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Reviews For: DZ Sienna HF Transceiver

Category: Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W

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Review Summary For : DZ Sienna HF Transceiver
Reviews: 9MSRP: 899
The DZ Sienna is an expandable, configurable, modular HF transceiver kit and/or general coverage receiver (0.5 to 30 mHz). The Sienna includes many state of the art features and options such as high stability oscillators, INRAD and Collins filters, QSK, auto-tuner, QRP or 100 watt transmitter, computer control and/or front panel. While a kit, there is a "built-for-you" purchase option. The Sienna is a modern analog, not DSP design. Specifications include a low noise floor and excellent filtering. There is an optional, well laid out front panel with analog meters and smooth tuning knobs. The basic receiver with no front panel is $899 (computer control required). The full transceiver with most options, factory "assembly support", and an internal PC is in the range of $4,000. Configured as a basic HF transceiver kit with front panel, approximately $2,000. There is Heathkit theme throughout DZ and Sienna to include the assembly manual and the shape of the DZ logo.
Product is in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
W6UXB Rating: 2018-07-27
The Best! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have been licensed since 1965, since the advent of the Internet and eBay, I have been able to try out quite a plethora of radios, this radio is the BEST of them all, absolutely no listening fatigue on this radio and that is after 30 plus years of mixing rock shows! plus the company has above and way beyond customer service, thanks Brian
N5KNG Rating: 2017-01-19
DZKits Sienna vs. the Elecraft K3S and Kenwood TS-590SG Time Owned: more than 12 months.
As noted in an earlier review, I think quite a bit of the Sienna. After owning it for a while, I see there is still very little information out there about it. So I thought I'd provide a little more for people to read, at least with respect to weak signal reception. Others can comment on the ham-friendly menu options, and the transmission capabilities, such as direct access to the CW keyer on the front panel, ESSB, etc.

Having an Elecraft K3S and a Kenwood TS-590SG sitting on my bench, arguably some of the better radios around these days, I thought I'd try some A/B listening tests. So I set up the Sienna and the other radios to listen to SSB and CW signals using the same antenna, with an A/B antenna switch, and equal lengths of receiving cable. I also used the same headphone set, plugged into one receiver, and then the other, so that the speakers used in each radio would not be part of the equation. The tests were conducted both during the day, and at night, over several days.

Sienna vs. K3S - Selectivity: When comparing the Sienna to the K3S, it was not much of a contest. The filtering in the K3S is mostly done in software, whereas the Sienna uses mainly analog filters. My Sienna is fully loaded with Collins filters, and I rely on the twin-passband tuning to provide clarity. The K3S has a whole raft of digital tricks to process the signal and get rid of noise, but in the end, the output is harsh. There is an edginess to the K3S received signal that is hard on the ears. This is most apparent when using SSB. The Sienna always provided a quieter, more natural sounding voice signal. Very similar to the older Kenwood radios. I can listen to SSB on the Sienna much longer without fatigue than I can with the K3S.

CW reception was similar, but the quiet receiver of the Sienna was even more apparent. I could easily make the CW signal sound like a code-practice oscillator on the Sienna, whereas with the K3S, there was always a higher noise level, and a slight high-frequency edginess to the signal. The Sienna is definitely a better long-term (i.e., rag chewing) CW radio.

Sienna vs. K3S - Sensitivity: At least to my ears, these radios were about the same. I did not come across any situation, over several days and nights of listening, where one radio was able to receive a weak, barely intelligible, signal that the other could not.

Sienna vs. K3S - Miscellaneous: The Sienna is put together in such a fashion, and documentation is provided, so that you can actually troubleshoot it and fix it yourself, if necessary (although I've had no problems). It is also much more intuitive to use, with a nice front panel layout. All of the functions you’d use most often are right there on the panel. There is a menu system to set up less-frequently used functions, but even when those are accessed, the menu is never more than two layers deep. The only drawback to the Sienna is that it uses more desk space than the K3S. The Sienna is about 14" across the front panel, and about 16" deep. The K3S is about 11” across, and 11” deep. On the other hand, some folks might like that, since it makes each control very easy to access. Sadly for me, it means I am going to have to sell the Sienna AND the K3S to make more room on my bench for other projects!

