FT991 vs FT1200 hands on

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by W8JX, Feb 28, 2016.

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  1. W8JX

    W8JX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I got a chance to play with a FT991 and FT1200 yesterday side by side for about 30 minutes. There was also a FT450 in mix too but my focus was mostly on the other two rigs and menu settings. Used some on 40m but 20m mostly. The 991 has actually gone up a few notches in my opinion and 1200 down. My focus was audio quality on receive, selectivity and noise. T0 my "ear" the 991 had a quieter receiver than 1200 and sounded better when set correctly. 1200 was a bit nasal sounding while 991 was crisper. I was impressed enough with 991 this time that I will schedule some more time with it in future. One thing I did not like abut 1200 was display and particularly the S meter rendering. While attempting to emulate a regular meter, in action was jerky and not fluid and a bit distracting. I liked the bar graph meter function on 991 meter much better as it was smooth. As I have said before the 450 does not sound too bad it does lack selectivity and advanced functions in menu settings too. Of the 3 rigs switching between them to listen to a QSO on 14,199.9 the 991 was best and cleanest and interestingly 450 and 991 were less than 100 hz apart in frequency display but 1200 was a little over 600hz high for some reason and it was not RIT/Clarifier function. 450 was noisiest and 1200 in middle. They had a 857 there too on bench but never turned it on. They also had a 480 and a IC 7410 but they were several feet away and on a different coax switch too and made direct side by side comparison with Yaesu impractical so it was not used either.
    K8NIV, KK4CUL and KC3DVP like this.
  2. N7WR

    N7WR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I owned a 1200 and didn't keep it long. I was not impressed with the receiver and the transmit audio reports I received were not great in spite of using a quality Heil microphone. I waited until recently to buy a 991 hoping the early glitches (low transmit output) would be fixed in later production runs. I am very happy with the 991 and even happier after using it in last weekend's DX contest. I was surprised how well the receiver held up on very crowded bands with lots of mega signals
  3. W8JX

    W8JX Ham Member QRZ Page

    The use of a Heil mic does not always mean best audio. I think a big mistake many make is buying a new rig and pluging in a non stock mic and then scratch their head and blame rig when it does not play well. There is a lot more science to it than plug and play with new rig. With these modern rigs you should stock mics that are usually better matched to rig.
  4. N7WR

    N7WR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yes I agree but the transmit audio wasn't good with the stock mic either and I spent a lot of time trying to get both the stock mic and Heil sounding good with the various equalizer settings etc---and no matter what it did not sound good. OTOH the 991 was easy to get sounding good both with the factory mic and the Heil.
  5. W8JX

    W8JX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am going to play with 991 and 1200 again today and maybe 7410 too
  6. KK4CUL

    KK4CUL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think you'll really like the 7410 and I'm interested to hear your opinions. I do notice you seem to like Yaseu rigs, so hopefully that doesn't impart a bias.

    I recently got a 7410 with the roofing filters and find the roofing filters work great for really crowded bands. That and check out the TCON tone control menu. You can set bass and treble level adjustment (+\-) and low/high pass on receive. You can also adjust the low and high pass for three different transmit bandwidths. Combining the transmit adjustments with the 3 variable filters on receive and it makes an incredible radio to use, all with minimal menu searching.

    Also, when adjusting the filters, tweak the twin pass and tuning knob on the top right. Let's say you create a 1.9kHz narrow filter preset and find the audio is a bit thin or hollow. Adjust the pass and down about 150-250 hz and see how much clearer it sounds! Can you tell I like the rig?

  7. W8JX

    W8JX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I spent a few hours playing with rigs and chatting with store manager. First dug into 991 vs 1200 again and like 991 better. It has a cleaner/low noise mixer than 1200. Not a big difference but a edge. Still like way 991 sounds too vs 1200. I do no like the emulated meter on 1200. It is jerky in motion vs bar graph meter on 991. Like touch screen too which 1200 lacks and easier menu access and tweaking

    Next 7410. Nice rig. Sounds nice with full audio and has a good solid feel too. Effective NR reduction and like band pass tuning. It supports optional roofing filters too though none were installed. It has a built in USB port and sound card for digi (which 991 has as well but not 1200). 7410 is decent rig.

