From N5XM - 06 January 2002
I've had my 920 about 4 months, and haven't had a single problem. I bought it from a Ham in Tennessee who trades radios like we used to trade baseball cards when I was growing up. He literally put only about 6 hours on the radio, and sold it to me so he could test drive a 990. It was certainly my gain. The 920 is certainly visually impressive. I think it is one of the very best looking rigs out there at any price, and it certainly has plenty of features.
In my opinion, it is important to get to know the 920 slowly. You can't attack it like you would someone in a high school wrestling match. I've had no problem in using the menu system, and once you get it set you just forget about it. The front panel layout is very well organized, and if you put the radio at about eye level, the smallness of the controls at the bottom doesn't matter.
I've used outboard audio DSP for a long time, so the fact that the 920's "DSP" is not IF doesn't bother me a bit. The high-cut, low-cut controls are intuitive, and with very little practice, you can zero right down around a signal, just about eliminating any offending interference. I use an Autek QF1A piggybagged into a Timewave DSP-9, and there is added filtering provided by the Timewave, so I've gotten along fine even without the narrow CW filter in the Yaesu. The RF Attenuator works very well on very strong signals, and the IF Shift seems to work well also, at least for me. If you use the IF Shift properly with the High-Cut, Low-Cut, you can work about anyone you can hear.
I don't stress the autotuner. I use an outboard manual tuner, and I know the settings for the general areas of the bands I like to work, so even though I use one wire for all bands, I see no reason to force the autotuner to work harder than it has to. The radio will accept a 1.4 to 1, but hey, if I can take a second and touch things up to a 1 to 1, even if it isn't necessacary, it just makes sense to me that avoiding ANY excess heat has to be a good thing for the radio. My 920 hasn't even gotten warm, and I tend to turn a radio on before sunrise and off after midnight.
The QSK is outstanding. It isn't a Ten Tec, but it's close. While not a CW snob, I'm 99% CW, and the 920 works great on CW. The internal keyer works great, and once you get the menu set properly, the recorder works great. It's just a matter of getting used to how things work. I think a lot of the people out there with gripes about this radio are impatient. I obviously don't know that, but I have that feeling. The audio quality on phone is excellent, and what little phone work I've done with the radio has resulted in good audio reports. The 2nd VFO is easy to use, and working split is a breeze, as easy as it gets. Admittedly, the 920 has more bells and whistles than I will ever use banging around on CW, and while I do contest, I haven't had the opportunity to use the voice recorder, but I'm sure that is one feature I will enjoy. The AGC circuitry is outstanding, and the Noise Reduction seems to work well, but I can't say much about the Notch as I don't do enough phone work to comment. Modest settings on the Processor don't seem to overdrive or distort the audio, and I like the different meter settings that are available. The comments made by others about the "mediocre" S-meter don't mean a lot to me, because I feel like you ought to make signal reports based on your ear, not some meter. Not a big deal.
My ONLY complaint, and I don't know if it really is a complaint, is that with MOSFET finals, there should be no reason for the radio to NOT put out a nominal 100 watts, as advertised. If Yaesu wanted to sell a lot of these, they should have rated it at 125 watts and then built it to put out 125 watts, which could have easily been done. Realistically, the ear can't tell the difference between 85-90 watts and 100 watts, but it sorta is the principle of the thing. I've read about people who complained their 920 only put out 60-70 watts on phone, but unless you have a Bird wattmeter on, and you really understand output efficiency, how can you make a really accurate observation about what the "output" really is anyway? I've also read about the problems some are having with output on 10 meters. I have a good friend, a fellow who told me how much he loved his 920, who's been having intermittent problems with low output on 10m. He is very frustrated, and moreso by the intermittent nature of the problem. Why should he send the rig in to Yaesu when all the will tell him is that the problem doesn't demonstrate itself when at the factory? All in all, I am delighted with my Yaesu 920, and while I am a Ten Tec fanatic, I do not think I could trade my 920 for anything. Ask me in a year, and I might feel differently, but now, I wouldn't trade it for anything in its price range.
Richard Donovan, n5xm