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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Kenwood TS-870S Help


Reviews Summary for Kenwood TS-870S
Kenwood TS-870S Reviews: 167 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $2399.00
Description: The Leader Of The Pack
Product is not in production.
More info: http://www.kenwood.net/products/index.cfm?AMA=open
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Page 1 of 17 —>

SWLCHRIS Rating: 5/5 Feb 4, 2019 16:37 Send this review to a friend
Completely tested and approved.   Time owned: 3 to 6 months
After using this radio for the last 3 months, my reviews I thought were complete.
However, in the usage of the radio in various modes and under different circumstances, I need to modify my review to accurately describe the quality and performance of this radio for the following reasons.

1.Using the radio in various modes on different bands is now complete with the Mars/CAP modification to enable 60 meter use.

2. Previously I was under the impression my antenna had such a high swr the built in antenna tuner would not tune it.

3. Use of digital modes is now more accurately tested.

So first on receive capability. This assessment has changed to extraordinary due to the ability of the AIP function and the antenna tuner acting in receive mode.
Station's signals that don't even light up the first s meter bar are workable.
However , tweaking of the noise blanker is needed to avoid any distortion of the audio on received signals. I have some nasty noise that cycles every so often at the QTH and the noise blanker can knock it out but at the expense of slightly distorted audio on the recieved signal if it isn't adjusted properly.
The filtering of the SSB phone signal is greatly enhanced by the DSP chip and it's related settings.Use of a filtered speaker such as the Kenwood SP31 with dual high filters can come in handy to even further enhance the recovered audio.Suriname and Belize were recently heard and the signal was not much on the meter but the audio was clearly readable without any problem at all.

On transmit,the rig is nothing short of superb.The one outstanding feature is the TS870 audio design using the DSP to enhance and sharpen the audio for SSB use.The signal reports have been nothing but exceptional with the transmit EQ in use. The microphone choice will be helpful too. My usual microphone now is the Behringer XM8500 dynamic cardoid studio mic.The settings were found by doing a search on Google for TS870 audio settings and they were published by Heil Sound in regards to their microphones.
The end result is stations hearing my call a lot sooner with the added punch of the processor and the DSP EQ. It stands out in the crowd according to one nearby ham that has heard me on the air.It may take a few calls in a pileup but inevitably I do get answered.One example is recently working DF2BO and I5ZSS on the 80 meter band one night and there were several stations calling at the time. Signal reports varied from 49 to 56 but I was heard on that band which is difficult to achieve using only 110 watts. Another example is on 40 meters with 9K2GS having a nice little pileup that I was able to get through to make the contact which was surprising considering how many operators were trying to call him. That made my day especially since not long after that I was able to work ZS6CCY on the same band with good results as well.It has proved it's worth on working DX as well as local and stateside contacts.

The antenna tuner is actually quite good. I did have some issues before but I think it boiled down to a intermittent issue with a jumper cable. With the home built OCFD I use, the antenna tuner is able to get a match on all bands rather quickly.The original impedance of the antenna is probably at least 100 ohms if not more as the W4 meter read at least 2.5-1 SWR. Not having an antenna analyzer is the reason I can only estimate the untuned impedance across the bands.Now with the MARS/CAP mod it will even tune the 60 meter band and I see full output of 110 watts on all bands.I can't say what 160 meters is like since my antenna won't tune that far up . Now with a band change it's mere seconds to tune and get on the air.

I feel that for a radio that was built in 1995 that this rig can compete even with the brand new rigs.The radio has such good audio, both on receive and transmit, that you don't want to turn it off.
 
W5TD Rating: 4/5 Nov 10, 2017 09:32 Send this review to a friend
Nice radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I first saw one of these at a friend's house about 10 years ago and thought it was a great looking radio! I had been kind of looking for one recently after learning you can hook a second receiver to it and do dual receive with them. When one showed up used at Ham Radio Outlet for the steal of a price-$295, I bought it!

I didn't use it a whole lot as a different Ham Radio Outlet had a used Kenwood TS950SD at too good of a price to pass up so I bought the TS950 and traded the 870 for a mobile radio.

