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Reviews For: Kenwood TS-50S

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

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Review Summary For : Kenwood TS-50S
Reviews: 85MSRP: 749.00
The compact TS-50S packs a hefty punch.
Product is not in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
E78CB Rating: 2023-09-16
Nice and compact Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
Nice, compact, very clear 100W output, had it for one year, but never failed to give a punch. Good on all modes. However, original VFO encoder was changed before me so it was too slow for turning the nob. By its appearance it resembles to mobile or back up rig, but it has nice pack inside to be a strong home station also.
KT4WO Rating: 2021-09-29
Some are good-not all Time Owned: more than 12 months.
First let me say this radio has/had the best RX in a small
mobile 100w radio that I have ever used. This radio came
at the end of Kenwoods "hey-day"(TS-50/450/850/950 era)
It seems they had a production run with bad caps and bad boards. If you get one made before/after that time, the radio
is a solid 5.
Mine has both!! ...I have repaired 2 times in 15 years(diff. issues each time)
and then the PLL unlocked AGAIN about 6 months ago and I gave up on it. It's on the shelf. I still think it is the finest mobile radio ever. SOLID 100w+ and robust. Famous Kenwood audio.
I miss it but too old(me and radio!) to repair again.
My ol TS-450SAT from same time period is still going strong and used daily.
SWMAN Rating: 2021-09-28
Great Time Owned: more than 12 months.
What he say ?
PU4BEF Rating: 2021-09-28
Nao troco meu TS50S Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Eu Possuia um Yaesu FT2000D mas nunca fiquei satisfeito com o TX e RX. quando troquei para o ts50s não acreditei nos videos e reportagens dos amigos, hoje não troco meu ts50s, fiz a combinaçao com um kbs 5000 um mic amplificado feito aqui no Brasil, casou perfeitamente os equipamentos. Famosa Frase MENOS É MAIS. se tiverem oportunidade de adquirir um exemplar comprem sem medo!!!!!
K6ELV Rating: 2020-12-01
Love this radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Got this as a first HF rig for about $300 used right after I became licensed, all I can say is that I love it! Great no-frills starter or backup radio and seems very well built. It is nice and compact, plus it is very simple to operate and doesn't require going through menus or flipping through the manual like many modern radios. I have made DX contacts on this rig using a homebrew wire dipole antenna to countries such as Japan and Argentina on 20 and 15 meters. It hears very well and has good audio. The small size makes it possible to use mobile or portable. I took this radio to field day a couple times and made many contacts. The radio lasted all day long using a 55 amp-hour battery. I also tried using this radio mobile and made a few contacts on 10-meters using a cut CB antenna - my first HF mobile experience.

Even though this radio is a bit dated and doesn't have the features that many modern rigs do, it still holds up pretty well today. If you find a working one for a decent price I would definitely buy it.
VE3FST Rating: 2017-01-26
Perfect Rig for my motor home ! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Well this is my 3rd Kenwood TS-50 over the years . They make a great , fun and easy to operate mobile rig . They sound good with the supplied hand held mic too . Factory speaker has nice audio to boot . Put your favorite channels into memories and your ready to go .
VE7REN Rating: 2017-01-15
fantastic Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
over the years ive acquired many models of mini radios.. the ts50 is one ive owned twice before and have always managed to better myself by selling or trading them.. I recently acquired another I feel will be with me for some time.. its great size,and do it all quite well features keep a regular operator happy.. it doesn't have all the dsp featues and such of todays radios,but it does work well for a secondary receiver or main radio.. I have nothing bad to say of this radio.. nice size,features/performance factor vs the pricepoint..20 years later from my first one... I'm still impressed

