** SONY SW RECEIVER PAGE ***

N9EWO Reviews / Views :

- ICF-SW7600GR (last model)
- ICF-2010 (ICF-2001D) (best model)
- CRF-1 (worst digital model)
- ICF-6500W (LCD digital display)

 N9EWO Review
SONY ICF-SW7600GR (2001~2016)
  Sony's Last SW Receiver

Sony's LAST SW Receiver : The ICF-SW7600GR
Was discontinued in early 2016 and Sony's exit with SW Receivers
(Sony Photo)

N9EWO's Review on the Sony ICF-SW7600GR Portable SW Receiver

(NOTE : I do not own this model, used a test sample for this 2001 light review)

Serial Number On Test Sample : 1092x
COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: Japan


Discontinued Receiver

Added Features / Made In Japan

Made in good old Japan, but as you read the text below one wonders if corners were not cut inside in order to achieve this status ??

The first thing that hits you from the older black cased "G" model is the silver color. I preferred the black color better.

100 memories , which is a big plus. You can also scan the memories as well, which for many is good news as well.

As does it's lower cost sibling ICF-SW35 (also discontinued) , the "GR model has a variable attenuator , that also includes a switch.to turn it off. So one can " preset" it, and switch it in when needed. Very handy indeed , especially when using a external antenna of some sort.

The "lock" switch is better implemented over the G model. It is not a "plastic" blocking piece that held the power button from being pushed as it was in the old "G" model . It now is a "real" button. Much better.

A bit of button cramming was needed to include these 2 new buttons on the front . These would be the "page" and "scan" additions. Other than that, we have pretty much have the same basic layout, with a exception on the left side.

A Variable "ATT" Control

You can see this on the low cost ICF-SW35 (first Sony set I know of to use this), this "GR" model has a knob on the left side near it's external antenna jack called "ATT" (attenuator), along with a switch to turn it on/off. Great plus here and works well.
 

This is of course one that Sangean has offered for some time on the much older ATS-909 (Radio Shack DX-398) and the newer ATS-909X model. But Sony went one better with the added switch.

Sensitivity To Weak Signals Could Be Better (using whip antenna)

Using a late sample ICF-2010 for comparison, this "GR" sample was wimpy with weak signal sensitivity using the on board whip antenna's. A signal that could be heard weak on the 2010 also using it's attached whip (but still very much listen-able) was awash this Sony set. Of course on a external antenna all faired better.

Also a certain (but not serious) amount of low-level (white noise) background noise was heard even with the strongest of signals. Not excessive, but a comment that needs to be pointed out. Even with the sync on, it does not make a difference here with this noise.

Serious spurious "image" signals

Here is one that really surprised me. Punching up 4915 kHz in the later evening using it's own whip antenna, I received WEWN crystal clear. Humm, well it turned out to be receiving the "power-house" WEWN's freq of 5825 on 4915 KHz (so a 910 kHz image signal). Test's with other strong signals in other higher bands proved this problem even stronger (this was not overloading).

Mind you it takes a strong signal to hear this, but again on the ICF-2010 it hears no such image signals. The other 2 major problems with the "GR" to me is audio quality and muting when tuning (see below).

Fair To Poor Audio Quality With AM signals, Very Good SSB reception for price. One Bandwidth Filter..

With a set with only having one tight bandwidth compromise filter, this can be expected. But it really takes away the keen side of a generally good sync detector.

It's audio is on the muffled side and was hard for me to listen for any length of time on any AM mode signals. SSB signals fare much better.

Matter of fact the SSB is a far better treat on the ears, and with the variable control allows for better SSB than it's older 2010 sibling (only having a 100 kHz fine step).

NOTE: There has been talk around the internet over the years with the SSB "fine tune" and volume control's failing after normal use (become noisy).

The set desperately needs a second wider bandwidth filter. This would indeed improve audio quality. One could make the comment, "well it would add to the price of the set". So be it...and of course the Grundig YB-400 has 2...so why not Sony ??

Muting a Royal Pain for any Band Scanning at 5 kHz steps...Auto "scan" somewhat useful..

As the case is with many sets around this price point, people who like to manually tune around will find the ICF-SW7600 "GR" a disaster. It's muting circuit will make a user climb the walls. It's a tune and wait, tune and wait situation here, and frankly it should not be this way period.

Good news is that if you use the 1 kHz steps, once you get moving...the muting drops out, so you can indeed tune without this happening, but at 5 KHz steps forget it (you are stuck using scan or poke up the band). The "scan" works, but tends to stop off channel more than not.

Another missing needed feature as on many other compact portables which the "GR" is lacking is a tuning knob (encoder).

Good "Sync" most of the time....Not to the ICF-2010's Standards

The "sync" function along with it's tight bandwidth filter does a very good job in reducing or totally canceling out adjacent channel interference (as it did in the old "G" model). However it does NOT improve audio quality to my ears.

It still does not equal the "sync" circuit found in the ICF-2010 model (not even close). It does not hold lock at all or very poorly with the weakest signals that the 2010 is still hearing just fine. Signals where the "GR" losses lock and groans are still holding lock very good on the 2010.

