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Reviews For: Ten-Tec Omni-VII

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

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Review Summary For : Ten-Tec Omni-VII
Reviews: 110MSRP: 2850
Ten-Tec Omni-VII Model 588AT (with Autotuner) 160 thru 6 meter Transceiver
Product is in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KC9OP Rating: 2022-09-24
Omni-VII is a pleasure to operate Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I purchased my 588AT in January 2015 (on sale with the 707 regal desk mic) with the 300 Hz included filter and 500 Hz optional filter. There are so many things to like about the radio: the band/direct entry/vfo keypad, the function selection buttons above and below the screen, the screen display implementation, and the convenient menu. Despite the momentary spectrum sweep vs a real-time image, this is a highly capable, feature-rich radio which is a joy to operate.
Riley - KC9OP
K9CTB Rating: 2022-05-17
Excellent rig, but I waited too long. Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I bought my Omni VII second hand from a good friend who replaced it with a Kenwood TS-890, and he made me a deal on it that I couldn't refuse. Overall, I love this rig!

I have been a MARS operator for over 20 years (each of the three services). I always coveted the Paragon II and vowed I would buy one if one ever became available. That never happened. I am also involved in the federal SHARES system - so "opening up" the Omni VII would have been helpful, but with the sunset of Ten Tec's amateur arm, I am told that modification file is no longer available anywhere. The "new guy" who purchased Ten Tec's assets doesn't seem interested in carrying on this support. As I said, I waited too long. I mention this for others who might be interested in acquiring an Omni VII for that purpose.

As stated, I'm very ahppy with the Omni VII! Mine has the installed tuner and cooling fan option. Not sure but I think the tuner was standard in the original O7. I really try to evaluate equipment for E-ham against what the manufacturer says it will do, rather than comparing the equipment to other similar gear. I think Ten Tec did a great job with the Omni VII.

I really think it's tough to find a transceiver that does not have a menu tree to access all the wonderful features available today, so the best manufacturers try to put the "most used" features within the touch of a button and the lesser fooled-with features under a menu. Ten Tec did a great job of this, imho. Mode changes, antenna changes, power level changes, quick band sweeps, etc are all push-button access. Quick-change features are shown on the color display in easy-to-read fashion and there is no weird "ghosting" when a parameter is changed where you wait for the old value to fade away so you can read the new one. Everything on the display is crisp and clean. I enjoy seeing the frequency display done graphically and large .... just looks better than a 7-segment LCD digital display.

The receiver is nice and quiet. I live next to a fellow who takes in auto repair and often uses a welder attached to a pretty efficient antenna apparently. The noise blanker does a good job of eliminating this noise which is a nice surprise since it's not "ignition" type noise. Receive audio is very nice in all modes (I've not tried FM yet, but I used to love 10 meter FM simplex when the cycle peaked). The bandwidth and passband tuning controls are toggled with a push of the encoder and easily adjustable without menu. One sticky point for me on any transceiver is that I must have frequency accuracy. The O7 uses a Voltage Controlled and Temperature Compensated crystal master oscillator (VCTCXO) - and rigs that use this type of system as a master clock (no separate mixing oscillators) keep very good accuracy. I set the O7 by tuning to WWV in an SSB mode and feeding audio to one side of my headphones, and then use another receiver on the same WWV station in the AM mode in the other earpiece. Then I adjust the O7 oscillator (the adjust pot is very tiny) and turn it until I get a zero beat between the two. Then I listen for a couple of minutes as the 500 and 600 Hz tones alternate .... then tune the receivers to other WWV frequencies and the opposite sideband to verify a zero beat is maintained. This technique works well for any gear that uses a master oscillator for "everything". I learned it while in the navy.

The transmitter outputs a good, solid 100 watts as advertised and the audio in SSB is very good. I use the Ten Tec model 708A microphone and I get excellent audio reports from my contacts. I have also tried the Audio Technica Pro 30HE mic that was included in the sale (told you I got a great deal!) and had great audio reports with it as well. In CW, I've also gotten good reports (the tone, not my crummy fist). I use an "old school" AEA Morsematic 3 keyer and a set of Ham-Key paddles with good results. QSK works very well and there's no audio amplitude overshoot between characters - and I can't hear the relay. I'm not an expert on QSK because I'm not a hard-core CW op, but I'm guessing those observations mean it's good.

Wish List:
I wish the O7 had a real signal strength meter I could calibrate to the Collins standard, but the graphic "s-meter" on the rig is good enough for giving your QSO partner a report.

I wish the O7 had more positive-feel encoders, even if they had less fine resolution - less clicks per revolution ... and if they didn't wobble around so much. They may be more robust than I think they are, but I'm not gonna push my luck.

Most of all, I wish Ten Tec was still in the amateur business! I think the company had a strong, almost cult following that could have kept them in the chips if the US economy hadn't taken a huge hit these last several years.

