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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Kenwood TS-850 Help

Reviews Summary for Kenwood TS-850
Kenwood TS-850 Reviews: 126 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $1,999.99
Description: High Performance HF Transceiver with full coverage receiver
Product is not in production.
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DL2NEP Rating: 5/5 Oct 8, 2013 01:57 Send this review to a friend
Nearby perfect  Time owned: more than 12 months
I think the TS-850 is the last (nearby) perfect analogue rig. The receiver is the best I ever heard. The receiver feels like "relaxed". Many other receivers sounds stressed. The first impression is that you think the receiver is bad and not sensitive enough. Noise floor is very silent. But than you hear stations with S0 very clear. For me one of the best receiver.

- perfect design
- best receiver
- good usability
- perfect modulation SSB (original mic)
- stable temperature design


- NB could be better
- keyer/non keyer switchable on backside (why ?!)
- no DSP (you really don't need it)

I am sad because Kenwood doesn't build quality like this anymore. The new TS-990 looks like an Gameboy.
AA1BW Rating: 5/5 Mar 9, 2013 10:48 Send this review to a friend
Update  Time owned: more than 12 months
This is an update of my previous TS-850SAT review, All things stated in the previous review are still valid, but here are some additional remarks:
I am working 95% CW. I have 2 TS-850SAT so I can do side-by side comparisons. One is fitted with Inrad filters (500hz and 250hz in 8.83, and 125 Hz in 445Khz), the other with the same Kenwood filters. The first one also has tzhe Inrad 3KHz Roofing filter mod insatlled.
Here are the results:
1. The roofing filter only seems to help in crowded contest situations. I have a big station quite close, but with rig 1. I dont notice it, intill I get within 3Khz. No other effect of roofing filter is noticed.
Rig 1. with Inrad filters seems to sounbd better. I always operate CW rith 250Hz 8.83Khz, and 125Hz 455Khz position, even outside of contests.
The Inrad filters work MUCH better, very pleasant sound to listen, no ringing. With the kenwood filters I do have some ringing, not as clear and pleasan to listen to.
Otherwise no difference between the two rigs.
Picking up week signals, there is no difference at all !!!
As I previously stated with this level of sophisticated filtering no DSP is needed at all. I absolutely love my 2 TS-850SAT. I may get a 3rd one dedicated for SSB work later.
Please be advised, these rigs are old, need maintenance. I have a full TS-850SAT in box for spares in case needed. Also I collected all spare diodes, transistors.
The electrolyte condensators are all replaced, and I put battery holders to make battery change easier in the future.
So TS-850SAT is the best HF CW rig if you have the ability, and willing to do the maintenance works on it. No other rig is comparing to it.
Recent rigs with DSP, etc. are costing 3-7x more money, but not really offering better reception and better rejection of signals.
KD0CAC Rating: 5/5 Jun 5, 2012 18:24 Send this review to a friend
4.9 no 2nd VFO  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I found one these on Craigslist , after seeing many reviews .
Quality of signal was one of the top reviews I read .
I had just started to chase DX about the time I got this rig , and many times during huge pileups , I have gotten high praise on signal / sound quality and been asked what rig I was running , running 100 watts , without amp .
Also being a relative new ham , having a rig with most all functions on face of rig , help to learn what the functions were and easy to use , not having menus is huge for a new ham in my opinion .
This rig had the leaky caps issue , and I new to look for them before buying , they were leaking in this rig , but had not damaged DDS chips on CAR board yet .
I enjoyed replacing , not too much of an issue .
Now I am looking for a 2nd one of these , because it appears the are few rigs that have the quality of sound [ even the internal speaker ] at the received end , I take pride in that .
I will buy others , but hope to have one of these rigs in my shack forever , or until I can at least duplicate the sound quality .
W8NLZ Rating: 5/5 May 7, 2012 18:49 Send this review to a friend
A great radio for portable work  Time owned: more than 12 months
Review #115: Much has been said about this venerable transceiver, but it all boils down to this: with 2-3 filters installed, it's a darn good multipurpose HF rig .. all in one box. Simple and reliable.

I have been through a number of new & used radios, looking for just the right one to use for portable and field trips. I wanted to stay down in the $500-$700 range, since a radio can get wrecked hauling it around for field use. I've found that the TS-850S fits the bill perfectly. The display and controls are simple, yet powerful. The selectivity (with filters) really doesn't need DSP. And the built-in antenna tuner is so fast and quiet you don't even notice it is on line. And, you don't need a fork lift to carry it around.

Now with several years experience using this rig for CW & SSB in the field, I am very satisfied. I would say the TS-850S ranks up there with units costing 2-3 times as much. And, for field and portable use, the antenna is usually much more of a limiting factor than the 3rd order intercept point.

One caveat: I do not work digital modes in the field, so I can't vouch for it's capabilities in that regard.

