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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Kenwood TS-590SG Help


Reviews Summary for Kenwood TS-590SG
Kenwood TS-590SG Reviews: 74 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $1759.00
Description: HF/50MHz TRANSCEIIVER
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.kenwoodusa.com/Support/Amateur_Radio/
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You can write your own review of the Kenwood TS-590SG.

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WA2FZB Rating: 5/5 Feb 4, 2017 05:25 Send this review to a friend
Great performance and value.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months

I have had my TS-590SG for a little over 3 months, and now feel that I have enough knowledge of the radio to offer a fairly comprensive review, for the benefit of anyone who is considering the purchase of this excellent and affordable transceiver. Let me first say that I have only been back on the air for about one year, after a very long absence from the hobby. I have always been very fond of Kenwood transceivers, ever since I first used a friend's brand new TS-520 during Field Day almost 40 years ago. When I recently became active again I was using a 25 year old TS-850s, which I still have, and I feel was one of the finest transceivers that Kenwood ever produced. As much as I love my old 850, I havent even turned it on since getting my new 590sg. I have given this radio a rating of 5 as as kudos to Kenwood for the incredible value that it represents for a very competitive price.

While there are many fine radios on the market now, none offered me the performance and flexibility of the 590sg for anywhere close to the price that I paid for this rig. I set a budget of $1500 for my new rig, ordered from HRO, and got the radio, the optional Voice Guide and Storage module, and a new Alinco DM-330MV power supply, and stayed within my budget. The performance of this radio and the ease of operation make this rig a pleasure to use. Interfacing the 590sg to a computer is as easy as plugging in a single USB cable, but if you want to use a traditional serial port, Kenwood has included one of those too, and they can be used simultaneously. I am currently using N1MM, DX Lab Suite, and FLDigi software through that single USB cable with no issues. Audio and PTT via the USB interface are a breeze.

The front panel has 55 buttons, many of which have dual functions, and several of these may be custom programmed. This means that you will not be digging into menus during normal operation of the rig. In addition to the buttons there are three dual concentric knobs and three single knobs, including the highly flexible MULTI/CH knob, which also has a push-on feature built in which is user-programmable. The user interface is very well designed and very convenient to use, which is often not the case with a compact transceiver. The display is large, bright, and clear, and may be adjusted for backlight color in ten steps from amber to yellow to green. The rig has a clean, functional appearance, and it has a carry handle on the right side panel.

The rear panel offers a lot a versatility as well. There are two antenna jacks, which may be configured per band, as well as a separate RX-Only antenna jack, which is selectable from the front panel. A DRV Out jack offers low power transmitter output (0 dBm) for driving transverters and such, or may be switched to become an Antenna Out jack for connecting a second receiver or SDR, the latter being an excellent option for a real time band scope, if one has the need for such capability. One of the best improvements over my old 850 is the availability of separate jacks for a CW key line and a paddle for the rig's internal keyer. I use both of these, with the straight key line connected to a K1EL WinKey USB keyer, for computer generated CW. For manual keying I prefer to use the internal keyer, which also allows me to keep my speed setting lower than what the computer is set to.

Driving almost any amplifier is easy with the 590sg, as it offers five different keying options, including 12v, GND, relay, and solid state keying. It also has an adjustable TX delay to prevent hot-switching the amplifier's TR relay. Full QSK and semi break-in are selectable, and the amplifier keying relay in the rig shuts off in QSK mode for very quiet keying. Semi break-in delay is adjustable from the front panel. The re-designed ALC circuit is free from any overshoot issues, and the power level is easy to control. The TX tune function is handy for tuning amplifiers and checking SWR. Contrary to what I have read in several online reviews, the TX tune power is adjustable without actually transmitting any power to the output. Simply press the PWR button before selecting TX tune, and the power level can be set without any signal being transmitted. While there is no dedicated button for TX tune, I have programmed one of the two PF keys for this function, as I use it often. The PF button may be configured for the TX tune function as either a momentary push button or as a push-on/push-off button.

