I don’t know what we should say about the folks at FlexRadio!
Imagine charging $1700 for a FlexRadio 3000 when for a mere $600 or so you can get a FlexRadio 1500!
Okay sure the 3000 has a 100-Watt PA and a built-in ATU (which works pretty well in comparison to my other autotuners) and VOX (boy I missed VOX on the 1500) but when I compare the two receivers (and I can run them simultaneously on my 8-core I7 PC with 8 gigs of RAM) there’s very little difference between them.
Yes the 3000 will allow for more aggressive shaping on the filtering but filters with this much shaping can sound a little aggressive (even harsh) when compared to how they sound when opened up. Having said that I can’t wait until the CQ WW DX SSB contest to run aggressive filter settings and 100 watts. Woo Hoo!
But and it’s a big but, the FlexRadio 1500 at 5 watts is an exception rig and not just an exceptional QRP rig but an exceptional rig on its own. And when compared to other rigs on Sherwood Engineering’s Receiver Data page, it’s a clear winner.
Good heavens there must be some guys really PO’d to have paid $3500 to $10,000 to own a radio with a receiver that doesn’t rate as high as the FlexRadio 1500.
So I keeping both rigs. The 3000 for contesting at 100 watts (low power category) or to drive a smallish amp (600 to 800 watts would do it) and the 1500 for contesting in the QRP categories especially on CW where I can work everyone I can hear.
So should you buy a FlexRadio?
Let’s be honest here.
If you’re not somewhat familiar with how to run your PC (You’re going to need to setup virtual ports and a virtual audio cable.which is pretty simple if you’re familiar with computers and a bit of a challenge if this is new.) you might want to consider a big box radio.
An Elecraft K3 comes to mind. Don’t overlook the Ten Tec line as everyone of their radios is one of Sherwood’s top picks including the $1,000 Argonaut 6 QRP rig.
Right now I’ve got a weird issue with the FlexKnob which works fine with the 1500 but lags when tuning the 3000. Thought it was a port issues but changing ports didn’t help. A mouse works fine on either rig. Considering it might be a FireWire issue. We’re working on it 🙂
If you take the plunge with Flex you’re likely going to have similar issues but here’s the secret. With Flex you get a box which is continuously upgraded with newer software every few months.
Pretty slick to buy a radio that gets better over time!