Sangean ATS-909X sticky keys?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey, who left the following comment on our PL-880 review:

I’m reading this old post as I am a new user of the PL-880. I have it as my bedside and coffee table receiver in my house up in the Indonesian jungle.

I love it! Wished I purchased it months ago.

Until the PL-880 arrived I was using an ATS-909X up here – and seeing Thomas mention it here I thought I would ask about it.

I have owned 3 x ATS-909X over the years, two white and my most recent (about 2 years ago) is the black model. Every single one of them has the most frustrating key not functioning as you would expect bug. It like the keys are “sticking”, it’s not a mechanical problem, but something with the keyboard electronics. The 1st one I brought when the ATS-909X was basically unusable due the keyboard. The later purchases somewhat better, and the last Black one the best of the bunch with a software version that was supposed to fix the problem. All that said even the Black one is pretty crappy with unresponsive keys (unless you press hard and slowly – ie not rapid and fast sequences of key pressing).

Am I just suffering the effects of bad karma, or is everyone’s experience of the ATS-909X the same.

I’m so pleased I’m now using the PL-880. No problems, no crappy keyboard, just a great experience!


I’m glad you’re enjoying the PL-880, Mark. You’re right: it’s a brilliant portable.

Post readers: Have other ATS-909X owners experienced this problem with unresponsive keys? Please comment!

And Mark, we’re overdue an update on your Radio Seribatu stations!

Spread the radio love

14 thoughts on “Sangean ATS-909X sticky keys?

  1. Frans

    Mijn Sangean ats 909x heeft problemen met de rotatieknop. de frequentie verschuiven met deze knop lukt niet meer. Heeft er iemand ook problemen mee.] ?

  2. pu3hag

    Hi. I bought one from an online store in Singapore in May/2011 for USD220 (product+shipping). After 3 months using it on a weekly basis, keys on the left side started to miss the keypresses, they would work if I pressed them more firmly. The VFO encoder also started to skip or jump erratically soon after. This really let me down and I’ve already got several portables, I ended up selling to lower price to a close friend. RF-wise, I really liked it on MW and SW. It was also my first FM portable with RDS, sensitive but not particularly selective (perhaps de RDS required wide filters?)

  3. Bob

    I have noticed the lack of responsiveness with my 909X’s keypad and that’s just one of many problems this model has compared to the original Taiwan built ATS-909 which is, in my opinion, a much better receiver.

    Problems with the ATS-909X:

    1. Little to no improvement in reception over the ATS-909
    2. Recessed tuning dial is stupid and problematic
    3. Volume knob is cheap and falls off easily
    4. Display is identical in layout to the ATS-909 whilst improving clarity somewhat
    5. Keyboard is unresponsive at times and the CPU sometimes hesitates when switching modes
    6. DSP circuitry is underused – only for FM ?
    7. More front-end overload than the older ATS-909
    8. Speaker lacks punch
    9. Signal meter is totally inaccurate compared with the original ATS-909

    Having said the above I still like the ATS-909X but don’t use it as much as I feel it’s overpriced and now easily outclassed by the PL-880.

    The original ATS-909 still reigns supreme in my opinion – especially when it comes to resolving SSB.

  4. Keith Perron

    The sticky ket issue is something that did plague a few in the first production run. This was one of the problems it had with a couple of others. It was a quality control issue with a new factory that Sangean started to use for this model.

    The previous ATS909 was the last Sangean radio made in Taiwan, before all production was moved to China in 2010 because of cost. If it had been made in Taiwan the radio would have sold for 25% more than what it is being sold for at the moment.

    The price of this radio here is not between 4500NTD to 4700NTD (147usd to 153usd).

    Until early last year all but 1 Sangean retailer carried any of their shortwave receivers, but when that one closed. The only place now is online through a couple of retailers. They may have it listed, but they don’t have any in-stock.

    While the ATS909X is technically in production. No new ones have come out of the factory since 2017. As more and more of the old timers at Sangean retire. The company has been going through a restructuring, with a number of changes being made in the first two quarters of 2020.

  5. Don

    Have had my ATS-909x for a few years and have experienced nothing but flawless performance here in Wisconsin. Perhaps the key entering .problem is climate related.

  6. Robert Gulley

    I have the white version of the radio, purchased some8-10 years ago and no sticky keys or problems of any kind. Love the radio. While not the best of the radios I have, it is the most pleasurable to listen to and to watch.

  7. DanH

    Shortwave radio owners have always been passionate about their favorite radios and are exceedingly brand loyal. The Sangean ATS-909X has always been a polarizing and controversial radio.

    My 909X has been in nearly daily SWL use for four and a half years. The radio was built in 2014 or 2015. It is not unusual for early run radios to suffer from shakedown bugs but that is the price early adopters pay for being the first on the block with new radio models. My 909X was built a couple of years after it was introduced to the market.

    The radio has made a lot of trips in my carry-on bag and travels to the fields outside of town to escape suburban RFI. I clean the radio carefully once a month or so. My 909X is no shelf queen and has a few light scratches to prove it.

    Everything is perfectly functional on my 909X. There are no sticky or unresponsive keys and I use the keyboard a lot. The whip antenna is like new. No features or parts are broken or worn out. All of the online experts assured me that the stock tuning wheel encoder was sure to wear out quickly. It hasn’t. I use external wire antennas whenever I can with all of my portables. This is the solar minimum, after all. Shortwave sensitivity off the whip is as good or better on the 909X compared to any of my other portables. The 909X can use a random wire or longwire antenna of any length without overloading. I can’t hear any more weak signals on my Eton Grundig Edition Satellite than I can with the 909X. The only difference is overly generous S-meter values from the Eton.

    Here is a video of my 909X tuned to an English language broadcast from Voice of Korea (DPRK) earlier this month.

    The Sangean ATS-909X is currently available from Amazon for US $196.80. This is the lowest price I have ever seen for the 909X by a couple of dollars.

  8. Joao Paulo de Campos

    I’ve had four 909-X’s, three white and one black. I never had this key problem in any of them.
    It is not the theme but it is worth mentioning. It would be one of the best laptops if it weren’t for the ridiculous reception on the telescopic antenna.
    The last two I bought at Radiolabs with the modifications, are interesting.

  9. David Moisan

    I’ve had my 909X for three years and have not seen this problem yet. I live on the coast and experience many such problems as the salt air will eventually destroy most keypads, even sealed.

  10. Tudor Vedeanu

    Yes, my older 909X has this problem with the unresponsive keys. They are not sticky in any way, but simply unresponsive. Sometimes I have to press several times (or press longer) for a key to work. I also have a newer unit which still works fine but has other issues. The 909X is one of the most disappointing radios I’ve ever used.

    1. Mark Fahey

      Hi Tudor, yes your experience is exactly the same as mine. You have to press the keys multiple times etc. Basically my three 909X’s have been real dogs! I’m very glad to now have moved across to the PL-880 as a replacement!

  11. Michael Meyer

    No sticky keys on my 909X, they all works fine. Only issue is the narrow filter, that’s too muffled on AM/SW reception. And of course the mediocre sensitivity on the whip antenna.


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