One common element among the rig's many features is the ability to do things two or three different ways. A great example of this is split frequency operation. There are at least three different ways to go split using the A and B VFO's, one of which is the new "express" split feature. Simply press and hold the SPLIT button until the indicator begins to flash, then press the appropriate key on the numerical keypad. For example, you would press 2 for UP 2 kHz, or 02 for DOWN 2 kHz. If you dont know the split, press and hold the SPLIT button until the indicator begins to flash, then tune the main tuning knob until you find the frequency on which other stations are calling. Then press SPLIT again. Easy as can be.

The Kenwood control software is availble as a download from Kenwood's web page, and it is free of charge. The ARCP-590G software includes computer control of every front panel control and every menu setting, plus a few really nice extras, like an 18 band graphic equalizer, for both transmit and receive, so that you can optimize the already excellent Kenwood audio to suit your choice of microphones and speakers. The transmit monitor feature gives a real time indiction of what the equalizer settings are doing when you speak into the microphone while wearing a good set of headphones. I always thought that my 850 had excellent audio, but when I switched to the 590 and used the equalizer, some friends on the air agreed that the 590 sounded even better.

There are so many features designed into this little rig that I am still finding new ones after more than three months of daily operation. The operating manual is about 85 pages long and I really think they could have expanded it on a few things. But don't take that as meaning that the TS-590sg is complicated to operate, quite the contrary. The learning curve for this rig is not steep at all, and you can take it out of the box and get on the air with it right away. Getting it set up for multiple modes and tailoring it to suit your particular tastes may take a couple of weeks, but it will not be a difficult process. For an example of this, I have always felt that the reciever in my old TS-850 offered excellent performance, but learning how to adjust that receiver to get the most out of it was a long and studious process, taking many months of trial and error settings under a variety of conditions. The receiver in the TS-590sg, which is equal or better in every peformance parameter, took only an hour or two to master. That ease of operation is typical, and is also the reason why my beloved old 850 has not been powered up since I got the 590.

If you are a contester, DXer, or just a general operator who likes to work a mix of SSB, CW, and Digital modes, you really cannot go wrong with the TS-590sg. About the only thing it lacks is a second reciever, but for the price you could buy two TS-590's for less than half what you might pay for a dual receiver rig. If you don't have deep pockets but still want performance, features, and ease of operation, the TS-590sg will not disappoint you. It is probably the best value in today's amateur radio market.

Tony Starr, WA2FZB
 
KA1TIU Rating: 5/5 Feb 2, 2017 15:34 Send this review to a friend
Works and sounds Great!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Bought my TS-590SG on a Christmas sale and am extremely happy I did. It took just a few days to get use to it as all my gear is Kenwood so the logic is similar. Also got the MC-90 desk mike, nothing but great audio reported. Next purchase is an amp to further the update process. I love my Kenwood equipment.
 
GM4JPZ Rating: 4/5 Jan 23, 2017 12:04 Send this review to a friend
Very good, but should be great  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I'm not the first person to say it, but wish I could give this rig 4.5, as dropping by one point seems harsh. However, we deal with what we have.

First off, this is obviously an excellent design overall, the receiver seems to be top-notch, the USB out for computer control, and the ability to fit an external SDR receiver as a panadapter are superb additions, and I do not for a second regret buying this rig to complement my ageing TS2000.

However, the internal ATU does not do the job as well as the TS2000's, and doesn't even try on 6m. This is a straight comparison, using the same antennas that I use(d) with the 2000, and the 590SG comes in a clear second. There is a positive spinoff in that I am going to take down my 40m delta loop and make sure it is resonant before putting it back up, but the 2000 managed fine with it. Same goes for 6m, where the 2000 could tune the same delta loop for 6 and I've worked all over Europe on it, reaching OD5 and the East coast of America. The 590 ATU doesn't work at all on 6, so I'll have to erect a dedicated antenna now. Probably to my long-term gain, I admit, but still this needs saying.

Someone else commented on the loud relay on CW that makes full-BK acoustically difficult, and I even find it a minor annoyance when the VOX drops at the end of a CW transmission as well. Why they changed this from the 2000 is a mystery to me.

This all sounds more negative when written than it feels when operating, but these reviews have to contain the true assessment of rigs' capabilities or they are not worth reading. I'll come back after a few months' operating, but those are my first impressions and I felt obliged to pass them on.
 
