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Reviews For: Kenwood R599/T599

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

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Review Summary For : Kenwood R599/T599
Reviews: 18MSRP: 479/459 (1974)
HF Transmitter/Receiver Combination
Product is not in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
NB9M Rating: 2016-10-29
Keepers - will tell you why! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I finally found a beautiful, one-owner, near-perfect complete R-599D/T-599D with the matching speaker to replace a set I unfortunately sold years ago. The only flaw was one of the plastic lid pins was broken by a prospective buy (who ultimately balked at the asking price.) I didn't balk; I bought them.

The receiver is nearly every bid as good as any receiver I've ever had, including my favorite: the Drake R-4B. If it only had passband tuning and notch functionality, it would be as good as the Drake. VFOS are truly silky-smooth, with distinctive heavy, machined knobs.

The transmitter is stable and a real sleeper in the AM mode. The fan is quiet. A Shure 444 mic appears to work the best, and the 444D variant looks great with them.

The looks of the twins are amazing; they're positively gorgeous when fired up for duty.

The overall impression is that the D-series are very high-end for the amateur radio market. If you are a vintage collector, grab a fine example and don't let go.
EA1XF Rating: 2014-02-06
Nice vintage radios Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have a pair of these vintage radios in like new condition and I am very pleased with them. Having their service manuals, I decide to send them through a complete alignment two years ago. Now they are back to the originally specifications and working flawlessly. The feel on both VFO´s, which are quite heavy, is so smooth that still surprises me everytime I use them, and the sensation you get when switching bands or using any of the other buttons or switches will let you know how precise they are and silky. The receiver has the optional 2m and 6m converters installed. Some of its functions like the Noise blanker is very effective, although it is not an adjustable one, there is no need to be so.
As far as the transmitter, it gives full output from the S2001 tubes, and very smooth and lineal output when tuning up. The little smitter is just used for tuning up and to check voltages, doing its job very well. When giving the signal report to the station at the other end, you have to remember to look at the receiver´s smitter, not to the transmitter´s, which I do most of the times, hi, hi. I get very good audio reports and after the normal period of warming up time, they are very stable.
It is amazing how well they perform being a technology from the seventies. The matching speaker is a must as the receiver does not include an internal speaker. Their faces are just a piece of art, with a beautiful finish and colour, that´s why I like them so much, including their size which makes them easy to accommodate in any shack. If you want to see a few nice pictures of them, just look me up at QRZ. Last January they became 39 years old and I am sure they will last another 39, if no more, as there are no problems to get parts if needed as most components are available.

73, Carlos
E78CB Rating: 2011-02-10
Clasic State of the Art Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I wonder how will FT-1000 or TS-2000 class units look after 36 years of hard work?!
When I bought these Twins they were 32 years old, but I used them successfully for DX-ing for next 4 years up till 2009. The unit was in good shape and I just continued regular maintenance, nothing special to do (tubes, mechanic oiling etc). Except some minor ware-offs no crucial functions were to take special care. Although I have to admit it had temporary problem with some contact issues because of many years of use left behind, it actually performed very well for its years (36).
Until last day of use I received only compliments for CW signal quality and used this unit regularly for SSB and even RTTY and PSK it took very well AFSK even if it was made before PC time era! This was my first rig so emotional bound is not the question here, but I still search for this ideal background noise color on modern and every new unit as R-599S has with 500kHz CW filter and it is hard to find, believe me! RX sensitivity was ahead of its time, and still today it works more-less the same, although some of today's "basic" whistles would be useful..
I sold it to buy TS-430S which looks like nice small unit to work for next few years ;-)

