6400 vs 6500

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Hello all, newbie here.  I am interested in the 6400 and have seen the specs on the Flex website.  I see that there was a previous model, the 6500, that was apparently discontinued.  I guess I am confused about why a newer model has a lower number designation, and what the difference in features are.  I have found a spec sheet on the 6500 but it is hard to compare the two models because the different spec sheets list different specs and there is no place where they are compared side-by-side.  I see where they are offering a refurbished 6500 for $1000 more than the 6400.  Is this a pretty good deal or is there something about the 6500 that makes it obsolete or soon to be obsolete?
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Bill - W7DOC

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Posted 9 months ago

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Bob Craig, K8RC

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The original lineup, bottom to top was 6300, 6500, 6700. The 6300 had a lower spec SCU (Spectral Capture Unit)  than the other two units. the 6500 had a single higher spec SCU the 6700 two SCUs.

In the new lineup 6400=upgraded 6300, 6600=upgraded 6500 and the 6700 is still king.

So the total "spectrum" of 6000-series radios, from bottom to top is:
6300,6400,6500,6600 & 6700. The M variants essentially include a Maestro console as a front panel.

There are other differences but that's the basics.
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Brian Morgan VK7RR

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When the two new models were announced I looked long and hard at whether to trade in my Flex 6500 for one of the new models. As Bob has said, the 6400 is in between the old 6300 and the 6500 and the 6600 in between the 6500 and 6700. I decided that my 6500 does everything that I needed. If I was thinking about what to buy, I would choose between the 6500, 6600 and 6700 depending on your budget. Whichever you choose, you will be very happy with it.
If I had my time over  I would still have chosen the 6500.
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WH6HI - Pat

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I had pretty much the same thoughts about trading. But what changed my mind was actually the physical height of the 6400/6600. It did not fit on my desk as I am limited in space. I know that for most it is a minor concern. And it is minor , but differences in specs are so close that it was just not worth the extra cost for me . the amount of changes to my shack that would have to happen was huge. I took that cost and built a better antenna system that is paying off immensely.

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Bill -VA3WTB

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The 6400 is a direct replacement for the 6300, both radios sport 2 slices. The 6500 has up to 4 slices. And the 6500 has very good pass band filtering, pre selectors.
They have stopped production on the 6500 but is still fully supported as all Flex radios are, parts pending. None of the radios are obsolete, they still do what they were intended to do and the 6000s all used the same software.

If you were to move from a 6500 it seems to make sense to go to the 6600 witch is a nice step up.
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NX6D Dave

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The 6300 and 6500 are no longer in production. I don't think they are in stock any longer, but I'm not certain about that.

The 6700 is still in production as it has the VHF range that the other models don't have.

All of the models are equally supported by the software and servicing, so there is no inherent risk in buying a 6500.
(Edited)
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Steve - K6SRS

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The 6300 and 6500 aren't in production anymore, but Flex takes them as trade ins, brings them up to the newest software and sells them with a warranty.  I just got a 6500 from them, and am totally satisfied.  I'll wait for the 6800 to go BIG.  
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Bill - W7DOC

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Thanks for the responses.  I'm thinking the refurbished 6500 is a good value for the price.  I'm not a rabid contester or DX'er so the 6700 is a bit too high end and costly for me.  Like Steve, I would wait for the next big top model to upgrade, or maybe get a refurbished 6700.  Kind of like buying cars, I haven't bought a brand new car for 30 years.  I'm still using the 756 PRO I bought in 2000, so I figure I'm due for an upgrade from that.  And I love the idea of using a graphic computer user interface.
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Gary NC3Z

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I just went through a similar thought process and ended up buying a Certified Pre-Owned 6500 last week.
Performance numbers wise I can't see that the 6400 (or even the 6600) will show anything worthwhile. The 6500 comes with an ATU so you need to add that into the price. I liked the native XLR mic connection of the 6500 too. Plus the 6500 will give you 4 RX/Slices vs 2 on the 6400.

So for me the CPO 6500 looked like a nice deal.
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Don Babcock

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Same here Gary! The only reason I am at work today is because UPS is scheduled to deliver it TODAY!
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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To address the numbering question, I believe the 6400 is the successor of the 6300.  It has better specifications and updated hardware including the M series panel option still 2 panadapters.  the 6600 is the successor to the 6500 still 4 panadapters.  it adds a second SCU as well enhancing the value.  the 6700 remains the flagship, supports 8 panadapters, includes 2m capabilities and other ehnancements 
(Edited)
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bahillen

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I looked at all the models and the are several improvements in 6600 that were significant. Impjroved tx phase noise. This is not just a spec number but a cleaner tx. The 2 SCUs is a big thing. The 7 th order received filter is important. SO2R is not a big issue as a contest unless ur a contested but monitoring two bands with separate rx filters and low phase noise is significant to all when you get use it it. Without 2 SCUs the radio opens up to Wide and has no rx filter, wide open from broadcast band to 54 MHz. When monitoring two bands. Two antenna connectors and two rx connectors including switching from SmartSRD including local, local remote and Internet remote is a feature.

