pre-purchase: Reviews and comparison, 6600 vs. Icom 7610 ?

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I am still trying to decide if I will purchase a Flex-6600 or an Icom-7610 in ~30 days.   Now that the 6400 and 6600 have been shipping a while, I was hoping to find more than 5 really short reviews on eham.net.  There are 48 for the Icom 7610.   I also tried googling for Flex 6600 vs. Icom 7610 comparison, but could not find anything.     Does FRS themselves have any comparison literature from their marketing department?   (I had thought with ham-vention coming up, that perhaps maybe some good competitive sales/marketing info had been put together?)

Since each of us has different usage patterns and different focuses in the hobby, there is really no "Better or Worse" rig, but there *IS* the one that matches more of the features that matter to you specifically.   If I could find some detailed reviews, or a detailed feature comparison, it could help me decide which rig matches more of my specific "tick boxes", for example.

I am aware, from others of you here (thanks), that the 30 days try-or-return policy exists.
Call me slow, but it takes me more than 30 days to vet all the features in a new cell phone, let alone an amazingly complex SDR radio.  So I simply prefer to learn what I can from FRS and new owners here before pulling the trigger.

I really really wish that Flex had a volunteer referral database of Ham's in each zip code willing to answer questions or demo their rig.  Short of putting a few rigs at radio stores or demo sites, that would really help.  I  would LOVE to speak with a 6600 owner on the phone, or visit one for a demo.   The least they could do would be to set up a west coast and east coast demo location so people could drop by a see one in action.

Thanks for being patient with me :-)

Neal  -  N6YFM
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Neal Pollack, N6YFM

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  • feeling like maybe buying

Posted 7 months ago

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Steve

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I am primarily an AM operator and so Hi-Fidelity is important to me.  I understand this is not so for lots of people and they are content with good communications grade audio.  Which is fine, after all it really is all that is necessary.  When Icom came out with the 7300 I bought one to try out.  I had been operating a Flex and wanted to see what the "Buzz" was all about.  The 7300 is a GREAT radio at a good price and appeals to lots of people, BUT "it ain't no Flex" .  SDR is the way to go and you will not find all of the "Flexabiility" in the Icom that you can get from a good SDR, Flex or others.  When I was playing with the 7300 one of the  first things that stuck me was their view of EQing???  Come on bass and treble you gotta be kidding me.  I tried to look at the specs for the 7610 to see IF it had variable bandwidth and although not positive it "appears" they do not.  Sorry I am rambling...I hope you find the radio that will best suit YOUR needs.  It is part of the fun doing the research.  Get a Flex and try it out.  At least you can return it if you do not like it.  Not sure you can find any Icom dealer that will do that???  At least not without a "restocking fee".  73's
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Jim Gilliam

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The 7610 has a built-in server which works very very well. However, it doesn't have a panoramic display the begins to compare with the Flex. It has no panoramic display at all remoting that gives the Flex an edge. However, I like the sound of the transmit audio on the 7610 much better than that of the Flex. All of the Flelx's I have heard have a subtle scratchiness to it and never have felt their audio quite compares to the best of the other rigs. All-in-all, I still prefer the Flex.


Jim, K6QE

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Elliot Skultin

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7610 is closer in specs to the 6400M. There are quite a few underwhelmed reviews of the 7610. One area in particular was the difficulty accessing features. I was in the same quandary as you and i’m More than thrilled with my choice.
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Duane, AC5AA

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With the bands in the shape they are today, it's more of a challenge to write a truly comprehensive review.  I switched from a TenTec Orion to the 6500 about four years ago and would never go back (and that's comparing to one of the best rigs ever available regarding receiver performance and control flexibility).  I have upgraded to the Flex-6600 and am enjoying it just as much.  I have a neighbor 2 blocks away who likes to run a KW on CW or digital modes, and I can't even tell whne he's on the same band unless I see him on the panadaptor.  As far as trying one out, why not post where you live and ask if someone is nearby that you might try one out.  It won't be the same as owning one for 30 days, but you might find out quickly whether you just hate it, or maybe that you like it more than you thought you would....
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Steve

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I am VERY surprised to hear a comment about "scratchy" audio out of any Flex.  Perhaps they were not set up properly or crappy mics??  All of us in the AM community are VERY impressed with the audio out of a flex radio.  Get a Mic preamp with phantom 48Volts hook up an B1 condenser mic to the balanced input and you WILL be amazed just using the internal EQ.  Behringer preamp is $40 bucks and the B1 mic is $99 you will be amazed.  73's 
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Ken Hansen

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"The least they could do would be to set up a west coast and east coast demo location so people could drop by a see one in action."

"The least they could do?" No, that's actually quite a big effort - offering a thirty-day trail period in your shack with your antennas, amplifier, etc. is a perfectly fine way to market the radios. The moment Flex puts a showroom in LA and NYC you will hear countless hams complain how inconvenient it is to get there from their QTH, and if you move it other Hams will complain about the location.
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Mark WS7M

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Neal,

I am probably not in your area but I will be glad to answer any and all questions you might have.

