Manager - NA4M
Manager Notes

Reviews For: ICOM IC-R75

Category: Receivers: General Coverage

eMail Subscription

Registered users are allowed to subscribe to specific review topics and receive eMail notifications when new reviews are posted.
Review Summary For : ICOM IC-R75
Reviews: 87MSRP: 570.
Desktop Communications Receiver
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KC9KTI Rating: 2011-12-21
Great receiver Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I'm not going to re-hash previous reviews, just going to say I love this radio. I have been a radio junkie all my life and have owned the Icom R71-a and Drake R8b to name a couple. This little radio is outstanding and rivals more expensive models. This actually replaced the Drake in my shack as I found the Drake not personally user friendly.

Earlier 5-star review posted by KC9KTI on 2007-10-07

Can't complain about this little gem. I used to have an Icom R71-A that I loved and from there went to a Drake R8B. The drake was nice, but not my kind of radio for some reason, so I sold it on Ebay and with half the money bought a new R75. I love it, it is my main receiver. You can't go wrong here, I use it to receive PSK as well!
TURBO68 Rating: 2011-12-11
Excellent Radio Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I go 2 Icom-R75 only one with the dsp unit both perform excellent on hf mainly monitor utilities,
aero antennas are Wellbrook-ALA1530,1530L,330S do have other hf receivers from Aor,Alinco,Palstar,
Ten Tec all these other radios performance is equal if u havent got a decent antenna u are not going to get anywhere on hf...
K6HOM Rating: 2011-09-05
Kiwa Mods Give Excellent AM BCB Performance Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
My R75 is a relatively recently purchased pre-owned unit w/AM synch and UT-106 DSP that I immediately sent for the full Kiwa upgrades (AM synch detect. upgrade, audio upgrade, BCB attenuation removal & 6 kHz filter). I have no experience with the stock R75.

When not hamming, I enjoy AM-BCB DX and have used a Drake R8A for many years in this pursuit. I wanted a Kiwa R75 for its AM-BCB DX potential. First, a UT-106 R75 is one of the few affordable radios with built-in DSP that will operate at MW frequencies. Potentially a real advantage. Second, removal of the R75's BCB attenuation allows both its Preamps 1 and 2 to operate at these frequencies, reportedly yielding exceptional sensitivity.

So how well does all of this work?
1. BCB sensitivity is excellent. It is beneficial to be able to choose between two levels of preamplification. Preamp 2 can introduce some images from strong local AM stations. In my case not many and not present all of the time, but they can occasionally be heard. I have not found this to be a major issue so far.

2. Kiwa’s AM synch detector is very good. I don’t use this feature very often, mostly when listening to a far away ball game, but the price of this upgrade is nominal. Locks on to most weak signals, for those weaker signals where it fails to lock, my R8A synch detector also fails to lock.

3. Filters. Related to (2), my experience is that AM-BCB DX is usually better-accomplished with ECSS detection than with a AM synch detector (haven’t experienced a Sherwood SE-3 yet). Initial AM-BCB ECSS performance with the Kiwa R75 made me wish for different filter options. The stock R75 filters yield AM bandwidths of 15, 6, & 2.4 kHz. The current Kiwa filter adds another 6 kHz option. [Some say that the OEM 6 kHz filter is closer to 8 kHz, the Kiwa is supposed to truly be a 6 kHz filter. I didn’t experience a huge difference.] I found these options to be either too wide or too narrow for good ECSS. I recently swapped the Kiwa 6 kHz filter for a Icom FL-257 (3.3 kHz). I’m a happy camper now, this new filter is also a good “wide” SSB option.
[Please note that the original Kiwa mod added a high quality 3.8 kHz filter. Kiwa no longer has a source for these filters and now adds a 6 kHz filter if the “Kiwa Filter” upgrade is ordered.]

4. Audio. Most of my listening is via headphones and my R75 is connected to an old stereo receiver & speakers via the Record (Out) jack. Good audio. The native tonal balance has a bit more treble compared to the richer tonal balance of my R8A. Through headphones, I prefer the R75 audio because the intelligibility of weak stations is usually better.

5. DSP performance is not as good as I had hoped. The noise reduction is modest before the DSP begins reducing readability. Still, a significant improvement though. While an unfair comparison, the DSP on my Icom 756 Pro yields much better performance on equivalent signals, same antenna.