73
W9JJB
BILL
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Bill is correct....The 6600 is indeed an upgraded successor to the 6500.  And it is LESS money, too!  (Unless you want the 'M' Model)  Having TWO SCU's is a big difference, as well as the 7th Order Bandpass filters on the contesting bands.  

SO2R or not, it would be nice to be able to work 160 on one antenna and 6 or 10 on another at the same time!  I can't do that on my 6500 now.  I can only use one antenna at a time.

I own a 6500 and plan to upgrade to a 6600 as soon as I can afford to.  (I actually ordered one on Thursday before Dayton/Xenia opened last year, but had to cancel it when hit with some major medical and automotive bills and other financial uncertainties.)

I think it is going to turn some major heads once it saturates the market.

Back to the original post -- I would see the 6400 as a downgrade from my 6500. I would certainly miss the ability to use 4 pans/slices instead of only 2 on the 6400. And I would miss the better bandpass filters, balanced Mic input, and wider panadapter and ultimate frequency range, too.  To me, an extra $1000 for a good 6500 would be worth it, if you can afford it.

But the 6600 would definitely be an upgrade!
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Ken - VE5KC

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I had a Flex-6500 for a couple of years until some things changed in my life. Health problems, hospital time etc. left me down and negative. Add to this Flex discontinued the 6500 meaning immediate faster devaluation.  Without fully thinking things through I sold my 6500. I figured I would get what I could out of it, while I could, before the new models were available. I figures an Icom IC-7300 would be enough for me and less complicated to operate.

Several month later, my health improved a lot and I was doing good with adapting to my new life situation/ disability. Big surprise, I started missing my Flex 6500..  I used my Flex 1500 a bit but QRP can be very difficult from my part of the world. PowerSDR has some neat features but it's not SmartSDR. I decided to buy another Flex 6000 series rig but what model. I thought that maybe I could settle for a used 6300 but really what I wanted was a rig as good as the 6500.

I asked some of the people from Flex and read some posts from testers. I was told that the 6400 would be as good as the 6500. all it would lack is the two extra slices. As to the 6300, it lacked the preformance and specs of the 6400 had. The 6400 has better specs and is not much more expensive than a referbished 6300. So I decided to buy a Flex-6400. At first I thought the  6400M would be the radio for me and order one.  After more consideration I realized the "M" was a waste of money for me. I would not use the front panel very much after playing with it the sirst while. In my shack I have two computers that can both run my Flex.. Someday both at the same time. Also, when I had the 6500 I really didn't operate from in the shack very much. That is one of the things I missed, one of the big advantages of these radios is not being tied to the ham shack. Final decision made, I canceled the order fof a 6400M and changed it to a 6400.

Now I have my 6400 and it works great. It was easy install and setup for me, having previously owned a 6500. Bottom line with the 6400, I see no difference in preformance. The only difference is in it only having 2 slices instead of the 4 that the 6500 has. I admit that once, I did find myself trying to open more than 2 slices. It wasn't important or something I would normally want to do.

The bottom line, as I see it from my experiance, get a 6400 instead of a used 6300 or 6500. Get the 6400 instead of the 6400M unless you plan on spending a lot of time setting infront of your radio. Enjoy your new rig and the ability of not being tied to the ham shack.

Ok, so much for my story.. Hi..
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Val DM1TX

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Hi Ken, I am finding myself in a rather conflicting situation as not being able to decide if a 6400 or 6600 should be my next rig. I have never used a Flex radio but I have to say that I hate too being tied to my basement shack operation place. Not sure if I would normally use 4 slices at a time.
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Bob Gerzoff, WK2Y

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A few years ago, I went back and forth on a 6500 or 6300.  Would I ever use more than 2 slices?  I got the 6500 "just in case."  Skip forward to the present day:  I have one slice on PSK, one on FT8, one watching either CW or SSB, and another monitoring 6 meters just in case.  I have two large and one small monitors and will get a third large one as soon as I get the table extension built.  IMHO, go for as much as you can afford. You will grow into it and in short order.  
73,
Bob, WK2Y
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Val, there are almost to many choices with Flex Radio.
If I may try to simplifly things for you?

Carefully consider your needs in the shack, how do you operate? And do you see your needs change in the future? There you go.

As far as being tied to the shack? either radio you listed will un tie you. Remote is what Flex is all about.

