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What's the best VHF out there.

Old 12-03-2017, 05:39 PM
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Default What's the best VHF out there.

Looking at putting two new VHF's on the boat. What's the best bang for the buck. Would like to have a remote mic also.
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Old 12-03-2017, 07:15 PM
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Their will be a lot of opinions out there . Mine choice was the ICOM 506 W/AIS and NEMA2000 no regrets .
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Old 12-03-2017, 07:33 PM
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I have the icom 506 radio in my current rig and will be looking at the icom black box 400BB for the new boat. SH also makes a nice one as well. Had the SH GX1700 in another boat and it worked well. GPS integrated in the 1700.
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Old 12-03-2017, 07:48 PM
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If you don't need/want AIS then the SH 1700 is a good bet. Has the remote mic feature you mentioned plus built in GPS and a very shallow mounting depth. Can't beat the price. In the past it can be had for 170 with rebates. $210 or so without.

Quinn
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Old 12-03-2017, 08:16 PM
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The icoms are the best for performance. SH's are ok, and have outstanding support, but the receivers are not quite as good.
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Old 12-03-2017, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Birdman View Post
The icoms are the best for performance. SH's are ok, and have outstanding support, but the receivers are not quite as good.
Proof?
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Old 12-03-2017, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by BadgerS View Post
Proof?


Sure. come take a ride on my boat which has two SH 5500's on it. Then I will plug in an Icom 506 (manually with the cables which I have made connectors for). You will immediately see the difference yourself. The icoms transceiver is just a bit more sensitive, with a documented higher sensitivity, look at the last page of the manuals under "specs".


I love my 5500, but it does not perform as well as the icoms. I've also tried several of the new models as well with the same results.
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Old 12-03-2017, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Birdman View Post
Sure. come take a ride on my boat which has two SH 5500's on it. Then I will plug in an Icom 506 (manually with the cables which I have made connectors for). You will immediately see the difference yourself. The icoms transceiver is just a bit more sensitive, with a documented higher sensitivity, look at the last page of the manuals under "specs".


I love my 5500, but it does not perform as well as the icoms. I've also tried several of the new models as well with the same results.
So, ALL Icoms are better than ALL Standard Horizon? There is a lot that goes into making a great receiver. Sensitivity is only part of it. Not saying one is better than the other and I am especially not saying all of manufacturers products are superior.
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Old 12-03-2017, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by BadgerS View Post
So, ALL Icoms are better than ALL Standard Horizon? There is a lot that goes into making a great receiver. Sensitivity is only part of it. Not saying one is better than the other and I am especially not saying all of manufacturers products are superior.


So then what are you saying, because it's not very clear?


What I am saying is, I've tested at least 10 or 15 SH radio's, next to 10 or 15 Icom radio's, many different SH models, vs only 2 different Icom models. In every case, the SH performed better.


Hey, I have SH on MY boat! I wish it wasn't true.
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Old 12-03-2017, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by jabbo View Post
Looking at putting two new VHF's on the boat. What's the best bang for the buck. Would like to have a remote mic also.
Do you want AIS?
So you want NMEA 200?
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Old 12-03-2017, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Birdman View Post
So then what are you saying, because it's not very clear?


What I am saying is, I've tested at least 10 or 15 SH radio's, next to 10 or 15 Icom radio's, many different SH models, vs only 2 different Icom models. In every case, the SH performed better.


Hey, I have SH on MY boat! I wish it wasn't true.
What I am saying is that you are being subjective. The reality of the radios is that they perform VERY similar. The manufacturing variances, RF environmental factors and installation practices are far more impactful than a .0x difference in receive sensitivity.

Our fleet of LMR radios at work is over 10,000. The BIGGEST difference in performance is antenna system and making sure that good voltage reaches the radio.

Buy on features. Does the radio have AIS, GPS, NMEA 0183, NMEA 2000, Loud Hailer, color, microphone placement, form factor....get what is important to you
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Old 12-03-2017, 11:34 PM
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I have a pretty good controlled experiment with VHF radios on my boat that can shed some light on the Standard Horizon versus Icom discussion. I have the top of the line model from each -- an Icom M604 and a Standard Horizon GX5500 connected to identical Shakespeare Phase III 17 foot antennas with identical cabling and connectors.

Using the radios in real life out on the water, there is no noticeable difference in performance as shown by range or quality of reception. When testing with the local Sea Tow automated radio check station, which is about 18 miles from my dock and right on the edge of maximum range given modest height of the Sea Tow antenna, both radios just barely can be heard and get the response. The same is true of the much more distant Coast Guard stations from which I can hear transmissions. I have done the testing swapping antennas between the two radios and the result is the same.

I am not sure why Birdman thinks there is a noticeable advantage to the Icom radios he has tried -- I doubt he has tested them under absolutely identical conditions in terms of antenna, cable, and connectors.

