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Sony Corporation, Tokyo

ICF - 7600 D

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überarbeitet am 30.10.2010

Shortly after Sony had presented their first microprocessor controlled portable shortwave receiver ICF-2001 in 1980, another even smaller and more sophisticated receiver appeared on the market in 1983: the ICF-7600D is an ecxellent microprocessor controlled double conversion shortwave receiver und pocketbook format. The designation ICF-7600D made it not easy to be distinguished from the analog ICF-7600 / ICF-7600A, in the USA and Canada this distinction was made easier, the model carried the designation ICF-2002. Dhe later models ICF-7600DS, ICF-SW7600 and ICF-SW7600G are all very similar in dimensions, operation scheme and technical specifications. The big brother ICF-2001D appeared in 1985.

Double conversion, I.F. 55,395 MHz, 455 kHz

Digital display, 5 kHz,
1 kHz marks on the fine tuning knob

AM, CW/SSB, FM (VHF)

Selectivity -6 dB/ -60 dB

Sensitivity

Attenuator DX / Local,

10 memories, digital clock and timer Bedienungsanleitung

The silver couloured cabinet of the ICF-7600D with it's 18,4 x 11,8 x 3,2 cm and a weight of 650 g is slightly smaller as the popular World Radio TV Handbook, as the well known writer of receiver tests Larry Magne stated in the Handboof in 1984.
The radio has a poor stand on it's bottom small face and there is no fold out stand provided to bring it in a tilted position to make operation easier, so many listeners made do-it-yourself stands for the ICF-7600D, there have even been some commercially sold plexiglas stands for this purpose.
The telescopic fully rotable antenna is located at the upper small face of the radio, there is a 3,5 mm jack to connect an external antenna on the international model, german tax laws were the reason to omit the external antenna connector on sets sold in Germany.

The left half of the front panel is taken by the speaker grille, the audio power of 200 mW when battery operated and 400 mW when operated from mains will do the job for a hotel room, but it's quite poor to bring enough audio power to a beach party...
In the right upper corner, You find three large pushbuttons to switch the receiver ON, OFF and to set it to SLEEP timer operation. A tiny sliding switch at the upper small face lets You lock all front panel controls to prevent the set from switching on in Your suitcase during a transport. The small "STANDBY" key activates timer operation (the ICF-7600D makes a nice alarm clock on trips abroad), three even smaller keys are used to set the internal clock, the dimes can be displayed in 12 or 24 hours format, the switch to select the time format is located in the battery compartment. In this classic version of the ICF-7600D, the time is displayed continuously on it's separate display.
Below the time display, You find the frequency display indicating the reception frequency with an accuracy of 5 kHz and also the broadcast band wavelength in meters when tuned to a frequency within a shortwave broadcast band. When I bought my ICF-7600D new (and this was one of there very few radios, I did this!), digital frequency display has not been a standard on all - even much bigger and more expensive - shortwave receivers. A tiny little LED is used as tuning indicator but it quite useless as signal strength meter.
The numbered keys are used to directly enter the desired frequency, just select the AM (all frequencies between 153 - 29'995 kHz) or FM range (76 MHz - 108 MHz in the international version and 87,5 MHz - 108 MHz in the version for Germany), enter the frequency and press ENTER to tune the radio. So by pressing the keys AM - 6 - 1 - 5 - 5 - Exec, You immediately are tuned to the signal of Radio Austria Intl. from Vienna.
To store a frequency of a favourite station in memory, You just press the ENTER (Freq) key (this is another living example of Sony's wonderful micro key technology) and one of the numbered keys at the same time. To recall the frequency from memory just press the same number key again - what an easy procedure for storing and recalling memory content.
The receiver has no "real" main tuning knob, to tune the radio up or down in 5 kHz steps, use the + / - pushbutton at the left, when You press the BAND SELECT key together with it, You jump to the next upper or lower shortwave broadcast band. The START/STOP button activates a scanning function, the receiver tunes up in 5 kHz steps to stop on frequencies with a sufficient signal level, it will continue scanning after five seconds, if You won't have pressed the STOP button again.
There are some more important controls at the right small face of the cabinet - yes, You need small fingers to operate this radio properly! You find the sliding control for volume, a tone switch and a tuning step/mode switch. In normal position, the receiver is tuned in 5 kHz steps. In fine tuning mode, You can shift the reception frequency with a small thumbwheel control for a few kilohertz, the frequency indication on the display is not altered, so it might lead to misreadings, when the switch is in the FINE TUNING mode and the control is detuned away from zero. But this control is extremely helpful: in case You have interference from a strong adjacent channel station, You can shift up or down 1 or 2 kHz and wil find fine reception. In the SSB position, the BFO is activated for CW and single sideband reception, the thumbwheel control is used for tuning to zero beat in ECSS mode and to control the beat frequency note when You receive morse code transmissions.

The Sony has can be powered from an external mains power supply, from a special car adaptor cable to connect it to 12 V DC car battery or from six UM-3 batteries. Your of them are used for radio operation and keep the radio running for around 12 hours, the other two batteries are used to keep the memory content and the clock running. After it turned out, that the receiver's performance is reduced when operated from 4,8 Volts (four accumulators with 1,2 V nominal voltage instead of four standard batteries), there have been ideas to replace the computer batteries by one 3 Volts photo battery and to connect a fifth accumulator in the empty space to arrive at an operation voltage of 6 Volts from five accumulators.

When it was new, the shortwave reception performance was far above average compared with other often much bulkier shortwave travel receivers. From todays point of view, sensitivity and selectivity are still quite good to make the venerable ICF-7600D a good travel companion.
The sensitivity with the internal antenna is not extremely high, which will rarely cause problems in the high signal strength areas of Central Europe, in Africa or Australia, You might try to connect the receiver to an external antenna to get better results. As the ICF-7600D tends to overload from very high signal strength, I would recommend a passive preselector or e.g. a Yaesu FRT-7700 antenna tuner, Sony broadband active antenna AN-1 is definitely not well suited in Europe, the signal levels are to high causing only more noise and not better readability. The newer Sony antennas seem to deliver lower signal levels, I have never tried the ICF-7600D with one of these, the Grahn GS-2 does a very nice job, but is more expensive then the radio.
The radio comes only with ten memories, a small number from today's point of view, but You can cope with it when not travelling to too many different countries. The timed operation features are very helpful, the ICF-7600D has no backlit clock display, but it can replace an alarm clock easily.
When it was new, the price for the Sony was quite high, much higher then the price of competitors with a similarly sized cabinet. But the fine tuning option, tegether with the BFO for CW/SSB reception, the individual clock display and the excellent operation scheme made it worth spending that money for me. Nowadays, well preserved ICF-7600Ds can be bought for around 50 - 70 sFr. or 50 Euros, which will give an excellent price - performance radio, much better then the 19,99 Euro cheapies made in China...
The later ICF-SW7600G is a very similar radio just with synchroneous detection added as an additional feature.

weitere Lektüre:
e: WRTH tests portable receivers, Larry Magne, WRTH 1984
e: the Sony ICF 7600 Confusion, WRTH 1988

© Martin Bösch