K2VI Rating: 5/5 Jan 21, 2017 07:15 Send this review to a friend
EXCELLENT TRANSCEIVER  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Preformance is top notch. You can shell out 7k for the ts990 and never notice any difference but more bells and whistles. Superb in every way just remember to switch the fans in the right direction if your serial number is B57 or higher. Took me all of 10 min to do.
 
N4EEB Rating: 5/5 Jan 20, 2017 19:29 Send this review to a friend
A World Class HF Transceiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
I own two TS-590SG rigs. My interests are diverse. I CW ragchew and CW contest, I also ragchew on SSB. I also use digital modes and RTTY. My prior two rigs were the IC-7600 and the IC-756 Pro III. Over my 39 years as a ham, I have owned and operated many different radios. (I have only operated a K-3 at guest stations, so I can't comment), but the TS-590SG is probably the best rig I've ever owned. It's certainly the best rig value vs. price currently on the market. The receiver and filtering are better than the IC-7600, which was my last rig. If I had one nit to pick, I would like the current filter setting to be continuously displayed, but it's not a big deal. If you're considering this rig, don't hesitate. It's really that good. I do admit that I somewhat miss the bandscope on my old 7600.
 
K9NZ Rating: 5/5 Jan 7, 2017 07:24 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
First off I have a K-3 to compare the TS-590SG too.
The 590 has a very good receiver and it does a great job of fighting qrm with the dsp filtering. I am mainly a cw operator, So with that said it is a joy to run CW on, filters are tight and sound good and the cw reader works really well. I've been playing with it on 80 meters cw dx'ing and have worked quite a few dx stations even with the noisy bands and weak signals.
I have received nothing but great audio reports
(its a Kenwood) from this rig with a old $10.00 R/S vocal mic. Audio is selectable 50 hrz to 3 K.
Filtering on ssb is good also, And I find my self on phone a lot more than normal. I really like the radio. It's not a K-3 but it half the price, it's a very good radio and a Kenwood seems to run for ever! from my experience. I am not going to get rid of the K-3 or the 590SG both have a place in my shack.For around $1,300 this a very good radio in my opinion.
 
CE3DNP Rating: 5/5 Dec 20, 2016 14:34 Send this review to a friend
Second TS-590  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
CW qso's are very easy. Tested several rigs FT-920, FT-2000, FT-3000, IC-7300, however my 3 years TS-590S y now, my new TS-590SG, have showed to be the best.
Kenwood has created the best filters for ssb / cw and all those annoying interferences disappear magically.
If necessary, in the future, I would buy a TS-590SG again.
Well earned the five stars
 
AC6EG Rating: 5/5 Dec 19, 2016 16:06 Send this review to a friend
Five Stars - Even with the cooling fan issue.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Word is starting to get out that the cooling fans were installed backwards in all of these radios built since sometime in July of 2015. I bought mine in September of 2016 and found I had to spend a few minutes with a Philips screwdriver to correct the problem. The fact that it took over a year for anyone to even notice tells me this is probably not a big deal, even though it might be a PR nightmare for Kenwood. The company has offered to fix the problem for anyone willing to ship their radio to a service center; even if those units are out of warranty. Many will probably do what I did and just turn the fans around themselves. The design engineers intended for the fans to pull cool air in through a vent across the bottom front edge of the radio and push it out through the rear. Reversing the air flow pulls heat from the power amplifier deep into the radio and pushes it out at the front. If you own a TS-590SG with a serial number higher than B57xxxxx, you should fix your fans! It is easy and it is important.

I had considered the IC-7300 & thought I might have buyer’s remorse due to the lack of a spectrum display so I also bought a SDRPlay to use as a plug & play panadapter. The versatile DRV jack on the back of the radio made this effortless to set up. The free HD-SDR software gives me a full screen spectrum display and allows me to tune the radio with the click of a mouse. I use a MFJ-1788 magnetic loop antenna with very narrow bandwidth and have found the spectrum display allows me to precisely tune the antenna to any operating frequency.