Sienna vs. TS-590SG - Selectivity: Here again, the filtering in the TS-590SG is mostly done in software. And again, the TS-590GS uses digital signal processing to handle noise. While the end result is better than the K3S, the Sienna is still noticeably better than the TS-590SG under most conditions. That is, there is still some harshness in the received signal on the TS-590GS, as compared to the Sienna, noticeable primarily when using SSB. Thus, the Sienna almost always provided the better signal for voice signal listening. However, there were some situations (e.g., nearby storms, with extremely heavy atmospheric noise, and signals fading in and out), where the TS-590GS could render an intelligible conversation, barely, but the Sienna could not. This occurred when the TS-590SG noise reduction signal processing was brought into play. The signal rendered by the TS-590SG was “watery” sounding, but intelligible. However, outside of this limited window, the SSB voice signal from the Sienna was easier to understand.

CW on the Sienna compared to the TS-590GS was simply amazing. Even when the TS-590SG filters were pulled in as much as possible, the quietness of the Sienna dominated. Hands-down, a cleaner CW signal in the headphones.

Sienna vs. TS-590SG- Sensitivity: Here, both radios were about the same. With every combination of preamp available (the Sienna has two preamps, and one attenuator, in addition to the usual RF gain control; the TS-590G has only one preamp), I did not come across any situation, over several days of listening, where one radio was able to receive a signal that the other could not.

Sienna vs. TS-590SG - Miscellaneous: There are a LOT of small buttons on the front panel of the TS-590SG (the Sienna has 15 buttons, the K3S has 29, and the TS-590SG has 54!). It is about the same size as the K3S – a little narrower and a little deeper. So use would be difficult for folks with larger hands. I also note the lack of a graphical filter display for passband tuning. The Sienna provides a very clear indication of where your filters sit with respect to the signal, whereas the TS-590SG does not. The result is that you always know how to move the passbands on the Sienna to get a better result, but on the TS-590GS you don’t – it takes some fiddling to get going in the correct direction. All you get is a number on the display, and you don’t know what that number is until you turn the passband knob – usually in the wrong direction. Kind of annoying when you want to home in on a particular signal. It may also bear mentioning that the Sienna has an IF output for easy use with a panadapter – the TS-590GS does not. While it is possible to make the TS-590GS operate with a panadapter, it is not straightforward, at all. See: . You can also set up the equalizer directly from the front panel of the Sienna, whereas to set the equalizer on the TS-590GS, you need to connect it to a computer, and use the Kenwood control software.

CONCLUSION: For rag chewing or other casual SSB use, the Sienna is a better radio than the K3S or the TS-590SG. It is much easier on the ears. For CW, even more so – if you have the proper filters (e.g., 400 Hz) installed on the Sienna, you will have a better tool for receiving the signals. The Sienna front panel controls are easier to access and manipulate than they are on the other radios. But if your primary interest is contesting, or working under near-impossible signal reception conditions, where harshness is not an issue, or if desk space really matters, I’d go with the TS-590SG.

Earlier 5-star review posted by N5KNG on 2015-07-24

To begin, this is a real kit. It’s not just plugging a few boards together and putting some screws in the chassis (a la Elecraft). You will be putting parts on circuit boards. Plenty of parts. So before sitting down to assemble it, you’d better get yourself a temperature controlled iron (you don’t absolutely need one, but it makes the work go much faster) and a good pair of flush-cutting, side-cut pliers. In addition, while the surface mount components are done for you, some of those resistors are pretty small! I found a little extra magnification using clip-on, flip up magnifying glasses to be helpful at times. For tools like these, Amazon has everything you might want at very reasonable prices.

The radio is modular; you build it in sections: power-switching, antenna tuner, receiver and filters, transmitter, and power amplifier. The parts are packaged logically, in separate bags, so you can easily keep track of what you’ve done, and what’s left to do. The assembly instructions are very complete, so those moments where you find yourself asking whether you did something correctly are extremely rare. And on those few occasions, the answer is almost always that you just have to read the instructions again, and find what you might have missed the first time.

Well gee, sometimes it’s hard to keep that enthusiasm under control while you’re building. You just get in a hurry to finish up and start on the next section!

But I digress. I selected this radio because I enjoy putting kits together – making something that you can actually use when you’re done. And I wanted to learn something while doing so. With the Sienna, I found this to be the case several times over.

There are three manuals: assembly, service, and operations. Putting the radio together was challenging in a sense, due to the number of parts, and the sophistication of the design. But it was also very enjoyable, since it was obvious that a LOT of thought had gone into the design and packaging. As others have mentioned, there is plenty of room to work, and troubleshoot when needed. Putting it together was like reading a great novel – each section was an adventure, where you discover something about the mind of the designer. Indeed, just like coming to the end of a good book, you are a little sad when the radio is complete, because you know there is nothing else like it available on the market.

