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Author Topic: K3 Vs OmniVI Vs TS-590  (Read 12803 times)
VK5DO
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Posts: 79




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« on: March 03, 2011, 08:19:44 PM »

After much reading and a post on a similar topic under another heading, I'm narrowing down my choices for a new rig between a K3, a TenTec OmniVII and a Kenwood TS-590.

I'd like to hear from anyone with any direct comparison experience.  I'm particularly interested in good receiver performance.

Yours,

Dene
VK5DO
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K3GM
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Posts: 1767




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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2011, 04:56:57 AM »

No comparisons, Dene. I can only speak for the K3.  Putting aside the great receiver performance, it seems the K3 designers have thought of just about everything when building this radio.  It's seems to be able to accomplish just about anything you want it to do, whether it's PSK31, CW, SSB, whatever mode, whatever task you can think of, the K3 can usually do it.... and do it easily.  The accessory P3 bandscope makes this an even more amazing radio.  Comparing the K3/P3 to the scope on my IC-756 III is like comparing Pong to Playstation 3.  What's also nice is with the K3, you don't have to do it all at once.  You can add features as you can afford them. Build the base radio, and you can then add almost $3000 of options later on.  Add the 100W PA, then perhaps the sub-receiver a few months later, maybe the antenna tuner next year.  The radio's not going to change, the K3 from 2 years ago looks like the K3 today.  Will it win a beauty prize? No.  It's boxy and not particular attractive.  But I have to say that it's the only transceiver that I was able to sit down at, and immediately begin to operate at an intermediate level, and without looking at the manual.  One other consideration, service.  After assembly, and during the initial testing, I discovered a defective synthesizer board.  I didn't have to send the entire radio back, but merely the little board.  The replacement  board arrived before I took the defective board to the post office!  There's a lot more stuff to be added by Elecraft in the future.  Plans are for  a self contained digital setup with mouse and keyboard; no need for a PC.  The ports are already present for that along with a port for a video output to drive an external monitor; think 40" flatscreen!  It's a great radio, and I can see using it for many years to come.
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KJ1D
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Posts: 84




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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2011, 09:51:44 AM »

Dene
I can not give you a direct comparison between these radios but I just recently went thru the same exercise trying to decide on a new radio. I finally settled on the K3. It just arrived this week and I will be setting it up this weekend. Once I have used it for a while I will be posting a review.
The other radios are fine radios but I just felt like the K3 had more to offer.

Good luck in your decision

73
Richard
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N3JBH
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2011, 10:14:12 AM »

i seen a loaded K3 with a P 3 in action best way i can describe it was WOW!!!! and i am a TENTEC guy. Loaded it is one heck of a radio
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W0FM
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Posts: 2052




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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2011, 02:49:35 PM »

Hi Dene,

Been a ham for almost 50 years (YIKES!) and the purchase of my Elecraft K3 was the best investment I've ever made in the hobby.  Mostly for the reasons listed above.  I bought the (non-solder) kit and really enjoyed building the radio. 

But if you want to compare specific radios, go to the Elecraft web site, www.elecraft.com

In the column on the left side of the home page click "Rig Comparisons".  At the top of the box in the center of the page that comes up is "Receiver Performance Comparisons".  That chart compares the K3 with many popular models of transceivers.

Those specs, rolled in with the best customer service in our industry and the great, talented members of the Elecraft reflector make this the best rig available in my mind.  Good luck with your search. 

73,

Terry, WØFM
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WD4MBE
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Posts: 15




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« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2011, 04:12:47 PM »

Dene,

I sold my Yaesu FT-920 and thought I was through with hf.  Well, you know how that goes! I've gotten the bug again.  My operation will be only on 75 ssb and receiving on the AM Broadcast band.  I am probably going to go with the new Ten Tec Eagle and get the optional 1.8 filter and the 6.0 filter for the Broadcast band.  You might want to consider this radio too as you evaluate what to buy.

Good luck with whatever you decide to purchase!

73...

Larry
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K3AN
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Posts: 787




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« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2011, 01:54:24 PM »

Are you, or do you want to become, a serious contester or DXer? If the answer is "no" then receiver performance probably should not be at the top of your priority list. Consider ergonomics, reliability, and most important, repairability. Does Ten-Tec or Elecraft have a service center in Australia? I suspect Kenwood does.

 JMHO.


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WB9QVR
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Posts: 28




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« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2011, 07:42:39 AM »

To me the decision would really be between the K3, the Orion II or the TS-590S (rather than the Omni VI).  I think those radios are more comparable.

