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Reviews For: ICOM IC-R75

Category: Receivers: General Coverage

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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
N1GXC Rating: 2004-11-07
Nice Receiver Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I bought the R-75 because I needed a spare ear in addition to my HF rig. Ham or not, if your into 0-60 Mhz. this is a great rig. I wont bore you with all the specs. (check out the Icom site) I've got this hooked up to a 105' folded (balanced) dipole up 20' and the number of stations received in all modes is simply amazing! Very functional, attractive, well thought out radio. This radio has it's critics but so does the R-9000L. This is my best bet under $500. Feed it with a good antenna and listen through a good external speaker and and your in business. I would buy this radio again. You will find many new and used with a free DSP unit installed. (big icom promo) Got mine used from AES for $350.
ICR75 Rating: 2004-07-25
Very nice for the cost Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
We all love to list the equipment we have had. So let's begin by saying I have had many tranceivers and receivers. I have also built many Heathkits and Elecrafts latest offering, the K2.

At first, was the Heathkit SW-7800. Pleasing to look at because I built it, but tire easy with it's function and performance.

Next I bought a Kenwood R-5000, with the AK8 whatever AM 6khz filter. Very nice radio, excellent on SSB utility listening.

Then came the more analog/digital older model, but new, The Kenwood R-2000. Nice radio, better audio than the 5000, but mirrored the look of a fancy CB base station. But quite nice never the less.

Then came the Drake R8. This one, looks wise, had to grow on me. But once bit by Drakes new modern look, I was hooked.

Great more or less everything. However, awkward function controls for my liking. Very nice audio, a Drake known.

Of course there was a sony ICF-2010, SW-77 and a Grundig Yaghtboy 400.

Next came a Yaesu FT-1000D transceiver with two outboard matching speakers. Only bought because of the receiver praise.
What a beautifuly crafted radio that was. Every control was so precise and had quality written all over it. annoying cooling fan though.

Next was the drake R8B. No real earth shaddering improvements over it's previous, the 8 and A version. Is a matter of fact, it went down in quality as far as the tuning knob. They went from a fine peice of aluminum, smooth knob, to a cheap one on the B version.

When I asked Drake about this, they stated that the plastic has no static electricity problems when touching it.
Believe what you want. In my mind, it was a cost issue.

By the way, none of the radios I mention above or below do I still have, with the exception of the SW-7800 Heathkit.

Next came the SW-7800 Drake, improved version. Nice but fragile in my opinion. An annoying buzz from the power pack and some other little things convinced me to get rid of it.

Next, an Icom R-7000 all mode, which is actually on ebay as I write this. "Unblocked version".

After I got rid of the R-5000, I kicked myself. Of course thay had all ready been discontinued. But after an exhaustive search, I found a new one in Canada, paid the 1300.00 us again and since, have sold that again. I never, never bought used, always new.

Next came an Icom Pro transceiver. Very awsome concept. Color display and very functional and revelutionary band scope.
This is where I knew that this listening hobby of mine is going to become real passionate. But as with everything I have, got bored and sold it.

I have also had two Heathkit SS-9000 transceivers, gone and 1 HW-5400, which that to is on E-bay.

Anyway, there are some more in there, but enough. Again, never had the desire to transmit, but bought the transceivers because of unique features they had to offer.

So, I have been out of the radio hobby for about 2 years and am getting the itch again. Have many toys, Harley Roag king classic, new truck, new little airstream I just bought, but always go back to the radio toys.

What inspred me, this new ICOM IC-7800. Although there will be an improved version in the near future based on user feed back, like the display brightness, too low.
It is what I will probably get.

But this time, to try and get that 7800 off my mind for now, I was looking at some older, but new and some current radios to temporarily solve this radio want.

I considered the JRC 545DSP, but cost, needs refining and is old technology. Next Ten-Tecs RX-340. Great unit, older design concepts, and know BANDSCOPE. yes, this is now a must have for me.

So I said; let me try this inexpensive R-75, untill I feel the 7800 short comings are addressed. To possibly remove this itch, and save $11.000.00 dollars. Especially for me, I don't transmit, but love the high tech radio in any event. Then when I sell it in 6 months, after using it probably 10 times, the new owner will get it less transmitter use.

Really, enough now:


I am a firm beleiver in you get what you pay for. I bought this radio, with the free DSP unit, and further, Icom discount from HBO for like 460.00.

So to be a critic here comparing it against the best is not a true rating for the 75.

