Kenwood TS-590S Audio Profiles - W1AEX


Some General Observations

I purchased my TS-590S in May of 2011 and after doing the usual things that have to be done when sliding a new transceiver onto the operating bench my initial impressions were very positive. I find the receiver to be very pleasant to listen to with every mode and the front panel controls are nicely positioned to allow adjusting functions such as receive bandwidth very easily. Connection to the computer through a standard USB cable and USB port is an easy procedure if you follow the directions supplied by Kenwood. Once that connection is established, the TS-590S will talk with any program on your computer that allows you to map the audio input and output to the USB audio input and output ports of the rig. This allows you to easily configure the usual digital communication programs used by hams without the need for any hardware between the rig and your computer. It also allows you to use a few other interesting programs such as Adobe Audition to make mp3 recordings or Voice Shaper to play around with some simple voice processing with your computer. To really unlock the potential of this rig Kenwood provides a free program called ARCP-590 that provides you with the ability to control every aspect of the radio with your PC.


One of the capabilities offered by the ARCP-590 software is a feature that allows you to visually scan up to 2 MHz of the spectrum to see what kind of activity might be present. I often use this to scan the 6 meter band to catch band openings. Depending on how wide you set the scan, you can see beacons as well as CW and SSB operators who are operating within the scan range. The picture below shows visual scans of the 40 meter and 6 meter bands on a cold November night. As you can see, not surprisingly the 40 meter band was showing heavy activity between 7.100 MHz and 7.300 MHz and while I was messing around with this page it looks like I missed another 6 meter opening! When you are paying attention, you can see at a glance from across the room if a band is open or not. It only takes a few seconds to sweep whatever bandwidth you define in the Visual Scan interface. To access this feature, simply select "Scan" from the menu at the top of ARCP-590 and then select "Visual Scan".


One question that surfaces frequently in all the TS-590S forums is how the receiver performs when it's used for shortwave listening or even AM broadcast band listening. The short answer is that it works extremely well! The front panel RX bandwidth control allows you to easily select the following AM receive bandwidths to deal with varying receive conditions:  5kc, 6kc, 8kc, and 10kc. Note that the front panel bandwidth display will show 2500, 3000, 4000, and 5000 as you select various receive bandwidths but the actual bandwidth is twice what is displayed because in the AM mode the 590 is receiving both sidebands. The fidelity of the receiver makes listening a pleasure and if you have installed the Kenwood provided drivers and USB codec you can make direct recordings from the 590S with audio programs such as Audacity or Adobe Audition. Simply select the Kenwood USB audio codec that shows up in the recording list as shown in the picture below and you are good to go for recording whatever you are listening to.

usb codec

To get an idea of how the AM mode sounds with the TS-590S click on the link below to listen to a brief MP3 that I made of an AM broadcast station. The receiver was set for a bandwidth of 10kc for this recording:

Perhaps the most important feature of the ARCP-590 program is that by accessing the DSP/Filter menu item this program can be used to create up to five different User EQ profiles for your transmit and receive audio. It surprises me that so many TS-590S owners simply choose one of the six embedded transmit audio profiles within the rig's user menu. Using several different studio dynamic microphones that I have lying around I found the embedded profiles to range from being either very boomy or very harsh with nothing pleasant in the middle. With my homebrew electret microphones I found the "HB1" (High Boost 1) and the "C" (Conventional) profiles provided by Kenwood to be usable, but they seemed to have either too much emphasis in the high audio ranges or not enough. I'm no audio expert, but I know what I like and always aim for natural sounding audio that's clear, clean, smooth and pleasant for the person on the other end. With that in mind in the lower half of this page I'll offer a couple of things that I found while trying to tame my Kenwood TS-590's TX audio.

A Few TS-590S Quirks Worth Mentioning

Quirk Number One: I believe that every piece of equipment on my bench has a few quirks and the 590S is no exception. The first quirk I encountered with this rig was a serious misconception among many hams about its available transmit bandwidth as a result of some awkward wording in the operating manual. It's amazing how a bit of clumsy wording can cast a dark shadow on a fine piece of equipment! The following information in the manual has caused more than a few prospective buyers to keep walking:

From Page 16 "Menu Setup - DSP Functions and Defaults"

