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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
W5AK Rating: 2004-05-02
a wonderful rig Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I don't know what is the "best rig". I think what works best for you is the "best" rig. That said, I must say that the TS-950SDX is an excellent radio. The receiver is very quiet and extremely selective. It is sensitive as well. The transmitter is also quite excellect. Audio quality is impressive. And the best news.... if you love VHF / UHF as I do, you can interface your transversters easily. With DRU2, its a contest dream! So, you can spend $3+ on an Orion if you want or $ 11K+ for a IC 7800 or whatever for the new Yaesu radio. I think almost everyone would be satisfied with this excellent radio. Like almost everyone on this reflector, I've had a bunch of rigs over the past 46 years, this is one of the very best. Isn't it amazing that the "best" rigs are more than 15 years old - FT 1000D, IC 781, etc.
W4ZW Rating: 2004-05-02
Simply Outstanding Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This is the best SSB rig I've ever used, and that from a CW guy. By comparison I currently have a FT-1000D, a FT-1000MP, Kenwood TS-570SG, ICOM 706, and Kenwood TS-50. I have had Kenwood TS-930SAT, TS-850SAT, Yaesu FT-890, FT-990, FT-900, ICOM 775DSP, IC736, IC-756, and various other misc types over the years. The best CW rig in my opinion is the FT-1000D. The TS-950SDX has been an under-rated transceiver after the mediocre TS-940 and the TS-950S.
KC5NMW Rating: 2004-02-15
Best HF Rig Ever Made, Nuff Said Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This is the best HF rig ever made. If you own one you know what I mean. If you don't, find one you'll never use anything else.
M3SKF Rating: 2004-01-20
TARGET REMAINS IN-TACT Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
After several weeks i was able to find a good used one but i did have to mail order it from France.I did note that most of these 950SDX had various mods that i did not want,This one is bog standard.Well the radio came from a French dealer with a very good rep..It came very well packaged this was a real worry for me ( i was told about the French Postal service,but it is 1ST class)Now on to the radio its been switched on for 3 days solid & i must say that the stability is top of the class.Any radio that can remain in a stabilized state for in excess of 36 hours gets my vote of confidence.Working mostly in Data mode this week-end i did venture to telephony on top band & 80M,with stock microphone all audio reports are very complementary & some thinking that i had a base mike.I know its early days for me to give it a full review but up to now i am very pleased with the radio it reminds me of my old TS-850 but with the short-comings of that fine radio shorted.
N1IV Rating: 2004-01-10
Oh Yeah! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
My TS-2000 is now a VHF/UHF/Satellite rig. After reading many reviews and articles, I searched for and found a mint TS-950SDX. I've only had it about 5 or 6 weeks but I love it. The reciever is top notch and the numerous filter combinations and DSP settings can drag even the weakest signals out of the mud. The extra 50 watts of output help on transmit, too. Easy to use controls, menus and knobs... large, easy to read display... just waiting for the DRU-2 recording unit and I'll be set! You won't go wrong with this beauty!
N6PEQ Rating: 2004-01-10
THE BEST !!! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
The TS-950SDX is with out question the best SSB contest rig made to date. Outstanding receive audio quality as well as superb transmit audio quality. Team the 950SDX up with the SM-230 monitor scope and you have a very competitive station.

Simply to use, but very effective DSP comb filtering for pulling out those tough signals. Sensitive receiver with a very low noise floor.

The voice keyer option (DRU-2) also has great audio quality as compared to many other rigs on the market.

This radio is the pinnacle of HF radios at this time.
K4TOR Rating: 2003-10-16
Top Notch Tranceiver Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Have had the 950SDX for a while, (less than 3 months). Bought it from an old ham not using it anymore. The receiver is probably what I like the best. Extremely quiet, yet very sensitive. CW QSK is silk smooth. The sub-receiver will not work crossband. You have to stay within 1 Mhz of the frq you are using on main receiver. The notchfilter is not as effective as I would like it to be (tones still bleeding through weakly even when centered on the tone).

Plenty of accessory connections in the back to meet your needs. DSP receive works very good. Not very well documented in manual. Good choice of standard filters included. Autotuner tunes extremely fast and smooth, provided the SWR is within tunable range. Only control I miss on the front is CW monitor adjustment, which is adjusted inside the tranceiver.

Other than that, big, heavy, and beats anything else on the market, today and yesterday.
K8AC Rating: 2001-05-22
Kenwood's best ever - a super value in the used gear market Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I recently acquired a TS-950SDX, and have had the opportunity to thoroughly shake it down in most modes. The following are my observations based on daily use of the TS-950SDX on SSB and CW. Mine is a later serial number and I don't know if these comments apply to all earlier serials. What's important to me may not be important to you so read accordingly. My overall impression is that this is a first class transceiver with very few rough spots, all of which I can live with. See the reviews at the ARRL members website for differences between the SDX and earlier 950 models. There are substantial differences.


