I held off from buying any Icom D-STAR equipment for many years. I was at Dayton the year the ID-1 was first demonstrated. I read all the papers, all the sales guides, etc.
Finally I broke down and bought an Icom ID-51. It was definitely an advanced handheld. Lots of features. Great interface. Just one problem – D-STAR. The audio quality STINKS. I don’t care how much “tweaking” you can do with gain adjustments. The audio quality is so poor, why invest in this technology? My answer: don’t.
Unfortunately I don’t have any D-STAR repeaters close by which forced me to buy a DVAP (access point.) That worked well, but still didn’t give me the coverage I desired. I then bought a GMSK modem. It also worked very well, extending the range of my station even farther. The downside is the audio quality situation remains the same no matter what radio or configuration you use.
Last week I checked into a D-STAR net for the last time. Afterwards, I packaged all the gear for sale on QRZ.com. Once a buyer had paid for the package, I sent it to him for his enjoyment.
Could D-STAR be improved? Yes. It needs a better voice encoder. It needs to be firmware upgradable so that you can enhance the audio. Only then would I consider investing in that technology again.
The result of my months’ long testing of D-STAR: Failure. Save your pennies.