Analog Transceivers- high end Candidates ICOM, Yaesu & Kenwood

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by N8FVJ, Sep 4, 2019.

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  1. N8FVJ

    N8FVJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Some hams with less than good ears prefer an older analog transceiver due to the receive audio is more clear on SSB. Note that CW is not an issue. Newer digital transceivers sound something like a blanket is placed over the speaker. Perhaps a better statement is the new radios sound like using a 1.8 kHz SSB filter vs 2.4 kHz or at least that way to my poor ears. Do note young ears have no difficulty hearing the SSB audio on the newer digital radios.

    If your ears are not great consider the following older analog radios. The TS-830S with legendary audio did not make the list due to frequency drift, but considered the best sounding and clear SSB ham radio ever made. The following transceivers I listed have close to zero frequency drift or not detectable on the HF bands. Long term listening has a fatigue factor. The list of transceivers below are not very fatiguing over hours of use. All recommended HF transceivers include an antenna tuners and about no drift. High stability TXCO are options and are preferred, but I would not turn down the following transceivers without a TXCO.

    Top of list IMO is the Kenwood TS-940SAT or TS-950 series. The TS-950 are either the SD or SDX model. These transceivers tops the list of QST reviews for best selectivity and low noise floor. Some has issues with the solder joints, but most with issues have been 'weeded out' or have been repaired. I would look for late serial numbers as these transceivers have all the Kenwood service bulletins installed from the factory. You can search the internet for high serial number radios. Prices range from about $500 to $700 for the TS-940SAT and $800 to $1200 for the TS-950 series with the SDX having the highest price. Some ask more, but you do not have to pay more. Ask about optional filters installed, however the standard 2400 Hz SSB filter is about as tight as old ears prefer.

    Next is the Yaesu FT-1000MP and Mark V. The MP series is 100 watts out and the MP MK V is 200 watts out. Most for sale are MK V series. Many hams have no intention of selling this HF transceiver. Good news is 1000s of these radios were produced and are for sale. The receiver is not quite as selective and quiet as the Kenwood TS-940 or TS-950 series per QST and Sherwood Engineering tests, but the HF bands are not crowded like in years past unless a contest is scheduled. An outboard DBR speakers removes most noise anyways (more on this below). The FT-1000MP series of radios are very reliable unlike some of the Kenwood transceivers listed above. Fine examples range from $800 to $1200. Most are around $1000 and up in price. Most have all filters installed.

    The ICOM IC-765 is a very good radio. Some state the receiver audio amplifier is a little noisy (hiss), but an outboard DNR speaker removes the noise including band noise. The transceiver selectivity is a little better than the Yaesu FT-1000 series.These radios are reliable. Cost is little less expensive than the Kenwood or Yaesu. I seen fine examples sell for $600. It is a very good receiver. The Yaesu FT-1000 series is better overall and at least 5 years newer.

    Some Hams may be concerned about service and the factories do not support these radios. However, there are experts available that specialize in these radio repairs and can service any issue.

    I use an AD COM DNR speaker. Removing band noise is very important with less than good hearing. Many older Hams have issues mentally removing the background noise with the received signal. The DNR in the AD COM speaker is better than most modern transceivers DNR as the sound is natural sounding and that is important to older ears. Although expensive new at over $200, many used are available for about $100. Buy used. This speaker makes the received SSB signal armchair copy.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
    N3AWS and KA2FIR like this.
  2. N8FVJ

    N8FVJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sorry, I meant AM-COM DNR speaker.
  3. N8FVJ

    N8FVJ Ham Member QRZ Page

  4. N8FVJ

    N8FVJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Viewing sales of these transceivers on eBay, they are selling at least one a week of the TS-950 and two a week of the FT-1000MP. The Icom IC-765 is rarely listed on ebay, but likely every one that is listed will likely sell in one week. The FT-1000MP listings is about two to one of the more rare TS-950. So, they are popular with the Hams.
  5. N8FVJ

    N8FVJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Prices of high-end analog transceivers sold on ebay.

