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Reviews For: Kenwood TS-590S

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

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Review Summary For : Kenwood TS-590S
Reviews: 267MSRP: 1799.99
The TS-590S marks a bold new chapter in Kenwood's proud history of manufacturing high-performance transceivers. Featuring a narrow-band Roofing Filter the TS-590S significantly reduces interference from unwanted signals that would be hidden to lesser rigs. With IF AGC based on advanced DSP technology, Kenwood has essentially redefined HF performance.
Product is in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KB3IBT Rating: 2019-06-14
The answer for noise level at my QTH Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I walked into my local HRO back in March to purchase a FTDX3000. Their stock was depleted. So my second choice was a TS-590sg. While there, I played with a 890 and an Icom 7300. I have done exhaustive research on the 590, 3000, and 7300 for the price point. I was leaning towards the 3000 because it has a color screen and usb port. I was so impressed by the ergonomics of the 590 that I had to take it home. Minimum menu intervention while operating. The receiver is amazing with the options available right out of the box. The noise level at times at my QTH is so unbearable, (s7-9 at times) that it makes dx impossible. I am happy to say that the NB1 and 2 work very well for me along with the notch filter. The usb connection was so easy to setup. I have been working mostly FT8 lately with good results. I have owned a TS-2000 that I sold so I can experience a new radio. This 590 is a keeper! I am still learning the potential it has. I can't wait to purchase a TS-890 so I can use the 590 as a sub receiver. In my opinion, this radio is the best bang the the buck at the moment. Rumor has it that the receiver is very much like the one in the 890 without all the bells and whistles it has! (but you didn't hear me say that!) I also have an 870, that sadly, will be up for sale to help finance the 890. Life is good!
W8NLZ Rating: 2018-11-13
Unbeatable for Price & Value Time Owned: more than 12 months.
The best endorsement one can give a radio - I bought a 2nd one.

Disclosure: I am an old school ham - still thrill to the knob twisting and morse code of as they did it when I was first licensed. And, I am a Kenwood man - the displays, knobs, and buttons are just what and where you want them. I am content to stumble along without a pan adapter.

To me, it is unbelievable that you can buy such a good transceiver used for less than half of the MSRP. 3rd order intercept statistics aside, the TS-590S has as much capability as the average ham can use. Beyond this point, the antennas become much more important. The "SG" suffix will add little to your daily ops.

The other 31 reviews ahead of me have extolled its fine points. I will just reiterate: at the going price for "lightly used", the TS-590S is a terrific buy.
ON5HB Rating: 2018-02-24
Compared to few others, it's by far the best! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I own this radio for quite some time now and compared it to others. There is simply no comparison, it sticks out way above the rest.
One of it's "problems" is the sensitivity, it's very high, as such I run it with ATT on all the time.
Because if you do the DSP is far better in filtering rubbish away.
I run it with an Acom 1010 and it has no problems or spikes or other stuff, the Acom doesn't complain one bit.

The newer radio TS-590SG is not worth switching unless you need a Pan-adapter, both are equal in performance and options.

Few remarks are in order:

1) The build in speaker isn't very good, with an external it shines.
2) The USB connector isn't very well protected against overload, I had a surge spike due to lightning and it blew, beyond repair! (everything is double so no problem but still)
3) The Multi-rotation-knob isn't very well build, if you use it often it will start to give false readings and jumps up and down in values/freq.

Other then these small issues, it's an excellent radio.

Another remark, there are a lot of extra jumper-settings inside the radio to change e.g. sensitivity, if you are on expedition on a remote island you may want to switch jumpers to gain more signal as it can be jumped a lot higher!
There is a DX-jumper inside!! But not useful in crowded areas.
N9CM Rating: 2017-11-04
The best! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Great radio, very affordable, still stands neck to neck with many radios far more expensive.

Earlier 5-star review posted by N9CM on 2015-06-05

Have had a couple of 590s in the past and came back to one now. Planning on keeping this one. For the $ spent (typically less than $1100) you get one hell of a receiver with top notch performance.