In my mind the choice comes down to these points:

1.  Are you a serious contester or DXer (as others have noted)?  If not then lower-priced rigs would probably meet your needs quite well.
2.  If you are a serious contester or DXer and money is no object I would probably go with the K3 or the Orion II.
3.  If money is a primary consideration I would seriously consider the TS-590S.  Its receiver performance compares quite favorably to the K3 and Orion II (not to mention the Flex 3000/5000) at a considerably lower cost.  See Sherwood Engineering's rankings at http://www.sherweng.com/table.html.

For quite some time I considered the K3 for my station.  I ended up purchasing the TS-590S to save some money and I have been very favorably impressed by its performance.  I've found its receiver holds up quite well under contest/pileup conditions.  It certainly meets my needs and it may do the same for you.
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K8AC
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Posts: 1465




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« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2011, 01:37:39 PM »

Until you can clearly explain the differences among these rigs to yourself along with what effect each difference will have on your daily operating, stick with the lowest cost rig.  I wouldn't tackle any of the ones you mentioned if I didn't clearly understand the features and differences.  The Sherwood rankings list receivers in order of dynamic range at 2 KHz spacing.  Do you know what that means?  Do you understand what negative things you observe when signals exceed the values shown?  These are NOT overall receiver rankings at all, but of course the more expensive and better rigs will have the higher numbers here, but not always.  There are a few older rigs (Icom IC-765 and Kenwood TS-830 for example) that have 2 KHz numbers that rival or exceed modern rigs costing an order of magnitude more.  Of course, if you feel you have to own the absolute best 2 KHz numbers rig, then go for one of those you listed.  To me, a new guy buying a K3 because of the high ranking in the Sherwood list is like a new driver buying a Ferrari for trips to the grocery store.  The best results are obtained when the operator's skill allows him to exploit the technical features of the rigs. 
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PD2R
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Posts: 131




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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2011, 12:15:45 AM »

I'll second K8AC's comment. I went with the K3 because of it's weight (or rather the lack thereof), it's size, great Elecraft service and receiver performance. I was really starting to get serious in contesting so I just wanted the best.
A year later I nearly sold it because I was really unhappy with it because I just didn't sound right to me.
After studying some notes from other K3 users I slowly began to understand how to properly set-up and use my K3. Now (two years after purchase) it sounds great and even my friends who use IC 7700's were amazed with how "quiet" it was and how good it sounds.

I now have some sort of love hate relationship with it. I love a lot of the great features it offers such as the great digital voice recorder, great DSP and crystal filtering and many others. On the other hand, when I spin the big knob in the middle it does feel a bit... eh... cheap. Same thing goes when you want to switch bands and have to scroll through them to get to another band.
You can work around these problems when you use programs such as HRD to control the rig but to me that just doesn't cut it.

Fortunately, to me the good points greatly outweigh the bad ones so I'll be happy to keep using my K3 for a long time.

Good luck making your choice, I had fun making mine.
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W6GF
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« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2011, 07:33:43 PM »

I have all three.  Buy them all and do the laundry and cooking for a year

George, W6GF
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ZENKI
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Posts: 906




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« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2011, 07:28:46 PM »

Unfortunately both the TS590S and the K3 have transmitters with lousy IMD performance.

While everyone keeps on using radios with lousy TX IMD performance, its not going to matter much what super receiver you use since the performance cant be exploited on SSB RX. You cannot exploit the performance of receivers like the FT5000 and K3  because of the amount of splatter on the ham bands.

I just read the QST review of the TS590S and I had to  laugh at the reviewers comments on the TS590S's IMD performance. "The IMD performance is very clean as shown in the ARRL lab measurements"  -29db 3rd IMD figures is not "clean" Thats 23DB below  1 of 2 tones. In my book that's a filthy transmitter.  ITU specifications call for a minimum of 36db below PEP . On the hams bands it should be even better because the ham bands are more crowded.

Ham manufacturers should be doing what Yaesu is doing and providing  Class A bias with its  inherent  superior IMD performance. The Yaesu FT5000 can claim to be the best radio in the world since both its receiver and transmitter excels especially with  Class Bias.

The league also went on to say in the review that the TS590S has very good  IMD performance for a  13.8volt radio. They obviously did not look at their own review of the FT950S which had  a much more impressive -35db below pep. This was also for a 12 volt radio.

Its disturbing that ARRL thinks that -29db 3rd IMD is considered to be a clean radio, this belief is  clearly wrong. How any technical organization could view a radio with such dismal IMD performance as "clean"  is beyond belief.

Other than that the TS590S got a good review, its certainly a category killer radio for the price.

