Radio W4KAZ

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K2 Impressions

I’ve had the K2 on the desk for a couple of weeks now. After months of drought, we are now in a wetter pattern of weather, so quite naturally the T-storms have mostly coincided with the times I’ve had available to play with the radio. Go Figure. But a few things are immediately obvious.

Now, even though this particular radio was not built here by my own hand, I did take it apart. And after I re-assembled it, it still sounds good! Whoever built it did a nice job with the soldering and parts placement.

I took it apart for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to inspect the workmanship to see if there was evidence of any possible cold soldered joints. Check. Next, I wanted a quick dry run at the mechanical assembly. Check. I also was curious as to what the guts-n-gizzards of the radio were like up close, and how the eyes in my finger tips would see it. (Anyone who has been around small kids know the words “let me see” actually mean “give it here I wanna touch it!”) CHECK! I also wanted to get a bit of warm fuzzies about the 160m option I expect to add soon. Check, check, CHECK, check.

So. When the K2 was new on the market, folks were raving about how good they sound. Recent years have seen the release of several other high performance radios, and the newest, the K3, is now beginning to show up in shacks around the country. In fact, I obtained this K2 from someone who was an early financier of the K3 development(via a very early credit card deposit). But my third hand K2 mojo seems as good as the first hand type. Nobody told the K2’s that they were obsolete….

It is certainly too good a radio to be put on a shelf to collect dust. The CW reception is top notch. I find the SSB fidelity is somewhat less pleasing to the ear, but it is not difficult to become acclimated. The DSP filters are really cool, and when the denoiser/noise reduction is engaged, the noise really drops off. My first impression is that the noise reduction is most useful on CW. I’m still learning about the features, so that opinion may change.

In A/B tests with my Yaesu FT-920, I can make a couple of general observations. On receive, both radios seem equally sensitive to weak signals. That seems true on every band I’ve tested(no data on 160m, 15m and 10m). This K2 does not have the 160m option, but I ordered it. Note: Ordered on Saturday, arrived on Tuesday, CA to NC – I’ll bet the K3 buyers wish the K3’s were so easy to get out the door. Anyway, the difference comes into play when the weaker signals are surrounded by the big guns. Then the K2 rises a few notches up the ladder. Until I get to A/B compare them in a contest or under more crowded conditions, I’ll leave it at that.

The FT-920 does have an advantage in the level of the audio output, at least for external speakers. The K2 does not produce enough audio for my personal tastes, and the internal speaker emphasizes the highs, which tends to emphasize noise. The K2 sounds much better into the Yaesu SP-8 speaker, but still lacks the drive of the 920.

On the other hand, I mostly use headphones while operating, and the K2 actually sounds much better in headphones than through a speaker. The K2 headphone audio also seems cleaner than from the FT-920. I have several sets of headphones. All sounded good, but the hat tip seems to go to the Logitech noise canceling set. The Sony’s are usually the first choice, but the K2 headphone audio is high, and the Sony set is a bit too sensitive. Not a K2 problem, just a fun fact.

But it really is a very good CW radio. The QSK is pretty nice. The internal keyer is easy to use. I’m looking forward to the CQ WPX CW to try it out on 40m and 20m in heavy traffic.

More words coming…..

……More K2 Impressions – The K2 ten part series

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