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Reviews For: Kenwood TS-530S

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

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Review Summary For : Kenwood TS-530S
Reviews: 55MSRP: 800
10-160 Band HF Trancvr
Product is not in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KC2ULJ Rating: 2010-10-24
Excellent,Solid Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Please dont make the same mistake I did. the ts-530s was my first rig and after a few months of reading ads in qst I talked myself into believing that I "needed" a new rig. I sold the 530 and in the past two years I have had over 20 radios in and out of the shack. Some good and some not. I found a ts-530s in immaculate shape it is now my primary ssb rig. For all the new hams out there the hybrids are fantastic radios and to be honest they are all most people would ever need, Spend alot of time on your ANTENNA. Enjoy and experiment. 73 w2waw
AE5QV Rating: 2010-06-17
Great little rig Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Bought one as an e-bay special the middle of april 2010. When it got here, the rx worked great, but the tx had very low out, and wouldn't tune. Opened her up and found that the plate cap on one of the 6146's had broken loose and fallen off. Ordered new finals and driver, got them in, installed, neutralized, and have been pounding the heck out of this little radio everyday on PSK-31. Since the middle of May, I have 29 states and 9 countries using a 6btv vertical with this little radio. For an old hybrid, it works great, and for some of us not quite fully computer literate old timers, it's still nice to dip and load. Kenwood made a nice radio in this one. Actually I like it better than my kenwood 930sat, but thats another review one day.
W1LDD Rating: 2010-04-22
A Great radio! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have sat in front of many high end radios and enjoyed all the bells and whistles.In the end I bought a very nice TS-530S.This is a very enjoyable radio to use and work on.Yes anyone could work on this radio.This is something missing from new radios.No menu's just knobs.Buy one you will not regret it!

Earlier 5-star review posted by W1LDD on 2010-04-22

I have sat in front of many high end radios and enjoyed all the bells and whistles.In the end I bought a very nice TS-530S.This is a very enjoyable radio to use and work on.Yes anyone could work on this radio.This is something missing from new radios.No menu's just knobs.Buy one you will not regret it!
N0EVH Rating: 2010-02-25
Solid & Fun rig Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
You might have grown up like me on ham radio spanning the transition years from tubes to transistors to computers. My what a ride it has been. My shack is now fully functional with all types of modern gear. But, no radios with tubes and high voltages. I wanted to change that without spending big bucks.

My requirements were simple: a transceiver, at least with tube finals, digital freq readout and WARC bands. My logic was that if I did not enjoy it I could loan it to new hams to get them into the joy of HF, but not have too many bucks invested in the experience.

The 530 sugar is an amazing bargain. Sporting decent receiver specs, 100 watts, digital VFO, WARC bands, IF shift, CW and SSB filters, metering and even VOX, you are all set. For a few hundred dollars you can enjoy an older transceiver without giving up much.

A gud friend located my 530 sugar and gave it a complete cleaning and tuneup. Guess I owe him big time! Don't look for a button labeled notch, ATU or DSP. But, you will have a good time for sure!
K9FON Rating: 2009-10-23
wonderful! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I got my TS-530SP from a ham from Michigan with a MC 50 desk mike all for $325.00. The rig has a bit of wear here and there but works FLAWLESS! It will load well over 100 watts on 40 and 80 meters, but those are the only bands i can get on now, as i dont have an antenna for the other bands. The TX audio is wonderful, and the receiver is sharp and very pleasant to listen to. I used to have a TS 830S, and like an IDIOT sold it. So i had a hankering for another Kenwood hybrid rig, and i didnt have the $$ to get another 830, so i thought id try a 530! I am glad i got it!! What a nice rig!
WS2L Rating: 2009-08-15
Great rig Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
In 1985 I purchased a TS-530SP and was sorry I ever sold the rig. In July 2009 I purchased a TS-530S in mint condition and the price was very reasonable. There is something about these older Hybrid radio's that I really like. I owned a TS2000 for a few years but to be honest I don't particularly care for menu's and buttons that do more than one function. The 530 easily drives my Yaesu FL-2100F HF amp and I receive good audio and signal reports most of the time. The TS-530S that I own now I have only owned for 2-3 months.

