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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Kenwood TS-520 Help

Reviews Summary for Kenwood TS-520
Kenwood TS-520 Reviews: 42 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $599.99
Description: First of the Hybrid radios
Product is not in production.
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VE7JBX Rating: 4/5 Aug 30, 2016 14:41 Send this review to a friend
Workhorse!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Recently acquired a long-neglected, filthy, TS-520 from ~1974. After (extensive) cosmetic cleaning, deoxing of controls, lubricating the VFO system and a look over the internals, I put it on the air. Once I figured out the not-clearly-mentioned step in the manual (DO NOT have the CW key plugged in when tuning up!), this old workhorse with 40+ year old capacitors - and likely original tubes - was spot on factory values for HV and iC. Hard to believe!

Major pros to my experience with this rig:
1) very easy, fast tune up procedure, simpler than on Yaesu hybrids of similar age. Seriously it's 20 seconds and you're done.
2) very good Rx
3) Excellent audio on both TX and RX. On RX, even the internal speaker is very good on the 520, noticeably better than the internal on other HF rigs I have owned (TS-130, FT-101, FT-101ZD, IC-720A, IC-730)
4) Quiet operation. I have the cooling fan on mine, but it's nearly silent.
5) Easy access to internal components / switches/ controls for service
6) HV can be directly monitored on the front meter. This is awesome, very useful information without even opening the case. All HF rigs should have this!

1) Analog VFO; it is what it is. Use the 25kHz calibrator, and you can expect to be +/- 200Hz from where you want to be.
2) External VFO needed for split operation (assuming 5kHz split).
3) no IF shift, notch filter, adjustment on speech processor (ON or OFF is only choice), adjustment on NB
4) no AM mode
5) CW filter isn't switchable

The radio is a pleasure to use. Let it warm up 10-15 minutes for best results, then tune up on frequency and have a go. Great results in both SSB phone and CW (I have the CW narrow filter). In marginal propagation when my all solid state rigs just don't seem to make it through, this radio makes the contacts - and usually with good intelligibility both ways.

Head to head against other hybrids I've owned, I would pick the TS-520 over an early FT-101 (better RX, easier tuning, clear controls layout, superior audio). Against the FT-101ZD, the ZD has an edge in more adjustable features and - in my two units - the 101ZD has slightly more sensitive RX; but the 101ZD may be prone to display failures, and the tune-up process is much more convoluted than the TS-520.

This isn't a contest rig, or portable by modern standards; but if you want a cheap but reliable HF rig to rag chew, and don't miss the WARC bands, I'd highly recommend one of these. I can only second another review of this on here "using one of these will put a smile on your face". Yes, it will!
ZL1BAK Rating: 5/5 Aug 2, 2016 17:41 Send this review to a friend
Great old Hybrid  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have 2 of these great old rigs. 1 is in excellent condition and came with box, manual all cables and spare plugs etc, it works perfectly and puts out full power on all bands from its original s2001 tubes. The other one is tidy but it drifted up and down radically. I dismanteled the vfo and cleaned all mechanical parts and re lubed them, now its stable. I have owned many modern radios over the years but soon get fed up with them and revert back to tube rigs. These radios are simple to operate and its nice not to have to step thru several menus just to change the mic gain etc. Try one you might be surprised how good they are.
AD5QP Rating: 5/5 Jun 18, 2016 08:13 Send this review to a friend
Great radio  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Picked up a TS-520 at Belton for $125 with a handheld mic and power cable. The finals are original japanese 2001 tubes. Puts out full power, even on 10 meters. Now using it for 10 during eseason... Great analog receiver. Very quiet without the digital phase noise. Get one if you can...
AJ6G Rating: 5/5 Feb 2, 2016 17:18 Send this review to a friend
Awesome hybrid  Time owned: more than 12 months
I am like several who now have two of the Kenwood Hybrids, mine are TS-520s. A good friend sold me his as part of his getting out of the hobby and it was in immaculate shape. A few months later he stumbled upon a "parts" TS-520, as it did not work. I found a couple of wires either cut or shorted inside and got it running perfectly. Now I have two wonderful rigs that work for base station use or portable. I also found a wonderful universal digital display and that helps make it more modern-like. I found that the noise blanking/filtering was not to my liking and I found a Timewave DSP9 that does wonders for the receiver. It was an older version and I just found an updated software one that is headed my way. I am fine with keeping one for each rig. I also just got a remote automatic antenna tuner and that does wonders for allowing easy 5 band HF operation. Sure the Kenwood weighs a ton, but with the on-board 12 volt inverter, I am fine with that. It is built like a brick and seems very reliable. I spent the time and money to recap the high voltage supplies to make it even more reliable. They are wonderful machines and with some little accessories have many of the performance features of modern rigs.
WA6JGM Rating: 5/5 Sep 8, 2014 18:23 Send this review to a friend
Take's a lick'n and keep's on tick'n  Time owned: more than 12 months
Used one for mobile cw operating in the 80's and the radio never failed. Worked a lot of dx on 10 and 15 meters. Sold it years ago and it is still being used on a daily basis in TX today.