6. Terrific SSB performance. Through the same antenna, the R75 hears everything that my 756 Pro does.

7. Ergonomics. I like the way that the R75 controls operate. Very nice weighted tuning knob, positive action keys, no menus really needed once you set up the radio to your liking. Nice display, compact size, very good build quality. As much as I hate to say this, I prefer the controls of this radio over my R8A. (i.e. spongy numeric keypad that often is non-responsive to keystrokes, cheap tuning knob with no “feel”).

Overall, I am quite pleased with the performance of this radio. It delivers excellent performance.
NW8Z Rating: 2011-02-23
Best Receiver for the money out there!! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I love this receiver for the price you can't beat it!!

You can combine filters and add new ones if you wish.

I just installed a Murata filter 3Khz 455Khz and it was super easy to do. I have posted pics of the install at the Yahoo groups for Icom R75.

It's so sensitive I picked up a couple of Hams last night talking from North Dakota and Salt Lake City and I live in Ohio.

I just ordered the UT-102 unit and will install a CW filter and I'm good to go.

It is hands down the best receiver that I have ever owned and at a fraction of some of the other receivers out there.

Go Icom!!
EI4GMB Rating: 2010-10-23
Icom IC-75 V Drake R8 Time Owned: more than 12 months.
As has been suggested the Drake R8 does indeed suffer from muffled or more mellow audio, hence the reason why I use a good external speaker with mine. But it is a far superior radio for working AM DX than the R75, which I would give the edge on SSB.
Indeed, there are far better radios out there than the R75. The AOR 7030+ is one I could think of and this will probably be my next acquisition!!!
N5JRN Rating: 2010-10-22
A good, solid receiver Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
It's your basic modern HF communications receiver, with a bit of low-end VHF thrown in for good measure. It does everything it's advertised to do, and has no real glaring design defects (which is more than one can say for some competing receivers in this price bracket).

It suffers the bane of most modern communications receivers (crap audio). If I didn't like to take my radios camping, I'd have gotten a classic tube-type communications receiver, primarily for the sound. Unfortunately, those aren't very portable and all those tube heaters gobble far more electricity than I have to spare out in the woods.

Part of the problem is the extremely tiny speaker the set was built with. Making use of the external-speaker jack is highly recommended. Even then, audio is compromised by being limited to about 3 kHz bandwidth via an internal circuit you can't disable unless you perform surgery on the set. I'll note that Kiwa offers an audio upgrade (which I can't comment further on, having no experience with it).

Which brings up the biggest "what were they thinking?" aspect of the receiver: the 15 kHz AM-wide filter. What's the point of offering the option of demodulating 7.5 kHz worth of AM sidebands if the audio section is just going to throw that extra 4.5 kHz away? Not surprisingly, there is no discernible difference in audio between the 6 kHz and 15 kHz filters.

Like many have said, it does a better job on SSB than it does on AM. I think that's mainly due to the aforementioned limited bandwidth in the audio section. If you're tuning a broadcaster that's not crowded by nearby signals, it's nice to be able to crank the set wide-open to get the best audio fidelity possible. Those higher audio frequencies can really add to the listenability of a signal.

Another entry in the "what were they thinking?" department is the rf gain/squelch knob. I'd like it to just be an RF gain knob in all modes and forget about squelch. Unfortunately, the R75 can't do that. And one of the settings is just plain weird -- the knob acts as both, and the radio decides for you that you can't have the RF gain set anywhere other than the maximum and also have the audio squelched. Thankfully, with three preamplifier settings and a switchable attenuator, there's other options for controlling RF signal levels.

On the plus side, the tuning knob is nothing short of awesome. Even on the 10Hz tuning step, it's not hard to make it fly through frequencies just by tuning it faster. Slow down and the tuning rate slows down. Yes, lots of receivers do this, but Icom's engineers really did a good job of implementing the feature on the R75; it's by far the best I've experienced. It just works, without getting in the way. I can hunt for stations, then slow down and fine-tune one without having to fiddle with the tuning rate.

The keypad has the annoyance of requiring frequencies to be entered in megahertz, using a decimal point. As someone who is used to thinking of HF frequencies in kilohertz, that always trips me up.

So far, I haven't found many birdies on it, and the ones there are are all a pure tone (thus easy to notch out) and at S-1 or (usually) below. So far, I haven't found any problems with the CPU or the display-driver making RF interference.

