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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF models) | Kenwood TS-990S Help

Reviews Summary for Kenwood TS-990S
Kenwood TS-990S Reviews: 68 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $$7999
Description: Kenwood FLAGSHIP TS-990S has arrived. Kenwoods sets a new preformance and operating standard for the ultimate Amateur Transceiver. Advanced KENWOOD technologies deliver a Top-End receive and transmitt experience on Amateur Bands 160 Mtr to 6 Mtrs. Kenwood proudly adds the 990S to its trendsetting TS series!
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VK6WB Rating: 5/5 Aug 19, 2014 04:42 Send this review to a friend
EXCELLENT RADIO  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've my Kenwood TS-990s for about 5 days with firmware v1.06 from Factory S/N : B470xxxx010
this Kenwood far superior to my FT-2000D with NS filter(AC0C) add in.also FTDX-1200. The Kenwood NR worked fantastic.
The yaesu it sound ... like you under the water.The filtering is as good as I expected from a well-designed receiver front end
and transmit & receive is great, I use two Sp-2000 to receive audio and it sound very nice. pic at
You can tweak the TX-audio for your own taste , a very good equalizer is availible on the TS990 and works outstanding.
I use NAdy SCM-800 MIC with Symetrix 528E for the MIC pre amp.I get excellent audio report and i don't have to ask.
thinking to get another one of Kenwood ... will see hi hi.I was going to buy IC-7800 but that is Old technology.
in my thinking why should I get Old Technology and cost me more , so i when and buy NEW Kenwood. and I am Glad...
I just don't understand the mentality . why people give a bad reviews when actualy don't have the radio
more to come...cheers de VK6WB
K7FU Rating: 5/5 Aug 4, 2014 13:17 Send this review to a friend
One Month In  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have owned this radio now for one Month. I can honestly say it is the best I have ever owned and operated. I am a cw op and have no Mic, so cannot comment on that ... yet. For casual cw ops. Excellent, For contesting on cw even better. My scores jumped due to the ease of separating the signals and the ability to copy each and every signal like we had the band to ourselves. I am looking forward now to SS and some others.
Ray - K7FU
NK9N Rating: 5/5 Jul 29, 2014 06:48 Send this review to a friend
Best rig for this decade!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I purchased my 990 over a year... without rehashing all the praise, I feel confident saying that it is simply the best rig on the market today. For the past 6 months I've had it side-by-side with my FT-5000MP and my Flex 6500. After extensive A/B comparisons, I have just sold both and ordered a second 990 for my mountain house QTH. As others have stated, no radio is perfect, but with a few tweaks in upcoming updates, the 990 is about as good as gets (today)!!
WD8DAS Rating: 5/5 May 8, 2014 10:25 Send this review to a friend
I love this rig!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Yes it is expensive, but given how big a role ham radio has in my life I decided to go for it. And I'm very pleased.

At every turn I am impressed by the performance of this transceiver. I love the big front panel, easy access knobs and switches, and the transmit and receiver performance beats all other rigs I've used over 35 years.

The TS-990S has been clearly been designed by hams - the controls and features "make sense" and are easy to use. Nothing seems "oddball", or left over from military or commercial applications.

Nothing is perfect, of course, so I have made three suggestions to Kenwood for a few improvements to make it even better.

1. Built-in RTTY and PSK modes have direct transmission from an attached USB keyboard - but CW mode can only have memories filled by keyboard entry. The next firmware upgrade should go all the way and offer direct CW transmission from keyboard.

2. In AM mode the RF/IF filter bandwidth is considerably greater than the max audio bandwidth setting. This unnecessarily limits the maximum effective audio response in AM operation.

3. It would be nice to have the ability to transmit audio that has just been recorded from one of the receivers. You can do this by looping back one of the receive audio outputs to one of the transmit inputs (optical or accessory jacks as easiest), and using the voice memories as a "scratchpad" memory. But it would be more elegant to have the ability to route the audio internally, specifically for this purpose.

K7FD Rating: 5/5 May 6, 2014 08:14 Send this review to a friend
Ultimate CW rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
It's been over a year since I purchased the 990S; as a CW operator, I can only give it the highest of marks...out-doing my old Orion II by leaps and bounds. Listening to CW on the 990S is pure pleasure. The ability to customize ALL phases of the radio surpasses anything I have owned up to today. And the ability to 'see' the changes made to the receiver on the built-in audio scope as you make them is icing on the cake.

Being able to customize all controls...BW shift/width filters, Band Elimination filter, Noise Reduction, AGC, APF, etc. has allowed me to achieve, well...I'd say a luxurious hi-fi sound on CW void of any fatiguing noise floor. With the 990S I have the ability to 'leave some' noise floor in there (so it sounds like actually I'm listening to something, hi)...or with NR, I can completely remove the background noise so only CW signals are heard. The Noise Reduction NR1 on CW is more than excellent.

