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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
G0MGX Rating: 2013-10-20
Excellent and well thought out Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I've had my 990 a few months now and I am extremely pleased with the rig. I traded a FT5000-DX for this radio and am delighted with the differences. I suspect the receiver performance is on a par - the DX-5000 needed the 300Hz roofing filter for CW and RTTY contest conditions, the 990 has the narrow roofing filter as stock and they perform equally as well.

The differences for me are firstly in the band-scope - the Yaesu SM5000 is next to useless, the bandscope on the 990 is simply amazing. It's very responsive and reflects a true near real time image of the band segment you are looking at. You can see gaps in pile-ups and can also see where a DX station is working. It simplifies pile up busting and DX working - my log is testament to that!

Secondly, the filter configurations three banks of filters per mode plus two sets of radio configurations. The filter selections and configuration are all done graphically and it makes understanding the settings and differences easier to interpret.

Thirdly the ability to upgrade firmware without any complex process as per previously owned radios. On the kenwood you download the software, copy to a memory stick and plug it in. The radio does the rest. You can also store your entire radio configuration to the memory stick and capture the screen contents as images.

Finally for me it's the ergonomics - Kenwood have a very well thought out product - all the buttons are there and in a place that makes sense.

I've just had two days in an RTTY contest and the radio has excelled. My recent ability to work CW DX through pile ups has been excellent.

If you are wondering if you should get one - I would recommend the radio highly.

N9LBW Rating: 2013-08-19
Excellent Transceiver Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I like big radios with knobs on the front for the most used features and the less used features hidden in the menu. I have had most of the high end radios and the TS-990 matches up with the best of them. I was glad to see Kenwood step up to the plate.
ON4VP Rating: 2013-08-19
Gets even better after few months Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I got my TS-990 end of march. I now own it for about 5 months. After the initial exploring and testing I became impressed with the tonnes of features that were introduced. Referring to my first review I still stand behind those findings.

I must say I never looked back to the IC-7700 and never missed it after working with the new TS-990.
to me this is the better rig. Period.

But what added the most to my admiration for this radio is the way how some things are designed to work. For example the software to operate the 990 remote is a not complex to setup and you get all software for free.

Working split or in conjunction with the second receiver, is another example where this radio shines.

The flexibility to adjust and set filters, audio filters, dsp settings for both TX and RX paths, equalizer, etc. All are great to explore. It's only after I found myself working trough them I came to love the way the receiver performs.

I don't think the TS-990 has set new benchmarks regarding receiver performance but it's the way the radio is designed and lets it operate that I took my radio experience to the next level.

The TS-990 does not comes cheap but It is a high end radio that costs less than Icom's flagships. It positions itself nicely between most of all brand flagships.

I know that after 5 months I still need to explore more but after every qso I make, I find myself adapting more enjoying the radio more and more. I'll rate it super 5.
W9LP Rating: 2013-07-27
Going Strong! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Following up on my earlier installment:

Updated to Firmware V1.03... process was simple and flawless. I concur with prior review comments... QSK noise issue is no more... very nice fix.

I now have my TS-990S fully integrated with Logger32, SteppIR beam, KPA500 and Alpha 9500 amps and all functions are working reliably.

I've not yet ventured into the digital modes but phone and CW operation is a pleasure with this rig. Couldn't be happier!

PA3HGT Rating: 2013-07-27
Worthy successor of the TS950SDX Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
First i begin with that the TS990 "is not the best rig i ever owned",each transceiver has his own advantages and disadvantages.
I owned before several highend transceivers like the IC7800,7700 , highend transceivers from the 90's like the TS950SDX,IC781,FT1000's and tried the FT9K,K3 and the FT5K.
I do not buy radio's according the Sherwenglist like soms amateurs do because i think that the differences are mostly marginal.
When I buy a radio,i have a click with it , that the most important thing.My very most favourite rig is the Ft1000D which i still have.

I had 2 Kenwood TS950 's and i liked them very much but they getting old,so a successor was welcome like the TS990.

