TS590 test, Krótkofalarskie(2)

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Key Measurements
Kenwood TS-590S HF and
6 Meter Transceiver
20 kHz Blocking Gain Compression (dB)
2 kHz Blocking Gain Compression (dB)
20 kHz 3rd-Order Dynamic Range (dB)
2 kHz 3rd-Order Dynamic Range (dB)
20 kHz 3rd-Order Intercept (dBm)
Reviewed by H. Ward Silver, NØAX
Contributing Editor
It is easy to set up and start making QSOs.
Only three connections are required: power
supply, antenna and either a mic or key. If
you have experience with modern transceiv-
ers, you’ll quickly figure out the primary
receiver and transmitter controls as they use
common terms. For the unfamiliar buttons,
you will look up their meaning in the user
manual later like most hams. And yes, it has
that new radio smell!
The default settings on most functions are
reasonable (the CW sidetone setting was too
loud) — I found no need to access the menu
until I was setting up the radio for AFSK
RTTY. Connecting to a PC was straight-
forward using an external USB to RS-232
adapter, although the radio defaults to 9600
baud while most software seems to assume the
4800 baud rate for the generic “Kenwood” in-
terface. My contest logging software (
) recognized the radio right away and
others using
N3FJP Amateur Radio
and other packages
would likely have no problems.
The receiver output audio sounds great
in my headphones (both Yamaha CM500
and Heil Pro Set) with full bass response,
crisp highs and no hiss. I’m dismayed at the
lack of attention paid to this crucial stage of
some other receivers — why spend all those
resources creating a fabulous front end and IF
system if you’re not going to carry through
to where the operator actually gets to hear it?
(The same goes for operators — why spend
The ads looked attractive — top class per-
formance at a middle shelf price — so when
asked about doing a review of the new Ken-
wood TS-590S transceiver, I enthusiastically
accepted. I’m not really in the market for one
of the “battlewagon” radios but I need a high
quality receiver with DSP filtering, a good
selection of the most useful operating features,
ease of interfacing to PCs and accessories, and
construction that will stand up to portable and
mobile operating. At first glance, the TS-590’s
specifications met those requirements. This
review covers the salient characteristics of the
radio with additional features summarized in
Table 1. Performance measurements made by
the ARRL Lab are shown in Table 2.
2 kHz 3rd-Order Intercept (dBm)
Transmit 3rd-Order IMD (dB)
Transmit 9th-order IMD (dB)
30 M
Off Scale
Dynamic range and intercept
values with preamp off.
Intercept values were determined
using -97 dBm reference
20 M
First Impressions
The radio is surprisingly compact — less
than one foot across and deep and about four
inches high, suitable for even small home
stations and mobile operation. You can add
it to your existing gear without overloading
the shelves or desk. At 16 pounds, it is easy
to pick up and carry to the car, to Field Day
or to an airplane’s overhead bin as carry-on
luggage for an expedition. The 13.8 V radio
can run from a switchmode power supply
weighing less than 5 pounds, leaving plenty
of spare baggage capacity for all of the other
gear for a station on the beach.
Bottom Line
Kenwood’s TS-590S is a compact
package of high-performance radio
with an exceptional receiver for the
price and well-suited for today’s op-
erating modes and styles. It has a
useful package of features that are
thoughtfully organized and easy to
Mark J. Wilson, K1RO

Product Review Editor


May 2011
 Table 1
TS-590S Miscellaneous
Table 2
Kenwood TS-590S, serial number B0900113
Manufacturer’s Speciications
Measured in the ARRL Lab
Frequency coverage: Receive, 0.03-60 MHz;
Receive and transmit, as speciied.
TCXO available
Direct frequency entry
Variable tuning step rate with ine step
110 memory channels with 8-character
alphanumeric labels
Quick access memories (10 channels)
Full scanning features (range or channels)
CTCSS and subtone scan
Conigurable for crossband repeater
transmit, 1.8-2, 3.5-4, 5.25-5.45, 7-7.3,
10.1-10.15, 14-14.35, 18.068-18.168, 21-21.45
21-21.44, 24.89-24.99, 28-29.7, 50-54 MHz.