I compared mine to a PRO2 on 6 meters and honestly, the 590 was a bit quieter and more sensitive in hearing a weak signal. On the PRO2 I could hear about 60% of the transmission and on the 590 like %90 or greater (without any NR).

Radio is easy to use, takes some learning to use it well and just about the right size for portable or expedition use. Great for base too and easy to read legends on it.

I don't go much on numbers alone but on the ergonmics, functionality and how much enjoyment it is to use. So won't go into the numbers jazz.

All in all, I would but this radio again if I had to. Great to use, solid performer and a great contest radio that won't wear me out.
Earlier 5-star review posted by N9CM on 2015-01-04

Well, since you can't update a posting, here is my update since I have "learned" more about how to use this radio.

I am not a NR fan, but I will say this. When working weak signal DX with lots noise, I kick in the filters of course and then NR1 at setting 8 or so, and it does make a big difference. No, the station doesn't jump into my lap, but it certainly does come up significantly over the noise. Made the difference many times trying to work a DX station on 40 meters with high noise levels. Won't go into all the other aspects of the radio, mentioned enough already. Is the 590SG worth the $700 or more over a 590S? Not in my opinion. From the very limited dynamic range increase (less than 5 DB), certainly not something I would ever hear or notice. No, will stick with the 590. Try one for an extended period of time, to learn it, and I think you will come to the same conclusion.
W1AST Rating: 2017-04-29
Excellent Rig for any user! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I've had my TS-590s for nearly 6 years now. It is my 3rd 5 series Kenwood from my original 520s, 570dg and now the 590s.

A few basic points in that it has fabulous transmit audio. I get compliments all the time. I do use a Heil PR781 mic with it. But I get those comments with the hand mic and my Heil headset too. It also has great receive audio. Given Kenwoods audio history they have incorporated that into the 590s too for audio that you can list to for hours on end and it won't tire you out with it's mechanical or electronic sound like some other transcievers (some that are much more $$ too). The menu is set it up and rarely go back to it. All the keys are laid out ergonomically and makes sense as they are grouped together to make use and especially to remember how to use it if away for a while.

During last years NPOTA chasing I really put the DSP filters to good use and learned more about them while making stations in the noise come up and the noise go down. After all this time I'm still mastering that and it works great! This is for both SSB and CW.

I have a Dayton audio speaker on it and that sounds great and also use a Elecraft KPA-500 amp and KAT500 tuner with it. Both work exceptional and track bands and modes thru a series of cables.

All in all you won't be disappointed with the 590s and the audio reports you'll get from DX and everyone may surprise you too.

I still love my 590 and hope to be using it for many more years!
WB9MSM Rating: 2017-04-14
Great Radio! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have had my TS-590S for three years and I still like it a lot. It has been a real workhorse and does exactly what I need it to do. I have it now set-up with the SDRPlay which makes for a beautiful panadapter. This rig has been to Kenwood East for their free ALC mod. The only real downside is that I would of liked to have an illuminated front panel display for all the buttons and knobs. If you come across one of these for sale I don't think you could go wrong with buying it. It is truly an excellent Phone,CW and Digital rig.

Earlier 5-star review posted by WB9MSM on 2014-04-30

I have only owned my TS-590S for a little over a month but truly feel it is a great rig. Let me tell you that I think the receive is awesome. I still have a TS-2000 and think that it is a nice radio but not the same quality as this TS-590S. The receive is quiet and the audio coming from the SP-23 sounds almost FM quality. It seems that this rig has everything that I am looking for in a radio. The memory channels are nice to have for DXing. I purchased the voice recorder which I feel is a must for this radio. The free software that you download from the Kenwood site is also very nice and fully functional. All in all a really nice radio at a reasonable price. The only thing I wish they would of added was the capability to replay and re-transmit memory channel RX/4 for other hams to hear themselves. This would of been a nice feature for audio reports to fellow hams. I still like my TS-2000 but the TS-590S has replaced it as the #1 operating station in my shack.
WD5ACP Rating: 2017-03-19
Update - at 4 years - Better then ever! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Been a ham since 1975.

