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The "SDR" part of the Icom 7300 compared with Flex ?

2

Answers

  • Steve K9ZW
    Steve K9ZW Member ✭✭✭
    edited November 2016

    Let's agree to disagree.  Unless someone agrees it is a worthwhile investment to do a DB Test, we will never know.  If you'd like some easy-read information on product/marketplace testing strategies email me - good at QRZ.  (BTW I did an MBA in the UK, which was very interesting in doing market testing British-Style, which is a bit differently than in Germany or the USA.  Some of the differences have been reduced as the world has globalized & homogenized, but their remain differences.)

    In many ways the lab work done by Sherwood and the ARRL is as close to a DB Test as you are going to ever see Guy. 

    BTW spending some time with a IC-7300 was fun, but I don't have any plans to buy one.  I thought it was a neat unit, just the antithesis of where I am going with my "Modern Stations" that has the Flex-6700s in them. 

    73

    Steve K9ZW


  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    Please remember that a great many of the radios out there have arrived at product development levels that "to the ear" are not readily different - they all exceed our limitations as testers. 
    And that is pretty much the point here. I do, however, disagree, with your assessment on it's importance. It's used all the time in social sciences AS WELL as quantifiable sciences. But here we seem to be conflating opinions with science. And everyone is absolutely entitled to their opinion. Particularly in the case, discussed, ad nauseum, on here, much of the animus is over one opinion vs another from people that, given when most of us were young and crazy and went to one too many rock concerts or had the radio turned up consistently too loud, can't actually hear very well any more anyway.    But even if we were all in our 20's still, if you didn't know what it was, you couldn't tell what it was. So, by definition, that limits the testing to non-visual. Or so the hypothesis goes. This should absolutely not be considered as bashing at all as, if the results showed one, good hearing or not, absolutely could tell the difference, that is an equally important data point. My only point in dbl blind is that for anyone, wanting it so does not make it so.
  • Steve K9ZW
    Steve K9ZW Member ✭✭✭
    edited November 2016

    @Walt - agree.  As the "user experience" is neutered when the axis-of-differentiation that the user actually can make choice-decision on is marked to accomplish the Double-Blind Test what is gained through the test?  In my opinion the ROI (Return on Investment) for the exercise would be an insignificant predictor of marketplace performance in a peer radio instance. 

    Since we cannot hear the difference for the most part, and would need to be kept hands off (imagining asking a control operator to activate/deactivate features/filters, so the test subjects were kept away from the bias of actual product contact, what would we learn?

    Then knowing that the concealed product features are the actual axis-of-differentiation the buyer/owner uses, and that they can largely outweigh performance in many instances, would we even have a chance to learn anything useful?

    Help me out, as I cannot see how to run a DB with any meaningful product with these parameters.

    Thanks and 73

    Steve K9ZW


  • Ken - NM9P
    Ken - NM9P Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    I don't know that the 7300 is better than a properly adjusted Flex, but I will agree that in some of its standard profiles, the few 7300's I have heard on the air do sound very nice.  I heard Don - K7MX on the air a few days after he got a 7300 for testing.  He did some A/B demos and the 7300 sounded very good.  I still preferred the sound of his 6000 series...it was richer, and had better presence and fuller fidelity.  But he hadn't spent much time fine tuning it.  It was also on a standard 2.7 kHz kHz bandwidth with a "Rag Chew" profile.  So it was sort of apples & oranges.  The bottom line, though, was that I am sure the 7300 can be adjusted to sound very nice... as any proper SDR transmitter should be.

    But then, it should be a simple matter to get a transmitter to sound good.  I am baffled that so many manufacturers don't seem to be able to master something that should ultimately be much simpler than mastering all the ins and outs of receiver design and all the DSP, NB, NR, Dynamic range, etc. involved in producing a fine receiver.

