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Reviews For: Kenwood TS-480SAT

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

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Review Summary For : Kenwood TS-480SAT
Reviews: 218MSRP: 1499.99
100 watts HF & 6m allmode portable and mobile transceiver w/ built-in antenna tuner
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
F5NZY Rating: 2023-03-03
Very good rig... Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Having an excellent reputation among CW enthusiasts, I recently purchased a TS-480sat and noted the following:

* The quality of the CW note (QRI) is superior on an analogue TRX with a good crystal filter compared to all-DSP and SDR architectures.
* Two antenna connectors are a big plus on a TRX in this price range.
* Nice display on the console, very readable.
* Perfect for remote control via remoterig boxes.
* The NR of the TS-480 is not good. The NR2 is not usable because of a very strong waterfall effect. The NR1 degrades the QRI quality in the presence of a relatively strong signal.
* The RX blows a little.
* Lack of adjustment possibilities, e.g. AGC, NR, NB, ...
* No PBT.
* Fast ATU but not tested in difficult setting conditions.
* Too bad you can't connect the key directly to the console.
* For QRP, does not go below 5w.
* The fan is quite noisy.
* A CW filter is absolutely essential (I have installed one at 270Hz).

For frequent or daily use, I prefer my IC-7100 to the TS-480sat, nevertheless it is an excellent transceiver.

73 de Steph, F5NZY.
DL4QB Rating: 2023-02-17
Still a very good TRX!! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I have owned the device for 6 months now. I was looking for a device for home, where I can do digital operation with but also /p with a little more power when I'm on the road and the journey can be completed by car or by bike.

For /p I want to use it for CW and have therefore looked for a device which already has both CW filters built in. This device I found and am, despite the fact that it is no longer new, very excited. CW operation with it makes with the built-in filters VERY much fun. But also the digital operation works very well. Currently I use Varac for digital. The Sounddevice I use is DigiRig, which I can also highly recommend.

It should be emphasized that I can use the CW filters also for SSB and digimode, which is a huge advantage in busy bands!

Together with a MPAS if /p or a simple dipole is a dream combination. I have deliberately preferred the TS 480 before a used Icom 7300. Due to the fact that the display is removable or separate, the actual part of the device can remain in the bag and I have on the table only the pleasant small control panel!

The control panel is also still to be emphasized. All the functions needed for a QSO in SSB or CW are on directly accessible buttons. A wandering into the menus is NOT necessary. I also see this as a huge advantage especially in /p operation!

It has also a VERY good tuner inside. If you see the big air spools, you know it can handle the power with ease.
The tuner tunes everything!

Absolute recommendation, very reliable, little heat development, only 900mA current consumption during reception. For this device class and age excellent values!

If you find one, take it but look that you have filters with it.

YU2SRB Rating: 2022-09-04
Love at 1st sight Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Picked mint TS 480SAT European version with one of the latest serial numbers from 2017 before been discontinued. This rig is pleasure to use both as main or portable rig and it looks nice on the table. All buttons are nicely illuminate at night. Tuner is fast and effective. Using the rig with MC 60A mic when at home.
RX and selectivity are both good. Preamp 2 (PRE2) makes totaly watery sound unusable for listener.
Highest reccomendation for TS480SAT!

73s yu2srb
KE4AMQ Rating: 2022-07-02
Seems to be a good radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I just picked this up, traded a amp for it. The kenwood has very low output like miliwatts checked to driver and the finals. Something just aint right, well I will work on it again tonight. My friend who I got it from said he hit it with 28volts dc because of a power supply problem. I was lucky enought to have a bunch of parts for the 480, I picked up a lightning hit one a couple years ago for parts.Well I will edit my review when I get her working.
SP9HZX Rating: 2022-05-15
Really good radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Very good radio.I have all filters installed.
Perfect receiver,very good ATU.
Nice design.I use it both in the car and at home
Really nothing to complain of.