K7TXO Rating: 2021-11-13
Feature rich, easy to use, quiet receiver and more. Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
It does not take long to like this radio. Menu system lists functions in a simple vertical list which is quick and easy to get in, alter a parameter and get out. Most operations are knobs and buttons and after just minutes, you are familiar with easy to operate control. I thought I might not like the stacked AF/RF control instead of separates but it turns out this is swift and easy to flip and works really well. The RF Gain is almost always in the 30% to low 40% level. NR is rarely needed but when it is, works better than any modern KENWOOD or ICOM I have worked with so far.

Jim Wharton and crew of the original TEN-TEC understood what a ham needs for control and operation. Like a TUNE button that can be used to instantly provide a carrier at any output level to check antenna or radio for proper output and external matcher adjustments. This makes a big difference when you have a number of antennas to utilize.

LCD display? While it is an older technology LCD display with a minimal range of viewing angle, the brightness, contrast, color and character size is excellent. If it had an LED backlight instead of Flourescent and a wider angle of view, it would be just about perfect. I especially like the way that Passband and Bandwidth are displayed. Likewises, the transitions of IF stages between PBT and BW is just the best. No vague graphic of filter width and skirts that you still don't really know the ramp; just clearly defined numerical values.

The S meter is not much to write home about. It works, but then I rarely reference the S meter on any radio no matter how it is displayed. Except to show visitors the relative difference in signal strength and noise levels between different antennas. On the other hand in TX mode, the relative power level graphic and numeric values are more useful. I would have preferred a real analog meter movement or at least a good digital representation like a KNWD TS-890S but rather than more firmware code and electronics, a simple S/RF meter circuit and a 3 dimensional needle over background just seems best to me. No firmware and minimal hardware required but of course more front panel real estate is necessary.

Memory use, band stacking, Mode switching, Anteenna port selection, AGGC and more are all instantly at hand. All of the common HF bands including 60 and 6 meters are a fast press of a 10-key like keypad (more than 10 keys). Manual changes of frequency are likewise, easy. Easier than most rigs actually.

Band scope - Well lets just say it works well for what it doed in one-shot sweeps. An active band scope would have been highly desired, especially to match the offerings in most of the new rigs on the market today. I solve this with software and the use of the band scope display of an ICOM IC-7300 which is about the only thing I like on that radio. Not saying a 7300 is a bad radio. It is decent but I just use its touch screen, band scope with either my TS-590 or this Omni VII. Or sometimes use the 7300's receiver as a 2nd receiver. Sort of an Orion but in two cabinets. In this manner, the O7 is a very good match to a number of mid to high performance, feature & function laden radios on the market today. Granted my solution takes up Orion-like space but as I have it configured, is like an Orion in some ways.

The Attenuator is outstanding. The O7 provides three levels of attenuation, I think the same as my former Orion. This can be a very useful tool sometimes, at the press of a front panel button.

Frequency Steps -Once again, the implementation of this funtion via a dedicated Step button, outstanding. That said, I far more prefer how KENWOOD provides the operator with VFO control via the Main VFO knob as well as the Multi knob. If your wanting to jump around a band, these two knobs can be the fast way to zoom around. The O7 requires a few more seconds to decide how your going to jump around; band stack, Memory entry, 10-key or madly spin the VFO knob at some Step level. Sometimes passing the exact frequency you were headed toward so you see-saw the VFO back and forth to finally zero in. Don't get me wrong; I am not nailing this as a fault. The O7 operates VFO more like an older analog dial approach and that is ok. Just faster in some new generation radios today, aka the aforementioned TS-590 which is the same nifty control operation as the TS-890S and TS-990. Of course with software on a computer, this ability to jump around quickly is solved. Or in my case, I just touch screen the IC-7300 band scope and DXLab Commander, CAT control does this for me without ever looking at or using the keyboard or mouse on the computer.

TEN-TEC's use of a two-pin Molex power connector is my personal opinion, the only fault in the hardware design. I replaced that with Powerpole connectors but you can also run a pigtail out and use a KENWOOD or ICOM, etc. connector solution if you prefer that.

Overall a terrific radio. I wish some USA company would take over and develop the brand again. An O8 that incorporates much of the philosophy and engineering of the O7 with SD card storage, advanced Ethernet port use, CW and RTTY decoding, an active band scope of course, keyboard and touch pad connectivity, etc could be a real hit. remote full funciton faceplate that connects via Ethernet or wi-fi and a blue tooth microphone. And some thought put into an optional RF environment power supply with battery and solar connectivity, charging & maintainer modes for battery. Offer this PS in kit mode only to keep the price reasonable.
N8MUS Rating: 2021-06-21
Very quiet receiver, hard to beat for the used price. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Loaded 7 with all the filters and tuner. Comp rig Orion also loaded including the rx366 receiver also loaded with filters.

I find the Omni 7 to be easier to set up for virtually no noise and hearing only the station I want to. OK to be fair under super harsh conditions with super strong station stacked close to a weak one the Orion wins or working a rare dx split and wanting to hear both frequencies simultaneously one in one ear one in the other again the Orion wins. For what I have worked in the last 12 months neither situation ever came up. I find myself using the Omni 7… and could I still use the Omni 7 in the scenarios I mentioned? Absolutely, especially in a CW situation as the Collins filters are fantastic. The dual receive? well split is OK and really I could still get in the log likely with about the same chance as I would have with the Orion. It’s just more fun to work the pileup hearing both sides of the conversation.

