Dave reviews the Tecsun PL-880, PL660 and Sangean ATS-909X

ATS-909XDave Zantow (N9EWO) has posted reviews of the Tecsun PL-660, PL-880 and Sangean ATS-909X on his website. Dave even includes a review of the Radiolabs “ClearMod” version of the Sangean ATS-909X.  Click here to read the reviews (scroll down to view all).

Many thanks, Dave; I always value your reviews!

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18 thoughts on “Dave reviews the Tecsun PL-880, PL660 and Sangean ATS-909X

  1. Joe

    Does anyone have any experience with, or have any opinions about using Radio Labs in California? The cost of the ATS-909x mod is 70.00.



    UPDATE: The 909X received a great review from Dave, putting some top contending receivers against each other! RadioLabs 909x Clearmod shines in clarity, filtering and sensitivity! Read about it here Check out Dave’s review on 909x Clearmod!

    The RadioLabs technicians have taken this great radio and made it even better. The ClearMod ATS-909X is a professionally modified version with unbelievable clarity and sensitivity. The upgraded filters that are added directly to the radio’s processor board clean dirty signals up and bring distant stations into the forefront.

    Being as the 909X is already a phenomenal radio, the unit’s sensitivity rivals of many portable radios available on the market, the ClearMod upgrade is a great addition.

    The external of the ATS-909X stays exactly the same, maintaining the sleek modern look and feel of the original radio. This modification is for those who prefer performance over aesthetics, even though the 909X is already a truly 21st century radio with all the functions and quality you would expect from Sangean

    The ATS-909X is a complete worldband radio package, with frequency reception from 153kHz on the long wave band all the way up to 108mHz on the the FM band and complete access to all the short wave, medium wave / AM frequencies (including upper and lower single side band broadcasts) in between via the 5 tuning options (Auto, Direct, Manual, Scan, or Memory). Utilizing the new “Squelch” function to minimize background static noise, distant stations come in clearer than ever. Finding stations in a new area is easier than ever with the Auto Tuning System (ATS) which scans and automatically adds all available FM, LW or MW stations to the 406 preset memory bank.

    Note: RadioLabs offers the 909X clearmod, with smooth detent on the main tuning knob. We charge an additional $10 for this modification. If you would like the Clearmod with tuning knob detent, please specify in customer notes during checkout and we will add this to your radio when we modify it.

  2. James Patterson

    Good results from my new and exchanged ATS 909X.Putting in HF SSB Utility Frequencies like Military,Airways and Shipping into the memories and tagging them is a “Breeze” once you get used to it.New Zealand is a long way away from the rest of the world,we are “down under”.So it takes really good conditions to hear the most distant signal.I love just listening to all that “White noise” because in there somewhere is a coms station transmitting a “code” or message.I find a frequency,as listed on internet HF SSB listings and organize it into pages of the memory.So I have programed Military,Shipping,Weather,Airways,Civil Defence,Mountain Radio,and others all received on HF Upper Side Band.So depending on which country you live in,you can list all your local ones as well as globle stations.It’s a lot of fun and very educational,a great “Past-Time”.Also keeps you up with whats happening out there instead of just listening in to Short Wave stations.If a plane is going to send a “May Day”,miles away from any control tower operateing on UHF ,it will be sent on the HF frequencies and a control tower some where will receive that message.The planes also get weather reports, flying routes and heights on HF as well.So its a great hobby monitoring the HF SSB frequencies.Most frequencies are already listed on some internet sites.Some are out of date and some are current.Some listed are also faulse.So you need to try for them befor putting them into your memories on your trusty ATS 909X and the Tecsun PL 660 etc.But “Tagging” them into the memories is what its all about on the ATS 909X,or the older ATS 909.So as far as the whip antenna being too weak to receive SW,the whip antenna works very well on FM,so I would not modify it,as stated on some reveiws.The input antenna socket on the side of the radio is all you need to receive excellent SW signals. Happy DXing everyone!!

  3. James Patterson

    Hi there.I live in New Zealand,at the bottom of the world! I have recently bought myself a new Sangean ATS 909X,after my trusty old Sony SW55 died on me.The Sony Tagged stations and so does the Sangean ATS 909X.My main reason for this message is that the Sangean ATS 909X I bought will only go up to 26.1 on SW band.All other bands,AM,FM and LW are all short or longer aswell compared to my other radios with full coverage.The NZ importer seems to not be aware that this model is only for the European market,according to one You Tube reveiw.As far as I know NZ has the same band coverage as USA and Australia.I paid big money for this radio,but I can not use it hence no full coverage on SW band up to 29.999 (30mgs).According to the instruction book and specs written on back of radio,it gives full coverage of all bands.If the instruction book gives full coverage,why is it not in the radio? This is very misleading.Has anyone found this with the ATS909X ?New Zealand has no government restrictions on Band coverage.Anyone know how to change all the bands to give the full correct coverage?I may need to have a full refund on this radio if it can not be corrected.Please send answers ASAP befor I return it.Thanks.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, James,

      As you say, the 909X should give you coverage up to 29.999 MHz. I wonder if there is a mode or setting that has made its ceiling 26.1 MHz. Very strange. Hopefully someone else will comment if they’ve experienced the same issue.


