You may have read that the FT817 is deaf below 160m. This matters if you want to use the rig "as is" without preamps as a receiver for 136, 472 or 500kHz. So I decided to measure the performance using a signal generator. I measured the MDS on CW (the level at which I could just still hear a CW tone without additional filtering), the level for S1, S5 and S9 on the FT817's meter. I also checked whether having the IPO switched in or out made a difference
These were my results:
136kHz (best results with IPO on) DEAF!
472kHz (best results with IPO off) SLIGHTLY DEAF
500kHz (best results with IPO off) A BIT DEAF
What conclusions can be drawn? Well, the FT817 is definitely very deaf on 136kHz and needs a preamp to be usefully sensitive. On 472/500kHz, although the MDS is worse than at 1.8MHz, the sensitivity is arguably OK without a preamp. Yes, a small amount of high dynamic range gain with good filtering to stop overload from adjacent broadcast stations may give you a slightly better sensitivity, but the question is whether this matters when external noise may be the limitation. I have used to FT817 on 500kHz for several years and heard most of what was going, including transatlantic stations. At 472kHz it is slightly worse but still useable I think.