Potential buyers browsing the downloadable PDF manual from the Kenwood web site might conclude from the information above that the maximum transmit bandwidth of this rig is 2700Hz - 300 Hz for an underwhelming total of 2400 Hz. What isn't clear from glancing at this chart is that the 300 Hz low cut and 2700 Hz high cut values are the out-of-the-box default settings! The DSP menu actually allows you a range from 3000 Hz to 10 Hz for a total of slightly less than 3000 Hz bandwidth. Unfortunately, the restricted bandwidth myth is further reinforced by this information in the Specification area at the back of the manual:

From Page 81 "Transmitter Specification - Transmit Frequency Response"

A quick glance at this line in the spec sheet has no doubt turned a few people away from this rig as it implies that there are severely restricted audio limitations with this transceiver. What is not clearly stated is that this is the default measured frequency response with the TX EQ disengaged in the transceiver's user menu. With the TX EQ function engaged and by utilizing the free ARCP-590 software you are given the EQ software interface shown in the image below to create up to 5 different TX audio profiles that you can adjust to your liking between 0 - 3000 cps. Note that although the EQ provides sliders that extend up to 5100 cps the DSP upper limit for TX bandwidth is limited to 3000 cps in the firmware. However, those sliders are functional in any RX Equalizer profiles you create.

current user

Page 32 of the manual correctly states the information regarding the transmit bandwidth, and clearly indicates that 300 Hz and 2700 Hz are simply the default values. Unfortunately, the misconceptions about the transmit bandwidth capabilities of this rig are out there and still propagating.


Quirk Number Two: From all the rumors that are floating around it's pretty clear that Kenwood did not do themselves any favors with the way they implemented the power output meter in the TS-590S. It works fine for carrier modes such as CW or AM and seems to be quite accurate with those modes, however, the response time of the meter is not sufficient to accurately depict the power output of the rig while operating SSB. At best, it simply indicates relative power output that tracks your voice as you speak, but the meter deflection does not track with the power increments displayed on the meter. This is quite unfortunate because this behavior has caused rampant rumors about "low average output" and other unflattering comments. Kenwood must have known there would be issues about this because they actually address this in the "Troubleshooting" section of the 590S manual. Page 86 has the following entry, which pretty much tells the story:


The truth is that the TS-590S has plenty of punch when running SSB and any peak reading wattmeter will show 100 watts of output on peaks and a very healthy high average output during normal voice operation. The brief video below shows my TS-590S running sideband into a dummy load with a power level setting of 100 watts. For best clarity, I would suggest that you watch this video at 720p HD and full-screen so you can easily see the scale on the Nye RF Power Monitor that is sitting on top of the Kenwood. It is touching 100 watts frequently on peaks and is floating between 50 and 100 watts when driven with normal speech. Note also that the ALC is deflecting appropriately and staying within the acceptable range, which indicates that the rig is definitely not being over driven. If your browser does not support 720p HD viewing with an embedded video, please click in the lower right corner of the video and watch it at the YouTube site directly.

Select 720p HD and watch in full-screen mode for best clarity

If you do not own a peak reading wattmeter and would like to test your power output in SSB mode follow Kenwood's suggestion and inject a 1000 cps tone into the mic input and see for yourself how much power comes out without exceeding the recommended ALC levels. One thing is for sure, don't rely upon the 590's built-in power output meter for an accurate representation of how much output power is being produced while in SSB mode!

Quirk Number Three:
The third quirk baffled me for several days. I found that the dynamic studio microphones that I own sounded pretty good with the TS-590S. My Shure SM58, which is a music industry favorite for vocal use, seemed to be the best of the bunch. However, it seemed like there was a very heavy low-end emphasis with all the dynamics and I found that I was using the software EQ to fight this "boomy" tendency rather than simply to enhance areas of the voice spectrum I wanted to emphasize for clarity and articulation. I have always found electret condenser microphones to be ideal for producing smooth audio that has clarity and presence with excellent articulation. So, I plugged in one of my ten dollar "station standard" microphones which I have relied upon with all my transmitters/transceivers since the late '70's. When I monitored the transmit audio of my TS-590S while using the electret condenser microphone it sounded horrible. The audio was grossly distorted and it seemed like it was being processed by a kazoo. It had all the characteristics of RF feedback, which was a mystery because I was transmitting into a dummy load! I dragged out my schematic of the TS-590S to see what might be causing the issue and immediately saw some possibilities in the 8 vdc line. Most rigs use a series resistor, typically 4.7k to 10k in the vcc line, to protect the voltage source from shorts at the microphone jack. That works fine when the voltage is used for low current bias purposes with an electret, but it might be unsuitable if the voltage is utilized to power devices in a hand mic that has active devices for controlling the rig. At any rate, the VCC line in the 590S has a series 47 ohm resistor that runs directly into a diode which is present to provide reverse current protection. Audio output from the electret condenser microphone was leaking down the vcc line and modulating the diode, and possibly the poly-switch the diode is in series with, which resulted in horrific distortion. The easy solution was to create an audio de-coupling circuit in the VCC line to keep audio out of the Kenwood's +8vdc components. The circuit below is what I came up with, and it has worked perfectly for me and quite a few other people who encountered the same issue:


