Matt compares the Tecsun PL-990 and Sangean ATS-909X sharing an external antenna

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Matt Blaze, who shares the following comparison of the new Tecsun PL-990x and the original Sangean ATS-909X communications receivers.

Like Matt’s recent comparison of the Tecsun PL-990x to the Icom IC-R9500, this review is in audio form and brilliantly narrated by Matt. I highly recommend listening with headphones or, at least, an audio device with separate left/right channels as his comparison takes advantage of this.


Yet another superb presentation, Matt! Thank you so much for taking the time to make these audio comparison tests.

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7 thoughts on “Matt compares the Tecsun PL-990 and Sangean ATS-909X sharing an external antenna

  1. Mark O'Byrnes

    Sangean wins here. The real issue with the Tecsun DSP radios is the incredibly poor performance and sound on SSB so zero beating is not possible making the radios greatly over priced, SSB on the 880,990 and S-8800 is so bad that like SYNC on the 880 Tecsun should have disabled it. Tecsun obviously have no shame releasing radios with such performance issues. Zero beating or ECSS is essential for the true DX’er even of you don’t listen to SSB using ECSS on SW is great to eliminate or greatly reduce QRM, this is not possible on the Tecsun DSP radios because of the distortion, high background noise or noise floor and the warble effect it applies to the Audio. I had high hopes for the 990, Tecsun have a new smaller radio with DSP and SSB too with the same issues.

    I sold the 8800 and 880 and got the PL-680 and the low noise floor and much superior make it the only Tecun I would buy.

    Yesterday I bought the 909x and can’t wait to try it out, all the videos I’ve watched clearly show it’s the radio to get if you want SSB and like to use ECSS on LW/MW/SW.

    Also the 909x is known not to overload with external antenna like the tecsuns.

    One thing is for sure and that is I won’t get stung with another Tecsun DSP radio again so sad really considering the 909 and H501 are to be the last of Tecsun’s so called Performance radios. I haven’t heard the H501 yet but I’m sure it will have exactly the same poor sound and SSB performance.

  2. Babis

    many thanks, my guess using the build in antennas, 990 may slightly better? so from what i read both can be find at same price if you search hard?

  3. Matt Blaze

    My bottom line on these radios: the ATX-909X is clearly the superior RF performer, and I’d say it was an unqualified winner except for: the lack of bandwidth choices (especially for SSB) compared with the PL-990, the apparently poor performance with the built-in antennas, and the slightly heftier size and weight. I hope they address some of this with the forthcoming 909X2.

  4. DanH

    Very interesting comparison tests especially when the cost of these radios is taken into consideration. I listened to the recording with Sennheiser HD 280 pro headphones and agree with Matt’s conclusions. Both the black and the white Sangean ATS-909X have been priced at about $220 – $215 on Amazon for most of the year although Covid 19 has interrupted supply and prices have wobbled quite a bit.

    1. john

      I monitor the Amazon price on the ATS-909X and you’re right, it wobbles a lot and there’s often quite a large price discrepancy between the White and Black versions.
      Currently at Amazon:
      ATS-909X White = $215.73
      ATS-909X Black = $249.26

      Meanwhile at WalMart the ATS-909X Black is selling for $216.99 and curiously, it doesn’t show up when you do a search at the WalMart webpage, you have to do a google search for ATS-909X best price. So go figure…

      1. DanH

        Yes, the pricing algorithm at Amazon is a lot of fun. Just watch, as soon as Amazon has the black 909X in stock again the price will be near $220. I saw the price for the black radio drop into the low $190 range once and that was last November.


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