Icom IC-R8600 Review

The Icom IC-R8600 is a flagship ham radio receiver, and it’s an excellent choice for hams who want to listen to pretty much any band or frequency – with support ranging from 10 KHz to 3 GHz, you’ll be able to tune into signals that are unreachable with other receivers and transceivers. You’ll pay a pretty penny for the privilege, but it just may be worth it. Learn more in our overview now.

Good

  • Extraordinary RX band coverage – You’ll be covered for basically any broadcast frequency used in the United States and worldwide. The Icom IC-R8600 can tune into any band from 10 KHz to 3 GHz. UHF, VHF, airband, marine radio, public safety – you name it, and this receiver can handle it.
  • Equipped for remote operation – The Icom IC-R8600 can be set up with a Windows PC to offer remote operation over the internet, which means you can monitor frequencies and use this receiver even when you’re away from home.
  • Bright and bold 4.3-inch touchscreen – The display is bright, bold, and beautiful. The 4.3-inch touchscreen provides lots of space for buttons and display information, and makes the IC-R8600 very intuitive to use.
  • Beautiful waterfall spectrum scope – The waterfall spectrum scope is customizable so that you can change colors and sensitivity, making it even easier to hone in on the frequencies that you want to monitor.
  • Intuitive controls – The Icom IC-R8600 combines the best of both worlds. You get plenty of knobs, dials, and buttons, as well as a touchscreen that makes it easier to work the complex menus of the receiver. You’ll definitely want to keep the manual handy when starting out, but you’d be surprised at just how intuitive this receiver really is.
  • Plenty of connectivity options – Among others, the IC-R8600 has a LAN port, a USB port, 3 antenna connections, an AUX jack, a MUTE jack, and plenty of other connections. No matter your rig or the layout of your shack, you’ll have plenty of options for integrating it into your setup.
  • Perfect size for rack mounting – The IC-R8600 is built to be compatible with standard 19-inch rack mounts. This makes it an ideal option if you’ve got a rack-mounted setup in your shack.

Bad

  • Hot during long sessions – The IC-R8600 tends to heat up quite a bit during long RX sessions, so you’ll want to make sure you have proper ventilation in your shack.
  • Requires an external power supply – For the price, it would be nice if this receiver had an integrated power supply, but it doesn’t. You’ll need to provide your own 13.8v DC power supply.
  • May be overkill for some hams – Do you really need coverage from 10 KHz to 3 GHz? Most people don’t. If you go for a cheaper and simpler receiver or transceiver, you can still access most of the most common amateur radio bands without paying such a high price.

Bottom line

If you’re going to use it to its full potential, the Icom IC-R8600 is worth the investment. It’s expensive and has a bit of a learning curve, but it’s truly an exceptional receiver. With the right antenna and settings, you’ll be shocked at how sensitive it really is, and you’ll be able to listen to signals from around the world.

Product Specs

Frequency coverage0.010000–821.999999*, 851.000000–866.999999,
896.000000–3000.000000 MHz
*Guaranteed range: 0.100000–821.999999 MHz
Antenna connectorANT 1 (0.01–3000 MHz): Type-N (50 O)
ANT 2 (0.01–30 MHz): PL-259 (50 O)
ANT 3 (0.01–30 MHz): RCA (500 O)
Frequency stabilityLess than ±0.5 ppm (at 25°C after warm up)
ModeUSB, LSB, CW, FSK, AM, FM, WFM, Digital
(D-STAR, P25 Phase 1, NXDN, dPMR, DCR)
Number of channels2000 regular with 100 groups, 200 auto memory write, 100 skip and 100 scan edge channels
Scan typesProgrammed, memory, selected memory, selected mode, auto memory write, priority scan and Δf scan
Power supply requirement13.8 V DC ±15%
DC current drainStand-by: 1.8 A, Maximum audio: 2.0 A
Operating temperature range–10 °C to +60 °C; 14 °F to 140 °F
Frequency resolution1 Hz
Dimensions (W × H × D)
(projections not included)
220 × 90 × 230 mm; 8.7 × 3.5 × 9.1 in
Weight (approximately)4.3 kg; 9.5 lb
Receiver system
0.010–29.999 MHz
30.000–499.999 MHz
500.000–1099.999 MHz
1100.000–1499.999 MHz
1500.000–3000.000 MHz MHz
Direct sampling
Double superheterodyne (IF: 778.7, 46.35 MHz)
Double superheterodyne (IF: 278.7, 46.35 MHz)
Triple superheterodyne (IF: 900–500.000001, 278.7, 46.35 MHz)
Triple superheterodyne (IF: 1000–500, 278.7, 46.35 MHz)
Sensitivity*1 (Preamp ON)
SSB/CW/FSK
  (at 10 dB S/N)
 
 


AM
   (at 10 dB S/N)




