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Reviews For: Kenwood TS-990S

Category: Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W

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Review Summary For : Kenwood TS-990S
Reviews: 104MSRP: 7999
Kenwood FLAGSHIP TS-990S has arrived. Kenwoods sets a new preformance and operating standard for the ultimate Amateur Transceiver. Advanced KENWOOD technologies deliver a Top-End receive and transmitt experience on Amateur Bands 160 Mtr to 6 Mtrs. Kenwood proudly adds the 990S to its trendsetting TS series!
Product is in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
IZ1OSP Rating: 2019-06-08
GREAT RADIO! Time Owned: more than 12 months.

After having owned several Icom IC 7700, Ten Tec Orion transceivers, etc. I can say that the 990 is a splendid radio, excellent sensitivity, simple and intuitive interface that allows a myriad of settings. I have been able to use it in international contests like the IARU and the CQ WW and I must say that it is really performing. I recommend the installation of the optional 2400 roofing filter produced by IK8TNG which helps to eliminate adjacent signals. The radio works very well in TX as well as in Tradizione Kenwood, I use it with the Heil PR 781 microphone and with W2IHY's EQ PLUS and the sound is wonderful. With the latest update 1.23 the parent company has added a lot of new features and solved small operating problems. I strongly recommend the purchase even considering the price in the used market today. It is a very complete and performing transceiver and to those who complain about the metallic sound of the DSP I remember that it is a machine born for the Contest, it is only a matter of accustoming the right ear, radios with more round and muffled DSPs don't always allow you to get the weak signal.
73 'de Fabio
W3ULS Rating: 2019-02-01
Awesome Firmware Update Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Kenwood has just released a major, comprehensive firmware update for its flagship rig.

Among new features, the CW encode/decode feature stands out. Also some neat options have been added to the band scope's functions, which already were pretty impressive.

With regard to the band scope, my impression is Kenwood's software engineers have worked to bring the TS-990S' band scope functions in line with the newer TS-890S. The latter have been the subject of a rave review by Rob Sherwood (KC0B), who says the TS-890S' band scope in S&P contest mode bests the new Icom IC-7610 "hands down." High praise indeed.

Back in June 2015, I wrote an initial review of the TS-990S saying it was an excellent rig but I didn't lie the ergonomics or the manual.

Well, I've come to use the radio a lot so the ergonomics are no longer an issue. As to the manual, the Kenwood web site no longer offers the original manual as a download; it appears a brand-new version will be forthcoming.

All in all, the updated 990S is a gas, as we used to say.

Earlier 4-star review posted by W3ULS on 2015-06-02

In this initial review, I give the TS-990S a "4" instead of a "5" rating strictly for non-electronic reasons (see below). As an amateur radio transceiver, it rates a "5."

I have not found my FTdx5000's receiver to be superior in any respects--sensitivity, selectivity, or NR functioning. This surprised me, because the 5000 was the best I've owned (until I purchased a TS-990S). The 990S was at least the equal, and sometimes better, in dealing with various levels of signals (CW only) and noise. Icing on the cake is the performance of the band scope, which, as has been pointed out, clearly shows close-spaced signals of varying magnitude. I've never had the experience of watching CW signals on a scope in a contest as I did with the CQ WPX contest over the weekend as the crowded 20 meter band's contest stations were sharply defined. A revelation. In comparison, the FTdx5000's monitor is primitive.

So why the "4"? Well, first it's the front panel layout, ergonomically challenging to this op. Whoever said the IC-7800 (or even the FTdx5000) is better in this regard is correct--by a mile. Second, the manual, even updated as it has been, is a linguistic mess--grammatical mistakes, misspellings, and overall poorly organized. I can't believe anyone in authority at Kenwood Japan is an English speaker, for this manual would not exist if there were.