The QSK is totally transparent. My sending with the built-in keyer sounds just like another signal on the band. No relay clicks, pops, hiccups, burps, or what-have-you. It's the best QSK I have used and I don't know how it could be improved.

So, from a CW operator view, I'd give the 990S a solid five stars! It's no slouch on SSB either, but I'll leave that review to someone who uses phone more than I do...

73 John K7FD

W6KM Rating: 5/5 Apr 27, 2014 17:24 Send this review to a friend
It really is a Flagship Rig  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
On May 10th, I will have owned my TS-990S for one year.
I agree with every positive past review,so no need to repeat them again.
I have had no issues and find it the best rig I have ever owned, and I have had my share.
There have been many fine suggestions to further customize some of the operating features and we hope that Kenwood would consider them in future firmware updates,I agree that they would be welcome.
I am so sorry to see, with so many #5 reviews that the system still allows the old negitive ratings to even weight in on the current reports.Almost all the negitive reports are by non-owners that either sat at a friends shack or turned a few knobs at a radio store. Those of us that own and use the TS-990S know the truth.
The old saying that "one size fits all" does not apply to Ham Radio rigs.
I wish I could post a higher then 5 rating because that is how I feel about the TS-990S.

73 es GUD DX.....Dick
OE1TRB Rating: 5/5 Apr 14, 2014 23:33 Send this review to a friend
1 year great performance   Time owned: more than 12 months
I run my TS-990 1 year now, it worked and works fine with me. Every firmware update is easy to handle. My wish is to get an analog S-Meter enhancement for the 2nd receiver in one of the next firmware updates which would be a great benefit for me and other operators. I had a lot of nice QSOs (see my around the world.
All in all the TS990 is a strong performer compared to my IC-7700 with its DSP and filter possibilites.
73 de Thomas
AB4D Rating: 5/5 Apr 8, 2014 14:15 Send this review to a friend
Finally, DSP that works on SSB.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
There have already been extensive reviews of this exceptional transceiver. I will try not to reiterate others comments, but will add a few initial points that I don't believe have been covered, and share my short period experience so far using a Kenwood TS-990S, Firmware Ver 1.06.
In comparison, I have owned or own the following rigs, Icom IC-7700, Yaesu FT-1000D/MP/MKV,FTdx9000MP, FTdx3000D, Flex 5000a. The TS-990S is a recent addition to my station.

I was on the fence about whether I should purchase a TS-990S or an Icom IC-7800. Both are very fine rigs. The Kenwood won out after carefully researching both, and sitting down in front of the TS-990S at a local retailer. I know I wanted to try something that was more recent in design. I concluded, the IC-7800 was probably very similar to an IC-7700 I had previously owned. I did not see any real technical advantage to purchase a IC-7800 after recently selling my IC-7700.

Let's get the negatives about the TS-990S out of the way. The first I admit is sort of nitpicky. The fan in the TS-990S seems to cycle off and on periodically when the rig is in standby mode. I understand it's purpose, to remove any heat generated during standby by the power supply (not on but plugged into the wall). I just can't say I agree with that design. I suspect that fan is going to wear out sooner than later, and will probably add additional dust migration into the radio.

The second is the amount of heat this rig generates. Wow, I can't believe how hot the rig gets based on the temperature of air coming out of the back of the radio when just receiving. It vaguely reminds me of the heat that blows out of the bulb compartment from the film projectors we all used in high school in the 60's and 70's. I did not measure it, but if you put your hand near the rear vent for a short period of time when the TS-990S is on, your hand will get uncomfortably warm fairly fast. Make sure there is plenty of room behind the TS-990S for ventilation.

The last is more important to me. I tend to work a lot of DX stations that run split. Recently, I was in the process of working VK9MT on SSB/15 meters. He was running split and listening 5-15 up. I noticed that the noise floor on the TS-990S' receiver would raise up a couple of S units whenever the pile up transmitted. Although it did not seem to obscure the DX station in that particular instance, it could be problematic in other situations, such as when the DX station is very weak copy. I do want to add though, multiple stations in the pile up were 40+ over S9 on receive, and that may have been a factor with so many strong stations calling so close.

Now the good, I've read several of the reviews critiquing this rig as nothing new and overpriced. I could not disagree more when it comes to the DSP noise reduction algorithms utilized in the TS-990S. I've used every NB and NR filter that's been provided on the rigs I've listed above, and I have used the popular Timewave 599ZX DSP filter as well. IMO, trying to dig out a weak station on SSB when it's buried in the noise is more challenging to the DSP filter than most other modes. As your not dealing with a single tone, such as in CW.

I can honestly say, the TS-990S NR2 filter has been the most effective for me to date, to assist the operator in digging out a weak stations on SSB. To say I was somewhat astounded by it's ability to allow me to hear a station in the noise is an understatement. I have never experienced anything like that in the past when using the other rigs I have owned!