In short, this radio is an excellent challenge for the kit builder, and when you’re done – performance!

I’ve owned a number of middle to higher-end radios from Icom, Kenwood, and Yaesu. More recently, I’ve owned the Elecraft K3 and KX3. The Sienna is better. The quality of construction is higher, and the performance is just as good. In fact, since this is a modern analog radio, the audio is better. You can hear the difference, and it’s easier on the ears.

There are also a lot of features that you’d expect in a high-end radio, including switchable dual transmit/receive antennas, and a separate receive-only antenna input. There is a serial remote control port, and even selectable IF outputs, in case you’d like to run some of the more popular panadapter-type programs. But there are also many features that you can’t get on ready-made radios, such as a dizzying array of filter combinations, and menu options to configure hardware and software operations the way you like them. You can even pick out the color of your front panel, and the led lights for the buttons!

Finally, there is the service you receive from Brian Wood at DZ Kits. It is simply incredible. He exceeds your expectations at every turn. It is the best I've received anywhere in the ham radio marketplace.

To put it simply: this is THE RADIO. If you buy one, you won’t be selling it. I'd give it a "10" if I could!
KE6EE Rating: 2016-05-29
Excellent Design Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought a DZ Sienna kit three years ago (2013) because I wanted a full-sized rig for my operating desk. I had built a K2 kit three years before on returning to ham radio after a 50 year hiatus. The K2 is a very good radio but it’s quite small with many functions accessed via menu.

My reasons for buying the Sienna (not in any order of priority):

1. It’s a kit. For me a new rig should be a kit. Building a kit is instructive and enjoyable. The basic knowledge you get from kit-building is critical for understanding design, operation and trouble-shooting.

2. It has unique features such as a fully modular design and a straightforward, simple and uncluttered front panel.

3. An exceptionally wide selection of filters is available for a custom selectivity setup.

4. The radio is designed for use with computer and/or panadapter.

5. There is a range of voice modes including AM, FM and ESSB not available on a K2.

The Sienna exceeded my expectations for kit-building. It’s a complex and challenging kit which took me over a year to complete due to other matters getting in the way.

Throughout my extended kit-building, Brian Wood the designer was always available by email for help, responding to all my questions very quickly.

I’ve been using it full-time for well over a year. It works very well indeed. I have used it almost 100% on CW. My rig has two 8-pole 400Hz filters at two IFs which can be shifted in relation to one another with front-panel controls. This is the best system for dealing with interfering signals that I have used.

There is a dedicated button for full QSK. All keyer controls are on the front panel. There are multiple places to plug in keys and paddles on the front and back.

A really thoughtful person designed all aspects of the operating interface.

The front panel has two analog meters, one for selectable transmitter functions and the other an S-meter. There is a unique fluorescent alphanumeric display which is very clear and easy to read and provides operational information as well as menus needed infrequently for aligning and setting-up.

The components, including the chassis and the case, are highest quality. Everything fits together mechanically very well.

There is a selection of front panel designs and colors. Push buttons can be in various colors. All buttons light up when their functions are engaged.

There really isn’t a lot of information out there about this rig. The DZkit website is useful but not entirely revealing. What is missing I think is a full story about designer Brian Wood. He has produced a really unique, reliable, flexible, high-performance, easy-to-use transceiver. The result is a most impressive accomplishment. Maybe someone will tell that story some day.
K8SQL Rating: 2015-04-28
beautiful american designed radio Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
great radio and a pleasure to build. Brian at dz kits works with u with any problems. would i buy again yes.beautiful transmit and receive audio.the sienna is worth the price. don k8sql
XE1ZLG Rating: 2013-04-10
With upgrades.. NB works perfect." Radio a la Carte " Time Owned: more than 12 months.
The only desing mistake was solved with last upgrade hardware and software.. the NB. Now the NB woks perfect... my radio has the sensitivity as described.
No preamp.......... 1 microvolt
First preamp....... 0.4 microvolt
second preamp...... 0.2 microvolt. Measure as 10db/noise ( SN /N ) with 2.4 khz bandwidth and 1 khz cw tone. Also my dradio ( serial number 022 ) ears AM 2500 khz WWVH that my Ftdx5000 can not even detect( with same antenna and both radios without preamps not engaded ). Excellent general coverage TxRx.

Congrats Brian ( Sienna designer )!