    Other things I don't know about the 7300 are what a DX or Contesting profile would sound like, how the Compressor/Processor sounds, and how easy it is to program various profiles for different purposes.  I have become quite familiar with the PROC, TX EQ, TX filtering, and DEXP on the Flex 6000 and I like the way I can get it to sound in all of my various profiles.  I also like how easy it is to adjust and save new ones.

    I currently have at least 12 different Mic profiles - 5 or 6 for my home station and main mic.  And about 6 more for various remote situations and different mics they use - i.e. the hands-free in my car, my Bluetooth headset when operating remote with my iPad, my wired headset at the office when using that computer and SSDR via the VPN, and my iPhone ear buds when playing around with the iPhone app....and I have both rag-chew and DX versions of each profile for each mic.  I haven't seen reference to anything that convenient in the 7300 literature.  Perhaps I have missed it.  But these are performance bonuses that add value to my 6000 experience. 

    Granted that we are comparing only the first release of the 7300 firmware/software.  There are bound to be additional improvements. 

    As I said before..."It sure is going to be interesting the next few years!"

    Ken - NM9P
  • km9r.mike
    km9r.mike Member
    edited June 2016
    @ Phil

    I saw a little of that and it was so over the top I could not even finish it.,
  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    How can I do this without coming under attack? OK, I think I have it. It goes to the ambient animus level on here with certain topics. As I've said before, I think there is great value in using any radio before one gets too far along in a purchase decision, regardless of the net result. I believe the value is ONLY practical in the deliberative stage of a purchase. Once you own one, as you said, it is sort of irrelevant unless someone has cycled back to the evaluation phase. So, in that regard it actually would be informative to know where one might reasonably expect there to be no definitive audible  difference vs the knee **** of "of course you can". Case in point, let's take whatever thread it was with the guy doing an audible A:B between the 6300 and 7300. Frankly, as some of the youtube comments said, I couldn't tell, or more specifically, at time's I'd have said "oh clearly the 6300" and others "oh clearly the 7300". And we knew which one he was testing. So, the DB part is more as a definitive no preconceived expectation. Like an optometist, not entirely DB but, "can you see better now or...how about now".  In that case (s)he needs to know what the various strengths are and are trained not to verbally weight one over the other.

    I think, for the most part, we're a technically savvy group. It would be nice to separate fact from marketing.

    To some extent I say this only by way of a thought experiment but perhaps it requires another column in Rob's table. This could, in part, be satisfied with a line between the unimportant row and important row. If 'important' is being used as a synonym for discernible, yes, that should work. If not, then yes, it needs another line for discernible. Rob did reference this in another forum.
  • Ken - NM9P
    Ken - NM9P Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    While Double-Blind studies are great for testing soft drinks or medicines, I am not sure they would be practical or enlightening for amateur radio equipment or automobiles.  How would you do a double blind study of an auto without letting the subjects drive it?  and would you use the same steering wheel and brake pedals for each vehicle?  But they are part of the driving experience.....

    The same, I think, is true between the Flex-6000 and the IC-7300 and other rigs.  The user interface is part of the driving experience.  The panadapter, the graphics, the control surfaces, or lack thereof, the ability to quickly make adjustments of critical receiving parameters to fine tune performance...these are all part of the "driving experience" of the various rigs. 

    Indeed, unless the operator is given time to familiarize himself/herself with the controls and capabilities of the rigs, how can their ultimate performance be compared?

    Howard made reference to this problem in one of his "shoot-out" articles.  The fly in the ointment in the comparison between the K3 and the Flex-6700 was that an "impartial 3rd party" adjusted each rig to the way HE thought each one sounded best.  But the problem was that the 3rd party wasn't perfectly familiar with all of the controls of both radios.  Therefore the "best" of each rig was not actually the "best" that an experienced operator would be able to achieve with either of the two rigs.  This reduced the effectiveness of the comparison. 

