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If so, in what ways? I am tabletop receiver illiterate. I listen to both SW and FM and I have some portables like Sony 77, Grundig S700 and Redsun RP2100. Recently I find senior radio hobbyists in this forum prefer tabletop receivers to portables. Should I get one too just for a change? Are tabletop receivers user-friendly? Should I buy some other equipment? My wife does not allow me to spend too much on rigs. Are they better SW perfomers? I live in a large town. Is Icom R75 the best receiver? What other factors should be taken into consideration if I want to purchase a tabletop receiver? Thanks in advance.
Historically, table-top receivers have traditionally featured functional extras that placed them apart from portable or semi-portable radios; like Sync detection, pass-band tuning, variable or multiple bandwidth selection.
With the appearance of the Eton E1 those days were laid to rest.
Still, vintage radios like the Drake R8 series (R8, R8A and R8B) are coveted (as are the AOR-7030+ and many Icoms) for their military grade construction and performance.
Do they perform as good or better than the best portables?
Well. Yes on some levels.
My Drake R8 is built like a tank, is an ergonomic sweet dream and is reliable as gravity - and is pleasurable to listen to hour after hour.
Table-top receivers are often "communications" and commercial grade -
They are built to withstand more extremes of environment - and are
actually better suited to travel and the outdoors or mobile operation.
Are more suited to external antennas - and higher signal levels in areas
that have local AM and FM transmitters.
Often have a higher signal to noise ratio -- quieter operation, better sensitivity - again better choices in variable bandwidth and better audio quality for longer listening periods - the Drake R8 is a great example of this.
Bottom line - you get what you pay for.
Remember this: Radios, portable or otherwise have evolved a LOT in the last 25 years. I can only dream about the kind of fun I would have had in 1973 when, instead of using a DX150B, had something with digital readout and all the mod-cons we now take for granted.
Tabletop receivers don't have to be thrifty with power in the same way portables do. There you can afford to use more power for high-level mixers etc. and have more headroom in terms of supply voltages. That alone tends to make them more suited for big antennas.
Besides, they tend to be rather advanced, complex and correspondingly expensive beasts, usually priced beyond any portable. (Historically, the Lowe HF-150 and Yaesu FRG-100 were some of the less expensive sets. In portable price class, there mainly were the AKD HF3/HF4 and Realistic DX-394, neither known to be stellar performers.)
An extensive array of band filters is frequently present, and quite honestly I'd recommend to have some - otherwise you may have an excellent 1st mixer and still see some 2nd order intermod. (Only a few higher-priced portables have frontend filtering, most of them discontinued.)
Multiple IF bandwidths are quite standard, not uncommonly with higher-quality filters especially for SSB.
If you want to know what's possible today for the equivalent of a small car, check out sets like the Icom IC-R9500.
The only catch with tabletops is, well, they do not only cope well with big antennas, frequently they also need them. An AR7030 has a built-in impedance transformer for use with a whip or short random wire, but even then it's not terribly sensitive when compared to your average portable (also evidenced by the noise floor / MDS), and you are likely to catch some interference from the display. BTDT. Now when you want to escape in-house RFI with an external antenna or catch some tropical band DX with a Beverage, you need a "real" receiver, but when you can't even erect a wideband loop outside, it may be kind of a waste.