to have a SSB utility receiver that's stable right-off-the-bat and is always dead on frequency all of the time. No 'warm up' period, no 'offsets', no fine tuning of signals & then chasing the signals all over the place until a radio stabilizes.

Its dead-on accurate & ultra-sensitive from the time I hit the power button until whenever I decide to turn the radio off.

The sound is very thin, but the sheer reception of the most distant signals is well worth that sacrifice. Good job Icom!

WB3IGR Rating: 2012-06-24
Great Receiver! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Had my R-75 for a few weeks now. I have it on a discone antenna and a short wire antenna. Both work great even though the discone antenna only goes down as far as 25 mhz. and the wire is inside the shack. It still receives rather well all the way down to 160 meters and the AM broadcast band. I like the 2 preamps and the 2 antenna ports switchable from the front panel. A real plus for this receiver. And it can be controlled via computer. I use HRD+ DM780 for excellent RX on digital modes or with out DM 780 for mouse tuning on my computer screen!
JRT3 Rating: 2012-03-20
Great radio! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I bought an Icom R70 when they first came out - but sold it and upgraded to the JRC NRD-525 - then Drake R8 - as they became available. I added a Lowe HF-150 over a decade ago - and a Palstar R30A over three years back. I finally bought an older R-75 - which included the AM sync detector - at the end of last year. It immediately impressed me. It quickly replaced the Palstar, except for the local listening on MW. My NRD-525/R8/HF-150 sit on a shelf unused for now. My only antenna now, my 'farm' now all-but-barren, is a Pixel DX Pro-1a.

The bare R75 is a great DX receiver - not quite to my much modded NRD-525 - but some better filters in AM mode would fix that. The NB & NR works well, too. On MW, it is at least as sensitive as the R30A - and that's bare (pre-amps off). My biggest complaint - it runs warm with the included AD-55A power supply - rated at 16V DC @ 1.5A, although it registers 19.2V DC open load. I have since bought a heavy duty (5A) 12V DC cord and size 'Q' adapter from RS - and use it plugged in a 12V 'Jump Start' from Harbor Freight (Sale - $30), which includes a 12V 17 A-Hr battery, meter, and charging circuit. It runs 10-12 hr before dropping to 11.4V and requiring recharge (The R30A runs 20 hr.). On DC, it runs room temp. It takes 1/4" mono/stereo phones.I'd rate it - bare - as a far better buy than the $100 more Palstar. Also, it comes with a great manual - and schematic - and has available a service manual, also a consideration. Whatever you do, use a decent speaker or headphones!