N9EWO Review :
LW / MW / SW Communications Receiver
(as stock, no modifications or accessories)

Kenwood R-5000 Communications Receiver. Manufactured in Japan from 1987 to 1996.
In our view was not the best "Communications Receiver"
Kenwood made for audio quality (but is the most advanced HF receiver they produced).
Please see our Kenwood R-1000 review page here.

  Certain (but not all) used samples CAN suffer from the notorious PLL unlock / VCO potting compound failure (dots on display) and the keyboard bounce issue. Our excellent condition late 1992 test sample did not suffer from either one of these ills. Dual conversion  (except FM mode) using a second oddball IF of 8.83 MHz. Has no W-I-D-E 12~15 kHz filter for greatly improved audio quality (when conditions warrant as with the older R-1000 model). Receiver runs very warm to HOT depending on ambient room temperature (just as with the Kenwood R-1000) ! (N9EWO photo)

Country of Origin  : Japan
Approximate "Test Sample" Serial Number : 2110013x
(Manufactured in Nov 1992)

We have used / owned the Kenwood R-1000, R-2000 models for reference in this report. 


N9EWO's Review on the Kenwood R-5000

- Excellent overall sensitivity (above 1600 kHz) (see con).
- Above average audio quality for a communications receiver, including distortion free SSB modes.
- Excellent dynamic range / front end filtering  / image rejection.
- Decent included stock bandwidth filters (2.5 and 6.3 kHz) (see con).
- Bandwidth filters are independent of mode.
- Tunes and displays down to 10 hz increments.
- 2 VFO's
- RF Gain Control.
- 2 antenna inputs with front panel switching.
- 3 step plus off attenuator switch.
- Selectable FAST and SLOW AGC decay rates. (see con)
- Extremely important 1 step display dimmer button (which is NOT provided with the TS-440 transceiver cousin) (see con).
- All mode squelch.
- Adjustable AF Notch that performs as it should.
- Dual width Noise Blanker (see con).
- Muting function via rear accessory jack.
- 2 time zone clocks that display independently of frequency (can also be turned off).
- 1 event timer with activation relay for old school tape recorder etc.
- 100 memory channels that store frequency, mode and antenna port (see text).
- Front panel "Record" output is clean and at a proper LINE level (except early samples), it is also buffered and isolated from ground (eliminates any ground loop issues).
- VC-20 VHF converter option (not tested).
- VS-1 Voice Synthesizer option (not tested).
- Solid build quality with built in AC power supply (see con).

- 4 inch internal speaker while above average still greatly benefits with an external one.
- Memory information is battery backed and does not store bandwidth or attenuation settings (see text).
- Fair ergonomics overall.
- Some may find the stock 6.3 kHz wide bandwidth filter with too wide skirts (see text).
- Oddball 8.83 MHz second IF makes for limited additional voice bandwidth filters (see text).
- No tone control.
- Dimmer button does not reduce the brightness of the front panel LED indicators.
- Both noise blankers were near useless in testing.
- Low level hum detected with headphone use (see text).
- AGC cannot be turned off.
- Weakly lit S-Meter (made even worse with dimmer in use).
- Direct keyboard entry requires leading ZERO with frequencies below 10 MHz and also requires one to hit the ENT key before and after entry.
- Direct keyboard entry is in a nonstandard 2 row 12345 by 67890 format.
- No frequency UP-DOWN tuning buttons.
- LW and MW sensitivity deliberately made lower.
- Variable florescent display quality over it's entire production run (just as with the R-1000 and R-2000 models).
- Tilt bale has lacks any tabletop protection.
- Use of hard plastic feet allows the receiver to slide around the table surface. 
- In normal operation runs very warm to downright HOT (
depending on ambient room temperature).
- Old age failures for some samples include PLL unlock (caused by acidic VCO potting compound), and keypad multi-entry bounce.

Same Size as it's TS-440 Transceiver Cousin but Dual Conversion / Dimmer Button / VHF Converter Option

The Kenwood R-5000 receiver cabinet is sized at 10.6 W x 3.78 H x 10.6 D inches and weight is 12.3 pounds (5.6 kg). This is the same main body size as the related TS-440 transceiver cousin, but minus the 440's rear power amplifier section.

Some come to think that the receiver scheme is identical to the TS-440 and that is incorrect. The R-5000 uses DUAL conversion (except on FM mode which is triple) with the first IF at 58.125 MHz and the oddball second IF is at 8.83 MHz.  With the TS-440 it's TRIPLE conversion with a bit different first IF of 45.05 MHz, second is that oddball 8.83 MHz again and finally a 455 kHz third IF.

One major plus to the R-5000 is it's DIMMER display feature (button). This is something sorely lacking on the TS-440. One nagging issue that Kenwood forgot with this is only the display and meter lamp are dimmed. All other front panel LED indicators are not, so this makes the eyes a bit tired after awhile.

A nice tilt bale is included, but lacks any tabletop protection. Also in Kenwood tradition it uses the dreaded HARD plastic feet , so it tends to slide around in use (say when plugging in headphones etc.).