May 2022
Still one of my best radio.I'm really satisfied with it
TF3OM Rating: 2022-02-21
Excellent radio. Remote operation 100km away. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have owned my TS-480SAT since 2017 when I returned to ham radio after being inactive for 30 years. As I have heavy QRM/QRN at my home QTH I decided to use the Kenwood in a remote configuration.

The RF unit and antenna (EFHW-8010) are at my cottage about 100 kilometers from my home, and the compact front is sitting on my desk along with my IC-7300.

I am using the RemoteRig boxes from Sweden to interconnect the front and the rf unit over the internet. This works very well on SSB and CW, both with a paddle and a key.

The TS-480SAT is a very good transceiver. I have adjusted the parameter settings for best operation, whch is important to do. Do not use the default values!
AA2AU Rating: 2021-06-30
great rig Time Owned: more than 12 months.
got a ts 480 hx october 2013 . been extra class ham over 35 years . played with my share of rigs . nuff said . got optional ssb and cw filters . waited about a week before installing them so i could better evaluate the rig . the filters are a must . after installing cw filter the rig became a beast . worked a few hundred guys in the past cw contest . i could slice and dice out who ever i wanted to work despite the madness . on ssb i always get great audio reports with stock mike and i dont ever ask for them . one thing . the default settings are terrible . most every setting must be looked at . both tx and rx equalizers must be set to your preference . { default is off } . cw side tone , pitch , key weight , dsp , compression , noise reduction amounts and more . the whole 9 yards needs attention . shame on you if you settle for good enough ! with some time and tlc that is easy to do within the menu you can truely make this rig your own . price ? for about 1400 bucks for a 200 watt rig { with optional filters } its a no brainer to take a very serious look at this rig . base or mobile it will do the job and dont be troubled with a smaller face or size . once its set up properly its your basic no touch rig like all the rest . simply a joy to use ! well its now 5/3/2021 . been beating on this 480 hx many years now . never missed a beat . im 90 % cw these days and have had many a long cw qso running full power and i always see the same 200 watts , radio always remains cool to the touch . i have worked 300 countries plus with this radio always running barefoot into a simple home brew half square wire at 35 feet . if that doesnt convince you this is a great rig nothing will . with the extra filters and i can work cw just tenths of a kc away from even 5x9x9 signals . you can slice and dice the cw band up on a razors edge . these rigs are getting harder and harder to come across so my advice if your thinking about one and come across one GRAB IT ! you wont be sorry you did .
M0JFQ Rating: 2020-05-22
All I need ! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have only recently come back to Ham Radio after over 40 year absence. First licenced in 1972. Obviously many, many things have changed in that time.
As I spend most of my time in my RV I cannot install a big rig. I started with a Yaesu FT-818nd but found it too limited for regular fixed station use. By the time you add a ATU and a PA to it things just get too cluttered in my set-up. It is great for portable use though.

Enter the TS-480SAT.

I bought this new from a dealer in the UK
This has really got all I need. Built like a tank, 100 watts of power, built in ATU (which I just use for fine tuning), antenna switch, nice, easy to read dislay, small footprint of the desk unit.
The user interface is easy to understand and to operate. Menu structure is also good but in day-to-day use I rarely have to go into the menu as all the important settings can be adjusted directly.
I have added the narrow CW filter and, despite the criticism received, the installation was straight forward.
CW reception with the filter and the DSP is razor sharp!

I use it only with antennas attached to my RV but the results have been very good. I even worked a station in PY the other day in SSB !
The only downside I have found so far is the noisy fan but I can live with that.

OK, it is not a 'DX-machine' and other OMs may want a more sophisticated rig, but for day-to-day use it is well worth considering.
All in all I'm very happy with this unit.
HL1ZIX Rating: 2019-08-08
Is it still worth the price? Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
My true rating would be a 4.5 or 4.7.