I use WSJT-X to work the JT9 & JT65 digital modes and have found that this radio has such an incredibly wide bandwidth I can operate both modes at the same time on one waterfall display.

I like the fact that Kenwood included options for both USB and RS-232 connections to a PC and provided three antenna inputs. They provided a free and very useful CAT program that can be used to backup your menu settings with a few mouse clicks. It came with a full size 96 page easy to read printed user manual. It is solidly built and even comes with a carrying handle you don’t have to buy as an option.

I have absolutely no regrets about buying this radio and expect that it will serve me well for many years.

If you would like to find out more about the cooling fan issue, I have put together a table of TS-590SG serial number prefixes that have been reported to have been found to have the fans mounted backwards. I have also made up an illustrated guide for those who want to make the simple repair themselves. You can find a link to these files on my QRZ.com page. There are two Yahoo forums dedicated to the TS-590 line of radios where you can find more information.
Not sure if links are allowed here, but if they are you can also find the files here:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/onr7rjoj2qo5tuo/AAAKdpGMtrtACgEzYQ5rO_w3a?dl=0

Gary – AC6EG
 
AC6EG Rating: 5/5 Dec 12, 2016 20:47 Send this review to a friend
Five Stars - Even with the cooling fan issue  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Word is starting to get out that the cooling fans were installed backwards in these radios since about August of 2015. I bought mine in September of 2016 and found I had to spend a few minutes with a Philips screwdriver to correct the problem. The fact that it took years for anyone to even notice tells me this is not a big deal, even though it will be a PR nightmare for Kenwood. The company has offered to fix the problem for anyone willing to ship their radio to a service center; even if those units are out of warranty. Many will probably do what I did and just turn the fans around themselves. The design engineers intended for cool air to enter through a grill across the bottom front edge of the radio and exit through the rear and that is the way they should be used.

I had considered the IC-7300 & thought I might have buyer’s remorse due to the lack of a spectrum display so I also bought a SDRPlay to use as a plug & play panadapter. The versatile DRV jack on the back of the radio made this effortless to set up. The free HD-SDR software gives me a full screen spectrum display and allows me to tune the radio with the click of a mouse. I use a MFJ-1788 magnetic loop antenna with very narrow bandwidth and have found the spectrum display allows me to precisely tune the antenna to any operating frequency.

I use WSJT-X to work the JT9 & JT65 digital modes and have found that this radio has such an incredibly wide bandwidth I can operate both modes at the same time on one waterfall display.

I like the fact that Kenwood included options for both USB and RS-232 connections to a PC and provided three antenna inputs. They provided a free and very useful CAT program that can be used to backup your menu settings with a few mouse clicks. It came with a full size 96 page easy to read printed user manual. It is solidly built and even comes with a carrying handle you don’t have to buy as an option.

I have absolutely no regrets about buying this radio and expect that it will serve me well for many years.

Gary – AC6EG
 
W3QE Rating: 5/5 Dec 7, 2016 07:54 Send this review to a friend
The 590SG TRUTH Review  Time owned: more than 12 months
I own the TS590SG and the IC7300. Been listening to all types of HF radios for going on 35 years. I like em both.

Which is better is like asking what religion is better. To State--- "No contest, buy the TS-590SG. I heard both"-- as you read on here, that comment is unacceptable. This forum is for personal opinions and not a forum to tell others what radio to purchased solely based on one's personal opinion/taste.

I own both the 590SG and 7300 and do A/B tests all the time. The noise reduction on the IC7300 is not as harsh as it is on the TS590SG. On the other hand the TS590SG blows the IC7300 away below 500Khz where NDB's are located. The Icom gets overloaded down there with image frequencies where the Kenwood shines.

As for weak signal reception I can comment. I work all CW with lots of weak signal work in the Milliwatt range, QRPP. The Kenwood hears weak signals on EQUAL with the Icom. Also, the selectivity on both radios is a match. Of course this is STRICTLY my personal opinion. I would never tell another party what they like or should purchase.

Overall I call the TS590SG and the IC7300 EQUALS and today’s pricing markets reflect this fact, where in the used market the Icom wins hands down. Now you have another UNBIASED opinion.
 
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