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Reviews For: Ten-Tec Orion

Category: Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - non QRP <5W

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Review Summary For : Ten-Tec Orion
Reviews: 94MSRP: 3,300.00
The Ten-Tec ORION represents an entirely new concept in high-performance HF transceivers. Ten-Tec's goal with this new groundbreaking design is to deliver the finest performance level to date from an amateur transceiver." Full measured specifications, pictures, and accessory information are available on the Ten-Tec ORION website
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
VK6VZ Rating: 2022-11-14
Beautiful sounding radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
About five years ago I reluctantly sold my TT Orion 2 to fund the purchase of an IC-7610. While the IC-7610 is a fabulous DXing and contesting radio, I missed the O2's almost valve-smooth audio, fabulous AGC and general clear reception. When using the Orion it had felt like I was directly connected to the ionosphere, in a similar manner to using a really good direct conversion receiver (but with a really good AGC!).

Luckily a good friend had got tempted by the new FT-710 as his spare radio and agreed to sell me his old fully-filtered Orion. This weekend I connected it up to an old Mission 75C centre speaker (the best I have) and just tuned around the bands on SSB and CW, bathing in the beautiful sound. The only other radio I've found which is so nice to listen to is an even older TS-830S.

The 'Formula One' IC-7610 will stay for the competitive stuff, but when it comes to lounging around on the bands and digging out the weak ones without giving myself a headache, the Orion and the TS-830S rule in this shack.

KW4Z Rating: 2021-12-28
Way ahead of it's time! This is one super radio Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I've owned so many radios, Kenwoods TS130, TS520s, TS530s, TS440s, and latest a TS890s as well as two ICOM IC7300's and an ICOM IC7100 and IC 7610, a Ten-Tec Omni VII and Flex 6400 as well as six different Yaesu radios: FT101E, FT757GX, FT1000 Mk V field, FTdx3000, FTdx101D, and my latest an FTdx10. Of all those radios none has the receiver that the Orion I has (and the Orion II which I also have). There was/is a learning curve to learn using the Orion to its strongest and best performance but once you start using the two separate and independent receivers together they totally support and reinforce each other and give you such armchair copy that no other radio can compare.

The Orion is also hyper-sensitive while reducing the natural band noise that is almost always there. Use of the RF gain along with the Digital Noise Reduction provides you almost FM quality audio and such band noise reduction that you won't think about using another radio as your primary go-to radio if you love using it for general rag chew type QSO's.

One other thing about Ten-Tec is they are simply designed to be superior CW operating radios and the Orion doesn't disappoint in this mode either. Yes, there are more, newer, radios but this Old Ten-Tec is able to best them all. If you never have tried one you just don't know-how it can diminish band noise and provide easy listening audio for whatever QSO you are in.

There may be better contesting radios and newer radios that have better spectrum analyzers built-in or waterfall displays but none of them will match the receivers that were designed into the Ten-Tec Orions whether you have the model 565, Orion I or the model 566, Orion II. they are just simply amazing radios for their time, way ahead in design and performance. They are big and yes could be altered to make a more friendly radio but as they are designed they just work and work in an amazing way. I only wish they were still in production.

As for the difference between the model 565 and the model 566 (Orion I & Orion II) the model 565, Orion I, has a grayscale display, a 4 pin microphone connector, and the receivers filter unit is designed a bit differently. The model 566 or the Orion II has a beautiful color display and an 8 pin microphone jack that will also work with 8 pin round microphone connections. Other than that there may be a few other very minor differences but both Orions are fantastic radios and I don't plan on selling or divesting myself of either my model I or model II. When I become a silent Key I'm sure they most likely will come up for sale just like most other Orions. If you see one for sale it's usually from an estate because these are such great performers that people don't let go of them.

Lastly with regards to the optional RX366 Optional 2nd receiver. I've been told, by Ten-Tec employees that the Optional RX366 2nd receiver is essentially a Ten-Tec Eagle receiver inside the Orion. Fact is that every Orion I or Orion II comes with two independent and separate receivers. The main, first, receiver is much more filtered and has a preamp function however even though it isnt' the optional 2nd receiver that the RX366 is the standard 2nd receiver is great and I actually prefer it over the optional one. It is a general coverage receiver whereas the RX366 is a ham band only receiver, just like the main receiver so if you want to receive General Coverage, out of Ham Band transmissions, then you really only need the standard 2nd receiver that comes standard in either the Orion I or the Orion II.

They are simply wonderful radios that never should have seen a stop in production and are still among the best radios ever produced with receivers that will challenge the most expensive Amateur Radios that are made including the new SDR radios and new SDR Hybrid radios.

I also can say that I've always heard that given most every Amateur Radio made that one radio may have some slight advantage over another or feature over another but in the end usually you won't hear or be able to work a weak station on one radio that you can't work on a given other. That's not the case with the Orion as I have had times when I couldn't work a station on my ICOMs or my Kenwood or Yaesu's and had to use my Orion in order to understand the weakest of stations in part, many times due to high band noise that the Orion simply was better at being immune to. It's truly amazing.

