First Impressions of the Icom IC-7851 Flagship Transceiver

ab4bj7851I’m completing my first 30 days of using the new Icom IC-7851 HF transceiver.  This new flagship entry replaced the venerable IC-7800 in the Icom HF radio lineup.  I should note that I’ve never used the 7800, so the 7851 is my first foray into the high end Icom rigs.  I’ve used a IC-7600 in the past, and most recently operated a Kenwood TS-990 for about two years (I’ve also used many other HF radios over the years, including the Flex 5000).  I can say without reservation that the 7851 has the best receiver I have ever had the pleasure of operating.  Unlike the TS-990, the IC-7851 has a very quiet receiver with noise reduction circuitry that is almost flawless.  It has been a pleasure to pull out weak signals with the 7851.  The filtering is first rate.

Using my EV RE27ND microphone, I have received universally good audio reports.  I don’t use any outboard audio processing gear, and from the start, even my “picky” ham friends told me that the transmit audio sounded very good.  I’ll post about my audio settings in the near future, although the setup was not very complicated.

ab4bjmonitorsThe built in scope is clear and responsive.  Additionally, the “dual scope” feature is unique and a welcomed addition.  With dual watch active, the user can display the main and sub band scopes simultaneously on the screen.  While the split scope is a bit small on the radio screen, it looks fantastic on the high definition output on a large monitor.

The layout of the front panel is intuitive and easy to quickly master. I felt comfortable using this radio within a couple of days removing it from the box.

These are my initial impressions, and I have more to use and experiment with.  I am looking forward to using the built in RTTY and PSK functions.  I’m also looking forward to operating the 7851 in a contest setting with crowded band conditions.


First impressions are always important, and the 7851 did not disappoint!




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3 Responses to First Impressions of the Icom IC-7851 Flagship Transceiver

  1. Bill says:

    P.S. Icom just released new firmware update (version 1.10). This new firmware adds a tracking feature for fans of diversity reception.

  2. Ralf says:

    Which material is the front plate? There is no information. Is it plastic or metal made? Thank you for an answer.


  3. Mike says:

    Glad I got the ICOM IC-7851 and dumped my Lipstick on a Pig Kenwood
    TS-990S !

    Sold My Kenwood TS-990S after 2 years waiting for firmware fix’s
    Lousy Noise Blanker’s for NB1 and NB2 for Fast Impulse Noise
    Firmware 1.1 upgrade was a joke for the Noise Blanker !

    TS-990S Reasons to get rid of it for New IC-7851 below:
    1). NB1 is not fixable on TS-990S
    2.) NB2 V1.1 upgrade gave Width & Depth Adjusts but NO Theshold Adjustment
    NR1(Water Bubble Sound & NR2(useless)

    3.) Phase limited LO and poorer signal blocking on TS-990S

    Replace theTS-990S with an Icom IC-7851, works great, Noise Blanker & Noise Reduction are great, takes out Fast Impulse Noise so much better than Kenwood

    No looking back at the TS-990S, Kenwood is non responsive to fixing issues !

    Kenwood TS-990S was a Glorified CB radio with Knobs and Buttons, all
    Color Eye Candy and poor Flagship performance and Low on the Sherwood Ratings for Receiver performance( even if they put in TS-590S Rx in Main & Sub receivers for a
    new TS-990SG radio ! )

    The IC-7851 is a Radio with True DX Flagship Status worth the money !

    Good bye TS-990S forever !

    Even a TS-990SG upgraded with both TS-590SG receiver’s for Main and Sub-Receiviers will not bring me back to Kenwood.

    Even the rumor of a CW decoder in the possible upcoming TS-990SG will not bring me back to their so called Flagship Kenwood series TS-990S*
    ” Kenwood TS-990S –> TS-990SG ”

    I just installed the latest firmware V1.1 into my IC-7851

    Ergonomics on the IC-7851 is light years ahead of the Kenwood TS-990S
    The tracking VFO feature works great, can now use the IC-7851 in Diversity

    Glad I got the ICOM IC-7851 and dumped my Lipstick on a Pig Kenwood
    TS-990S !

    What has been a big improvement is the 1.2KHz filter and also the Noise Blanker in the IC-7851 over the Kenwood TS-990S in addition to be Non Water Bubbly super quiet Nose Reduction that the IC-7851 has !

    The APF function on CW is better than was on my TS-990S and my current Elecraft full loaded K3S

    After waiting nearly 2 years since owning the TS-990S, Kenwood came out with a firmware fix that put both Width and Depth Adjustments to their Noise Blanker DSP NB2 similar to ICOM implementation. All their firmware fixes for the TS-990S failed miserably in the presence of Fast Impulse Noise from Brush Motors, Power Lines. Seemed that if the received Signal Input exceeded the Noise Level the Noise Blanker stopped working, allowing the noise to come back in with the signal ” with Distortion ” Kenwood Failed –>No Threshold Adjustment for Noise Blanker on TS-990S ” that was dumb !

    Also, the TS-990S scope, had no way to adjust Horizontal sweep time, so Fast Impulse Noise washed out both the Spectrum Scope and Waterfall.

    What is remarkable is that signals on the IC-7851 just in the Noise < S Zero are visible on Spectrum BandScope and Waterfall where as on the TS-990S they had to be above the Noise Floor greatly, S4 or higher !

    On the IC-7851, by having the ability to slow the Horizontal Sweep down, the Fast Impulse Noise does not wash out the Spectrum Waterfall like it does on the TS-990S

    When I get an AC Power Line 10 over S9 noise, I can easily use the IC-7851 Noise Blanker to get the Noise down to S1 or S2 an when strong signal comes in they do not distort the received signal.

    Believe the IC-7851′s new Super Low LO Phase Noise improvements on the IC-7851 has really helped the receiver in terms of less folded in noise into the receiver passband, I can hear stations on 6 meters on long haul hops that I never had on my TS-990S

    Really appreciate the design improvements on the IC-7851 over the TS-990S

    Thanks ICOM for a world class radio, the IC-7851 !

    Icom IC-7851 is Number one for RMDR and will be Number 1 rated on Sherwood Receiver Rating List !

    Love the fact can watch two different bands at same time with the Spectrum Scope, on on 20meters while the other on 6 meters !

    To me, the Kenwood TS-990S was a like a Glorified Citizen Band “CB” Radio with Eye Candy with poor performance !

    73 Mike

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