Video: Nick explores the benchmark Icom IC-R9500

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Nick Booras, who writes:

Hello Thomas

I recently got a new Icom 9500 and have made several in depth videos on it for my YouTube channel including multiple direct comparisons to other premium receivers.

Here is the main overview video:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Thank you for sharing this, Nick. The IC-R9500 is an impressive receiver indeed! 

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8 thoughts on “Video: Nick explores the benchmark Icom IC-R9500

  1. Anthony Ryan

    I bought a used 9500 about six years ago . Running it on a/c made it run hot and the noisy fan came on after an hour. I switched to d/c and the fan never came on again.
    Comparing it to my Icom R8600 is a bit pointless in my case as I found myself only using the 9500 because I enjoyed using it much more. Our hobby is exactly that- a hobby and therefore we should use the receivers that give us most pleasure . In my case sitting in front of such a superb piece of engineering was incredibly rewarding.
    Sadly, I sold the 9500 after a few years as ,not knowing its history, I feared for long term reliability , repairs on this beauty don’t come cheap.

  2. Jon

    Thanks, Nick, for the interesting videos you’ve made with your ‘9500!

    I purchased a new R9500 last fall and have been pleasantly surprised to find that various shortcomings reported in the last edition of Passport to World Band Radio were either corrected by Icom or were overstated by Passport. The 2009 Passport reviewed the ‘9500 with 1.03 firmware, and there were subsequent updates. Passport reported that the sync selectable sideband was mediocre, but I’ve found it acceptably decent (even if it’s not on a par with a Drake). But prior to purchase, my main concern was regarding Passport’s observation of “audio dropouts” when monitoring an AM signal in USB or LSB (what Passport used to refer to as ECSS). Thankfully, I have NOT found that to be an issue at all. Not to get all hung up on these “number one” designations, but it would have been interesting to see how Passport would have reviewed the ‘9500 with upgraded firmware and whatever unstated changes may have been implemented over the years. After all, Passport had suggested that the ‘9500 might have ranked as their number one choice, but for the sync and ECSS shortcomings they observed.

    While there are apparent similarities between the ‘9500 and the ‘8600, they are very different beasts internally. The ‘9500 is a triple conversion superhet with a range of roofing filters. The ‘8600, by contrast, is direct sampling up to 30 MHz. The ‘8600 is more of an SDR in a stand-alone box, and it delivers very solid performance, to be sure. However, I would definitely say that performance and ergonomics of the ‘9500 beat the ‘8600. That said, if I had to choose between the ‘9500 and the ‘8600 as my *only* receiver, I would choose the ‘8600 simply for (1) the smaller footprint/weight and (2) the much lower current draw, which make field applications eminently more do-able with the ‘8600.

    1. Nick Booras

      Jon and Dan, thank you for your comments.

      I am glad that someone is confirming I am not seeing things! My radio too, as you can actually see in my videos, is performing much better than the online reviews. In fact those reviews kept me from buying this radio for 2 years. I am so glad I decided to take a chance.

      Compared to the reviews, my radio:
      -Does not get hot
      -In fact fan has only come on 1 time, while scanning
      -my Sync works great, watch my videos
      -My NR works as good as 8600, maybe better, watch videos
      -ECSS works great, watch videos
      -My internal CF card is 512MB from the factory not 128
      -while far from perfect, my scope does not create too much noise to get weak signals, see my video

      I agree the 9500 is better in performance and ergonomics than the 8600. The only thing better on the 8600 is the scope. IMO, I do not consider the 8600 a portable radio so size is of no consideration. I tried using my 8600 remotely and while it may use a lot less power than a 9500 it still uses too much for a remote/portable in my opinion. Using my largest Lifpo battery I could barely get 1 hour of listening time. The screen while beautiful, still uses too much power. Turning off or way down the screen defeats the purpose of owning it . For remote use I use my Icom 705 and bring its own internal and another external Lifpo battery and I can listen until I get bored!

      I should do a comparison to the 705 and 9500.

      I wish you many years of enjoyment with your 9500. Truth be told, I haven’t turned on any of my other radios except to compare them to the 9500. Best purchase I have ever made.

      1. Jon

        Hello Nick,

        I, would agree with your observations on the bulleted points that you’ve laid out (with the exception of a no comment on the CF card, as I’ve not checked the one in my ‘9500). Also, I would thank you for the fact that I’ve gleaned a number of good pointers on the ‘9500 from watching your videos.

        WRT my comment on the use of the ‘8600 in the field, I agree that it is *definitely not* portable. But it can be packed away in a medium sized Pelican case, as I used to do with my AOR 7030+. WRT batteries, again, I’m not talking portable, but rather an 18AH 12VDC SLA battery. Bescor makes some nicely form factors suitable for such applications:

        What’s more, in my hypothetical, I was speaking to a situation that I hope never happens — that I’m limited to only one receiver! And in that hypothetical, I was giving a choice between just the ‘9500 and the ‘8600.

        I, too, love the ‘705 for its ease of deployment. Given its relatively compact size, rich panoply of features, and internal power source, I don’t do the receiver + SLA battery field combo nearly as often as I used to, while, similarly, the E1, ‘2010, and other battery powered portables don’t get as much “on the run” action as they previously did.

        But to close on the subject at hand, I’ve definitely found the ‘9500 to be an impressive receiver, and I have no regrets on having taken the plunge.

  3. Daniel Robinson

    Thanks to Nick for doing these extensive overviews of various receivers incluing the 9500. Though out of price range for many people, the 9500 appears to be equal to the ICOM 8600 other than where the display is concerned. It’s interesting that here in 2023 the 9500 is still available new.


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