So what I am going to do is rate it for the money spent on it, and what I will get out of it.

I was glad to see an outboard power supply. This I think, with today's electronics, should be the rule, not the exception.

Although, like the Drake, internal heat cannot dissapate out of the radio due to a fully enclosed radio cabinet. The only good about this is dust cannot get into the radio. and heat is generated in any equipment of this nature.

I used to like gadgets around my radios, tuneers, notch filters, converters etc, but no more. I like neat and streamlined and that now includes outboard speakers.

So I was hoping the internal speaker on this radio was as nice as the Drake, but no contest here. If you world band it, an outboard quality speaker will allow you and your spouse to get along better. And the audio is greatly improved.

The units feel and construction is good. I have a few older Zenith transoceanics and two RBO Scott radios from the fourties that in order to qualify as an amerivan made radio, everything was overbuilt, such as the truck like tuning capacitors and drive mechanisims, the heavy plastic and metal chassis of the transoceanics, those days are over.

Today, lighter materials suppliment that thought.

But none the less, the 75 is just fine.

The display is crisp and well laid out. Afterall, this is just as important as the audio itself.

The only two analog potentiometers on the radio are marginal in quality, but functional.

The remainder pushbuttons have a good tactical feel and are responsive, unlike the rolling action of the R8 to make contact.

The adjustable bail to angele the radio for viewing is a nice touch as well.

The tuning knob is far better than the drake R8B, has an easy adjustment to tension it for ones personal feel.

The rear connection panel is simple, functional and well laid out.

Labeling of the function descriptions is in the Icom tradition of placing them on the button itself, less six function keys. I have never kept a radio long enough but with this technique, it's bound to wear off over use.

While the specs stae high dynamic scores, real world testing will determine that.
I live close to WLNA, a low to medium powered AM station, and regardless of the arsenal of tools the r75 has to combat this, I hear WLNA in various parts between 400 KHZ-the 60 MHZ tuning range.

The SAM or syncronous circuit works but is tempermental. It tends to lose lock which over time will cause you retune to another station, or shut it off all together. The R8 and B are more sophisticated and effective for this.

SSB, which is what I enjoy, utility's, not ham, seems to work as good as my R-5000, and in SOME cases, better.

I would reccommend to anyone buying this radio, don't waste your money on the upgrade for stabilty, this radio is very stabel right out of the box.

As far as DSP for audio, not filtering and other benefits are both Good and bad, the concept that is, Let me qualify that statement:

Know matter what the quality of any radio, including the new 7800 or Yeasu's future coming, and or any audio source, the human tolerable thresh hold to listen to any material at length
unless it is perfectly tonal and clean is low.

Older analog circuits and in combination with the right combination of newer are exceptable.
However, when the audio is digitaly processed, then generated as the final output, which is to the speaker, then to your ears, then to the internal human super computer we all have, the computer says, no good. This is un natural and therfore, is unacceptable.

We all have had to try and put together an awsome stereo system, that must be so accurate and sonic. We brag how our $5000.00 speakers are the best on the planet, and are perfectly natural and sonic.

Well, when we listen to HF radio or other, we still crave the same sound quality.

Therfore, in my opinion, the older analog and tube gear produced a more natural tonal quality that DSP can't come close.

I give this 75 a rating of 5 because, for the money and it's features, can't be beat at any price-performance level.

Remember, newer technology is not always better with certain features regarding HF radio or other.

There is a computer control option (RS-R75) I would like to try, has a band scope but it is exclusive to Windows 95 and 98.
What's up with that ICOM. Those operating systems went out with drive in theatres.

Icom has produced a very functional and capable radio.
It has, to some degree, taimed my urge for that new 7800.
But in the end, I will take the hit and go for it.

My experience from a monitoring and frequency hunter, the Icom Pro I had with the band scope is a must have. Once used, the conventional method of searching for frequencys will be by the wayside.

Thanks for reading.

Good luck with your 75, it's well worth it.
SW1EIA Rating: 2004-03-05
Very Good! Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
Although my experience on HF is limited and the only other rig I have is an 706MKII, I am really pleased with the R-75 receiver.