For all lovers of classic quality radio-units, I recommend it! Still has some power to give!
W3RXO Rating: 2008-04-26
Only one drawback, otherwise, SUPERB!! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Way back when, around 1990, when I first got my novice ticket, I rescued a pair, from a CB'er, who had fairly well abused them. Not real badly, but if it was being used by a CB'er, on 11 meters, you can bet they weren't well cared for.
Immediately, upon buying them, I took them to Kenwood, (at that time located in Cerritos, CA, not a big drive for me) and told Kenwood to "Put 'em back in perfect operating condition”. $200 later, they were a perfect pair. Operation was smooth and silky. Receive sensitivity and selectivity, were outstanding, and they operated every bit as well as my Drake "B" Twins (maybe even better-but let’s keep that a secret between you and I, as I am very prejudiced in favor of the Drakes, over ANY modern Japanese radio). But, my Kenwood Twins were rivals of the Drakes. I ran both sets of Twins, (Drake and Kenwood) for a few years, as my novice stations, until I lost interest in amateur radio, and sold both pairs, 13 or 14 years ago.
A bit more than a year ago, I got the bug again, BIG TIME, and once I attained my general class ticket, the first two rigs I sought out, were the Kenwoods and the Drakes. Luckily, I found a good pair of Drakes, right away, but it took until a couple of weeks ago, to find my second pair of Twins.
I again "rescued" this pair of "Kenwood Twins", from an unknown fate, as they were being sold by pawnbroker, on eBay. This pair was obviously from a smoking environment, and not well cared for. Then again, the fact that they were being sold on eBay, by a pawnbroker, is clue enough to their care and upkeep, prior to sale.
I got them for what I considered a very good (overall) price, (receiver was overpriced, but the transmitter, I got for such a good price that it made the deal, for the two, very worthwhile, for me), and I must say, the pawnbroker who sold them, was a real stand-up fellow, and I would happily buy from him again.
Lo, and behold, the operation on them is pretty darned good, all things considered. But, I will send them either to Kenwood, or Jeff Covelli, for a good alignment, and cleaning.
I now have begun a collection of “Twins” radios, and again have both a set of 599’s and a pair of Drake B’s, to go with my Heathkit “BIG” Twins, HX-10 and RX-1. I guess I need a Collins “S” Line and the Yaesu 101 Twins, to complete the set. But, I sure am happy with what I have, in the Kenwoods. I’d like a set of 599D’s, and Drake C’s to go with the older pairs.
I look forward to my latest pair of Kenwood Twins, to be every bit as good as the first.
In my opinion, the only drawback is the missing bands. I presume the WARC bands could be crystalled up in them, but it is not readily capable of conversion for "Top Band". I new there was some reason to prefer the Drakes. All, in all, though, if you have the opportunity to buy a set of 599's, get them, once working properly, they will win your heart, and become one of your favorite rigs.
N4CR Rating: 2007-03-19
Sweet and Nostalgic Time Owned: more than 12 months.
These are a wonderful vintage radio set! I have owned the T-599D, R-599D and S-599, with all the orginal cables and all matching colors for a couple of years now.

I had time to go completely through them on a bench in the last month or so. Amazingly, the receiver was still very much in tune. I barely had to change anything to get it back on peak.

The transmitter failed during a tuneup session about a year ago. It had blown a fuse and even though I replaced the fuse and it didn't blow again, it would not transmit. The problem was traced to the FET that drives the 12BY7 tube. Once that was replaced I put in a new set of all three tubes, neutralized the 6146B's and it's back working just great. I fired them up last night and my first contact was a nice DX opportunity OE6MBG in Austria on 75 meters. It's clear that they are working just fine again.

I love the feel of the old VFO's and both of them are silky smooth as the day they were made. The frequency is stable and I don't find either VFO to be drifty after warmup. The big speaker sounds wonderful. The receiver comes with a nice compliment of filters: .5, 2.5, 5.0 and 25 khz. The finish of the front panels and knobs is first class, far from the cheap plastic parts todays rigs are built from. This is ham radio design and manufacturing at it's finest. These are Cadillac rigs.

Sending CW from these rigs is a real pleasure. Nice smooth transmitting from my J-38 plugged into the back of the transmitter.

If there's a con to these rigs it would be that the transmitter is only capable of transmitting on 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10. But I have a DC to Daylight rig for the other bands, most of which were not in service when this radio set was built.

If you can get a set of these in working order, grab them. If you like nostalgic ham rigs, this radio set is one of the all time greats with the superb Kenwood audio and tube output that is very forgiving on antenna match and truly puts out a full 100 watts without straining.
K6WHP Rating: 2006-11-07
Landmark Equipment Time Owned: more than 12 months.
These were *the* landmark rigs, in my opinion ~~ the first of a series of pretty remarkable radios from Japan and the brushed faces were just plain sexy!

My "5" rating, however, is primarily from nostalgia; like many other reviewers, the twins were my station when I got back into ham radio in the 70s. My receiver and transmitter were mismatches, however. My dad bought a pair of R-599s from Walt Henry in Anaheim and gave me one in 1973 as an incentive to get my ticket back. When I got my second novice license, I visited Walt's brother's store in West L.A. and matched it up with a used T-599. They served me well in the two years and for the first year or so I after I upgraded. By then, however, they were both traded in on a TS-520S, and so on, and so on..