Once in great while it might loose lock even on a super strong signal and give a little hiccup. I can be a bit of a annoyance but is not a major problem (but is a nasty downside anyway). Even a bit of excessive distortion on fading peaks shows it's ugly head once in awhile.

Being what the "GR" price was sold at, the sync works well and is most worth it. But if someone is expecting the sync performance of the 2010...forget it !!!

Every Jack You Can Think Of.....

This set is still comes loaded with every connecting jack that one could imagine.

Of course "external antenna", power, headphone jacks can be found. But where Grundig (Sangean, and some Degen sets too) misses this boat on all of their compact portables, Sony has still sees the importance of a "line output" jack for tape recorder use on the "GR". This is BIG plus with me, and I wish others would see this as well (along with a tuning "encoder" knob of some kind).

Was a Great Set at a Great Price / Now Discontinued

For the money spent, the ICF-SW7600GR was a fine "Made in Japan" value. A pity that Sony did not make a few additional improvements in the audio quality and excessive muting that would have even made it more of a winner over it's years in production. Even if the price would have increased $ 50. for an additional wider bandwidth filter.

In early 2016 the ICF-SW7600GR was discontinued and was the "end of an era" for Sony and sales of short wave receivers.

Dave N9EWO
N9EWO, all rights reserved
ver 3.2


 N9EWO Review
SONY ICF-2010 (ICF-2001D)
(1984~2003)
Sony's "Best" Portable SW Receiver


In our view the ICF-2010 was Sony's BEST SW receiver they made.
It was known as the ICF-2001D outside North America.
Overall it even beats out the super expensive CRF-1 easy (as tested see below).
But just as with the eton e1, it too had it's share of nasty
quality control issues over it's 18 year life on the market.


N9EWO's Review on the Sony ICF-2010 Portable SW Receiver

Approx. Serial Number On Test Samples :
Sample One : (not documented)
Sample Two : (not documented)
Sample Three : 3551xx
Sample Four :  3655xx

COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE:
Receiver : Japan
Included AC Adapters (3 different were included over it's history with USA samples, see text) : Japan or China (varies with vintage)

Discontinued Receiver

The ICF-2010 (ICF-2001D) .......A Bit of History

The long discontinued Sony ICF-2010 has to go down as one of the longest running manufactured short wave receivers of all time, tabletop or portable. It was released in the last days of 1984 and was sold (in the US anyway) until the first days of 2003. It was sold in other parts of the world as the ICF-2001"D". I have owned 4 samples over the years.

I can remember the first ICF-2010 I had my hands on to play with back in January 1985. It was indeed a big deal. Early versions suffered from a bit of excessive hiss. Iindeed the first sample I tested back then was more hissy than later serial numbers I have actually owned. Even just a year later.

Sony had done a few (minor) changes with the innards over the years. 1984 surface mount parts in consumer products were very early in the ball game, when the 2010 came out it used strange "quazi" SMD parts (the resistors still had color bands on them). I cannot say actually when, but in later years this was changed to standard SMD parts that we see today.

Also diodes were added (tacked) to the rear of the smaller PC board near the jacks near the antenna terminal. This was to help with the destruction of the front end FET's from static when using a external antenna. IMPORTANT NOTE : But I would not put much trust in this, still best to pull a external antenna from the set when not in use. I never had a sample where I blew the front end FET.

About the only other changes that I'm aware of is with the included AC adapter. 3 different ones have been included since 1984.

Sony ICF-2010 "Included" 4.5 Volt AC Adapters (for USA 120VAC Versions, see photos below)

EARLY SAMPLES / * AC-120W : 600 ma (Japan)
MID SAMPLES / AC-D3M : 400 ma (Japan)
LATE SAMPLES / AC-D3HG : 700 ma (China)

This last "made in China" version AC-D3HG is rated 4.5V @ 700ma..a bit higher current rating than the 2 before it (also is a big bigger and heavier). I also found this adapter to be a bit cleaner (no low level hum) over the 2 older Japanese ones. Of course the actual radio always came from Japan. None of these AC Adapters were regulated and tend to run at excessive over voltage even when loaded (more so with the AC-120W and AC-D3M). WARNING : As it was back in the day, Sony used a negative tip on DC Input / AC Adapters ! Even worse there is NO reverse polarity protection diode inside the receiver. So if one accidentally uses a positive tip adapter, disaster will occur !

* - The AC-120W was also was sold with the original Sony ICF-2001 from 1980 to 1983 with USA samples.


For European and Asian markets it was sometimes sold with the Sony AC-122W
which featured adjustable input and output voltage switches.
(N9EWO Photo Edit)

A few quality control issues over the years.....

Yes, have experienced a number of little quirks over the years in the quality dept.with 2010's.

In the late 80's I had 2 "Brand New" defective samples in a row. One was pretty much DOA, the next one did not work right above 20 MHz (unit just sputtered). So in this time period, I gave up on the 2010. But in 1994, I purchased a new sample that worked perfect (serial number in the 355xxx area).