I wanted an allmode HF receiver for amateur (and not only) use, so after a search I bought a second hand R-75.
It came with the free DSP already installed.
I've used it extensively for digital reception in the amateur bands eg SSTV,RTTY with excellent results.
And yes I've checked to see if there are signals that I can copy with R75 and not 706MKII with the same antenna, and I saw that on some of the occasions that was true.
Although many are complaining about the internal speaker sound, I've used headphones and the sound quality is near hifi, I am really surprised how clear the sound is.
I've also added the 1.9khz filter and the versatility of assigning filters and settings is something that have not heard in other rigs, really clever.

Things that I liked
2.Crisp clear sound (with headphones)
3.Selectivity (I've added the 1.9khz flt)
5.Very 'robust' appearence and nice look

Not liked
1.NB seems that is not eliminating all sources.
2.Mute should had been with an internal relay to isolate the antenna
3.Buttons should had backlight to operate in dim light conditions

Overall impression
Very attractive to buy and once in the shack there is absolutely no reason to go...

WR2W Rating: 2004-01-15
Outstanding! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I've had alot of receivers, and this is my favorite. An excellent triple-conversion receiver with alot of features. The internal front-firing speaker sounds very good, and even better using a AES PCL-1 external speaker. Highly recommend it for the price, and you get a free UT-106 DSP unit which makes the deal even better.
RFX Rating: 2004-01-13
The best for $500 Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Easy to use, and great performance on all bands using a long wire with an MFJ tuner. A very good buy at $500 compaired to others at about the same price.
KBDXW Rating: 2004-01-09
Quality Versus Price Winner Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
My R-75 has had all the available modifications from KIWA Electronics, including two for improved audio, a medium width filter, the SYNC detector improvement, and the R-75 Page total MW-LW attenuation removal. The radio's audio was tinny before the mods. Now the audio is clear, and with the stock wide AM filter, even music sounds great on MW and SW. With the new medium width filter, audio is good, but the selectivity is much better, indicating that the KIWA filter seems to have sharp skirts.

I did not do extensive testing of the AM SYNC on the R-75 before I sent it to KIWA because, as nearly everyone knows, it doesn't work well. After the KIWA mod, I could not find a station weak enough on SW to cause the sync to disengage. In comparison with my PALSTAR R-30 and SANGEAN ATS-909 / DX-398, music was noticeably more pleasant to listen to on stations with rapid fading when switching back and forth between the three radios. (These other radios don't feature sync detection.) I would not describe the KIWA modified R-75 as rock solid on SYNC.

As a MW/LW dx'er, the stock R-75 would have been unacceptable. Against my PALSTAR R-30C, it was no match on sensitivity. However, after modification, which included the total MW/LW attenuation removal as out-lined on the R-75 Page, the sensivity was as great as the R-30C with Pre-Amp #1 engaged and more sensitive with Pre-Amp #2 engaged. However, when I engaged Pre-Amp #2, there were a few cross-modulation products from a 5KW MW transmitter at 1290KC that is just 7 blocks from my 175 foot random wire antenna. Even without any Pre-Amps, the R-75 was within a few hairs of the R-30C for sensitivity as measured on the very weakest Noon-Time BCB stations available to me here in South Western Ohio. There were no cross modulation products noted with Pre-Amp #1 turned on, even though I live close to that MW transmitter. (I must add that I use an MFJ-956 Pre-Selector with my four receivers, which knocks cross modulation way way down compared to just hooking the antenna directly to the radios.)

The R-30C seemed a good comparison reference for the modified R-75 for BCB & LW dx'ing, since the little R-30C has been noted to hear weak MW signals that even a DRAKE R8B can't hear. In honestly, I must say that even though the sensivity of the R-75 is as good or better than the R-30C, there is something special about the R-30C's "audio recovery" that helps weak signals to be more intelligible under difficult circumstances. But, although the R-30C did a good job of separating a weak signal from an adjacent strong one, the R-75 was slightly better in this important aspect of performance.

For example, we have a fairly low-powered BCB station at 1100KC, and, fortunately, it's tower is a good ways across town from my home. But during the day, I can separate this station from KMOX 1120KC coming very weakly from St. Louis, MO well enough to make a station ID. As good as the R-30C is, I can't do with this the R-30C, even using ECSS tuning and the very fine Collins narrow filter.

For the BCB/LW dx'er, the MW attenuation must be fully removed. KIWA has two modifications available for the R-75 addressing the issue. The $5 mod simply bridges the MW attenuation pads and provides 3db better MW/LW sensivity. The $25 mod involves the replacement of several parts on the circuit board, as out-lined on the R-75 Page. There is some controversy about how much more sensivity you get with the more drastic modification. The R-75 Page claims a full 10db improvement, but KIWA is reluctant to make this claim for the mod that requires the replacement of several parts. (Craig at KIWA is currently trying to determine exactly how much.) However, just to be safe, and to know that I had the very best possible MW/LW sensivity, I thought it was worth the extra $20 to make sure I had no MW and L signal strength loss.

