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Yaesu FT-950 vs Kenwood TS-590S

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by W1RSA, Feb 19, 2011.

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  1. W1RSA

    W1RSA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi I'm looking for some input I like both of these radio's and would like some advice. I want to try some contesting and dx chasing. And add a amp at some point most likely a Amertron 811 series.

    Thank you
  2. W1RSA

    W1RSA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Forgot to add that I will have a icom 7000 in the mobile. So I thought either one of these radios would be nice to have in the QTH.
  3. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well the Kenwood has a better receiver and a few new features but for a radio just realeased it seems you see a lot of them for sale used????
  4. M0GVZ

    M0GVZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have had both. I had the FT950 for 7 months and the TS590 now for 3.

    In short the downsides of the FT950 compared to the TS590 are:
    Lots of things that you need to use on the FT950 are in menus which doesn't help when its a radio that needs a lot of tweaking to get the best out of it. For example to change the power involves pressing the menu button, rotating to menu 118, changing the power, pressing the menu button in for 2 seconds to remember it. Also only one programmable function button.
    Close in signal handling is nowhere near as good as the Kenwood and when you narrow down the DSP to 1kHz, the audio is hard to understand on phone whereas I can understand audio on the Kenwood with as little as 600Hz bandwidth.
    No USB and need to buy CAT cable and audio cables for digital mode.
    No ability to alter RX audio other than altering USB carrier and Contour setting.
    The TX panoramic equaliser needs a LOT of tweaking.
    Audio doesn't sound as clear.
    Auto notch not as good and also no manual notch - you have to try and use Contour to mimic manual notch
    Nothing equivalent to the BC button
    Noise blanking is effectively useless.
    Built in ATU - well there's a story on its own. Only matches 3:1, rattles like the relays are falling to bits and takes 5-10 seconds to find a match whereas the TS590 is silent, matches 10:1 and takes next to no time to do it.
    No CW Tune to put out a low power carrier to wake up a remote tuner or allow you to tune a manual tuner. Instead you need to press CW then menu button, then go to menu 118, then set to a low power, then key up with one hand and tune with the other hand then set menu 118 back to where you want it then hold menu button in for 2 seconds. On the TS590 you merely assign a PF key the CW Tune option and press the PF key when you want to tune.
    Feels cheap. The extendable legs feel really cheap and wobbly.
    Cannot read the display with a light source shining onto it - its both reflective and not bright enough.
    The display is recessed so if you look down on it at say a 45 degree angle, you can't see the top third of the display as its obscured by the front panel
    No receive antenna socket
    No 136kHz output

    It does have some pros...
    It comes with a high stability TXCO as standard
    Infinitely adjustable resistance on the main tuning knob.
    IF out via additional daughterboard
    Audio cable is a standard mini DIN and not a proprietary connector
    Er....err.....its big and fills a desk.

    Don't get me wrong, the FT950 was a good radio when it came out and it still is a good radio. It had triple band stacking, IF DSP, three built in roofing filters, a built in high stability TXCO, better 2kHz dynamic range than the FT2000 and none of the FT2000's RX problems and there wasn't anything to touch it at the price it was, being basically a single tuner FT2000 with all the filters you'd normall pay for but with none of the FT2000's problems. The FT950s shortcomings are down to two things. The first is building to a lower price which hit the quality of the materials use but also led to the main problem - Yaesus obsession with having single function buttons and putting lots of things you need to use in menus. The same arguments hold true for Yaesu and Kenwoods other directly competing radios - the FT857/897 and the TS480 - crap usability and too much menu diving on the FT857/897 with a very hard to read display coupled with poor build quality - you don't hear of the TS480 getting a loose selector knob for example whereas all FT857's will due to Yaesu skimping and using a plastic rod on the selector switch instead of a metal one.

    Unfortunately for the FT950, a couple of years later Kenwood released the TS590 and brought out a better radio which addressed all the Yaesus usability issues that I highlighted above in the same price bracket as the FT950 but with a better quality feel.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2011
  5. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I just checked Ebay, ARRL, QRZ, Eham, and about four other swap sites for radio gear Fred. I could not find a single TS-590 for sale but I did find 11 FT-950's and half a dozen K-3's for sale. Where did you see a lot of them and how many is a lot?

    Just curious. I know there are some people who buy every new radio that comes out just to play with it and then sell them but that happens with every rig.
  6. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Having used both, I'd go for the TS-590S in a second. It costs a little bit more, and it's worth it.
  7. W1RSA

    W1RSA Ham Member QRZ Page

    thank you for your input I will be going with the TS 590s.


  8. W0SGM

    W0SGM Ham Member QRZ Page

    you sure you don't want to buy my FT-950 ?? It's probably going to be for sale before next week is soon as my new TS-590 gets here after I order it Tuesday !!!!

    Scott KB0NAZ

  9. EI4GMB

    EI4GMB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Very informative thread. Think I'll go for the TS-590 too! :D

    Best Regards

    Fred EI4GMB
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2011
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