..but my dad had a fit of TMR (too many radios) in the late 80s and gave me the other R-599; it now sits in my shack as a "spotting receiver" and I am astounded by its sensitivity and robust sound. Sometimes it kicks the crap out of my K-2!Also, as another reviewer pointed out, having the bevy of filters available in addition to FM and other features is a nice touch. I was thinking about building a digital display for it as well as a converter for the 60-meter (and other) bands. Should make one hell of an SWL receiver.

HS0ZED Rating: 2006-10-08
Super seperates Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
A few months ago whilst back in the UK I was visiting a friend who regularly buys interesting rigs. In showing me his 'stock' he opened a door and inside the room amongst various other items were a pair of 'twins, when he said they were available we did the deal. I'm a seperates fan and enjoy older radios of all kinds. These two looked so good I knew they had to come home with me. They came pretty much complete, the receiver with its original manual and packing, the transmitter with what looks like a copy of the manual. Interconnecting cable included but no speaker. The two radios were boxed carefully and made the journey to Thailand safely. Once back home I was able to fire them up and put them on the air with very little work.

Having used them for a while now I have a few comments that might be helpful for anybody else considering such radios.

Likes: Tuning, sooooo smooth, transceive, split and reverse, makes working spilt operations easier than with my S line. All filters fitted, all modes on receive, great transmit audio, with a good microphone.

Question marks: Rubber drive belts, I know these were changed to chains on the later radios but I really do need to replace the three in my transmitter, where can they be found I wonder? Mic and Car inside the transmitter, again I know these got moved on later radios and have seen a modified early transmitter, wondering if I should drill the front panel of mine? Receiver performance, generally good but I suffer with a lot of overload and breakthrough. I live in an area with a large number of high power broadcast stations nearby and they definitely cause problems with the FET front end. It is far too sensitive but the 20dB attenuator is too severe. I have the gain as low as possible and an external broadcast band filter and a 6dB pad which do make it a reasonable radio now though no great shakes I'd say. Again thinking of modifying the attenuator to be maybe 6/12/18 dB and routing the RF gain to the front panel in place of the squelch control. There is no noise blanker, just a noise limiter on AM only.

All in all they are a super pair of radios, just so nice to use and they work well enough to keep me interested and thinking about improvements. I'm really enjoying them.

Martin, HS0ZED
KB3MTV Rating: 2006-03-05
One of the best! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This rig has been in the house for years (was bought in 1986) and when I became a ham last year they were my first rig. The rig was the 599A model. The receiver (R-599A) is defentially one of the best, perfect for weak DX work. The Transmitter (T-599A) on the other hand is great as well, but over time, mine devloped minor problems such as the carrier control getting stuck etc.. But these problems were so minor, my uncle was able to fix them for me at his house in a couple of hours. So they are really amazing rig's and if you ever come across one at a ham fest or on ebay and you have some extra room, get them! They will sereve you for years to come
WW6J Rating: 2003-08-20
Fun Rig Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This was my first setup when I was a novice. I love the look of the rigs. Be sure that you get the cable that connects them as it makes tranceive possible. Had the speaker too. Sure mage an impressive novice station. Kept them till I upgraded to advanced and a ts820.
NE0P Rating: 2003-07-10
Great classic pair Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I ran a set of the 599 twins from 1986 to 1995, and loved them. First off, they were the nicest looking rig I have ever owned-with their chrome faces. I bought the pair used, and they had been heavily moded-like no 15 meter transmit or receive, and the 28.5 segment transmitted a couple of mhz lower, if you know what i mean.

Anyway, the receiver was incredible. Ran them in many contests and never saw the receiver overload. Came with a built in CW filter also. I also had the 2 and 6 meter converters in the receiver. Heard my first 6 meter signal ever with this setup. Made 1 2 meter CW QSO with the receiver and an Ameco TX62 transmitter. No built in speaker in the receiver, but I always use headphones anyway. The receiver was also plenty sensitive for HF work, and covered FM as well as SSB, CW, and AM.

Transmitter was your typical hybread with the 6146 finals. Easy to tune up. Never did understand why the receiver covered 160 meters but the transmitter didn't. Also, you can listen to 30 meters on the WWV position on the receiver, but the transmitter won't cover that either, or transmit on FM.

Very flexible when you get the interconnecting cable. You can transceive using the transmitter VFO, the receiver VFO, or go split. I get the impression that these rigs would be user servicable by someone with a little more knowledge than myself, but they also are pretty compact.

I made many great QSOs on this pair, and would love to get another pair sometime. The 599A was a little easier to use, as some controls were moved to the front panel. I am not sure what changes were incorporated in the 599D twins. For $350 or so you can do alot worse, but it would be hard to do better.