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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: 65 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!
Product is in production.
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KC9YGN Rating: 4/5 Oct 23, 2013 08:19 Send this review to a friend
Having issues  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I bought the TS-990 in May and generally it's been a fantastic transceiver. But a couple of issues have cropped up.

First, the built in PSK/RTTY encoder has failed. I'm not sure how long it's been out because normally I use HRD for digital modes. I didn't discover it until I was going to demonstrate the built in PSK features to someone and found that while it does decode, is isn't transmitting. Since I never use the built in decoders I've been procrastinating about calling customer support and haven't dealt with it.

New problem cropped up this morning. Now there are issues with the main receiver. It just -- stops. The waterfall display shows it's still receiving, but sound stops, the green 'busy' light goes out, the secondary bandscope goes completely flat. Some experimenting has shown that whenever the AF Gain control is turned up to maximum this will happen. Turn the AF Gain down a bit, and the receiver works just fine.

I did do the latest firmware upgrade (Version 1.4) and this didn't help. So it looks like it's off to customer support to see what to do.
G0MGX Rating: 5/5 Oct 20, 2013 08:35 Send this review to a friend
Excellent and well thought out  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I've had my 990 a few months now and I am extremely pleased with the rig. I traded a FT5000-DX for this radio and am delighted with the differences. I suspect the receiver performance is on a par - the DX-5000 needed the 300Hz roofing filter for CW and RTTY contest conditions, the 990 has the narrow roofing filter as stock and they perform equally as well.

The differences for me are firstly in the band-scope - the Yaesu SM5000 is next to useless, the bandscope on the 990 is simply amazing. It's very responsive and reflects a true near real time image of the band segment you are looking at. You can see gaps in pile-ups and can also see where a DX station is working. It simplifies pile up busting and DX working - my log is testament to that!

Secondly, the filter configurations three banks of filters per mode plus two sets of radio configurations. The filter selections and configuration are all done graphically and it makes understanding the settings and differences easier to interpret.

Thirdly the ability to upgrade firmware without any complex process as per previously owned radios. On the kenwood you download the software, copy to a memory stick and plug it in. The radio does the rest. You can also store your entire radio configuration to the memory stick and capture the screen contents as images.

Finally for me it's the ergonomics - Kenwood have a very well thought out product - all the buttons are there and in a place that makes sense.

I've just had two days in an RTTY contest and the radio has excelled. My recent ability to work CW DX through pile ups has been excellent.

If you are wondering if you should get one - I would recommend the radio highly.

N9LBW Rating: 5/5 Aug 19, 2013 07:18 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Transceiver  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I like big radios with knobs on the front for the most used features and the less used features hidden in the menu. I have had most of the high end radios and the TS-990 matches up with the best of them. I was glad to see Kenwood step up to the plate.
ON4VP Rating: 5/5 Aug 19, 2013 05:13 Send this review to a friend
Gets even better after few months  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I got my TS-990 end of march. I now own it for about 5 months. After the initial exploring and testing I became impressed with the tonnes of features that were introduced. Referring to my first review I still stand behind those findings.

I must say I never looked back to the IC-7700 and never missed it after working with the new TS-990.
to me this is the better rig. Period.

But what added the most to my admiration for this radio is the way how some things are designed to work. For example the software to operate the 990 remote is a not complex to setup and you get all software for free.

Working split or in conjunction with the second receiver, is another example where this radio shines.

The flexibility to adjust and set filters, audio filters, dsp settings for both TX and RX paths, equalizer, etc. All are great to explore. It's only after I found myself working trough them I came to love the way the receiver performs.

I don't think the TS-990 has set new benchmarks regarding receiver performance but it's the way the radio is designed and lets it operate that I took my radio experience to the next level.

The TS-990 does not comes cheap but It is a high end radio that costs less than Icom's flagships. It positions itself nicely between most of all brand flagships.