    I have had a few people say... "But your rig will never sound like mine.."  My response, if I were more unkind, would be:    "Why would I want it to?"   [grin]

    Ken - NM9P
  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    I am not disputing there are other factors Ken. I do dispute the not applicable, of course it would be relevant. Perhaps a footnote by Rob that addresses each category and specifies the 'cohort' of other rigs any give value is in. People are reading WAY to much into the Sherwood list and there is currently no guidance on, within any category, what n rigs are identical, ergo the accusation one is 'worshipping at the alter of Sherwood" by cherry picking perhaps meaningless distinctions. Perhaps color code them.

    I was addressing the singular column Rob sorts on and is the stick with which people on here beat up on icom/kenwood owners or prospects and perhaps K3S owners beat up on Kenwood owners although I've seen no evidence of that.

    So being a fact based person I, speaking for all fact based people, would like to render the sherwood list ineffective as an evaluation tool as it exists today in its current form. Therefore a statistically meaningful test, not one conducted by people with a dog in the race. Think of it as the  food pyramid being financed by General Mills (eat lots of simple carbs every day).
  • Charles - K5UA
    edited June 2016
    Hi Ken,

    I wasn't going to mention Don, K7MX, but he did an audio test between his 6500 and his 7300 using his self-described "$17 headset" mic.  After hearing the test, I told him the $17 headset sounded like a $17 headset on the Flex,  and it sounded like a studio mic on the 7300.  I'm sure Don will confirm this test that I had with him this weekend.  I did not know how to break the news to him, but he was not surprised since he had received similar reports earlier.

    Like you Ken, I find it difficult to believe that there could be such dramatic transmit audio differences between such sophisticated radios.  It is remarkable to me that the 7300, which has only HI and LOW boost EQ controls,can sound better than any ESSB station I have ever heard. (There go all my ESSB friends).  I am just in awe of the 7300 transmit audio.  That is the only quality of the 7300 I am addressing, the transmit audio. The 7300 may indeed be flawed in many areas identified by other posters on this community, but transmit audio is NOT one of those areas.

    I am a dyed-in-the wool 6500 user, but know fantastic audio when I hear it.

    Ask Don run the test again for you Ken, the truth will set you free! (LOL)

  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    All silly to me, I still think it boils down to likes and dislikes. to find out what radio is best, give me a break
  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    OK Bill, I'll take the bait. "To find out which one is best, gimme a break". When did anyone say that? To say that, to you, it boils down to likes and dislikes. You should at some point realize that sort of blind faith doesn't work for everyone.
  • km9r.mike
    km9r.mike Member
    edited June 2016
    Hi Charles,

    Not doubting what you heard but I came across a different situation with a different tester. The pr 781 on his 7300 sounded unimpressive and almost detracted from the semi legendary 781. It was as if the 7300 could not drive the mic properly but that could have been user settings, however an off brand hand mic he used sounded superior to the 781 ( huh ? ).

    I also heard an average user of the 7300 in a round table and his audio was just that average. I have no doubt that you heard excellent audio but I do not think it is a result of plugging in the radio and turning on the power switch.

    Seems to me that at a minimum the supplied icom hand mic would sound vastly superior to the $17 off the shelf studio quality sounding mic. Think about it.
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    It just seems to me, that this is not like a taste test, deciding on a radio is really a complicated thing, some may buy only based on bench test, fools be them. Others, because it is big with a lot of dials, impressive.what ever it is. So I;m really asking, what would the d blind test do? End result?
  • Tim - W4TME
    Tim - W4TME Administrator, FlexRadio Employee admin
    edited December 2016
    If you want to use both radios, buy a 6300 and 7300.  Use them for 30 days.  If you want to keep the 7300, we will refund you 100% of your purchase price.  You want to keep the 6300, we will refund you 90% of your invoice price of the 7300.
  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    It removes some of the chaff. It differentiates relevant from irrelevant. As you said, "buys only based on bench tests...", precisely, yet so many people do and use it to beat up on others with erroneous interpretation of it. Tools can be great but not so much when they are misused.
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Tim..what do you mean? all this hand writing as Walt would say is for nothing, what about all the testing that has been talked about,,,lol to funny
  • Ken - NM9P
    Ken - NM9P Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Charles & Mike,  your two anecdotes are exactly why I have been saying in this forum and in my tutorials that NO mike combination will be perfect, or sometimes even GOOD, with standard SDR settings.  They ALL require either major adjustment or minor fine tuning in order to match the mike to the voice and the purpose. 

