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Flex 6500 with Maestro Noise Reduction and Noise Blanker

Moose
Moose Member ✭✭
edited June 2020 in SmartSDR for Windows
I'm considering buying a Flex 6500 with the Maestro. This would be a second radio for me along with an Icom IC-7600. I'm considering either the 6500 or a Yaesu FTDX-5000 or FTDX-9000 (I can get a used 9000 for about the same money as the Flex package I am considering). 

I'm primarily a SSB phone operator in public service so I sometimes spend several hours on the radio. Good noise reduction and listening comfort are important to me. I believe several years ago there were some issues with the NR and NB features in SmartSDR. How well has that matured since then? How well the NR and NB features currently work? Does the NR and NB work different in the Maestro than in SmartSDR?

The Flex 6500 and Maestro combination look like it would be awesome to operate, I just wouldn't want to spend that kind of money and be disappointed in features such as NR and NB that are very well implemented in radios such as those I referenced above.

73 Chris AK4SK
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Answers

  • David
    David Member ✭✭
    edited October 2017
    The Maestro is a hardware knobs and button solution and uses the same software SSDR so there is no  difference on the filtering. I have found the filtering to be very good. One of the issues is learning how to use them effectively. I would suggest if possible you visit someone local that has a FlexRadio and try it out or do a remote session with someone. Keep in mind they offer a 30 day trail that you might want to consider.
  • EA4GLI
    EA4GLI Salvador Member ✭✭✭
    edited October 2017
    YEah! What David said (+1)

    The 30 day money back guaranteed is a fantastic deal and probably the very best way to see for yourself if NR and NB.... and don't forget WNB, work at your location with your antennas and local noise sources. My personal experience is that all of them work great. WNB works extremely well for me.... but it doesn't for others... 

    Even if you get the Maestro you will need a PC to get the best out of the radio as some features (Band data) require a computer to be interfaced with an amplifier.

    A well behaved maestro will also require a solid network... more so if you plan to use WiFi. 
    All of these things will present themselves as either insurmountable problems or as non issues once you try the combo for 30 days in your radio shack. It is by far your best option, I am not sure if you have the 30 day money back guarantee with the other radios.... 

    Good luck!
  • Tim VE6SH
    Tim VE6SH Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    I had a FT9000 which I sold to acquire a 6700. Nothing at all wrong with the 9000 and it is a great radio. The concern I had is the 9000 was maxed out in terms of DSP and hardware upgrades. I went with the 6700 primarily for the NR and filtering. In that respect the NR and WNB are light years ahead in the 6700. I have substantial noise on 40 which the 9000 just could not address. The NR in the 6700 easily deals with it and made the band a pleasure to use during the IARU Contest.

    Tim VE6SH
  • Moose
    Moose Member ✭✭
    edited September 2016
    Thanks. I'm going to buy used as I do with almost all amateur gear I purchase.
  • Moose
    Moose Member ✭✭
    edited September 2016
    I'm in need of a computer upgrade anyways so no worries there. I would make sure to get one that was more than adequate.
  • Moose
    Moose Member ✭✭
    edited September 2016
    Thank you for the comparison. One reason I'm hesitant on the 9000 is how old it is. The NR in the FTDX-5000 is amazing and I understand the 9000 to be comparable. I like the identical dual independent receivers in the 9000 and some of the other features over the 5000.
  • Burch - K4QXX
    Burch - K4QXX Member ✭✭
    edited July 2018
    I've not used the NR much on the 6700 but the WNB works pretty good at my location on most bands.  I have horrible powerline noise right now and 6-20 meters would be almost unusable most days without the WNB.
  • John-K3MA
    John-K3MA Member
    edited June 2020
    I have not used the rigs you mention but did own a FTDX3000 at one point.  With the rigs I have owned and compared the Flex with it is my opinion that the Flex is trailing behind in NB and NR (also ANF) capabilities.  That being said it is also my opinion that Flex is leadingor at leas par in WNB, AGC and Filtering capabilities.  WNB requires proper adjustment of the AGC to work on the types of noised it was designed to reduce.  It does very well.  Additionally, the correct use of AGC and brick wall filter selection often produces a better result than the use of NB and NR.
  • Moose
    Moose Member ✭✭
    edited September 2016
    Thanks. It is comments like your that have me concerned a little.
  • HCampbell  WB4IVF
    HCampbell WB4IVF Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019

    Per your previous postings, were you ever able to resolve your problems with your Flex 1500’s NR and NB?  Generally I’m happy with the NR/NB in both my 6700 and ICOM 7410.  But while I much prefer the 6700 in most other respects, I think banking on one radio’s NR or NB to be better than another’s in addressing noise issues at a specific location and for a specific noise source is a crapshoot.