Power consumption at 13.8 V dc: receive, no
Receive, no signal, default lights, 1.19 A;
signal, <1.5 A; transmit (max), <20.5 A.
receive, max volume and lights, 1.27 A,
receive, no signal, no lights, 1.16 A;
transmit 6.1 A at 5 W RF output, 15 A
at 100 W RF output. Operation conirmed
conirmed at 11.7 V dc (90 W output).
Modes of operation: SSB, CW, AM, FM, FSK.
As speciied.
Receiver Dynamic Testing
SSB/CW sensitivity: 10 dB S+N/N,
Noise loor (MDS), 500 Hz bandwidth,
30 kHz – 60 MHz receive
Switchable 12 dB or 20 dB preamp
Switchable attenuator
0.13-0.522 MHz, <0.5 µV, 0.522-1.705 MHz,
default rooing ilter:*
<4 µV; 1.705-24.5 MHz, <0.2 µV,
PreampOff PreampOn
24.5-54 MHz, <0.13 µV.
0.137 MHz
–130 dBm
–137 dBm
0.505 MHz
–132 dBm
–140 dBm
1.0 MHz
–114 dBm
–122 dBm
60 meter band transmit enabled
Paddle and key inputs, electronic keyer
Four CW messages (no external control)
Optional voice recorder and playback unit
RIT/XIT with clear
Transmit monitor
CW auto tune
Eight character text tags for memories
3.5 MHz
–130 dBm
–139 dBm
10.1 MHz
–132 dBm
–139 dBm
14 MHz
–131 dBm
–139 dBm
28 MHz
–133 dBm
–143 dBm
50 MHz
–130 dBm
–143 dBm
Noise igure: Not speciied.
14 MHz, preamp off/on: 16/8 dB.
50 MHz, preamp off/on, 17/4 dB.
AM sensitivity: 10 dB S+N/N:
10 dB (S+N)/N, 1-kHz, 30
0.13-0.522 MHz, <6.3 µV; 0.522-1.705 MHz,
5 kHz ilter, 15 kHz rooing ilter:
<32 µV; 1.705-24.5 MHz, <2 µV; 24.5-54 MHz,
<0.13 µV.
1.0 MHz
13.2 µV
6.1 µV
3.8 MHz
1.3 µV
0.6 µV
29 MHz
1.3 µV
0.4 µV
50 MHz
1.7 µV
0.4 µV
many hundreds of dollars on RF functions and
then use cheap audio input and output gear?)
Similarly, I got reports of “excellent” and
“natural” audio on both the Kenwood hand
microphone and the boom mics. Switching to
the contest element for the Heil microphone
resulted in reports of more punch to the audio.
(Audio equalizer functions are available for
both receive and transmit.)
Most of the front panel labels follow
common standards or are sufficiently literal
as to be obvious. Although the TS-590 is
relatively compact, the controls are easy to
use and reasonably grouped. I could easily
use the radio either right or left handed and
didn’t find myself making unintended changes
from bumping too small or too close buttons.
Although there are only six control knobs (the
control, and
controls are concentric) including
the VFO, I did not find myself wishing for
more. Most of the keys have a logical dual
function, such as the VOX
that for “press and hold” brings up the
adjustment. In short, it was easy to use
the radio effectively.
FM sensitivity: 12 dB SINAD:
For 12 dB SINAD, preamp on:
28-30 MHz and 50-54 MHz, <0.22 µV.
29 MHz, 0.16 µV; 52 MHz, 0.18 µV.
Blocking gain compression: Not speciied.
Gain compression, 500 Hz bandwidth,
default rooing ilter:*
Preampoff/on Preampoff
3.5 MHz 140**/136 dB 140**/120 dB
10.1 MHz 138/136 dB 125/111 dB
14 MHz 141**/136 dB 141**/121 dB
28 MHz 140/120 dB 125/109 dB
50 MHz 130**/141 dB 130**/127 dB
Reciprocal mixing (500 Hz BW): Not speciied. 20/5/2 kHz offset: –120/–106/–91 dBc.