Other little very minor cabinet flaws that I have noticed: The mounting of the little brushed metal strip just above the LCD displays tends to vary in assembly via the factory. Sometimes it sticks out more than it should or mounted crooked. Has always been this way.

The whip antenna when viewed "de-telescoped" and in it's holder, as viewed from the straight on from the front of the set...well looks like it was not installed right, is not all the way down in it's holder (they are all like this), it sticks up a bit on the elbow end. This again is normal.

With my last sample (serial number in the 365xxx area) , the AM RF gain control is very sticky and just about impossible to slide. Thank goodness this is rarely used with me. All of my older samples never had this one.


One sample that I had purchased from a friend in the late 80's, the headphone jack was loose and lost making contact. I simply removed the rear panel, hit the contacts of the jack with a soldering iron and some fresh solder/rosin and all was fixed.

Another was the good old memory "2 AA" battery contact problem. Most ICF-2010 owners already know about this one, but this was really bad in the early days of the set. With the same friends set above...the actual plastic support on the + contact cracked from just the stress on it. Well of course it lost contact and the set died. I took a bat cover from a plastic 1/8 inch phone plug, filed it down a bit to fit between this cracked support and another plastic piece next to it (used a bit of super glue to hold it in), and he never had another problem with it.

Why was the ICF-2010 so great ??

When Sony had the ICF-2010-2001D on the drawing board, I think they were really trying to replace the landmark ICF-2001 model ? The ICF-2002/3 which came out in between these 2 sets was just was a entry to address the keypad failure that plagued the 2001 (with most of them too). Also to put that fiddly "antenna" tuning control behind them and a bit smaller size.

But if the 2010 were to hit the market place any earlier, we more than likely would have not seen the "Sync" circuit ?

Yes, the # 1 good thing about the 2010 that I like is the "Sync" mode. Not only does it decrease the fading distortion on SW signals, but also co-channel interference. Most important, we have a nice wide approx 11 kHz  "bandwidth" filter to be able to use with it. All of the more current Sony sets suffer badly in the audio quality area due to the use of ONE too tight bandwidth filter. I know many will say I'm crazy, but you can keep your after market "Narrow" filters ( I like the stock filters and audio). Even the SW-77 which has 2 filters..and well it's wide is way too narrow for my tastes.

The stock provided second IF 455 kHz IF filters are (Murata Ceramic).

Narrow AM / SSB mode 6 element 4.4 kHz : CFW455JT
Wide AM mode 4 element 10~11 kHz : CFU455G

In my view, Sony has NEVER equaled he "sync" mode performance with any other model. The ICF-2010's sync locks on the weakest of signals, and stays locked (no burps). And most important does not degrade the audio of a signal when activated (unlike the sync in the old JRC NRD-535).

It's audio quality with the "Sync" on is very good, however a bit of distortion can still be noticed. More so on the peak of a fade, a bit of general distortion does poke through. This is when compared to the AOR AR7030 or Lowe HF-250. But being that the Lowe HF-250 is one of the the CLEANEST sounding HF receivers ever manufactured..that's not too shabby.

I have found on my "made in 2000" sample, the audio is a bit more sharp and clearer. Not sure if this is a sample thing or not ?? Direct side by side test vs my 1994 sample.

A great feeling keypad. You are not directly touching your fingers on "rubber" keys either. It has a carbon-contact rubber type mat BELOW that actually makes the contact. Only after quite a few years use do might see a bit a "less spring" to them. But usually hold up well even then, provided that the set was not used in a excessive dusty / dirty area or really abused. It might take a bit more "push" of a button to make it contact after a number of years of use, but usually no more. As you might remember, this type keyboard started with the ICF-2002 model. No painted keys either, the SW-77 and SW-55 both used PAINTED keys (and yes it can and does wear off with only normal use). However the numbers can indeed wear off the 2010's keypad with excessive use.

And with that keypad we have "one touch" memory access for the 32 memories. Some would rather have alpha tags and all of that stuff (fewer buttons), but me..I'll take the separate buttons any day. The alpha tags and pages of memories can go fish with only 32 memories.

Oh.....we still have painted plastic all over the place, but at least a nice brushed black METAL bezel over the entire keypad really helps the old "finger rub" problem. We could have wished for this over the entire front (like around the volume control)...but can't have everything.

For the most part excellent sensitivity, and a nice line out jack. Even if it's only at the "very low" mic level, just use a decent pre-amp to archive proper line level such as the Rolls MP-13 (as tested). Above average 10 LED s-metering round out why I still like this set.

Oh yes we cannot forget about the tuning knob. This set has it and works just fine. A must have indeed !!! However I would have liked to seen a 5 kHz step for the SW bands.

On the Downside....Discontinued in Early 2003

Well it's not perfect, and what is.

For starters this is NOT a set for any serious SSB listening. It does not tune fine enough, only 100 hz steps. Also there is an excessive amount of clipping distortion is present. This was noticed much more on my latest "late 2001"sample (serial number in the 365xxx area). Fiddling with the RF gain control can help a bit (decrease the input level), but does not really fix the problem. If you plan on doing most of your listening on SSB, better choose a different receiver, even the ICF-SW7600GR pars better here. But for SW/MW broadcasting that uses AM mode..the great sync/wide bandwidth filter more than makes up for this for my uses.