There is nothing that really stood out in my mind concerning the TS870, it was just an HF rig that seemed to do what it was supposed to do. The DSP noise reduction was ok. When you turn the NR on using the front panel DSP key, you then have to go into the menu to choose line enhanced NR (On setting) or the SPAC NF (Off setting). The SPAC is pretty good for CW, I never did like the line enhanced NR very much (what Kenwood calls NR 1) on later rigs.

The tuner worked ok on this radio, not as wide as matching range as the TS950, which will match anything. The keyer is a little unusual, you can chance the speed on the front panel, but any other settings require you to send a command string using the paddles, and then sending different letters to change settings. I would much rather do this thru menus. I can see needing to keep a cheat sheet handy for some time with the keyer.

The noise blanker was nothing to write home about. Kind of average, not as bad as some, but not as good as quite a few.

If you read the QST review it discusses how the narrow filtering is obtained: You have a 3khz filter at both the 2nd and 3rd IF, and they are overlapped to produce the set bandwidth. This should work fine on SSB but on CW you are going to have 3khz of CW signals existing at the 2nd IF. You might not hear them but the receiver is and it can affect the AGC and produce IMD products. I didn't get the chance to run the 870 in a CW contest so I don't know how this would play out in really crowded band conditions.

Overall, the TS870 has the really good Kenwood receive audio, is pretty easy to use, and has lots of nice features on it. You can set the SSB receive to a 6khz bandwidth if you really want to do HI-FI SSB. To me, the TS870 is kind of like the family sedan, not flashy but can get the job done.
 
ZS5WC Rating: 5/5 May 20, 2016 06:43 Send this review to a friend
OLD but not COLD!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Recently a lone TS-870s arrived in my shack-thinking it would be outgunned by the mighty IC-7700 next to it.. As time went by I found I was operating the TS-870s in Preference to The IC-7700.
I still can't quite place my finger on it--The TS-870s is really old, has no screen , old dsp etc. (NO BLING FACTOR!)

BUT-the TS-870s was pleasant to listen to-did not have the robotic audio of the Icom (with DSP off),the NB worked fine, was quiet,the "S" meter worked as it should,(don't get me started on the ICOM "s" meter and NB!-shocking!) and is mostly completely serviceable at you finger tips, ON the shelf by accessing the service menu. WAY ahead of its' time!.
Remember this is GEN.1 PLL / DSP!..(17+ years old!)

It communicates faultlessly via 19600 Kbaud to my Expert amp-so now I have a 1Kw radio.
The RX is not as strong as the IC-7700 re. close stations, but fine for what I do.
Needless to say , the TS-870s knocked the IC-7700 off the perch and the ICOM no longer resides in my shack!.

EVEN today, this Kenwood is an HF audio and technology benchmark and now I have TWO.

73 de William
ZS4L / ZS5WC
 
KG5W Rating: 5/5 Jul 7, 2015 21:06 Send this review to a friend
Best Rig Ever Owned  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought my TS-870 brand new from Burghardt Electronics back in 1999 and have used it faithfully since then. It has never failed to perform and I always enjoy the pleasing audio that this radio is known for. Whether listening to AM, shortwave, CW, or SSB signals, this radio delivers outstanding fidelity every time. I can hear signals other friends eho live nearby cannot. The radio antenna tuner works flawlessly, even though I use resonant antennas for all my transmit frequencies. I LOVE THIS RADIO! Don;t know why Kenwood discontinued this rig so abruptly, but I am glad I have one. I used a W2IHY 8 band EQ to enhance the already pleasant audio transmitted from this radio. It doesn't take much to make this rig sound good , Ask anyone who has a TS-870. ESSB seems that what this rig excels in and I am a fan of quality audio. I don't use extensive racks of audio gear, just a W2IHY EQ. That's enoigh for me. Wouls I buy another TS-870? If Kenwood would make them again, absolutely! They don't make them like this anymore. Love my radio.
 
G4MJA Rating: 5/5 Apr 28, 2015 11:43 Send this review to a friend
GREAT RADIO!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I owned a new TS870S way back when & always enjoyed using & got great results but like many other amateurs after a couple of years sold it & bought other radios, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence syndrome! A few days ago I was lucky to find & buy an immaculate 870, and boy am I glad to have this radio again. The receive section really is excellent & out performs many of the crop of high end radios. The way all the operating parameters of the radio can be taylored through the menu system is a delight to use. First day on the air I received unsolicited reports on the quality of the audio with enquiries as to what was the radio & what microphone was I using. If you are considering buying one of these classics make sure, via serial number identification, that it is year 2000 or later as Kenwood improved the close in signal handling of the receive section. The radio is a keeper this time around. 73, Mike.
 