ARRL Lab Two-Tone IMD Testing*** (500 Hz bandwidth, default rooing ilter*)
Measured Calculated
Band/Preamp Spacing
3.5 MHz/Off
20 kHz
–26 dBm
–130 dBm
104 dB
+26 dBm
–15 dBm
–97 dBm
+26 dBm
10 MHz/Off
20 kHz
–31 dBm
–132 dBm
101 dB
+20 dBm
–18 dBm
–97 dBm
+22 dBm
0 dBm
–44 dBm
+22 dBm
10 MHz/On
20 kHz
–39 dBm
–139 dBm
100 dB
+19 dBm
–20 dBm
–97 dBm
+19 dBm
10 MHz/Off
5 kHz
–45 dBm
–132 dBm
87 dB
–1 dBm
–28 dBm
–97 dBm
+7 dBm
0 dBm
–14 dBm
+7 dBm
10 MHz/Off
2 kHz
–50 dBm
–132 dBm
82 dB
–9 dBm
–31 dBm
–97 dBm
+2 dBm
0 dBm
–12 dBm
+6 dBm
The radio’s top feature, undoubtedly, is the
receiver performance. As you can see from
the ARRL Lab measurements table and the
comparative indicators in the Key Measure-
ments Summary, you get a lot of receiver per-
formance for your dollar. In fact, if you check
Sherwood Engineering’s ranking of receiver
close spaced dynamic range (Rob Sherwood,
14 MHz/Off
20 kHz
–25 dBm
–131 dBm
106 dB
+28 dBm
–15 dBm
–97 dBm
+26 dBm
0 dBm
–56 dBm
+28 dBm
14 MHz/On
20 kHz
–36 dBm
–139 dBm
103 dB
+16 dBm
–23 dBm
–97 dBm
+14 dBm
14 MHz/Off
5 kHz
–25 dBm
–131 dBm
106 dB
+28 dBm
–15 dBm
–97 dBm
+26 dBm
0 dBm
–56 dBm
+28 dBm
May 2011

Measured Calculated
Band/Preamp Spacing
14 MHz/Off
2 kHz
–34 dBm
–131 dBm
97 dB
+15 dBm
–18 dBm
–97 dBm
+22 dBm
0 dBm
–65 dBm
+33 dBm
28 MHz/On
20 kHz
–33 dBm
–133 dBm
100 dB
+17 dBm
–16 dBm
–97 dBm
+25 dBm
50 MHz/Off
20 kHz
–31 dBm
–130 dBm
99 dB
+19 dBm
–17 dBm
–97 dBm
+23 dBm
Second-order intercept point: Not speciied.
14 MHz, Preamp off/on: +63/+63 dBm.
FM two-tone, third-order IMD dynamic range:
20 kHz offset, Preamp on: 29 MHz,
Not speciied.
86 dB

; 52 MHz, 86 dB

Figure 1 — Spectral display of the TS-590S 
transmitter output during composite noise 
testing. Power output is 100 W on the  
14 MHz band. The carrier, off the left edge 
of the plot, is not shown. This plot shows 
composite transmitted noise 100 Hz to  
1 MHz from the carrier. The reference level 
is 0 dBc, and the vertical scale is in dB.
10 MHz offset: 52 MHz, 100 dB.
S-meter sensitivity: Not speciied.
S9 signal at 14.2 MHz, preamp off/on,
48.7/14.4 µV.
Squelch sensitivity: 28-30 & 50-54 MHz FM,
At threshold: 14 MHz SSB, 2 µV;
<0.2 µV; at 14 MHz (SSB), <1.8 µV.
FM (preamp on) 29 MHz, 0.08 µV;
52 MHz (preamp on), 0.12 µV.
Receiver audio output: >1.5 W into
2 W at 10
THD into 8
at 10% THD.
THD at 1 V RMS: 0.6%.
DSP noise reduction: Not speciied.
NR1/NR2, 10/20 dB.
Notch ilter depth: Not speciied.
Manual notch: 51 dB, auto notch: 60 dB.
Attack time: 180 ms.
IF/audio response: Not speciied.
Range at –6 dB points, (bandwidth):

CW (500 Hz): 315-927 Hz (612 Hz)
Equivalent Rectangular BW: 596 Hz
USB: (2.4 kHz): 53-2253 Hz (2200 Hz)
LSB: (2.4 kHz): 52-2252 Hz (2200 Hz)
AM: (5 kHz): 147-2350 Hz (4406 Hz).
IF rejection, >70 dB.
