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Sony Corporation, Tokyo

ICF - 2001

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Sony ICF-2001
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überarbeitet am 30.10.2010

When Sony introduced their first microprocessor controlled shortwave radio in the year 1980, this was a revolution as design and concept of a world band travel radio is concerned. Sony's ICF-2001 was the first travel radio to feature direct keypad frequency entry.
But even this radio could still be improved, Uniden brought out their CR-2021 and Sangean seemed to be inspired by Sony to develop their very successful ATS-803. Sony's answer to these improved receivers was another set, that was a real milestone in the field of portable shortwave radios, that has even later never been equalled in respect of it's performance on the shortwave bands and innovation: the European designation of this receiver was ICF-2001D, this model number could easily be confounded with the ICF-2001, in Japan and USA, there was a more obvious difference as the successor carried the model designation ICF-2010.

Double conversion superhet

Digital frequency display, 1 kHz


Selektivität -6 dB/ -60 dB


SSB fine tuning,

6 memories, scanning functions

The Sony ICF-2001's dimensions of 31 x 17 x 5,6 cm are quite big for a travel radio nowadays, but they were absolutely amazing for a double conversion set 1980, as well as it's weight of 1,8 kg. Earlier travel portables had a carrying handle, a digital frequency display was not standard, they had no electronic frequency memories and the dimensions were so, that the set "could be easily stored under an airplane seat"...
Technically, the competitor sets were conventional single or rarely double conversion sets combined with a frequency counter, only rare sets came with a Wadley Loop design - the ICF-2001 was the first compact PLL synthesized receiver.

The radio is powered by three UM-1 / mono cell batteries, another two UM-3 batteries are needed to keep the receivers memory content and keep the clock running. As an alternative, the "battery hungry" radio could be powered from an external 4,5 V power supply or from a car battery, in this case, a special adaptor cable was needed.

The slightly recessed main power switch and the pushbuttons for the 90 Minutes sleep timer and display illumination are located above the speaker grill at the left side of the front panel.

In the middle of the front panel, You find the digital LCD frequency display and the signal strength indicator, designed as a 5 element LED chain. Just below, You find the numbered keys for direct frequency entry, the ENTER key, two buttons (L1 and L2) for the edge frequencies of the scanning mode, the latter could be activated using the START/STOP button - und below the UP / DOWN tuning buttons, tuning speed is increased, when the middle button is depressed. This tuning scheme and the lack of a real tuning knob on "a several hundred bucks radio" was the main point of criticism amongst the shortwave listeners community. Today, we got used to the fact that only a minority of radios come with a proper tuning knob.
The ICF-2001 was the first travel radio to feature direkt keypad frequency entry. After entering the desired reception frequency simply press the red EXECUTE button and the radio is automatically tuned to the desired frequency.
Small thumbwheels are used for antenna tuning and for fine tuning in the CW / SSB mode.

On the right side of the front panel, You find the six memory keys (recall a memory just by pressing the respective key, enter a frequency by pressing ENTER and the memory key), the modes switch with the positions FM (for the VHF broadcast band), AM (for all other bands) and SSB/CW for single sideband reception with the BFO. Three sliding controls act as bass, treble and volume control.

The jacks for earphones, cassette recorder and automatic recorder control are located at the right small face of the cabinet, as well as the connector for the 4,5 V DC from the external power supply AC-122.

The performance on the shortwave bands can be considered as good even from todays point of view, but hte ICF-2001D performs much much better. The original '2001 has only six frequencys memories, a very small number from todays point of view - but it was a milestone to store frequencies and to recall them to compare several parallel frequencies of an international broadcaster when looking for the best one.
The radio is stil la useful travel radio, but ifYou want a really lightweight set, You would better look for a set from the 7600 series or even a SW-1, and if You want optimum performance with automated ECSS tuning and two I.F. bandwidths, then look for a used ICF-2001D - so the ICF-2001 ist mostly found on the shelves of a Sony radio collector or in some places as a secondary radio in the kitchen or workshop.
As reported, a common failure with the ICF-2001 are problems with the computer / memory batteries when the battery compartment has suffered from leaking batteries or the contact between the battery compartment and the main PCB gives poor contact.

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© Martin Bösch 26. September 2010