The two radios ... Orion I and Orion II are so close and the same that my review for one is essentially the same for th other.
MI0OBR Rating: 2021-11-07
Best avoided Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
Sadly my radio developed a fault which could not be repaired as parts are unavailable.
N8MUS Rating: 2021-09-21
Fabulous radio my Favorite Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Just realized I had never posted a review for the Orion. I did the Orion 2 some years back but neglected the Orion. I purchased my Orion when the Icom 7300 came out and the prices on the used Orion's tanked. So maybe 8 years ago? I ended up buying several Orion's and an Orion 2. I ended up Keeping my Orion over an Orion 2 it just sounds a little better to my ears. Mine is equipped with the Inrad 600hz filter in the 1k filter slot and also has the rx-366 with all the slots full as well.

I recently worked a CW station that had a big pile up going then suddenly said listening UP. I punched the VFO copy button turned B vfo UP a bit Hit TX to the B VFO and called. Maybe took 2-3 seconds to make the adjustments and got him on the first try on the new frequency. True dual receive with ability to put a separate VFO on each ear really makes a big difference when working a split pileup.

I also just recently discovered how to use the adjustable AGC to eliminate band noise. I had always cut the RF gain back and upped the audio gain. Try this: RF gain 100 audio gain low go to the the PROG AGC and move the threshold UP 15-45 or even more. Use the threshold almost like a volume knob. I check into the U.P. net here in upper MI on 75 during the summer. Often a train wreck due to noise from summer storms. With the threshold adjusted UP it decreases the noise. It also levels out the weak and strong signals. I am on the Canadian border, and copy near 100 percent of the stations on the net when net control and others are asking for relays. Many are down state Michigan or even Wisconsin and I am just running a low EFHW right now. Also I have a few check ins that are near me and QRO. S9 plus 40 signals.
Before I discovered this they would blow my ears off when they transmitted and I would be grabbing for the volume knob. Now I don't adjust anything the AGC takes care of all of it for me. WOW!!! I guess I just did not realize how cool this feature is and how it works. RF gain has to be 100 if I lower it then it does not work like this. Paired with my 707 mic great audio as well. NOTE 4 pin plug is balanced input you will need to wire the connector correctly or you WILL have rf issues on your audio. I only use the balanced input wires on my connector. Nothing else and have the ground connected all the way from the socket on the radio to the mic head. I use the CW Jack for PTT. I can drive the input with all kinds of gain and no distortion. Join the Groups IO for Orion 565 these are older rigs and have some issues that are minor IMO. I have updated everything in my rig that is an issue as well as purchased spare parts for everything, Screen, encoder board with 6 new encoders, A9 board and even ATU. Can you tell I plan on keeping it?

The Ten Tec Wiki is excellent and has all the information needed to maintain your Orion as well as the groups IO support network for any questions you may have.
KC8HXO Rating: 2020-06-27
Wow. Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Well, bought mine as a “parts rig” off fleabay. With requisite cleaning of every connection inside, and fixing the god-awful mess they called a mic connection behind the front panel, she’s back on the air. Just ran her in Field Day for a few hours. What a nice receiver! No extra crap in the audio from a loaded band. Weak signals easy to copy. Bandscope, although rudimentary, does what I use one for. Shows me where signals are. Are there things I would change? Yup. Not a rig I wouldn’t say that about, and I’ve owned over 70 different HF rig models over the years. I’ll most likely keep this one until I cannot make it work any more. Then, maybe time to try a Flex......or K4......
KG4FET Rating: 2018-01-12
finally the end of a long search Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Orion first impressions. IT'S HUGE! I have now had this one for a few weeks and at this point I have mostly figured it out. I got rid of a 590SG to get this radio looking for the best receiver. I needed one that could fight the AM broadcaster, did not put anomalies on the RX'ed signal (watery sound on the Kenwood NR irked me to no end), and sounded good on the air. The Orion fits the bill, for the most part. I am an NCS, and casual operator NOT A CONTESTOR but I need a really good receiver. TX audio with the TT709 I have been informed is the best I have ever sounded on the plethora of radios I have had

Can the Orion kill an AM broadcast, mostly, if it is not centered on your RX frequency (see the note on the SAF below). Can I take corntestors out close to me while I call a net YES!

I am used to TT receivers (Jup, Triton IV, Peg, O7, O6, O5) that I can quiet down to no atmo noise, this one will not quite do that. It is not designed to do that and I knew that going in. I can get it pretty quiet though. It is the first rig I have ever owned that the AGC is actually effective. All settings are adjustable even for the SLOW, MED, FAST AGC but the programmable AGC is a really great feature. I can cycle through during a net quickly to pull a weak signal out that no other rig I have had can even hear.