First IF rejection, 14 MHz, 84 dB;
28 MHz, 100 dB; 50 MHz, 100 dB.
Image rejection: >70 dB.
Image rejection, 14 MHz, 91 dB;
28 MHz, 100 dB; 50 MHz, 92 dB.
Transmitter Dynamic Testing
Figure 2 — CW keying waveform for the 
TS-590S showing the irst two dits in 
full-break-in (QSK) mode using external 
keying and default settings. Equivalent 
keying speed is 60 WPM. The upper trace 
is the actual key closure; the lower trace 
is the RF envelope. (Note that the irst 
key closure starts at the left edge of the 
igure.) Horizontal divisions are 10 ms. The 
transceiver was being operated at 100 W 
output on the 14 MHz band.
Power output: 5-100 W, (5-25 W AM);
CW, SSB, RTTY, FM, typ 4.8-99.0 W;
AM, typ 4.8-25.5 W.
Spurious-signal and harmonic suppression:
Worst: 56 dBc, 1.8 MHz, 2nd harmonic.
1.8-29.7 MHz, >50 dB; 50-54 MHz, .60 dB.
Meets FCC requirements.
SSB carrier suppression: >50 dB.
55 dB.
Undesired sideband suppression: >50 dB.
62 dB.
Third-order intermodulation distortion (IMD)
3rd/5th/7th/9th order (worst on HF, 10 m):
products: Not speciied.
HF, 100 W PEP, –29/–32/–42/–52 dB;
6 m, 100 W PEP, –34/ –34/–48/–56 dB.
CW keyer speed range: Not speciied.
4 to 55 WPM.
CW keyer iambic keying mode: Not speciied.
A or B, menu selectable
CW keying characteristics: Not speciied.
See Figures 2 and 3.
Transmit-receive turnaround time (PTT
S9 signal, AGC fast, 30 ms.
release to 50% audio output): Not speciied.
Receive-transmit turnaround time (tx delay):
SSB, 14 ms; FM, 14 ms.
Not speciied.
Composite transmitted noise: Not speciied. See Figure 1.
Size (height, width, depth): 3.8
11.4 inches; weight, 16.3 lbs.
Price: $1800
*The TS-590S operates as either a double down conversion receiver (RX1) or triple
up conversion receiver (RX2) depending on the band of operation and ilter bandwidth
selected. See text for details. RX1 with 500 Hz rooing ilter was used for receiver tests at
3.5 and 14 MHz; RX2 with 15 kHz 1st IF ilter and 2.7 kHz 2nd IF ilter was used for testing
on other bands.
**Exceeded igures indicated; test results shown measured with +10 dBm maximum
output from test ixture.
***ARRL Product Review testing now includes Two-Tone IMD results at several signal levels.
Two-Tone, 3rd-Order Dynamic Range igures comparable to previous reviews are shown
on the irst line in each group. The “IP3” column is the calculated 3rd order intercept point.
Second-order intercept points were determined using –97 dBm reference.

Measurement was noise-limited at the value indicated.

Default values; bandwidth and cutoff frequencies are adjustable via DSP. CW bandwidth
varies with PBT and pitch control settings. For SSB, DSP set to 2600 Hz for “high” and
200 Hz for for “low” for a width of 2400 Hz.
Frequency in kHz
Figure 3 — Spectral display of the  
TS-590S transmitter during keying 
sideband testing. Equivalent keying speed 
is 60 WPM using external keying. Spectrum 
analyzer resolution bandwidth is 10 Hz, 
and the sweep time is 30 seconds. The 
transmitter was being operated at 100 W 
PEP output on the 14 MHz band, and this 
plot shows the transmitter output ±5 kHz 
from the carrier. The reference level is  
0 dBc, and the vertical scale is in dB.

May 2011
you’ll find the TS-590 coming in ninth. Also
tenth — what the heck?
The TS-590 is a very interesting superhetero-
dyne that operates as either a double-down
conversion (RX1) or triple up-conversion
(RX2) depending on the band and filter
bandwidth. This allows the radio to balance
sensitivity (higher for RX2) with selectivity
(better for RX1). Both modes are quite good,
as evidenced by the ninth and tenth place
position in the Sherwood results. Moving
over to Rob’s column of wide spaced dynamic
range data you’ll find the receiver has top
class numbers there. Strangely, aside from a
single table entry, this important aspect of the
radio’s operation is not mentioned at all in the
owner’s manual!
