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Reviews For: Drake R8B

Category: Receivers: General Coverage

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Review Summary For : Drake R8B
Reviews: 23MSRP: 1379.00
Product is not in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
N0TLD Rating: 2018-05-12
A truly great receiver. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I see some less-than-positive reviews here, and everyone has their own tastes and experiences with a given item... but my experience with the R8B has been nothing but fantastic.

I had one for 12 years, and sold it back when I was in a very tough situation medically... and I've missed it ever since.

I hope one day to be able to snag a nice one again.

I used my R8B to its fullest features/capacity listening to MW and DXing there, as well as amateur SSB and CW and general HF/SW program listening.

With passband tuning, a decent selection of filters already installed, a truly effective selectable sideband synchronous detector, a noise blanker that works in all modes... well, it's a damned powerhouse of shortwave receivers and I caught numerous faint and rare (for my region) signals on it that none of my other radios could hear, even with every other part of the system being the same (antenna, headphones, preamps, etc.).

I really like how essentially each function or feature has its own button or knob -- no menu upon menu sifting here! -- and its layout is very intuitive.

Many have lamented the lightness or 'weak feel' of the main tuning knob. I never really had a problem with it, but I did the little BBs/epoxy modification and felt the difference, of course. It is definitely better heavier than stock.

I never felt, as some do, that the receiver felt cheap or flimsy -- I honestly don't know how anyone comes to that conclusion, beyond possibly the tuning knob as mentioned above. I mean, I know everyone has their experiences and opinions, but it's pretty baffling to me that anyone would find it cheap, flimsy, weak, lame, etc.. No, it's not a tank but I never had a single issue with it in over 12 years of daily and nightly use, for hours at a time, *every* day and night. Not a single problem, from electronics to mechanics, over that entire time, and I put that thing through a lot of radioing craziness.

It went on numerous DXpeditions with me, utilizing all sorts of antennas from the lonnnnnnnnngwire beverages to homebrew loops and active verticals, etc..

I think the best MW DXing set up I ever had was my R8B, a Quantum ferrite loop antenna and a homebrew beverage antenna going through a Quantum Phaser to really aim and clean up all sort of signals and noise. I heard things on that set up I simply couldn't hear on anything else.

It's not the best radio ever, of course, as there is no such thing for everyone... but it's a fantastic radio and straight out of the box has the features and functions to get you really working the airwaves.
AB7Q Rating: 2013-06-30
The Best AM Broadcast Receiver Time Owned: more than 12 months.
There are better SSB and CW radios, and the Drake does a good job in those modes. That said, the Drake R8B is simply the best AM broadcast receiver at it's price point. The selectable SSB AM synchronous detection is the deciding factor. That, in combination with the passband tuning and adequate selectable filters, make it unsurpassed for AM listening. Yes, it would be nice if it had the ability to receive wider than 6khz, but when it comes to dragging a station ID out of the noise, you won't find a better radio. I have owned the R8, R8A, and MANY ham transceivers including the Elecraft K3 (with AM sync), Kenwood 950sdx, Icom 746pro, JRC NRD 525. I currently own the Kenwood TS590, Drake TR7, and Hammarlund HQ 180A. I continue in my attempt to justify selling the R8B by testing it against everything in the shack.I can't find a radio that will outperform the R8B on AM. If you love SWL,or BCB MW DX, the Drake R8B is the best in the business.
KJ4SLP Rating: 2010-02-27
Definitely deserves 5 stars Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This little receiver is a gem. I'll stack it beside most mid-level and even some top-level transceivers for the quality and sensitivity of its ears. The AM sync is top is the notch. The passband tuning is effective, though folks used to newer receivers will feel that it lacks flexibility. Open the case and you'll find excellent build quality. And the reliability of Drake products is legendary.

Another reviewer noted that he had to press the buttons several times before they responded. I can say that in >5 years of use that has never happened to me, even once.

He's on target about the tuning knob, for which Drake should be ashamed. However, all it takes to improve it is some lead split shot and a dab of epoxy.

For the record, I take exception to marking down a piece of equipment because you don't like the tuning knob. Stick to the performance and reliability, which in the case of the R8B are superb for the price.
KC5LVW Rating: 2005-03-07
I Love It! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
O.K., I do love it but i toyed with giving it a 4 or a 5 rating but I'm optimistic and here's why. First the good points:
1. No menus to deal with
2. Large display with Alphanumeric (easy too)
3. 1000 memories BUT split into groups of 10 and have ability to scan as many "lists" as you want and still locout individual freqs on any list to boot.
4. Dual clocks with timer ops
5. Mulitple audio outputs.
6. Mute for TX interfacing.
7. Direct freq entry
8. AM synchronus tuning availability
9. Good selection of bandwidth filters.
10. Scanning modes, e.g., pause, 5 sec, seek & stop
11. speed sensitive VFO
12. easy computer interface
13. multiple antenaa / type hookups
14. easy tap changer for different AC voltages.
15. easy DC hookup (use of springloaded terminals for other antennas & DC)
16. Overall RX sensitivity.

