Yaesu FT 950

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by N8DV, Mar 5, 2009.

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  1. N8DV

    N8DV Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have a year old 950 and I like it better after the update than before the update. The AGC has been fixed (no more pumping); DSP filters are improved and I think the audio has been improved. For the money, the 950 is an excellent radio. Granted it's no 9000DX but for casual operating, digital modes and especially cw, it suits me just fine. I first saw it at Dayton last year and was very impressed with the rig. Purchased in through Ham Radio Outlet (HRO) and am well pleased with the service from the firm.
  2. N0NCO

    N0NCO Ham Member QRZ Page

    FT-950 w/PEP950 update


    I'm also a very happy FT-950 owner. I observed similar improvements to mine after the update. The speech processor is much improved, as well. From what I read in Yaesu's literature, they gave it the FTDX-9000 DSP engine, which is one of the best out there today. A nice touch is the way it now temporarily displays the frequency of the manual notch & contour when they're adjusted.

    I also appreciate the ability to now use the uTune rx loop with any third-party rx filter. I have an Array Solutions broadcast band-reject filter connected between the uTune ports on mine, as I live only 1.5 miles from a 50kW clear-channel AM station, and enjoy working 160 meters. I also am quite active on all of the bands from 75-10 meters. I can now switch my BCB filter in & out of the rx path with the uTune button. I will be getting the uTune preselectors soon, then I won't need the BCB filter anymore.

    You mentioned that you thought the audio was changed. I agree. I re-did all of my audio settings after the update. I think the variable-width IF is much improved, too. The rx audio is now much better at narrow bandwidths. Regarding transmit, I always got great unsolicited audio reports using my MD-100 microphone with it, but after the update, I get many more, and some of them are downright glowing. Same for the speech processor. Before, I couldn't find a setting that worked. Now, it not only works well when signals are poor, it was relatively easy to find a setting that added little distortion to my tx audio.

    I believe there is no radio on the market to day in the price range that compares to it - especially after the update. The receiver performance is as good or better than many $2000-plus radios. Ditto for the transmitter performance. The DSP is now right up there with many radios that cost twice as much, or more. I do miss not having a dedicated rx antenna port, though. I'm mostly a casual operator; if I was a serious contester, I would likely have chosen one of the Ft-2000 models for the second receiver.

    I found it somewhat odd that the built-in L-network autotuner only tunes the tx path, although this isn't an issue for me. I use an SGC 230 L-network autotuner that's mounted at the feedpoint of my 160-10 meter 100' inverted-L, and is grounded directly to the ground system & radial field.

    So far, I haven't found a downside to this radio. I can't say that about very many of the rigs I've owned over the years. :)

    Hope to hear you on the bands. 73 & happy DX!
  3. G0GQK

    G0GQK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Its makes me wonder, why, after all the number of years that Yaesu have been manufacturing tranceivers they cannot produce one which works properly and efficiently when its becomes available for sale ? It seems to me that they are aware of the problems but they still sell them before the problems are solved.

  4. K3JK

    K3JK Ham Member QRZ Page

    future owner 950

    thanks guys for the reviews of the 950. I joined the yahoo group and I have been reading the message posts since I joined searching for information on the different characteristics of the rig and how owners adjust parameters. I have searched the qrz equiptment reviews before this and didn't find much on the Yaesu 950. Once again thanks. And if you would like to send me an email about the 950 with any additional opinions that you might have, I would greatly appreciate them. John Klokis K3JK
  5. K2QI

    K2QI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've wondered the same thing myself. I'll admit that I am a Yaesu fan, and prefer their rigs over Icom or Kenwood, but when it came time to replace my FT-840, I couldn't find anything better than the K3. The receiver numbers for the FT-2000 for example were seriously disappointing in comparison.