Earlier 4-star review posted by XE1ZLG on 2012-03-27

I tried to change my last review of this transceiver... have to say that the radio is awesome, performance is above the Icom 7000, FT 847, Ft 950 and other middle range transceivers ( mine is serial number 022 ) .. AGC ( AGC gain in SSB sets at 202 value ) needs a touch to get good specs ( sensitivity on SSB is 0,8 microvolt with both preamps with 2.8 khz BW ), EXCELLENT-SUPERB selectivity with 6 khz Inrad roofing, my radio has 2.4 khz 10 poles Inrad in the second IF and 5.8 khz Collins third IF ... very articulated and nice SSB sound with 5.8 khz Collins filter in the last IF and very good audio in AM with 20 khz ceramic filteralso in the last IF.... the radio needs further development , noise blanker needs a new desing and other mods made in the fly by Brian.... have to say Brian give super-ultra customer service... Audio recovery on the receiver sound Natural not perfect DSP !!!! No other radio offers a wide options for IF crystal and mechanical filters and color schemes !!!!
Earlier 5-star review posted by XE1ZLG on 2011-09-01

The radio is first class quality in all ( except noise blanker and the IF band pass filters in AM band .. ) !!! All mechanical encoders and controls knobs feel premium and better than the Ftdx 5000D !! FtDx 5000 panel controls ( knobs ) now feels cheap !! In audio quality much better than Yaesu, AM signal sound " real ;, Inrad filters ( 6 khz AM and 2.4 , 2.8 Khz SSB ) and high quality speakers really does the Job... Essb band Tx audio quality in the same league as the Ftdx 5000. Sensitivity is not in the Ftdx 5000 class but notto far. Excellent good calibration on AGC in SSB.
Only two weak parts of the radio, one is the Bandpass IF filters, it is not very strong... prone to overload only in AM ( 590 khz- 1600 khz ) band and the second .. the Noise blanker is not is the same league as the Ftdx 5000, but works !! Brian gives top notch customer support, replaying soon to email and easy to find by phone.. The other....excellent feature....the is a radio " a la carte ".. you can choose front panel color, kind of pushbuttons and led colors on those... impossible to find in another place..
K9FOH Rating: 2012-08-24
Quality American HF Transceiver Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
The DZKit Sienna is a new HF transceiver for the amateur community. It is a kit and comes in a variety of configurations. The basic unit is a receive-only unit without a front panel and must be operated with a computer. An optional front panel makes the unit a stand-alone receiver. A transmitter may be added to turn the rig into an HF transceiver. The transmitter may be added without the front panel but the transceiver would still require an external computer. A 100-watt amplifier and internal tuner may also be added which will bring the rig up to a full-blown HF transceiver. Full features and specifications may be found at

I have been building kits for over 50 years dating back to the days of Knight Kit, Heathkit, and Hallicrafters (yes, the HT-40 transmitter was a kit). Through the years I have lost count of the number of kits I have built, but I can’t think of many companies that I have not built at least one of their kits. The list, in no particular order, includes Ramsey, Wilderness Radio, Ten Tec, MFJ, Oak Hills, Hendricks, QRPme, M3Electronix, HES Radio, Weber, Rex Harper, N0XAS, and the Genesis SDR rigs. I’m sure I left out some. The builds have ranged from rather easy like the PicoKeyer, to the Genesis series which had been my most challenging up to the Sienna.

The Sienna has been the most comprehensive and challenging that I have built. It has also been the most rewarding and I have a true sense of accomplishment when I turn on the Sienna. Almost like my capstone building project. This review includes my views primarily from a builder/operator rather than a technical review which others are far more qualified to make than I. In no particular order I will highlight my experience focusing on the features that I find impressive.

There are three different manuals: The construction or assembly; operating or user’s manual; and service manual which includes schematics (60), block diagrams, and troubleshooting guidelines. The manuals are very comprehensive and thorough. DZKit also includes a flash-drive with up-to-date pictorials to aid in the building process.

The actual building is divided into logical assemblies and manual sections include a parts list for that particular board. The sequential build includes check-points to help ensure each section is working properly before moving on to the next phase. The parts are also sorted into individual bags. All surface mount components (except for a few) are mounted prior to leaving DZKit. The build went fairly smoothly and I think I only misplaced one part—C36 for C63—which is not too bad for someone over 65 with dyslexia. A large, lighted magnifying glass and good temperature controlled soldering iron are a must. Check for an excellent selection of soldering tools and accessories. The toroids and transformers are where most building errors crop up and I had a couple of pesky transformer windings shorted. No other significant problems were encountered in the actual build.

