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Reviews For: Kenwood TS-850

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

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Review Summary For : Kenwood TS-850
Reviews: 134MSRP: 1,999.99
High Performance HF Transceiver with full coverage receiver
Product is not in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
G0UJK Rating: 2023-01-22
was! main station rig for years. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Bought my ts850s just after getting my ticket in 1994, was used daily until my ftdx5k came along. Its inline with 4 rigs in total ts450s ts850s ftdx5k trio 830s and switch it on when I feel like it! Althogh I enjoy using the 830s, my main station rig is ftdx5k. The ts850s Still works fine! Always get good reports on it! Only the caps needed replacing in all the years I have owned it. I do think its slightly deaf compared to other rigs, but still a joy to use.
KM4YTW Rating: 2023-01-21
Excellent Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I had a kenwood 850 sat back I few years ago and sold it after owning it for only couple months. That was a mistake. I now have another one and this one will not leave my operating position. After I changed all the smd caps on the carrier board and caps on the display board it works perfectly. 100 watts out.
There's something about this radio that captures my love of radio. It's smooth as silk, the ledgend. It's a real champ.
AA7IN Rating: 2022-11-25
Hard to beat transceiver. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought my Kenwood TS-850S used at a hamfest in 2012. The unit came with one 500Hz CW filter in the 8.83MHz IF, this is a late production 60xxxxxx serial number unit and I have not experienced any of the bad cap and DDS issues with this transceiver. I did however service this unit and replace a small DC-DC power supply that was causing the output power to slowly oscillate up and down. When I serviced the rig I also discovered the radio was fitted with the TCXO option. Performance wise this has and continues to be an excellent radio, the TCXO option has held the radio to 0.1PPM or better when properly adjusted, the radio is typically off +/- 3Hz @ 30MHz. Spectral purity is very good observed on my HP 70K series spectrum analyzer and output power is flat @ 95-100 watts depending on the band. Even though I have not done an extensive bench test receiver sensitivity is STILL spot on and S9 still =50uV.

The internal antenna tuner has a very wide range and has tuned any antenna I have hooked up to it, even grossly out of resonance ones. I have since added the 455kHz 500Hz CW filter and plan on finishing out with the 250Hz CW filter soon. Properly serviced 850’s can be a good buy for that back-up radio or for new HAMs who don’t have the financial resources for newer radios.
W9RNA Rating: 2022-02-28
Nice replacement for FT920 Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
After my Yaesu FT920 died last year. I purchased a FTDX1200 to replace it. After I bought it, I found out that Yaesu stopped making parts for it. Just like the 920.
Well I had the 1200 for about year. And just could not get used to it. I missed the old rig, and the way it sounded.
Then in January, I gave Jahnke Electronics in Green Bay a call. They had repaired my TS-50 awhile back. And it works perfectly. I explained what I used before. And he suggested the TS 850 SAT.
Well I purchased it and have not looked back. It is definitely a step back in time for me. I have been licensed for 44 years, and have used this type of rig before.
Well this one is a keeper. It is easy to set up. The audio from it is perfect. I use a Radio Shack studio mic. And the audio from the kenwood. Is kenwood. It works just like the old 920.
The only thing I did, was put in the 500hz CW filter. Which I had in the parts box.
I now have a very nice classic staion again.
I have used alot of different rigs over the years. And it is nice to be able to turn on a radio. And not have to look in the manual, to do anything. I do like all the features the modern radios have. DSP, and all the bells and whistles. But sometimes simpler is better. The TS 850SAT can still hold it's own. And it can still be fixed. This will stay in this shack for a long time.
N5XJT Rating: 2022-02-27
Great Radio! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
This is my second one and I really like this radio. The receiver is very good, the transmitter works very well and I get great audio reports. The speech processor works well and does not overdrive. IMHO the auto tuner is noticeably better than many of the tuners available in todays modern and more expensive radios. A big plus is no menus to decipher Yes, the display board required replacement of caps but otherwise trouble free. Methinks this one is a keeper.
AA1BW Rating: 2021-04-21
Update Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This is an update of my previous TS-850SAT review, All things stated in the previous review are still valid, but here are some additional remarks:
I am working 95% CW. I have 2 TS-850SAT so I can do side-by side comparisons. One is fitted with Inrad filters (500hz and 250hz in 8.83, and 125 Hz in 445Khz), the other with the same Kenwood filters. The first one also has the Inrad 3KHz Roofing filter mod insatlled.
Here are the results:
1. The roofing filter only seems to help in crowded contest situations. I have a big station quite close, but with rig 1. I dont notice it, intill I get within 3Khz. No other effect of roofing filter is noticed.
Rig 1. with Inrad filters seems to sounbd better. I always operate CW rith 250Hz 8.83Khz, and 125Hz 455Khz position, even outside of contests.
The Inrad filters work MUCH better, very pleasant sound to listen, no ringing. With the kenwood filters I do have some ringing, not as clear and pleasant to listen to.
Otherwise no difference between the two rigs.
Picking up week signals, there is no difference at all !!!
As I previously stated with this level of sophisticated filtering no DSP is needed at all. I absolutely love my 2 TS-850SAT. I may get a 3rd one dedicated for SSB work later.
Please be advised, these rigs are old, need maintenance. I have a full TS-850SAT in box for spares in case needed. Also I collected all spare diodes, transistors.
The electrolyte capacitors are all replaced, and I put battery holders to make battery change easier in the future.
So TS-850SAT is the best HF CW rig if you have the ability, and willing to do the maintenance works on it. No other rig is comparing to it.
Recent rigs with DSP, etc. are costing 3-7x more money, but not really offering better reception and better rejection of signals.
NY4D Rating: 2021-04-11
Great Classic Kenwood Time Owned: more than 12 months.
It has been a while since I reviewed this fine radio and in the meantime it appears that the "bad caps and chips paranoia" is over. Prices have normalized.