It can overload on a good external outdoor antenna, more so during peak signal strengths (say 41 and 49 meters at night). The attenuator usually fixes the problem, but not always.

Again in my view overall it was the best SW receiver that Sony EVER
made, quirks and all.

Dave N9EWO

N9EWO, all rights reserved
ver 5.4

Sony ICF-2001D / ICF-2010 Links and Other Reviews / Additional Information (all subject to change without notice)

Sony ICF2010 / 2001D radio user group (Groups io)
Sony ICF-2010/ICF-2001D – An All-Time Classic - Jay Allen
eham Reviews : SONY ICF-2010
Receiver Review: Sony ICF 2001D / ICF 2010
Sony ICF-2010, Error.3
Repairing the Sony ICF-2010
Sony ICF-2010 1st RF FET


  N9EWO Review
SONY CRF-1 (1980~1986)
 Sony's Worst "Digital Display" SW Receiver ?
 

The "semi-professional" Sony CRF-1 (all samples were manufactured in 1980).
RF performance is the best Sony ever produced with a SW set. Ergonomics is another story.
See the 2 inside rear cover pages in the 1980 World Radio TV Handbook.
(Yes, I did indeed owned TWO of these and was a royal pain to use !!) (N9EWO Photo)

N9EWO's Review on the Sony CRF-1 Semi-Professional HF Receiver
2 test samples were used for this report

Serial Number Test Sample #1 : 1042x
Serial Number Test Sample #2 : 1022x

COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: Japan
Discontinued Receiver

PRO :
- FOUR separate "Balanced" FET RF Amplifiers used before first mixer.
- Eight front end filters.
- No band selector tuning (see con).
- Near excellent dynamic range (provided manual preselector is properly peaked).
- Preselector bypass switch (see con)
- Rock solid stability (PLL mode, knob pushed in)
- Die Cast chassis with individual circuit compartments.
- Die Cast front panel / steel metal bottom (see con)
- Very sensitive (whip or external antenna, provided manual preselector has been adjusted properly).
- Three well chosen bandwidth filters (see con).
- Above average audio quality (Wide 10 kHz filter helping greatly here).
- Excellent "hiss free" SSB quality and stability (see con).
- Robust LED frequency display with 100 hz resolution (see con).
- Novel AC Adapter that fits into battery cavity (input voltage selector switch for most markets) (see con)
- Excellent VLF / LW performance even down to it's 10 kHz low coverage specification.
- Super long and beefy stainless whip antenna.
- Useful Noise Blanker.
- Pre-amp buffered fixed level line output (plus is also at the proper line level).
- BNC external antenna connector, plus 50 ohm terminals. (see con)
- Separate whip and external antenna attenuators.
- 4 inch top mounted speaker.
- Manual AVC adjustment.
- Mini phone jack / plug (mono) external speaker jack.
- Optical encoder used with PLL tuning (knob pushed in).

CON :
- Rubber belt / ring that is used with PLL tuning (knob pushed in) gets gooey and then fails to tune. NOT easy to repair !
- Totally insane ergonomics.
- IF bandwidth filters are NOT independent of mode.
- SSB offset tuning required.
- Manual preselector adds VERY annoying
operational step.
- Course 100 hz tuning steps (actually 50 hz in use ?)
- Generally noisy synthesizer.
- No tone controls.
- No AGC adjustments.
- S-Meters likely to stick in some way with most samples in it's old age (just like with the CRF-320 and CRF-330).
- Sony's custom CX-764 LSI is prone to failure in it's old age.
- It's 4 dial lamps are prone to burn out in only limited use (some replace these with LED's).
- Painted plastic top and battery cover.
- Not too portable at near 15 pound weight (6.6 kg).
- Rear external DC input jack is using NEGATIVE TIP !
- Internal AC Adapter is NOT regulated and second test sample transformer hummed fairly excessively.
- When preselector OFF switch is engaged, sensitivity drops severely.
- Contains TWO dial strings (main dial and preselector pointers).
- Two different AC power supply sockets used. (one for USA and another for the rest of the world)
- No high impedance antenna input.
- Poor rear panel jack markings along with equally super tiny front panel icons.
- No internal LW or MW loopstick antenna.
- All phenolic PC boards (no fiberglass types used).


Approximately 6 Year Life on Market / Rare Bird with Only 2 Productions Runs in 1980 !

Sony's "Semi-Professional" CRF-1 came onto the market in mid 1980 and never sold well with it's steep price tag. US list price was a shade under $ 1800. USD. Street price was between $ 1200 and 1500. USD over it's 6 year life on the market. Was introduced along side the ORIGINAL ICF-2001 (see the 2 inside rear cover pages of the 1980 World Radio TV Handbook). Problem was the CRF-1 was outdated before it even came to market.