First of all the ergonomics are not as good like the IC7800/7700 but after a short time you will used to operate the TS990.
Knobs are feeling not cheap and the main VFO is feeling very nice to tune,in short terms : "heavy but very light to tune" , outstanding.
Even the small sub-VFO is a joy to operate.
I miss the possibility to configure the colours on the spectrumscope like the background or waveforms, that's says enough.
The menu has a very good structure because you have a lot of possibilities,you don't need the manual !
I work with 2 SP990 speakers and it's a very good combimation,a beautiful sound with the TS990 .

RX on the TS990 is very good and quite,no hiss,good selectivity on the low bands and a very good sensitivity on the high bands.
With some transceivers you will get tired after a few hours but not with this one.
Operating stations besides freqeuncy are very good to eliminate with the outstanding filters,better than the IC7800.
Automatic notch is not the impressive Icom auto-notch when it's in the default trackingspeed,increase it and you will have a outstanding auto-notch.
Manual notch is very nice to operate,you get a indicator to show you where the manual notch is operating,you have more possibilities to use the notch, a big plus.
The function "tracking" is a very nice one,this equalize the freqeuncy on the main and sub to compare such as antenná's.
When you use the tracking-function and you will switch to another band,it turned itself off,my preference should be that the tracking is on untill the user switch it off.
Noisereduction needs a little help,it's a little difficult to adjust and deforms in the beginning too much.When you adjust it,it comes suddenly in.
A improvement in the low range of the NR is desired,the overall performance is good.
Pre-sel function is working very good, the pre-sel is on the IC7800 the digi-sel.The preselection is taking now more "steps" within the bands.
Works better than the IC7800 and is very handy to use on the low bands,this is a very nice piece of engineering of Kenwood.
The touchscreen to change freqeuncy is a nice to have thing and can be very handy to change quick freqeuncy in range of the spectrumscope.
Noise-blanker seems to work but i often don't need it because i operate in a quite aeria.

TX on the TS990 is also very nice.
There are a lot of possibilities on the TS990 but i miss a direct acces-key to the voicekeyer instead you have to push a bit more buttons.
You can program on the TS990 a voice-key channel but not the voice-key menu (PF-key).
Kenwood says that you can make a external entry but IMHO that makes a high-end transceiver not complete and almost not a DX-transceiver.
I do not like too many boxes around my transceiver like this or equipment to set TX-audio.
You can tweak the TX-audio for your own taste , a very good equalizer is availible on the TS990 and works outstanding.
The ALC-problem on the TS590, is disappeared in the TS990,a checked this before i decided to buy this radio.
I use the Acom 2000a with the TS990 and after a short time configure in the menu and go...The remote is the same like the TS950SDX so no resoldering needed.
My qeustion is if the TS990 can be suitable for HIFI-SSB which i had with TS950SDX with the power-on mod to gain 5-6 Kc operation.
If the hardware is suitable for such operation,maybe in the advanced menu can be choosen in normal or HIFI operation with a firmware update.

It's seems that i am very critic but when the price is rising for a transceiver, i rise the bar for it.
The ideal transceiver don't exist and every transceiver has his own shortcomings and big plusses.
The big plus for the TS990 is that the price is very good with capabilities/good quality of this transveiver.
Reviews with a short experience like a few hours or days can be ignored,this beautiful transceiver needs a lot more attention to make a relaible review.
I do not understand that reviews with experience in a local shop or a evening with a buddy can be placed on Eham,either there are good or bad reviews.

When you have the money to buy such transceiver : do it.
I have on my website a lot of photo's of this high-end transceiver : (written in dutch,google-translate availible)

Kenwood TS990 Fw 1.03

VA3AVT Rating: 2013-07-22
Not worth the hay!! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Okay, so I went to my local ham shop to have a look and to play with the new 990 before I buy. Well all I can tell you is that I’m disappointed in Kenwood..Not exactly what I would call the dream machine!! It lacks almost every where. And those who bought one with out trying it out know this.. Filtering is NO better then my ts 2000 or my 870. My 870 In my opinion has way better filtering then the 990. $8000 for this radio what a rip. I would pay $4000 tops for this rig. I’m a die hard Kenwood fan. I would pay 4g’s for it. But $8000.. You can for get it Kenwood not a chance!!
If you like digital mode then this rig rock’s but for phone lacks big time.. I here a few of them on the air and some have them set up really nice and sounding good.
If Kenwood would have came out with this 990 at $4000 price range I would have parked one in my shack. And just like the 950 series, you know that KW is going to come out with a few versions of this rig.. Also we all know that the 990 will have an IF out next time around. .lol still lov ya KW even though it will take a few versions to get it right..