If you are a SW listener with little or no interest in MW or LW dx'ing, the stock R-75 is difficult to beat for the $450 it is going for at HRO, which includes a free DSP module. Even a Grundig Satellit 800 purchased from a reputable dealer new is $499, and a re-conditioned one is $399. From what I have read, following a variety of discussion groups, the S800 is a good radio, but it is no match for even a stock R-75. There are quality issues with the S800, and there are none with the R-75, which screams of the best Japanese manufacturing quality and know-how.

Finally, a comparison against my Sangean ATS-909/DX-398. This little radio approaches both the R30C and the R-75 for sensivity. For the price it is amazing. If you are careful to hook up your antenna to the MW connection on the 909, you get better reception than if you just hook it up to the SW terminal. However, if you live any where near strong MW transmitters, the 909 will not work well for MW dx'ing, even with the help of a pre-selector like the MFJ-956. I get some cross modulation products all over the LW band, MW band, and SW band from 2-4 MC. Or, even if I can elimiate a spurious signal by careful adjustement of the pre-selector, it is many times difficult to tell whether you have tuned out legitimate signal or the interfering signal. With the R-75, there are no interfering signals, so it is easy to peak the pre-selector for whatever frequency you are trying to dx.

By contrast, I have not one single cross modulation product on LW or MW, and only a very very very weak ones on SW between 2-4 MC with the R-75, even with the total removal of the MW attenuator. The IP3 figure of the R-75 has been tested at +23 db. Compare this to the DRAKE R8B at +21, the PALSTAR R-30C at +18, and the AOR 7030+ at +35 (or so). In today's strong signal environment, there is nothing like the R-75 for the price to keep the bands clean for good listening.

I rate the fully modified R-75 a 5.0 and believe that, with it's extensive modifications should be able to measure up well to receivers costing three times the price.
NZ5L Rating: 2004-01-09
Buy an IC-718 Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
It's well known that ICOM makes very fine communications products, so when I had the chance to try the R75 I jumped at it. Since it has been reviewed in depth elsewhere, this will be brief - enough to say the performance is quite satisfactory, but not jaw-dropping fantastic.
Compared to my old HQ-180, the between-signal areas seemed noisier and muddier - was this phase noise? Also, even with the built-in DSP the selectivity was just adequate for SSB and somewhat less so for CW - although the addition of an older MFJ model 784 outboard DSP unit did wonders in this regard. The display is very good, and the package is ergonomically well thought out. Sensitivity is as good, but not necessarily better than the best of the tube rigs (or is this perception another view of the S/N ratio?)
Audio quality with the built-in speaker is a bit muddy for AM-SWL. Oddly enough, the audio from my IC-718 through a wide range external speaker is superior, bordering on excellent!
Much has been made of the high performance per dollar ratio with this model, which is very high, but I would suggest even to confirmed SWLs who have zero interest in an amateur license to consider purchasing the 718 transceiver instead. To me, it is a better radio if you can live without the 30-60 Mhz coverage. If you don't intend to use the transmitter section, it can be operated from an inexpensive 3A supply or a good lawnmower battery. If and when you ever want to take the plunge, you will have a feature packed, full-power radio at your disposal and will only have to acquire a 20A power supply - or not, if you are content to operate 2W QRP.
The ic-R75 is a good radio but for very little more an IC-718 - again, presuming you can do without the low VHF coverage - is an even better buy. It's something to consider.
WA4ZXY Rating: 2004-01-09
Good first impressions Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
The R75 arrived yesterday, so here are some first impressions of a receiver (stock filters, no Kiwa mods) I'd not seen or handled before ordering it.

The overall mass is only about 1/3 the NRD 525 I once owned. Layout of buttons, etc., very convenient and overall very sensitive... even MW and LW. Since as an old-timer I use ECSS and never had a previous RX with Sync-AM, I doubt I'll use the latter at all.

I enabled the SSB-wide filter at 15/15 because I like to zero-beat dead on the nose before switching to SSB-normal, even for AM signals. Then I found the RX about 20 Hz off calibration, and fixed it with a tuning tool whittled from a toothpick, feeding the audio to my computer and checking zero-beat visually with the Digipan program and aurally with my 8" sub-woofer. This is basically Dr. Phil's calibration procedure.