The more selective RX1 is used on the 160,
80, 40, 20 and 15 meter bands when the IF
bandwidth is 2.7 kHz or less for SSB, CW and
FSK. The crowded, large signal segments of
these traditional DXing and contesting bands
are where receiver dynamic range is most
important. Depending on the mode selected,
a 2.7 kHz or 500 Hz roofing filter follows the
first mixer at the 11.374 MHz first IF stage.
On other bands, including 10 meters, and
for wider IF bandwidths such as for AM
and FM, the more sensitive RX2 is used. A
15 kHz roofing filter is used at the 73 MHz
first IF, followed by 15, 6 or 2.7 kHz filters
at the 10.7 MHz second IF. (The transmitter
chain always uses the up-conversion mode.)
The final IF for both RX1 and RX2 is at 24
kHz where sharper filtering is performed by a
32 bit floating point DSP. The IF is where the
AGC system is implemented — an important
part of the radio’s performance. I found the
adjustable AGC action to be quite clean — no
clicks, thumps or pops. It’s possible for a very
close signal to be inside the roofing filter but
outside a narrower DSP filter, causing the
audio level to fall dramatically, but the signal
has to be really close. I did not try the receiver
on the receiving end of a big pileup (I offered
to fly to the Caribbean for the ARRL DX
CW contest, but no…) so I can’t speak to the
radio’s ability to handle many signals inside
the passband at once.
Another feature is the use of a direct digital
synthesizer (DDS) instead of a phase locked
loop (PLL) for the main VFO. Since lower
noise sidebands are generated by the DDS
VFO, less reciprocal mixing occurs with
adjacent signals to raise the apparent receiver
noise floor. Kenwood has managed to mini-
mize the spurious products often associated
with DDS signal sources, as well. One small
spur was noted during ARRL Lab receiver
blocking testing at a level so low as to be
inaudible in actual use. Transmit composite
noise as seen in Figure 1 is very low — better
than some radios costing quite a bit more —
making your neighbors on the bands happy.
For those of you who don’t chase DX or
enter contests, why do dynamic range and re-
ciprocal mixing and transmitted noise matter
during noncompetitive operation? The answer
is that it matters any time there are strong
signals on the bands. Being able to carry on
a contact even next to a strong local signal or
in the middle of a big contest makes a lot of
difference in your ability to operate under any
conditions. If you can acquire that capability
without having to spend top dollar to get it,
you’ve made a good purchasing decision.
All users will appreciate the adjustable
noise blanker (
) and noise reduction (
is an analog noise blanker
based on the output of the first roofing filter.
is a digital noise blanker that uses signal
envelopes. I found both to be effective on
different types of noise and neither responded
excessively to strong in-band signals as with
most analog noise blankers.
is optimized
for use with SSB signals and
for use with
CW and data signals. I found both to be quite
effective, particularly when trying to dig weak
DX signals out of the various noises an urban
residence inflicts on the amateur. When either
NR system is turned up to its most aggressive
setting audible artifacts are created (
facts sound like the band is “boiling”) but both
are far better than the noise they have replaced.
The four (
) adjustable
noise fighters are a pretty powerful tool box
for fighting atmospheric noise.
If you haven’t used good DSP IF filters,
you are in for a treat. Response of the TS-590
filters is adjustable in steps — a little coarser
than I would prefer, but perfectly adequate.
Operation of the filter controls is linked to
the mode in use. For SSB, AM and FM, filter
adjustments are for the high and low cutoff
frequencies. Using CW, FSK and data modes,
the same controls adjust center frequency and
bandwidth. This is a little odd but you get
used to it right away. Two sets of filter settings
can be stored as
, selectable by
a front panel pushbutton, creating a pair of
customizable narrow and wide filters. Along
with the band pass filters there are a pair of
filters that cancel steady tones plus manual
and automatically tuned notch filters.
table on a band-by-band basis — useful
on 10 and 6 meters for setting drive to
amplifiers. The microphone circuits offer
adjustable high/low response cut and a six
setting audio equalizer. IMD performance
is very clean as shown in the ARRL Lab
Measurements table, especially for a 13.8 V
radio. The
connector on the back
panel provides a complete amplifier control
Low band enthusiasts will be glad to hear
that CW waveform is nicely controlled with
adjustable rise times as shown in Figure 2.