I know that after 5 months I still need to explore more but after every qso I make, I find myself adapting more enjoying the radio more and more. I'll rate it super 5.
KJ4KBC Rating: 5/5 Aug 2, 2013 07:59 Send this review to a friend
After 3 months! Still impressed  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I wrote a review on June 20th about how much I was enjoying this rig. The rig just gets better and better. I've had zero issues and many great audio reports. You know I see reviews where non owners of this rig grade it and Complain of the price and somehow think because it's costlier than a "mid priced rig" and they are either not willing to spend the money, or jealous of those that do they try to trash it. "A recent earlier review complained about not having An IF out"?? The rig doesn't need it! Its one of the few and maybe the only rig that if wanted you can plug a 60" wide screen LCD monitor directly into the unit and look at all functions that the TFT displays. Or you can just use the fine and easily seen TFT monitors on the face of the rig! You have a Pan of the band, a waterfall, Scope, Audio scope, Are able Look at and adjust filter widths on both transmit and receive, and "every other important function is there to view. I use a 22" monitor and also the rigs display just because I can. All needed features are available by Knob or button on the face of the Rado and not buried in a menu! The menu's in the rig are to set personal preferences and are well laid out and easily accessed. The rig does everything that Kenwood says it will do. A Hams ear's tells what a rig is made of and not a Sherwood receiver spec. Ever listened to a K-3 on ssb! Ever used a K-3's Menu's! 73's
W9LP Rating: 5/5 Jul 27, 2013 08:18 Send this review to a friend
Going Strong!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Following up on my earlier installment:

Updated to Firmware V1.03... process was simple and flawless. I concur with prior review comments... QSK noise issue is no more... very nice fix.

I now have my TS-990S fully integrated with Logger32, SteppIR beam, KPA500 and Alpha 9500 amps and all functions are working reliably.

I've not yet ventured into the digital modes but phone and CW operation is a pleasure with this rig. Couldn't be happier!

PA3HGT Rating: 5/5 Jul 27, 2013 00:33 Send this review to a friend
Worthy successor of the TS950SDX  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
First i begin with that the TS990 "is not the best rig i ever owned",each transceiver has his own advantages and disadvantages.
I owned before several highend transceivers like the IC7800,7700 , highend transceivers from the 90's like the TS950SDX,IC781,FT1000's and tried the FT9K,K3 and the FT5K.
I do not buy radio's according the Sherwenglist like soms amateurs do because i think that the differences are mostly marginal.
When I buy a radio,i have a click with it , that the most important thing.My very most favourite rig is the Ft1000D which i still have.

I had 2 Kenwood TS950 's and i liked them very much but they getting old,so a successor was welcome like the TS990.

First of all the ergonomics are not as good like the IC7800/7700 but after a short time you will used to operate the TS990.
Knobs are feeling not cheap and the main VFO is feeling very nice to tune,in short terms : "heavy but very light to tune" , outstanding.
Even the small sub-VFO is a joy to operate.
I miss the possibility to configure the colours on the spectrumscope like the background or waveforms, that's says enough.
The menu has a very good structure because you have a lot of possibilities,you don't need the manual !
I work with 2 SP990 speakers and it's a very good combimation,a beautiful sound with the TS990 .

RX on the TS990 is very good and quite,no hiss,good selectivity on the low bands and a very good sensitivity on the high bands.
With some transceivers you will get tired after a few hours but not with this one.
Operating stations besides freqeuncy are very good to eliminate with the outstanding filters,better than the IC7800.
Automatic notch is not the impressive Icom auto-notch when it's in the default trackingspeed,increase it and you will have a outstanding auto-notch.
Manual notch is very nice to operate,you get a indicator to show you where the manual notch is operating,you have more possibilities to use the notch, a big plus.
The function "tracking" is a very nice one,this equalize the freqeuncy on the main and sub to compare such as antennŠ's.
When you use the tracking-function and you will switch to another band,it turned itself off,my preference should be that the tracking is on untill the user switch it off.
Noisereduction needs a little help,it's a little difficult to adjust and deforms in the beginning too much.When you adjust it,it comes suddenly in.
A improvement in the low range of the NR is desired,the overall performance is good.
Pre-sel function is working very good, the pre-sel is on the IC7800 the digi-sel.The preselection is taking now more "steps" within the bands.
Works better than the IC7800 and is very handy to use on the low bands,this is a very nice piece of engineering of Kenwood.
The touchscreen to change freqeuncy is a nice to have thing and can be very handy to change quick freqeuncy in range of the spectrumscope.
Noise-blanker seems to work but i often don't need it because i operate in a quite aeria.

TX on the TS990 is also very nice.
There are a lot of possibilities on the TS990 but i miss a direct acces-key to the voicekeyer instead you have to push a bit more buttons.
You can program on the TS990 a voice-key channel but not the voice-key menu (PF-key).
Kenwood says that you can make a external entry but IMHO that makes a high-end transceiver not complete and almost not a DX-transceiver.
I do not like too many boxes around my transceiver like this or equipment to set TX-audio.
You can tweak the TX-audio for your own taste , a very good equalizer is availible on the TS990 and works outstanding.
The ALC-problem on the TS590, is disappeared in the TS990,a checked this before i decided to buy this radio.
I use the Acom 2000a with the TS990 and after a short time configure in the menu and go...The remote is the same like the TS950SDX so no resoldering needed.
My qeustion is if the TS990 can be suitable for HIFI-SSB which i had with TS950SDX with the power-on mod to gain 5-6 Kc operation.
If the hardware is suitable for such operation,maybe in the advanced menu can be choosen in normal or HIFI operation with a firmware update.

