Manager - NA4M
Manager Notes

Reviews For: Kenwood TS-520S

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

eMail Subscription

Registered users are allowed to subscribe to specific review topics and receive eMail notifications when new reviews are posted.
Review Summary For : Kenwood TS-520S
Reviews: 98MSRP: ts520s
Kenwood TS 520
Product is not in production
More Info: http://ts-520s
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
K0NEO Rating: 2021-05-20
I just can't justify a replacement... Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This was my first HF rig and I have owned the radio for over 20 years now. While I own other radios, I continually return to the TS-520S as my primary station radio. I periodically look at all the new radios out there, and have seriously considered replacing it with a newer one, but I can never justify fixing what isn't broken. I have entertained many offers to sell it, but can never bring myself to take their money.

It does not have the WARC bands installed, but I have never felt like I don't get enough out of this radio. From CW to PSK to SSB, this one really does it for me. I always receive good audio reports and the receive audio is excellent. It has never been an issue to pull out QRP stations.

My original station included the VFO-520S, the DG-5 digital display, and the phone patch (which still works). I use a West Mountain Radio rigblaster nomic for digital modes and used an LDG AT-11MP tuner when I need it. Since the initial purchase, I have replaced the LDG AT-11MP with an LDG AT-200 Pro II for full 200 watt operation, and added the SP-520 external speaker, the TV-506 6 meter transverter, and the SM-220 station monitor.
N7JS Rating: 2019-05-09
Price for quality unsurpassed Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This was my very first radio. Now over 40 years later I had the good fortune of finding one practically NOS with the box and all. I've owned a ton of radios in those subsequent years including my current digital radio with fancy screen and features (which equates to just more things to go wrong). The 520S in the area of quality and feel far exceeds all of those radios. A spin of the VFO is your first clue. The rx and tx is excellent. They built these radios like Western Electric built old telephones. There is a very good reason they last decade after decade. Everybody should own one just to have an exceptional quality piece of ham equipment that you can still buy for typically $200-$300 (unbelievable).

Earlier 5-star review posted by N7JS on 2006-05-08

If you ever had a chance to own one of are probably still owning it or wanting it back. They broke the mold after they made this radio. An absolute forgiving radio that still to this day has one of the best audio reports of any radio. It isn't know for having things go wrong with is known for always working from the power switch to the meter. I can't say enough good about this radio because it seems to just did everything right when they designed it.
KA4DPO Rating: 2015-07-17
Like A Rock Two Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I first posted a review of my TS-520S on Nov 27, 2007. It is now 8 years later and I am happy to report that the old rig is still going strong and I am still getting full power out from the original finals. Shortly after my first review I added an outboard audio DSP unit and I can say with confidence that despite it's age this rig will hold it's own under all but the worst band conditions and is nearly as good as my new radios. The most interesting thing to note is that these radios are rated more highly than many new ones for their durability and performance. These are among the finest amateur radio equipment ever built. They are simple, exceptionally functional, and very robust. These are truly the modern classic rigs.
KA1VF Rating: 2014-12-25
a milestone design Time Owned: more than 12 months.
In 1982, I had the opportunity to buy a TS-520S
rig from a co-worker who was a well known DXer.
The rig was in mint condition, and it had the
CW filter, VFO-520, SP-520, MC-50, and a RF
speech processor ("MagiCom"). I used that rig
alot during the 5 years that I owned it before
selling it to buy a new Yaesu FT-757GXII rig.
N8TI Rating: 2014-01-11
Great Rig Time Owned: more than 12 months.
My primary rig is an FT-1000D that I bought new almost 20 years ago. The only problem with the FT-1000D is that you don't have to do much to operate it except turn it on and push a button or two. Perhaps that is why when I get on 80 meters at night to CW rag chew with my straight key, I always use the TS-520S. It is easy to operate, but still lets you feel you are doing something other than hitting the on switch.

I use the TS-520S for CW and because I do not have the CW filter, but instead use an old Radio Shack outboard DSP audio filter. It works great. The receive on the radio is very good. I answer QRP calls all the time. The radio puts out a solid 120 watts when I want it to. The radio is heavy and well built. It takes a few minutes to settle down for transmitting on frequency like any tube radio, but that is no problem really. Actually, it's sort of fun.

If I am trying to dig out DX, of course I will use the FT-1000D. But, just want to shoot the breeze on 80 or 40 meters, then the TS-520S is my "go to" rig. I have no doubt, however, that the TS-520S could do very well as a DX rig if called upon. Best purchase I ever made.
K7DXT Rating: 2013-12-09
Déjà Vu ~ A TS-520s in the Shack Again Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I'm back in the saddle again with the nostalgic TS-520s. It's been a while since I had this many knobs to turn, but it's great.

My first 'real' rig was the FT-101E, but somehow I always liked the looks of the 520 better. So I traded the Yaesu for a Kenwood about 20 years ago. But like most hams, the newer digital rigs caught my eye and I sold the Kenwood. I couldn't be happier to have found another one.

It's difficult to describe, the but receive audio just sounds better to my ears. There's also a greater sense of the 'miracle' of radio with this rig, that has somehow been lost with the expensive modern rigs that do everything but pour your coffee in the morning. The advancements of technology have not made the hobby any more least for me.

A real meter, quality feeling switches and buttons, and that beautiful analog tuning dial all illustrate an era of high end craftsmanship. While today's rigs value excessive features, the old Kenwoods embraced quality, simplicity, and serviceability.

In our 'plug and play' world, its nice to step back to a simpler era of radio that is a bit more deliberate.

Nostalgic? Sure. But I'm a bit of a minimalist, and it doesn't take an expensive rig to make this hobby fun. Slow down a little. Hit the Heater Switch on the 520 and 'wait for it'.

W8KMA Rating: 2013-04-19
Great Old Rig Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I've had mine for years.. What smooth sounding receiver!! Makes the signals come alive!! Doesn't have all the bands but who cares!! It's still worth a 5 in my book and it will still be around after I'm gone!! It's just like an old 70's car. The new ones just don't sound the same!! If you want a blast from the past and still be able to hold your own, get one!! They are cheap and worth the price of admission to the bands!!
IT9JCB Rating: 2013-02-21
The old Sound Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
The TS-520S was my dream's rig when I was very young, in the 70's, when it was just a dream because of my limited budget.
Now I found a good one from Germany on eBay and I got it. It arrived in perfect conditions with its own MC-50 mic (another kenwood classic), placed it side by side to my FT-2000 and start a comparison on a noisy 40m band: guys...time passses, technology evolves, we can say that the old ones sound better for sure and criticiate DSP artefacts, but the goo FT-2000 was receiving much better for sure. The 520 has the sound of its good crystal filter, it sounds hard and noisier, but it goes on.


W7MBR Rating: 2012-12-29
KENWOOD AT IT'S BEST Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I collect Kenwood hybrids because of their extreme reliability and performance. They are also great looking radios that should be rated a solid "5". With a flat antenna system the TS-520S requires little re-tuning when moving around on CW or SSB. When changing bands it can be re-tuned in a matter of a few seconds so no problem here either. Many units from the early 1970's still have their original finals too. For around $200 for a good used one it's the best bang for your buck in a vintage radio.
SM5SRR Rating: 2011-10-20
Good product! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Its a Kenwood i.e. built like a tank!
Positives: Good audio, quite sensitive, real VFO and you can repair it yourself. Negative: Yep, it's old with tubes in the final which means you have to re-tune when you change frequency every time.
Still, a good radio and quite cheap on the second hand market.