Seems that only TWO 1980 production runs were done (Serial numbers : 10xxx and 11xxx) ? Appears a third production run was scheduled in 1981 (Serial numbers :16xxx), but from what we can ascertain this never happened ? So it appears that only < 1500 samples of the CRF-1 were ever manufactured (from viewing long period internet data collected with used market samples) ? Perhaps due to important parts already becoming unavailable and or the downright dismal sales of the model ? If you look around the internet you will actually see a supplement service manual for this production run (Serial numbers 16xxx).

Metal - Plastic Body

Cabinet construction : Metal bottom, painted plastic top / battery cover and bare dark gray plastic rear panel. Die - cast painted metal front panel and chassis with separate PC board compartments. BNC external antenna connector on rear. Super long ROBUST stainless telescopic antenna.

Is a pain to read any of the rear panel markings. WARNING: The external 12VDC DC input uses NEGATIVE tip polarity. 

Stellar Front End Filtering and FOUR BALANCED Pre "1st Mixer" RF Amplifiers.

We have EIGHT "front end" bandpass filters with the CRF-1. 
Note : Whip antenna use with the RF attenuator ON bypasses these filters.

Those ranges are :
- 0 to 400 kHz
- 400 to 800 kHz
- 800 to 1200 kHz
- 1200 kHz to 2.0 MHz
- 2.0 to 4.0 MHz
- 4.0 to 8.0 MHz
- 8.0 to 16.0 MHz
- 16.0 to 30.0 MHz

The CRF-1 uses a RF Amplifier just before the first mixer (55.845 Mhz). However 2 HUGE pluses Sony did here. The first is the use of FOUR separately tuned FET circuits (these are tied into the preselector ranges).

- Preselector bypass (broadband)
- 150 to 400 kHz
- 400 kHz to 4.0 MHz
- 4.0 to 30.0 MHz
 

To top that off these are all of a BALANCED design. So yes uses TWO FET's for each one of these RF amplifiers. Professional design of this RF section gives for a more linear and cleaner stage. You just don't see this expense used with many receivers back in the era or even well after.

Dynamic Range - Sensitivity - 3 IF Filters

Decent dynamic range when connected to tuned outdoor antenna and the preselector has been properly peaked. Excellent sensitivity with it's super LONG whip antenna or external antennas (external antenna jack is a  standard female BNC type). Just as sensitive as any other decent HF receiver. Again this is of course provided that the preselector has been properly peaked on the tuned frequency.

TIP : Being as old the CRF-1 samples are now, we treated the top 4 position attenuator switch with Deoxit D5 just as with the Kenwood R-1000 (a very common but very easily fixed problem). Resistance can easily occur with oxidation on switch metal contacts in time for much reduced sensitivity.

WARNING : Be extremely careful doing this as the cold spray from the propellant can sometimes crack aging plastic in switches and variable controls ! You have been warned ! IMPORTANT : Remember that the CRF-1 uses JIS type screws and requires the proper JIS screwdrivers (are NOT Phillips). See our links page for more information on JIS type screws and screwdrivers.

Yes we have a manually tuned preselector required to fiddle with (normal for Sony in this era). This makes for the already insane ergonomics even worse (as we cover next). It does have a pre-selector bypass switch, but this engaged greatly reduces sensitivity.


I will admit that AM mode audio was excellent overall especially in the super wide 10 kHz bandwidth selection. SSB mode performed well too without any excessive IF hiss that greatly plagued the Icom IC-R70 (as tested). SSB performance is way above average for Sony receiver. SSB requires offset tuning when coming from / to AM mode (another normal trait for the era).

The stock provided second IF 455 kHz IF filters are (Murata Ceramic).
They are NOT independent of mode.

Narrow SSB / CW modes 11 element 2.2 kHz : CFJ455K14 (similar to ?)
Narrow AM mode 6 element 4.4 kHz : CFW455JT
Wide AM mode 4 element 10~11 kHz : CFU455G
[Note : The CFW455JT and CFU
455G AM filters are also used in the ICF-2010 / ICF-2001D models
]


Sony CRF-1's three IF Bandwidth Filters.
The CFW455JT and CFU455G AM filters are
also used in the ICF-2010 / ICF-2001D models. (N9EWO Photo)


Sony's Worst "Digital Display Receiver ? / Minimum 100 Hz Tuning Steps ?

Why in our view the CRF-1 is Sony's WORST "Digital Display" SW receiver ever made ? It goes down for the biggest pain in the rump as far as ease of operation I have ever used on a SW receiver, portable or tabletop. Just downright horrific ergonomics ! EVERY 100 kHz you have to pull the knob out to slide over to the next 100 kHz segment (then push it back in, then find were you were in that segment as it will be random).

After saying this most owners get used to this strange tuning scheme in time (however some may want to throw it out a window after awhile).

Even if the CRF-1 tuning uses an optical encoder with PLL tuning (knob pushed in), the finest tuning step APPEARS is 100 hz. But this coarse step is also valid for the later ICF-2010 (ICF-2001D) model (as reviewed above). However strangely in testing we were able to archive 50 hz steps with careful tuning ?

General tuning feel with the second test sample was (in our view) quite stiff and rough, even more so when the knob in pushed in (PLL mode). This very well could be dependent on the condition of the all important rubber ring / tire that is used in PLL tuning mode (see very important information on this below) ?