    The FLEX can sound good with many cheap mikes, but will never sound great. 
    You cannot add with EQ and Processing what is missing from the beginning. 
    But the difference between a $150 mike and a $600 mike is going to be lost on most people's ears, speakers, headphones, etc. though there are probably a small few who will be able to tell the difference.  But simply doing A/B comparisons between two mikes is not helpful because each mike will need to have its own custom setup - mic level, EQ, Filter width, PRPC, DEXP, etc. to bring out the best that each mic has to offer.

    In the case of Don's $17 cheapo mike, it apparently matches one of the IC-7300's standard profiles nicely.  My guess is that if Don worked at it, he could probably get it to sound just as good on the 6000.......and the same for the 781 on the 7300.  It may be that Mike's friend was using the 781 with one of the 7300 standard profiles that was a poor match to it, either in gain or EQ.....My guess is that on both 6000 and IC-7300, one important key to good audio is the retraining of the operator behind the mike.  Almost all of these rigs with DSP Transmit generators can sound good.  Many of them sound extraordinary.  I personally prefer the way I have been able to adjust my Flex.  But that is for MY voice. I have no reason to bash the 7300 for transmit audio.  I am sure it can be made to sound great, too.  The receiver, panadapter, and digital audio transfer channels....I don't think they are in the same league as the 6000.  But for 1500, it is going to make a lot of hams happy.  If I had an extra $1500 I might buy one.......no....I think I would buy a Maestro for my 6500 first......so I need an extra $2800.  {grin}

    BTW, Charles....I also play around with ESSB from time to time.  Unfortunately there are some ESSB stations I have heard that are simply WIDE, not Enhanced!  ha.  In fact, what some of them call "Great bass"  is simply a droning signal at about 100-125 Hz that is 20 dB above anything else in the signal and is so strong that I would swear that they had a carrier on their signal until I finished tuning it in.  The resulting bass droning sounds like one of those Mega-Stereo Subwoofer cars that you can hear a mile away as it comes down your street, and is so irritating that I am forced to resort to raising my filter low-end to about 150 Hz in order to filter it out!  (I am so very thankful for brickwall filtering on my 6500!)

    Great bass, like processing,  can be and often is severely overdone. 
    But that is the American way...."If a little is good, then a lot is better!"

    Ken - NM9P
  • Charles - K5UA
    edited June 2016
    Hi Mike,

    I need to figure out how to route my RX audio to Adobe Audition so I can record these on-air audio tests, convert them to mp3s, and post them so everyone can hear what I heard in real time. I have heard on bad 7300, but it was way over compressed audio.  All the others I heard were truly the best audio I have heard at any bandwidth.  Stay tuned and hopefully I can get some good recordings.
     
  • Tim - W4TME
    Tim - W4TME Administrator, FlexRadio Employee admin
    edited December 2016
    Hand wringing, double blindness aside, we have de-risked the buying decision for those who are considering both the 6300 and the 7300. We would hate for someone to have buyer's remorse after choosing one radio over another.  It demonstrates we have confidence in our total SDR architecture and products.
  • Ken - NM9P
    Ken - NM9P Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    @Walt....several posts up the line...... At Dayton, Steve was presenting at the SDR forum that once a group of radios gets to the top tiers of MDS & Dynamic Range, that other factors, like Receive and Transmit Oscillator Phase Noise becomes more and more important, as are things such as filter shape, receive audio chain, noise abatement, future expandability, and Human & Digital Interfacing (my paraphrase).  

