How "Dated" Is The Kenwood TS 850 ?

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by KA7NIQ, Mar 6, 2011.

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  1. KA7NIQ

    KA7NIQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I bought my Kenwood TS 850 quite awhile ago after calling ARRL headquaters.
    I was told the Kenwood 850 had just about the best receiver performance ever measured in the ARRL Lab, at that time. Many years have passed, and I was wondering what the pro's and con's of a newer radio might be, besides extra bands. I only operate SSB, but may try AM.
  2. KH6AQ

    KH6AQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Here is a link to the Sherwood Engineering receiver tests:

    The TS-850 is listed with a Narrow Spaced Dynamic range of 77 dB. Contrast this with the Elecraft K3 at 101 dB or the new Kenwood TS-590 at 88 dB.

    Where this matters is during CW contesting, particularly on 160 meters. If your receiver is not being "crunched" you probably have all the dynamic range you need.
  3. KA7NIQ

    KA7NIQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Wow! I remember talking to the ARRL Lab Tech before I bought my TS 850 and at that time, he said the 850 was tops in receiver blocking dynamic range. I don't do CW anymore (never did), nor do I contest. It would be nice to have 6 meters though, and maybe DSP. Plus that new Kenwood TS 590 has the transmit EQ and all. I have not explored all that High Quality Audio Stuff fully, but I was told the Kenwood 850 with the DSP box is capable of that High Quality Audio that seems to be in fashion today ? A FEW of those guys are real Lids with that High Quality Audio Stuff, splattering all over the bands, and readable on BOTH sidebands. I guess anything carried to extremes is not good.
    K7ONY likes this.
  4. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm not so sure the words "in fashion" apply to ESSB or so called high quality audio. If a SSB transmitter is set up correctly it should sound very nice with no more than a 3 KHZ audio bandwidth. The problem with most ESSB installations is the bass response is cranked up to the max and this causes distortion and splatter.

    From a more practical standpoint the design of the TS-850 is dated but it is a very solid design and the performance of the radio is excellent particularly on CW. Adding an outboard EQ and other sound mangling junk and cramming it into the auxiliary audio input on the rear pannel will result in a signal that occupies as much bandwidth as an AM signal and sounds goofy on most receivers.

    If you have the opportunity to buy one and the price is right get it, but leave the audio alone.
  5. KA7NIQ

    KA7NIQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    LOL, you are sure right about the bass being cranked up on ESSB. The external speakers of most radios do not have any bass response to speak of, so people compensate by increasing the bass sliders on their equalizers. I agree it sounds goofy.
  6. N5XM

    N5XM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The 850 is a fine radio regardless of age. If you're not contesting, it shouldn't matter. I look at rigs nowdays, and the numbers are great, but have often wondered if the typical abused adult ears can actually hear all these fine specs and numbers. How far can things be refined anyway? On phone, how often are you gonna try to pull people out of the mud for a regular QSO anyway? Sure, the top of the line rigs are "better", but if you have a couple of filters and band pass tuning, sometimes I think we're just guilding the lilly. If your radio works for you, why change? Go to others shacks and listen to some of the newer rigs and see what you think. Rcvr specs are important, but the dollars go up exponentially for what you get.
  7. KA7NIQ

    KA7NIQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's kind of what I was thinking too! I mostly work 15 or 17 meters, and some 10. These are uncrowded bands, mostly. If things get too nasty on 75 with splatter, etc, etc, I can always hit the attenuator. Actually, I have found very few situations the 850 can't handle, for my operating habits. I would love to have 6 meters, so perhaps it may be best for me to simply buy a dedicated 6 meter radio, maybe one with 2 meter SSB as well ? To go from the TS 850 to the TS 599 will cost me about 1200.00! Maybe I just buy a used 6 and 2 meter SSB rig for 400.00 and have 800.00 left over for an amplifier ? For 800.00 there are some nice Amps!
  8. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    As noted in the ARRL and Sherwood tests the Yaesu FTDX-5000 is the best on the market at this time and a true operators radio.
  9. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    If the 850S is still working properly and hasn't failed, I'd keep using it.

    Then spend money on antennas. Or better still, double your money by folding it in half and putting it back in your pocket.
  10. K1DNR

    K1DNR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Wow. The band switch just finally went kaput on my TS-530s... I liked that rig. It'll be a fun project to tear it apart to try and fix it. Not sure it is worth it. Major PITA repair from what I gather.

    An 850s is like a dream machine to me... Still out of my budget, which is about zero right now...

    Yeah, save your money! Or spend it where you'll get more bang for the buck.
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