      1. James Patterson

        Hi Thomas and thanks for yr reply so soon.I got a reply also on You Tube under the heading “How I modified my ATS 909X”.I asked the question “Has anyone experianced the same problems with Band coverage.”One answer came back that Sangean acturly make three different models,as to different country regions,and government restrictions on band coverage.Europe,Russia and America are all different .According to the writer,he said Europe is restricted but USA is not.He gave the band frequencies for each of those countries and regions.So if you check You Tube about this you will see what has been written about the different bands on the ATS 909X.So just today I went to the New Zealand importer and showed him this radio.He was amazed at how different the band coverage was.He checked a few others he had in stock while I was there and they all had FULL band coverage with Sw up to 29.999mgs.So I just happened to be the guy who bought a “dud” one,obviously meant for another country region.This one must have got mixed in with the batch sent to him.So now we do know,there are acturly different ATS 909X models manufactured for different parts of the world.But you would think Sangean would install a Switching device to change the bands accordingly.So yes there are ATS 909x models that do only go as far as 26.1mgs,all other bands,AM,LW and FM are infact different aswell.Not suitable to this part of the world where we dont have any government restrictions on band coverage at all.So now I can re-programe my “New” exchanged ATS 909X with complete happiness !!Many thanks for all yr info !!

    2. Tomas

      Europe doesn’t have restrictions on band coverage either, especially not on SW,

      The only country I know that actually has restrictions is USA (except South and North Korea) but that’s not for SW either.

  4. ¾ Blind

    A Radio Shack DX 440, a slightly decontented Sangean ATS-803A, served me well for almost 20 years. The DX 440 had good audio, bass & treble controls, very stable tuner after warm up for good SSB reception, large and thick numerals in the albeit sparse LCD display, and a feature not found on most portables at any price, an RF gain control that operated on the FM band! That RF gain actually helped reception of certain FM stations plagued by overload and intermod. I want so much to like the Sangean ATS-909X but the low sensitivity off the whip, coarse tuning on SSB, and lack of synchronous detection prevent me from purchase. (The ATS 803A lacked sync, but that radio was designed in the mid ’80s. I also have a Sony ICF 2010 with excellent sync detection which occupies a permanent spot at my bedside.) I wish Sangean made an RF2200 sized radio with all the modern features, but I guess the market for such a radio is miniscule.

  5. Dave D

    As good looking as the ATS-909X U.S., it’s on-antenna sensitivity is lacking and the tuning dial is simply painful to use.

  6. Mike from Toronto Kanada

    …it’s too bad that the Sangean 909X doesn’t have an Air Band!
    …if only Sony icf-7600Gr had thumbwheel tuning knob, Air Band and DSP, it would be the cat’s ass of portable radios?!
    The Tecsun pl 880 would be nice if it had an Air Band! So close and, yet so far!
    …any feedback…….please!

    1. Moshe Ze'ev Zaharia

      Hi Mike.
      I agree with you, as I have the Sangean ATS909, the lack of sync detector is one problem, but since SSB uses 40Hz increments, ECSS is impossible (adding the fact that you can’t change the bandwidth in SSB). If the Sony had tunning wheel , It would be my choice.
      Now I own the Tecsun S2000 (A.K.A Grundig / E’ton Satellit 750), It has the Air band, it lacks any sync detector, but ECSS is quite easy As it has A BFO knob, and you CAN control the bandwidth in SSB mode.
      But… it has only 2 bandwidth available (real ceramic filter, no DSP at this stage). and, of course, Quality Control.
      All in all, this radio is fun for any SWL who is not A ham (like me), and it offers all that I need (It is very hot with it’s whip antenna!).
      Best regards,

    2. Bo3b

      In addition to the Air Band – A “perfect” radio, to me at least, would also include atomic clock and weather alert (SAME) features. Rolled into the 909x case/display/quality with improved standalone (no ext needed) SW reception and I’m buying!

  7. Roy Sandgren

    Internet radio doesn’t cover most of the surface of a country in Asia, Middele East, Afrika and net radio costs, expensive Smartphones, downloading mbits etc. Sw radio stations wich got a target of a country got 100 % coverage and the multiband radio is cheaper than the phone. In some countries webb stations can be blocked out by the regim of dictators. But not SW..

    1. Keith Perron

      What do you mean by “Internet radio does not cover most of the surface of a country in Asia, Middle East or Africa?

      Let’s list a few shall we.

      South Korea
      Hong Kong
      Sri Lanka
      Cambodia (60% of the country)

      Across Africa the use of mobile technology for content increases month on month. The same goes for the Middle East, where the vast majority of content is from satellite.

      Just because you cover a region by shortwave, does not mean anyone is listening.

      While it’s true countries like China do block web content. It still goes through by using VPN’s and other means. In China less than 4% of all Tecsun radios sold in 2013 had the HF bands. But yet there are over 60 million people who are accessing content on Iphones, Samsungs, Xiaomis and others.

      1. Frank Holden

        It may be available in many places but for some of us the cost of internet is such that it is not an economic proposition in many places… and lets not talk about the speed.
        Based on personal experience in the not too distant past…
        Rural Australia if more than ( in my case ) more than 10k from town.
        New Zealand if reliant on wifi
        French Polynesia
        And in Chilean patagonia … nothing at any price….

        1. Frank Holden

          Oh… and the Falkand Islands where , like Tonga, inet is via satellite and the cost is off the scale…

    1. James Patterson

      Please do read my New message at the bottom of the page.I bought a brand new Sangean ATS 909X.One big problem is that it does not have full SW coverage up to 29.999.All other bands are different aswell.Any advice please.Urgent reply please befor I go for a full refund.Thanks.


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