The 530 has to be one of if not the best rig I ever owned. This is a great rig for new hams who just received their HF privileges. It is a good solid performing radio that I would recommend to anyone as their first HF rig
AC5XP Rating: 2009-03-28
Still a good rig for today's demanding requirements Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
The Kenwood TS-530S transceiver
By Loek d'Hont AC5XP

The TS-530S is an HF transceiver marketed in the early eighties. It is a hybrid; meaning it is solid-state with the exception of the transmitter driver and finals (2x 6146B). It is capable of USB, LSB and CW. The radio can operate on all HF ham bands including the WARC bands. Its receiver is of the single-conversion type using an IF frequency of 8830 kHz and as such, does not offer general coverage. Supply voltage is AC only (both 110V and 220V)
I bought this radio used on a ham fest a few months ago. It drew my attention for two reasons: It would fit my -what I call- "diecast aluminum front panel radio collection" very nicely, but most of all, it was in immaculate, like new condition with all accessories included. The Phillips screws holding the covers in place looked like they were untouched. The latter aspect you should also observe with care when buying a used radio; "fresh" Phillips screws mean the radio hasn't been messed with. Why? Because I have never met a ham who was able to take off Phillips screws without damaging them....
When I examined my purchase at home, my hunch turned out to be correct: also from the inside, the radio was pristine.
My expectations for it operating without problems were low though. In most cases when you buy a used radio, repairs are needed. Not so in this case it turned out. Both the receiver as well as the transmitter worked as they should; the two 6146B's put out a 120 watt peak easily on all bands and modulation sounded excellent.
Ok, so that was the brag story. Let's now talk about the radios concept and associated capabilities, for those of you also considering this radio.

Most radios of this vintage (seventies and early eighties) were of the single-conversion type; ham-bands only, so the TS-530S is in good company there. My FT-101; my FT-902DM; my FT-107; my Uniden 2020; my TS-820; they all follow the same concept: A variable oscillator having a limited frequency span at a relatively low frequency is mixed against a higher fixed-frequency derived from a (multiplied) crystal oscillator. The resulting variable frequency is then used for the receiver (and transmitter) local oscillator injection frequency, often using high-injection mixing scheme so the L.O. frequency equals the operating frequency PLUS the IF frequency at any moment. When changing bands, a different crystal is switched-in to match the corresponding ham band. Often a frequency counter display is used to either count the L.O. frequency, or the VFO itself. The information from the band switch (as well as the mode switch) is then used to "correct" the counter to make up for the IF- and SSB offset as well as the counter's MHz digits to guarantee they match the particular ham band.
Problem with this concept is that inevitably the frequency you see on the dial will be off by as much as several hundreds of Hz from the actual operating frequency. This is due to the fact that the band crystals all can drift, therefore requiring individual calibration after a while, and the fact that the counter uses a separate reference frequency based on a its own stand-alone crystal oscillator which is prone to re-calibration as well. Also, the SSB sideband crystals further down the chain will inevitably represent an error, which additionally contributes to the over-all error in the rig's operating frequency. So a lot can be cause for transceiver frequency inaccuracy in this concept.