FM
  (at 10dB S/N)




WFM
   (at 12 dB SINAD)





D-STAR, NXDN, dPMR
   (1% BER)





P25
   (5% BER)
0.1– 1.799 MHz
1.8– 29.999 MHz
30– 1099.999 MHz
1100– 1999.999 MHz
2000– 3000 MHz

0.1– 1.799 MHz
1.8– 29.999 MHz
30– 1099.999 MHz
1100– 1999.999 MHz
2000– 3000 MHz

0.1– 1.799 MHz
1.8– 29.999 MHz
30– 1099.999 MHz
1100– 1999.999 MHz
2000– 3000 MHz

0.1– 1.799 MHz
1.8– 29.999 MHz
30– 1099.999 MHz
1100– 1999.999 MHz
2000– 3000 MHz


0.1– 1.799 MHz
1.8– 29.999 MHz
30– 1099.999 MHz
1100– 1999.999 MHz
2000– 3000 MHz


0.1– 1.799 MHz
1.8– 29.999 MHz
30– 1099.999 MHz
1100– 1999.999 MHz
2000– 3000 MHz



–6 dBμ
–14 dBμ
–10 dBμ
–10 dBμ
–8 dBμ

16 dBμ
8 dBμ
15 dBμ
15 dBμ
15 dBμ


–6 dBμ*2
–6 dBμ
–6 dBμ
–4 dBμ



3 dBμ
3 dBμ
5 dBμ



–2 dBμ*2
–2 dBμ
–2 dBμ
0 dBμ



–5 dBμ*2
–5 dBμ
–5 dBμ
–3 dBμ


*1 BW: WFM=180 kHz, FM=15 kHz, AM=6 kHz, SSB/FSK=2.4 kHz, CW=0.5 kHz
*2 28–29.999 MHz
Selectivity
LSB/USB/FSK (BW: 2.4 KHz)
 
 
CW (BW: 500 Hz)
 
 
AM (BW: 6 kHz)
 
 
FM (BW: 15 kHz)
 
 
WFM
2.4 kHz/–3 dB
3.6 kHz/–60 dB

500 Hz/–3 dB
700 Hz/–60 dB

6.0 kHz/–3 dB
15.0 kHz/–60 dB

12.0 kHz/–6 dB
25.0 kHz/–60 dB

180 kHz/–6 dB
Spurious and image rejection
0.010–29.999 MHz
30.000–1099.999 MHz
0.010–29.999 MHz
30.000–1099.999 MHz
(Analog mode operation)
More than 70 dB
More than 50 dB
More than 40 dB*3
More than 40 dB*3

*3 More than 35 dB for 1st lF through above 1100 MHz. More than 30 dB for 1st lF image above 2000 MHz.
Audio output powerMore than 2.0 W (8 Ω load, 10% distortion)

Expert reviews

  • Jarrad from Rate My Radio reviewed this receiver, and called it “quite the tool to have in the shack” due to its wide frequency support. He also liked the extensive and customizable menu and interface system, robust memory support system, and the waterfall display. He said that overall, he definitely recommends the IC-R8600 for anyone who wants to add a receiver to their ham shack.
  • In a written review, Dave from QSL.net called the IC-R8600 “Icom’s best receiver EVER made. He praised most of its features, including its large selection of filters, robust design, and solid connectivity options, including 3 antenna jacks. He also liked the customizable supper spectrum scope display. However, he did note the lack of a cooling fan and the need for an external power supply as things to keep in mind when purchasing this receiver.
  • In a written review at SWLing, Dan Robinson compared the IC-R8600 to a few other radios in his collection. He noted that its noise blanker and digital noise reduction features are “quite effective,” and also said that its ??synchronous detection modes are “pretty good.” Overall, he said that the “8600 is the radio for you” if you “have the time and patience to apply yourself to what is available over 30 MHz… and have the appropriate antenna(s) for those ranges.”

User reviews

  • DXEngineering users have given the Icom IC-R8600 a rating of 4.9 stars out of 5, across 10 total reviews. Among other compliments, they said that it’s “worth the price,” that “all functions this receiver does, it does well,” and it’s “very easy to operate and operation is straightforward.” Users also noted the very good selectivity and sensitivity of this receiver, as well as its extensive selection of input and output ports. One user noted that they were disappointed that the receiver doesn’t come with a built-in power supply, and requires an external power supply.
  • On eHam.net, reviewers have given this receiver a rating of 4.9 stars out of 5, across 7 total reviews. Users say that it is “powerful and its coverage is really extensive,” that the receiver “takes some getting used to, but [is] well worth the time taken,” and that its “sensitivity and selectivity are top notch.” They also praised the connectivity options of this radio, its overall fit and finish, and the extensive list of features available. However, a few users noted that it’s a bit tough to learn how to use the radio to its full potential.

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