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Author Topic: New to HF - First Radio: TS-590 vs FTDX-1200?  (Read 35444 times)
ZENKI
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Posts: 934




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« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2013, 06:51:32 PM »

Another good question to ask is this. "What is the average noise level at your QTH?" If you have a low noise QTH where there noise is very low and below S1 you can use
the potential of the very best receivers. If you have higher than average  receiver noise floor, it does not really matter how bad your receiver is because the noise would cover up most of the problems from a bad front end.

All the current radios manufactured work well enough, and its safe to say that during average operating conditions, none of them  have such  an amazing advantage that you would say WOW I need to buy that particular radio model. Being knocked off your feet  by some new radio is just not going to happen any time soon because the technology used is basically  all at the same level of development and  performance. Unless higher performance synthesizers are noise blankers are developed, we on plateau  of performance because we cant deliver lower noise synthesizers and receivers that eliminate noise. When seen from this light the TS590S is really a good bargain for the performance it delivers. The fact is that a TS590S has better synthesize and dynamic range numbers  than a Icom 7800 its really that obvious. I am sure there will be Ic7800 owners who will swear that they can hear aliens on MARS and none of their radios could hear these aliens. You have to deal with this kind of stupidity  at hams clubs  from emotional delinquent hams who like telling lies about the equipment that they buy.


I like to look at the phase noise performance of the receiver at say 1khz spacing. What you find if you do this is that all the current top model radios have just about the same performance. You cant hear through the phase noise even if one radio  has better  dynamic range figures  in one area or another. The reciprocal phase noise performance is a good test. A radio like the TS590S has actually got better phase noise performance than the K3 at very close signal spacing so theoretically it is a better radio. For what you pay for the TS590S it is a real bargain, because again there are no radios on the market that comes from Japan that can better its phase noise performance.  It even matches or betters the FTDX5000. .

A TS590S slaved with a SDR receiver would make a very good  system that whose combined performance would be hard to better even if you payed 5000 dollars more. It deliver more performance  than most hams can use. Again if you have a  higher than  average noise floor, bells and whistles and a good noise blanker might  be more important than dynamic range numbers. Throw in a DXEngineering phase noise canceller if you do  want more noise combating tools and you have a radio system that can be equaled for the money spent.

It appears from your operating style that you are a casual operator. If you are a casual operator then I would place  the emphasis on how good the receiver sounds. Unfortunately many of the high performance radios have poor receiver that sound like you listening to a radio whose speaker is in a tin can. They also have very high distortion audio amplifier system with very bad distortion. The receivers on top of this distortion have very poor RX  IMD that can be very fatiguing. Now contesters can put up with crap audio and distortion because they turn on their radio a few times of the year and you never hear them on the air at any other times. However when you a casual ham  you might be listening casually around the bands while you doing some work or whatever. A large percentage of the time you  are listening so it makes sense using a receiver that sounds really good. Unfortunately price is no indicator  of good receiver quality. Many of the current top end radios sound like crap because of the noisy audio and IMD. The ARRL does not test for  inband audio IMD like these used  to do. You  got no way of knowing unless you measure  it yourself if  your receiver is a distortion basket case. Audio distortion is why I prefer direct sampling SDR radios because they are so clean and low noise. My K3 sounds like a 2 dollar transistor radio compared to a SDR receiver,  it was a lot worst before the DSP board upgrade. In defense of the K3 it is lot better than most radios from the  last few decades.

Choosing a radio is about balance. Its just unfortunate that there is no design balance on many expensive radios. Its seems designers find it hard to get the balance right between transmitter and receiver performance and other important  things like making the receiver sound good. Its just poor market research and more a reflection that the people who are designing radios dont seem to want to listen and understand how transceivers are used in the real world. If they payed more attention to these basics even a  cheap radios could be very good radios. When considering all these design flaws between cheap, average and high end radios the TS590S is a good radio for the price especially when considering its performance. Now if there is a radio that is better than the TS590S, that has a calibrated S-meter, good TX IMD and very good RX inband audio IMD I would like to  buy that radio. My guess is that I will will be waiting for a long time or unless someone builds a direct sampling  transceiver in a box.

