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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: 127 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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VE3TMT Rating: 5/5 Oct 29, 2018 14:10 Send this review to a friend
Still a classic  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Recently picked up another TS-850S. I believe this is my 6th one in my 28 years as a ham. That should tell you something. I was lucky enough to find a 51mil series at a very good price. It has the 2nd generation DDS chips, and no leaking caps, I checked. Did the sidetone mod, the NB mod and the BCB mod. It came with the 500Hz CW filter in the 455 IF, and I have the 500Hz and 270Hz filters on the way for the 8.83 IF. I forgot just how good these radios are. My first two contacts gave me glowing reports. I use a KOSS SB40 headset/mic directly into the mic jack on the front. It's getting hard to find these for sale with the updated DDS chips, look for radios with 40mil or higher serial numbers. This one will not be leaving the shack anytime soon. The previous radio was a TenTec Pegasus, which was a nice radio, but I grew tired of having to click the mouse so much to operate.
NY4D Rating: 5/5 Aug 7, 2016 09:21 Send this review to a friend
Great time to buy one  Time owned: more than 12 months
The recent sale prices on these rigs are suffering from the fear of bad caps and possible older dds chips that might fail. Might is the operative word, and if you know what you are doing or even just have a friend that does, it is a great time to buy one.

A quick visual exception will reveal if the rig might suffer from the bad caps and has the proper 66312 dds chips. Google will be your friend on this, I'm not going to repeat the info already online. Tool required for the inspection is a phillips screwdriver.

Put some Inrads in the filter slots and this baby shines. The Kenwood filters are pretty nice too. Heck I have one with no extra filters I use on digital modes. There's something magical about analog filters. The audio just plain sounds good transmit and receive.

IMO don't muck it up with the dsp-100 which is prohibitively expensive if you find one. If you want dsp an outboard audio unit will do just fine with this rig. I've used mine with Clearspeech, BHI, and Timewave units, they all did the job well.

The hand mic is nothing special but the audio will shine with an MC-60 or any Heil HC-5 mic.

This is one of the few rigs I've had that I can listen to the receive audio all day and never get tired of it.

Everything is pretty much at hand on the front panel with the exception of the vox controls, which unless you change mics, are set and forget.

The internal antenna tuner is one of the widest range ones you will find on any HF rig.

So if you just want a really competent rig for HF, a great rig you can actually just sit in front of and use, with some patience and research you might be able to buy a couple of these for the price of one mediocre new ricebox.
M0HDX Rating: 5/5 Dec 2, 2015 11:25 Send this review to a friend
Love Mine  Time owned: more than 12 months
I use my ts-850 on a daily basis and often compare it side by side with my yaesu ft-1000 mk5 and prefer the ts-850 receiver for pulling in the extremely weak signals,Transmitted audio is always good using the standard mc-43 fist microphone producing good clear punchy audio ideal for working dx.The ts-850 is simple to use with no complicated menus to navigate and they dont get much better than this.My ts-850 is one of the first production run models with a 200 serial number (88-89) so i recently had the electrolytic capacitors on the carrier oscillator board changed.The electrolytics leak their electrolyte, corroding the PCB and losing capacitance until the board eventually packs up so always worth checking if you have a early ts-850 for leakage.The early DDS chips were problematic and my board had them changed at some point.

The station manager might go but my ts-850 is here to stay.

jimmy M0HDX
SA3AYF Rating: 5/5 Sep 4, 2015 16:22 Send this review to a friend
Wow, beats many new DSP rigs  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought one of these for the equivalent of $350 of an OM as a cheap rig while being away from my home QTH for 1,5 years.

Now I still use this as my main radio, and have sold my IC-7000... I also use it as the exciter for my 2m transverter whit outstanding results !

All filters but on one was installed, and I have added the last CW-filter after purchase myself.

There is something very special about real analouge mechanical filtering that can not be reproduced by any DSP, IF or AF doesnīt matter.

The ones complaining about the NB may have overlooked the fact that there are 2 (!) NBīs available in the rig with different usages ?

The tuner is very fast and wnderfully quiet, compared to the noisy ATUīs with chattering relays in search of a matching fixed value.
This one is quiet, smooth and much wider than the standard "max 3:1" -tuner on modern rigs.

Servicing, well these radios were built with the intention of actually being possible to repair, should something go wrong.
I had to replace a cap on the CAR-board, which was a breeze compaired to servicing anything in my previous IC-7000 (which I had to do as well even tough it was 15 years younger) !

In short, this rig is awesome in itīs selectivity, filtering and audio. The passband shift and NB is working as it should, no menus and everything up-front.

If you can find one, its VERY much radio for no money at all.