Earlier 4-star review posted by VE7REN on 2004-01-18

got the radio a week ago,and first thing i noticed was the clean layout,well layedout,fitted craftmenship.pretty heavy liitle brute.i like all aspects of this radio. wouldnt hesitate to buy it again.wouldve gave it a 5 but only downfall is the buttons are a little small,and not protruding out enough for a big set of hands,so 4 is fair.
N2MDV Rating: 2017-01-11
Good bare-bones rig! Decent AM TX. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
After having the 6M TS-60 for a number of years, and loving that rig, I didn't really need the TS-50, but wanted it to compliment the TS-60, and to have a good back-up rig. AES had one more AT-50 complimenting auto tuner for this rig, so I bought that out. The only thing that was wrong with the rig when I'd gotten it was a dead Li Memory battery. That was easy enough to replace. Also, I've opened up the rig for 60M operation, which it does well. However, the AT-50 auto tuner will not do 60M. (The auto tuner in my TS-2000X doesn't either.) So, I use a manual tuner for that band. I agree that the NB (Noise Blanker), isn't that effective. I never really did understand what that AIP feature was for on RX, but I used it like it was a -10dB attenuator. RX itself is pretty good. It's got better ears than the TS-2000 and my Icom IC-7000, and way better than the Yaesu FT-857D. AM TX on this rig is quite good, and I've received compliments on it. And that's on the stock mic. What's strange it you have to drop Mic Gain to Low for that. (Same with the TS-60.) Only gripes? TX power levels are 10W, 50W, and 100W, non-continuous. Not very effective NB. And not really great for portability since this rig draws over 1A on RX. However, this rig will work in -10deg below Zero F. One big plus is all FM features are included for 10M FM repeater work, splits and CTCSS. Not many HF rigs in the early 1990's had this. 100 Memory channels is nice as well. It's a keeper.
MM0HRL Rating: 2015-11-13
Nice, with one caveat. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
And that caveat is inescapable nowadays - it's age. Just that, age. These are old radios now, and despite how much they're loved by owners the effects of all those years on circuit boards and components just can't be ignored any more, much as I like my TS50.

Mine has no particular foibles, but capacitors do begin to leak and other matters like traces separating and burning can begin to spoil things.
Unfortunately the cost of professional radio repairs is now such that even a simple recap+realignment will consume a large part of a TS50's used-rig value, or maybe surpass it.

On the other hand, if you should happen to come across a little-used example and can check the board closely for visual signs of localised overheating/cap leakage - and with your nose for olfactory signs of fishy-similar once it's warmed up and after a few minutes of TX - then it's probably worth pursuing.

That's pretty much how mine checks out - I was lucky with mine - it came from a (careful) 11m DX operator, so mine is "opened" - and so is handy to check over the 60m frequencies from time to time - my other rigs are undoctored, so can't access that band.

On to the radio itself. Not a lot to say that hasn't been said previously. It is very effective, given certain limitations of its receiver. Even so, these rigs are usually well liked by their owners who often keep them as a backup once they've graduated to a younger/better radio.

Its audio quality needs little coverage from me - it's a Kenwood after all - and responds well to the use of good quality aftermarket microphones as well as the MC47 fist-mike original. I've used an Astatic Teardrop (original power mike) which sounds strong and lusty on the TS50 as well as a Sadelta Echo Master Plus (with the echo disabled, naturally) - which also gives strong, creamy audio.

The mike has four programmable buttons, and it's so easy to cycle through the several power settings using the mike - needful if using a manual matcher after a QSY. While using a different mike you need to access the menu to change power level for tuning.

There's not really a lot to criticise about the TS50. It's not feature-rich, but that's a blessing in many ways for a mobile radio, there's so much less to press unintentionally and bugger up settings on the road. It's a heavy little lump, and while it may look fairly-CB like, it certainly doesn't feel like that when you're holding it - it's one solid little radio.

Like most mobile radios, the RX audio routed to the inbuilt speaker isn't going to win prizes. It's better than many others, but it's still a small unit in a small enclosure. I use a Kenwood SP230 speaker, got it for £45 on ebay - what a great buy that was. This is one of those things you didn't know you needed so much until you have one! If mine died, I'd buy another as soon as one could be found.

For mobile use, I'd recommend one of the small BHI DSP speakers - mine is the little rectangular one, and its noise cancellation is very effective indeed. if you hear one working, you'll want one for yourself if your rig lacks decent noise cancellation.

A mention should be made re power output. There is info on the web about boosting the TX power. In short - don't. Your signal will become rich in harmonics, you'll give interference all over and if you could analyse the result you'd quickly restore it to spec output. Also - the finals stand a great chance of burning out if run like this.

That's it really. Mine's a keeper for the present, but might have to go at some point to fund something younger/better - I now use an FT857d for mobile use so it's fairly redundant these days.
KA4ETV Rating: 2015-07-12
Excellent Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Great simple radio. Built like a tank. Good buy at any price.