    So, I agree that none of us should simply bow down at the altar of a single parameter on the Sherwood list.

    There are a myriad of other factors that drive hams to their rig of choice.  My evaluation (biased as it may be) is that the 6000 series, even the 6300 is a superior rig to the 7300.  The question is "How much more superior?  In what ways?  and Does it matter to the average ham?  Is it enough more superior to be worth the extra cost?"  For many hams, the answer will steer them to the 7300.  Many others have particular needs and interests that will steer them to various models of the 6000 series ... or to other competitors.   The fact that the choices are multiplying is going to be good for all of us!  
  • Charles - K5UA
    edited June 2016
    Ken,

    I feel your pain about the hyper-base of some ESSB stations.  I prefer BSSB "Balanced Single Side Band".  I agree, that boom-boom-boom audio is not pleasant to listen to.
  • km9r.mike
    km9r.mike Member
    edited June 2016
    @ Ken,

    Yes the $17 dollar mic could have been a perfect match for his voice and the rig profile he was using and the icom hand mic could have produced a poorer result for his voice characteristics.

    I  appreciate your explanations on this topic for I have learned from what you have provided. Before your and Howard's input on the topic of audio, I had almost zero understanding / appreciation about how an op's voice profile and the mic 's profile can result in different eq settings. Thank goodness for the panfall for w/o it I would be lost. Not only have I learned from you on how to use my panfall to set my transmit audio eq settings, I use it to affirm what I am hearing from other ops in diagnosing their audio quality. 

    Another thing that you have not mentioned yet, but I think adds to the overall sound quality is an hf amplifier and if an op does not have an hf amp I have noticed that clarity goes a long way and will beat excessive compression / modulation any day.

    Kinda along the same lines, I am trying to develop the habit of just using my normal conversation voice level and let radio setting provide the extra punch (ie contest profile) with emphasis on clarity.
  • Ken - NM9P
    Ken - NM9P Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    I isn't just ESSB stations, either., Charles. There are plenty of standard bandwidth who seem to think that all that extra bass they can get from their PR40 or RE27 gives them "ba**s." (terminology learned during my college radio broadcasting days.). But in reality, when overdone, it is a real pain in my neck....or a little lower.
  • km9r.mike
    km9r.mike Member
    edited June 2016
    @ Charles

    I believe that you have a good ear and a very good appreciation for great sounding audio. I was just emphasizing that I have heard some examples that lead me to believe that this was possibly more than just plugging in the radio and turning on the power switch.

    The average audio example I commented on was heavy on highs and heavy on lows and nothing between. A great sounding audio in that specific group was a pro III but did not get the specifics if there was something else in his audio chain.
  • DrTeeth
    DrTeeth Member ✭✭
    edited August 2016
    Sometimes I think that there is too much adjustment possible with the Flex. And this long thread is just about qualitative audio quality :-o.
  • DrTeeth
    DrTeeth Member ✭✭
    edited August 2016
    @Tim
    "If you want to use both radios, buy a 6300 and 7300.  Use them for 30 days.  If you want to keep the 7300, we will refund you 100% of your purchase price.  You want to keep the 6300, we will refund you 90% of your invoice price of the 7300".
    Be careful, you do not mention anything about having to give one of the radios back ;-).
  • Ken - NM9P
    Ken - NM9P Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    @Mike....amen. Penetrating clarity will almost always win over over-compressed, overdriven "loudness."

    I am amused when I hear, and see on my pan, stations getting frustrated in a pileup and beginning to eat the mike and shout, thinking that it gives them an edge. I can see that they are spreading their signal out, wasting power in Distortion products, and their shouting up close is reducing clarity....they now have two factors, each actually reducing their chances in the pileup....