I've been enjoying my TS-590 now for almost 4 years and in my opinion of the radio keeps getting better. I've kept the firmware up to date and also sent the radio to the East Coast service center for the free ALC mod (cost only the shipping to the service center). I use the radio with and without HRD and sometimes with the free remote operation software from Kenwood for operating the station remotely when I travel. Kudo's to Kenwood for the level of support they provide their customers.

I don't have a solid state amp, so I didn't really need the ALC hardware mod, but since I wanted to keep the radio up-to-date I sent it in anyway. Not only did the service center complete the mod, they also did some minor calibration. Upon return the relative output on SSB seemed to go up. My "punch" improved.

The radio has been 100% since the day I purchased it. Never a burp or issue. I've tweaked the menus so I have it operating smoothly in SSB, digital modes, computer control, with and without amp... it just works, and works well. The speech processor is especially impressive with both a processor IN and an processor OUT setting. Take time to adjust these and you'll be very impressed.

SSB transmit reports I get back are stellar - I'm not exaggerating... I get a ton of unsolicited comments on how good the Tx is! (I use the processor, but keep the Tx and Rx equalizers flat). I use the matching MC-60 desk mic with the preamp wiring bypassed (to prevent RF issues).

The Rx is just what you've read. Selective and sensitive. Connected to an external speaker the audio sounds great.

I've looked at other radios since I picked up the TS-590 but honestly I can't justify any other Radio. I was never a Kenwood fan-boy, but this rig really has me convinced. You'll be hard pressed to find a better performer. If you're buying new, the SG variant is the one to get.

My only MINOR wishes are I wish the buttons were back-lit and the IF bandwidth Hi/Low ... Width/Shift knob is more complicated and limited than it should be. Simple High/Low cut with full range would be preferred, though what the rig has works fine. I'm just nit-picking to find something to complain about.

For a good read download the engineering guide that Kenwood put out for the radio - covers everything from the electronic design to the selection of the color of the paint and the design of the main tuning knob. Kenwood put a LOT of thought into this rig and it shows.
NT9M Rating: 2016-12-04
Extremly pleased Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Going on 29 months with my TS-590S and I'll offer my first comments about it.

Having used a TS-2000 for more than a dozen years, the user interface of the 590 is very familiar and IMO very user friendly. All the things you would want to adjust on the fly and in the heat of the contest are right there on the front panel.

Just worked some of the ARRL 160 Meter contest this weekend (CW) and the band was packed with signals. The 590s receiver easily handled the cacophony of signals, working weak signals a whisker away from S9+ signals.

I did find some slight variation of frequency calibration on the 6 meter band, but one of the very low cost TCXO modules purchased on ebay corrected that issue.

My 590S was one of the last ones built before the 590SG came out, so it already had the ALC mod done at the factory, and I have never had any difficulty making 100 watts output with my audio input adjusted to just where the ALC meter starts to indicate on peaks. No need to run audio any higher. I've received many a compliment on my audio using a Heil Goldline and a Heil ProSet Plus mic with the equalization set to HB1.

My only gripe is my own bad timing. I purchased my 590S new and paid full price, only to have the 590SG debut a couple of months later. Win some and lose some.

At the prices these are currently bringing on the used market, they are an absolute best value for the dollar.
WD5ENH Rating: 2016-11-19
Just OK Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This past August I traded in my Kenwood TS-590s for a Kenwood TS-2000 because I got interested in working satellite. I have read the reviews about the Kenwood TS-590s about the receiving and I will omit it receives very well. But what I don't like about the radio is the transmitting power. Yes a dead carrier will show you 100 W out, but speaking into the radio and yes I do have a peek reading watt meter and it was showing to be about between 50 to 60 W out. And I feel that I have lost more contacts because of that. I will omit that I do like the DSP features of the radio but I did not like the transmitting performance. As for as power output my Kenwood TS-2000 works great, I have made more contacts with this radio than I did with the 590s working with the same antenna. Would I have a Kenwood TS-590s as a backup radio? Probably not.
RW9RN Rating: 2016-11-11
This transceiver is done in a hurry Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
Interesting receiver, not ergonomics, incomprehensible transmitter.