Nits.. why isn’t the band scope live like the Orion? Wonder if it was a planned firmware update that never happened?

Jupiter had CW decode on screen Omni 7, which is a Jupiter on steroids does not. Again a planned upgrade?

Wish the old Ten Tec would have stuck around long enough to fully evolve the radio with these small but cool additional features.

All that said the radio is awesome, still relevant today.

A great bang for your buck radio.

Great features…
3 Antenna connectors.
Front panel control for settings you need on the fly without going into a menu.
Nice color display with print size I can read!
Tuner handles 10:1 swr.
All modes and 6 meters Orion doesn’t have 6 meters.
Wonderful Ten Tec QSK.

A fun simple to use rig that looks great on my desk but doesn’t take up my desk yet still has knobs big enough to make them useful.

K1ZCY Rating: 2021-01-19
A good radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have used many rigs in the past years. Icon and Kenwood, Ten Tec. The Omni VII has a very quiet receiver and good selectivity. The reason I do not buy any of the new radios is because of to many menus. And Ten Tec has the best audio. Ten Tec has the best DSP out of all radios I have listened to. Some day I will get Orion. I also have the Eagle but have not used it as of yet .I wish Mike the new owner of Ten Tec all the luck in his new adventure with Ten Tec.
KO1C Rating: 2020-04-28
A Great Radio! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought this new from Ten Tec in 2008 when they were still in Sevierville, TN. I have had NO problems with this rig.

I've used it primarily for digital modes from RTTY to the JT modes. Recently I've used it on SSB, no problems ever.

My days are pretty busy but I hope to refresh myself with CW again after I retire.

I added the 500 hz and 250 hz filters from Inrad.

I'm looking forward to more years with this rig.

David KO1C
KC8HXO Rating: 2020-04-28
Outstanding! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I have owned most TenTec models, but this one had eluded me for years. Worth the wait. Excellent receiver, Quiet and Selective. Menu is so easy to access, and so easy to use, it's actually handy. TX audio gets great reports. Simple, and effective. Another home run from TenTec.
KB6HRT Rating: 2019-06-10
Easy to hear audio! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Tried the Omni VII ten years ago, liked it then, now am in a different position, an have more room to play radio, Got a chance to pic up a used Omni VII that looks and works like new. My memory did not fail me, this radio uses 3 Collins filters and there is no rining in the audio
when you turn up the receive to pull in distance stations, if I want to tune in weak signal I can pull then right out of the noise, no problem!
Have gotten good audio reports on the transmit on 100w and when driving my ACOM 1000. Am glad I read my old review from 2009, I see why so many reviewers have given this radio a 5.......kb6hrt

Earlier 5-star review posted by KB6HRT on 2009-06-18

Tried A Omni-VII and founded it to be a fine radio when compared to my ICOM PRO3. On my antenna system it hears stations a far a little stronger that my ICOM and if you want to do a little tuning you can really bring then in nice that a real plus for DXing. I took advantage of Ten-Tec 30 offer and sent the radio back, only because I have all ICOM equipment, but if I were starting out over again I think Ten-Tec would be a major player in my station. Very GOOD radio!...........KB6HRT
N3RTD Rating: 2018-02-17
Fantastic reciever Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
One thing to say first, if only Ten Tec had more time to add features and work out some minor bugs how great this radio would be. Absolutely fantastic radio. The best feature is the simplicity of operation. One of the easiest transceivers I have ever used and I have used more than my share. Wonderful selectivity and sensitivity, easy to get rid of close in QRM and still be able to hear the station of interest. I am glad I bought it. A nice addition to my shack. I mainly use it for cw and digital modes like RTTY and FT-8 etc. Plus it is wonderful on SSB , better than most on reciever quietness and noise reduction. The only Transceivers out there that has better Noise reduction in my opinion is Yaesu, like my ftdx 3000, and my FT991A. But the Omni VII is easily made as quiet with a little aplication of the RF gain and NR set to 1-4, then you hear the weak stations well and have no harsh noise. I like it and think it would be nice if Ten Tec would become a producing brand name again.
N4JHY Rating: 2017-07-16
WOW! This is a nice radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
-A late model Omni VII w/ 300 hz Collins filter came up on at a ridiculous price so I bought it. I have had quite a few radios- FT950, TS850s, TS930s, TS820s, and an Icom IC7800. I bought the 7800 broken earlier this year, and repaired it. A friend made me an offer I could not refuse for it, and the 7800 went away.
With the profits I bought the O7.
I think I like the O7 better than the 7800.
With the 7800 I was always twisting knobs to have the sound of station I was listening to sound "right", just to have another speak, and more knob twisting.
With the O7, everyone sounds real nice. The received audio is different with the O7 compared to the Japanese radios, and I prefer it.
The O7 really hears stations deep into the noise, also.
There is no ring in the two Collins mechanical filters, and they really shine in this radio.
I did own a Jupiter, in my past, and the O7 is somewhat like the Jupiter, but on steroids. Also many added features.
In summary, I really like the Omni VII, and wish I did not wait this long to audition one.
73, Bruce