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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Kenwood TS-990S Help


Reviews Summary for Kenwood TS-990S
Kenwood TS-990S Reviews: 99 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.
More info: http://kenwoodusa.com/Communications/Amateur_Radio/HF_Base_Mobile/TS-990S
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N6UG Rating: 5/5 Jan 24, 2016 11:41 Send this review to a friend
Love my TS-990S  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Bought the TS-990S just over 3 months ago. This is a great radio! I've used the Radio on SSB, CW, PSK, JT65, etc.... The really cool thing is I just keep finding more stuff to use the radio for. Working weak signal CW is a dream with this radio. My antenna is not that good and I've been pulling out station from distant places. The Waterfall and Spectral display's make finding stations EASY! I'm sure there are people with a lot more technical savy that will share concerns but I have nothing but good to say about my TS-990S. Regards!
 
KJ4KBC Rating: 5/5 Jan 12, 2016 11:40 Send this review to a friend
Yes! I love it!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I'm not an expert on the inner workings of this Radio by any means and neither the availability of all the instruments to measure all of the items That some in this review have access to. All I can really review is what I've owned to date and how the TS-990 compares. To note a few rigs I've had the pleasure to own are as follows. FT-DX 9000 with all the bells and whistles. An FT-DX 5000MP. Ts-590s,Ten-Tec Orion II, Pro III and a IC-7600. All of these listed are great Radio's. All of them will get the job done. But for me(I like bells and whistles), The TS-990 is special. Remember, The TS-590 and The TS-990 are not Kenwood's first down conversion rigs. Down conversion was used years ago on their TS-180S. I have one of these and it receives as well as most modern rigs. The 990 to me has a much better built in Bandscope as the Yaesu and Icom rigs I've owned. I see sharp peaks in nice contrast and that's while looking at the entire band. It doesn't change if you use a quality external monitor either. To me it doesn't get much better than Kenwood for both recieve and transmit audio and you have a choice with the 990 to use up to 18 bands to equalize to your taste. My 990 runs cools and the fan is quiet. If you leave the rear power switch in the standby mode the fan will cycle as needed when the rigs is off. I assume that when keeping the crystal oven warm for a quick start, it's switching power supply needs to be cooled. Either way, it's no issue. Both receivers work very well. The menu's are easy to access and change but it has lots of bells! It takes time to appreciate everything it has to offer. Some of the comparison test's between modern Radio's is really useless in my opinion. Most of the differences "when small" will never be noticed by the average person. The TS-990s is grouped at the top with a few upper class Transceivers. If you take a notion, you won't go wrong owning one. 73's
 
KU3X Rating: 5/5 Oct 1, 2015 11:46 Send this review to a friend
Best radio I've owned so far  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Iíve owned my TS990S since Feb 2015 and found it to be very user friendly.
I upgraded from a TS 950 SDX and really had a hard time working with the sub receiver on that rig. The sub receiver and VFO layout on the 990 is super easy to use. I like the idea that you can listen to two bands at one time. Could not do that on the 950. Rather than discuss it here, you can see how easy it is to use by watching this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MIzXJ7_-Ew

Using this radio in a stand alone mode for digital is again super easy. Last weekend I worked the RTTY contest and all I used was the screen on the radio to read the text sent to me and two of the programable memory channels in the radio to send, one....my call sign and two.....the exchange. The screen above the VFO knob shows the mark and space of the signal. Super easy to tune signals in. PSK is just as easy to tune in.

Lots of buttons and knobs of the front panel. It is easy to get a tad confused, but they are well laid out. The noise reduction is best Iíve used so far. On my TS 480 SAT, when I use the noise reduction it sounds like the receive signal is underwater. Not so on the 990. Sounds great.
When you tune into a CW signal on a noisy band, by narrowing down the bandwidth to 100 cycles, you donít need the noise reduction.

The band stacking registers is a nice feature. It can stack up to 5 if you choose, menu selectable.

Programing the built in memory keyer for CW is great. You can use the paddles, buttons on the radio or a remote keyboard.

There are a lot of menu items to choose from. Once the radio is set up to your liking, there is no need to go into the menus again. Being able to back up a complete radio configuration to a computer is great. If you screw up the setting and donít feel like trying to figure out what you screwed up, just do a restore from the computer. You can also backup the radio to a USB flash drive if you choose.

Firmware updates are also easy. BUT.....if the power goes out during a firmware install, you probably bricked the radio and itís back to Kenwood. I decided itís time to purchase a 1400 watt UPS.

I just wanted to touch some of the highlights of the 990.

