First, before making a choice, you really ought to put them side
by side and compare yourself. Barring that, you should operate
each one of them separately for an hour or more in your favorite
mode. This is really the way to figure out your own tastes in
rigs. There is truly no "better" one objectively, but there are
strengths and weaknesses in each one. Your own personal needs
and tastes will dictate the one for you.
That said.... I own a Corsair I and like it alot. I also own and
dearly love my TS 440. I regularly use a TS 450 at our UCI club
station and am quite familiar with it. I have had my Corsair I
next to the TS 450 in the club shack for CW operation.
The Kenwood TS 450 is a fine rig. It will allow you to cascade
filters for CW, you can put in some INRAD filters for both IF's
(price is near $200 new for the pair) and really kick butt for
CW QRM and QRN. The Kenwood CW filters can be put in there, too,
and they are OK, but not quite as fine as the INRAD filters. The
QSK is smooth for most speeds under 40 wpm, I don't go faster than
that and don't know how it does there. The IF shift control allows
you to kill some QRM on CW, especially if you have the INRAD filters
installed. There is very, very little drift in the warmup for these
rigs. Kenwood service is recently revamped, and they are doing
OK, but I might recommend some of the free lance service centers
if you have one in your area.
The Ten Tec Corsair I is an older vintage radio (just after the OMNI-D
series, about 1983 or so?). It is solidly built, uses a PTO / crystal
mixing instead of PLL circuitry in the Kenwood, so at the very bottom
of the noise floor, it can hear a tiny bit better (mainly not noticeable).
The QSK is really very nice. No memories. There is some usually some
drift (100 Hz or so) to the PTO but it stabilizes pretty well in a half
hour. Bandswitched in the ham bands, no general coverage like the
Kenwood. Very nice selectivity on CW, you can add 3 filters in the
2nd IF which puts a 2.4 KHz filter first, then a CW filter of your
choice. It does very well, but you don't get 16 poles of CW
filtering (you have to go to the OMNI V and VI for that, or "roll your
own" which isn't really hard). The Ten Tec PBT seems a bit sharper
than the normal IF shift on the Kenwood, probably due to the higher
quality of the Ten Tec stock filtering. The Corsair I is a bigger rig
and not easy to mobile or go portable with (but I do it all the time :-).
Ten Tec service is first class, just about all the time (ALL the time
since 1972 for my case). The Corsair I is likely to be a lot cheaper
than the Kenwood 450. I find the Corsair I to be a real "best buy,"
you can get them fairly inexpensively and they give very high level
Overall, they are both nice rigs, the TS 450 has a lot of bells and
whistles, and the option of a pair of CW filters cascaded, nothing to
sneeze at when the crowds gather. It has general coverage, SSB, AM, FM,
CW, memories, stuff like that. The Corsair I is a much more basic rig,
SSB and CW only, no general coverage, no memories. It is a very
classic, high quality basic rig, and likely a lot cheaper than the
450. For CW and SSB, with a ham band only receiver, it is roughly
the equal of the 450, but costs less.
Good luck. GO find one of each and operate them!
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