I have not been put off by the claimed AM audio ills, since this is a communications RX, not a Hi-Fi tuner. Skipping other comments on actual
performance for now, I have a few functional and ergonomic notes:

Tuning steps should have included 3 kHz for stepping thru the aero and marine SSB bands.

I would have liked white dots on the AF/RF/PBT knobs.

The RF/SQ knob should have been detended like the PBT.

Would have liked being able to suppress leading zero.

Clock should display seconds and be full-time, without a button press, even if frequency digits had to be shrunk a bit to provide display room.

Would have preferred LCD dimming done by a little dedicated button or thumb-wheel, even if located on the RX rear.

Function of the Ant/Sel switch should have been reversed, i.e. SEL should get the longer press.

Wish the RX had an additional slower AGC step like the Ten-Tec 320.

Too bad Icom didn't build in a narrow audio filter for the CW mode... cheaper than having to buy a xtal.

First conclusion: Certainly worth the money ($450) and the DSP is a nice bonus. A far better value than my old NRD-525 which costed out close to $2K (extra filters and Rs-232 option). I've not gotten the TK75 freeware control program to work yet, but didn't try very hard. Naturally, the internal speaker is adequate only for mobile/portable working... I use my old 4" wooden cube RShack external speaker with a 3" speaker, or hi-fi headphones.
AB2T Rating: 2003-12-27
Great rig! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Bought this reciever to complement a Kenwood TS-830S as a glorified recieve VFO for split, and for casual SWLing. This radio is excellent for SSB and CW use, but if you absolutely positively need sync, this isn't a good radio w/o the Kiwa mods. The ECSS sideband recieve works just as well as sync AM on other rigs, so I'm not missing the sync so much. This radio is the best bargain ever at $500 retail (November 2003).
OLYMPIAN Rating: 2003-11-17
Value-per-dollar? A+! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Everyone has different things they look for in a communications receiver. For me, it's all about signal sensitivity - all else is "supporting cast", (not that they can't be very important supporting cast!)

The Icom R-75's nominal signal sensitivity in all but the lowest SW frequencies is 1.5 microvolts.
Connected to a center-tapped 120 ft. longwire, I have been able (with lots of help from the supporting cast!) to identify stations that barely tickled the S-meter. That's my kind of receiver!
The overall design of the R-75 is solid and ergonomically sensible. Like many of the reviewers, price was a heavy factor in my decision to buy: Shipped, with DSP processor, I paid $514.
I feel the Drake R8b is an even better receiver, but as has been pointed out here many times, it is almost three times that price.

Turning to a more in-depth look at the "supporting cast", I would first of all agree with the earlier reviews regarding the Synchronous AM - it doesn't work. I'd be interested in seeing how Icom's engineers justify that it does, but it is the one big disappointment about the receiver. Most of the features work somewhere between "OK" and "great", however. The triple-stepped AGC is very nice, and the ability to kill the AGC and manually control the RF input for weak stations is one of my favorite features of the unit. Noise Blanker works perfectly for the purpose it was designed for - spurious ignition noise, etc. ANF also works well, but thought Icom states that it does not work in AM mode, it actually *does* help (as has been observed by others, too). Three stage preamp is a very nice feature, and the twin PBT (which works only in SSB, though the manual does not say that)is terrific for zeroing in on a SW or AM station, if one switches to SSB operation.

The noise reduction is less useful - even on a fuly modulated signal, it "muffles" the sound unbearably, to my ears, but then every NR circuit of this type on every receiver I've seen does the same thing. AM "wide" filter is your workhorse; the setting with no filter is helpful with very weak signals - the "narrow" AM filter selection is fairly useless.

The receiver's performance on SW is superb, SSB very good, and MW broadcast band very good, though not exceptional there, IMO (it is every bit as good as my GE Superadio III, but no better.) I do not use the CW/RTTY functions, so I cannot address those.

As has been pointed out by others, the built-in speaker leaves a great deal to be desired, but I do 99% of my listening with headphones, so this does not matter to me. I did connect an external speaker once to see how it sounded - excellent.
That will work well if you prefer to add one.
And, like any other well-equipped receiver, the longer you work with it, the more "tricks" you pick up for coaxing even better performance out of it. At the bottom line - you can put me down as a very satisfied customer. The summary line says it all.