And oh, if you are thinking about a remote station, this is a perfect choice !
W4BDX Rating: 5/5 Jun 17, 2015 11:44 Send this review to a friend
Dependable Rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
Had this rig for over 3 years now, purchased on ebay send out to Jankeelectronics for complete service. Haven't had any issues with it and is very dependable. The receive compared to other radios of its class in IMO is easyer to listen to with a soft mellow sound. The Tx with only 100 watts has enough punch to brake in any pile up considering that you have a good antenna backing it up. Many compliments from other stations had been given on its audio quality and signal reports. If I can hear it they can hear me every time. If you pick one up just ensure to ask if all known issues had been done, all of them are recorded on the web. If that is the case you will have great fun operating this station, very easy to operate and a pleasure to listen to all of this for an affordable price. They still sell for about $600 to $9-- based on their conditions and modifications. I recomend this radio as long as it has been recently serviced and all known issues taken care of! 73
KE4ZHN Rating: 4/5 Apr 26, 2015 10:37 Send this review to a friend
A solid rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
I had one of these with the DSP100. The transmit is excellent as with most Kenwood's. Mine was used when I got it and the display failed on it. I fixed it myself but it was a bit of a pain. Other than that the rig was trouble free. A good receiver but not great. Unless you option in some pricey filters this rig in stock form is pretty noisy and does not cope too well with adjacent frequency splatter. The notch filter worked fine but no auto notch. If you want a rig on a budget, finding one of these that hasn't been butchered is still a good find. However, they are getting long in the tooth now and are subject to capacitor issues and other things that come with age. Parts are tough to come by as well. One of the best rigs Kenwood ever made. I wish they still made rigs with the nice displays and ergonomics of these classics. The new all plastic rigs look and feel so cheesy. These rigs had a solid feel and look and were good performers in their day.
K5RWD Rating: 5/5 Apr 26, 2015 07:05 Send this review to a friend
Great but, receiver not so much.  Time owned: more than 12 months
I agree with most of the positive reviews of this rig, it is an outstanding performer on the transmit side of things. However, I will have to agree with the few reviewers who are at odds with the receiver. If you have never used a unit with decent receive, then you may not be able to understand the issue. Even with filters enabled, this radio (And the TS-450) are very noisy, and will start to fatigue you if you listen to long. I believe the rig to be just too aggressive on the receive side and it's just not quiet. The AIP helps some, but if you compare this rig to something like a Yaesu FT-101 or some of the old boat anchor receivers, you will hear a huge difference. I have done side by side comparisons with these other radios, and the difference if very noticeable. With that said, I will never let this unit go, with a few mods this radio is a top audio performer on transmit, probably the best you can get before you get into digital SDR and the like. Be careful with the older Serial number radios, the issues with some components in the radio are well documented, as the other reviewers have already stated.

M0ODV Rating: 5/5 Jan 27, 2015 13:45 Send this review to a friend
Still going strong  Time owned: more than 12 months
Radio looks nice cosmetically as all kenwoods of the 80s & 90s,not sure how old mine is but serial number begins 307000.
I have done a few mods (Noise Blanker-IF flat response-DRU-secret menu TX filter) etc.
TX mod prone to Double Side Band without the $600 DSP100?. solved..
Watching on a spectrum scope and a second receiver i widened the TX&RX bandwidth without double side-banding using the Power up+scan m/ch tx- set 01 to on and set TX filters to 8.83-2.7 & 455-6k CLEAR/exit.mod.
Next power-up & F.Lock you see flashing 00 dont touch anything the door hatch on top of the radio re-calibrate carriers VR501 LSB. VR502 USB & using VR503 to balance USB & LSB (you can hear the change in pitch) while TXing and listening on a receiver 2khz above your transmitted signal you can hear the point you just about to DSB,CLR/exit.Done!.
Repeat these steps again until you hear you have the desired effect.
Fine tuning and a good ear is required.
Using a flat frequency response moving coil microphone not a ECM high boost on and proc @ 10db on ive had some fantastic audio reports.
Note external audio processing you connect the audio thru the 8-pin mic not the rear ACC2.
I use the Breakaway broadcast processor software not actual hardware just to save another $600.
Make of this what you will..Tnx GL 73
WU1Z Rating: 5/5 Jan 5, 2015 11:20 Send this review to a friend
850-S REVISITED  Time owned: more than 12 months
I am now in the 22nd year of ownership of my Kenwood 850-s. Still love this radio although I have added two other rigs to my station as well. Over the years I have done some of the usual things, such as replace leaky capacitors and a couple of years back I had a few others replaced that were known trouble areas. I also had the lithium battery replaced again as a precaution. The real wild card with these radio's is the DDS chIps which are hard to find. Hopefully someone will come through with a board someday to take care of that issue. I run mine with a Ten Tec antenna tuner even though mine has the built in one. I really enjoy the receiver on it. I have the Ten Tec Regal microphone hooked up to it as well. It is a good match for it and I get good audio reports. I am hoping to keep the 850-s on the air. Very pleased.
M0AYO Rating: 5/5 Dec 3, 2014 12:57 Send this review to a friend
Still Standing  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought the Kenwood TS-850SAT second hand in 1997 for Ģ750 from a radio ham.At the time I had just passed my morse test and got access to HF.I still own it now.In Sept 2014 I noticed my A.L.C was not working well and some of the control buttons where sticking.I felt that the rig needed a service(which I could not do myself),but oh man I found it so hard to part with my long term "friend" (sorry) anyways sent it to castle electronics in Wales,and Geoff replaced the "DC to DC board,fitted capacitors to replace old and leaky ones,and also fitted new internal lithium battery,cleaned switches etc.Now she works as good as new, again! Many times I was tempted to buy a newer Kenwood,but so glad I did not! She may not have all the "Bells and Whistles" DSP etc, of more modern rigs,but there's something special about the Kenwood TS 850SAT that other rigs don't have. Simply *QUALITY*The ATU is A1. if you see a well cared for one up for sale,grab it! 18 years a great workhorse! 73s Howard M0AYO
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