At the time of this writing, Tonga is active with A35X and A35V on the island. I have worked and confirmed A35X on both 10 and 15 meters. I believe, I could not have worked him without the TS-990S. Let me explain the operating situation.

In the past, the NR circuits in other rigs I have owned did not seem to do very much in the way of assisting me to hear weak SSB stations. Yes they have reduced the noise, but at the same time, they also tended to reduce the signal as well or sometimes just changed the tone of the background noise, but really no better copy.

A35X on SSB has been in the noise for me during most of his operation on SSB around 22:00-23:00Z. On 10 meters, I have been seeing A35X running about S0-peaking less than S1, with some QSB, just about equal with my noise level. I know he was in there, but never could quite make out what he was saying. On the TS-990S, I first tried to copy him by fiddling with the Noise Blankers. They did not seem to make much difference. Next I tried Noise Reduction 1, when fully engage it helped very slightly, but still I could not yet copy him. Next I engaged Noise Reduction 2, that switches off NR1, and is a more aggressive algorithm. As I began to engage NR2 to it's maximum, A35X became more readable to where I could clearly copy him. I switched it off and on several times to just gauge the difference, and again no copy when it was off. I was really amazed, it was the first time I had experienced a NR that actually made a significant difference on SSB. I was able to make the contact and I was in the log. I caught him nearly at the same Zulu time the next day on 15 meters. Same situation, NR2 off no copy, NR2 engage I could clearly hear him, and another contact was secured.

Now let me say, I am not claiming that NR2 in the TS-990S, takes a SSB signal from down in the noise to armchair FM quality copy. Although it did allow me to clearly hear and work a weak DX station that I could not hear without NR2, like all DSP, it does add some weird artifacts to the audio signal. When NR2 is fully engaged there is an aggressive weird watery almost musical artifact sound in the background, but it did get the job done for me, more so than any of the other top end rigs I have used.

I also took that opportunity to A/B test the TS-990S vs. FTdx9000MP vs. FT-1000MP MARK V on the same weak station using a TH-11DX at 83 feet. Clearly, the TS-990S won hands down. I could copy A35X on the TS-990S using NR2, when I could not on the other two rigs using similar circuits provided in those rigs. Based on my previous experience using a IC-7700 for five years. I would say the TS-990S NR circuits are superior. Based on previous testing. A IC-7700 did not receive any better on SSB than a FTdx-9000 for copying weak signal DX stations. I am confident when I say the TS-990S has raised the bar in regard to allowing the operator to hear weak signal SSB DX. I hope Icom and Yaesu follow suit. Although incremental, I believe that Kenwood has advanced the art of DSP one step further.

I've never used the digital modes, other than copy SSTV on HF, but this radio may inspire me to try that out as well, because it does so very simply. The fact that no computer is needed to use RTTY and PSK with the TS-990S, is a great addition to any station. I've tried copying a few stations in both RTTY and PSK and it seems to work fine. I have yet to crack open the operators manual. If you are a hands on person, for basic operation, the basics are simple enough where you can jump right in and start making contacts before reading the manual.

I've also experimented with the CW filters. You can make them unbelievably tight, yet still usable. On some of the other rigs I've used, the really tight CW filters began to have an annoying "howling" artifact to them if you try to make them too tight. On the TS-990S, I did not notice that issue to be a concern when I narrowed it down to 50 Hz. Overall, it's a great rig. I have a 25 inch LCD screen connected to the TS-990S. The display is bright, crisp and clean. There is no pixilation of the display. Additionally, it was easy to interface the rig to my station logging program HRD 6.2.

W2TCB Rating: 5/5 Mar 14, 2014 15:50 Send this review to a friend
One Year Later  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought my TS-900 a year ago and have not had a single issue to date. All firmware updates have been seamless, transmit & receive great and no issues driving an AL-80B amp. In reviewing most of the posts covering the last year I don't see any significant negative trends developing. Would love some tweaks to the panadapter (increase size / speed), and color options for the tft display, but other than that I am most satisfied.
WA6DON Rating: 5/5 Mar 9, 2014 12:26 Send this review to a friend
Great radio  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I've had my ts-990s for about a year now, I'm very happy with it, I'm a guy who likes to use my radio to pull out weak signals in the dx pileups and I think it does a fantastic job of it thanks to the good receiver in it, I like the way the radio is laid out as well as the two screens and all the options available,the menu was very easy for me to figure out, my first radio was a ts-430 then I switch over to icoms such as the ic-765 ic-756 pro 2 which were also great radios so it nice to be back with Kenwood again. I use the pr-40 mic with it and have had really good reports coming back and have found the audio easy to adjust to make it sound the way you want. I think Kenwood has done a fantastic job on this one and I'm glad to have it setting in front of me. as far as the price goes don't look at a Cadillac if you only have money for a ford, plenty of nice radios on the market that will do the same job, this one is just top of the line.
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