This is a fun radio with above average performance. It may not interface to your iPad. It may not have signal clarifiers or DSP filters. But it's reliable, priced right, and it puts the operator back in the driver's seat.
K0KNX Rating: 4/5 Mar 12, 2012 20:15 Send this review to a friend
They're getting old  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had several 850's, no big complaints but let's face it, these rigs are getting old. Most newer radios will run rings around the 850 in terms of performance, even with all the filters installed. Yup, the audio is good but so are the late model rigs probably even better. Sure, if you have a shot at one at a decent price (not ebay), jump on it. I wouldn't pay anything above $500 for one but I don't have cash burning holes in my pocket either.
KC6DXN Rating: 5/5 Dec 30, 2011 18:17 Send this review to a friend
Absolutely LOVE my 850  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I am a newer ham, having been licensed as a GENERAL for 2 years from the start. It is easy to get started on 2 meter, monetarily speaking. But I had to go cheap and get a dino-101ZD on Ebay to break into HF. Hey, that was a good radio, but long in the tooth. Got GREAT experience tuning the valves. But I yearned for something simpler.

When I had a few $$$ stashed away (or room on my card), I decided to reach for something more modern. It was a very tough choice between an FT-990 or TS-850. Both appeared to be exceptionally fine performers for the price; with the 990 possibly edging out the 850 in selectivity. I went with the 850, because I noted that user support forums and logistical support were more common. Also, I got a good lead on a rebuilt TS-850 (which replaced or FCN'd all the irritating common bugs in this unit). Either way, I would not have been sorry.

This transceiver is an absolute pleasure to use. I ALWAYS get great audio reports, using my MC-60 desk mike. I have plenty of filtering options and other knobs to tune out the noise. All the important stuff is right at my finger-tips. The less important stuff (like one-time set-up stuff) is menu-driven. Only the most advanced of modern rigs will out-perform this solid platform. The only serious drawback to this DSP; unless you get the optional DSP-100 unit. But I never have had the chance to use DSP, so I do not know what I am missing.

It is a very capable rig, perfect for the newbie. You will be hard-pressed to outgrow this fine transceiver.
N9UY Rating: 5/5 Dec 9, 2011 17:40 Send this review to a friend
You're In Control  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought my TS-850SAT from an estate of a ham I didn't know, so I have no idea of its provenance, but I do know that it works terrific! My secondary radio in the shack is a Yaesu FT-857D which, with all of its menus, I sometimes feel is running me. With the TS-850 I feel like I'm in control of the radio because there is a knob for everything.

I am an avid DX'er; with my modest hexagonal beam antenna, I have busted many a pileup, most of the time with only 100 watts. I also consistently get unsolicited comments on my audio, using several different mics.

I use the radio for casual contesting so it may get 20 hours of use on a weekend and there are absolutely no issues with it. I have added the digital recording unit but no accessory filters - just the excellent built-in analog filtering. I discovered that I can use the notch filter as a kind of super narrow bandwidth filter when the bands are really crowded.

I realize that it is an old radio but I will hate to part with it. I might just take a chance on a TS-950....
N4ZAW Rating: 5/5 Nov 19, 2011 07:31 Send this review to a friend
Previous owner -- I miss it!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Back in the 90's when it was first offered for sale by A.E.S., I bought one. It was the purchase of a lifetime for a poor boy like me.... THEN,I was hounded by a buddy of mine in the same financial boat and I eventually relented... Just too much monetary gain to continue to say "no" any longer! But I sure miss that rig's awesome notch filter! If you don't get the TS-850 you're reading this review to learn about, get it's big brother, the 950.
I've had many other HF rigs since then. The ones I recall;
Yaesu FT-757GX
Yaesu FT-840 (I currently own two of these fine entry-level rigs).
Kenwood TS-440
Icom IC-703+
NONE of those came close to the 850's audio quality, both transmitted and received, nor it's selectivity. Can't speak for sensitivity, or any other specs, but suffice to say, I would trade my twins for another 850, and that is saying something -- even one that was rode hard n put-away wet!

JP1DJV Rating: 5/5 Jun 24, 2011 21:55 Send this review to a friend
still shining with glare  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have used many sort of HF transceivers in 30 years. I did AB comparison with TS-850, TS-590 IC-7700, FT-990 and so on. TS-850 is getting pretty old, but it certainly works best of all these models on 20m (I don't operate on other bands). In my situation, TS-850=TS-950>FT-990>>IC-7700. The RX sound of TS-850 is so clear than the others that I can "read" even extremely weak signals, much better than IC-7700 when external noises don't exist on the band. (7700's noise reduction features are great,actually.) 850's memory keyer is also highlight. I can record my own word spaces in it. TS-850 may not be the best of bests, but I just prefer it because my ears are well trained by 80's Kenwood's sound. hi
KG4ODX Rating: 4/5 May 8, 2011 13:52 Send this review to a friend
WONDERFUL RADIO  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
A wonderful transceiver but it is prone to problems.
Be sure to visit N6TR's web page for a long list of problems with this rig.

If you capable of doing most repairs yourself you and the TS-850 will get along ok.
This is a great rig but will have problems but it is one of my favorite rigs and I use it daily
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