My name is Mark, WS7M.  I currently own a Flex 6600.  Prior I had a 6500 an Icom 7300, flex 6300, and flex 1500.

Email me at:  ws7m@arrl.net

Until you do... Here is my take:

Recently I had to decide if I was going to upgrade to the 6600 from my 6500 or take the jump and go 7610 or even an Anan 8000.  Before I tell you more I think it is important to list my likes and dislikes:

1) I don't need knobs.  Computer interface for me is perfect as I am on the computer all day long anyway.   When I do want knobs I can use a small inexpensive DJ controller that plugs into the computer and I get all the functionality of a VFO knob and much more

2) I have long wanted to do remote.  I rarely sit in my "shack" for days on end.  I will go there, then later be in the kitchen, perhaps the great room to watch football or if it is nice out on my deck.  I do travel a little so having remote would be nice for that.   I have yet to find ANYTHING that remotes as well as the Flex radios do.  Yes there are new competitors and there are those that have remoted using remote rig for some time.  But with flex it is plug and play for the most part.

3) My op desires are CW primarily, SSB some and digital.  Flex allows me to do all of those very easily.  Remote makes digital a little more tricky but it can be done.  When I do op voice I get OUTSTANDING audio reports.

4) Programmability.  I am a software developer so having a radio I could talk to with code for little things was important to me.  While Icom has the CIV interface I had used it years ago and struggled with it.  I know people use the Anan remote but it looks harder to do.

So with those biases in mind:

In looking at the 7610 there were two big road blocks for me:  1) I'd have to switch my learning and focus on the CIV protocol which would set me back a very long time.  2) I found that the maximum tx bandwidth on that unit to be about 4k.  I could not find a way to go wider.    I also could not find a way to set the rx filter width wide open either.  One thing I like to do is gather the audio data (not I/Q) and run it through some programs I've written to look at stuff.  I like to look at very wide slices like 14k.

In looking at the Anan there were two big road blocks:  1) I was told by an anan user that I should not expect to do well using the anan on my laptop over wifi.  I do that all the time with my flex.  2) I have two friends with anans.  We spent almost 8 hours on Saturday and Sunday on the air listening to them banter back and forth about buffer sizes, various settings and it was kind of hilarious how deep it got.

Last thing for me:

I only have one piece of radio equipment sitting on my desk.  That is a Yaesu FT-991 that can do HF as a backup but mostly does UHF.

The rest of my equipment:  Flex 6600, SPE 2K-FA, PalStar HF Auto tuner sit out in a shed 25 feet away.  I don't hear the fans, I have virtually no noise at the desk.

I can completely operate all of my gear (except the FT-991A) from anywhere as long as I have a basic, reasonable internet connection.

So I made my choice to stick with Flex.  The flex folks have been very good.  When I have a problem generally this forum or FRS themselves have a solution.

I cannot say the same thing for Icom, Yaesu or Kenwood.  I had a Kenwood TS-2000 for a while that went the regional repair shop 3 times.  Each turn around was close to a month.  Often the radio came back with a different problem than it left with.  I ended up selling it for parts as I could not vouch for its ability to operate.

Email me!

Mark
(Edited)
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Ken Hansen

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+1 for the awesome remote capabilities of the Flex SmartSDR 2.0

I started off looking at the Flex 3000, a great radio at a great price (as a refurb from Flex), but was put off by the FireWire requirement.

Then I looked at the Flex-5000 series radios, but they got expensive fast, and still had the FireWire requirement.

As soon as I found I could control the Flex-6000 radios with SmartSDR over wired Ethernet at home, I was sold (my radio sits outside my den to avoid running coax in the house).

When SmartSDR 2.0 added support for remote operation, I knew my decision was the right one - even though it cost me $200 to upgrade.
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Wayne

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Do you still have your 7610?
(Edited)
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Neal Pollack, N6YFM

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Duane suggested that I try posting my location to see if any 6400 or 6600 owner happens to live near my area, and would be willing to let me see it operate and/or ask a few questions.
I am N6YFM, Neal Pollack, Torrance, California, (Los Angeles Area).
Info good on qrz.com bio page.   Been here in the Los Angeles region all 60 years.
N6YFM  <At }   ARRL    dot     nET

Thanks
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Duane, AC5AA

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Regarding transmit audio, I just use a Heil PR-781  on the balanced input and have done some EQ shaping (roll off the bass early to offset my voice which tends to have too much bass, etc.) and I get unsolicited reports of outstanding audio.  FWIW..
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Robert Lonn