The rig never gave me any grief, it just took it. I do have a 520S and a 820S in the shack, great for late night jump in and chew sessions.

Great sounding audio on both TX and RX. Yes you have to tune it up when you QSY, so what! At least it's not a spectrum polluter due to its very good IMD products. How come there are so many great transceivers out there that have excellent receivers but have crummy transmitters?

If you are looking for a cheap starter rig this is one of the many way's to go.
ZL1PWR Rating: 5/5 Jun 14, 2014 08:00 Send this review to a friend
Kenwood nuff said  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
What a radio no way will I sell this old classic a real find at a bargain price it needed new tubes when I got it which were donated to me by a new radio friend Tim VK2AOS so its now running a premium grade matched pair 6146 and will probably still be running when I am well gone I use it with a mc-50 mic and the audio reports I get are always good my other radio is a ts-930s but find myself strangely drawn to this one I wont be one of the other hams saying wish i never sold it a real keeper for sure if you see one grab one it will make you smile every time you use it.
N0PL Rating: 5/5 Mar 1, 2014 22:56 Send this review to a friend
Work Horse  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've got 2 of these rigs. One has the DG5 digital readout. When this rig first came out, I had just started my family and could not afford one. I did get to operate one on a FD excursion and I knew that one day I would own one (or 2). I work CW primarily but do move up the bands on occasion to SSB. I have over 30 HF rigs of all different makes and models. The tubes add a little heat into the shack which is welcome here in MT in the winter time. Outstanding basic rig that is truly a work horse. I'll have one in my collection until the day I'm planted in the ground.
WB0OKA Rating: 5/5 Jan 17, 2014 11:19 Send this review to a friend
Solid as a rock  Time owned: more than 12 months
I first purchased a TS-520 in 1988- my graduation from a Heathkit SB 100- and I still own one today. I was impressed then and still impressed today. The 520 has a solid receiver and at 100 watts from a forgiving set of tube finals, can still rival the big signals in pile-ups when conditions are right. Tuning one is not as difficult as some make it out to be. Once you get onto it, it only takes a minute or two to be ready for an on-air QSO. I won't go on and on. The rig has been around for years and it's held it's own and many are still alive and in operation. That speaks volumes.
G4AWY Rating: 5/5 Dec 20, 2012 04:44 Send this review to a friend
Golden oldie  Time owned: more than 12 months
I owned a TS520 for many years, and regret that I ever parted with it! Was my first ever tcvr - I'd used "separates" until then.

I did a few mods in the time I had it, that some might find useful:

1) Rewired the RF gain (which, ISTR, was actually an IF gain) into an attenuator for the rx front end. Prior to this 40 mtrs at night was a real mess but just inserting 10 dB or so attenuation cleared up many of the hets, X-mods and funnies.

2) There was a kit available at one time to give 10 MHz transceive. It was a bit of a bodge (you switched the rig to 20 and pressed the WWV button) but it did give a new band.

3) Rewired the neutralising slide switch to disconnect all heaters and fan on extended periods of listening.

4) Made up an external box to house a pot. By using the -ve volts available on the back panel and feeding it into the ALC line I could make the rig continuously variable in power output, down to mW levels.

The only major complaint I had with the TS520 was that the narrow CW filter was switched in all the time, so you couldn't select "Wide" and "Narrow". If I ever come across another 520 in anything like half decent condition I will certainly be tempted to buy it.

Richard G4AWY
KJ7YY Rating: 5/5 Nov 10, 2012 17:27 Send this review to a friend
Still working  Time owned: more than 12 months
The TS 520 was my first new rig, bought new when I was a novice in the 70's. I still have it and it still works great. I have replaced the tubes a couple of times but thats it. I don't use it much anymore because I bought a used TS 430S so I would have the WARC bands and 160 meters. The 430 is following in the footsteps of the 520 and works great.
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