Tuesday, July 21, 2009

FT-450 vs. TS-2000

I spent several hours last night with my buddy Levi, KD8KTY. He has the little FT-450. We worked on setting up a vertical antenna (had some RF grounding issues, but it works all but one band with a good SWR now) and then worked the bands a bit. I brought my TS-2000 with me so I could do a direct A/B comparison. I was over there the day before I left for Canada but I didn't have time to really focus on comparing the radios - now I got my chance!

One feature that really stands out to me about the FT-450 (and most other radios for that matter - even my IC-718) is the IF shift. Having a dedicated knob for this is really spectacular. The IF shift on my FT-857D works the same as on the FT-450 in that it is smooth and nearly infinite in its increments. However, I have to engage the IF shift with a button and then it uses the selector knob to adjust it. The FT-450's knob is specifically dedicated to IF shift.

The TS-2000 in comparison has 50hz incremental shifting on CW only. There is no IF shift on SSB. Instead it offers a high cut and low cut (individual knobs). It would be so much better to have a filter width control, like on CW, and then shift that wherever you want with an IF shift. I don't really see the benefit to having separate a separate high cut and low cut.

The FT-450 has three DSP filter widths. I don't think this is quite enough. It definitely works well, but having the option to narrow the filter down to 150hz or lower sometimes is a benefit. The TS-2000 lets me select down to 50hz (although it rings terribly down that low).

I tried to tune in a weak CW station on 40m so I could do my comparing. The TS-2000 gets the higher mark for being able to pick out the station better. If the rig had a smooth infinite increment IF shift it would be that much better!

Both radios were on the same playing field with noise. The FT-450 seemed to show less noise, but I had the AGC as slow as it goes on the TS-2000. The receivers both seemed to respond to near stations about equally at a 500hz or so filter width. Neither one was good at "digging" a station out of the dirt.

On CW keying the FT-450 seemed to be a bit hard. I did not look too hard to see if there was a way to adjust the rise time though. I did not see it real fast scrolling through the menu, I didn't dig in the manual. With the TS-2000 I can adjust the rise time from 1ms to 6ms. This allows CW to flow smooth and you don't get the pop in the speaker/headphones (a REALLY big deal with headphones). With how much I used the FT-450 (and I did have a QSO on 40m CW with it) the CW keying was a bit hard to listen to.

The audio quality of the TS-2000 overall is a step above the FT-450. Having the equalizer built in (even in as few of increments as it has) really is nice. The audio from the FT-450 was a bit more sharp or harsh - it seemed a bit fatiguing to listen to in comparison.

I still think the FT-450 is a great buy. You get a lot of cool features in a really cool box. I like the tuning knob - even though it is small. The display is great. The buttons and knobs all have a real good feel and quality to them. I can't forget to add that the front panel key jack is awesome! I wish all radios had that.

If you are new to HF or are looking for a good secondary/field day/portable/vacation rig the FT-450 is worthy of looking in to.

I did not do an A/B comparison between the FT-450 and my FT-857D. So that will wait for the next time! It will be interesting to compare. Two things I can say about the two in comparison is, and the first one is very obvious, the FT-857D has 2m/70cm and the FT-450 has IF DSP, as opposed to AF DSP and a single (optional) IF filter per mode in the FT-857D.

Stay tuned! I will post a write-up on the FT-857D vs. FT-450 the next time I get a chance to sit down with both side-by-side.


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