BadgerS is right in suggesting that you should make the decision based on features, footprint, and other considerations at least if you are looking at the top of their range. I would not make the same statement about the lower end models since I haven't tested those. I would say stick with S-H or Icom and avoid the junk from Navico or Garmin, who have not figured out how to make a good radio.
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Old 12-04-2017, 02:11 AM
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The best VHF is none of what's already mentioned. If you want the best a Sailor VHF combined with a Comrod antenna is the way to go.

http://www.cobham.com/communications...me-vhf-radios/


http://www.comrod.com/category.php?categoryID=129
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Old 12-04-2017, 03:58 AM
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Originally Posted by abbor View Post
The best VHF is none of what's already mentioned. If you want the best a Sailor VHF combined with a Comrod antenna is the way to go.

http://www.cobham.com/communications...me-vhf-radios/


http://www.comrod.com/category.php?categoryID=129

The OP is in the US and I never seen those over here FWIW
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Old 12-04-2017, 04:44 AM
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Originally Posted by prowlersfish View Post
The OP is in the US and I never seen those over here FWIW


Your lack of knowledge to these brands don't prohibit Sailor to be the best VHF's and Comrod being the best VHF antennas distributed in US

https://www.si-tex.com/item/sailor6216vhfdscclassdradio

https://www.google.no/url?sa=t&sourc...JipFwmU46v3ILZ

Comrod antennas are also available in US

http://www.imarineusa.com/search.aspx?find=Comrod
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Old 12-04-2017, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by abbor View Post
Your lack of knowledge to these brands don't prohibit Sailor to be the best VHF's and Comrod being the best VHF antennas distributed in US

https://www.si-tex.com/item/sailor6216vhfdscclassdradio

https://www.google.no/url?sa=t&sourc...JipFwmU46v3ILZ

Comrod antennas are also available in US

http://www.imarineusa.com/search.aspx?find=Comrod
I did look for Sailor and nothing came up but with that said ,my experience with koden/sitex has been subpar.

But we both have a opinion on what it best . I stand by ICOM ,
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Old 12-04-2017, 11:22 AM
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Comparing the receiver sensitivity of ICON and Standard-Horizon radios:

First, we adopt the manufacturer's specifications as accurate and reliable. Then we compare them. For comparison I use two top-tier radios:

ICOM M-506
Sensitivity (at 12dB SINAD) 0.22µV typical

Standard-Horizon GX5500
Sensitivity
20 dB Quieting = 0.35 μV
12 dB SINAD = 0.30 μV
Squelch Sensitivity (Threshold) = 0.13 μV

We compare at the common specification, input signal to give 12-dB signal to noise and distortion ratio. The results is that ICOM rates their receiver to be 0.08-microVolts more sensitive, but qualifies that as "typically."

The difference in sensitivity looks small, but if you convert both to dBm ratings, the ICOM comes out about 2.7-dBm more sensitive. That is actually possibly a noticeable difference--if you have two things:

--very low noise environment
--signals at the very margin of being heard

In order to appreciate the difference in sensitivity, the desired signal would have to be just at the threshold of being detected. That means the squelch circuit would have to be backed off to no-squelch and the signal was just barely above the noise floor. I don't know where you can get signals like that to perform tests, unless you have a signal generator. You don't get signals like that by randoming tuning around the marine band.

The Standard-Horizon specifications are more informative. They show that with an increase in signal to 0.35-microVolt the recovered modulation will have a very nice 20 dB SINAD--that means the recovered signal is 100-time stronger than the noise.

ICOM does not give us any data on how fast its receiver quiets down with increasing signal strength.

In actual practice, the typical boat with a spark-ignition engine and lots of onboard electronics, including SONAR, probably creates a much higher noise floor than the limiting noise for either of these radios, so their ultimate sensitivity rating is meaningless when operated in a noisy environment.

ALSO: let's throw the SAILOR radio into the comparison. For their 6216 radio the sensitivity is rated as:

Receiver Sensitivity < -119dBm Typically @ 20dB SINAD CCITT Weighted

We have to convert dBm to microvolts at 50-Ohms; that's not too hard. The relationship is

microVolts = 10^(dBm +107)/20
microVolts = 10^(-119 +107)/20
microvolts = 10^-0.6
microvolts = 0.25

Heya--that is the rated sensitivity for a 20-dB SINAD, so that is actually better than both the ICOM and the Standard-Horizon.

PS--for the math behind the conversion of dBm to microvolts, see my derivation at

http://continuouswave.com/whaler/reference/dBm.html

For more detail on the conversions of the voltage sensitivities to dBm ratings, see a more detailed analysis at

http://continuouswave.com/forum/view...p=16668#p16668


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Last edited by jhebert; 12-04-2017 at 01:31 PM. Reason: Fixed an error in calculation; emended estimate of differences
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Old 12-04-2017, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by abbor View Post
The best VHF is none of what's already mentioned. If you want the best a Sailor VHF combined with a Comrod antenna is the way to go.

http://www.cobham.com/communications...me-vhf-radios/


http://www.comrod.com/category.php?categoryID=129
AMEN ON SAILOR! However, the OP asked for best bang for the buck, and that usually imputes cost vs features.

But, IMO, Sailor can't be beat by any of the other radio's mentioned above. The Furuno 8900S looks a lot like the Sailor
.
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Old 12-04-2017, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by ClassicGuy View Post
...I have the top of the line model from each -- an Icom M604 and a Standard Horizon GX5500 connected to identical ...antennas with identical cabling and connectors.

Using the radios in real life out on the water, there is no noticeable difference in performance as shown by range or quality of reception.
Thanks for those first-hand observations. They are exactly what I would expect would be obtained based on the specifications for the two radios. Their receiver sensitivity is rated to be just about identical, so your outcome is entirely consistent with those specifications.
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Last edited by jhebert; 12-04-2017 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 12-04-2017, 12:41 PM
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Until manufacturers spec more of what the receiver should do, we can't tell much at all from the specs. Here is a sample of what is missing:

*squelch blocking
*3 generator IMD
*adjacent channel blocking
*can CH 16 be set up as a priority scan
*distortion of built-in speaker at rated audio

with those, then we can seperate the men from the boys.
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