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

Reviews Summary for Kenwood TS-990S
Kenwood TS-990S Reviews: 92 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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PB5X Rating: 5/5 Aug 4, 2015 05:43 Send this review to a friend
2,5 years+   Time owned: more than 12 months

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.

Roberto 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
GAZZER Rating: 3/5 Apr 17, 2015 13:57 Send this review to a friend
It's a good radio - with faults.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months

What's going on here - denial or something? I allowed myself to be influenced by this forum in finalizing my decision on which flagship to buy - and frankly that's a choice I would like to have again.

Let me just present a few honest and undeniable truths here ...

The main receiver cannot hear anything after 7500 Khz and only starts coming back at around 9000 - fully back by 9500. Whilst the (TS590) sub receiver does a valiant job covering this fault - that's not what we paid for. Kenwood's reluctant official response (after 20 days silence) was "read the small print ... performance not guaranteed outside the ham bands". And indeed that is in the (very) small print. So - what have we got here - a main receiver that doesn't work "because of the effect of the Pass Band filter" ... Well, hello Mr. Kenwood ... Ain't no Yaesu or Icom with that problem in the past 25 years ... or any other Kenwood for that matter, ironically.

Secondly, one comment here actually praised the superior performance of the noise blankers (2) and Noise reducers (2) .... What's that about??

Even Kenwood have accepted that the noise blankers don't work and the noise reducers wallop the target signal into something unrecognizable. "The engineers in Japan are working on that".

I too wanted to be able to shout "greatest radio I ever used" from the rooftops as Kenwood made off like a bandit with my $7,500, but I can't, because it isn't. Side by side tests with a Yaesu FT-990, shows equal results at best on the receive side - where the main receiver works.

If I want to drown out pulsing or electrical noise typical to a city environment, It's best to switch back to the 1990 FT-990 (that's probably not entirely fair - that radio had one of the best noise blankers ever made), but this is a flagship (?).

If I want to track aviation HF (or anything else) between 7500 and 9000, I have to rely on the sub-reciever and tolerate the s-meter on the main receiver sleeping cosily on "0".

These issues have sometimes been described sympathetically as "characteristics" ... they are not. They are faults. Reluctantly accepted by Kenwood who are trying to figure out how to get the NB's and NR's up to even acceptable and they accept that there is nothing they can do now about the deaf spot ... Hence, their somewhat ungracious "read the small print" response.

If you live in the countryside, the noise issue is a tolerable problem. Also, for most, the 'dead zone' doesn't matter a lot (it does to me). Otherwise this is a great radio, and the range of toys it comes with is impressive, making it a joy to use, but please .... let's not declare that their first flagship has earned is flagship tag yet ... it hasn't.

I hope this hasn't upset too many people - and I wish i had read something like it before I bought mine.



VK3TEX Rating: 5/5 Mar 24, 2015 02:13 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic  Time owned: more than 12 months
Fantastic radio, does everything I need and more. I have zero complaints about this radio.
The ability to tailor everything to suit yourself regarding transmit and receive is outstanding.
Everything is well laid out and logically placed.
I had a problem with my radio in the first month with an intermittent problem but Kenwood Australia and their technician Jan found the faulty intermittent broken internal coax cable and they provided absolutely fantastic and excellent service and kept me informed of the progress in finding this difficult fault. Well done Kenwood Australia!
After I got it back it has performed flawlessly.
Noise blankers and noise reduction is the best I have used yet.
I only had the Icom 7700 to compare it to and the 990 is better in almost every aspect.
The receiver doesn't suffer from AGC impulse overload from lightning and switching transients like the 7700 did which was a major issue with the 7700 for me.
The only thing I really liked better on the 7700 was the flexibility with choosing options, color etc, for the screen and waterfall. But the 7700 is not touch screen for instant QSY.
Although mouse function was possible which was ok I geuss.
All in all , I could go on ,but if you can afford one get it.
The learning curve was a bit longer than the 7700's but I had
A lot of fun learning all the great functions and features of this
Flagship radio.
I have pictures of my station on my QRZ page if anyone is interested in looking.

Les, VK3TEX.
W8KMA Rating: 5/5 Mar 6, 2015 09:15 Send this review to a friend
Quite the Rig!!!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
For what I do it is perfect!! Reminds me of all the radios I've owned over the years wrapped up into one rig. I have had the following rigs, TS-520,TS-520S,TS-820s,TS-830S,TS-440S,TS-940S,TS-480S,TS-590S, TS-950SDX, Flex 1000, Flex 5000A, Cubic 103, and a couple TS-2000s. It offers the best of old and new plus much much more. I kinda wish it had 2m/70cm of the same performance standards. Then you would never need another radio for anything!!..I am glad I bought it as it will be in shack for many years to come!!
AA6VB Rating: 5/5 Jan 21, 2015 15:23 Send this review to a friend
Overall, The Best Radio I Have Ever Owned  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Had this radio about a month and compared it side by side to the K3 and Icom 7800. Each rig has its strong points. The 7800 excels in the ergonomics department and has a great built in RTTY interface for casual RTTY folks like me. The ergonomics of the 990 are not quite as good but close and also excellent.