    If I had to choose one of the 3 it would likely be 7410 for a base station and 991 if looking for a dual purpose portable rig with 2m and 440 SSB/CW support. If you do not need 2m/440 SSB/CW support I would use a 480 for mobile/portable which I already have. I would not use 991 for 2m/440 FM as I think it is a waste of resources.
    KK4CUL likes this.
  8. KK4CUL

    KK4CUL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the feedback, we seem to be on the same page. For a "shack in the box", the new 991 is really hard to beat. As much as I like Icoms, I think the 7100 leaves a bit to desire in the ergonomics department.
    I have not ever used an FTDX-1200, but I was eyeing them when rig shopping. I had never used the 7410 or 1200 before, but based on reviews and my experience with Icoms, I went with the 7410 (especially since it came with the roofing filters). I don't regret it at all!
    If I still had time to work portable, I was really looking into the 991 (at the time the IC-7300 was not out yet, and I don't like being a beta tester.) But with the $1500 price tag, I would had rather got the IC-7410 or TS-590s.

    So you're pretty set on the FT-991? Let us know how you like it.

    P.S. -- as far as entry level base rigs, I think the current FT-450D is the leader of the pack. The IC-718 is too dated and the audio DSP is not as effective as the 450's, and the 450 has a pretty screen. I had an IC-7200, which while being considered an entry level radio, the receiver was way better than all three. The problem with the 7200 was that the layout was odd for most people (I loved it), and even though it is supposed to be a rugged / portable rig, it was really power and current hungry. Anything below 12 volts, and your power drops off quickly. It also used about 1.3 amps just standby, so either bring a heavy high AH SLA, or expensive LiPo. Plus it is discontinued. I kinda wish I still had that as a backup rig to take portable, but had I not sold it I couldn't get the IC-7410.
  9. W8JX

    W8JX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am waiting to see if Yaesu spins off a updated 857 and 817 (maybe a 951 and 911) based on 991 logic as 817,857 and 897 shared electronics and 991 replaced 897. I am considering upgrading/replacing a rig but not till summer at soonest. I want to see what rolls out at Hamvention and do some more "homework" on a few rigs. They had a IC7100 there too and did not play with it but very very briefly. Was not impressed with general ergonomics. Next time there I will give it another look.
    K6CLS likes this.
  10. K6BRN

    K6BRN XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have an FTDX-1200 set up side by side with an FTDX-3000 and a old TS-440SAT. All are fully optioned and the TS-440S has an outboard CLRdsp attached.

    When RX filtering is set up the same, the 1200 and 3000 sound identical and are very quiet. The 440 is much harsher until the CLRdsp is switched in line, then its RX audio improves a great deal.

    I found the 1200 sounded muffled on its default settings and tweaked several to get the audio where I wanted it to be. Most important is to adjust the APF filter to be an emphasis filter and to place its center and amplitude where it sounds best to you. The APF provides alot of flexibility in adjusting sound quality. Other RX bandwidth and filter rolloffs are grouped by mode in the "windowshade" menu. These Re NOT the roofing filter settings. Hard to hit all these options well in a short time during a store test drive.

    In fact FTDX1200 and 3000 menu complexity is the biggest issue for users. There are a lot of choices.

    Overall, I prefer the 3000 because it has IF and RX outputs I find very useful, plus an extra antenna input. The 3000 also has the USB sound card interface for digital modes built in, where the add on unit for the 1200 is not cheap.

    Can't speak to the 991 as I've only test driven one briefly at HRO and was impressed. But complaints about finals failures are still popping up on eham.net. Might want to look into that a little more.

    Brian K6BRN

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