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Hello Neal, just did a few searches on Google Map to see a few things.. I do not see any Antennas at your house, are you using wire antennas or??? I ask this as antennas are important when digging deep into a radios performance.. Your in luck. I live here in El Cajon just east of San Diego, and would welcome a visit from a fellow ham.. However I should Warn You!!!! When you see the Flex Display up on my 50" 4K LG TV set, that may be as far as you will go in making up your mind.. Also, I have only had mine for 1 week, so I am no expert, have not even transmitted with it yet, 100% all receive, and I have not finalized setting up SmartSDR yet .. So I am very limited on showing you the meat and potatoes of the radio...
Robert  WA6PHN

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W8QB

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Robert, greetings from one of your former neighbors, previously a resident of Santee, CA.  I was stunned to see your Flex sitting next to the treadmill.  This will be my sixth year at Hamvention.  The demographics of Hamvention mirror those of the general ham population...older guys like myself.  But too many of us attending Hamvention would be well served to spend more time on that treadmill!
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Neal Pollack, N6YFM

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Hi Robert:

Re Antennas;  I do wish I had a tower, but my setup is still effective but rather invisible to google earth;   I have a Comet H-422 rotating dipole, in the V configuration.  It is on top of a 20 foot section of thick-wall 2 inch aluminum aircraft tubing attached to the roof gable of the one story house.  This puts the base of the antenna "V" at ~30 feet above the concrete, and the tips of the dipole at 42 feet.   I also use a MyAtennas.com EFHW-8010 long wire antenna.  So both of those are rather invisible from airborne view, compared to a beam antenna.   Even with these compromise antenna's for getting started in the last 2 years, I have over 5,100 contacts spanning 92 countries :-)

Cheers,

Neal
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Robert Lonn

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The Flex will move off the corner of the desk into its own designated SLOT. Have to place musical chairs with a lot of radios. All the Sony radios are now gone as is the Collins radio shown in the photo. My wife insisted that if I build a room addition onto the house for my radios, the treadmill must be in the room.. I like to listen to my radios and do my 30 minutes a day walking. The monitor will pull out from the wall 14" so the treadmill is not an issue.. 
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Wayne

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I digested all the info for the 7610 and all the early issues existing prior to the version 1.06 firmware and that info plus the incorporation of the up to date hdmi video port on the 6400M sealed the deal on my ordering the flex waiting 3 1/2 months after placing my order to get it.

What do I think now after having the 6400M for 1 1/2 months ... Well the hdmi jack I just had to have has been a nightmare since day 1 and has yet to change ... the 7610 got version 1.06 and is basically bug free now .. while Im still dealing with startup inconsistancies on occasion, organizing profiles and having to manually load one each time i start the rig along with incorrect outdated docs and many yep its being tracked and oh yea thats a bug we knew about for a while now but its on our list.

Although I am basically satisfied with the 6400M and like it despite all the listed issues above if I had to order a rig today I think I would get the 7610 since it would be a better fit for me now that they took care of the issues with it.

The flex is still too dependent on now an internal computer that I have no way to correct the operation of and now worse yet another windows computer so now its 2 computers and 2 os's and 2 software messes or 3 or 4 if you count ios or iphone.

I find I spend most of my time working with the computer instead of using the radio while im learning how all the software works since its totally different than standalone operation on the radio.

Hind sight is 20/20 and a learning experience is what you get when you didnt get what you thought you wanted. I still love my flex3000 running on bootcamp win 7 on mini imac i7 with 16gb ... solid no win 7 issues and Darren making it better every week.

You make your decisions and take your chances ... Your Mileage may vary ...
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Ken Hansen

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Wayne, as the 7610 was rolling out, both before and after release, it was amazing how many "potential buyers" (in quotes) declared they wouldn't even consider the 7610 for it's inclusion of an 'old technology' DVI connector, not the modern HDMI connector.

The existence of $10 converters made no difference.

The fact that the resolution of the video output of the 7610 was so low as to barely require anything better than a VGA port made no difference.

I'm glad to see that in hindsight you are a bit more skeptical about your previous HDMI vs DVI opinions.

As for the current windows issues, this too shall pass - it is frustrating now, but I expect it will be sorted out soon enough.

Finally, I think the Flex 3000 is a great radio, and at well under $1K as a refurb from Flex it is a great bargain for a 100w SDR w/ Antenna tuner in a low-profile slab form. I keep thinking about picking one up and making an HF go box with the 3000, a small computer, and some slide-out display mount (like a rack KVM console, see photo)...
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Mark Wohlschlegel

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Neal, call me at your convenience at 561-254-5095
Mark
WC3W
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Ross - K9COX

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I wonder what the response would be for the same question on an Icom forum...(I have been a satisfied Flex user for about the last 15 years)
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Burt Fisher

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There's an Icom forum?
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W8QB

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Priceless Burt!
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W8QB

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For anyone who's yet to experience the Youtube offering, see the one by Burt titled "Hitler driven crazy by ham radio"...priceless today as when it debuted in 2008.
(Edited)
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Wayne VK4ACN

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Icoms in VK come with a 5 year warranty
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W8QB

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Alas, for the 7610, apparently still only one year in the U.S.
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Paul

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Hi Neal, I don't own a 64/6600 but I'm a little surprised that no one has yet offered you temporary remote access to theirs. This would at least give you a feel for the egonomics of SmartSDR and the general performance of the radio, plus live exposure to SmartLink.


