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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF+UHF models) | Kenwood TS-480SAT Help

Reviews Summary for Kenwood TS-480SAT
Kenwood TS-480SAT Reviews: 202 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $1499.99
Description: 100 watts HF & 6m allmode portable and mobile transceiver w/ built-in antenna tuner
Product is in production.
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KC9NCS Rating: 1/5 Oct 5, 2014 13:34 Send this review to a friend
Poor SSB TX Output, Cooling Needs Help  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had this radio for three years having received it as a birthday present. From day one this rig has been a disappointment. Wish I'd have returned it however the "restocking fee" from the Amateur Ham Radio store in Milwaukee was what I considered exhorbitantly high so I kept the radio. In hindsight I'm kicking myself for that.

Where to begin: The SSB output on my 480SAT is absolutely terrible. it won't put out more than 50-65 watts under ideal conditions. In the same mobile setup, my old Kenwood TS-50 has full 100 Watt output on 10/15/20 and 40 meters with SWR on each band at 1.3:1 or better and good resonance. One would think into a dummy load it'd achieve full power -- no such luck there either.

In the shack the 480 doesn't fare any better. Same antenna's, same SWR, same coax, same switching network, etc.. the 480 won't produce more than 50-65 watts. Two other radio's (TS-2000, Kenwood 940SAT) have no issues putting out their rated full power.

Some have suggested to try different audio profiles and not be afraid to turn the mic gain up. Even with the mic gain at 100%, output won't exceed 65 watts - ON ANY BAND in either my mobile or base.

It's a shame really because the receive capablities on the 480 are superior to either my Kenwood TS-2000 or Kenwood 940SAT. A few quick adjustments to the receive audio quality, creating a custom receive DSP profile and a few other tweaks made this rig actually pleasant to listen to.

My biggest issue with this radio is that with less than 100 hours on it the cooling fan failed. As I used the 480SAT on air last night for a net, I noticed the radio getting exceptionally warm and a complete lack of airflow out the back of the radio. This morning I pulled the radio apart and found a failing cooling fan and final output transistors that looked like they've seen better days.

If it weren't for the fact that my wife thinks I actually enjoy using this thing, I'd have pitched it in the garbage long ago. As far as I'm concerned, this is the worst rig I've ever owned, period. So bad in fact, it's turned me off to purchasing another Kenwood and investigating Yaesu and Icom as replacements.
N7ZZT Rating: 5/5 Aug 4, 2014 05:18 Send this review to a friend
easy to use by the blind ham :)  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
well, I consider this to be the best HF radio I have ever used. With the addition of the VGS1 speech chip, this radio becomes easy to use for the blind ham. A little setup with a windows computer, the kenwood control program and a cable and you are good to go. I use jaws as my screen reader in winnows 7, and I have absolutely no problems getting the radio configured using the windows application. All the controls and functions are easily managed even from the front panel (you do have to know what the menu numbers are when adjusting them, but its easy to find out).

So far, if I had to deal with any of the other radio manufacturers, I would return to Kenwood every time.
MW1CFN Rating: 3/5 Jul 30, 2014 01:25 Send this review to a friend
UPDATE: Very Drifty on digimodes  Time owned: more than 12 months
Top marks for reliability and robustness.

Middling-to-poor on overall design as a portable rig due to front connections forcing the front panel so far forward that the main board can't remain attached to the cradle.

Where this rig really does poorly is in frequency stability on digital modes. There's enough drift to make JT9 almost impossible, and other modes look like bananas with just a few TX sequences.

When I bought a second-hand Yaesu FT-450, which has a similar new price tag, it showed essentially zero drift after hours of TXing. Its stability and overall features puts the TS480 to shame, which is now relegated to a standby rig.

I would not buy a TS480 SAT again due to this drift, but it's fine for voice.
N7RST Rating: 5/5 Apr 5, 2014 08:55 Send this review to a friend
Nice compact radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Having had the 570SG, will compare the two against each other sine both are in the same price class.

The 480 is pretty compact, slightly smaller then the 570. The 570 is older technology but a joy to use and very self explanatory. The 480 you may have to look up some stuff in the manual.

First overall impression(s):

1. Wish the front panel was just a bit larger. Too many buttons close together and hard to see/read.
2. Head Phone jack comes out the side of the front panel, would prefer straight in and out.
3. Mic and key jacks are on the front of the box part of the radio, not on the front panel. Not a big deal, more of getting use to something different.
4. Optional filters (2) are solder in type, prefer a push in as many former owners will unsolder to sell the filters separately to make one more buck and more chances to mess up the IF board with an unskilled hand.
5. I had to order the optional MB-480 bracket to mount the head and box together as I kinda like to keep them in close proximity of each other, and more secure.

Good receiver, fairly quite, the AF DSP is very good on noise reduction, easy to read display.

Rear firing speaker a bit wierd and I use an external speaked if running in the shack.