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K5TED
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Posts: 727




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« Reply #16 on: November 24, 2013, 03:09:25 PM »

Thanks in advance for any guidance on this.  To start off, I have read off the reviews for both radios, as well as a some comparison threads on QRZ.  I will be brand new to HF, and my interest at this point are getting into DX and doing some ragchewing.  I do not intend to be a contester, and probably only modest amount of CW, which I am learning.  I am fortunate to have two HRO stores within 30 minutes, so will be going there soon to play with the radios, but my main question is are both of these "too much radio" for someone like me or would I be better served initially with something like the FT-450D or TS-480SAT, which up until now I was envisioning as 'backup' radios.  Thanks again for any insights.

73s
Bob, N6RWC
 

If you are not looking to "invest" in a radio for maximum resale value, but instead would like a top shelf radio experience, and are willing to commit to a computer controlled radio, get a Flex 3000. It'll outperform both the 590 and the 1200 for less money and be fun to operate, not tied down to some tiny knob n' button faceplate.
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W8JX
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Posts: 5750




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« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2013, 12:46:30 PM »

Thanks in advance for any guidance on this.  To start off, I have read off the reviews for both radios, as well as a some comparison threads on QRZ.  I will be brand new to HF, and my interest at this point are getting into DX and doing some ragchewing.  I do not intend to be a contester, and probably only modest amount of CW, which I am learning.  I am fortunate to have two HRO stores within 30 minutes, so will be going there soon to play with the radios, but my main question is are both of these "too much radio" for someone like me or would I be better served initially with something like the FT-450D or TS-480SAT, which up until now I was envisioning as 'backup' radios.  Thanks again for any insights.

73s
Bob, N6RWC
  

If you are not looking to "invest" in a radio for maximum resale value, but instead would like a top shelf radio experience, and are willing to commit to a computer controlled radio, get a Flex 3000. It'll outperform both the 590 and the 1200 for less money and be fun to operate, not tied down to some tiny knob n' button faceplate.


Here we go on these Flex tall tails again. The 3000 is a toy at best and worthless without a computer. It is tied to a mouse,  keyboard, monitor, computer cable and power for computer. No way better than a 590 or even a 480
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HB9PJT
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Posts: 268


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« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2013, 02:22:04 PM »

Flex radio = Band Pollution from Amateur Transmitters

http://www.sm5bsz.com/dynrange/dubus313.pdf

73, Peter - HB9PJT
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K5TED
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Posts: 727




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« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2013, 07:03:02 PM »

Flex radio = Band Pollution from Amateur Transmitters

http://www.sm5bsz.com/dynrange/dubus313.pdf

73, Peter - HB9PJT


Interesting read, but in the bit over a year I've operated my Flex 3000 and the several months before that with the Flex 1500, I've not once had anyone come by to tell me I'm splattering or causing noise in their receiver. Of course, I've not had anyone complain about the FT-847 on any band, or even the old TS-140s. I've operated right next to other stations I know for a fact were running Flex radios, and I didn't have any adverse things to complain about.. So... Interesting read..


As for the Flex being a toy, no argument there. Amateur radios are toys by nature. It's a hobby. Without a computer, mouse, keyboard and power supply, this forum would be pretty boring... Since I already have those items, and have used computers with radios for 20 years, why not a radio that uses them to outperform a TS-590 or 480, (according to Sherwood Labs)? More versatile. Better receiver. Better filtering. Better experience, in my opinion. And, it's built by an American manufacturer of ham operator designed, ham operator targeted products.

That FTDX1200 looks to be a nice rig, and certainly worth the discounted price of under $1500. If I had to pick from the 590 and the 1200, without actually trying them both for an extended Field Day shift, it'd be difficult. I like the Kenwood layout overall, but I also like the larger knobs and color screen on the 1200. 