Nine months ago, as a potential customer, I made a suggestion that Flex set up remote access to a radio for this very purpose:


https://community.flexradio.com/flexr...


After 3 months, the idea was marked as "under consideration" by Eric at Flex. It got some votes, but probably insufficient as it has not yet been implemented (AFAIK). Fortunately though, as a result of that post, I was offered remote access by several generous owners. I found this very useful and subsequently bought a used 6500.


I thought that was in the 'true spirit' of ham radio - Perhaps those or other owners might do the same for you?


Better still, this might remind Flex to implement the suggestion. Good luck Neal. 73
(Edited)
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Johan / SE3X

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Might be legal problems stopping them from implementation. As a company they probably have to take identification of the potential users and their license status and control theroff into consideration.


It's a great idea and I think it could make a great "sales tool for sure. Maybe just not that easy to do for Flex as a company?
(Edited)
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Paul

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Fair comment Johan but I imagine Flex would actually find it trivial to implement this if they decided it was worthwhile. The legalities could be taken care of by simply disabling transmit.
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John - WA7UAR

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Either disable transmit or give access to a 6700R — the standalone receiver.
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Michael Walker, Employee

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As much as we would like to think it, nothing is trivial.  :)  That is what I always think when I start a project.  This will only take 5 minutes, then 6 hours later and I am still not done .... 
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W8QB

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If you think six hours is a long time, trying being in my daughter's predicament: waiting for a pokey professor to post final grades!
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Paul

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Surely it's not that difficult for Flex (or the dealer network) to set up a 6700R with a Smartlink account and issue the credentials to potential customers to try it out? Afterwards, simply change the password to prevent mis-use. Half an hour remote use was all it took for me to decide to go for a 6500. Without that facility, I probably would have still been sitting on the fence.
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Joseph Rodick

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After purchasing and setting up my 6600M, one of my best friends that owns a 7610 came over to compare the difference of the two radio's.  Due to time I will jump to the end.  I may have lost a good friend.  There is a lot of differences between the two radio's, with Flex just taking Icom to the wood shed.   Just the AGCT adjustment on the Flex made my friend envy and wishing that he did not rush into the purchase of his Icom.  I tried to make him feel good about his 7610, but it was apparent that Flex is the far better radio in numerous areas and he left upset with himself and his purchase.  Good Luck in your purchase.
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Steve

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I think your post says it all....
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Burt Fisher

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I thought about the 7610 but than I thought why do I need two 7300s with too many knobs.
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Ken Hansen

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As a reminder, you are comparing a $3,500 Radio from Icom with a $5,000 Flex Radio.

A year from now the Icom will be less than $3,000, the Flex will likely remain at $5K.

That is not an inconsequential price difference for many potential buyers.
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Neal Pollack, N6YFM

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No, I am not. I am comparing/considering the $3999 model 6600 without front panel, to the $3599 icom 7610. Not the M version.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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That is interesting, the M models have far more in common with the Icom radios. They both use buttons and dials and both use a screen on the radio.

I have looked at the features and capabilities of both radios and I find the Icom's fall well short of the 6400M and the 6600M, just the display alone puts the Fex at the top.

No matter what, with the Icom you lose that wonderful panadpter and detail.
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Ken Hansen

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No, you said he compared his radio, the IC-7610, to your 6600M, and the 6600M is a $5K radio

http://cart.flexradio.com/FLEX-6600M-Signature-Series-SDR-Transceiver-_p_1046.html

Since you want to change the comparison to a version of the radio you don't have, you'll have to account for the lack of a control surface on the Flex 6600 radio, let's say $500 for a modest PC and display, windows tablet, windows laptop, whatever. That makes the comparison $4,500 Flex to $3,500 Icom (which includes it's control surface), and the Icom will still go down in price over time.

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Neal Pollack, N6YFM

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Ken, no worries :-)   But;  I already have a high end shack PC I use with my Icom 7300.  I hardly EVER touch the Icom, since I control everything  via the PC.  Also, I do not yet own a Flex, so I was not comparing a 6600M.    Since I already have the PC, and I don't really need a front panel, that is why I am interested in a regular face-less 6600 model.  So in my case, it really is about comparing $3500 Icom to $3,999 Flex 6600.   Again, just for the better core radio, not the control panel or user interface.  And from what you guys have been sharing, it seems WELL worth it to add $500 and go with the Flex.

