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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: 74 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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W9TVX Rating: 5/5 Feb 2, 2014 17:11 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Radio  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I upgraded to the radio from a Kenwood 590S several months ago. The transition was fairly painless, although the breadth of features on the 990 dwarfs the 590.

As others have mentioned, this is not a small radio... actually it is rather massive; however, the size provides accessibility to many key features via physical knobs and buttons without having to dive into a menu system. Speaking of the menu system: I find it to be quite intuitive and logically laid out. Due to the large main display, the menu items are for the most part quite easy to find, navigate, and set.

The main display also doubles as a bandscope that is very useful for picking out signals (I wish user selection of bandscope colours were more flexible). This display is a touch display, which is useful for jumping around the band, though it is fairly course grained - i.e. you will have to perform some manual tuning to dial in the signal.

This is a very easy radio to which to listen. The ability to customize RX equalizer settings ad infinitum and the flexible filtering really make it a pleasure to use without operator fatigue of many hours. I have a couple of SP-990 speakers positioned to give a nice stereoscopic presentation; however, there are certainly better and more economical setups. The dual SP-990s do look cool bracketing the radio though!

On the TX side, the user is again able to customize modulation vis a vis TX filters as well as a TX equalizer that may be configured to the users voice and microphone. Multiple configurations can be saved for casual, DX, and competitive operations.

On the back of the radio there are a host of connectivity options including multiple I/O (LAN, USB, DB9), audio (including optical), and multiple antenna inputs, including an RX antenna input. I use the latter to connect a magnetic loop that helps with RX in my high noise environment.

I could write endlessly about the features and capabilities of this radio - Others have done so more eloquently than I could. I will say, that for me the 990S is a pleasure to use both in phone and data modes. It is no doubt an expensive radio, but in this case you really do get what you pay for.
EA4AZZ Rating: 3/5 Feb 2, 2014 08:12 Send this review to a friend
no technical advantage   Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I agree with QRPNEW.
The 990 is a great transceiver but.....nothing new.
I used for about 6 months one unit from a friend of mine. I compared the receiver with a ts950sdx and Ft1000D.
The 990 is not better. Have the same receiver and I found that the NB of the TS950SDX is much better than the 990. I test the NB in a 250.000V power line noise. The 950sdx wins.
In general the 990 works great but is not for me.
I donīt sell my ts950sdx and my FT1000D to buy a 990.
Remember that the TS950SDX was a world first DSP for TX and RX in a ham transceiver and also a world first to use a MOSFET final unit.
The TS990 is not revolutionary.
N4GUD Rating: 5/5 Jan 31, 2014 07:35 Send this review to a friend
Awsome!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months

I have had the TS-990 for about a month now and have always been a Kenwood guy. I also have like others tried the competitor rigs like the FT-2000, IC-7600, IC-756PROII/III, FT-3000 and a Flex as well as the other Kenwood rigs like the TS-950sdx and TS-870. The TS-870 has always been my favorite all time rig, until now that is. In trying the other rigs, I found that I was consistently trying to get the other rigs to sound like the TS-870 and felt like I'd never get a newer rig to do so. When I first hooked up the TS-990, the very first thing I noticed was the low noise floor...I had to check to make sure I had the antenna hooked to the correct input, it was! Then I began to play with the menu and equalizer settings. WOW is all I can say! This rigs transmit audio is incredible as well as the receive audio! I work 75/80m in the evenings and have always had to deal with the AM interference...until now that is. When utilizing the preselector the AM interference is gone! I sometimes feel like I have set the squelch because the receiver is so quiet! The panadapter is fabulous especially when using an external monitor! The recorder is nice as well...and you can retransmit the recorded audio by simply installing an optical cable from the optical in/out and setting the recorder up properly...Kenwood apparently is unaware of this. In summary, if you want the best of the best and love audio as I do, this is the RIG!!!
QRPNEW Rating: 3/5 Jan 31, 2014 02:35 Send this review to a friend
Poor Value  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I consider this radio poor value for money.
It has no technical advantage over my K3/p3 combination.

In key areas of receiver performance the K3 is head shoulders above the TS990S. The P3 bandscope is way ahead in terms of performance and features. Even the K3 receive audio quality has low distortion and receiver IMD than the TS990S.

I really could not find 1 area in terms of raw performance that the TS990S was superior to my K3.

The TS990S has 1 big advantage over the K3 it has better ergonomics and front panel layout.

For the price I would have expected the TS990S to be way ahead of the K3. It really represents poor value for money.

I would expected the bandscope panadapter to have better dynamic range and speed. I would have expected at least a decent accurate S_meter. The TS990S has a quirky calibration that has no meaning to any real amateur standard. The K3 even though it has a course S_meter scale is reasonably well calibrated.

Even when I compare the TS990S to my TS590S the TS590S is superior in many ways. I am rather disappointed with this very expensive rig that does not deliver much in real technical advantage over its competitors. It just appears to be an expensive big box that does not deliver out of this world performance. Its all bells and whistles and no real performance advantage. Reminds me of the Yaesu FT_ONE a big box with lots of knobs and no real performance.