If 1/8 watt resistors are used along with a tantalum cap, it's possible to build the little de-coupling stage right into the connector of a microphone. I simply build it right at the XLR connector in the base of the microphones that I use. With the distortion problem resolved the electret condenser microphones proved to be good performers with the TS-590S. I finally arrived at a combination of MIC level and EQ settings that seemed to be clear and not too hard for the station at the other end to listen to. The video below is offered as a sample of what the TS-590S sounds like with one of my homebrew ten dollar microphones plugged into the front panel microphone jack.

The TS-590S with a cheap electret condenser microphone

My Humble Audio Processing Efforts with the TS-590S and a Ten Dollar Audio Chain

Have you heard what the stock Kenwood dynamic microphone sounds like to stations on the other end? In my opinion it is very restricted and not too pleasant to listen to. Stations that just plug that handheld microphone in, turn on the rig, and then use it without even selecting one of the hard-coded embedded audio profiles will probably get quite a few unflattering audio reports. The 590S is equipped with excellent tools for tailoring the transmit audio and operators who don't bother to try them out are not getting their money's worth with this rig! The video below compares the stock handheld microphone to a 10 dollar wide-range dynamic studio microphone. I suppose that some people feel that the stock microphone is adequate, but I'd prefer to be kinder to the stations on the other end!

The stock TS-590S handheld microphone compared to a 10 dollar wide-range dynamic

To be honest, there are a lot of TS-590S owners out there who have done much more and they sound much better than what I've come with, but I'll bet they spent more than 10 bucks on their microphone! The available TX bandwidth limitations coded into the DSP prevent this rig from entering the arena of Hi-Fi rigs like the TS-950 or the Software Defined Radios that are out there. With that in mind, my goal was to achieve audio that sounded smooth, natural, and clear when received by other stations. You might have noticed that the TS-590S receiver is capable of receiving SSB with a bandwidth as wide as 5 kc. You might have also noticed the TX EQ in the software package has sliders all the way out to 5.1 kc. Obviously, the folks at Kenwood could set the upper limit for the TX bandwidth to 5 kc in a future firmware release, or just as likely, there is probably a combination of key presses at power up that would unlock this feature. However, until that happens, the challenge is to find a balance of lows and highs between 10 cps and 3000 cps that creates a decent reproduction of your voice. By using the eleven EQ adjustments available between 0 cps - 3000 cps in each user EQ profile, I came up with a few user EQ profiles that work for me. The first video below will give you an idea of how the six embedded profiles that Kenwood provides sound. It starts with the EQ turned OFF and then steps through each of the six Kenwood profiles available in the TS-590S menu. Note that the 10 dollar dynamic microphone (purchased from the Marlin P. Jones Electronic Surplus outlet) used in the video has a reasonably flat response with a slight amount of heaviness in the lower end which is typical of many dynamic microphones. In all of the videos below, the DSP was set for a TX bandwidth of 10 - 3000 cps and the MIC gain was set to "45" with the TS-590 front panel MIC control. When I operate with these settings, the ALC normally shows minimal response on the meter and will typically displays 4 or 5 tiny hash marks on a heavy voice peak. I have found that the less flickering you see on the ALC meter the better things work out with the TS-590S.

