The Icom IC-7300 vs. Elecraft KX3: Which do you prefer for CW/SSB?


[UPDATE: Read the full review of the IC-7300, along with listener survey results, by clicking here.]

Many thanks to all of you who participated in our last survey comparing the new Icom IC-7300 with the WinRadio Excalibur SDR. We had over 100 responses (!!!)–the results will be posted in the forthcoming IC-7300 review.

Before completing my review, I thought I might fit in one more quick comparison–this time, comparing the Icom IC-7300 to my Elecraft KX3 and focusing on SSB and CW reception.

Recording notes and disclaimers

The Icom IC-7300 offers native digital audio recording, which means that it records both transmitted and received audio to an inserted SD card.

IC-7300The Elecraft KX3 does not have a built-in recorder (indeed, most transceivers do not) thus I made in-line recordings using my Zoom H2N digital recorder.

I did no post-processing of the audio other than converting .wav files to .mp3.

Both receivers shared my large outdoor omni-directional horizontal delta loop antenna for each test.

The Elad ASA15 Antenna Splitter Amplifier

The Elad ASA15 Antenna Splitter Amplifier

To keep the comparison on as equal footing as possible, the receivers shared the same antenna through my Elad ASA15 antenna splitter amplifier. Though the ASA15 has both 12dB amplification and –15dB attenuation, I employed neither.

The ASA15 allowed me to make the following recordings simultaneously.

In each case, I tried to set up both radios using the same filter widths, AGC settings, and (as much as possible), audio level. I didn’t engage a noise-reduction feature on either rig.

I also didn’t employ any type of audio equalization on either rig–still, you’ll note that one radio produces a more “flat” response than the other.

Please vote!

At the end of this post, I have an embedded a survey in which you can vote for the sample recordings you like best. Each recording is clearly labeled to denote that it’s either from “Radio A” or “Radio B” (chosen at random).

And now…here are the recordings:

Audio Clip 1: CW (20 meter band)

Radio A

Radio B

Audio Clip 2: Weak Signal CW (20 meter band)

Radio A

Rado B

Audio Clip 3: Weak/Strong SSB
(Sable Island working Asia/Pacific on 20 meter band)

Radio A

Radio B

We want to hear from you!

Use the form below to vote for the recordings you prefer in each section.

I’ll close voting at 12:00 UTC on Wednesday April 27, 2016. Thank you in advance for your participation in this survey!

Spread the radio love

7 thoughts on “The Icom IC-7300 vs. Elecraft KX3: Which do you prefer for CW/SSB?

  1. Ariel Nievera

    I just got my technician license. I am planning to take my general in October

    Comparing rigs –
    I like the ICOM 7300 or the Elecraft KX3. I just want it mostly for SSB.
    It looks like the Elecraft is pricier after you add the other options

    In your survey who won? I need to get an antenna I want put by the roof.
    my subdivision will not allow big antennas. I appreciate your feedback on which of the two to buy

    1. Thomas Post author

      First of all, congratulations on passing your Technician exam! You’ll find the General exam pretty easy to pass–it does unlock the whole HF world.

      Regarding the difference between the KX3 and IC-7300:

      If you’re looking for a rig to keep at home and occasionally take outdoors, I would lean toward the Icom IC-7300. It’s such a full-featured rig and has 100 watts output right out of the box.

      If you’re looking for a radio to primarily take into the field, or take on travels, then the KX3 would be the best option. It also makes for a great home/base station, but to achieve anything more than 12 watts output power, you’ll need to add an external linear amplifier (the KXPA100). The amp is a pricey option–without an antenna tuner, it’ll set you back about $800. If you add the internal ATU to the KXPA100, it’ll make the total price around $1150. That would make for a pricey 100W transceiver.

      It’ll really a question about what you want to do with the rig. If it’s for home? Again, I’d encourage you to check out the IC-7300.

      Cheers & 73,

      1. Ariel

        Thanks. I will get the 7300. The elecraft after all the options is very expensive.
        Our home owners association is very strict. I need an antenna for the 7300 and 2 m. I was mount it on the sides by the second floor. Any recommendations
        My father and brother are avid hams. My father went silent keys a few years back. To be nostalgic I will use his yaesu kenwood and i believe collins. Love the new encode and decode features of cw in the new radios
        Take care 73 and clear
        Ariel KM6EQG


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