Icom, on the other hand, has just released a significant firmware update for its venerable IC-7600. The release includes a substantially revised manual, which is excellent in every respect. Kenwood needs to second a couple of Icom's manual writers to revise the TS-990S' manual. It is not now in the big leagues, whereas its new transceiver is.
LU7BSE Rating: 2018-10-25
Awesome, the quality of Kenwood Time Owned: more than 12 months.

The quality of Kenwood above all !, It is a heavy radio and it has everything that has to have a top range of these characteristics, quality in RX the best audio of any equipment, AWESOME TX !!! For the audio process ESSB through the OPTICAL input No noise or impedance adapters, Far the best equipment I had in my table, here there are no mysteries if you like the real DX there is no other like it.
If you like to be told "what impressive audio is broadcasting" !!!! This is the radio.
Thanks Kenwood for making RADIOS of Truth and not Toys for children!
KJ4KBC Rating: 2018-09-14
A great Radio for the Kenwood lover! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have owned two of these. I traded the first one for an FTdx-9000 PEP with SP9000 speaker, extra receiver, all u-tune modules and built in scope. After a period of trying to convince myself I made the deal of a lifetime I got serious with myself and realized I had made a terrible mistake. I Sold it to a Ham in the Philippines. A person likes what they like. For me, even with a few short-comings, I like Kenwood Rigs. I have no instruments like Rob Sherwood at my shack to measure percentages of differences that only they can see. Neither do I care. I care about what my ears hear and the enjoyment of pushing buttons and twisting knobs. As I have replaced my first TS-990 with a new one going on about two years, the magic is back. SDR's are the next faze. Before long the antenna connection will weigh more than a new rig. The TS990 is not for everyone. But to those that like quality without that cheap feeling and full bodied Kenwood Audio you won't go wrong. I can find no faults with it! 73's

Earlier 5-star review posted by KJ4KBC on 2016-02-24

Okay here's the scoop. This is my second TS-990. What happened to the first you ask? Well, After using several boat anchor's along with each ones pluses and minus's, The 990 intimidated me I guess! I have several older rig's set up through a switching network that I was familiar with and comfortable with their shortcomings. The 990 is massive and has around 100 buttons and several knobs. The operation manual is "Huge". My stubborn nature kept me glancing through the operation manual and not truly seeing the beauty of how everything worked,and worked well. I sold the first one. What a mistake! I then tried a fully loaded 9000! Great rig but not in the same league as the 990. Mr. Sherwood has the 990 in the top tier of his receiver tests, but his grading manly covers one area. The 990 does well in that area, and as well or better than the rest in others. I've also found that my "ears" are not as sensitive as his testing equipment. It's not just one thing it does well. It's everything! The menus are easy to use and setting something to "your" taste can be accomplished in lightning fast time. The new and the old mixed together to create a wonderful rig that you can actually play with. I've looked at Flex and some of the other SDR's. To me they are about as exciting as my PC or cell phone. I feel for me to be a ham, I need some nostalgia to keep the hobby interesting and "Point and click" leaves little to be desired. The 990 works, and it works well! You'll miss no more opportunity to work stations with it than an SDR and you'll have fun while your at it! Regret's? None. I have my second and last one now and I won't let it leave. One last thing. I've seen some posts that claim they can't hook up an external Monitor. I don't know where they get that. I have one hooked up to mine and it works perfectly. Great waterfall, Sharp signal peaks and very good contrast. I suggest a middle of the road HP monitor and the adapter for the PC plug that mates to the 990.(can be had for about 10 dollars from the crap shack or Mouser). 73's
M0NGO Rating: 2018-08-03
For the eye, not the ear Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have owned the TS990S for five years. In those five years I have switched on the radio less and less. Prior to the TS990, I owned a Yaesu FTDX5000 and I really enjoyed that radio, which produced a very listenable tone and had the best DSP for my ears, but traded it in to have 'the best' Kenwood on the market.

The TS990 has all the functionality a radio operator 'needs' and more. It's not that complicated to use once you have spent some time with it, but in the five years I have always found the audio to be harsh on the ear. I persevered with tried different settings, but always there is a harshness to the audio which made operating tiring. In addition, the noise reduction was not a patch on the Yaesu noise reduction.