    Howard



  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited October 2017
    Something to consider is a 6300/ Maestro combination. The 6300 has only 2 slices (vfos) and Maestro only supports two anyway.Plus, it is my understanding Flex has 6300s for sale used. So, presumably they would be used prices with warranty. The main thing, which David suggested if find som who can let yoau play with theirs.The main obstacle you'll have is the ergonomics (no knobs or switches) which of course Maestro addresses.
  • Ben - AE4NT
    Ben - AE4NT Member
    edited July 2016
    My most recent rig before I got the 6300 (soon to be a 6500) was also the FTDX3000. I felt that the NB was pretty ineffectual, but the DNR was great. I find the reverse to be true with the Flex. NR is ineffectual for weak signals, but I have formed a very positive impression of the WNB. As everyone else says, tweaking it along with the AGC is essential to effective operation.

    73,
    Ben - AE4NT
  • Ken - NM9P
    Ken - NM9P Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    I have had a 6500 for almost three years and have seen it steadily improve. 

    To begin with, the 6000 series is a very quiet receiver.

    With proper adjustment of RX bandwidth, AGC-Threshold, NR setting and RX EQ, it is possible to get very good NR performance. 

    The WNB and NB can be either great or average, depending upon the type of noise source.  They are not simple "set and forget" blankers.  They need to be adjusted to match the band conditions.  They also interact somewhat with filter bandwidth, panadapter width, and AGC-T settings. 

    I have found that every rig I have owned excelled at one type and average at a different type, and the preferred type varied among manufacturers.  Flex is continuing to research, modify and test new routines for NB and WNB.  So NB / WNB performance should continue to improve over the effective lifetime of the rig.

    ANF still needs some work, but the TNF (a manual, tracking notch filter) is superb and adds very little color to the received signal, beyond what you would expect when notching a slice of audio out of a voice signal.

    Driving a 6000 series is like driving a fine sports car.  It isn't as simple as a low end Chevy, Ford, or Yugo, but when you learn how to drive them properly, the performance is amazing.  And the neat thing is that with continued software advances, they keep getting better and better.  Don't forget to add that piece into your calculations.

    Ken - NM9P
  • EA4GLI
    EA4GLI Salvador Member ✭✭✭
    edited November 2016
    I find NR usable in 40m, and almost absolutely necessary for 80 and 160.
    I hardly ever use NR 30m and above. I have a 6700. But it was also the case when I had the 6300.
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Even putting the noise mitigation aside for a moment, are you not considering all the other advantages the Flex has over the radios you are looking at?
  • Ned K1NJ
    Ned K1NJ Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016

       Something no one seems to mention is weight and size.  An FTDX-9000 weighs about 64 lbs. and is 20" wide.  I don't want to deal with packing/unpacking and
    moving it around.  When top tier radios are so close in performance, other factors may be as important in a particular situation.  The Flex radios are superior
    instruments and they are "manageable".

    Ned,  K1NJ
  • Moose
    Moose Member ✭✭
    edited September 2016
    Thank you Ben, Ken, and EA4GLI.

    Bill,
    Yes I am. I like that the Flex 6500 is the newest and most advanced technologically of them all. I do like also that it is constantly being improved as Ken mentioned. But when it comes down to it SSB noise reduction is one of the most important things for me after a basic feature set is established. 

    I know that comparisons are subjective and influenced by conditions at each reviewer's location ,etc. With that said I've owned enough HF rigs now that I can generally get a good idea of how well a receiver will do for me based on what people are saying.

    And to Ned, yes that is a consideration but not a huge one for me. I would have to rearrange my shack desk quite a bit for a 9000, not so much or at all for a Flex.
  • Moose
    Moose Member ✭✭
    edited September 2016
    No. My understanding is that NR just didn't work well with the 1500 and AGC-T was how noise should be dealt with. I got the 1500 as part of a deal where the other included equipment was what I really wanted. So I gave it a try and sold it when I found out I wasn't really satisfied with it. I addressed your last statement immediately above. I agree, but that is the only basis for comparison I have.
  • Moose
    Moose Member ✭✭
    edited September 2016
    Thank you Walt, I will consider that as well.
  • Tim - W4TME
    Tim - W4TME Administrator, FlexRadio Employee admin
    edited June 2020
    There is a dynamic here that needs to be articulated.  Noise is one of the most complex waveforms you will encounter in the RF spectrum.  The waveform "signature" can be characterized by how well correlated (periodic) the noise is or not (very random). Noise characteristics are going to vary, even from the same source.