All in all, you can read the pages of reviews, but for $900 new, you can't lose much money on this. Used they usually should go for 700-800, the 570 would go for around 600-750, so about the same, two slightly differing radios, but the 480 is a better receiver (if you notice that).
K1PMA Rating: 5/5 Mar 7, 2014 10:21 Send this review to a friend
Excellent compact HF radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Recently sold an Icom 7000 because I wanted to try something different. After long deliberation decided to go with a Kenwood 480 SAT. Must say I am now biased towards Kendoods in general. The menu system is just so much easer and more logical than Yaesu or Icom. Anyway, I have only had the radio for a few days now so by no means a final review. But so far I am a very happy camper. In side by side RX tests with a FTDX 3000 there is very litte, if any, difference in SSB mode. Sure, the 480 does not have nearly as many bells and whistles as a radio costing $1,500 or more, but it still performs great. Got it hooked up with a Signalink (6 pin DIN) for digital modes and a DB9 to USB cable for Ham Radio Deluxe. Everything works just great. Added plus that the control head uses little space on my already very cluttered desk.
N4GKS Rating: 5/5 Nov 13, 2013 18:10 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Wonderful receive with DSP and love that it takes up so little room. My Kenwood 450 went down and had to be sent for repair, so I bought this from HRO. I started to purchase the new Yaesu 1200 but this rig caught my interest. Glad I did because the 480 is great for the price. I also ordered the SSB and 500 hz CW filters. I'm having a blast with this radio.
K7LZR Rating: 3/5 Nov 5, 2013 22:05 Send this review to a friend
OK, but not spectacular  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Considering the popularity and overall user rating of this rig, I hate to say that my experience wasn't as stellar.

I compared the TS-480SAT side-by-side along with an Icom IC-7200 and a Yaesu FT-817nd.

Tests were done using the same antenna on all three radios. No lab numbers, just ears.

On receive, the IC-7200 is clearly superior to the TS-480SAT at this location. While listening to a net on 40m, there was another net just 3.5khz away. Net control for that net is a powerful station which is located only 15 miles from my location.

Adjacent channel splatter is common between these two nets, and some receivers handle it better than others.

The IC-7200 rejected this interference much better than the TS-480SAT. While it was present on both radios, I was able to clearly hear stations on the Icom which were unintelligible on the Kenwood, and the splatter sounded "softer" on the Icom.

I also found the TS-480SAT to be a so-so performer on the MW broadcast band compared to the IC-7200, and even the Yaesu FT-817nd out performed the TS-480SAT there. There is an NDB beacon at 404khz about 200 miles from here, and the TS-480SAT barely heard it without the preamp on, and with the preamp it was clearly audible with lots of noise. The IC-7200 picked it up clearly and with less noise, without preamp. The FT-817 wasn't tried at this frequency because it doesn't perform well there either unless external filters are used.

On transmit, stock audio from the TS-480SAT sounded very nice and clear, and audio from the IC-7200 seems a bit more punchy.

Things which I don't agree with the TS-480SAT designers are:

- The pigtail antenna connectors. Surely they could have fitted these onto the radio's rear panel - Icom did it on the IC-706 & IC-7000 etc. and these are physically smaller radios than the TS-480SAT. The pigtails are harder to protect and easier to damage.

- No mic connector on the control head. Really? Motorola did it with all of their remote-able radios. So did Icom. So did others. SO much more convenient. Less chance of RF ingress. Less mess.

- Better control head mounting options. Again, look at Motorola, Icom and others.

While not really a bad rig and certainly usable, I do think that the TS-480SAT could have been better thought out in some respects. But as always, your mileage may vary.
W6KKO Rating: 5/5 Oct 12, 2013 15:24 Send this review to a friend
Versatile Workhorse   Time owned: more than 12 months
Purchased 480SAT new in July 2012 and use it as my main HF radio. I use it mostly at home, and occasionally in the vehicle. The remote head is a great feature. Brought it along for Field Day 2013 and everyone found it easy to use.
- I have used it with verticals, wires, Buddipole and a Yagi-Uda.
- No problems with digital modes strait to the computer, or using a Signalink. (With appropriate cables)
- Use and control radio over the Internet with free Kenwood software. It is just too easy.
- Interface and control using HRD is painless. (w/cable)
- Nothing but complements using a Heil HM-12. Hand mike works too.
- Nice screen size.
- Do not have to go deep in the menu to get things done.
- Built-in tuner really makes this radio easy to use.
- * I really enjoy the dual antenna ports. I switch between antennas with ease. It automatically switches between ports based on last settings for a particular band.
- I have installed the voice module, but not the other filters.
VE9SK Rating: 5/5 Aug 27, 2013 13:21 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just purchased a TS-480SAT the end of June 2013, and I am absolutely impressed with this rig. I used it the 3rd weekend in August during the International Lighthouse/Lightship weekend at Swallowtail Lighthouse on Grand Manan Island, new Brunswick, Canada located in the Bay of Fundy. I used it with an OCF dipole from 80M to 10M and it performed flawlessly, the internal tuner looked after all swr settings with a 1 to 1 swr on all bands. I havn't used all the many features of this rig as yet, but looking forward to giving this rig a work-out in my future hf activities. I'd recommend this rig to anyone. The price was right and a very versatile rig in every way, from base, to portable, to has it all..
W2OMD Rating: 5/5 Aug 8, 2013 13:19 Send this review to a friend
Can't ask for much more for the price.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased the Kenwood TS-480SAT last month new for around $900. For the price, I couldn't ask for much more. It's loaded with features, and performs great. I've talked all over the world with only a wire antenna. Audio reports are always excellent using just the stock hand mic. The only minor cons are: the remote control panel takes some getting used to, and the internal speaker isn't great. An external speaker is definitely recommended.
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