I recently acquired a Yaesu FT-991A and have been able to play with it over the past couple of days. Since I already own an ICOM IC-7300, it’s inevitable that I should compare the two. They are alike in many ways, but quite different, too.
One of the obvious similarities is the size. They are both compact rigs, with the FT-991A being slightly smaller. They both cost about the same. Gigaparts is selling the FT-991A for $1180, while the IC-7300 costs $980.
The other similarity is that both radios have a color display with band scope. That’s where the similarity ends, though. The IC-7300’s display is larger and has a higher resolution than the FT-991A’s display. That allows the IC-7300 to display a lot more information than the FT-991A, and thereby, making it much more usable.
The other big difference, for me, is that the IC-7300 offers touchscreen tuning. You can tap a signal on the IC-7300 band scope, and the radio tunes to that frequency. The FT-991A does not have that capability.
The FT-991A display is less capable in other ways, too. The narrowest bandwidth the FT-991A can display is 50 kHz, 25 kHz on either side of the center frequency. I’ve had the IC-7300’s band scope down to 10 kHz bandwidth. This kind of resolution really lets you find open frequencies in a contest or a pileup.
I’m guessing that the IC-7300 can offer more resolution because it has a more powerful processor than the FT-991A. Another indication that this is the case is that the IC-7300 refreshes the band scope faster than the FT-991A. The upshot is that the IC-7300 is nicer to use.
The receivers seem comparable. Sherwood Engineering rates the IC-7300 receiver higher than the FT-991 (not the FT-991A), but I’m not sure that I’m good enough to tell the difference. The receiver sounded a little noisier to me, but that could have been that it just sounded different. The FT-991A’s DSP filtering seemed just as effective as the IC-7300’s filtering. When I set the narrow filter setting to 500 Hz and turned it on, it effectively eliminated nearby signals.
It may be because I’ve been an ICOM user for many years now, and have become used to how ICOM does things, but the IC-7300 seems easier to use in other ways, too. The IC-7300’s tuning dial, for example, is larger than the tuning dial on the FT-991A. I think the larger tuning dial has a nicer feel.
In other ways, the IC-7300 seems easier to use than the FT-991A. For example, to automatically zero beat a CW signal on the FT-991A, you have to call up the menu system, page over to the appropriate page, then touch the screen. To do this on the IC-7300, all you have to do is hit the AUTO TUNE button.
The biggest difference between the two radios is that the FT-991A includes the 2 m and 70 cm bands, while the IC-7300 does not. That’s a very attractive feature if you’d like to operate the satellites. Here’s a video of KG6AJH working the AO-92 satellite using an FT-991A:
I think that the bottom line is that the IC-7300 is a better HF rig, while the big advantage of owning the FT-991A is its 2m and 70 cm coverage. I may hang on to the FT-991A and give satellite operation a try, but I’m not a big VHF/UHF guy.
If you have an FT-991A, and especially if you use it for satellite work, I’d love to hear what you have to say about the rig. What features work best for you? What am I missing in this admittedly quick review.