Bottom line, for the price range of this radio I think itís one of the best on the market.

Barry G. Kery, KU3X
 
KK7JS Rating: 5/5 Sep 30, 2015 14:29 Send this review to a friend
2 years of fun and counting  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought one new in September 2013 to replace a ~16 year old FT1000MP - still worked well but was ready for something new. Did not have in time for CQWW RTTY that year, but have since used it during 2014/2015. Also has worked very well working the DX on various digital modes - 216 and counting. It does take time to learn the interface, but works really well after that. Also works very well on SSB/CW. On SSB, always get great audio reports. On CW, the filtering and other available features makes it easy to break most DX pileups in 5-10 minutes. The fantastic receiver still allows me with a non-directional vertical antenna to hear and work stations I could not previously. Looking forward to many more years of fun use.
 
WE1X Rating: 5/5 Sep 30, 2015 07:46 Send this review to a friend
Absolutely No Remorse  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've been using a TS-990S for a year now and have found it a joy to operate. Yes, there are many bells and whistles of which some will be never used. Yes, there is a learning curve. I, however, find learning curves be it with rigs, software, modes, antennas, etc. the source of much enjoyment this hobby has to offer.

Connection to the PC via the rig's USB port was a snap. The extent of rig control is highly dependent upon the application being used. I found HRD (v6.3.0) to be rather good.

Support for digital sound card modes via the USB port and DM780 also excellent whether it's PSK, MFSK, MT63, Throb, Hell, JT65, JT9, etc.

Yes, learning to use the rig's native RTTY and PSK decoders can be a bit daunting. However, what I discovered is tuning to the signal and getting a solid decode requires a tender touch.

Ergonomics and build quality are stellar. Firmware upgrades, albeit too infrequent, are easy. Audio quality (receive and transmit) is wonderful. Selectivity is very nice.

Over the past 25 years I've gone through more rigs than I care to admit, and with few exceptions each has been a solid performer with the usual quirks. One may argue that a rig costing less than 30% of a TS-990S (or one of its competitors) makes contacts just as well. True. A Lada or a Yugo will get you from Point A to Point B, but the ride will not be as enjoyable as a Lexus or Infiniti.
 
KB3Z Rating: 5/5 Sep 30, 2015 04:50 Send this review to a friend
A Learning Experience, but a good one!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I am a Elecraft K3 owner, and I must admit that the 990S does have many features that are standard and not options as with other radio's. I never had a sub receiver but it is nice to listen to cw on one band and ssb on another, and all at the same time!

I will admit that getting it connected with my computer and amplifier was not too bad. Once you got the cables it was basically plug and play.

I was surprised that I was not able to access a cw keyer with N1MM or ACLog. To do that I had to re-connect my Digikeyer II. But once I did that and configured the software, everything was OK. Of course, the Digikeyer II has a built in Winkeyer, which is really nice.

Now, tuning your amplifier to the 990S is done in either FSK or FM mode. It is not like the K3 where it is done in CW mode. But, I must admit that there was plenty of help out on the group/yahoo/TS-990S reflector. I did write a message to Kenwood in which they say they will get back to you within 48 hours. Well, that was 1.5 weeks ago, and still no response. Kenwood could improve on that one.

I do not agree with the previous review on operating digital modes with the 990S. I operated the CQWW Rtty contest this past weekend and basically set up 2 memories on the 990S. One for my call letters, and two for the 599, cq zone and state. Using the USB keyboard made that very easy. But I could never get the keyboard to be able to access the memories and press a F key to get it to send the memories I had set up. I guess I have to experiment with that. But it was just pushing 3 button, and I made 250 contacts over the weekend. I have not operated RTTY in over 25 years, and that was with my TS-940S, which I still have.

Tuning RTTY and PSK signals was very easy with the second screen. It's take time and a slow touch, but with the decode function and interface already built in, there was no need to use FLDIGI or MMTTY.

It is a learning experience, but I am not sorry I purchased it. I have my K3 as a backup now. I can't wait to try the 990S in the upcoming DX contests. Mark Griffin, KB3Z
 
VE3GZB Rating: 2/5 Sep 29, 2015 17:10 Send this review to a friend
I regret spending so much for so little  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
While technically the TS990 is hailed by some as a great success, my own experience has been less than fantastic.

True enough, SSB communications are excellent. There's no complaining about that!

My complaint is in the use of the digital modes. I have greater success in getting my toaster on the air in digital mode as compared to this radio.

If there are any FSK or PSK transmissions going on, I can be sure that the built-in decoding system on the TS990 will turn it into complete and utter gibberish on the built-in touch screen.

