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Reviews For: Kenwood TS-690S

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

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Review Summary For : Kenwood TS-690S
Reviews: 30MSRP: ts-690
The TS-690 was Kenwood's All Mode Multi Band HF Transciever.
Product is not in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
K9VQ Rating: 2006-08-27
One of the best rigs I have owned! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have owned many fine rigs and a few lemons being a ham since 1964. I can say my Kenwood TS-690S has to be one of my favorite rigs of all time. I have owned my 690 now about three years and it has worked flawless and problem free since I have owned it. I bought my 690 used off Ebay and I think I'm at least the third owner of it. I think the person I bought from didn't really know the rig very well. His ad on Ebay was very simple, very clean, like new TS-690 / with AT. Well I bought the rig just because it covered 6 meters and I had a TS-450S at the time, which I really liked also. Cool, a 690 is a 450 that covers 6 meters I thought. Well, when I unpacked the rig and first used it. I discoverd it was loaded with options that the seller never mentioned in his ad. It had all filter positions filed with the YK-88S-1, YK-88C-1, and the YG-455CN-1 filters. I was also impressed how rock stable the frequency was and with 1 HZ resolution. That is when I found the rig also had the expensive SO-2 TCXO unit installed. I think I got a great deal for $550 on this rig.

I use this rig now about 90% on digital modes. I have found it is the best rig I have owned for digital, the SO-2 maked a big difference there. Also the filters are selectable on any mode. I have also used the rig on SSB and CW, I think it works great on all modes considering it's price class. DSP would be nice sometimes, but I use a little Timewave DSP-9 and that makes up for that fine. An earlier review commented the 690 dosn't have some of the features of the TS-850! What the heck, you should have bought a 850 then.

Overall if you can find a good clean TS-690S, buy it. I think this is one of the best well rounded rigs Kenwood ever made, within it's price class and you can't go wrong with one. There are better rigs out there, that have more features, more bells and whistles, but you will pay more also! No rig is perfect but the TS-690S is a keeper.
VE7WCP Rating: 2006-08-26
Flawless for 10 years! 73, Marc VE7WCP Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Owned and operated this unit now for nearly 10 years. Absolutely nothing has gone wrong. Good audio, good signal reports. If you can find a clean one, I'm sure it would be a safe bet.
NE0P Rating: 2005-10-27
Pretty good radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I picked up one of these radios recently, and it has been fun to operate. Seems to have a pretty good receiver in it, but it is a little noisy. Kind of miss the DSP that new radios have. I get good audio reports on SSB, and the receive audio also sounds pretty good. This is a nice small HF/6 radio with a built in autotuner, and should be easy to take mobile and portable. It is also easy to operate and to set up for the most part. only a few menus to deal with, and most of those things are set and forget.

It is also nice that you can cascade filters at different IFs. I have a couple of those ordered. It also seems much less sensitive to SWR than many of the newer rigs, I like that.

There are a couple of things that could be done better, though:

1. The noise blanker seems adequate at best against power line noise. Not near as good as other radios I have used. Not sure how it does on ignition noise.

2. The AF notch is a disappointment. Doesn't really seem to make a lot of difference, but it will quiet down the receiver a bit. Should have a IF notch instead.

3. Wish it had a built in keyer. The TS850 does, this one should also. One less thing to carry around or have sitting in the shack. Had to borrow a straight key until I could get a keyer ordered and delivered.

KG4-CXA Rating: 2005-08-02
another great rig by kenwood Time Owned: more than 12 months.
once again kenwood did it with this rig.i cant say enough good things about it.the receiver sensitivity is great exspecially on 6 meters.we call it the 5-9 radio as compared to some of the newer rigs on the market today because it actually does as good or better.ive had alot of high end radio's on the shack desk and this rig impressed jump over 20 570's to get to this one.GIVE IT A TRY IF U GET A CHANCE TO GRAB ONE..
G8LIK Rating: 2005-05-29
Super! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Bought this just over 12 years ago for a price thas now just a shade less than Kenwoods latest HF/all band multimode,the TS2000E. With inflation it was not cheap then. No ATU either but its been a fine rig and no reliability issues whatsoever. Its a keeper that does well on all bands but can't compete with the new generation of DSP transceivers.I use it as a backup rig to the TS870S but of course the 50mhz is a nice extra. Does get a bit warm on prolonged heavy duty cycles but for ssb chat no problem, just not up to 1 hr key down CW when testing amplifiers etc. Its got a sensitive receiver and TX audio reports have been consistently good. Well worth getting one 2nd hand if the price is right
SWL1 Rating: 2004-08-07
Great HF & 6-Mtr rig ! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I purchased mine brand new in 1993.

Have added the internal antenna tuner which,tunes much faster the my Yaesu FT-900 mobile rig.

Of course I love that rig also :)

I also added the YK-88SN 2.7KHz SSB filter and,the VS-2 voice module just for grins.