Glad I'm not in the market right now...

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W6UV
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Posts: 538




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« Reply #20 on: November 25, 2013, 07:14:28 PM »

Interesting read, but in the bit over a year I've operated my Flex 3000 and the several months before that with the Flex 1500, I've not once had anyone come by to tell me I'm splattering or causing noise in their receiver.

I daresay that most hams today could not recognize transmitter splatter if it bit them on the arse.
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NZ0T
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Posts: 74




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« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2013, 11:53:12 AM »

One big advantage of the K3 is that it is modular so you can purchase options as your budgets allow. The other two are pretty much all or nothing;ce.

Well the others are complete and the K3 costs a LOT more when comparably equipped.  see no advantage here.

 Grin
Buying a K3 is like going to a really expensive restaurant and ordering a Steak Dinner.
The Waiter drops a raw steak on your plate and says if you want it cooked the kitchen is over there, if not for some more money we can cook it for you.

 So to save money you go to the kitchen and cook your steak!

Now you have a cooked steak on the plate and nothing else.
So you call over the waiter and ask for a helping of potatoes to go with your steak. The waiter says Potatoes are extra!  If you want a salad, some soup and rolls or even a glass of water that's also extra. Oh and that after dinner mint will also cost a little extra.

I could see the merit of going to this restaurant if at the end of the day you had a superior meal at a bargain price but when you add up all the extras it works out to be more expensive than a fully decked out meal from another restaurant.  Of course one has to take into account that one food critic who doesn't even eat at the restaurant has a review out that says the food is better, so I guess based on that it is Roll Eyes


LOL here he is again with the Elecraft hate.  I don't disagree that the K3 is more money than the OP wants to spend and that's fine.  For less money the 590 is a good rig that has some features common to the K3.   The steak analogy is a big swing and miss though.  It's really more like most manufacturers want to force features on you that you really don't want.  You know, like ObamaCare!  Because the government knows best and the average American is just too dumb to know what features are best for their health care.  So they must take the gummint sponsored policy even though they were happy with what they had.  Elecraft is saying that they believe that there are still a lot of hams out there that can make a good decision about what features they want in their rig based on their needs and pocketbook.  Heck they even believe that hams exist that can actually put a rig together AND repair it themselves and they offer the best customer service in the amateur industry to assist those hams.  As far as the OP question I say go with what you think looks the best to you and fits your pocketbook.  Unless you are a serious CW, DX or contest operator any of the starter to mid priced rigs out there will satisfy you - they are all about the same performance wise.
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W8GP
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Posts: 205




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« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2013, 03:24:49 PM »

For someone new to HF the Yaesu FT-950 is more than adequate and bargain priced to boot. I'm a "serious casual" operator, have been licensed for 43 years and have had dozens of rigs. I've had my '950 for 7 years and I don't feel the need for anything better. The Kenwood TS-590 and Yaesu FT-1200 are also fine moderately priced radios, but as a new HFer you probably don't need anything much better (costlier) than that.So don't be tempted to to buy more rig than you really need. Good Luck!
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KE7TMA
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Posts: 471




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« Reply #23 on: November 26, 2013, 03:43:26 PM »

Another good question to ask is this. "What is the average noise level at your QTH?" If you have a low noise QTH where there noise is very low and below S1 you can use
the potential of the very best receivers. If you have higher than average  receiver noise floor, it does not really matter how bad your receiver is because the noise would cover up most of the problems from a bad front end.

The noise floor might vary from radio to radio, depending on the band and the source of noise.  A person may also move, travel, or that big Mexican polka radio station operating with way more power than they are allowed might be shut down.

A better radio with better selectivity and dynamic range will help with almost any noise that isn't bang-on the ham bands.  A radio with superior out-of-band rejection will reduce tremendously what you may have thought your noise floor is.  Phase noise is typically the least of your problems these days unless you are miles away from any A/C power lines, switched power supplies, plasma TVs, and so on.