Cheers
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Robert Lonn

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But the 6400M is more in line price wise then the 6600M compared to the 7610.. I was at HRO about a month ago and saw the 7610 on display. My first impression was, this radio looks like every other Icom Radio.. Think about how you go looking for a new car.. We could spend days talking about personal preferences when it comes to a car.. My neighbor has purchased only Convertibles for the last 25 years,, I would never own a convertible, well never say never, but it would have to be a hardtop like the Lexus at $78K ,, not a rag top  Ford Mustang ..

I would compare a 7610 to a simple Apple iPad device, and the Flex to a Windows 10 Laptop computer.. iPad boots up fast, simple operation, all the apps must be a specific specification to not HOG the internal processor. A Windows 10 laptop with an i7 processor, terabit hard drive, 16GB of memory, very fast, HDMI, USB 4.0, USB "C", will support big advanced programs and have unlimited capabilities and flexibility... 

The Flex radio takes 2 minutes to boot up, no big deal, lets you select what software version you want to run, that is a feature called flexibility,, Only the Flex Engineers and software developers, working behind closed doors, in a secret room,, shielded to all outside RFI, and Satellite spy cameras, know the true potential of the radio... And paying a modes $200 to go from 2.xxxx to 3.xxx in the future, no problem, Flex will spend the time and capital dollars to do that if they can get a decent return on their investment.. You get what you pay for.. Facebook is FREE!!! But they make billions! So Data Mining was no surprise to me,, We gave up our privacy a long time ago.. 

Most radios are built for today's usage, Icom, Yaesu, Kenwood, but the Flex appears to have a very bright future with what its ability can be with software enhancements.. As long as they put a lot of horsepower under the hood to allow the Firmware programming to grow, their should be a lot of exciting things to come in the future.. 

I think the 7610 group has made dozens of suggestions on improvements, why it would not do this or that.. Why it does not have a "B" VFO tuning know on the radio?? But we know ICOM rarely does much more then fix bugs.. Then they just STOP making changes..  So a lot of us are counting on Flex to continue to make changes for improved performance and add more FEATURES to the radio,, We see this with new Apple IOS and Windows 10 software.. The 7610 will never go down this path, but Flex will.. 

Robert   WA6PHN
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Robert Lonn

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This was a recent post related to the PERFECT Icom 7610,, Just that everyone can discover issues with a radio, the question is will the Factory take care of it and make it right??? We know Flex Will!!

At first I was excited and used 7610 for about 25 hours on the lower bands and it worked as noted by the prior 40+ reviews. Then I attempted a six meter contact in FM mode with another out of town radio operator and discovered the 7610 was dead on six meters. I returned the 7610 to a nationally recognized retailer who refunded my money. They also took another new 7610 out of the box, version 1.06 software, and encountered the same problem as with version 1.04. I was sorry I sold my 7600 after 9 years use, as it, along with a Kenwood TS-2000X, Yaesu FT817-ND, and FT-857D, all could hear a strong Six meter contact in Pre-Amp modes with signals 60db over S9 (pinning the S meter) whereas the Icom 7610 with Pre-Amp 1 was approximately S7 and dropped to S6 in Pre-Amp 2. Since the six meter noise floor was S7, communications on six meters was not possible. 

Both the national dealer and I worked in unison with Icom engineering department to see if the 7610’s lack of sensitivty above 24 MHz in preamp modes (either 1 or 2) could be remedied. I spoke with an Icom representative on 4/09/2018 regarding the 7610 issues on six meters and lack of sensitivity when engaging the preamps. He informed me that Icom would be issuing an errata sheet as the preamp specifications as noted on page 31 in the manual (Section 4-1) were incorrect and that these specifications were erroneously copied from the 7600 manual. He state that after conferring with Icom engineers, they are unable to “resolve my problem” and correct the upper band sensitivity issues with software.

Further, I conferred with a preeminent nationally recognized amatuer radio operator (with an engineering background) who previously posted a You Tube video on the 7610. He admitted he did not test the 7610 on six meters when he posted his video, but the morning I contacted him he had coincidently discovered earlier while attempting to engage in a six meter net that he thought his six meter Yagi was 180 degrees out! While on the phone with him he tested the 7610 for 40 minutes using his Kenwood TS-990 and a signal generator on various frequencies at and above 24 Mhz. In A-B comparison tests he confirmed that while the 7610 spectral scope depicts signal increases in Pre-amp 1 and slightly higher in pre-amp 2, the signal does not reach the audio stage. In reality there is an estimated minus (-) 2 db decrease with pre-amp 2 engaged! Now I am back in the market for an SDR radio. I might add the 7600 was phenomenal on my favorite band, 40 meters. The hand mike was superb, the SSB and CW signals seemed to pop out with less background noise, much better than with my 7600. But frankly I refuse to own a radio that does not work well above 24 Mhz. Don’t take my word for it, but those operators who read this posting, try six meters yourself in A-B test mode.