You can see on PA1HR"S chart that it does well.

http://www.remeeus.eu/hamradio/pa1hr/productreview.htm
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W8JX
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« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2011, 08:52:52 PM »


Its disturbing that ARRL thinks that -29db 3rd IMD is considered to be a clean radio, this belief is  clearly wrong. How any technical organization could view a radio with such dismal IMD performance as "clean"  is beyond belief.


I guess it all depends on how you look at it. Many like myself run less than max rated output to drive amp and IMD is worst at max output. Even when I run barefoot I very rarely run 100 watts (usually about 50) so IMD is likely much better and even "just" 30db is approximately 5 S-units down below signal peak. So, when it is all said and done, it is how it sounds that really matters because you can have great IMD and bench and sound so so and air or have somewhat higher IMD and sound great.
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ZENKI
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« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2011, 05:06:16 PM »


Its disturbing that ARRL thinks that -29db 3rd IMD is considered to be a clean radio, this belief is  clearly wrong. How any technical organization could view a radio with such dismal IMD performance as "clean"  is beyond belief.


I guess it all depends on how you look at it. Many like myself run less than max rated output to drive amp and IMD is worst at max output. Even when I run barefoot I very rarely run 100 watts (usually about 50) so IMD is likely much better and even "just" 30db is approximately 5 S-units down below signal peak. So, when it is all said and done, it is how it sounds that really matters because you can have great IMD and bench and sound so so and air or have somewhat higher IMD and sound great.

Well the way I look at it -29db below PEP is not clean, thats 23db below one of two tones. Thats 3 db or 4 db above a typical class C Cb radio! If you want to use the word clean you need a minimum of -36 below PEP for the 3rd order products. Any products above 11th order should be suppressed above 70db. Thats roughly the standard for clean commercial SSB radios.  This standard is very easy to achieve, only ham radio manufacturers are not trying hard enough by essentially  giving us 3rd world junk transmitters.

Well IMD is not really about sounding good or bad. Its the amount of interference that you are causing to your neighbors in the adjacent frequencies. How many hams actually adjust their audio and speech processing for the least amount of IMD in adjacent channels? 

New hams typically crank all knobs to the right as typically practiced on the CB band. News hams believe that cranking up the mic gain delivers extra power, they don't realize  where that extra  is being produce and where it is going! Its all going into adjacent channels causing splatter not offering improved copy for the  DX station. Its hard cracking this silly CB mentality, especially when  we  are using  such marginal  transmitters  as well.

Turning power down is not a 100% reliable method of generating better IMD performance. Everyone assumes it gets better,  it could get worst as well. Very few 12 volt solid radios that I have tested actually have improved IMD performance when you reduce power.  The  3rd order might  get better however the higher order products get worst. You really have to test each individual radio with a decent  SDR receiver before assuming that you have a IMD sweet spot at reduced power.

What also makes matters worst is that when you have ALC  overshoot issues like  TS590S has, you generate much more splatter at reduced power output. Reducing the output power can interfere with the ALC's operation. The TS590S already has ALC overshoot issues that have not been properly fixed.

There are a lot of good receivers around Orion, K3, Eagle  and the TS590S. All of them have transmitters that are not much better than a cheap class C CB radio in terms of IMD performance. Why do we get such dismal  TX imd performance yet we pay so much?

I would have a bought a Ten Tec Eagle. However after reading how poor the TX IMD figures were I changed my mind. What gets me is that Ten Tec put so much effort into designing such a good receiver. It would not have taken  much extra  effort to design a proper clean transmitter with  decent IMD and ALC performance.   When you have radios like the IC7800 that costs $10,000 dollars that  have ALC overshoot design issues you clearly know that the manufacturers are taking hams for an expensive ride in regards to transmitter design issues. They all should make a sincere effort towards  improving  their transmitter designs.


The issue of poor transmitter design and poor TX IMD  is a issue that is neglected by all current  ham transceiver makers.  These manufacturers really need to pay more attention to the proper design of transmitters and start producing transmitters with decent TX IMD performance. Yaesu should be given medal for offering class A bias for their radios.
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HB9PJT
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« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2011, 04:08:04 AM »

The league also went on to say in the review that the TS590S has very good  IMD performance for a  13.8volt radio. They obviously did not look at their own review of the FT950S which had  a much more impressive -35db below pep. This was also for a 12 volt radio.

Just was looking for both rig reviews at RSGB. There the numbers for all 10 bands are available. In avarage over all 10 bands the TS-590 is -34.4 dB IMD3 and the FT-950 -35.1 dB. That difference of 0.7 dB is not appreciable.

73, Peter - HB9PJT
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