Pros: Excellent ergonomics for the size. Great tuner that tunes about 5.0 SWR antennas, very quickly. Decent sound, and high-quality build. Nice accessories. Mic sounds good -- not stellar, but good.

Cons: Adding filters requires board soldering. The TCXO stability chip is needed for digital modes. May be prone to frequency drift, on older models (easily adjusted by a tech). Being in 2 parts will annoy some, and endear others, depending on use.

Most useful situations where this rig excels: Minimalist desktop rig, semi-portable, and automobile applications.

Newer hams may wonder if this rig is still worth the price it commands, in this day and age. I'd like to approach my review with this in mind.

I purchased this rig used for about $575. For around $600, this rig is certainly worth the price in 2019. As of recently, Kenwood no longer makes this rig. They are still being sold new on a few of the ham sites, so there are still a few new ones out there in stores. That alone should cause a price drop, but it hasn't.

I have owned the Icom 7200, 7300, Yaesu FT-891, and Elecraft KX2, which are rigs with potential of attracting a similar market (portable operation, or small desktop station). Of these rigs, I would consider the 7300 the best choice, but with the caveat that the 7300 costs about $300 more, new or used. If you are looking to keep costs down a bit lower than that, then the Kenwood TS-480SAT is, in my opinion, a really great choice.

The TS-480 is a great rig for people who want to have a lot of functionality from the face plate. It is a small rig, but the menus are quicker-access (long-press choices) on the face of the radio, so they're not very taxing to access. Some radios require a lot of menu-hunting. This radio gets by with less of that, for the size. The ergonomics are pretty good. Any time you have a smaller main VFO knob it can be a comfort compromise, but otherwise, the ergos on this unit are great.

The build of the radio feels high-quality, and more sturdy than some newer rigs might. The lighted buttons are nice, but you're still not going to easily see the functions above them, in the dark.

Performance-wise, this rig is very good, for its size. I would rank the performance of the 7300 a hair better, with the caveat that you need to do a lot of fiddling with Twin PBT and go deep several pokes into the menu to get to the bandwidth adjustments to get there. The TS0480 will get you pretty close to the point that you're only going to notice a big difference on (a guess) 2% to 5% of the very faint DX contacts you'll try to make. Maybe not even that, for most. I work extreme DX off of a yagi at 75 feet. I doubt most users with a single element wire antenna will notice even that much.

Yes, a big comparison people will make is to the Icom 7300, of which there are a million out there. So should you spring for the 7300? If the difference is $200, then get the 7300. If the difference is $300, and it's to much of a stretch to spend more, then get the Kenwood. You won't get the bandscope or audio features on the Kenwood. You'll also be lacking voice recording for CQ's on the Kenwood, and the stability chip for digital, unless those additions have been installed. The 7300 comes with that. Adding these options later is a PIA on the Kenwood, because some things need to be soldered to the board (difficult and potentially dangerous to the rig, for non-tech hams).

Lastly, I should mention that the reason I dumped the 7300 was that I found it folds-up and cries to mama in noisy 40m band situations. It just cannot handle the noise, and even though I attenuate, I find the front end of it loses DX in noisy low-band situations. Even my cheap FT-891 was sometimes better on 40m, than my 7300 was. The Kenwood seems decent on 40m, and does a bit better with noisy bands. The type of noise I'm talking about is big-city general noise from lights, electronics, and what have you. In a typical US suburban environment, the 7300 will be OK, but in a large metropolis, go with another rig, like the TS480, if you like low band DX.

As mentioned, I had the Elecraft KX2. That radio hears really well, but I sold it because 10w wasn't enough at this point in the sun cycle, even though I loved that radio. Also, the KX2 suffers from a cheap main knob/VFO/digitizer, and mine went out. I had to fix it via warranty (I heard it's made of nylon, and easily damaged), and that put me off, so I sold it. Too bad -- great radio, otherwise (get the KX3, if you go this route). The TS480 is much larger and heavier than a KX2, but it's also 100w, and has a better speaker. If you are just going to bring a radio to a park, in a car, or on a bench out back of the house, then go for a larger radio, like the 480SAT.