But this is where the TS-530S had some pleasant surprises as I found out. First of all, the radio does not have the above described crystal bank, it uses a PLL synthesizer instead (designed for a minimum step size of 500 kHz). This PLL generates all the necessary fixed mixing frequencies for the different ham band, all of them derived from a single high-stability 10 MHz crystal.
Also, this same 10 MHz crystal oscillator that the PLL uses is employed for the dial frequency counter, eliminating errors between the two.
To top it all off, the radio uses a mixing scheme where the crystals generating the SSB injection frequencies have no impact on over-all operating frequency. If these crystals drift, they only cause the IF bandpass to shift (as they are tied into the PLL to cause an offset in L.O. frequency in the opposite direction), but not an operating frequency shift (in fact, for the receiver IF shift function, these crystals are deliberately shifted using variable capacitance diodes)
So the end result of it all is that if one calibrates the 10 MHz reference crystal dead on frequency, the radio is dead on frequency as a whole, on all bands: What you see on the display, is where it will transmit (and receive). Of course the VFO can still drift, but if this happens, the displayed frequency drifts with it an equal amount. All one would have to do is to correct for that manually using the frequency display as a guide. (Too bad Kenwood did not use the counter’s displayed result to stabilize the VFO using the famous "huff and puff" PLL concept, because then ALL frequencies would have been locked against the single 10MHz reference, including the VFO!)
To illustrate the working of the TS-530S frequency generation: As an example, if I would want to listen to an AM broadcast station in the 7 MHz band on let’s say 7.350.0 MHz, if I set the VFO such that the dial display jitters between 7.350.0 and 7.349.9 MHz (meaning I am dead on 7.350.0), I will hear no frequency difference in the station's modulation when switching from USB to LSB and vice-versa. Which is proof that the TS-530's frequency exciter concept has all internal frequencies properly referenced. A very nice engineering job indeed.
I am sure there might be other 80's radios that used this concept, but I have not seen them, nor do I own them. So this now turns out to be my only vintage radio (dating from before the era where the fully synthesized radios hit the market) that is dead on frequency without any offsets or errors, which makes the radio still useful in today's landscape of highly accurate digitally synthesized rigs, when operating on the bands. For instance; a guy asks you to move to a particular frequency: You go there relying on your TS-510S display, and he won't suffer a frequency error from you which otherwise would have been likely because you used an "old" rig. Good job, Kenwood, I am very impressed.
The radio has more positive aspects. To start with the receiver: It is of the single-conversion type, in fact the best concept you can have because the IF filter IS the "roofing" filter in this approach. The receiver mixer is a double-balanced J-FET mixer (as it should be), but it is preceded by a manually peakable (from the front panel) RF preselector which helps even more in keeping out strong nearby interference. As a result, I have not experienced any intermod problems with this rig on any band, after having used the radio for several months now.
The receiver allows for two extra optional filters (1800 Hz for narrow SSB and 500 Hz or 250Hz for CW), which were both installed in my radio. The filters do a good job with excellent selectivity.
The transmitter is, as mentioned earlier, of the hybrid type. Two 6146B tubes are good for more than 100 watt peak on all bands. So this radio uses no sweep tubes in the PA as is the case for so many other radios of this vintage. This is a good thing: 6146B tubes are much easier to obtain today than the sweep tubes. 6146B tubes also exhibit a better stability in operation; sweep tubes on the other hand often require a re-adjust of the neutralizing capacitors when replacing them, otherwise the whole PA will "take off" with often dramatic results.
The PA is of course equipped with the inevitable LOAD, PLATE and DRIVE adjusters that need to be set after every frequency change but they are easily tuned and feel robust. It turns out the radio is forgiving when initial tuning is not optimal. A "tune" position on the mode switch helps to perform tuning at reduced output power. Also, a heater switch is included so the tubes can be powered off when one only wants to listen, thus prolonging tube life.
Another TS-530S feature worth mentioning is the speech processor. This processor does an excellent job in keeping SSB peak levels in check. In fact, it can be used as an RF power control, just by setting the microphone gain (assuming the processor is ON). Together with the ALC indicator this does a fine job in keeping output power in check also if lower RF power levels are desired.
Last but not least, the radio is built well, with great craftsmanship and everything is easily accessible in case repairs would be needed. And it of course is equipped with my highly desired metal diecast front panel, hi.
The only downsides I could find is the noise blanker (it does not seem to have any effect but maybe I haven't experienced the "proper" kind of noise yet), and the fact that the radio is not equipped with an AM mode (I like to listen to the boatanchor guys which is not always easy to do on SSB as an alternative)
To summarize: an excellent radio that even today can be a rewarding rig when used on the ham bands. And a very nice addition to any classic radio collection!

See you on the bands
Loek "Luke" AC5XP
ZL2FAR Rating: 2008-12-12
Great rig for its time Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have 2, 530'S and a TS530SP, all are great rigs and have superb receivers,I also have a TS830S,which gets great reviews all round.
My view is, all the 530's beat the 830s'on receive,only had the 830s' a few months.
G6YGZ Rating: 2008-10-24
ONE OF THE BEST Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have just added the TS-530S to my Kenwood hybrids collection and it is awsome the RX is very good and I`m told the TX is magic. I installed it in the shack and left it switched on for a few hours before I tuned it up on 40m and it is spot on. I have connected it to my 33ft vertical which is 1:1 across the whole 40M band so no need for a tuner and I am running it through the Collins 30L-1 amp. Inside and out the radio looks mint and unlike more modern radios all parts are still available. The radio and the SP230 speaker cost me £160 delivered and like an earlier reviewer said, WORTH EVERY PENNY.
NJ1T Rating: 2008-10-03
Worth Every Penny! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
After grabbing this rig on E-bay last year for $350, then (finding it didn't transmit) spent $250.00 More to get it ship shape. It's been worth EVERY PENNY! I love this rig. Installed both CW filters (huge improvement.) working barefoot with wires and AV-640 vertical I've worked 0ver 200 countries since April this year. I keep it down to 100watts but it will put out between 110 and 130 most bands and 80 on 10meters. Lots of fun on the WARC bands as well. If you buy one used, it may well need some work, but then you'll have a REAL radio.