With my type of operating I only use sometimes 2 slices and I have 4 with my 6500. but there are times I wish I could have each slice working different bands at the same time, but I can't due to having only one SCU. But it is not a biggy,,would it be for you?
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Val DM1TX

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Bill, you have certainly a strong point there. Looking at cold numbers 6600 is a heavy one. I would probably not use 4 slices. Not now,  but I am afraid if I get the taste of it the need will come.
Then I read everywhere that is not just 2 and 4 slices but 6600 has better filters and overall a successor of 6500 with improved hardware. Flex is working around the clock to improve software and add new features.
I see personally that this will be the future of Ham radio and I want to be a part of it.
In my eyes getting the 6400 is the easy way to start. It is nevertheless a great rig. But to my understanding it is not just a 6600 with 2 slices. I could be also wrong. 
I am not an "old" ham by any standards. I was first licensed in 1988. Since then 99% of my contacts are CW. The rest SSB. So it is clear I was not a big fan of digital modes. Not untill now. 
I am sure Flex Radio will open a new window for me on these modes. 
A thing that bothers me though is that remotely on your Flex you cannot natively connect a keyer.
I hope this will be corrected by Flex Radio in the nearby future.
I can imagine myself working with 6400 too. The band monitoring/openings would be monitored by Spot Collector hooked on various telnet clusters with proper filters. As soon as something interesting comes up I get an alarm and fire up a slice. No biggie. But again what worries me is that 6600 is  overall  a better rig.

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Bill -VA3WTB

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Val, it sounds like you are getting closer. If you were not buying Flex what would your budget be? Yes there are advantages to the 6600, contesting filters. 1/4 inch ballanced mic input. two SCU's. this would be a radio to grow into, it would be for me.

As you know either radio is wonderful with digital work, imagine, no wires, it is all software running behind SSDR.

It sounds like you may grow your operation, so maybe a 6600 is what you should consider.
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Val DM1TX

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Hi Bill, Thanks for input. Yes I am a step closer to go for a 6600. No M version. My budget is at 4K with a little slack if needed. But no more. I appreciate that there is an ATU included and 7th grade filters. And as I know me :-) very well if I would go for 6400 I will always think of 6600 :-) and how close I was to get it. Anyway I have on my desk 2 monitors and planning to get 2 more :-) What I really like about Flex is that I can work virtually from everywhere. To be seen how well I can do that. People are not very keen to share their experience with Flex. This Community however was of great assistance to people like me. Wishing you a great weekend!
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bahillen

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I had ordered the 6400 at Dayton in 2017. After looking and research I upgraded to the 6600 with a Control Knob. Was a great decision. I use multiple receivers all the time. I have even used two receivers on same frequency with different antennas.

Two SCUs allow looking at two bands with filtering in receivers to protect from broadcaster stations.

Working a split stations uses your two receivers. I use wire antennas and need antenna tuner because of bandwidth of antenna. Ever get some ice on your beam.?

I could not afford to buy a radio now then buy another later to upgrade.

73
Bill
W9JJB
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Val DM1TX

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Yeap Bill, I am with you on this page. I am thinking likewise as not being possible to buy a 6400 and then sell it in order to upgrade. Will cost me more. Are you happy with your 6600? What kind of radio you had before Flex?
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bahillen

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Very happy with my 6600. I have a Yaesu FT1000 MP that I have had for 5 years. It took me time to learn how to operate the Yaesu and just get in the groove. Somewhat the same with the 6600. NO cables but setting up ports and settings took time to learn. With the great capability of the Flex you will want to do things you didn’t before. Many of the things related to interface between 3 rd party applications. Like running multiple instances, spots on panadapter, local remote, firewalls etc.

If you want to get this functionality I suggest Slice-Master 6000 as it manages the setup of ports and starting and stoping 3rd party apps. I use Ham Radio Deluxe so Slice Master handles the TCP log interface.

With all the things going on I sometimes forget to do something that does something you don’t expect. Like transmitting on the wrong band. EG. with multiple FT8 sessions I hit the wrong Enable button on WSJT-X. Another is the WSJT-X doesn’t start because I DAX for that receiver is still on None rather than 1,2,3 or4. What my point is that you have to mentally get a check list to figure out what you did wrong. I can and monitor 4 different bands for FT8. Or monitor a DXpedition split while SSB and CW on same or different bands. I am clearly the weak link in the chain. It takes patience and a fellow ham with a Flex is an asset that will allow quicker progress. It is not a failure to get help and the other person will learn new things too. Win-Win.
73
Bill W9JJB
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Val DM1TX

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Thanks Bill. I can only say that I am drooling only by reading about your experience with 6600. I will be there soon. I have to say though that I will keep probably a 2nd rig just in case :-) I assume you have some big tower antennas overlooking to your house with so much radio activity :-) On my side I will have a LOT of catching up to do with regard to digital modes. Patience to learn I have, thanks God, but no Flex radio Elmer in sight, just this generous Community :-)
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bahillen

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bahillen

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It’s at 35 feet digital has been an equalizer for me. Fan dipole 40-10m home brew.
Bill W9JJB 74
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bahillen

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73
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Craig Williams

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I am not a contester and live miles from another Ham and even more miles from a broadcast station. The 6400 is great for me. I upgraded from a 3000.