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Author Topic: K-3 vs. TS590S  (Read 29622 times)

Posts: 138

« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2013, 05:40:59 PM »

I do not own a K3 but have owned a TS-590 for the last two years. I will not say anything negative about a product I do not own or have used although I own an Elecraft KPA-500 amp and I love it.

I am around 99% cw and have no complaints in regards to the performance of my TS-590 whether on cw or phone. It's a real nice rig with all the goodies anyone would want in a cw rig.

Posts: 1513

« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2013, 01:38:31 AM »

I own both and there is no practical differences between them  in on air performance. In a world dominated by key clicks and splatter you will never exploit the receiver
performance potential of both these radios on the air.

If I had to chose one it would be the K3 only because you can connect  the P3 or some other pan adapter. Kenwood made a huge marketing mistake by not including a IF
out for a pan adapter. To think that their 30 year products like the TS820S and  TS830S  all had a IF out one  has to wonder about Kenwoods marketing sanity when they do
not include a IF out on the TS590S.  While both these radios have good ears, only the K3 can have the eyes to watch the band.

The second receiver with my operating style on CW is not worth much and is hardly used. Both the noise blankers on the TS590S and K3 are very selective. If you have  to use a noise blanker the TenTec Eagle has the best blanker. The Eagle is another radio I would have high on my CW radio list. The Eagles transmitter on SSB is very poor
IMD wise on SSB.

Both these radios have lousy transmitter and they both have poor IMD performance. The K3 does not suffer from ALC induced splatter like the TS590S. While there is not much difference on the 2 tone IMD performance between the K3 and TS590S, the K3 has a very good ALC that produces a cleaner signal. The K3 also does not suffer from power overshoot spikes. The TS590S is one incredible bargain when you consider the performance versus the dollar. I hate the K3 because of its poor ergonomics, but between the K3 and the  TS590S they about the same. The K3 would have been an excellent radio in bigger box with more knobs. But thats just my radio style preference.

The bottom line with both these radios straight out of the box the CW performance is excellent. I seem to get the impression that the keyer is better on the TS590S. However these days I use the Winkeyer on both radios so i dont have to learn the idiosyncrasies  of different keyers in the radios now and into the future.

If I had to grab one radio when the shack was burning down it would be the K3 for the moment. However now that I am playing around with my Hermes SDR radio I can happily live without the K3. The pure CW note and low noise on receiver from the SDR radios leaves the K3 and TS590S for dead. I have always been a fan of direct conversion receivers and their pure receive quality. SDR radios in my view offer the best receiver sound available that is unmatched by any boxed radio. WHen it comes to very weak signal work nothing beats a good SDR radio for weak signal reception

Good luck with your decision and choice, regardless of what it is they all work, you just have to live with the warts!

Posts: 537

« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2013, 01:49:03 PM »

I own both and there is no practical differences between them  in on air performance. In a world dominated by key clicks and splatter you will never exploit the receiver
performance potential of both these radios on the air.

That's just completely false information.  Lately I have been conducting a QSO or two around 7025 and been suddenly swamped by contesters trying to talk to Easter Island.  Key clicks and splatter are hardly a widespread problem, contesters and local RFI are much more annoying and are much more likely.

Even looking at and listening to the panadapter / SDR in the Netherlands, where there is much more action on HF, it is rare to see more than the very occasional operator generating splatter or key clicks.  I think this is a red herring you like to promote for reasons which are mysterious to me, other than perhaps the idea that you work for a radio manufacturer whose receiver technology is not state of the art.

Posts: 846

« Reply #18 on: November 29, 2013, 04:19:23 PM »

I have used both the K3 and the 590 both are good radios in fact very good. I chose the 590 for my personal radio due to the fact that I like the Kenwood sound over the receiver and transmitter of the K3. The other reason for the 590 is no extra filters to buy they are all built in and work great. The layout of the K3 is not to my liking either  very clunky to use and it looks like a very nice homebrew radio not a production radio. Just my 2 pennies worth.

Posts: 6744

« Reply #19 on: November 29, 2013, 06:21:38 PM »

One other point to consider.  Someone mentioned the 590 will still be a 590 10 years from now.

That could very well be but on the other hand it might just be a candidate for a boat anchor.  With the specialized chips in the 590 there is always the chance that they will be unobtainable in 10 years.  It's also doubtful if Kenwood would service a 10 year old radio.

With the reputation that Elecraft has, I would venture to say they will be taking care of you for a very long time.  As for the "money pit" thing, you buy only what you need.  Money pits usually refer to a "dog," rather it's a car or a house that requires constant expenditures to keep it going.

FWIW, I have never owned a Elecraft but I'm going on the solid reputation of the company.  I own several Kenwoods and I'm not impressed at all with their service...... or lack thereof!


A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!

Posts: 624

« Reply #20 on: November 30, 2013, 02:04:25 AM »

Hi to you all

I have a TS590.

TX CW perfect, do not ak me abt the keyer it is not used.
I prefer a N0XAS Pico-keyer of 18 dollar.
Never use internal keyers due to lack of things you can adjust like letter spacing.
My Pico-keyer keeps my clumsy bad fist readable.