Weird "Search" Button can double as second VFO of Sorts

One of the CRF-1's three pushbutton on the front panel just below the volume control is marked as "Search". Function of this button is when tuning with the knob pushed in (PLL tuning), when you press the "Search" button to see what tuned frequency would appear if the knob was pulled out. If a second signal is within the 100 KHz segment and you very carefully tune to frequency one before you push it the knob in, you can use this button for a quick frequency check.

Very Unique and Novel AC Power Supply / 2 Different AC Sockets Used


Included selectable input voltage ACP-122W analog power supply went into the empty battery cavity. It's a normal transformer analog supply being used here, it's NOT a switching type. From viewing the service manual, we see 2 different type of AC sockets were used on this power supply (both 2 pin). With North American versions it used a un-standard D- square type connector (brown AC cord). For everywhere else in the world it used the more standard figure 8 type socket, commonly used with most laptop computer power supplies (black AC cord). The Japanese domestic version (ACP-122 no W) was wired for only 100 volt operation. Had no switch on the bottom.

With the second test sample the power transformer in the ACP-122W hummed disconcertingly even when turned off at near no load (old age issue ?).


One can tell just by just looking at the S-Meter on a
CRF-1 to indicate which of the two 1980 production runs it is.
(line is missing with 11xxx Serials).
  Sticky S-meters are a common bug with all elder CRF-1's .
 (N9EWO Photo Edit)


SONY CRF-1 FAILURE WARNINGS (it has many) :

- Total "Synthesizer Failure" is common with the CRF-1. The "Sony Custom Made" CX-764 IC that goes out can no longer be purchased (see photo below).

- Other synthesizer transistors are also prone to failure aside from the CX-764.

- “Repair of a Dead or Slipping VFO” (this issue is repairable) : There is a fully repairable issue that plagues MOST (if not all) CRF-1 samples sooner or later. Here the receiver refuses to tune (or is intermittent) when the knob is pushed in (PLL Tuning LED ON). What happens here is there is a rubber track around a spindle in the tuning gear box that becomes gooey and shrivels to nothing (or near it). So the optical encoder does not see the knob being turned (or skips). Some have fixed this with a common hardware store "O" ring around the defective rubber track. This is quite involved work to repair as the entire front panel has to come off and the gear box needs to be broken down. Plus may also require some dial cable restringing (if not done carefully). See this link for more information (if available). 

John KB5AG reports using a piece of black electrical tape around that wheel (after cleaning up the belt goo), and that works in pinch. Here it does not require dissemble of the front panel, however this is not going to be easy to do and does not give a very smooth feel.

There is one other rubber ring in the tuning gear box, but this one appears to hold up better with age ?

- S-Meter's in most CRF-1's "Stick" in some way in it's old age. With most samples the S-Meters stick in some way while other times just fail all together (needle doesn't move at all).

- Rubber like (plastic ?) tracks around the volume and pre-selector controls dissolve into nothing. The main tuning knob has also been known to crumble into nothing.

- Volume Control tended to get scratchy even with light use from brand new (and many have failed completely in it's old age). Cleaning with say "Caig Fader Lube F5" usually does not help here (but try it). It normally must be replaced which is not easy as it's a dual type with the MGC adjustment in it's outer ring plus the values of the variable controls are a bit off the standard. Additionally it is NOT not easy to get at ! WARNING : Be extremely careful doing this as the cold spray from the propellant can sometimes crack aging plastic in switches and variable controls ! You have been warned ! Also on the second test sample the nylon insert cement inside the volume control knob failed and slipped in rotation (easily fixed with super glue as long as the nylon has not broken down / cracked).

- The FOUR Panel lamps burned on the bright side and of course burned out in fast order. Not so easy to replace as they are soldered in bulbs and use long wires, but not difficult for ones who are electronic handy (even convert to green LED's).

CRF-1 was Sony's best SW Receiver for RF Performance , but also the biggest PITA for Ergonomics !  A RARE bird !

These are offered on the used market once in awhile for excessively stupid CRAZY prices. Most samples offered these days in the used market are in downright BAD condition. Good condition used samples are hard to come by as most who own these hang onto them for dear life even with it's known failure issues (the mighty Sony collectors).  Remember there were only about 1500 of these pricey receivers EVER made, so makes it very scarce.

Being these are now 40+ years old and prone to many old age issues (some being NOT repairable), just about any more modern used HF tabletop receiver will be a better choice and at a much more attractive price to boot.

 
Dave N9EWO
N9EWO, all rights reserved
ver 6.5
 

WARNING : The Sony CX-764 custom IC is very prone to failure in the CRF-1's. It contains the synthesizer , frequency display/counter and control circuits all in this one IC. Of course parts are no longer available. So if it dies, turns the CRF-1 into a great looking expensive paperweight.

I will NOT be held responsible for any info that is listed here
ALL DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK !


