Current Radio Bench (January 2020)

This is what my Bench looks like today.
It took a while for me to get it just right, and I think this may work for a while.

Radio Bench (September 2017)

Radio Bench (May 2017)

This is before I added in the Kenwood TS-790A to the bench.

Radio Bench (Late 2016)

Side shot showing the band scope in action.

I use a $50 Chinese SDR dongle connected to the rear IF output. Unlike many newer radios, the TS-850S still provided an IF out. That makes for an easy connection using a common RCA patch cable.

Kenwood Opulence!

It's true, I'm totally spoiled.

After years of messing around with other radios claiming to have great audio, I've always come back to the best. My first DSP-100 was so hard to get (and terribly expensive), but after a few years I was able to add 3 more to the collection.

You can never have enough spares!

Previous Radio Bench (2016)

This is my bench when I foolishly purchased a brand new Yeasu FTDX 5000 MP Limited station hoping it could complete with the mighty TS-850S legendary audio.

To my ears, there was no comparison.

New additions to the Bench (2020)

ICOM IC-7300
After hearing all the positive reviews and hearing many of them on air, I finally broke down and bought a new Icom IC-7300. I figured that if I didn’t like it, it would be easy to get rid of because of the low initial selling price. I was very skeptical when setting it up, and tempered my expectations. Boy was I surprised. I can honestly say that all of the glowing reports were true. I did not expect this little SDR radio to perform this well. It has the typical Icom punchy transmit audio, and receive is pretty decent as well. The digital noise reduction is also excellent. The trade-off for the low price is that most controls are accessed by the touch screen menus. This is a great all round radio for new Hams, or for those on a budget. I think I will keep it for a while.

Kenwood TS-890S
What can I say? I had to try one. After being very impressed with the IC-7300, I figured the new Kenwood would just blow it away. Although a great radio, I have to say, I’m not as floored with the Kenwood as I was with the IC-7300. I would say the Icom is revolutionary, whereas the Kenwood is evolutionary. Being very familiar with Kenwood, it was easy to adjust all settings to my liking. At over 3 times the price, it obviously has more bells and whistles. Pretty much every control/function has a button, and the larger layout makes it very easy to navigate. TX and RX audio is typical Kenwood greatness, and the 18 band EQ makes it easy to get the sound you want. I don’t use the IC-7300 much since I got the TS-890. I don’t really like using the touch screen for most of the normal functions. Does the new TS-890 dethrone my modified TS-850/DSP-100 combo for ESSB operation? Not even close. The TS-850 RX audio at 6K wide beats it hands down for audio fidelity. And since the TS-890 can only TX at 4K wide, the TS-850 still has it beat at 6.5K wide with real filters. Long live the King!

Kenwood TS-850S with DSP-100 (x3)

Here is the radio that started it all. It was my very first solid state radio. It replaced my Yaesu FT-101ZD station. After hearing some ESSB stations, I was bitten by the audio bug.
All of my radios have been modified to enable the TS-850S' excellent audio capabilities. The mods involve the changing of various capacitors on a few different boards. As long as you can handle soldering SMT devices (small chips), then you can probably handle the procedure. The modifications are easy to find on the web. Search Google using "Kenwood eSSB". These mods will open up the reciever frequency response to 0-6 Khz. When the radio is used with the DSP-100, the TX audio is also opened up (without Double Sideband-ing). You can inject processed audio into the front mic input, or rear 13 din connector with great results.

The receive mods, combined with the optional DSP-100 for transmit, helped make the TS-850 the most desired station for audiophiles who are interested in enhanced single sideband operation.

Kenwood TS-870S

The TS-870 was Kenwoods first production DSP enabled transceiver (circa 1995). It was revolutionary for the industry at this time. Out of the box, the TS-870 used DSP for both transmit and receive. Somehow, Kenwood was able to keep the excellent 0-6Khz wide receive that earlier models were known for.

My bench will always have a place for this great sounding ESSB capable rig.

Kenwood TS-790A
The TS-790A was Kendwoods top-of-the-line all-mode tri-bander base station. It came standard with 144 and 440 Mhz. An optional module was available for 1.2 Ghz.

Whether you're into two meter scatter, E.M.E. bounce, SSB or FM, this radio delivers both great
RX and TX audio.

Yaesu FTDX-5000 with SM-5000 & DMU-2000

Without a doubt, one of Yeasu's best radios ever made. They are noted for their excellent receive sensitivity, and boasted a very low noise floor. Although I felt that the 5000 was a very capable radio with excellent noise crushing capabilities, it's recieve bandwidth was restricted to only 4Khz, rendering it unsuitable for ESSB.

I really enjoyed using it during really noisey conditions, but the Kenwood TS-850S was far more pleasing to listen to during quiet-to-normal conditions.

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         RON @ VA3ASO.COM 

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