Optional accessories include the VC-20 VHF converter. This adds 108 to 174 Mhz coverage and mounts internally (on the top of the IF Unit). The VS-1 voice synthesizer option mounts just left of the top power supply PC board. VS-1 was used in many other Kenwood sets over the years the year including the TS-440 / TS-940 / TS-711 / TS-811 and TW-4000 transceivers. DCK-2 option allows operation from a 13.8 DC power supply or battery (rating at 2 amps). These options were not tested for this report nor were any accessory filters.

Inconsistent Florescent Display Quality

One MAJOR quirk that I have observed with the Kenwood R-5000 (that equally plagues the R-1000 and R-2000 models) since day one on various samples is the brightness / quality of the custom FIP13BM7 FUTABA florescent display used varies greatly from sample to sample. That is some segments of a digit can be severely diminished , or one side of the display can be brighter than the other. This quazi defect is more noticed with the "Dimmer" on with affected samples. Not to say this issue has not inflicted other sets over the years that use florescent displays (it sure has), just that Kenwood did not have much of a rejection curve for semi sour looking displays in production. Some samples look perfect in this regard , while others are not so hot.

Our test sample display was a perfect one, even and bright as can be seen in the top photo.

Sensitivity / Image Rejection / Dynamic Range / 3 Step Attenuator

Sensitivity is excellent as is image rejection and dynamic range.

LW and MW (below 1600 kHz), have been deliberately made less sensitive to keep local signal overloading / bleeding into the HF part of the receiver. However it's not as bad here as found on the R-1000 and is most tolerable. There are modifications posted around the internet that restores full sensitivity, but is not recommended for most owners.

3 step attenuator "0 - 10 - 20 and 30" db is provided (uses relays). These are much more useful levels unlike the "0 - 20 - 40 and 60 db" ones as found on the R-1000.

2 VFO's / 10 hz Tuning and Display / Nice Weighted Knob

Two VFO's are provided and are a most welcomed feature.

The main tuning knob is solid metal that uses a set screw. No rubber rings used around the knob to deteriorate (unlike with the R-600 and R-2000 models) . The actual tuning encoder is of a optical type, so no skipping that can happen with mechanical encoders). Yes the knob lacks a speed dimple, but this was not felt to be a drawback.

Tune and displays in exacting 10 hz increments which is fine enough for most signals.

TIP : See the display / reference oscillator alignment information in the links section on the bottom of this page.

Ergonomics Fair along with Weird Keyboard Layout / No Slewing Tuning Function

Ergonomics are mixed bag. Where the real stinker is with the weird 5 under 5 keypad layout. It gets even worse as for direct keypad entry one needs to hit ENT first then the frequency (in kHz thank goodness)  and then hit ENT AGAIN ! To top off this difficult keyboard procedure, IF it's a frequency below 10 Mhz you also MUST enter one or two leading ZERO's before the frequency.

One can also use the keyboard to direct entry to a certain memory channel. This is reasonably easy to use (just remember to enter the leading zero if under 10).

No UP-DOWN slewing buttons are found which is pity.

Front Panel Antenna Switch for 2 Antenna's

ANT 1 and ANT 2 buttons on the FRONT panel for selection of a 50 ohm antenna (SO-239 connector) and a high Impedance OR another 50 Ohm antenna (ANT 2 uses  binding type posts for connection). This antenna switch is accomplished with a relay near the antenna connections.

IF Filters - Oddball 8.83 MHz filter makes for limited filter choices / Filters still Available

Two bandwidth filters are provided as stock. First a soldered in 2.4 kHz filter and a just over 6 kHz filter used for AM broadcast listening. These filters ate independent of mode. So one can use the 6 kHz filter on SSB modes.

Using the oddball 8.83 MHz second IF makes for very limited voice bandwidth filters available. Many might say that the stock 6 kHz is of no use as it's skirts are pretty wide. We say different as switching as to a narrower (skirt) filter will give for decreased audio quality. For tough listening situations, just switch over to the narrower filter and use SSB mode (ECSS). Even the stock 6 kHz filter restricts audio quality of course.

International Radio still offers add on bandwidth filters for the Kenwood R-5000 (as this report was being assembled). These are plug in AND soldered in type filters.

Sadly the R-5000 has no W-I-D-E 12~15 kHz filter for much improved audio quality (nor can it be easily added) for when conditions warrant as with the R-1000 model. This was huge disappointment to our ears. Even the JRC NRD-525 (which was also sold at the same time as the R-5000) featured this WIDE no-filter setting and sounded great.

100 Memory Channels with a Useful Scanning Feature / Rechargeable Backup Battery

1000 memory channels are provided which store Frequency, Mode and Antenna port. They do not store the bandwidth filter or AGC settings. If one just keeps the Bandwidth selector in AUTO mode then it will just toggle the proper WIDE filter on AM and Narrow on SSB modes when flipping through the memory channels (which is done with the main tuning knob) This makes that drawback less of a concern.

Memory channels are tunable, but only after the  M>V button is pressed first.