Sony CRF-1 Links and Other Reviews / Additional Information (all subject to change without notice)

SONY CRF-1 OWNERS MANUAL
SONY CRF-1 Service Manual

SONY CRF-1 eHam Reviews
Sony CRF-1 ShortwaveRadio.ch
Sony CRF-1 Fenu-Radio


 N9EWO Review
SONY ICF-6500W (1981~1984)
 Dual Conversion Portable SW Receiver


Sony's Dual Conversion "Digital Readout" SW Receiver in very late 1981 to mid 1984 : The ICF-6500W. This short lived model was Sony's answer to compete with the Panasonic sets of the day. Quite sensitive on SW and MW with excellent audio, however can be like the Panasonic sets from the 70 / 80's, (but not as bad) as it can "drift" a bit in use (even worse if the two L-O-N-G SW Band Selector switches are not kept clean). No frills, no memories, basic analog set with a real LCD frequency counter. An excellent battery miser. (N9EWO Photo's)

N9EWO's Review on the Sony ICF-6500W Receiver
(Tested using a restored sample [properly cleaned band switches] with original alignment, which was assumed to be near original specifications and performance ?)

Serial Number On Test Sample : 1963x (this was a mid~later production unit ?)
COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: Japan

Accessory Tested : Sony AC Adapter AC-160W (Japan)
(AC Adapter was normally included with the receiver in North America, this varied in other world markets.)

Discontinued Receiver
 
PRO :
- Above average sensitivity on SW (see Con).

- Very good MW sensitivity including it's long internal loopstick (of course much improved with a good external antenna).
- Excellent image rejection, unique SW dual conversion design keep images tamed.
- Good SW coverage between (approx.) 3.780 to 28.340 MHz (with a IF hole gap between 10.3 and 11.45 MHz).
- Large beefy sized "Two Speed" tuning knob that works adequately (see Con).
- BFO for SSB reception that makes use of a product detector (see Con).
- LCD frequency display has good contrast / works properly and no calibration knobs to have to fiddle with.
- Mechanical S-Meter and Dial / LCD Lamp (See Con).
- Very good "clean" un-muffled-hiss free audio quality using a single wide bandwidth IF filter (around 8 kHz ?) to go with it (see Con).
- Very good AGC.
- Lone attenuator switch for external MW and SW antennas.
- Record output jack (mic level).
- SW external antenna connection screws also work with MW (See Con).
- Internally regulated power supply circuit for all circuits (except audio amplifier).
- Telescopic antenna swivels and rotates.
- Battery miser (see text).

   
CON : 
- Limited SW Dynamic Range (see text).
- The long "MW-SW band" internal selector switch is prone to bad connections (dirty) and even non-operation with the SW bands (usually easily repairable, see text).
- Sensitivity somewhat less on SW3 band, and was near deaf in the middle of this band on the test sample.

- FM band sensitivity only OK average and selectivity fair.
- Nylon geared tuning makes for grizzly tuning feel in FAST and still with some backlash even in SLOW speed (is smooth in SLOW).
- Receiver has fairly bad drift and makes makes SSB reception mostly unusable.
- Dial light is near useless for the LCD and button is momentary only.
- Selectivity limited to one wide IF bandwidth.
- From internet reports, the NEC uPC1213C audio amplifier IC is prone to failure if volume is driven excessively hard (also be sure and ONLY use the included AC adapter or batteries).
- A few minor spurious signals (whistles) "mixed" in with strong tuned stations, but is not excessive (MW / SW).
- Excessive "feel-good" S-Meter readings (near all or nothing, see text).
- Single tone control.
- No coverage of the 90 and 120 Meter Bands, nor the upper end of the MW expanded band above 1650 kHz.
- External antenna connection does not support the FM band and the internal MW loop is still in use with any external antenna.
- LCD's have been known to go black when exposed to severe cold or heat.

- Difficult to service when removal of the main PC board is required.


Sony's attractive ICF-6500W MW / SW / FM receiver was thrown into the portable market place in very late 1981 (or early 1982 in North America ??). Was only on the market until mid~late 1984. Sony's answer to the Panasonic receivers of that time, that is a low cost SW portable set with a "all band" digital frequency readout (using a true frequency counter). No microprocessor, no synthesizer, no memories, no frills. It does include a BFO for SSB reception, but as it was with most of these lower cost sets of that era, limitations made it a painful experience to make happen.

Tuning is accomplished using a plastic variable capacitor and "2 speed" nylon gear tuning along with a nice sized plastic knob. The geared tuning worked well enough, however in FAST it feels grizzly (gear grinding and is worse in some parts than others) and in either speed has a bit of backlash but is more severe in FAST speed. Between this and general circuit drift makes for difficult use of the provided BFO for any SSB signal reception. It is OK stable enough for use for AM mode stations after being on for a short time and best in SLOW speed. Is not as nasty bad as the old Panasonic RF-2800 / RF-2900 with drift as experienced back in the late 70's (those Matsushita
receivers were extremely BAD in this area..!!!).

Cabinet being very light (under 2 pounds without the 6 C type batteries installed), as one tries to "push in-pull out" the tuning knob speeds, the receiver tends to slide around without batteries installed. There are 2 fairly large real rubber "cube" feet on the bottom and those are kept clean and on the proper smooth surface (and are still in good shape), this can help to reduce that gremlin greatly.