The keying sideband performance in Fig-
ure 3 is really good — below –60 dBc at
1 kHz spacing. The radio features an internal
antenna tuner with setting memories for 25
frequency ranges and that is specified to
match up to SWR of 3:1. I found that it
worked well with a nonresonant 105 foot
doublet although at higher SWR my external
tuner was needed. A separate receive antenna
input is provided on the back panel. Trans-
verter operation is supported by a 0 dBm
(1 mW) output signal to extend coverage
beyond 6 meters to the lower VHF and UHF
bands. The radio’s display can be configured
to display the transverted signal’s frequency,
as well.
Another welcome feature is the USB serial
data interface, in addition to the classic 9 pin
RS-232 interface. Not only can you control
the radio and use the USB interface for FSK
data, you can also use the USB interface for
send and receive audio. As with most USB
implementations, however, the audio on the
USB interface is delayed by many millisec-
onds and that may be unsuitable for certain
modes or types of operating. The delay was
quite noticeable, but tolerable, especially dur-
ing RTTY operation. Using the USB interface
requires the installation of a virtual COM port
driver and the
ARUA-10 USB Audio Control-
software, both available at no cost from
I urge all radio manufacturers to offer
a USB interface as soon as practical along
with standard USB class definitions and
implementations. It is bad enough that mi-
crophones aren’t interchangeable but having
to manage incompatible proprietary drivers
would be a huge problem for most users and
create customer service headaches. Please —
The radio has a generally uncluttered
display, quite visible at all angles. I liked the
choice of variable brightness green or amber
backlight. While filters are adjusted, a tem-
porary value is displayed and for menu selec-
tions, the scrolling labels long enough to be
meaningful are a nice touch. Changing modes
produces a Morse code annunciation, too.
There are two front panel programmable
function keys (four on the optional MC-47
Basic Performance Elements
Mechanically, the radio is solid and com-
pact. Built around a die cast frame, there are
three PC boards: transmitter on top, receiver
underneath and a front panel. Don’t tell the
folks at HQ, but I gave the TS-590 a casual
“thump” test, setting it down abruptly on all
sides except the front panel — no problems
resulted. Even while I was
search and pounc-
on RTTY, the fans rarely came on and were
quiet when they did.
Transmit output is 5 to 100 W and set-
May 2011

microphone) including a tune function. As
with nearly every radio sold today, configura-
tion of many items is menu driven and the TS-
590 has 88 settable parameters. The items are
logically grouped and easy to access. You can
save two full sets of parameters and there is a
“quick menu” for commonly adjusted settings.
happening on your transmit frequency, find
a clear(er) spot in the pileup, or see who the
DX is working. A common error in the heat
of the moment is to forget to switch back or
to press the
switch twice so that your call
sign rings out loud and clear on the DX fre-
quency (or worse, out of the US band) for all
to hear (and comment upon).
frequencies, too, but only until you take your
finger off the button — it’s
harder to
make a mistake that way.
The radio’s triple band stacking registers
for search and pounce operating are very use-
ful. It’s easy to tune up and down the band
loading the registers, then hop back and forth
between three pileups until you get through. It
can more than double your search and pounce
contact rate over just using one VFO.
Getting all the various connections and
software actors configured properly for op-
erating in the CQ WPX RTTY Contest was a
bit of a challenge. The radio’s
User Manual
gives little guidance in the practical issues of
getting the USB audio interface to work and
I had to rely on third party websites — thank
goodness for Google! Eventually, though, I
was successful using
as my RTTY
“engine” with audio connections to the radio
over the USB interface, controlled by the
TS-590 menu settings for
, transmitting LSB AFSK. The
mode selection configured the
DSP filters correctly for the mark and space
frequencies. This was definitely not plug and
play operation but I was successful in making
RTTY contacts. The rear panel
nector has all the analog signals you need for
audio based data operation.
On 6 meters in the January VHF Sweep-
stakes, I made a limited number of contacts
due to poor conditions but the radio was plenty
sensitive and I received good audio reports
on the band.
Kenwood Sky Command II remote control.