    Not sure about the FT-950, but for all intents and purposes, it does look like a nice radio. Just not sure how the front end would hold up when tossed into a strong close-signal environment.
  6. N0NCO

    N0NCO Ham Member QRZ Page


    The FT-950's receiver is surely no competition for the K3's receiver, but then very few, if any receivers out there come close to the K3. As you noted about the FT-2000, the '950's close-in numbers leave much to be desired when compared to the K3, Flex, and Orion II, for instance. It also has the strong-signal noise-blanker issues that are typical of many Yaesu noise-blankers.

    The '950's receiver easily trumps everything in its price range, and is as good or better than some rigs over $2k. It's not trying to be a killer contest rig. In my opinion, it's a reasonably-priced, all-purpose rig with rx performance that's mostly on a par with radios costing quite a bit more, and with DSP performance that's equal or better than many radios of twice the price, or more. (The PEP update endows it with the same DSP engine as used in the FTDX-9000.) Plus, it has a number of tx/rx features usually not found on HF rigs under $1500:

    Selectable 3k, 6k, and 15k roofing filters, a selectable rx loop for adding the high-Q, permeability-tuned preselectors found in the FT-9000 series (or your own filter), excellent manual & auto notch with adjustable parameters, IF contour control with adjustable parameters, very good variable IF and IF shift, widely-adjustable AGC, very good speech processor (after the update), great 3-band parametric equalizers on tx - one for the speech processor, one for use without the processor, very good rx audio and excellent tx audio.

    It also can be equipped with the DMU & monitor that's usually seen connected to the FT-9000-series in the ads. When so equipped, it has the big spec/an, tx/rx scope and other display functions - similar to the '9000 series. Of course, when equipped with all three uTune units & the DMU, one could argue that it's no longer a reasonably-priced radio.

    To my knowledge, there are no 100W rigs under $2k on the market today with rx numbers that are even close. Here are the ARRL lab's bench-test numbers on the FT-950 - before the PEP950 firmware/software update (preamps off):

    BDR (20k/5k/2k) dB: 128/111/98
    3OIMD (20k/5k/2k) dB: 95/91/71

    By the numbers, the FT-950's close-in rx performance trumps the IC-746PRO, TS-2000, and the Ten-Tec Jupiter. With the exception of 20kHz 3OIMD, it trumps the IC-756PROIII, as well.

    Interestingly, aside from the BDR @ 20kHz, it also has better numbers than the FT-2000, which I thought was rather strange. So, you end up with a rig with better overall rx numbers @ half the price, and give up the second rx & dedicated rx antenna port. Given the FT-950's update and the FT-2000's latest update, the results may be different today.

    So...there you go. By the numbers, the FT-950's receiver should perform better than all rigs in it's price range - and better than a couple of mid-$2k rigs; but it's surely no match for the likes of the K3, the Flex series, or the Orion II.

    I've used mine in some pretty heavy traffic, and in my opinion, the receiver out-performs other rigs I've used at this QTH, such as the IC-746PRO, IC-756PROIII, and TS-2000. I haven't had the opportunity to compare it to the best receivers, but I doubt that it would keep up with them when the bands get really nasty.

    73 & good DX!

  7. W0DV

    W0DV XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Great Radio for the money

    I have had my FT-950 for 2 weeks now and I am very happy with it. The 950 replaces a FT-840. The 950 picks up signals that I could never here with the 840 because of the DSP, DNR and effective noise blanker. The menu is easy to navigate and the audio is impressive on TX as well. I use a MD-100 Desk Mic with it. In my opinion, the MD-100 Mic is too "hot" for the speech processor. The processor works very well with the stock mic but when I am using the MD-100, I leave it off otherwise the audio sounds overdriven and distorted despite attempts to adjust in the menu. Using the monitor feature and headphones you can hear your audio as you transmit. The Equalizer is a great feature so you can adjust your audio for DX or stateside communications, or to your own liking. I upgraded the firmware the first day I got the radio which was very straight forward and simple. You just need to get a serial cable (straight, not the null type), plug it into your PC and load the software per instructions provided on the Yaesu web site.
    I never expected to get so much radio for $1,400! I'm very happy.
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