The pre-configured audio profiles provided by Kenwood

The HB1 (High Boost 1) profile is certainly usable but it sounded a bit muddy in the mid-bass area with the wide-range microphone being used. The C (Conventional) profile might also be useful under some conditions, but it also sounded muddy and lifeless and could be difficult for other stations to understand. Using the EQ Profile creator under the DSP/Filter menu in ARCP-590 I made some profiles that seem to fit my voice and the microphone I am currently using. The video compares four USER profiles that use the same basic EQ curve where an effort was made to not over-emphasize any part of the audio spectrum between 0 and 3000 cycles. The only difference between the profiles is that the first slider controlling the audio response between 0 and 150 cycles is varied from -9 dB to 0 dB. In my opinion, a lot of what goes on with audio adjustments is subjective, but the goal should be to make profiles that have good clarity and sound natural to the person on the other end. Muddy or distorted audio can make a signal tough to listen to but fortunately, the ARCP-590 software offers an excellent tool to overcome most of the deficiencies in the microphones that we might select. In the video below, I don't particularly like the USER 2 (tubby sounding) and USER 5 (thin sounding) profiles and have ended up running with either the USER 3 or USER 4 profile without any complaints from the stations on the other end. People who know me say that the audio sounds pretty close to what my voice sounds like in person, which is probably the best compliment I could hope for. I rarely resort to using the speech processor, but when it's engaged the audio is piercing enough that it cuts through fine when conditions are marginal.

User profiles created with the ARCP-590 software





How About Great Sounding Microphones for the TS-590S for Under 10 Bucks?

Several months ago I noticed that had a number of vendors who were selling Pyle microphones for $9.99 that are clones of the Shure SM57 and SM58. They are sold with the Pyle model designations of PDMIC78 and PDMIC58. Being curious I decided to buy one of each just to see how they performed. When they arrived I was astonished to see that they looked and felt just like the real deal. I have an old beat up SHURE SM-57 and was amazed that the cheap clone was a very accurate replica as far as weight and looks. In the picture below my Shure SM-57, with it's grill held on by black tape, is on the left with the clone PDMIC78 in the middle and the clone PDMIC58 on the right. The clone mics have XLR connectors at the base and come with a 15 foot unbalanced cord using an XLR female connector and a 1/4 inch phone plug.


The microphones looked good on the outside but the wiring inside was very poor. The wires were flimsy and so poorly tack soldered to the mic element and the XLR connector that the leads broke off when I opened up each mic. I removed the cheap wiring from both microphones and twisted two leads of heavier stranded wire together and soldered one end of the leads to the two solder tabs of the microphone element and the other end of the leads to XLR pins 2 and 3. I ran a jumper from XLR pin 1 to the ground lug of the XLR connector and then put the microphones back together.

I also scrapped the mic cable that came in the box because it was a single conductor inside a cheap spiral shield which is terrible for RF isolation. I made a balanced cable for each microphone with an XLR connector on one end and a Kenwood style 8 pin MIC connector on the other end. The wire soldered to pin 2 of the XLR was connected to pin 1 of the Kenwood connector and the wire soldered to pin 3 at the XLR end was connected to pin 7 of the Kenwood connector. I tied the shield to the XLR connector's pin 1 and to pin 8 of the Kenwood connector and that made the TS-590S happy with both microphones. Note that if you run into RF feedback with the microphones wired this way you can open up the XLR end of the mic cable and put a jumper between pin 3 and pin 1 to ground one side of the element to the shield at the microphone end of the cable. This is the best way to use a balanced microphone with equipment using an unbalanced microphone input like the 590S.

While monitoring my 590S with another rig I made the EQ profile shown in the image below that worked well with both of the clone microphones. You can judge for yourself how the microphones sound by listening to the video below as my 590S was being received by my ANAN SDR while using a 3 kHz receive filter. The MIC level of my 590S was set to "50" with the processor levels set to PRO-I = 35 and PRO-O = 70. These settings resulted in the ALC flickering up to about 5 hash marks.


The TS-590S using the Pyle $9.95 PDMIC 58 clone microphone from

It's important to note that both of these microphones need to be used with a windscreen to avoid popping on the "plosive p" sounds as you speak. Amazon sells a foam windscreen for $1.99 that slips right over the PDMIC58 microphone and it also sells the original equipment Shure A2WS BLK windscreen for $14.99 that fits the PDM78 microphone perfectly. After playing around with both microphones I decided that they sounded identical and stations at the other end reported that they could hear no difference between them. They also reported that there seemed to be very little difference when I switched to the real Shure SM-57 or several other dynamic studio microphones that I own. If anything, the reports were that the clone microphones seemed a little bit brighter than the other dynamics that I switched to. This makes sense since the frequency response chart that comes with the clone mics shows a 6 dB rise between 900 cps and 3000 cps which is a huge bonus when the microphones are used for SSB.