There is no replacement for a really good front-end, and if you don't have a radio with a superior front-end, you really don't know what your real noise floor is anyway.
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KE7TMA
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Posts: 471




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« Reply #24 on: November 26, 2013, 03:50:54 PM »

Flex radio = Band Pollution from Amateur Transmitters

http://www.sm5bsz.com/dynrange/dubus313.pdf

73, Peter - HB9PJT


While I know the situation is different in Europe, the bands are typically not full enough in the USA for splatter and key clicks to matter much.  The only times I ever have any trouble finding a spot is on contest weekends, and even then only the big ones generate enough activity to cause me to hunt around.

In the states, local pollution from power supplies, poorly-modulated MWBC transmitters, and plasma TVs are far more likely to be the causes of interference, and most of these are out-of-band and can be cured by using a radio that doesn't desense from signals more than a couple or ten KHz away, more if you operate along the band edges.  I live a mile 'as the crow flies' from one of the largest MW transmitter farms on the west coast, including a clear channel's tower (50KW), and since upgrading from my Yaesu rigs to the KX3 I have had much better luck and a significantly lower noise floor.
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KE7TMA
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« Reply #25 on: November 26, 2013, 03:52:31 PM »

Interesting read, but in the bit over a year I've operated my Flex 3000 and the several months before that with the Flex 1500, I've not once had anyone come by to tell me I'm splattering or causing noise in their receiver.

I daresay that most hams today could not recognize transmitter splatter if it bit them on the arse.

It's pretty easy to spot on a panadapter.  Without one, even an experienced ham might not know what is biting them until they actually tune nearer the offending station.
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KE7TMA
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« Reply #26 on: November 26, 2013, 03:57:42 PM »

For someone new to HF the Yaesu FT-950 is more than adequate and bargain priced to boot. I'm a "serious casual" operator, have been licensed for 43 years and have had dozens of rigs. I've had my '950 for 7 years and I don't feel the need for anything better. The Kenwood TS-590 and Yaesu FT-1200 are also fine moderately priced radios, but as a new HFer you probably don't need anything much better (costlier) than that.So don't be tempted to to buy more rig than you really need. Good Luck!

Isn't the FT-1200 basically an FT-950 with a screen ripped out of a smartphone instead of the vacuum fluorescent display?
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KK6CZP
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« Reply #27 on: November 26, 2013, 05:20:46 PM »

Thanks to everyone for the great advice.  Today I played with some radios at HRO and have decided to go with the Kenwood TS-590S.  The FTDX-3000 was clearly better than the FTDX-1200, but the price is out of my budget.  I also looked at the IC-7410, which was the closest in the Icom range. 
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W8JX
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« Reply #28 on: November 27, 2013, 12:59:26 PM »

Thanks to everyone for the great advice.  Today I played with some radios at HRO and have decided to go with the Kenwood TS-590S.  The FTDX-3000 was clearly better than the FTDX-1200, but the price is out of my budget.  I also looked at the IC-7410, which was the closest in the Icom range. 

Fine choice
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K9IUQ
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« Reply #29 on: November 27, 2013, 03:13:43 PM »

Huge mistake leaving a IF Out off the 1200.. I won't touch a radio now that does not have an IF Out jack for use with a SDR Reciever.

HUH? Any knobbed radio can have a Panafall/Panadapter regardless of whether it has IF out or not. I myself am using a TS-590s synced with a QS1R sdr. NO IF out needed. I have the best of both worlds. A SDR and a knobbed radio. Here is how it is all done, no tech ability needed. With pictures and diagrams. This setup also gives you the ability to run CW Skimmer Server on 7 bands at once and send the spots to your favorite logger or Cluster tracker. These are spots you know you can hear as they come from your radio.

https://sdrzone.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=86:zone-qs1r-review&catid=20:mosaics&Itemid=572

Stan K9IUQ
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