Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Arlington, VA
Thanked 13 Times in 11 Posts
Rep Power: 11
Couple of things...
"radios that transmit best" -- I'd ignore that "survey". Icoms are ubiquitous, but Standard Horizon's, Quest, and others transmit just as well. Technically, all VHF units on pleasure boats are limited to 25 watts VHF/FM emission. If the deviation is set correctly, and given identical antenna systems, they will all transmit very, very well.
They also hear pretty well, too. It's not hard to build a good receiver these days.
So what's the difference between radios? There are several to look for. One, of course, is the features: DSC (full Class D with two receivers, or intermittent), remote cockpit mic option, hailer, fog horn, etc.
Most new VHF radios include many of these features, but not all.
Another thing to look for is size (of knobs, readout, etc.). And -- very important -- audio quality. Many VHFs have small speakers with limited ability to operate well in noisy environments without a separate (remote) speaker attached.
Which to choose? Just about any will do well. The Icom 504 and 506 are very popular. After comparing a few, and installing a few for clients, I chose a Standard Horizon Quantum model a couple of years ago because it had the features I wanted and had a better audio output than the comparable Icom model. It was also available at a terrific price online at West Marine...about $100 less than the store price. I also installed the remote RAM mic in the cockpit, where it has been absolutely terrific. Wouldn't be without it, now, even though I have several handhelds and other VHF radios aboard.
S/V Born Free