When I buy a radio that is this expensive I expected it to be the best in every area. Unfortunately its not, and I will be selling it before the value drops too much. It just clutters my desk up having such a big massive radio that even my Ten Tec Eagle can outperform and sound better.

If you are considering buying this radio, be very wary and try and get to test someone other hams TS990S before you burn your money. WHen I sit in front of the TS990S the only thing that impresses you is the huge box and front panel everything is not much better than average.

I must say that I buy radios for their performance not their bells and whistles. If the Kenwood TS990S was capable of delivering more performance for the dollar I would keep it. Unfortunately its a old technology designed that cant be fixed with firmware improvements. In this regard the old/new technology just does not deliver the goods which was a huge disappointment for Kenwoods re-entry into the big radio market. In a way all the current big radios, TS990S, FTDX9000, IC7700 and IC7800 all are hyped up radios that cant really beat a basic radio like the TS590S. The amount of money that you spend for these big radios, you would expect at least twice the technical performance for the amount spent over a basic 1500 dollar radio. When You cant even get this performance dividend whats the point of buying a new big expensive radio that is mediocre in performance?

It sad that I payed all this money for this radio and i cant even find 1 feature that makes it better than any radio that I have owned over last 30 years. The receiver performance test numbers were a huge disappointment. If technical performance is not important to you I guess you can brag you spent a lot on a radio like the TS990S, thats all its really good for. Bragging right and not much performance value.

K4ELO Rating: 5/5 Jan 27, 2014 16:01 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have only used the 990 for about 2 weeks, but long enough to get comfortable with it. Absolutely the best rig with knobs that I have ever had. Not going to compare it to sdr radios. But I will say that I sold an FTdx5000 to buy this and I am not sorry. QRM fighting tools are great and much better than the FT5K in my opinion. I also like the way the controls work, much better than the FT5K. Split operation, RIT, and general operation controls are superior to me.

The layout of the controls and menus. Once you get used to it, it's really good.
Manual notch filter is very good. Easy visualization on the display.
Selectivity is outstanding.
Weak signal reception is very good.
Ease of use.
So many things are configurable.
Displays - all the parameters you need to see.
Ability to use an external display is great if you need to see things larger.
Outstanding transmit audio quality. Folks I talk to regularly are raving about the audio.

The auto notch filter is not as good as other rigs I have used. But this may be corrected with a firmware update.
There is a steeper learning curve than other rigs, but it's worth it.

I sat on the fence about buying this radio for a while.
After using it, I am really glad I made the change.
You might be too.

KC9AGG Rating: 5/5 Dec 19, 2013 12:22 Send this review to a friend
awesome!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
i have only owned it for 2 weeks, but i must say that, even with my modest antennas, the receive is i've seen here. The noise blanker's ability to remove the sounds you encounter in the city--is actually 100%--and the receive signal remains beautiful.
There isn't anything to dislike about this radio.
If you're considering this one, don't hesitate to buy one--you will not suffer disappointment!!
KQ4KK Rating: 5/5 Dec 12, 2013 08:53 Send this review to a friend
Worth the MONEY  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've had the chance to use a 990 for about 7 hours. IF you have the money, it is worth every dollar you spend on it. Everything about it is top notch. I have a Flex 3K, and a couple of ICOM HF high end radios. All great. Love the Flex. But the KENWOOD 990 is in a class all its own. The 200 watts is also nice to boot.
NA1A Rating: 5/5 Dec 11, 2013 22:40 Send this review to a friend
Amazing... awesome  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Unbelievable performance is all I can say about this radio. While I had lots and lots of high end radio in the past including K3, Flex 5000, FTDX-9000, 5000, TS-950SDX, IC-7700, the TS-990S is bar none the ultimate.
For those who are into audio, this is it. Receiver is flat out to 5K, incredibly smooth sound, no listening fatigue from the digi-wigi DSP like in most radios. Transmitter is pure natural, uncolored, can accept and pass all harmonics from your rack gear. You can feed the audio directly to the balance modulator (no mods necessary) or you can feed it directly using an optical cable if you have optical out from your rack!
AM receive and transmit is also awesome. Raving audio report from all AM hardcore players on 75M.
Finally, a real radio with flawless performance surfaced on the market. It's more than "about time".
WD1V Rating: 5/5 Nov 11, 2013 12:37 Send this review to a friend
Superb!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just got it this weekend. I've been a ham for 53 years and got this as a retirement gift to myself. Each time I turn it on, it feels like the best Christmas and birthday I've ever had.

Every session with the TS-990 is pure joy. Every aspect you explore reflects first class engineering. You instantly sense you are driving a classic masterpiece. Its a long, long wow.

Direct USB connection from TS-990 to Mac for MacLoggerDX. I didn't need to open the manual until amp connection that required a menu activation.

My last 2 rigs were K3/P3 and Flex 5000A. If I needed a second radio, I'd get another TS-990.

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.
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