Kenwood TS-950SD Review

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by N8FVJ, Sep 20, 2019.

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  1. N8FVJ

    N8FVJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    The TS-950SD is an old transceiver. Some may shy away from 30 year old radios, but this radio is worthy for consideration. First, if you have ears that are older and do not hear SSB so well, the TS-950SD like the older TS-830 has about the most clear receive audio I ever heard on a remote speaker. Note that interior tiny speakers never sound good lacking fidelity.

    The receiver is so quiet on the TS-950 that a high quality DNR speaker is not necessary. I owned TS-590SG, IC-7300, Ten Tec Eagle and FT-991A and those receivers could not possible not use the built-in DNR on any less than 10 over S-9 signals. A DNR speaker such s the AM-COM sound like 2 meter FM on 75 meters at night and that includes early evening.

    The transmit side produces 150 watts out so the TS-950 will drive any lower gain amplifier to full output. The IMD in the SD model with Bipolar RF transistors is over 10dB better than the best newer MOS-FET RF transistor transceivers and the MOS-FET SDX is a little better than most newer transceivers. For high quality transmit and some hear a clean vs no so clean signal, the TS-950 cannot be bettered.

    The second receiver in the TS_950 is not so good. Not that it is bad, but the main receiver is far, far superior. The radio has a very stabile frequency and the optional TXCO makes it even more stabile. On air reports state the TS-950 is exactly on frequency. The great sounding TS-830 drifts. No drift using the TS-950.

    Some of these radios had poor solder joints on the PLL board, but those radios are weeded out now and likely had been repaired. It may be still possible to have an issue, but likely rare.

    The electrolytic capacitors wear out in radios. Power supply capacitors fail first due to high ripple current. Capacitors downstream from the power supply last longer. It is still uncommon for failures in these radios. I own this radio and I will replace most of the power supply capacitors as they are not perfectly reliable after 30 years. Not saying they wont last 45 years, but I prefer to replace them vs possible damage to the power supply electronics during a capacitor short. The values are 22000uF @ 80v, 2x 4700uF @ 35V, 1000uF @ 35V and 22000uF @ 35 volts. Purchase the smallest 22000uF @ 80V capacitor available. Digikey has small caps, Mouser does not. I suspect the other capacitors will last 50 years.

    I highly recommend this radio and prefer it vs the older high-end Yaesu FT-1000MP MK5 or ICOM IC-765. Prices vary from about $600 to $1200. Some ask more, but you should look for $1000 or less. As for shipping, use a double wall box and 3 inches minimum large bubble wrap for cushioning. 52 lbs will collapse a single wall box- not good. Also for about $7 more use mild handling USPS Priority mail vs rough handling USPS ground with many loads & unloads in-between shipping depots. Fed Ex is also very good.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
    KC9YGN and NY7Z like this.
  2. N8FVJ

    N8FVJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    A side note. Perhaps one of the most critical ham operators anywhere, I read Carl KM1H uses the TS-950SD as his main transceiver. That says a lot.
  3. WG8Z

    WG8Z Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thats a fine radio James.
    I hope you get many years of enjoyment.
  4. N8FVJ

    N8FVJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Best receiver I ever used. Most radios just have a preamp selection. This radio has two mixers selection. One is high gain, other is ultra low noise.

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