The alignment took some time due to the aforementioned wiring errors, a loose RF cable, and a couple of defective surface mount components. The design is open enough to allow good ventilation and includes a fan for the transmitter and a second fan for the PA. With the board layout there is ample room for alignment and troubleshooting. There are what at first glance may appear to be an excessive number of interconnecting cables. This allows for expansion, board swapping, alignment, and troubleshooting, something that far offsets the number of cables. Double checking the cable placement is a must as it is easy to get cables miss-matched, especially the RF cables. I had two cables that were not seated properly (at two different times), one RF cable between front panel and chassis and one feeding RF to the receiver at a different time. However, they were fairly easy to isolate to the suspect board and correct.

Operational features include some that I have not found on any other radio. I have a N3ZN paddle plugged in the rear jack and a K8RA paddle plugged in the front jack. A Kent straight key goes in the rear and a second straight key can be connected front-side. The two paddles are neat to try left and right hand sending without having to rewire a paddle, use a jumper cable, or switch paddles. RS-232 interface control is included and I have my Sienna setup to run with a RF Space SDR-IQ for panoramic display and frequency control. A dedicated mini computer may also be installed in the rig but I am going to opt for a second cabinet and use the extra internal space for an HES Radio level control interface for digital modes. Currently I am using a Heil PR-35 or Pro Set Plus for SSB. Another feature is separate volume controls for the internal speakers and a separate control for the headphones. The main digital frequency display always reads the receive frequency regardless of what the RIT/XIT or split function is set at. Secondary frequencies are displayed in smaller scale below the main frequency. I am still learning all the features but these are the ones that come to mind for my initial review.

The staff at DZKit provides excellent customer support and help with any building problems. While the company may be in its infancy they are up to par with any company I have dealt with including some well-known competitors. It is also nice to have another American company providing amateurs with a quality product. Hopefully, other reviewers will address additional features of this quality transceiver. Bob, K9FOH

KE5QDA Rating: 2011-02-01
Ten out of Ten! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
This kit transceiver is the best investment I ever made. I had built other brands and not been pleased with the results...sold them on Ebay. The Sienna is in a whole other class. Everything about the Sienna has been meticulously engineered and programmed.

All parts are top quality and suited for their use. They've all been tested before you receive them. And, the manual is easy to read and understand.

Brian provides top-notch support when you hit a snag. Some of us aren't the best at soldering and something is bound to not work. It usually takes about three emails and less than four hours to get past the snags.

The best part is the sound. I can clearly copy CW signals that don't even move the S-meter. Yes, the S-meter is properly calibrated and analog...connected to HRD & Digital Master 780, it can read CW signals as low as S-2. DM780 can't do that with any other transceiver I've had.

You may think I'm crazy in Love...well, I just put on the headset and dial in a faint signal and enjoy listening!
WD0DXD Rating: 2010-04-11
Great Transceiver! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I purchased this last fall. In all I spent about 40 hours getting it running.

It spanned over 6 months only because I got busy at times with other things.

The manual is top notch. The quality of the components are exceptional and you can't beat the Tech support.

I love the menu system of the Front Panel. I like that a lot of the main functions are just a push button, not a menu item.

I like the fact that when I get the embeded PC I will just be able to unhook a few connections and take it camping or to field day. Last year we had a couple of guys tell us that they spent over an hour getting their rigs hooked back up, with all the PC connections and such.

Great kit designed by an excellent engineer.

You can watch my build at,21.0.html.

W6VHK Rating: 2010-01-31
DZKIT / Sienna Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
The Sienna caught my interest a few years ago when I saw it on the internet and when they became available late last year I purchased one.

Due to financial restrictions I had to start with the "basic" receiver with no front panel ( computer control only ).

Within a week of ordering the kit arrived at my front door. I got to work on it right away and it took me around a week of working a few hours a night to finish it.

Final alignment took around an hour, and after downloading HRD ( Ham Radio Deluxe ) off the net for free, I was ready to go.

I was surprised at how well this radio sounds, Even though I only had the stock filters.

A few weeks later I purchased the front panel kit. ( around 4-5 hours build time) and the transmitter kit ( around 10 hours build time).

It was a very easy straightforward kit to build, Nothing really hard about it. The manual is easy to understand, and it all worked first time!

I might add that this is a very high quality kit. From the knobs and meters to the chassis sheet metal and cabinet it is very impressive

In the near future I plan on adding the computer and the 100 watt amp / tuner as well as a few more filters.

All in all I am very pleased and it is now the main radio in my shack. If you want a fun kit to build ( and a cool radio when you are done) get one, I don't think you will be disappointed.