    The TS-940 sold as working radios for $355 to $900 with an average of $600. This makes the TS-940 the best bargain as it's performance is about equal to the TS-950 series and due to somewhat noisy IC-765 audio chain better than the ICOM for same average cost.

    The TS-950SD sold at one for $500 not working and $499, $800 and $1280 as working radios. The $1280 radio did not have the digital module. The TS-950SDX sold on as not working for $649 and two working for $699 and $1095. Average price for both models was about $825 for SD model and $900 for SDX model.

    The FT-1000MP sold for as fully working radios for $625, $769, $780, $850, $975, $985, $999, $1000, $1020, $1099, $1100, $1126, $1195, $1499, $1500 and $1600. Average price for working radios was about $1000.

    The IC-765 sold as a non-working radio for $300 and fully functioning radios for $525 and $730. Working radios average about $600.

    Thus, you should not pay more than the average cost and perhaps can bargain the higher cost radios lower based upon this information.
    PY2RAF likes this.
  6. OK1RP

    OK1RP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi all,

    if you are thinking about an analog radio but using modern circuitry then try to think about the RGO ONE...

    This coming new CW/SSB all HF bands transceiver is the “golden classic” architecture of 9MHz IF superhet with good filtered front-end and proper roofing crystal IF filters.
    It is using PHEMT LNA, high dynamic range H-mode mixer, 8+4 poles xtal filters etc.
    Full, fast and absolute quiet QSK with proper timing is devoted to all CW enthusiasts.
    It looks like great era of famous TenTec tcvrs is coming back [​IMG]

    Experiences with RGO ONE in CQWW, CW by John, AE5X:
    Some pics of my new arrived RGO ONE are uploaded in here:

    The RGO ONE as non-soldering kit at $450-$550 can be the bargain I guess.

    And one more think... I like very much the sentences posted by KW6LA:
    "I do like the old style controls. RGO ONE looks like a radio, not a garage door opener!"

    73 - Petr, OK1RP
    W1BR and N3AWS like this.
  7. SV2HZF

    SV2HZF Ham Member QRZ Page

    RGO ONE is a unique rig but imho the plastic face panel really kills the aesthetic...
  8. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    This claim does not seem to be supported by facts nor by general discussion here on The Zed. You seem to be the one pushing this claim for the last several months, over, and over. Ahem.

    Certainly, the perceived audio in radios with Digital Signal Processing and SDR, can be different, and sometimes objectionable. This can be caused by many factors, some adjustable, and cannot be made as a blanket statement.

    Tens of thousands of older hams seem to be buying SDR based radios and are happy with them.

    Your repeated mentioning of a particular speaker as the sole solution seems odd.

    SDR and DSP systems with low bit rates will yield poorer audio.

    Over cranking DSP results in poor audio.

    Using Noise Blanker with strong adjacent signals can result in poor audio. Many hams do not understand that NB is intended for pulse sources like car ignition noise, not for general use.

    Many newer radios have equalizers that can adjust receive audio. The default settings are probably flat, and not idealized. Many users may not be familiar with these settings.

    It it just not factual to claim that all SDR radios yield poor SSB audio that older ears cannot understand.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
    N3AWS, KV6O, AE8W and 2 others like this.
  9. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page


    To establish a factual basis for further discussion please provide more information....

    1. Specific radio model(s) that have inferior SSB audio.
    This will allow us to examine the receiver architecture and bit rates/clock speed of SDR/DSP chips, filters and whether they have audio equalizer settings.

    2. A copy of your most recent audiogram from a certified audiologist.
    Your hearing ability has direct bearing on your perception and claims.

    thanks, b.
  10. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Regarding the Clear Speech speaker...

    AM-COM appears to be long out of business.

    Heil offered a speaker by that name but appears to be discontinued.

    -If this speaker is "The solution" to SDR poor SSB audio, we appear to be out of luck, since it is no longer available! ;)

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