The radio’s firmware (the internal micro-
processor’s program) can be upgraded by
downloading a compressed file from Ken-
wood’s website and using either the RS-232
or USB interface with your PC. A stand-alone
control program then leads you through the
steps to load the new firmware and reset the
radio — that’s it! The ability to upgrade firm-
ware in your shack will extend the useful life
of the radio and allow Kenwood to provide
better customer support without anyone hav-
ing to ship radios back and forth. The review
radio originally shipped with firmware rev
1.00 but was upgraded to firmware rev 1.02
for final testing.
Contest and DXing Performance
My first experience with the TS-590 was
in the CW Sweepstakes from W1AW. Since
the radio’s main performance selling point
was its receiver you can be sure that I gave it
every opportunity to fold under the onslaught
of S9+++ signals but it did not complain. Even
deliberately tuning close to strong signals, I
detected not a single receiver generated arti-
fact or product with the preamplifier and noise
blanker turned off. The DSP filtering could
make adjacent signals disappear in most cases.
The only problem I encountered was a sig-
nificant power overshoot on the leading edge
of a first dot or dash before recovering to the
intended level. That caused the ACOM 2000
amplifier to trip offline unless we reduced
drive, dropping amp output to 800-1000 W.
The problem was eliminated by a firmware
upgrade from Kenwood and verified by testing
with the same amplifier at W1AW at the legal
limit. (See PC Host Software and Firmware.)
The radio was shipped to my home station
where I tested it further, albeit without an
amplifier. I was consistently pleased with the
radio’s performance on all bands. On SSB,
using the Yamaha and Heil boom mics, audio
reports were good, including contacts with
the speech processing turned on. Note that it
is possible to turn the compression up too far
as on almost any radio, distorting your voice
and making the power supply fan sound like a
jet engine! The default microphone gain was
a little high for competitive voice levels but
no other adjustment was required for satisfac-
tory reports.
On CW, I am pretty picky about not want-
ing to hear any switching transients during
full QSK (full break in keying) at high speeds
above 30 WPM. Both semi and full break in
were fine during the Thursday night sprints
and other CW contests. The radio has an
amplifier keying delay (menu items 53 and
54) that can cause “choppy” keying if acti-
vated (default value is
) while operating
in full QSK.
DXers will find
to be a “why didn’t
I have this before” feature. While operating
split, it’s common to jump back and forth
between the A and B VFOs to see what’s
What’s Not There
This is a mid range radio so you won’t find
high end features such as a spectrum scope or
a second receiver. The roofing filter selection
is fixed by mode but with the DSP filtering
this isn’t a huge issue. It would have been
nice to have separate control lines for indi-
vidual HF and VHF amplifiers. FM repeater
shift is accomplished by using dual VFOs in
split mode. A USB memory stick interface
for storing configurations or receive audio
would be useful.
The ARRL Lab noted that 60 meter op-
eration is not channelized. This rig transmits
from 5.250 to 5.500 MHz on all modes. Other
radios we have tested only operate USB on
the five specific frequencies allocated for
amateur use. It would be easy for an operator
to operate on the wrong frequency or mode.
We recommend that operators carefully pro-
gram the 60 meter channels into memories to
avoid accidentally transmitting on unallocated
In summary, I’d say this radio gives the
most bang for the buck I’ve seen in quite a
while. Download the
User’s Manual
the Kenwood website and explore on your
own. The TS-590S would make a good home
station or mobile radio. With transverters
it could be the foundation of a 160 through
432 MHz station. (Higher UHF bands really
need a 144 MHz IF for transverters to be ef-
fective.) Stations using a top of the line radio
would find the TS-590S a very cost effective
second radio, as well.
Kenwood USA Corp,
3970 Johns Creek Ct, Suite 100, Suwanee, GA
30024; tel 310-639-4200, fax 310-537-8235;
PC Host Software and Firmware
Kenwood also provides free PC host soft-
ware — the
Radio Control Program
590) that provides a remote front panel and
configuration of the radio, and the
Command System
(ARHP-590). See
. VoIP software for
voice over the remote link is available from
third parties. I prefer to operate the radio
directly but if you like using your PC, the
software makes all controls easily available
via the USB interface. You can also operate
the radio from a VHF or UHF radio using

May 2011
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