AA4MB Rating: 5/5 Jun 24, 2014 09:41 Send this review to a friend
Rock solid  Time owned: more than 12 months
I purchased my TS-870S used off of eBay over 12 years ago, not knowing what I'd be getting into. Long story short, it's still the best purchase I've ever made in over 40 continuous years of amateur radio.

The 870 is not the quietest transceiver out there. It is pretty doggone sensitive, but I'm sure that it can't hold a candle to more modern rigs such as the latest Yaesu, Kenwood or Elecraft offerings. And it's not the MOST selective transceiver running - but it's good enough for me. I'm an avid CW fan and I've never, ever failed to complete a contact due to the shortcomings of the TS-870.

The built-in antenna tuner is simply one of the best and one of the quietest that I've ever used, bar none. I've tried a ton of antennas over the years and never failed to get a decent match, allowing full output power to however non-resonant and inefficient the antenna seemed to be. If I had to pick one feature out that stands head and shoulders above the others is this unit's usability and ergonomics. Want to change the keyer speed? It's on the front panel. Same with the bandwidth, notch filter, squelch, etc. NO control serves two functions; yes, there are controls that have an outer and inner knob, but these are easily managed. Not one single feature that you will continually change or adjust while operating requires you to go into a menu.

The DSP is first generation and while it does work somewhat, it's really not a game changer like it is on the new rigs. And if you're into somewhat fast QSK, the rig will actually do it fairly well, without noticeable chopping of the code elements like some of its contemporaries. As you can imagine, the relays can be fairly noisy doing this - it's a late 20th century design. Having said all of that, if you're looking for a great first rig - or an amazing backup - don't look any further than an 870. Mine remains my primary HF station (that will likely change soon), but this radio will never depart my shack.

 
W8KMA Rating: 5/5 May 14, 2014 12:13 Send this review to a friend
Better than most!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
This is a great rig. I've had the newer Yeasu, and Kenwood radios, the FTX3000 and TS-590s. Bought them new and sold them pretty much new. The old 870 just sounds better on transmit and recieve to me!! It may not have a bunch of bells and whistles, but it has what is takes even in todays word of high tech rock and roll radios. And you can still work on it, IF you have too......
 
WA4YBC Rating: 5/5 Apr 12, 2014 14:55 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought my Kenwood TS-870 new in 2002, and I still have it. It works great for me. I never had any problems with it. I had many good audio reports with the TS-870. After 10 years, I decided to buy a newer transceiver to have a more modern rig. I found the new transceiver has few advantages over my TS-870. After owning the new transceiver for almost 2 years, I still have my TS-870 and I am not selling it, at least now. In retrospect, investing in a good antenna is much more important than going with the marketing brochures, and having the latest rig.
 
SCOLOPENDRA Rating: 2/5 Apr 11, 2014 23:53 Send this review to a friend
Old gold doesn't shine anymore  Time owned: more than 12 months
The main problem with this radio is the lack of filtering and its limited dynamic range. This Rig has lot of less then vital good features, nice cosmetic appeal and someone would appreciate its TX ESSB-ready capabilities, but it lacks in the field of the most important specifications. It is way old digital design and its 16 bit DSP cannot compete with modern 32 bit architectures. Compare this rig with a TS-590 for IF filtering and noise reduction or with an FT-950 for TX audio tailoring or with the most of the latest models for synthesizer phase noise and receiver dynamic range: You realize how this than innovative design has become surpassed.
 
N0PL Rating: 5/5 Mar 1, 2014 22:47 Send this review to a friend
Great Rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had my 870s with internal tuner for about 5 years. Like everyone has stated, the receive audio is excellent. The tuning is smooth as glass. The weighted knob is very nice. I love the rig. I have about 30 HF rigs of all brands. My primary rig is my IC-7600. It is very good. But, in my estimation, the 870s is right up there. My 870s is my 2nd rig on the operating desk. It is a solid performer and the ease of use is wonderful. If you happen to run across one, try it and buy it if it checks out 100%.
 
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