Living with my Drake R8 receiver - updated September 2005

The Drake R8B shortwave communications receiver has been discontinued by RL Drake International! Wow! I never thought I would see this and there is no word on a follow-up receiver or a Drake R8C or Drake R9. Ah, dare to dream people, dare to dream!

The Drake R8The Drake R8, R8A or R8B is one receiver that, if you can afford it, should be front and center in your radio shack.

In a series of small articles, I will discuss the brief period of time that I borrowed one and why I am using my "new" R8. (Yes, I have not forgotten that I need to write these articles!)

In a quick summary, there is no other radio, except maybe the AOR 7030-Plus (ok and one or two others) that were obviously designed with "us" in mind.

The Drake is a pleasure to use, hour after hour. Its audio is appealing. It is sensitive as heck. It has lots and lots of buttons to play with (we guys like that) and it never fails to impress.

As owners of the Drake R8 and R8A have found out, their radios have held their value! A Drake R8, on EBay, can set you back about 4 to 5 hundred dollars. So if you are thinking of buying one and need approval from your C.F.O, tell her (or him) that these radios not only hold their value, but make life around the house that much more pleasant!

Summary of upcoming article

  • The Drake receivers have incredibly pleasing audio matched with some very carefully chosen filters. The ergonomics of the R8 with manual mode selection are slightly less appealing than the R8A or R8B but you get used to it.

  • The notch filter and band-pass adjustments are poweful tools gear to eliminating interference. So far this medium-wave dx season (we are in, after all, the first few days of the season), I have been routinely pulling out 2khz split frequency reception from the likes of Tahiti on 738khz. I could not do that with the Kenwood R2000 that is for sure. IF shift is an absolute must when you want to make interference (KCBS San Francisco in this case) go away.

  • Their sensitivity is second to none. (Okay, the 7030+ comes pretty close) I am using the Wellbrook ALA100 active magnetic loop with the R8 and the RF attenuation is getting used a bit more.

  • Using the Passband-IF shift control wisely, it is possible to dig out distant stations from local interference that is just not possible on other lesser receivers. This is a proven fact day after day on the medium-wave bands

  • Rock solid Sync detection, although not side-band selectable in the R8, makes for stable reception and reduces some adjacent channel interference and the distortion of fading is all but eliminated.

Colin is a Victoria resident and radio enthusiast. His receivers include the Kenwood R2000 (with VHF Option), the venerable Radio Shack DX150B, a sony 7600G, a Yacht-Boy 400PE, a Radio Shack DX440 as well as the Drake R8. He works as a tech and consultant at a local University.