The memories are backed using a rechargeable lithium battery. This is NOT a Lithium ION type. Please see the important information located in the links section at the bottom of this web page.

Decent Record (Line) Output

It’s front mounted record jack output is at a proper audio line level and quality with zero hiss. No other audio preamp is required unlike with the elder R-1000. As I check the schematic it also has anti-audio ground loop protection (ground is isolated). It is also buffered with a transistor preamp. Kenwood did this right.

Reports indicate that early production samples exhibited excessive distortion at the record output jack. We did not experience this with the Nov 1992 test sample. So it appears that Kenwood made production changes to correct this too "hot" level ?

Above Average Audio Quality / Internal Speaker While OK - External Still Recommended

The Kenwood R-5000 audio quality is most agreeable. It's very clean, lacks hiss, proper amount of bass response and SSB is definitely above average even with comparing to SDR receivers of today. The 4 inch internal speaker is above average. However it is still recommended that a external speaker be  used (the old classic 2 way Realistic Minimus 7 or 77 worked excellent in testing).

TIP : To help reduce or eliminate any R-5000 audio amplifier hum issues, try removing the top IF board and clean (with 91% isopropyl alcohol) the PC board grounds.

I will NOT be held responsible for any info that is listed here

Good AGC with Fast and Slow Decay Rates but no way to turn it OFFNice ANALOG S-Meter

Well chosen FAST and SLOW AGC decay rates are available and good overall AGC performance. However there is no AGC OFF and  this could have been easily been added as there is a RF gain control on the R-5000.

Analog S-Meter that generally works well. It's tends to read a bit high, but so does the Kenwood R-1000's s-meter.

Both Noise Blankers Pretty Much a Wash Out / IF Shift

2 Noise Blankers are featured on the R-5000 (NB1 and NB2). However in our testing neither one was of any real use. The adjustment knob not helping the cause.

IF SHIFT performs as it should however it does not function in the AM mode.

All Mode Squelch / AF Notch That Works Well / Scanning (Memory Chanel or Band)

All mode squelch works well in the HF bands even if one does not have optional VC-10 VHF converter installed (not tested).

There are 2 scanning modes. One for a selected segment of a band, and the other memory channels.  It's a bit slow and quirky, but can be useful once mastered, One can scan all memory channels or selected ones in groups of 10. Memory lockouts are also available,  Band scanning are between channels 8 and 9 in each 10 channel bank (this is a bit weird). 

Dual Clocks That Display Independently From Frequency / 1 Event Timer With Old School Relay Contacts

Two clocks that display independently from the frequency. There is a flashing colon for seconds (but no seconds display). One can also choose to shut the clocks off all together. One event timer is available (not tested). Just as with the R-1000 there are low current / voltage relay contacts for a old school analog tape recorder on the rear panel accessory panel DIN jack. Also receiver muting is available on this same socket.

Very Warm to HOT Operation

The R-5000 runs very warm to HOT depending on ambient room temperature (just as with the Kenwood R-1000) ! One should NOT block the any part of the cabinet at any time.

The Dreaded PLL / VCO Potting Compound / Skippy Push Buttons

Certain (but not all) used samples CAN suffer from the notorious PLL unlock / VCO potting compound failure (dots on display) and the not as serious keyboard bounce issue. Our excellent condition test sample did not suffer from either one of these ills.

Best Communications Receiver Kenwood Manufactured / Audio not the best but still very good

The R-5000 even with it's possible old age traits, and very warm / HOT operation is still a very respectable table top communications receiver in 2020 +. We wish that Kenwood would have offered the THREE stock IF bandwidth filters as with the R-1000 model including the super wide 12~14 kHz one for when conditions warrant to enjoy the greatly improved audio quality.

Dave N9EWO
N9EWO, all rights reserved
ver 1.1


Internal Kenwood R-5000 Photo's (click on photos for larger view) (N9EWO Photos)

Kenwoood R-5000 LINKS (All Subject To Change Without Notice)

eham Kenwood R-5000 User Reviews

Kenwood R-5000 Service Manual (PDF)

Kenwood R-5000 Receiver : groups.io

Kenwood R-5000 Owners Manual (PDF)

Kenwood R-5000 Backup Battery Replacement (Do NOT use a CR2032 !)
WARNING : DO NOT replace with a CR2032 type battery. Bad information is posted elsewhere on the internet saying use a CR2032 which is DEAD WRONG !

Kenwood R-5000 Reference Oscilliator Adjustment (Done at Your Own Risk !)

TIPS : From N9EWO experiences in the testing period, could only get accuracy to approx.10 hz due to VARIABLE differences with heat once the rear cover is reassembled. One should wait a good 2 + hours in operation (plus carefully blocking as much of the bottom of the cabinet with cardboard etc.) before attempting this. Not properly covered in the video above, be sure and use the WIDE filter on LSB / USB and you can then easily hear the WWV / WWVH clock tones out of phase when off frequency.

Jahnke Electronics : R-5000 Repair of PLL "Dot" Unlock and Key Bounce Issues (located in Green Bay Wisconsin USA).

I will NOT be held responsible for any info that is listed here

To Main Page