The TS 590 has a serious problem on RX with static and AGC problems like you can hear in Sherwoods audio files of his Dayton presentations on his site.
This makes the radio unrestly and bad on the ears.

The TS590 IF DSP also has a serious problem with some kinds of man made noise.
At that times I have to switch to the FT857D with audio DSP that hasn't got this problem.
Also the TS590 is outperformed big time in RX audio, by a FT920 in CW because the FT920 has a much smoother and better sounding LF amp.

The K3 is one of the few rigs that hasn't got the RX IF DSP AGC problem.
Is The TS590 a lemon .
No it isn't at all it has its issues , but it has good ears and the filters are very sharp.
In its price range it is a radio hard to be beaten, but if I listen to a FT1000MP or a TS950SDX it is beaten big big time by these 2 "old timers", but ofcourse these radios are from a totaly different price range

But I think a TS590 is more of a radio for CW/SSB users.
I do not like the sound of the CW reciever, the filters start ringing a bit below 300 Hz, al those prblems i do not have with the FT857D with the audio DSP.
It has its issues the TS590 but it has lots of good points , I think at this moment that there are few radios that can beat it in overall performance.

If you think it will be the perfect radio after a TS950 or a FT1000D or MP, it could be a dissapointment. 

Posts: 1265

« Reply #21 on: November 30, 2013, 01:13:42 PM »

 Huh  I have been following this thread with great interest, there are the K3 must haves, the TS590 is fantastic value.

What should I get, 99.9% cw, no other active HF amateurs within 15 miles of me.

Just cleaning out the shack to make space for the new rig, but what is it going to be? K3 590 OR should I just get the roofing filter mod and do the other mods and keep my R4C and T4XC?

I can  build the break in adapter from 2/12 ARRL.

So called full break in is not an issue for me as it just does not compare to physically seperated TX RX aerial systems.

Or do I get a K3 and fries with that, or a TS590.


ex MN Radio Officer, Portishead Radio GKA, BT Radio Amateur Morse Tester.  Licensed as G3YCP ZL1DAB, now taken over my father (sk) call as ZL1BBW.

Posts: 624

« Reply #22 on: December 01, 2013, 09:10:07 AM »


What rig do you have now?
As you were talking full bk in not needed.
I do use seperate TX/RX ant. so full BK-IN is not needed at all.

The best tip is take your current rig and go to a ham that has a K3 and or TS590 and compare the both.

It could be you do not want to change your rig at all.

For me SSB performance of the TS590 is much better as CW performance, but I never work in contests.
CW audio on RX of the TS590 doesn't impress me at all , for me RX-audio in CW it is one of the weakest points of the TS590.

If I hear an other TS590 on CW it often sounds great.
But also a TS480sat sounds great on CW TX.

Posts: 1265

« Reply #23 on: December 01, 2013, 10:53:06 AM »

Currently have the Drake C line, so will probably do the sherwood mods.  The nearest ham to me is 15 miles away, and dont know of anyone with a 590 within 200 miles.

For me only do CW contests and only 3 or 4 a year, just dabble the rest of the time.

The last contest I did used a Ts530 with CW filter, found it great.

I am not at all worried about SSB I have a terrible voice, when I used to run SSB circuits commercially the engineers reckoned they could always tell when I was on, as the 10Kw transmittes were shaking on the floor  Smiley

ex MN Radio Officer, Portishead Radio GKA, BT Radio Amateur Morse Tester.  Licensed as G3YCP ZL1DAB, now taken over my father (sk) call as ZL1BBW.

Posts: 621


« Reply #24 on: December 03, 2013, 02:40:13 AM »

I've been using a K3 for 4 years now after 20 years of using a TS 850 - here's my recommendation:

Think about how you like to operate CW (ragchew, contesting, DXing, digital modes, etc) and look at/play with the front panel layout of the K3 and the 590 and see what fits your operating style the best. The receivers and transmitters are very similar in spec, I would give the edge on reliability to Kenwood and on service to Elecraft but the difference in the radios is more on usability for your way of operating than in performance.

For me (mostly contesting, lots of DXing in pileups, some RTTY) the way the K3 filter control works fit my style much better. I also like the way the K3 works when working a split pileup, especially after I added the second receiver. Playing with the 590 at a hamfest I wasn't as comfortable with either of those operations.

I like the K3 smaller display/more front panel space since most of my operation is through my logging software vs. staring at the rig display. But others like bigger displays much, much better.

Bottom line: play with both, whichever you like better - gulp and jump in.

73 John K3TN

John K3TN

Posts: 212

« Reply #25 on: January 07, 2014, 07:59:56 PM »

I'll probably own a TS-590 or Ten Tec Eagle in the next couple of years...I also love the K3, but it's just  too expensive for me. In the meantime, my trusty Elecraft K2 is still the best CW receiver/tranceiver I have ever owned.

Posts: 1556

« Reply #26 on: January 08, 2014, 10:01:22 AM »

The 200hz 5 pole filter on the K3 is about the best selling feature on the K3. If digging out the weakest of signals on a crowded band is important to you the K3 is worth every penny extra it might cost you. I have used both radios and while the K3 requires more "work" in fine tuning the ACG, filters, RF gain and APF to get everything out of it.  Hearing Eastern EU right next to stateside signals on 160m during a contest is a very gratifying feeling.

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