The scope is a step way ahead of the 7800 but not as good as the K3/P3. The scope has excellent definition and ability to see signals that do not register on the S meter - something the 7800 does not do. The signals are much "narrower" compared to the 7800 - a "nail" vs. a "blob. The P3 is a "needle".

The transient spikes in the 990 are less of an issue than in the 7800 and a non-issue in the K3.

I could go on, but I love using the 990 and it has performed very well in pileups - as good to my ears as the K3 and better than the 7800.

Overall, the 990 is the best radio I have ever used, and I have had almost all of the high end rigs in last 20 years.

I am glad I replaced my 7800 with the 990 (though I think the 7800 is outstanding in its own right) and wish I had not waited so long.

KD4W Rating: 5/5 Jan 20, 2015 16:25 Send this review to a friend
Superb   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've owned this rig for exactly a month now and every day that passes I find it more and more brilliant! With 102 buttons (of which most have more than one function)and 28 dials it has a one big learning curve. However with each day that passes I am more impressed than I was the day before. I've owned few first class radios including the ICOM 7700, the Elecraft K3, an FT1000, an Omni 7 and and a Ten Tec Eagle among others, but this radio just flat blows them all away. There is no way that someone can spend a day or even a week this this rig and give it a fair rating.
For my money Kenwood has set a new standard and this radio is worth every cent of it's price.
W3DIY Rating: 5/5 Nov 17, 2014 17:10 Send this review to a friend
TS-990S vs IC7700  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The following is a side by side comparison.

1. The TS990S AT quickly matches my non resonant inverted V and Doublet antennas, on the top bands, the 7700 or PW1 will not.
2. AGC recovery, from transient spikes, is not a problem for the 990, but a major issue with the 7700.
3.The NR is very effective on the 990. The 7700 reduces the noise alright but it distorts the audio and drastically reduces the volume.
4. The receiver filtering is superior on the 990.The 7700 does not match the 990s ability to minimize adjacent channel splatter.
5. The clarity and brilliance of the display is superior. The 7700 required an external monitor, in my shack, with afternoon sun.

My first ICOM rig was new 735, purchased in the early 80s, and its been nothing but ICOM until now.I was expecting to find fault with this radio. At first glance all the tiny buttons seemed like overkill, but after becoming accustomed to the front panel layout its less of an issue. For my style of operating the 990 excels at my QTH.
M0MCX Rating: 5/5 Sep 22, 2014 08:22 Send this review to a friend
Extremely pleased  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Everything about this rig is solid. My expectations had been managed by all the articles that I've read on the internet about the radio and I double checked the radio when I compared both the FTdx5000MP and the TS-990s at the RSGB convention in late 2013. For me, the TS-990s was the winner, for although it was more expensive, I found the in-built "toys" were a big draw for me as was the filtering. Initially, I was drawn to the the in-built monitor and scope function and the fact that it's very big - which suits my style. More important though was that a single USB cable connects the rig to my WIndows 7 PC, effectively de-cluttering my MK2R+ SO2R system. I was fed up with all the wires everywhere.

Initially, I connected the rig to my 40m loop, a full wave triangle in the garden at about 20 feet. It took a few days to build my confidence but I heard some stations working UBA contest and made a few fast contacts. James (M0YOM) came around and we played with the roofing filters. I set up three main parameters, wide, intermediate and very sharp. Together with the width and shift, these seemed extremely effective in dialing out close QRM. There was to be no overload with close-too stations.

Hooking up to Ham Radio Deluxe was a breeze, however like all things on the TS990s, the definition of a breeze is sitting for a couple of hours and a cup of coffee thumbing the manual and cross referencing many chapters. Finally PSK31, PTT and the rest of the regular rig-controls were working. HRD (Ver 5) doesn’t support the TS-990s natively, however selecting the TS-590 does. (Version 6 of HRD does support TS-990s).

I really thought I needed a new rig because I like to use my radio in the evening which means mostly 40m and 80m. These bands can be pretty tight, especially when there are contests on. My FT-1000MP used to have a hard time copying a weak station when I was tucked up right next to a loud one. Using the TS-990s in this scenario is a pleasure.

In use: I have made around 2,500 part-time HF QSOs this year split between voice, Digital and CW. I'm a busy working guy so every QSO for me counts since I don't get much play-time. Frankly, I am astonished at the performance. I was so encouraged that I had a flight-case made and regularly take the rig out "field-day" style. This means I only need my laptop and a USB cable and I'm free to play on any mode I like.

Someone mentioned that the ATU doesn't work for them. Remember, internal ATUs are really for dialing out relatively small amounts of mis-match. It so happens that the FT-1000MP (for instance) has a "wider" matching ability but let's face it, the internal ATU does what it's supposed to do. Outboard ATUs will always do a better job.

Finally, the support forum on Yahoo is a godsend. Even if it's just to get a pointer to the page number in the manual.

Bottom line is that I probably will never buy a rig as fancy as this again, I hope it lasts my life-time.
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