Kenwood TH-D74A Review

It’s not cheap, but the Kenwood TH-D74A is a great option for serious ham radio enthusiasts who need wide-band connectivity, a durable design that can hold up to all weather conditions, and unique features like a built-in GPS. If you’re looking for an HT (handheld transceiver) that’s feature-rich and is built to last, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat this model from Kenwood.

Good

  • Wideband scanner – The integrated wideband scanner can listen on almost any mode including AM, CW, SSB, FM, and D-Star.
  • GPS included – A built-in GPS keeps track of your location, and you can share your location via APRS.
  • Weatherproofed – The Kenwood TH-D74A meets IP54/55 standards, meaning it can hold up to splashes and water jets, though not full submersion in water.
  • Excellent screen – A 1.74”, 240×180 pixel color reflective TFT display provides great visibility both during the day and in low-light conditions.
  • Bluetooth – The Kenwood TH-D74A supports Bluetooth headsets of all types with excellent sound reproduction when used wirelessly.

Bad

  • Complex to set up and use – As you might expect given its huge feature-set, it’s not easy for amateurs to take advantage of everything the Kenwood TH-D74A has to offer. It takes some time to set it up and get used to its features.
  • Short battery life – As expected from a handheld transceiver with so many features and wide-band connectivity, battery life is short. You may want to invest in one – or two – extra batteries for long-term mobile use.

Bottom line

This HT from Kenwood is not meant for newbies, and that’s okay – most newcomers to ham radio won’t know how to make use of all of its capabilities, and will be better off learning with a cheaper unit. But those who are experienced amateur radio operators will be able to justify its high price tag thanks to its extensive feature set, rugged design, and powerful capabilities.

Product Specs

Frequency RangeBand-A TX: 144 – 148, 222 – 225, 430 – 450 MHz
RX: 136 – 174, 216 – 260, 410 – 470 MHz
Band-B
RX: 0.1 – 76, 76 – 108 MHz (WFM)
ModeTX : F3E, F2D, F1D, F7W
RX : F3E, F2D, F1D, F7W, J3E, A3E, A1A
Operating Temp. Range with Incd. KNB-75L-4°F ~ +140°F  (-20 °C ~ +60 °C )
+14°F ~ +122°F (-10 °C ~ +50 °C )
Frequency Stability+/- 2.0 ppm
Antenna Impedance50 Ω
Operating VoltageDC-IN DC 11.0 – 15.9 V (STD: DC 13.8 V)
BATT DC   6.0 – 9.6 V   (STD: DC 7.4 V)
Current Consumption     TXEXT.PS 13.8 V / Battery:7.4 V
(TYP.)H           M           L               EL
DC-IN1.4 A   0.9 A    0.6 A    0.4 A
BATT2.0 A   1.3 A    0.8 A    0.5 A
Current Consumption  
(TYP.)
RX
260 mA (Rated Power)
135 mA (SQ Close)
Single
48 mA (Avg. Save on)
DUAL310 mA (Rated Power)
185 mA (SQ Close)
50 mA (Avg. Save on)
GPS receiver mode115 mA
Battery Life  Approx.Single, Save on, Rate 6:6:48 sec, GPS off
H     M      L     EL
KNB-75L (1,800 mAh)6 hours 8 hours 12 hours     15 hours
KNB-74L (1,100 mAh)4 hours 5 hours  7 hours       9 hours
KBP-9 (Alkaline 6AAA)—    —      3.5 hours     —
Approx. 10 % shorter when GPS is ON
Dimensions (W x H x D)Projections not included
with KNB-75L2.20 x 4.72 x 1.33 in   56.0 x 119.8 x 33.9 m
with KNB-74L2.20 x 4.72 x 1.15 in   56.0 x 119.8 x 29.3 mm
with KBP-92.20 x 4.72 x 1.42 in   56.0 x 119.8 x 36.0 mm
Weight (net) Body only7.13 oz  202 g
with KNB-75L12.2 oz  345 g (w/ Antenna, Belt Clip)
with KNB-74L11.1 oz  315 g (w/ Antenna, Belt Clip)
with KBP-97.13 oz  360 g (w/ Antenna, Belt Clip, 6AAA Battery)
Band-ABand-B
Circuitry
F3E, F2D, F1D, F7W
Double Super Heterodyne
J3E, A3E, A1ATriple Super Heterodyne
IF Frequency1st IF
2nd IF
3rd IFJ3E, A3E, A1A
57.15MHz
450 kHz
58.05 MHz
450 kHz
10.8 kHz
Sensitivity   (TYP.) Amateur BandFM
12 dB SINAD FM/ NFM  144 MHz
FM/ NFM   220/430 MHz


