Icom IC-9700 Review

The Icom IC-9700 is not exactly cheap, but it’s an excellent choice for a VHF/UHF radio, especially for hams who also want to dabble in D-STAR and satellite radio. It’s a particularly good upgrade from the Icom IC-7300, since it shares many of its controls and menu elements, while offering enhanced performance and additional features. Let’s take a deeper look at this radio in our overview of the IC-9700 now.

Good

  • All-mode, tri-band transceiver – As an all-band VHF/UHF radio, this radio covers the 144, 430/440, and 1200MHz bands. It also has full-time duplex operation, meaning you can easily monitor two frequencies simultaneously.
  • D-STAR support – The IC-9700 supports both DV (Digital Voice) and DD (Digital Data) through D-STAR, making it a great option for hams who want to get started with digital radio. It also supports up to 99 satellite channels.
  • 100w maximum power output – The IC-9700 transmits at 100w on the 144 MHz band, 75w on the 430/440MHz bands, and 10w on the 1200MHz band, so you’ll have plenty of power to send through your antennas when DXing and making distant connections.
  • Excellent touchscreen – The 4.3 inch color LCD touchscreen makes the unit easy to use. It also supports a real-time, high-speed spectrum scope with a waterfall display. The combination of physical buttons, knobs, and touch-screen buttons make this unit easy to use.
  • Supports remote operation – The IC-9700 has a built-in server, meaning you can connect it to LAN and use it remotely without needing to use a separate PC as a server. This simplifies setup and remote operation dramatically.

Bad

  • Frequency drift issues – Some units seem to have trouble with frequency drift on the 23cm band, which may make connections unstable for some users. However, this does not appear to affect all units.
  • Loud fan – The fan operates frequently when transmitting, and it can be a bit loud during normal operations, which may annoy some users in quieter ham shacks.

Bottom line

For the money, the Icom IC-9700 is definitely worth it for hams who use both VHF and UHF bands, and who dabble in D-STAR or are interested in getting into digital radio. And, since it shares its form factor with the incredibly popular Icom IC-7300, it’s a great logical next step. But even if you don’t have experience with Icom radios, it’s easy to use as long as you take some time to familiarize yourself with its features.

Product Specs

Frequency coverage144.000–148.000, 430.000–450.000, 1240.000–1300.000 MHz
ModeSSB, CW, RTTY, AM, FM, DV, DD
Number of channels107 (99 Simplex + 6 Program scan edges + 2 CALL) × 3 bands, 99 (Satellite), 2500 (DR function)
Antenna connectors144 MHz SO-239 (50 Ω),
430/440, 1200 MHz Type-N (50 Ω)
Power supply requirement13.8 V DC ±15% (Negative ground)
Operating temperature range−10 °C to + 60 °C; 14 ˚F to 140 ˚F
Frequency stabilityLess than ± 0.5 ppm (–10°C to + 60°C; 14˚F to 140˚F)
Frequency resolution1 Hz
Power consumption
TX
RX
Less than 18 A (High power)
1.2 A typical (Standby), Less than 1.8 A (Maximum audio)
Dimensions (W×H×D)
(projections not included)
240 × 94 × 238 mm,
9.4 × 3.7 × 9.4 in
Weight (approx.)4.7 kg, 10.4 lb (approximate)
Output power (144 MHz)
144 MHz
430/440 MHz
1200 MHz
SSB/CW/FM/RTTY/DV/DD
0.5–100 W
0.5–75 W
0.1–10 W
AM
0.125–25 W
0.125–18.75 W
0.025–2.5 W
Modulation system
SSB
AM
FM
DV
DD
Digital PSN modulation
Digital Reactance modulation
Digital Low Power modulation
Digital GMSK Reactance modulation
Digital Quadrature modulation
Spurious emission
144 MHz
430/440 MHz
1200 MHz
Harmonics
Less than –63 dB
Less than –61.8 dB
Less than −53 dB
Out-of-band emission
Less than −60 dB
Less than −60 dB
Less than −50 dB
Carrier suppressionMore than 50 dB
Unwanted sidebandMore than 50 dB
Microphone impedance600 Ω
Receiver system144, 430/440 MHz RF Direct Sampling
1200 MHz Down Conversion IF Sampling
Intermediate frequencies311–371 MHz (1200 MHz)
Sensitivity (Preamp: ON, Filter: SOFT):
SSB/CW (10 dB S/N)
AM (10 dB S/N)
FM (12 dB SINAD)
DV (1% BER) (PN9)
DD (1% BER) (PN9)
Less than 0.11 μV
Less than 1.0 μV
Less than 0.18 μV
Less than 0.35 μV
Less than 1.59 μV
Selectivity (Filter shape: Sharp)
SSB (BW: 2.4 kHz)
CW (BW: 500 Hz)
RTTY (BW: 500 Hz)
AM (BW: 6 kHz)
FM (BW: 15 kHz)
DV (12.5 kHz spacing)
DD (300 kHz spacing)
More than
2.4 kHz/−3 dB
500 Hz/−3 dB
500 Hz/−3 dB
6 kHz/−3 dB
12 kHz/−6 dB
−50 dB
−40 dB
Less than
3.6 kHz/–60 dB
700 Hz/–60 dB
700 Hz/–60 dB
15 kHz/–60 dB
20 kHz/–60 dB
Spurious and image rejection ratio
SSB/CW
AM/FM/DV
DD
144, 430/440 MHz More than 70 dB, 1200 MHz More than 50 dB
144, 430/440 MHz More than 60 dB, 1200 MHz More than 50 dB
1200 MHz More than 50 dB
Audio output powerMore than 2.0 W (1 kHz, 10% distortion) into an 8 Ω load