This is a very competent rig, and though it has some age, it is a great performer. It has the extra features that its little brother, the TS-450s lacks for more intense kinds of HF operating.

Put some Inrads in the filter slots and this baby shines. The Kenwood filters are pretty nice too. Heck I had one with no extra filters I used on digital modes. There's something magical about analog filters. The audio just plain sounds good on both transmit and receive.

IMO don't muck it up with the dsp-100 which is prohibitively expensive if you find one. If you want dsp an outboard audio unit will do just fine with this rig. I've used mine with Clearspeech, BHI, and Timewave units, they all did the job well.

The hand mic is nothing special but the audio will shine with an MC-60 or any Heil HC-5 mic.

This is one of the few rigs I've had that I can listen to the receive audio all day and never get tired of.

Everything is pretty much at hand on the front panel with the exception of the vox controls, which unless you change mics, are set and forget. Their is a set and forget menu, but you'll probably only use it once.

The internal antenna tuner is one of the widest range ones you will find on any HF rig.

So if you just want a really competent rig for HF, a great rig you can actually just sit in front of and use, with some patience and research you might be able to buy a great example of one of these at a great "bang for the buck" price.
AE9DX Rating: 2021-01-22
Excellent radio Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I recently purchased my third TS-850S. Why I ever sold the first two I have no idea. This is a late model with a 60 mil serial number. For a non-DSP radio, this has one of the best receivers out there.. I can hear CW signals on this rig that I can't using my Icom 7800. I added the filters for CW and SSB and the radio shines. If you can find a late serial number radio at a reasonable price, don't hesitate to buy it. The ease of use and not having to scroll through menus is a real joy.
VE4JIM Rating: 2020-08-13
Big yellow taxi Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
Joni Mitchel's song about her old man
My TS-850 went south on me because of a proximity lightning strike which took out a diode in the front end. It is back in service after being on the gurney for nearly 3 months and now I know what I was missing. My Yaesu ft 990 is OK it gets me out it hears but it ain't no Kenwood. Welcome back OM
The receiver in the 850 is so nice to use and the lack of menu driven features makes it a keeper.
This is the second 850 that I have owned. The first one got talked out of me in favour of an 870 which I never was very fond of not like this one. I am now on the hunt for a newer s/n 850 which no one seems to part with...I wonder why??
K7FD Rating: 2019-11-30
A return to simpler times Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I recently had the opportunity to add a very late serial number TS-850S to the operating position. Always admired this radio but never owned one until now. What a joy to use!

High points of this radio are excellent receiver, articulate transmit audio, solid build quality, weighted VFO knob, & no menus to navigate...all in a beautiful looking package.

John K7FD