By the way, all readers need to know there is a 1/32” to 1/16” wobble on both AF/RF dual knobs before those knobs engage because each is three-way and disengages that band when depressed. This is irritating but I was willing to live with this fact until I discovered the upper band lack of sensitivity issue. 

As soon as Icom comes out with a 7612, or whatever, I will buy one as I love Icom equipment. Meanwhiile I am exploring Flex.
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Ken Hansen

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This is a non-sensical "review" with multiple issues, Rob Sherwood has a long fact-laden response to this "review" that disputes the statement that this is an issue for all IC-7610s that he has submitted to eHam, but as yet has not been published.

Suffice to say, this is not a universal problem with all IC-7610, no one expects Icom to release an errata explaining that the radio is "deaf" on 6 meters, and that this reviewer claims to have documented/confirmed this issue with a national retailer, Icom support in the US, and Icom Engineering in Japan is, in a word, unbelievable.

I'll post Sherwood's response in a few moments, I'll need to look it up. 

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Ken Hansen

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Rob Sherwood's response to this 'review':

Rob Sherwood May 9
Here is what I sent to eHam.net as to a review of the IC-7610. It is typical Rob Sherwood techie nerd stuff! Hi Hi

I have read an eHam review of the IC-7610 that implies noise floor (sensitivity) of the 7610 is poor on 6m. I have tested the 7610, 7600 and 7300 in my laboratory. Today [last Sunday] I made some A/B comparisons between the 7300 and the 7610 using a weak router birdie, since 6 meters is currently completely dead. Note: The review in question said the 7610 is deaf above 24 MHz. I used the 7610 during the December 2017 ARRL 10m contest, and the 7610 copies very weak signals as well as any transceiver I have ever used.

My 6m yagi is at 50 feet above ground, and on the west side of my garage which is west of my house.
When the 6m yagi is pointed due east, towards the house at a 90 degree setting, I pickup RFI noise and router birdies from my house. As the yagi rotates to 30 degrees (NNE), the router birdies almost disappear, and at 0 degrees due north, the 6m band is absolutely quiet on either the 7610 or the 7300.

As I come around west at 270 degrees, I pick up a slight amount of additional band noise, and I can just barely hear some line noise at 238 degrees. I can hear the very weak line noise slightly better on the 7610 than on the 7300. The 7300 has one preamp with two gain settings, while the 7610 has two separate preamps.

The other review statement about the preamp not reaching the audio stage is misleading. Icom does not leave the rest of system gain constant as the preamps are enabled. They have chosen to keep the recovered audio level at the speaker output constant when a signal is at the receiver noise floor. Most receivers put out more and more noise as the preamps are engaged. That is what we are used to, but with DSP radios, other more sophisticated choices can be made. It should not be necessary to turn down the AF gain to keep a detected weak signal from the speaker at a constant volume as the preamps are cycled from OFF to preamp 1 and then preamp 2

Receiver noise from the 7610 goes down as the preamps are engaged, but the signal to noise ratio improves as one switches in the preamps. On 6 meters, 7610 receiver noise drops 4 dB with preamp 1 and 5.5 dB with preamp 2, all the while keeping the desired weak signal constant.

Antenna noise gain is a good way to tell whether a preamp is needed on a given band. With a dead 6m band, at my QTH which is in a quiet rural location, I just measured 6m antenna noise gain.

Antenna noise gain no preamp: 0.6 dB
Antenna noise gain, 7610 preamp 1: 2.5 dB
Antenna noise gain, 7610 preamp 2: 5.5 dB

Signal and noise gain with the very weak birdie tuned in on 50.149 MHz, antenna at 30 degrees.
Signal and noise gain no preamp: 1.2 dB
Signal and noise gain preamp 1: 6 dB
Signal and noise gain preamp 2: 8 dB

Here are my noise floor measurements of the IC-7600, IC-7610 and IC-7300 on 6 meters.

Rig No preamp Preamp 1 Preamp 2

7300 -131 dBm -139 dBm -140 dBm
7600 -130 dBm -139 dBM -141 dBm
7610 -130 dBm -139 dBm -140.5 dBm

Rob, NC0B
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mikeatthebeach .

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Thanks Ken
Suffice to say the 1st Bad review on the IC-7610 SDR rig must be from someone 
that is an appliance operator

  Maybe having a more quiet SDR Receiver on the IC-7610 compared to the Traditional IC7600 resulted in bad review as a more deaf receiver by this appliance operator
(hearing less noise ) ( sorta - funny ) with little technical background

Not all Hams are Engineers

73
Mike
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VA7OJ/AB4OJ

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Hi Rob.
Here is my measured MDS data for the IC-7610 on 28,1 and 50,1 MHz (CW, B=500 Hz). My figures are pretty close to yours.