It can display frequencies down to the nearest hertz, which is sort of overkill in my book, but the astounding thing (for a mass-produced product) is that the display actually seems accurate down to this resolution. Having such a fine tuning rate makes properly tuning SSB signals a snap. The display is backlit, and as it comes from the factory is almost painfully bright to my eyes; one of the first configuration changes I made was to dim the display.

Selectivity, noise reduction, mode, etc. are all displayed on the main LCD display, as is signal strength. Yeah, I'd have liked an analog S-meter, too, but the Icom's bar-graph does the job it was intended to do.

Icom has been shipping the R75 with the previously optional DSP board included for some time now. Unlike some, I find that the DSP NR filter really does help listenability in many cases; I'm glad it's there. I haven't had much opportunity to test its notch-filtering capabilities.

Its a modern Japanese receiver with lots of features and parameters. I haven't found that to be as annoying as I feared; the parameters one is most likely to want to change are all adjustable via a dedicated control, and the factory defaults are all pretty reasonable. The things one must enter a menu to change are mostly individual-preference options that I've set once and forgotten about.

All in all, a good, solid general-coverage receiver with some annoyances but no big glaring defects.
FOXBAT426 Rating: 2010-07-16
better than the e1 and drakes for sure Time Owned: more than 12 months.
to the last poster - if your going for raw performance and the ability to hear serious DX as in weak signals, then the R75 demolishes the eton e1. if you don't believe me - put them side by side on an A/B switch box with the same antenna and compare directly. nuff said.

the bassy, muffled audio of the eton e1 and drake r8 line (remember the eton e1 is basically a drake) is not condusive for serious dx work. mellow audio - yeah right! if you like program listening on strong signals like VOA and BBC, get the drake. if you want serious dx performance, get the ICOM R75
MMAGHAKIAN Rating: 2010-03-10
almost but falls far short Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I would expect a company like Icom to do a lot lot better than the R75.

the sync is a joke, get an E1XM to see an awesome sync
the filters are a joke, the E1XM has FAR better filters at a lot less money.
look at all the KIWA mods it needs, the E1XM doesn't need any mods, its that good !

if it weren't for using an SE-3 with my R75, I would throw it out the window. my E1XM runs circles around it ! and at LESS cost.

overall, the R75 should have have been engineered MUCH better !!!!!!!

PS, I have owned over 300 radios in the past 34 years
AD4C2006 Rating: 2009-12-11
Ghe best receiver I have owned Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
This is my second IC-R75 and also my second review,I should not have sold the first one because this is so far the best receiver I have owned in more than 40 years of swl listener.
When I owned the first one I compared it against an IC-756ProIII and it was equal or sometimes better,now with this second one,I am comparing it against the very #1 performance radio in the world,the already famous Elecraft K3 and doing A/B switch with same antennas,the R75 will never outperform my K3 but is very close to it,noise floor is very low but also very sensitive,selectivity even is not the greatest as at the K3 it does it job,audio quality is super,I have the accesory filters for 2.8Khz on both IF and when I hear ESSB stations I am impressed of how well they sound.
Frecuency stabilty is awesome,even after few minutes the radio is turned on is rock solid on any freq,you can tune zero beat at any broadcast station on any band and leave it there for 24 hours and next day it will be at same freq,not even 10Hz shift.
AGC is very well designed,it don't matter how strong the station you tune is because it will sound nice clear,no distorsion at all.
Many good reputation radios I have owned in the past had distorsion on the audio when the NB was engaged,this R75 has an excellent NB capable of clean all noises I have here and the audio never distord.
The NR even not been an IF type,it works out pretty darn good,it cleans any band noise to the point it pulls out a weak station from the noise level.
Like I said before in my first review,its also a great tool to check your main tranceiver TX audio instead of asking for reports on the air.
Hopefully I don't make anymore the mistake to sell it as I did with the first one because this receiver from Icom is definitively a keeper.

Lake Worth,FL
AE5JU Rating: 2009-08-07
Nice receivrer Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I've seen comments, "Just buy an IC-718". I have owned both so I can comment on this. The R75 is a better receiver than the IC-718's receiver.

And if a SWL'er, not a licensed ham, is it wise to chose a transceiver over a receiver?

I wish the 718 had the R75's Pass Band Tuning. Very useful feature.

Both radios, the DSP is poor, not much more than a treble control. But the same is true of the DSP in my Yaesu FT-897. Easy solution, West Mountain Radio CLR-SPKR, an excellent and effective DSP.

Overall, the R75 an excellent receiver that sucked me right into ham radio. ;-)