In comparison to the FT-891 I had... the 891 has superior DSP, for sure. It's just press and go. No fiddling, if you set it to where you like it, in the menus. That feature, and size, is a big plus for the 891. The TS480 has DSP, but it's just average. Where the TS480 has it over the 891 is in sound quality and menu functionality / ergonomics. The 891 can be positively annoying to use, due to the menus. The TS480 is a pleasure, by comparison. I also prefer the sound of the TS480, as the speaker is larger. The internal speaker on the 891 is quite bad -- worse than the Yaesu 857D, even. I had to wear headphones, or carry a heavy external speaker to hear it well. My 891 was an early model, and suffered from a very noisy speaker which hissed -- and was more pronounced if using the rear speaker port. The side stereo port wasn't so bad on it, but that hiss drove me nuts. I like to use my RF Gain, and make 40m rag chew audio clear. The 891 still hissed, just due to poor electronics. The TS480 is far, far cleaner. More like a proper desktop radio. Through the external speaker port, the TS480 also sounds good. You also need a tuner with the 891, if your antenna is not good enough. The LDG external tuner I had added weight, wires, and set-up time. It clattered away for 10 seconds to find a tune, sometimes. The Kenwood's internal tuner is bullet-fast. Like 1 to 2 seconds or less, even on tougher tunes.

The TS480 is a nice radio if you want a minimalist desk set-up. You can hide most of the radio away from the desktop, and just add the head unit to your desk. If you are a neat-freak, then this radio is for you.

I want to mention that the tuner on this radio is REALLY GREAT. FAR BETTER than anything in any other radio of this size that I have encountered. I am not sure of the specs, but I'm tuning antennas that are around 5.0 SWR, where my other radios which have internal tuners can only tune around 3.0 SWR or less. That is a HUGE deal, because I can then run 17m on my 40m vertical, or even 20m yagi. Yes, there is loss, but it's acceptable for a mid to strong contact. It should be noted that only the Icom 7300 can do similar, but you have to go deep into the Emergency menu, drop to 50w out, and restart the radio to enter emergency mode to get similar tuner results. The 891 has no tuner. The KX2 (if you buy the internal tuner) is even better than the TS480, but again -- that rig is only about 10 to 12w out, and will end up costing you a lot more than a TS480.

I haven't mentioned the older Icom 7200, as a comparison. That rig is nice, minimalist, but heavy as a tank. I didn't enjoy it. I also didn't enjoy the tinny sound it had. Although that rig has a nice Twin PBT control, and the face of it is very easy to use, I would avoid it. There is no tuner in that rig, and I find the TS480 a far better value in the price range, with performance that easily compares or exceeds. I just didn't feel impressed with the 7200, and don't know why they command the price that they do, with the 7300 out.

So, in my view, the TS480SAT is still a great rig to get, provided you get it at a decent price. It is aging, but not too old, as of 2019 that parts can be found (as they just stopped selling it).

If you can pick up a good used working one, and the price is right, you will like it. After having all of those other rigs, I am still liking my TS480. Yes, I miss having a bandscope, and the Icom 7300 has a really good one, but if your budget is in that TS480 range and not the 7300 range, then this rig is a great choice.

VE6KMD Rating: 2019-04-08
Solid Radio for Base or mobile Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Really enjoy running the radio. I remember receiving it as I was headed out to and Emergency Communications exercise and I took it, in the box.
Set up an antenna and had it communicating in the first 3 minutes of running all wiring to it and had my first contact a about 700 miles out. Very intuitive and looked at the book only to set a couple of menu options later in the day. Good reports on TX and RX. Output meets specifications. A real pleasure to run for about 10 years now.