1. Any filter may be selected in either IF in any mode. Filters supplied with the transceiver: Main receiver- (1) 12 KHz, (2) 6 KHz, (2) 2.7 KHz, (2) 500 Hz. The bandwidth at 6 dB with like cascaded filters selected on SSB is 2.4 KHz, on CW, 400 Hz. Subreceiver- 2.7 KHz, 500 Hz. There are two spare open filter positions in the 8.83 IF and 1 in the 455 IF.

2. The seldom used controls such as VOX gain, delay, anti-vox, are on the front panel

3. The LED metering allows any two of these transmitter parameters to be metered simultaneously: ALC, Ic, SWR, COMP

4. The main tuning rate is selectable at 5 or 10 MHz per knob revolution. Press the "fine" button and the rate drops to 1 KHz/revolution.

5. The subreceiver comes with a narrow CW filter.

6. The SSB Slope Tuning works very well, making it unlikely that you'll need a narrow filter for SSB contesting.

7. The IF VBT function for CW allows you to narrow the CW bandpass down to around 100 Hz, so you may not need additional narrower CW filters either.

8. The menu-selectable DSP receive low-pass filter works very well.

9. The rear panel connections are compatible with other Kenwood rigs, making it quick and easy to swap out the rig with another Kenwood, such as the TS-850S or TS-940S.

10. The digital voice recorder option (DRU-2) allows recording signals off the air, unlike when the DRU-2 is used in the TS-850S.

11. The automatic antenna tuner is very fast.

12. FM capability included. (Does anyone really operate FM on 10 Mtrs?)

13. Main and subreceiver audio can be optionally mixed in each ear of your headphones, or can be isolated to one side in a true stereo configuration. Also true when using speakers, with subreceiver heard in internal speaker and main receiver heard in the external speaker. Separate volume controls for each receiver.

14. Separate S-Meter for subreceiver.

15. External CW keyer may be used at same time the internal keyer is being used. Requires an undercover plug change to enable this.

16. The voice and CW memories are controllable only via the RM-1 "Remote Function Keyboard". If you buy a 950SDX, make sure you get this remote control with it. There's no way to use the memories otherwise.

17. An "auto" mode allows the AGC time constant to be automatically selected when the mode is switched.

18. The noise blankers actually work, although not quite as effective as those in the TS-940.

19. QSK CW works great and you can disable the relay used to key the linear via a switch for quiet operation.

20. Fixed, line-level audio from the main and subreceivers is available at one of the rear jacks for attachment to a PC sound board for digital modes. There's also a set of Phone Patch in/out jacks that could be used.

21. For SSB, you can tailor the transmit signal frequency response by setting the DSP high and low pass filters via a menu.


1. The CW monitor level is not adjustable from the front panel. Same was true in the TS-850S. Why isn't it controllable from the front panel monitor level control?

2. The DSP functions for receive are poorly documented and difficult to use. The SSB comb filter, selectable via a menu item, is somewhat effective at reducing random noise. The AF VBT, which is a DSP CW filter whose center frequency tracks with the Pitch control, has potential but misses the mark as there is no peaking of the received signal. In other words, you start with a weak CW signal and noise, and you end up with a weak CW signal that requires you to run for the AF gain control in order to hear it. There is no beat-cancelling function in the DSP implementation.

3. The Instruction manual is poor, with many important features not described at all, or described incorrectly.

4. Beware if using an amplifier and depending upon ALC from the amplifier properly limiting the 950SDX output. A full-power spike is seen on the output power scale if you have the peak-hold option turned on. This can damage some amplifier tubes. I didn't see the spike when the 950 power control was used to set the output level.

5. The keyer speed control needs selectable ranges. The existing range from super slow to super fast makes it difficult to make minor speed adjustments.
ON7ZZ Rating: 2001-05-19
THE BEST Time Owned: more than 12 months.
CT2HME Rating: 2001-05-16
Outstanding Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Just got this rig second hand for a fair price.
Incredible addition to the shack.
Receiver is by far the best I have heard.
Compared to my TS-870S and quiet is the word that comes to my mind.
The 950SDX Tx audio is probably the best on the bands.
In a time that we are heading towards digital filtering I wanted a rig with cristal filtering.
In a few years, when we look back, this rig will be the last of a generation that was perfected until cheapest solutions were found.
I´m just glad I found a mint one.
Just like my 870S, this one will never leave my shack, and I suspect that I will have to wait a long time before I hear a better receiver.
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