As a side note to N4SJW regarding his dislike for the DIP switchs,I totally agree !

I went through the same frustration myself!

Might I suggest that he do what I finally did to rid myself of that headache!

I ordered a Comspec TE-64D digital PL box and,interfaced it where the stupid DIP switch board from Kenwood was connected.

Yes it's out board mounted however it much more convient!

I refuse to drill holes in equipment so,I just used the existing screw and,hole at the top left front of the bezel.

Works great and,looks cool too.

By the way,make sure to hook up the Comspec box to the 'switched Tone' B+ lead!

Other wise you'll wind up getting complaintants on SSB that you have a distorted or,muddy signal.

Anyway...try it you'll like it!


KS4WJ Rating: 2004-08-07
Great Radio At A Used Price -5/5 Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
After spending a few months and many, many hours on this radio with merely the standard hand mic, I am well pleased with its performance at the 'used' price I paid. It is a compact HF/VHF transceiver with excellent front-end receive and delivers consistent 100W out on all bands - notwithstanding Six (6) Meters. The stock filters blended with notch adjustments, if creatively set, work exceptionally well despite no built-in DSP. The noise blanker isn't the best, but the AIP feature has proven to be (via my observations) one that actually makes a marked difference in picking up weak signals - albeit the volume will likely be turned up when engaged.

While mine doesn't have an antenna tuner, I do like that the SWR (built-in) can be checked to ensure a resonant antenna remains so on all bands. It is laid out well and while some of knobs are rather diminutive in size, they are ALL very easy to turn and adjust. Direct frequency is especially useful and extremely easy to operate (common sense dictates how to use this feature without opening the manual). Shortwave listening is quite good on AM with the proper filter settings. Audio reports have consistently been good even when using the standard hand mic.

I suppose I could pick the rig to pieces if I purposed myself to "gag on gnats yet concomitantly opt to swallow elephants". But there truly isn't too much to find fault with unless one attempted to nonsensically "compare" this early '90s radio along side the brand new (2004, 2005) $10,000 plus rigs now out or soon to be out - manufactured by Icom and Yaesu respectively.

For the right 'used' price, the Kenwood TS-690S is an excellent pick whether used as the primary or secondary transceiver in a modest ham shack. Overall, it is a well made radio with even a few accoutrements that add to its usability and functionality.
G0HVQ Rating: 2004-02-15
Excellent reliable HF + 6m radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
The TS690S is a great radio. Mine's been in use for over 11 years as the main station radio at G0HVQ ( and hasn't missed a beat, been used mainly on 6m to get 113 DXCC countries, also lots of DX on 10m, and 15m RTTY.

My main mode tends to be CW for DX, and it can really pull out the weak signals by using the IF shift in conjunction with a narrow CW filter (find the optional 500Hz CW and 2.4k SSB filters a must). I didn't think radio reliability was an issue until I read the reviews of the Icom 746Pro/7400 on here: the TS690 has been hammered in a few 24hr contests, including lengthy RTTY sessions, and has been 100% reliable. We regularly won the UK 6m Group 50MHz contest with this radio (operating as G0WNL/P).

One mod worth doing if you're a 6m op is opening up the Rx range: standard is 0-30M and 50-54M, you can open it up to 0-60M by altering the diode matrix on the back of the main display PCB. You can then monitor VHF TV on 48/49M to predict 6m openings.

Having used it for such a long time, I think I've found all the problems. On 6m, the Tx audio goes non-linear if you drop the power below about 25W, but Kenwood knew about this and modded later radios (mine was one of the first). Also, the rotary switch used to go between memory channels is a bit iffy, and some of the text has worn off the buttons.

But these are minor issues. I've worked lots of DX on 6m and 10m with this radio using a modest aerial setup from a noisy suburban QTH, it hasn't missed a beat, and it's still a joy to use. Wish I'd bought the optional internal ATU, and it had more than 50W on 6m. I've been looking for a replacement but can't find anything that convinces me it's better at the moment (wanted an IC746Pro/7400 but have been
put off by the high Tx failure rate).
VE6RTR Rating: 2003-12-20
Good all round unit Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Bought this unit to replace a Yaesu FT 757. Was a definite step up. I like the direct frequency entry and the ability to select bandwidth independent of the mode used. What I do not like is the power level controls are so small and position sensitive(turn it 3mm clockwise and you you jump from 10W to 80W), also the frequency entering process is a little more complicated than necessary (press enter, select the frequency, then press enter again). But other than that no major hassles with it, would buy it again.
EI7GL Rating: 2003-08-24
Excellent rig Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have owned a TS690S for 10 years. In that time, I have worked over 100 countries with it on 6m and over 200 countries on the HF bands.

With the 1.8 KHz and 500 Hz filters added, its an excellent performer. Sensitive on all bands and never had any problems with it overloading.
Wish it had 100w instead of 50w on 6m though! ;-)

Never had any regrets about buying it. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a 2nd hand rig.