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Reviews For: Kenwood TS-950SDX

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

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Review Summary For : Kenwood TS-950SDX
Reviews: 63MSRP: 4599.95
Rough Diamond
Product is not in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
W7MJM Rating: 2010-02-11
Excellent Rig, well worth maintaining Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I love my TS-950SDX and wouldn't consider selling it. With great transmit audio, superb reception and very comfortable ergonomics, it has a well deserved reputation as a top-notch rig, holding its own against equipment nearly two decades its junior. One thing in particular that I like about this rig is the way it combines analog filtering with digital signal processing.

As with all older equipment, you need to invest some time maintaining it, but I've found the effort to be well worth it. Fortunately there's lots of good information on how to keep your TS-950SDX purring at (Thank you Jeff!)

And when, as sometimes happens, you become enamored of a younger rig that may not yet require as much TLC (though that's not always the case), or you simply decide it's time to hang up the soldering iron, you can easily find another ham who will happily pay good money for your used TS-950SDX. But I'm keeping mine!
K8CPA Rating: 2010-02-11
Nice Rig, but when they get older, they get issues! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I had a couple of minutes to kill here and I thought I would share with you my personal nightmare. It is my Kenwood TS-950SDX.

I got it from a friend of mine's estate; his call was N8OPK. Not in the callbook anymore, He passed away at age 43. Died back in 1996. Massive heart attack, his aunt sold me the radio. They originally went over $4000 new. I got this one for $1500, which at the time, back in 2000, was a steal.

To be fair to Kenwood, I got 5 good years out of this radio. Which is pretty darned good considering the radio was basically transmitting through what some would call a Dummy Load with wires on it. It was a Van Gordon Engineering Shorty All bander Dipole. To be blunt, the antenna was a piece of crap. But it was a CHEAP piece of crap and I bought it and a 4:1 Balun and I was the king the world! Or so I thought so...

Speed Ahead 5 or so years. I operate, or used to operate alot of 75 meters. To me, 75 meters was the refuge away from the tin foil hat wearing 2 meter geeks with their 5 milliwatt H.T's and them wondering why they cannot hit every repeater in Detroit. Anyhow, one day the Kenwood started doing something odd; the RX would cut out, SWR pegged, I thought it was the antenna. I believe now, it might have been a combo of the rig AND the tuner. (I have a MFJ 989C, that just got "gone though" by a friend of mine...)

Anyhow, I consult with the "Experts" and they tell me, it's a pot in the TXCO Unit. and so, I get that replaced and Naturally, I still got issues. I THINK I've got it nailed down to the Resister Packs in the PLL unit. What the problem is, they tell me, is that the Kenwood had an issue with these radio, some idiot in Japan at Kenwood did not turn up the soldiering ovens high enough and the stupid soldier on the boards didn't get a good flow and that's causing all kinds of problems for this radios. They finally fixed it in like the last 1000 rigs out the door. But all the rest have the issue.

To give credit where it is due; my good friend, Matt AC8AC worked on this thing and He and I tried to get it going. I still make take it back down to his place and leave it and see if he can work the kinks out. Maybe reflow all those stupid traces. I can't do it, my eyesight is shot, and my hand ain't that steady, plus, I just don't own the good equipment. :(

How's this for a heart breaking story. I get a new homebrew antenna up, got my tuner gone though, and operate for all of about 6 hours and the rig goes kaput on me. I mean, I was ready to farking cry. :(

So, take it from someone who's been there and done that. AVOID the 950SDX! Because it just ain't worth trouble. Some like the rig. But, I know for a fact, that as they get older, they develop issues.

What compounds the problem, I am unemployed, have been since 2005. So, I'm stuck with the Broke rig, and new antenna and zero funds to fix it. What really stinks is this; I could have SOLD this rig back around 2003, and made enough to buy a decent rig. Now, I'd be lucky to get 850 for the rig and that would be with all the original stuff that comes with the rig, and the box, none of which I have! :( So, I'm stuck with a junk rig, that I cannot afford to fix and when I do sell it, I'll be lucky if I make anything on it.


-Chuck K8CPA
Lincoln Park, Michigan

Earlier 5-star review posted by K8CPA on 2009-05-23

I give it a 5, because quite frankly, I have zero right to complain.

I bought this rig from an estate sale of a ham, who became a silent key in 1997. I hate to admit it, but, he was using on CB. Yeah, 4K for a radio, and he was using it on the CB band. Amazing isn't it!?!

Anyhow, I got it, no original boxes, manuals or anything. Just the radio, and filters and such.

I took possession of the radio in 2000. I ran a Van Gordon short all bander dipole at 40 feet. For 5 solid years, I got nothing but excellent service from this rig.

In 2005, the rig developed the infamous TCXO board pot issue. I tried to fix it. Oh, I fixed it alright, busted the pot a good one! D'oh!

I finally put up a better antenna. I will be ordering said pot from Miles at AES next week, and a friend of mine and I are going to replace said pot.

I may keep it, and then again, I might just put it up for sale. She's getting older, and I just don't have the money to keep putting into her. I'd like to sell it, but I'd have to get enough for a ICOM 756 Pro 3. But she's quite old, I don't know if anyone would give me, what *I* think it is worth.