For all of the usefulness I've gotten out of all of the bells and whistles, I'm no better off with this radio than when I was using vintage 1960s tube gear.

73s, VE3GZB
 
PB5X Rating: 5/5 Aug 4, 2015 05:43 Send this review to a friend
2,5 years+   Time owned: more than 12 months
Hello,

There are allready been written a lot of reviews about the 990. My experience with this radio is that it is one of the best i have ever owned. My previous radio's where a FTDX5000MP, IC-7700 etc ... etc...
I can tell that the 990 will win over those radio's. In receiving the 5000 and 990 are equal with perhaps a slight win for the 990. The 990 compared with the 7700 is a win for the 990.
But with that in mind do not forget ofcourse that the technology with these fine radio's is not standing still.
So the 7700 back in 2008 was a dream to operate.

Anyhow back to the 990. I read that a lot of people do not like the ergonomics. For me it is just perfect. I've rather have 100 buttons in front of me than 10 with all sub or triple menu's so thats a win for me.

The layout and 2 LCD screens is just marvelous.
The bandscope is also better than both the 5000 & 7700.
But the 5000 had an option to get a SDR hooked up true his IF out.
That is one of the downside of the 990 that it does not have an IF out.
But you know what ?? NO radio is perfect and also not the 990 or even the NEW IC7851 /K3S / etc ... are perfect

So i can go on and on with PRO's and CONs about the 990. But i think the most allready have been said.

This Kenwood 990 is a great piece of machinery for a verry nice price. So if you have the money and you want a 990.... BUY ONE !! You will not be sorry.

73,
Roberto PB5X
http://www.qrz.com/db/pb5x




 
W3ULS Rating: 4/5 Jun 2, 2015 07:39 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Receiver  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
In this initial review, I give the TS-990S a "4" instead of a "5" rating strictly for non-electronic reasons (see below). As an amateur radio transceiver, it rates a "5."

I have not found my FTdx5000's receiver to be superior in any respects--sensitivity, selectivity, or NR functioning. This surprised me, because the 5000 was the best I've owned (until I purchased a TS-990S). The 990S was at least the equal, and sometimes better, in dealing with various levels of signals (CW only) and noise. Icing on the cake is the performance of the band scope, which, as has been pointed out, clearly shows close-spaced signals of varying magnitude. I've never had the experience of watching CW signals on a scope in a contest as I did with the CQ WPX contest over the weekend as the crowded 20 meter band's contest stations were sharply defined. A revelation. In comparison, the FTdx5000's monitor is primitive.

So why the "4"? Well, first it's the front panel layout, ergonomically challenging to this op. Whoever said the IC-7800 (or even the FTdx5000) is better in this regard is correct--by a mile. Second, the manual, even updated as it has been, is a linguistic mess--grammatical mistakes, misspellings, and overall poorly organized. I can't believe anyone in authority at Kenwood Japan is an English speaker, for this manual would not exist if there were.

Icom, on the other hand, has just released a significant firmware update for its venerable IC-7600. The release includes a substantially revised manual, which is excellent in every respect. Kenwood needs to second a couple of Icom's manual writers to revise the TS-990S' manual. It is not now in the big leagues, whereas its new transceiver is.
 
ON6KE Rating: 3/5 Apr 18, 2015 00:13 Send this review to a friend
OK transceiver  Time owned: 6 to 12 months


I bought my TS-990 on 30/7/2014, I sold it 2 weeks ago.

But a FEW of the reasons:
- Fans blowing every 3-4 minutes even when 100% RX. Nobody ever mentioned this to me B4 I bought the rig;
- no CW keyboard;
- only 8 CW message banks but 12 PF keys,
- the noise bankers, need I say more;
- NR1 and NR2 just average, noise reduction on my KX3 WAY better;
- ATU average, can't tune a 16m long wire with 9:1 balun on 160m for instance, the KX3 tunes it 1:1;
- no cursor/mouse control on the left most display;
- LONG overdue and disappointing firmware upgrade last January. A few bug fixes and next to zip new functionality;
- Touch screen rather insensitive;
- Sherwood test results disappointing.

But a few items that made me decide to let go of the 990.
In the mean time Kenwood preferred to make an uplift for the 590 rather thank work on the 990 firmware.

By the way, I'm rather certain that in 12-18 months they'll have a TS-590SG sub-receiver on board the 990, that making it a TS-990SDX analogue to the 590SDX. Not good for teh current 990S market value.

Gust ON6KE
 
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