Things they could have done better:
1. More attenuation / pre-amp, 10dB is just not enough.
2. VFO knob is cheesy.
3. Audio output does not go completly to zero.
4. 6KHz for AM is fine but there are times where a 9KHz or maybe a 12KHz would be nice.
5. Would've liked a scope output but probaby not doable with 50KHz IF.
6. Line Level output is too hot, needs a little reduction.
7. Need indication that the I.F. shift is active or not at center ( for us forgetful fish).
8. Need indents for those knobs that have centers.
10. A nice bell-n-whistle would have been adjustable scan speed.

With all that being said, I do love this RX. it may be a bit hot (3uV) in the AM broadcast band for some but if it's out there, you'll hear it. Nice LARGE internal speaker and the tone control is nice although seperate Bass/treble would've been better. I got mine with the VHF add-on installed and that is a great option, definetely recommend that option. 440MHz would've been icing on the cake but 6M & 108-174MHz is very doable. I'm running mine against a IC-756Pro3, FT-847 & a set of Drake C-line twins and either equals or outperforms all. I replaced the IC-R8500 with it & never looked back. No menus to remember and I can use it as the RX for my T-4XC. BTw, hats off to the folks at Drake. Ordered on a Wed morning, it was on my doorstep Fri morning with personalized eMails along the way giving me the staus of my order every step of the way. Kudos to R.L. Drake Co. Well done guys!
KC7NYI Rating: 2004-10-27
outstanding Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Side by side: DRAKE8B with a KENWOOD2000,ICOM 756PRO 11 and a DRAKE 8,the 8B shines.Leaves the rest in the dust. I wanted one for years now I have on,it is a keeper. If you are thinking,do not.

KD7KIA Rating: 2004-02-29
Fantastic receiver Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I can't say enough good things about this receiver. Every thing about it screams quality. If I had to say anything con about it is that the NB doesn't seem to make a whole lot of difference if it is on or off. Other than that it is easy to use and a real pleasure to listen to. No listening fatigue here. If you get the chance to buy one, either new or used, do it.
WP4LDG Rating: 2003-12-20
R8B Pro and Con Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Good all-round performance for listening to world band programs. Pro: 1-sync det 2-good sound [with an external speaker] 3-No attenuator in the MW band 4-1,000 memories presets 5-five well chosen bandwidths Con: 1-Background hiss and birdies[not like the AOR 7030+ exceptional quiet circuit] 2-cheap mechanical [not optical] encoder with high failure rate 4-With the unit on or turn off the internal power supply circuit and transformer keep generating a lot of heat my [an some experts] recomendation is to use a external power supply with it] 5-not ultra precise 1hz increments tunning steps [ good for SSB hams and "utility" signals reception] like the NRD 545,Icom R-75 ect.. 6-No DSP included, like the NRD-545,Icom R-75 ect Yes this is a nice receiver [easy to use and good sound] for program listening and some dxing but definitely not the "get everything right" receiver.
KD5VC Rating: 2003-12-16
Excellent Shortwave and AM Broadcast Receiver Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have an IC-756PROII and a Racal 6790 GM3 sitting on the table along with the R-8B. The synch detector in the R-8B works extremely well, much better than the detectors in the other equipment. The sound on AM or SW broadcast stations is much superior. I also have a HRO-50R-1 and HRO-5RA1, and it is superior to those old workhorses too. The zero beat readout takes a little time to get accustomed to, but Drake always had one or two idiosyncracies. I have owned SPR-4, TR-7, R-9000, IC-781, FT-1000D and others, can't run side by side reports, but I don't remember a better receiver as far as sound or intelligibility compared to the R-8B on either AM or SSB. I was a little surprised at the 50 khz transformer filters, but the SPR-4 taught me that they can be respectable. For digging out a weak CW signal or RTTY/PSK I will use the Icom, but I find that the Drake gets turned on every time I sit down.
N3FWE Rating: 2003-06-03
Its a keeper Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have owned my Drake R8B for 3 years now and it was my first desktop general coverage receiver. I previously used a Sony 2010 and couldn't believe the difference in listening to the utility stations and broadcast stations. Sensitivity, Selectivity, and audio is top notch. The unit has a standard serial port which comes in handy for tuning the radio with 3rd party database programs.

The one thing I didn't like is the tuning knob. Very light weight. I removed it and put in some clay in the hollow of the knob to weight it down. Also I wish the display would show the frequency and text display at the same time.

The only problem with the rig is when I first purchased it. My unit had a few birdies which cause some problems. Drake checked it out and it was a grounding problem with the display. Since them it has been trouble free and its one radio I will keep.
G0UUT Rating: 2002-10-29
very poor radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
i have to say that i im using big antenna
22 element logperiodic i have the r8b for some time ,and did test it with some premium receiver .
now the radio is ok forAM mode but for hf band
it is so bad that in the end i sold it . the audio was not that great at all on ssb cw was so and so . now the drake service ,i have to say that it mey be very good in the state [USA]
BUT IN EUROPE is not so great at all, well no wonder drake didnt last so long .
if you like very good receiver go for icom r9000
or jrc nrd545 best receiver best audio
. drake i have to say sorry but you not as well
as you use to be .