In short, If you can find a late serial number version, like I have. Get it. I'm the second owner of this rig, and I love it. It would be a heart wrenching experience to sell this rig. Once you've had the best, it's hard to go down.

Some of you will understand.

73 de K8CPA


Earlier 5-star review posted by K8CPA on 2002-02-02

I own one.

I love it.

Cons: The NOTCH stinks... But it's better then none at all

other than that, it's the best radio ever...

Bought mine used from an estate of a freind of mine, that passed away suddenly...
WS4B Rating: 2009-06-10
The best radio ever made....Period! Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
This is when Kenwood made great HF radios. Sorry TS-2000 owners, but one cannot compare a 950SDX with a TS-2000. They don't even belong in the same room.

I have owned this rig for almost a year now, and I can tell you that this is the best HF rig ever made, period! That's including the new high end stuff that it out by Icom, Yaesu, Flex, Elecraft, Ten-Tec, etc. If you wish to have great TX and recieve abilites, this radio is first rate. I get glowing audio reports from this XCVR and after RX/TX modifications by WZ5Q, the radio has gone from great to awesome!

If you can find one of these babies, buy it! The person that is selling it may be crazy for doing so, but thats his/her problem. I will never sell this radio. NEVER!!!

Pics or a desire to have a Sked with me to hear this radio is available by e-mailing me at

73 de W4BJM
W9XX Rating: 2009-05-31
The Best Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Ok.The best in my eyes and ears.I bought it used about 7 years ago.I have had no problems.Now I cant compare it to alot of radios because I only had the 450 before 950sdx.I hear alot more dx on the low bands with this radio.I have same antennas up yet.I do have a hearing problem and the 950 seems to help in the changing of the tone on CW when they are lite.Now this review is not from a expert.But from one that likes to work and listen to alot of DX.I would like to try the FT 2000d but am afraid it might not live up to the 950.
The only down fall is parts as the radio gets older.
NA1A Rating: 2008-11-25
Simply the best at the very top Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I'll make this one short and to the point... The TS-950SDX is the absolute best transceiver even to now a days fancy DSP high-tech transceivers. It is right up there with the high-end current models.
I've had the FTDX-9000D, FT-2000/D, the Ten-Tec Orion II, Omni VII, the IC-756 PROIII, the Flex Radio, just to name a few... I can comfortably say that the TS-950SDX is by far the best. From receiver performance, sensitivity, selectivity, to ease of operation (no fussing with complicate menu set-ups) and best of all, its natural sound (both RX and TX).

Earlier 5-star review posted by NA1A on 2004-02-09

After using many different rigs through the years, I've found that the TS-950SDX is truly a "real radio". Whether I'm fighting a crowded band with many adjacent signals or simple rag chewing on a clear frequency, the SDX is the top notch performer. When it comes to Hi-Fi SSB transmission, it is hard to beat the SDX. The RF transmission is super clean and smooth. Its audio monitor circuitry is good and accurate. WIth the many selections on the 1st and 2nd IF filter selections and being able to set the TX and RX via different filters is a true assets. The receiver on the SDX is simply amazing to listen to especially when have it open to 6Khz!
N9LBW Rating: 2008-02-21
Simply The Best Time Owned: more than 12 months.
The TS-950SDX has great sounding transmit and receive audio. It is a very quiet receiver and also has great selectivity and sensitivity. This is my second TS-950. I had a TS-950S and sold it 13 years ago. The TS-950SDX is definately a cut above the TS-950S, which at the time I thought was a great radio. This radio is equal to or better than radios with original costs of up to three times more.
M0SAY Rating: 2008-02-18
GREAT Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
EI2HW Rating: 2008-02-14
superb!! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Excellent selectivity and sensitivity.
Audio on both TX and RX is excellent.
Noise blanker kills my local transformer noise better than my previous rigs, Pro, Field.
Low noise floor and is excellent at hearing those weak signals.
On CW with the addition of the AF VBT function makes working CW for long periods a pleasure with no DSP whistle.
I cannot say wheither it is anywhere in the same league as the current big guns, BUT I know they are not $5k-$6k better, spend the difference on a good antenna system, if you find one on the second hand market and have considered trying one snap it up you will not be dissapointed.
WP4SK Rating: 2008-01-29
One of the best Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Great TX/RX Audio
W1TJL Rating: 2007-12-16
Best Ever Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have owned my TS-950SDX for about 10 years and it is WONDERFUL! Best radio I have ever used on SSB. I recently purchased an new Yaesu FT-2000 and side by side the SSB is noticeably better. On CW I'd give the FT-2000 a slight edge.

My TS-950SDX has the Inrad Roofing filter kit installed and all the filter slots are loaded with filters. I use it to contest and DX and occasionally ragchew. The transmitter gets numerous excellent audio compliments and I'm told is very loud and punchy when used with the Heil HC-4 element n my headset.

I would absolutely recommend the 950SDX to anyone looking for a main radio for the shack. The only downside if there is one is the fact that the 950SDX still commands a premium price after all these years. Though fairly numerous you can get a new FT-2000 for about the same money. It has held it's value and most likely will for years to come. Not that it matters to me because I'd NEVER give this one up!

73, Tom W1TJL