Preamp off/1/2:
28.1 MHz:  -133/-139/-142 dBm    50.1 MHz: -129/-139/-140 dBm
Measured MDS data for IC-7300:
Preamp off/1/2:
28.1 MHz: -129/-139/-141 dBm     50.1 MHz: -131/-141/-142 dBm
I rest my case.
73, Adam VA7OJ/AB4OJ
(Edited)
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Jerry Gardner

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Neal,

I'm in the same boat as you and am trying to decide on a new rig. The only ones currently on my shortlist are the 7610 and the 6600. I'm still in wait mode because Rob Sherwood hasn't posted his report on the 6600 yet and Dayton is next week and Kenwood is supposed to announce a new rig that's rumored to be closer to the TS-990S than the TS-590SG. Whether it'll be an SDR or not remains to be seen. Even money right now is that it'll be the "TS-890" and will be SDR-based. We'll see.
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Neal Pollack, N6YFM

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Kenwood does not seem serious about the HF market, given how far behind (feature wise and design age-wise) the TS-590s is, and they also told me that they have an approx. 6-year cycle for Ham HF rigs.   But between the Flex 6600, and the Icom 7610, the people replying in this thread have calmly and politely shared enough information where the Flex does better than the Icom, that I am leaning 90% to the Flex 6600 now. :-)
[Editors Note:   "Calmly" and "Politely" are words that RARELY come into use while describing eham.net forum discussions. Thanks for the professionalism!]

For me, with my large amount of digital, but also occasionally playing with SSB and AM,  I like what I am hearing about:

+  Wider audio receive passband that is really flat compared to analog rigs, and wider than Icom. 

+  Higher resolution panadapter displays.

+  Multiple simultaneous different band digital sessions using different DAX channels.

+  Wider TX for AM and good quality AM.

+  Dual Transverter ports if I ever decide to play with Satellite.

+  Full Duplex.

+ Better Remote, even local LAN remote, using a laptop without buying Icom RS-BA1.

I am fairly certain now that in approx. 30 days (getting rest of money) will try a model 6600.

The one thing I hope FRS/Flex does;  This is 2018, and Windows 10 updates are not something entirely new.  They never mess up my other USB interfaces for my 2 different printers, flatbed scanner, GPS and Camera interfaces, etc.  But I am reading about far too much pain for both users and Flex Support Techs with regard to DAX USB drivers and quarterly Windows 10 updates.   I would love to hear that Flex intends to re-engineer their DAX USB device driver package to be more compatible with Windows 10 so that it does not generate dozens of support calls with each windows update.  This is not rocket science;  most of the other USB device vendors have gotten this right.   Flex has not spoken up on this thread (was hoping at least their sales/marketing would hit me with material :-)  )    Does anyone know for sure if Flex is working to re-write the methods/compatibility that their DAX USB driver package uses to co-exist (sic) with Windows 10?

Cheers,

Neal
(Edited)
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AA0KM

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W8QB

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Hi Jeff AA0KM.  Like so many others, I have numerous devices connected to the Internet ranging from simple things, up to and including sophisticated Internet-dependent devices.  I have been running Windows 10--and also OSx--ever since Win10 came on the market, and in all this time, my various devices for the most part never incurred major issues when confronted with operating system updates.

Although unfortunately with a 6400M, I did have issues coinciding with the just released MS Spring software update.  To their credit, these very issues are the factor that presumably prompted Flex to get far ahead of the curve by helpfully offering a thorough set of instructions for mitigating the impact of the new MS update.  That was a thoughtful gesture on the part of Flex, and I anticipate that with each release of new Flex software, there will be fewer and fewer issues involving DAX.
(Edited)
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AA0KM

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If you are going for radio only and a computer is not your thing stick with that.

Flexradio is about software and using even more software from others.

Flexradio is great for all things software digital.

No inteface boxes and cables just software on top of software.

As far a specs goes we are entering the zone of a few numbers here and there better.

Reminds me of going from Cassette to CD.The numbers (spec) we are getting very close and the human ear has to be very keen on the differences.


Operations style Computer vs Traditional radio is where its at.

But both once set correctly are set and go so non-issue setup wise for both.

I like messing about computers a little, so flexradio suits me fine but glad to get rid of intefaces on the desk.

But physical interfaces Vs software intefaces you still have to mess with computer/software either way if doing anything digital.

So i chose all out with computer for digital.

I chuckle  every time someone gets SDR receiver and hooks it to thier IF-output and tries to be like Flexradio. :)

Got luck  ALL in your discission.
73 Jeff
2ct`s

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W8QB

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Respectfully, I doubt those friends with modest financial resources could ever hope to get anywhere near as much pleasure buying a receiver instead of a modestly priced used SDR transceiver.  Folks get licensed to get on the air; if your friends are hams, than something that receives only seems like a poor substitute for a good transceiver. 

I looked at the Flex website and it seems they're currently offering a certified pre-owned Flex-3000 for the discounted price of $899 including a 90 day hardware warranty.  For that price, the typical ham will get far more enjoyment than settling for a radio that does nothing more than receive.