    Unfortunately, there is no "one size fits all" noise mitigation solution.  This is exemplified by comments made here where some say the NR , NB or WNB works great, where others do not find it as effective.  This indicates that that generally, there are not systematic issues with the current noise mitigation features.  Are they perfect? No, there is always room for improvement and fortunately, these features can be completely replaced with a software upgrade.

    So, while your A/B comparison question is reasonable, providing an absolute answer is not achievable as there are too many variables in play.
  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    Hey Tim, I hesitate to even broach this but I think a lot of the questions on this haven't been so much comparing the 6000 to other vendors, rather SSDR to PSDR, so, on the surface, it feels like it's a hurdle you guys have already jumped. And, please, no flames.
  • Ken - NM9P
    Ken - NM9P Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    @Tim... Ain't that the truth!
    When I had a 6500, 1500, and modified TS-850SAT (its noise blanker was total junk until it was modified, then worked very well)  I found that each one excelled at different noise sources when the others were deficient.  It varied even as to time of day, band conditions, particular noise source, etc. 

    There are times when the 6500 WNB and/or NB is excellent, even spectacular, and other times when the NB on the 1500 was more effective, and still other times when either NB1 or NB2 on the S-850 was more effective. 

    I could get acceptable NR performance on my 1500 as well, sometimes even better than the 6500's NR, but it took a lot of tweaking of the parameters.  And then when conditions or noise changed, I needed to do it all over again.

    However, even with nothing at all engaged on the 6500, the whole receive chain is MUCH quieter than the TS-850.  When I engage NR and adjust AGC-T & filters, and then compensate with some RX EQ boost, there is a LOT less noise and much less operator fatigue.

    Then there are all the other advantages of the 6500....!

    I look forward to the continued progress on the DSP. 
  • Jay Nation
    Jay Nation Member ✭✭
    edited August 2016
    Moose
    "Some" of the "issues" with NB, and NR, had a lot more to do folks complaining about their own lack of knowledge and skill about adjusting their radios, Sometimes they stopped complaining when they started listening, when told to download and read the manual.

    Sometimes it was just crowd noise. Everybody love's to join in and be part of the conversation.

    Pay attention, when How to adjust the AGC-T control is being discussed. There is more to it, than just "it slides it left, or right".

    It's good your doing your research and asking ahead of time.image

    73, Jay - NO5J 
  • Moose
    Moose Member ✭✭
    edited September 2016
    Thanks Tim. I'm really just looking for general opinions and comparisons. 

    73 Chris AK4SK
  • Tim - W4TME
    Tim - W4TME Administrator, FlexRadio Employee admin
    edited December 2016
    And you will get them in spades, I suspect.  I just wanted to make certain that you viewed the answers through the correct lens, so to speak.
  • Moose
    Moose Member ✭✭
    edited September 2016
    Ok, thank you very much for that.
  • EA4GLI
    EA4GLI Salvador Member ✭✭✭
    edited November 2016
    Interesting, I thought (still do) NR on the 1500 was outstanding!
  • HCampbell  WB4IVF
    HCampbell WB4IVF Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016

    Moose –

    Have you considered a Rx-only, or a more directional, antenna?  I was not a believer in Rx antennas, until I put up my beverages!  Others have reported good results with smaller Rx antennas as well, including Pixel-type loops.    I have a 6700 and several ICOMs, but sometimes none are as effective as the antennas in attenuating noise. 

    Howard



  • Jay Nation
    Jay Nation Member ✭✭
    edited August 2016
    Ken 

    Ain't it funny how Noise (static), turns out to be so dynamic.

    It's hard to make noise go away.
    We should all keep that in mind.
    Sorry, I felt like adding to the noise too!image

    Jay - NO5J
  • Moose
    Moose Member ✭✭
    edited September 2016
    Howard,
    I have plans for a Beverage, I just have made an effort to get everything I need to install one. 

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