    If you want to play sometime, use the full duplex trick I used in my videos and monitor yourself in the second receiver . While you are talking, take the 1K slider and run it up and down slowly to both extremes and see how it affects your signal. It is amazing the difference power & punch vs. clarity and natural sound you will see. The trick is to find the balance between the extremes. The "perfect spot" along the dial depends upon your purpose.

    The same goes for the other sliders, though the 500, 1K, and 2K are the most dramatic.
    Too much 1k makes you sound "****" or horn-like. Too little lack power and clarity.
    Too much 500Hz makes you sound like you are in a barrel, Too little makes you sound weak, and vowels are Indistinct and hard to understand.
    Too much 2K makes you sound sharp and irritating, too little and consonants become indistinct and clarity suffers greatly.
    Too much 4K makes you "hissy" and sound like you have a lisp or a whistle when you talk. Too little and you lack high end presence. Even though 4K is outside the usual 2.9kHz filter bandwidth, the lower end of the enhancement curve overlaps some of the range covered by the 2K control.
    Too much 250Hz makes you boomy. Too little makes you sound thin and lacking in low end presence.
    The 125 and 63 sliders add foundation in rag chew or ESSB modes, and can be important in finishing out a quality profile.

    The trick is to listen with a quality set of headphones while adjusting these controls one at a time through their respective ranges until you really become familiar with what they each add or subtract from your audio profile. As you listen, and look at the pan display, you begin to get a real feel for it. For your own voice, anyway......

    I am afraid that I have gone far afield from the OT, but perhaps not. The ability to adjust proper transmit profiles is a major part of the SDR functions of any modern rig.

    Good luck, and have fun.

    Ken - NM9P
  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    So Tim chimed in with Flex's try it for free for 30 days against the 7300, buy both. I concur with Rudy's assessment on that, but hey.

    No, I am not advocating people buy an ICOM or Kenwood or anything else. To distil this out for people is to use good arguments to make your case, not contrived ones that reflect poorly on the people that use them. How one markets a product, any product, counts, even if it's done by amateurs.

    I own and use a 6500. There are many things I like about it. There are some I do not like about it. Some of those I've resolved. Requiring a computer to simply read the mail, I haven't and not sure I can but I did make a heart-felt suggestion about a product I felt will have tremendous traction, if only, with the non-contesters in the population of Amateur Radio Enthusiasts. I agree with Barry, someone is going to do that. I prefer it be Flex as I've made a rather large investment in SSDR.

    If this is sounding like I am kinda wrapping up here, it is, as I am.
  • W7NGA
    W7NGA Member ✭✭
    edited June 2020
    Methinks if residual FM, phase noise, modulation index, and ultimate dynamic range is your main concern and focus in Ham Radio .. then sorry, you've missed the salient point (in my opinion) of being an amateur radio operator. Just to be clear .. I've seen more heart and soul in the guy with a DX60 and Hallicrafters SX101 .. trying to talk to his brother in Namiba on CW, than any of these soulless discussions of Sherwood rankings and the thrill of working Africa whilst sitting on the deck sipping a cool one with a Maestro in their lap, remote. Reality check ... just what do you want from amateur radio? At the end of the day .. what do you come away with that has enhanced your life experience in some positive way and afforded you a glimpse into the life of someone around the world? That's ham radio (for me) .. this thread, just noise. Sorry to be blunt. But I feel my 50 year obsession with this hobby slowly slipping away into the noise per discussions like this one  .. insipid, vacuous, sometimes inane.

    I spent my weekend listening with my 6500, trying to find these stations in dire need of uber-clarity, 16-bit dynamic range, on the bleeding razors edge of competition and remote performance demands vis-a-vis Maestro and the ultimate Bluetooth connection .. and all I heard was San Diego, California, 599, TU. Next? That's ham radio? I did hear a SSB station on 17-meters from his hot tub ... with Maestro and a Martini in tow. S9+, California, QRZ? Geez ... 

    W7NGA  dan
    San Juan Island, Wa.
  • k3Tim
    k3Tim Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Was it the Martini that threw you off? 

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