DV
PN9/GMSK 4.8kbps,
BER 1%
144/ 430 MHz

220 MHz




0.18/ 0.22 uV

0.20 uV



0.22 uV
0.19/ 0.24 uV
0.20/ 0.25 uV



0.22 uV



0.24 uV
SSB10 dB S/N0.16uv
AM10 dB S/N0.50uv
Except above Amateur Band
AM
10 dB S/N
0.3 – 0.52 MHz
0.52 – 1.8 MHz
1.8 – 54 MHz
54 – 76 MHz
118 – 174 MHz
200 – 250 MHz
382 – 412 MHz
415 – 524 MHz








4 uV
1.59 uV
0.63 uV
1.12 uV
0.50 uV
0.63 uV
1.12 uV
1.12 uV
FM12 -28 – 54 MHz
54 – 76 MHz
118 – 144 MHz
148 – 175 MHz
200 – 222 MHz
225 – 250 MHz
382 – 400 MHz
400 – 412 MHz
415 – 430 MHz
450 – 490 MHz
490 – 524 MHz



0.36 uV




0.36 uV
0.36 uV
0.36 uV

0.32 uV
0.56 uV
0.36 uV
0.36 uV
0.36 uV
0.36 uV
0.50 uV
0.36 uV
0.36 uV
0.36 uV
0.63 uV
SSB10 1.8 – 54 MHz
54 – 76 MHz
144 – 148 MHz
222 – 225 MHz
430 – 450 MHz





0.40 uV
0.79 uV
0.16 uV
0.20 uV
0.16 uV
FM BC Band WFM30 dB S/N
76 – 95 MHz
95 – 108 MHz
Band-ABand-B
30 dB S/N
76 – 95 MHz

95 – 108 MHz



1.59 uV


2.00 uV
Squelch(TYP.)0.18 uV0.25 uV
Spurious Rejection144 MHz
430 MHz
50 dB or more
50 dB or more
45 dB or more
40 dB or more
IF Rejection60 dB or more55 dB or more
Channel Selectivity-6 dB    12 kHz or more -50 dB  30 kHz or less
Audio Output7.4 V, 10% Dist.400 mW or more / 8 Ω

Expert reviews

  • YouTuber K0LWC called the Kenwood TH-D74A a “Cadillac, feature-packed radio,” though he noted that it’s not exactly the most cost-effective radio on the market, and is not quite as rugged as some other radios in its price range. He also appreciated that it’s a full tri-band radio with full power in the 220Mhz band, and said that it has the “best quality for transmitted audio” of all of his transceivers.
  • Robert Nagy called it the most “fully-featured APRS handheld transceiver out there,” and also praised its overall audio quality. He also liked its full-color display, which he noted was rare on HTs, and the easy-to-use menu system. Overall, he called it the “most capable HT out there,” and said it was definitely worth it, despite the high cost of the unit, and gave it two thumbs up overall.
  • In his product overview, HamRadioConcepts called this handheld transceiver a “game-changer.” Among other features, he noted its color screen, its water-resistant design, its Bluetooth capabilities, and its great audio quality as standouts during testing.

User reviews

  • The Kenwood TH-D74A has a 4.6-star average rating on eHam.net with 48 total reviews, with users praising its build quality, extensive connectivity options, and excellent D-Star capabilities, though several users did note short battery life during extensive use.
  • Users on DXEngineering have given the Kenwood TH-D74A an average of 4.8 stars over 27 reviews, calling it an intuitive HT, noting its reliability and high build quality. The menu system also received high marks from buyers, who called it “easy to work with” and “intuitive.”

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