PY2OY Rating: 2013-07-15
Way beyond my expectations Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Since the very good and old days from Kenwwod I was totally away from this brand.
I tried to get closer with the TS-480, and more recently with the TS-590.
But, plainly speaking, no radio could beat my Icom IC-7800, exception made to the Hilberling PT-8000A.
But this is another story, once it is almost handcrafted, because It´s like a Ferrari custom made - and I srongly recomend it!
So I tried once more to get my new (and last) experience with Kenwood.
What a radio!!
I´ve been working so far in SSB, but the performance is flawless.
If not beats in performance, is realy a simillar one comparing to the IC-7800 and superior to the FTDX-5000
Superb ergonomics.
Very clever menus and efficient filters (RX and TX).
My next move will be in the digital modes, that, in my opinion is the true new portal that Kenwood gave to us, once everything is native in this radio.
A "home-run", or as we say in Brazil, a "monumental goal".
G0WTZ Rating: 2013-06-12
Top Class radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have the luxury of reasonable antennas (Rare in the UK)
I have the following radios lined up

So I have a good cross section
Antennas are Hexbeam,G5RV Plus (Full size) Cushcraft R-6000

I have had the radio for a month now and I have to say recovered audio is stunning. My favourite band is 17m and I am constantly working stations at S-2 and S-3 with no strain on the ears.

When listening to CW the audio is clean and uncompressed even on narrow settings and I have to say it is the only radio I am using at the moment and I think it will stay that way.
Sometimes it is not about the lowest figures it is about ease of use and quality of contacts and this radio for me is winning hands down.

Come visit me to see what you think
YG3BQR Rating: 2013-05-31
A beautiful and excellent transceiver Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I own and operate TS-990 for almost one month now.
Approx one year waiting time, since the first news of it before Dayton 2012 is paid - with facts that it is a beautiful and excellent transceiver. Very fine built as other Kenwood transceivers.
Many knobs and buttons, but they are well located and with essential function. Other menus are accessed thru soft menu. How to handle is similar to TS-590 which I also have.
On air, I always got great audio report from other stations - especially - I am the first owner of TS-990 in Indonesia. I use Shure SM-58 microphone with HB1 setting on TXEQ without any audio processing. TX bandwidth of 4kHz is enough for good audio in SSB. Even I believe that Kenwood should able to increase it to 5kHz, same as RX bandwidth.
I can not compare this rig to other top rigs from Icom and Yaesu, but to me - this will the best at least until few years to go.

Power supply of TS-990 work well on wide voltage range from 90-264 VAC. Mine is with 120 VAC label (due to K version), but I plug it to 230 VAC without any problem.

Warm regards from Surabaya,
Teddy YG3BQR

WA9BZW Rating: 2013-05-29
Worth Waiting For Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
After waiting almost two years for the TS-990S to arrive I have now had mine for a week. I have had a chance to put it through a lot of the tests and it definitely lives up to expectations and then some. I have been able to receive signals I know could not be heard with some of my other rigs (I actually compared) Through my many years as an amateur I have owned many new (and boat anchor) rigs, and nothing comes close to the TS-990S. I am using the Heil Gold Line mic on it and get fabulous reports using a dipole or vertical, as I don't have ability to have a beam. At Dayton Kenwood was extremely helpful in getting me up and running and offering support. The yahoo TS-990S group is really helpful when it sticks with operation of the radio and not all the unnecessary chatter from those who don't even own one. Hope to report more later.