Products & Product Reviews

Product Profile: Yaesu’s FTdx-101D and FTdx-101MP HF/50MHz Base Transceivers—A Look at These Elite Rigs One Year Later

Released in spring 2019, Yaesu’s FTdx-101 Series transceivers created the kind of positive buzz (not RFI buzz!) that Hams love to hear—fresh rigs combining hybrid narrow bandwidth SDR technologies with direct sampling SDR to help DXers and contesters take their stations to rarefied plateaus. It didn’t hurt that the sleek units were, in the words of one reviewer, “eye candy radios.”

Is the rig right for your station? Depends.

When it comes to HF transceiver performance, ask a hundred Hams what’s the best rig available and you’re likely to get one hundred rather strong opinions. As you know, Amateur operators aren’t hesitant about letting you know what they like and why. Scan through any Ham Radio forum and you’re sure to run across a spirited scrum or two pitting one radio against another, or a debate about what is the proper criteria by which to judge a radio’s worth in the shack.

Some operators pledge their unwavering support to a particular brand. Question this loyalty and expect World War III. Untethered by allegiances, others can’t wait to sample the latest flavor of brand-name transceiver, amassing collections that draw the envy of other operators and, likely, the consternation of more than a few XYLs.

For the majority of operators, though, investing in a new rig, particularly one that falls in the “elite” classification, is never done in haste or based solely on what logo graces the front panel. It is a carefully researched, fully vetted process that takes into account laboratory testing, customer reviews, hours of watching videos of the radio in action, analysis of its features compared to the competition, its strengths in terms of the operator’s areas of interest (contesting, CW, DXing, etc.), and, if possible, actual on-air use to assess its ergonomics and whether it lives up to the hype.

All this leads to the million-dollar question: Is this rig worth the money?

For the legions of operators who have purchased the Yaesu FTdx-101D HF/50MHz 100W or 101MP 200W transceiver since their release, the answer has been a resounding, “You betcha it is!” As a prudent operator, you’ll be doing your own evaluation before taking the plunge, but here’s a rundown of features, benefits, resources, and user opinions to get you started.

Can’t Get Your Hands on One? Whet Your Appetite Here:

This video hosted by Mark, W8BBQ, DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist, gives a three-minute overview of a few of the FTdx-101D’s many features, including its dual receivers, unique VFO knob with outer ring that simplifies working split, and its super-crisp display that can be shown in a range of configurations. Here’s another video of DX Engineering unboxing and setting up the rig.

What Do Customers Say?

Here are a few unsolicited reviews from DX Engineering customers:

Five Stars: I watched nearly every YouTube video I could find and discovered that not one did this radio justice. This radio is awesome. My other radio had S-5 to S-7 noise levels; this radio has none! I was immediately able to get on the air without having to go to the manual. It is extremely intuitive and masterfully laid out. Rob Sherwood (see below) ranks this radio number one, and I believe it! How can Yaesu give you so much for so little money!

Five Stars: If there is a signal there—no matter the QRM or QRN—with the roofing, notch, contour filters and digital noise reduction and any combination of each, these dual receivers will pull it out for your easy listening. Big beautiful TFT display with meters, scopes, filter graphics, and menus at your fingertips. Big hefty tuning knob with an outer tuning ring for the second VFO or VC-Tune and the 8 knobs with inner and outer controls for 14 function controls. Simple band selection for either VFO and lots of indicator LEDs so you know what’s on. On the transmit side, a nice electronic keyer, speech processor/equalizers and great audio quality reported from many stations. This transceiver is intuitive to operate and exhibits the state-of-the-art in SDR tech. Also has a video output for a large monitor. DX and Contesting are a breeze with this machine.

Five Stars: This transceiver is better than awesome. It is so sensitive that my only problem is that I can easily hear stations who cannot hear me! These signals may be less than an S-1. I have perfect copy on them, but they cannot hear me. WOW… never had this problem before. LOL

What Does a Longtime Ham from DX Engineering say?

Dave Fairbanks, N8NB, DX Engineering technical support specialist, has operated the gamut of radios since getting his ticket at age 13, well before SDR became part of the Amateur Radio lexicon. A member of the DXCC Honor Roll and recipient of QRP DXCC, WAZ, WAS, and DX Challenge awards, among others, Dave doesn’t equivocate when speaking about his shack’s go-to HF rig—the Yaesu FTdx-101MP:

“It is simply the best Ham transceiver available,” he says. “Best interference rejection. Best build quality and best looking. It has nearly every capability that a Ham would want in a transceiver.”

Dave singles out features such as Yaesu’s unique VC-Tune*, which can attenuate interfering signals directly at the receiving frequency, allowing “you to hear signals that other transceivers cannot.”

He highlighted these other benefits:

  • The ability to make adjustments without wading through multi-level menus
  • Knobs for all important functions, with few that have multiple functions
  • Superior receiver function and high-quality transmitted audio

What Did Lab Testing Reveal?

Well-regarded Amateur Radio rig testing maven Rob Sherwood, NC0B, founder of Sherwood Engineering, crowned the FTdx-101D as the #1 transceiver on his Sherwood Report, bumping the FLEX- 6700 from the top spot last year. Sherwood ranks rigs by receiver performance based on Third-Order Dynamic Range or ARRL Reciprocal Mixing Dynamic Range IF Phase Noise Limited. Sherwood is quick to point out that while close-in dynamic range is a key parameter for judging receiver performance, there are many other factors that contribute to a transceiver’s overall appeal.

One online reviewer, acknowledging the limitations of Sherwood’s rankings, offered his opinion:

“True, the Sherwood rating of number-one doesn’t tell the whole story. After having the FTdx-101D in the shack for two weeks, I can tell you it’s a lot better than that.”

What Can You Expect When Using the FTdx-101D or FTdx-101MP:

  • 160 to 6 meter coverage for all modes: SSB, AM, FM, CW, RTTY, and Digital
  • Superb close-in dynamic range performance (120 dB RDR at 2 kHz spacing, 14 MHz, 500 Hz)
  • Hybrid SDR technology: Direct Sampling and narrow bandwidth SDR
  • Down-conversion design for sharp adjacent QRM reduction
  • 9 MHz IF Roofing Filters with excellent shape factor
  • 400 MHz High Resolution Direct Digital Synthesizer
  • Ultra-low phase noise 1st Local Oscillator
  • Completely independent dual receivers with general coverage receive
  • High-Q VC-Tune* Front-End RF Preselector for maximum attenuation of -70 dB
  • Yaesu’s renowned interference reduction system with 32 bit IF DSP and digital noise reduction and DSP Auto Notch

Learn much more about Yaesu’s FTdx-101D and FTdx-101MP transceivers at DX Engineering.com. Also available are optional desktop external speakers and replacement microphones.

And check out this excellent video featuring Rod, K8RR, DX Engineering technical support specialist, answering questions he has received from customers about the FTdx-101MP.

* The Yaesu FTdx-101MP comes with both VC-Tune Preselectors installed in the main and sub receivers. The Yaesu FTdx-101D has the VC-Tune Preselector installed in the main receiver; a second VC-Tune Preselector, VCT-101, can be purchased separately. Ask a DX Engineering sales rep for details about special ordering the optional VC-Tune or CW and SSB Narrow Crystal Roofing Filters for either rig, which must be installed and calibrated by Yaesu.

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