The price of $899 is not much greater than the selling price of a popular discontinued product, the Flex-1500.  The 1500 offered far less functionality than the 3000, yet as noted, the 3000 seems to be a far better value.

Nobody can decide what fits their budget other than the particular customer.  But in this instance, $899 probably is well within the budget of most hams, to include perhaps those friends you mentioned.
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Paul

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With equal respect, you have missed the point. Coupling a receive-only SDR with any transceiver gives analogue transmit *and* SDR receive under CAT control for either local or remote (WAN or LAN) operation. Including point & click tuning, panadapter & waterfall using excellent and freely available software.

Given that the friends in question already had their legacy rigs, typically they needed to spend on average an additional $250 to get an authentic (and very enjoyable) SDR experience. Luckiliy for them not everyone in the hobby is as dismissive as you seem to be.
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W8QB

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If I had intended to be dismissive, my post would not have led off with the word "respect".  I did not have to take the time to address your remarks, but did so because I wanted to be helpful, but perhaps it is you who missed the point of my remarks.
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Paul

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That's also possible & I appologise if it's the case. Sometimes, "the point" is hard to convey over this medium. Had we discussed this in QSO, I suspect we would probaly have converged. 73.
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W8QB

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Excellent point.  The written word is a poor substitute for a face to face discussion; and in many respects a QSO, too, is far superior to posting ideas on a forum.
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Bill Roberts

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Question that is pertinent to this discussion.  Did Icom move to a 16 bit FPGA in the 7610 or is it still 14 bit like the 7300?  I have combed the Icom literature and can't determine what they're using. 16 or 14.

Also, does the 7610 have the extreme bandpass filters on contest bands like the 6600? 
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Varistor

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Yes, and Yes+. It has the digital tracking filters in front of both independent receivers. These filters have a high Q factor and offer steeper skirts than the regular bandpass filters.
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Jerry Gardner

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The 7610 uses the LTC2208 ADC. This part comes in both 14-bit and 16-bit versions, but I can't tell which from looking at the 7610 schematic because Icom only labels the parts "LTC2208" and doesn't show the full part number.
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VA7OJ/AB4OJ

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Hi Jerry,
The IC-7610 has two 16-bit LTC2208 ADC's. The LTC2208-14 is marked "LTC2208-14".
73, Adam VA7OJ/AB4OJ
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Jerry Gardner

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Thanks for the clarification. I've seen some other products that use the LTC2208-14 label them as "LTC2208" on the schematic, so didn't want to assume they were the 16-bit parts.
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Ken Hansen

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The IC-7610 has what is called digi-pas filters for each band.
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mikeatthebeach .

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Neal
   
Many Things that the Flex6600 has going for itself over the IC-7610

1. WNB " Give clean Waterfall Post processing " No other SDR out there 
    does this, mathematically model Wideband noise impulse and inverts 
    by 180 degrees and take Noise out of Waterfall & Receiver
 ( Icom - Elecraft - Kenwood - Anan all do not do this ! )
   Great for Fast Impulse Noise - Motor Noise - Power Line Static
  Great with the Urban Hams in Noisy Locations 

2.) The new Flex6600M can see super weak on the waterfall before they can be 
   heard ! Try that with any of the others, just won't be the same 

3.) Can be REMOTE controlled with very little cables - believe me 
   ( Elecraft is a Rat's nest of cables )

4.) Flex 6xxx Series are only SDR radio's that can be used with a Thin Client
   Even Slug Slow DSL with Panadapter from Starbuck's works great !
  Do not need a High Horse Power Computer remotely - Cheapie netbook
   works fine

5.) The Flex6600M has best of both worlds - Knobs or you can 
   run without Knobs ( Will not miss the IC-7610 )

6.) Flex6600M Great 4K type Touch Screen, slick as an iPad

7.) Flex6600M has 2 SCU's to run Diversity Mode 
    A DXer's dream com true 
    ( More features that can added in software later by FRS Plasma TV nulling- etc )

8.) With Icom - what you see is what you get 
     With Flex - Room for improvements
     Feels like getting a newRadio with each upgrade where Icom you will need to  wait for new features buy a Newer Icom new Radio

9.) WideBand ESSB possible on Flex6600

10.) Digital mods like FT8 are super easy to set up, no sound cards needed

 11.) Flex6600 is a real Server type Radio - need I say more !

12.) Resolution on the WaterFall down to 10Hz, only a High Price 
      Agilent-HP Spectrum Analyzer could do this, Try this with Any Other Rig - Elecraft - Kenwood -  Icom - Yaesu, it's terrible WaterFall resolution in their WaterFall Displays 

13.) 7th order Band Filters on each of the Contest Bands 

14.) SO2R 

I think the Flex6600M is the Best of the Best ! 

73 
Mike
(Edited)

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