Expert reviews

  • HamRadioConcepts reviewed the Icom IC-9700, calling it very easy to learn how to use, and praising the intuitive control knobs, buttons, and touchscreen, as well as the LAN port, which allows remote operation of the radio using the built-in server. He also liked the full-time dual-receive architecture of the unit, and powerful D-STAR capabilities.
  • YouTuber Robert Nagy also reviewed this Icom radio, calling it an “amazing radio” and praising its “incredible capabilities” and “wide feature set.” He particularly enjoyed the powerful D-STAR features, calling the radio a great option for any ham radio user who wants to get started with satellite radio. He mentioned that it has a “steep learning curve” but that, over time, hams will be able to easily unlock the full capabilities of this radio.
  • In his walkthrough and review of the Icom IC-9700, Laboenligne.ca had a very positive impression of this transceiver. He said the touchscreen looks “very very good,” and that the menu is “very intuitive,” making the radio easy to operate despite its advanced features. He also liked the option to connect 2 antennas, among many other features. He said that, bottom line, “the radio is great, and is worth the price.”

User reviews

  • On DXEngineering, the Icom IC-9700 has a rating of 4.6 stars out of 5, across a total of 96 reviews. Users gave it a great overall rating, calling it an “excellent radio… from operational quality to ease of use,” “an amazing base station rig with tons of features,” and “so easy to learn and operate.” Users loved the ability to operate on both VHF/UHF as well as on D-STAR and satellites. Some users mentioned that the unit had a bit of a learning curve, and a couple people mentioned having trouble understanding the included user’s manual.
  • GigaParts users have given the Icom IC-9700 a rating of 5 stars out of 5, but there are only 3 total reviews as of publication time. They mentioned having “many long distance QSOs with this rig,” and that there is “no limit when you get into DSTAR.” One reviewer said that “if you don’t have one, get one, you will not be disappointed.”
  • eHam.net reviewers have rated this Icom transceiver at 4 stars out of 5, with a total of 48 reviews. On the positive side, users said that it’s “easy to use,” a “beautiful radio,” and that it has “excellent voice playback.” A few reviewers also noted the great D-STAR performance, amazing stability, and powerful VHF/UHF/SHF capabilities of the radio. On the more negative side, some users mentioned problems with receiver quality, frequency drift, and the high level of fan noise.

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