4         6

At this time I have not found anything that I prefer over these microphones when I run the TS-590S. They sound smooth, clean, and natural and I think they look great. The price is right too!

Transmit audio is a very subjective topic but most people would agree that it's possible to get reasonable results with the Kenwood TS-590S. The audio EQ profile tool allows the user to boost any slider by +6 dB from the 0 dB baseline and cut any slider by -24 dB for a whopping adjustment range of 30 dB. The biggest limitation I've found is that the audio begins to exhibit a metallic ringing quality if you create drastic differences between the audio frequency ranges available. Boosting the bottom end to a greater degree than my sample profiles above does result in a fairly true representation of bass response, but with a 3000 cycle DSP high pass cut-off it gets to the point where it sounds muddy and boomy very quickly. With its current DSP transmit filter limitation of 3 kc the TS-590S won't be a favorite of users who prefer deep and wide full-bodied audio, but it does a very decent job for those who run around in the 10 cps to 3000 cps world. Maybe at some point Kenwood will get the memo that extending the upper range out to 3.8 kc or even 5.0 kc would open the door for this rig to those who like to experiment with something more than the current 3 kc bandwidth offering.

Other Miscellaneous TS-590S Information

Like most other Kenwood equipment, the TS-590S is built like a battleship. The PA amplifier devices are very rugged Mitsubishi RD100HHF1 MOSFET devices which are nearly indestructible in the circuit that Kenwood has built around them. It's interesting to note that the same PA MOSFET devices are used by Yaesu, Icom, Flex, and Apache Labs in their 13.8 volt line of amateur radio HF products. When the devices are correctly biased, they should run cleanly with third-order IMD better than -30 dB. Curiously, after a couple of years of use, I began to get reports now and then that my rig was distorting on audio peaks. It also seemed to be producing artifacts outside of the intended transmitted bandwidth. Those kinds of reports can be an indication that something in the transmitter chain is not operating at optimal linearity. A quick two-tone test revealed that the third-order IMD of my rig was only down about -26 dB, which was definitely not optimal.

Two-tone test before idling current adjustment showing around -26 dB third order IMD

A quick measurement of the idling current settings for the pre-driver, driver, and each PA device revealed that the two PA devices were idling below the 700 ma current specified in the service manual. I found it curious that Yaesu, Icom, Flex, and Apache Labs all set their RD100HHF1 devices to idle at 1000 ma, which moves them into a much more linear state. I also found that rigs that have been sent to Kenwood for service are coming back with the final amplifier devices set to idle at 1000 ma each. The chart below shows the service menu settings, my own rig's settings as I found them, and the settings that I went with as I re-adjusted the bias of my rig's transmit chain.


Another quick two-tone test revealed that it was well-worth taking the time to correct the issue. The result is shown in the screenshot below where the third-order IMD is roughly -35dB. It's worth checking your bias settings if you get reports of gritty audio or splatter.


More Miscellaneous TS-590S Information

The following downloads are offered as assistance when dealing with the TS-590S service menu. As a general rule there should never be a need for you to enter the service menu of your rig expect for the purpose of making a record of these critical values so that you can restore them should they ever become corrupt. The first file is an explanation of how to enter, navigate, and exit the service menu. The second file is a blank Excel spreadsheet that can be downloaded, printed, and used to record your rig's unique service menu values. The third file is simply offered as an item of interest to show the service menu values of five different TS-590S rigs. The values would not be optimal for any other rig, but they do illustrate the range of values that exist between different units. The end user should never change any of these values without access to the service manual, appropriate bench equipment, and appropriate knowledge of what's going on in there!


How to enter, navigate, and exit the TS-590S service menu (85k jpg file)

A worksheet for the purpose of recording your TS-590S service menu values (25k Microsoft Excel file)

A simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that displays the service menu values of five different TS-590S rigs (21k Microsoft Excel file)


Are you using a balanced microphone with your TS-590S? Since the TS-590S front panel microphone jack is unbalanced, care must be taken to avoid RF feedback issues when connecting a balanced microphone to it. If you have run into RF feedback problems see if this page helps.

If you have not yet visited G3NRW - Ian Wades TS-590S page I would urge you to spend some time there. Ian has assembled a vast repository of set up tutorials and operating tips that have helped many TS-590S users to get the most out of their rig. Take advantage of Ian's hard work!

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