In time, I stopped using the 990. So I decided to let the TS990 go and I am returning back to the fuller and quieter audio of the FTDX5000 and enjoy looking for the signals with my ears!
N4DCD Rating: 2018-05-06
Great radio Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I have had two of these radios and they perform great! Nice big radio, impressive to look at, ergonomically easy to use and a great performer both in TX and RX. All I can say is, things like the Sherwood review does not tell the entire story. As a guide yes, but do not take the details of the list as gospel. You can bet that the reviews are not random.
K2AGZ Rating: 2018-02-13
Overkill for the average ham Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Had to try this rig, one week after I had it realized it was way more than I needed. For most hams this radio is overkill, for the price I did not feel it was warranted. On the plus side it is not that intimidating to operate and the versatility is amazing if you need it. For me the receiver was not noticeable better than my Orion II or even my 590SG. But I am not into contests and I am sure that it would shine there. My advice is to make sure you need the bells and whistles before you spend, I sold and was able to buy two radios to replace it!
KB6HRT Rating: 2018-01-07
UPDATE again TS990s Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Have used this radio for 2 1/2 years. am still very happy with it, WHY, I just do SSB 10m 17m 20m 40m 75m & 160m mostly the last lower 3 bands, using 200w or less, but do use a ACOM 1500 on 160m in the mornings, always seem to get me through to other stations. Use a cheap $45 condenser mike brough off of eBay, its small enough to set by the radio on the night stand, just use the radio's speaker, that works for me, sometimes I use headphones when there's QRN, but don't have to if I don't want to. Have owned lots of radios, before the TS990s. A TS590sg, TS590s, A Yaesu FT9000D (3) FT5000s a FT3000D a FT1200 an (3) FT950 an some ICOM radios the IC7600 a IC756PRO3 a ICOM 756PRO and (2) FT920 a Kenwood 430 all these radios served me well an liked them all. Liked the TS590s
an the Yeasu FT5000s best, behind the TS990s because I kept them longest, also liked liked the FT9000D a great deal, but sold it
because of a back problem, could not sit in a chair for over 3+ months, did not know If I would ever be able to again, an that radio was a lots of GREEN STAMPS so I sold it but a great radio no less in its own right. Can tune the TS990s with my 6 wire antennas I use to hear any station great the radio will hear well most anytime, weather the band is in or out. This time of year in AZ is a very good time for long shot DX on 40-80-160m with TS990S, you never know for sure but hope this radio is in my shack for many more years. Am Very HAPPY.......kb6hrt
M0VPL Rating: 2018-01-07
Fantastic! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
After having this radio some 6 months I can compare only to what i have had before it, IC-7800mk2 IC-7700 Kenwood 950 FT-2000 IC-pro3 and more. this is one outstanding transceiver, but as with all things and radio's of the modern age you have to learn to drive it first, read than manual then read it again. this can do many things to make your use of the TS-990s much more enjoyable if you know how to use it. The layout was strange coming from the well layed out front panel of the IC-7800mk2 but after the initial getting used to it phase i now like the layout. everything is at hand and you can tailor the filters to suit your needs. the audio from it is outstanding, Kenwood quality like rigs of old. this is my best radio experience by far and i cant see the IC-7851 being twice the price better. well done Kenwood you have a very good radio in the TS-990s
M0KZX Rating: 2017-12-16
Stunning radio that offers great value Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I've had my 990 approximately 6 months now and have only been extremely impressed with its ease of use and performance.
I could spend pages and pages describing how amazing the receivers and filtering are. I could yak on bout the performance of the dsp/dnr, and I could tell you that the transmit audio is spot on.

Although not a cheap radio when you weigh up the performance V cost compared to other radios it offers very good value. I spent a long time looking at radios in this price bracket and quickly found the Kenwood wins hands down.