No the SW coverage is not continuous (and no extended MW band coverage on the top end). But is more than adequate.

Actual Frequency Coverage on Test Sample :

MW : 512 to 1662 kHz
SW1 : 3.782 to 10.332 MHz
SW2 : 11.427 to 20.127 MHz
SW3 : 19.759 to 28.371 MHz
FM : 86.8 to 108.5 MHz

We loved the single "W-I-D-E" IF bandwidth filter (around 9 kHz ??) as it helps it's above average audio quality. Audio recovery is quite good. But alas is not good when things get tight (or with SSB signals) on the short wave bands. The audio is very clean (not muffled at all), no excessive hiss and very pleasant with it's 4 inch internal speaker including a bit of Bass response. Way above average for a SONY receiver !! No slider type volume controls to deal with either, unlike other Sony sets of that era. AGC behaved itself nicely with the worst SW stations that contained bad flutter. In fact it was downright excellent for it's price point. SW sensitivity is very good even just using the telescopic whip (SW Bands 1 and 2). This one surprised us.

The ICF-6500W features a "Dual Conversion " receiver design on the SW bands with even some front end filtering (separate one for each SW band). It's using the famous 10.7 MHz first IF and 455 kHz second IF common with other Sony sets of that era on SW. So for the coverage gap between 10.3 to 11.4 MHz. Surprisingly it's image rejection was excellent and gets the job done. Even the ICF-SW7600GR's image rejection is not this good and that set uses "Up Conversion" with it's first IF.

Dynamic range is above average for a portable set in this era. When connected to a good outdoor SW antenna (say on 49meter band at night) , we detected minor receiver overload (but not all the time). The provided single step attenuator switch squashes this easy. Good news is this overloading is not as bad as the Panasonic RF-2800 which has much worse dynamic range with any external antenna in use. It is not that bad on the ICF-6500W, but is nevertheless in the mix.
 
Just as it was with many Panasonic portable SW receivers of that era (including the RF-2200 / 2800 / 2900, RF-4800 / 4900) the ICF-6500W can (usually) also suffer from dirty band selector switches. These are very long switches with many contacts (see photo above). It took 5 treatments of Deoxit D5 contact cleaner over 2 days of it's 2 switches to bring the SW bands back to life with the test sample (it sat unused for decades). When we started the SW bands were totally dead (FM and MW were working) !! TIP : If a sample starts to drift excessively, try PROPERLY cleaning the 2 switches using Deoxit D5 (be sure and clean up the over spray after).

The LCD frequency display has excellent contrast and the test sample was accurate even after all of the aging years. Sadly the LCD / Meter illumination is poor with one lone incandescent lamp for BOTH and only uses a momentary push button. It cries for better lighting. Speaking of that analog S-Meter, (and also just like with the Panasonic's) it "over reads". So it tends to sit at nothing or full scale. But is still very useful for tuning and beats any lone or even 5 LED arrangement for a indicator.

There is a very nice "fixed level" audio output jack.  However as it was in these days with Sony, they provided a lower level output here so to feed into a MIC input on a tape recorder (OK, Sony called them "tapecorder's"). To provide a higher "Line Level" output, the user will need to make use of a small external audio preamp (such as the Rolls MP13).

FM broadcast sensitivity just as it is with most (if not all) Sony SW receivers was about average on the test sample (perhaps a bit better than average ??). As usual the wide bandwidth gives for mediocre selectivity. Reception / headphone output is only in Mono but that was normal for it's era.

MW has a nice lengthly internal loopstick antenna (see photo above) and gives for decent "very good" performance. One can connect a MW antenna to the external "AM Band" screws located on the left side of the set which is huge plus being most SW sets of late do not allow this . However the internal loopstick is still in the mix. As it should greatly improves MW performance.

The current consumption is extremely low with it's analog design. A real battery miser !!
 
Measured Operating Current [moderate volume]
(using Sony AC Adapter AC-160W, battery operation should be similar)

(loaded at 9.63 volts)
SW 1-2-3 / FM : 50ma (yes 50 ma's)
MW : 33ma (MW band uses single conversion)
 
For what it is and it's original price point the ICF-6500W was a worthy set for Sony in 1982 and even by today standards. To our ears it actually outperforms the ICF-SW7600GR (review above) with SW sensitivity, dynamic range, image rejection, much improved near excellent audio quality and decent speaker. IF the band switches are dirty it's circuit DRIFT which can make it unusable and very frustrating. Importantly it does not suffer from the surface mount capacitor failures that inflict most (if not all) vintage Sony SW models as it does not have any SMD parts. Overall it seems to have held up to age fairly well (provided the sample has not been abused) ?? In our view better than many other more expensive vintage Sony short wave receivers.       

Dave N9EWO
N9EWO, all rights reserved
ver. 5.7

The Sony ICF-6500W RF design was highly based on the landmark ICF-5900W set from 1976.
  Adding of course a digital frequency counter, but removing the separate Bass and Treble tone controls.
IC-5900W also suffers from bad "dirty" connections of it's 2 long band selector switches in it's old age.

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