ICOM IC-M506 21 Fixed Mount VHF Radio Review

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If you’re someone who likes to head out on the water for fun or work, then you will understand how important having a good VHF marine radio is. If there’s an emergency, you want to get a hold of the people who can come and help you, and that is where the radio comes in to play the most.

It can also be used to deliver weather warnings and such so that you can ensure that you are ready for whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at you. There are many different models you can choose from, including handheld and fixed mount. The fixed mount takes a little more time to set up, but they often are more durable than the handheld option.

For those looking for a fixed mount VHF radio with a hailer, you may have run across many great options, including the ICOM IC-M506 21. This is the model that we’re going to be taking a look at in the hopes that we can help you with your decision-making process.

ICOM IC-M506 21 Fixed Mount VHF Radio

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Before we start talking about all of the advantages and disadvantages you can expect if you choose this model, we want to go over the design features a little bit. The radio is a VHF tuner technology and is designed in a box-like format with a front-facing microphone.

Crafted to be plug-and-play, the unit is outfitted with a large 3.4 closed quotes LCD screen that displays multiple pieces of information. This information includes air vessel traffic, GPS, and airs. It is also programmed with DSC and radio menus as well as the capability to pick up the weather and alert channels.

The unit is designed with RX speaker functions as well as a foghorn and hailer. All of these features are combined to create an easy to mount and use marine radio.

Who is This Marine Radio For?

The high-quality build and performance of this marine radio make it a great choice for just about any person planning to go out on the water. However, it lacks a GPS, so it is probably best that the person who goes with this option has a working knowledge of this type of equipment.

That means that this is not for the beginner sailor or anyone who has limited knowledge. For those that have the experience and knowledge, this is a great addition to their boat setup.

What’s Included?

When you decide to opt for this ICOM marine radio, you will find in the box the following items:

  • Marine radio unit
  • Plug-in microphone

Overview of Features

  • 1W/25W transmission output
  • AIS & GPS compatible
  • Programmed with NOAA weather information channels
  • Foghorn & hailer function
  • DSC
  • Able to pick up all US, Canada, & International channels
  • VHF tuner technology
  • 3.4″ LCD screen
  • 80 dB IMD
  • Dimensions: 13” X 9” X 7”
  • Weight: 3.09 pounds

Having a radio that operates at optimal performance at all times when out on the water is super important. This unit is outfitted with a lot of features that are designed to do just that. Not only is the unit interface super easy to understand and use, but it also gives you extra information like air vessel traffic.

On top of all this, the unit is designed to give you a great range of reception, allowing you to be more secure in knowing that you have the full breadth of what is happening out on the waters.

The marine radio is also designed to be compatible with their second station microphone, which gives you more versatility and range as well, and because of the easy setup, it is pretty much a plug-and-play design.

There are, of course, a few things that we feel should be addressed before you make your final decision. The first is that the unit does not come with an integrated GPS, although it is compatible with external GPS. This just means that more money needs to be spent to ensure that this radio is optimal for your use.

Other than that, there are many that feel that the manual is poorly written and hard to understand and that for the price tag that is attached, you don’t get quite as much as other models.

How to Use ICOM IC-M506 21 Fixed Mount VHF Radio

Because the unit doesn’t come with a user manual, the only way you’re going to be able to get the most out of this VHF radio is to have a good idea of the features and how to use each of them.

For this, you can check out this video from ICOM:

Pros

  • The unit offers a simple and easy to use user interface
  • Compatible with a second station microphone
  • Designed to have a good range of reception
  • Crafted to allow the user to see air vessel traffic on the display
  • Model is crafted to be a plug and play radio

Cons

  • The unit does not come with any integrated GPS
  • Some may find the price a bit on the steep side
  • There are some issues with the quality of the manual

Alternative

If the model that we’re looking at seems to be the wrong choice for you due to your budget or the fact that you require a manual to run a marine radio, then you will want to look for a reliable and decent alternative. We have done some of the footwork for you and found a great option that we think will give you the same high-quality performance at a reduced rate and with better guidance.

KIMISS Fixed Mount VHF Marine Radio

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This mounted VHF marine radio comes with a lot of great features, including a shock absorption feature attached to the speaker, a channel alarm function, a dual try watch function, and an easy-to-operate menu system.

The unit is crafted to be compact and comes with dual receivers and many other great design features. For us, though, two things make this a great alternative to the model we’ve been looking at currently. The first is that if you are working on a limited budget, this unit is cheaper than the previous model and yet still offers you all of the high-quality performance you’re looking for.

Along with this, it is also outfitted with GPS that can be input manually so that you can keep track of your precise location. For these two reasons, we do think it is a great alternative option to invest in if the current model we are looking at does not seem like it will be the right fit for you.

Related: Best VHF Marine Radio for the Money

Final Thoughts

So if you’re looking for a new fixed mounted VHF marine radio for your boat, the ICOM IC-M506 21 might be just what you’re looking for. It is packed with a ton of great features and is a durable, easy-to-use option for just about anyone.

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