AM: WOW! This is a great AM transmitter. I do a fair bit of AM and this is the best rig (Solid state that is) I have ever run. TX audio using the 709 TT mic, a little H/W mic gain (6db) and a TX BW of 2850-3300 with a low cut of 50hz I have received the best compliments on my audio that I have ever had. This is NOT your rice box low level audio coming out of this rig. I use the same settings on SSB as well but add a little (-7db) on the TX EQ.

A note on the SAF (selective audio filter). READ THE V3 MANUAL! It has made the difference on the 40M nets I call pulling calls out of the AM broadcast noise. It also makes a huge difference in how well the Orion hears AM signals on 75M as well. Play with the settings I have found a narrower center freq helps on SSB.

The one CON is the sweep/bandscope is not adjustable. It's on or off on the 565. Not a big deal for me but for some of you it may be.

All the way around this is by far the best rig I have ever owned AND it's AMERICAN MADE! It's a keeper!
KC1MR Rating: 2013-10-06
Fantastic !!! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I look fer two things when I buy a rig ; best Receiver performance & Quality of Build .

The ORION is still the best SSB receiver ( 6.0 , 2.4 & 1.8 Hz roofing filters all of which are EIGHT POLE ) & is built like a TANK with Computer grade printed circuit boards !

I just upgraded to ver. 3.032x5 firmware & LOVE it ! After 10 yrs they are keeping my trusty ORION like new !

I've had an IC - 7700 , FTdx - 9000 & I still have a FTfx -5000 , but in contest conditions the ORION is the clear winner !

Best of all, I only paid $3300.00 NOT $4400. fer my ORION!

Keep up the good work TEN TEC !

Earlier 5-star review posted by KC1MR on 2012-08-06

This fantastic radio is still after Three years my go to rig .
The latest firmware is great with AGC overshoot gone and SAF really pulls out the ones that are in the noise. (I just used it again
tonight )
I only operate SSB so the ALC settings are 0.00s hang with P 5db/s ,S 10 db/s 'M 40db/s & F 80db/s .
Sweep works fine & I love the receive audio .(with the TT speaker)
Compared with the 170 serial menus in my FTdx 5000 ( A fine rig ) is is breeze to use and has better SSB receiver Roofing Filter 2.4 k ( 8 pole ) vs 3 k (6 pole )and the difference is noticeable on busy bands .
The NR works fine using TT info .
This is not in any a radio one would call flashy ;however it is still
the top performing high end radio out there .
Simple to use and very effective .
IZ1OSP Rating: 2013-09-13
Great Radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought this radio tree years ago then the Icom ic 7700. I bought all the INRAD opzional filter and I put on 1 khz the 600hz filter for the first. Ten Tec had always make new firmer and the last 3.032x5 is fantastic. Receiver is great, many, many regulation and all works fine. Don't spend more money at used price is the better radio price/quality and the best in ssb.

Buy it!

W0BKR Rating: 2013-06-13
New to TT Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I recently acquired the Orion and don't have much experience with the radio so here are my impressions so far and will update later.

1. Really huge! OMG, thing is like 20 inches wide, 18 inches deep, and 6 inches high. This is not typical radio!
2. Radio to me seems to be more of an SDR type radio, lacks the hit the control and get the effect. You have to change settings which is a good thing or a pain. I haven't learned it yet.
3. 4 Pin mic plug with no mic ground. Come on. 4 pin mics went out 20 plus years ago.
5. RF Loop generator (as due to item 4 mentioned).
6. Scope for me is a bit hard to get the correct brightness/contrast. I am adjusting it more then I feel I should. Then again, for $2K more, I can get the orion 2 with the same or less rcvr performance just to get the colors.
7. Sometimes when I change say AN values, the receiver mutes and I have to "reboot". Hmmm.....
8. I don't notice the NB doing all that much. May be a learning issue here. Still working on that.
9. Meter is ridiculous. You talk or key, you get the meter movement. Seems a bit retarded to me to NOT have ALC reading on it. Strange indeed.

Again, there is much to learn and I may swap for the omni 7 which is a lesser performer and a bit smaller. Haven't decided on that yet.
G1KDU Rating: 2013-05-04
Great Reciever...! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
What can I say about this radio's reciever...
its the best I've had, and Ive had quite a few
radio's... Kenwood, Icom & Yaesu.
While I can not comment about the top of the
range japanese radio's, eg: IC-7800, IC-7700,
FTDX-9000, TS-990 & the Elecraft radio's. I'd put
my Orion mk1 up against any of them in a test &
not be disapointed in its performance.
While it may lack in certain areas of functions as
compaired with other radio's it's still a top notch
performer. I know the main thing in an amateurs station
is his antennas but if you have a good antenna with a
good reciever the world can be your oyster.
After all if you cant hear them then you can't work them.
Even on a big yagi if your getting too much QRM from
someone near by in freq. This is where my Orion works
very very well for me.
Remember your station is only s good as your antenna &
RECIEVER... in your radio.

TENTEC ORION (565) first class reciever...!