It's seems that i am very critic but when the price is rising for a transceiver, i rise the bar for it.
The ideal transceiver don't exist and every transceiver has his own shortcomings and big plusses.
The big plus for the TS990 is that the price is very good with capabilities/good quality of this transveiver.
Reviews with a short experience like a few hours or days can be ignored,this beautiful transceiver needs a lot more attention to make a relaible review.
I do not understand that reviews with experience in a local shop or a evening with a buddy can be placed on Eham,either there are good or bad reviews.

When you have the money to buy such transceiver : do it.
I have on my website a lot of photo's of this high-end transceiver : (written in dutch,google-translate availible)

Kenwood TS990 Fw 1.03

OE1TRB Rating: 5/5 Jul 26, 2013 23:23 Send this review to a friend
TOP machine  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I got my TS-990S end of May this year and I am more than happy to run such a great rig. Both RX units easy to handle. TX is heavy duty tested with my daily PSK QSOs. The transceiver has an absolute perfect cooling management compared to my IC-7700.
The last Firmware v1.03 brought up a lot of enhancements, Kenwood re-acts fast on any requests / questions and tries to fix fast. So congrats to the Kenwood support team over there. All in all A very sensitive RX !! Amazing sound to listen also to radio stations again.
VA3AVT Rating: 3/5 Jul 22, 2013 12:12 Send this review to a friend
Not worth the hay!!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Okay, so I went to my local ham shop to have a look and to play with the new 990 before I buy. Well all I can tell you is that Iím disappointed in Kenwood..Not exactly what I would call the dream machine!! It lacks almost every where. And those who bought one with out trying it out know this.. Filtering is NO better then my ts 2000 or my 870. My 870 In my opinion has way better filtering then the 990. $8000 for this radio what a rip. I would pay $4000 tops for this rig. Iím a die hard Kenwood fan. I would pay 4gís for it. But $8000.. You can for get it Kenwood not a chance!!
If you like digital mode then this rig rockís but for phone lacks big time.. I here a few of them on the air and some have them set up really nice and sounding good.
If Kenwood would have came out with this 990 at $4000 price range I would have parked one in my shack. And just like the 950 series, you know that KW is going to come out with a few versions of this rig.. Also we all know that the 990 will have an IF out next time around. .lol still lov ya KW even though it will take a few versions to get it right..

K7FD Rating: 5/5 Jul 16, 2013 19:04 Send this review to a friend
Updated review, firmware 1.03  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Having owned the TS-990S since early April 2013, I find the transceiver continues to perform very well for me on SSB and CW. Firmware version 1.03 addressed a noise issue with QSK full break-in and now QSK FBK is quiet and smooth as silk. It was very gratifying to know Kenwood listened to TS-990S owners and quickly issued a firmware update.

After operating the TS-990S 8 to 10 hours a day for over three months, I have found the transceiver to be very predictable and stable. Receiver EQ equalizaion is exceptional; Noise Reduction seems comparable to other rigs I have had here in the shack. Noise Blanking, especially NB2, is less than expected. Several owners have notified Kenwood; NB2 blanking is nullified when the underlying signal reaches the same strength as the noise. I am anxious to see if the next firmware revision will address the noise blanker issue.

Rob Sherwood has issued his initial take on a loaner TS-990S. Although most of his report goes beyond the scope of this review (and my level of expertise), you may want to seek out his lab tests regarding specific highs and lows. I am anxiously awaiting an ARRL review...

After 3 months, I find the TS-990S fit like a glove and serves up a huge helping of ham radio fun! The displays are crisp and clean; ergonomics are very good and access to menus is exceptional. I can listen to this rig for hours without listening fatigue, one of my chief wishes in a rig. I usually run -6db attentuation with my gain antennas and the receiver sounds perfect; signals just pop out of the speaker!

Fit and finish is the best, bar none. Everything is well-machined and feels like quality. No cheap plastic after taste. The main tuning knob is ultra smooth...and combined with the 'old school' analog virtual dial, it is a delight to cruise the bands...

My other rigs are: Icom 756 Pro II and Ten Tec Orion II. They are not in the same league as the Kenwood TS-990S and have been marked as 'spare rigs'. I have no regrets about purchasing the TS-990S and would highly recommend it to my friends.

73 John K7FD

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