Dan’s first impressions of the new Sangean ATS-909X2

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, DanH, who shares the following guest post:

Sangean ATS-909X2 First Impressions

by DanH

A few hours spent tuning a new radio are enough to make me feel confident that I know most of the new features and how to use them. Then several days, weeks or months later I discover overlooked features and I figure out new ways to operate the radio. Sometimes I actually read the operating instructions again. Understand that I received my new Sangean ATS-909X2 only three days ago so this early report is hardly a comprehensive review nor was it intended as such. At this point I’m looking mostly at shortwave and medium wave performance.

My first experience with the new Sangean ATS-909X2 was online at the Amazon shopping site. On December 16, 2020 I pre-ordered the radio for US $459.99 (list price). The radio didn’t ship and the prices dropped a couple of times. Each time I cancelled the order before it shipped and ordered it again at the lower price. In the end I ordered my 909X2 for $297.95 and paid for it with credit card bonus points and a little more that I had on my Amazon gift card.

The 909X2 arrived on Friday afternoon, February 19. I devoted the first 24 hours to tuning around on SW and a little MW only. I deliberately made no videos at this time and devoted my radio time to exploring the bands. The latest addition to the ATS-909 series is a well thought out evolution of the radio and much more than a 909X with a cosmetic facelift. The 909X2 retains the excellent speaker sound of its predecessor, the tuning knob is unchanged from late production 909X, the solid build quality remains the same as does the general layout, performance, size and weight. SSB audio for the 909X2 remains at a lower level than for AM, like 909X. I don’t like having to turn the radio volume up for ECSS or SSB. Like 909X, the new radio excels with external antennas and is not easily overloaded by a lot of wire antenna.

Like 909X, 909X2 occupies an interesting niche in the portable multiband world. It is a little too large and heavy for a travel radio but over the years I have packed it many times in my carry-on bag. Sometimes I am willing to sacrifice extra clothes if it means bringing the best radio. These radios excel on a desk or radio room work station. The radio is big and powerful enough to provide top notch sound for all modes. Late at night I run mine with Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones. With 909X2 you get top performance in a small package. It is an over-used metaphor but think of a 1950 – 60’s communications receiver in a small package, plus VHF air band and FM. The speaker audio sounds better for broadcasts than many Amateur rigs.

There are many new features with the 909X2. Instead of charging NiMH batteries like Eneloop in series the 909X2 monitors each cell individually and identifies failing cells for you. SSB resolution is now selectable 10 – 20 Hz, auto-bandwidth control may be used on all bands except SSB on HF. There are many more memory slots available in three separate banks. The LCD has dimmer settings, soft muting is switchable for FM and the keyboard beeper may be shut off! Instead of hidden features the 909X2 has an INFO/MENU button for customizing your operating options.

The new bandwidth choices make a real improvement in LW, MW, SW, FM and VHF airband signal quality especially when adjusted in tandem with the audio tone control. Automatic bandwidth control selects the bandwidth that offers the best signal-to-noise ratio. Now I understand why the 9090X2 shortwave bandwidths are relatively closely-spaced: auto control shifts quickly between multiple bandwidths. Too much space between bandwidths would sound jarring. The auto bandwidth control is most useful during heavy fading and has improved my ability to copy words on poor AM broadcast signals. This feature does add an odd effect to fading signals: the audio tone quality will shift as different bandwidths are selected. This feature is not something that I would leave ON as a default for shortwave listening but it is definitely a welcome tool when needed.

MW performance is as good as the 909X but with improvements made possible with more bandwidth and memory slot availability. I found that 909X2 LW is generally better than 909X with fewer MW images. I am hearing substantially more LW beacons on 909X2. LW activity is very limited here on the US West Coast.

10 Hz SSB resolution means that ECSS is excellent on the 909X. I can tune a shortwave music broadcast on the 909X2 without warble. This was impossible with the 909X 40 Hz resolution.

The 909X sold near US $220 for most of the last five years with a few rare Amazon holiday sales at the $190 level. Then the prices jumped another $30 post-Covid 19, as did prices for other radios in this range.

Is 909X2 worth the additional money right now? I say yes! Mine is a keeper.

I do not believe that there will be significant improvements coming along any time soon. Sangean is a private Taiwanese company with its own factory located in PRC. 20 pre-production units delivered to Europe in January are not the same batch as the retail production units released by Sangean USA this month. Sangean USA has two of the pre-production units. They did not offer these for sale. The first retail production units arrived at Sangean USA in mid-February before the Lunar New Year. If there are significant changes for 909X2 we won’t see those radios for at least another 6 – 8 weeks. I can’t see much need for significant changes anyway.

Believe it or not I have been very busy with the Sangean ATS-909X2 and haven’t tried FM or VHF air band on it yet!

This video is a companion to my first impressions written here. Hearing and seeing video is hard to beat. SW and MW features are shown in real-life reception conditions. I test for the dreaded LCD/hand capacitance internal noise and have a look, listen and comparison for telescopic whip performance. And you will hear DX too, not just Brother Stair. You need to see and watch auto bandwidth control to believe it.

Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this, Dan. Very encouraging. We look forward to publishing your updates as you get to know the 909X2 even better! 

Sangean ATS-909X2 Retailers:

All prices are current at time of posting (22 Feb 2021).

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62 thoughts on “Dan’s first impressions of the new Sangean ATS-909X2

  1. John Tygart

    My wife gave me a Sangean ATS-909X2 for Christmas. Right off noted something strange. On the AM broadcast band we have a 570 kHz station that is received strongly on 570 kHz on both my cheap hand held AM radio and on my Grundig Satellit 800. On the Sangean I get nothing but noise at 570 Hz but can pick it up on 580. What gives?

    1. Ross Butler

      I bought one a few years ago (2021?) when they first came out. It would randomly be 10 kHz off frequency then suddenly snap back. I never could figure out the pattern. I did the easy Amazon exchange thing for another one. It worked fine until the ambient temperature while camping got into the mid-90s, at which point the radio developed an audible whine. (No, I didn’t leave it out in the sun.) I returned that one for a refund, figuring that Sangean’s quality control was not up-to-snuff yet on that new model. (I didn’t open up the 909X2, but I assume it is like both 909Xs that I have: very nice looking and solid feel on the outside, moderately crap quality on the inside. They sure ain’t like the Sonys and Panasonics from back in the day.) Reading about your off-by-10kHz problem, I’m a little surprised that problem hasn’t been worked out after three years.

  2. Paul Godley

    Sangean ATS-909X- Hardware changes? I have a 909X with Firmware 1.29 and when the tone switched to “Music” its overly bassy and muffled. The other two 909X Radios one is a PO1 firmware with same Overly bassy sound with a muted treble. However a much earlier version (still with Firmware 1.29) has a much better sound with a much cleaner top end on t “Music ” setting. I seem to recall they was some changes to the Tone control circuit, sadly for the worse. Does anyone know what components were changed? I wish to change it back to the earlier sounding one. Does the 9092X have this?

    Thanks Paul (Uk)

  3. David White

    I just purchased a Sangean ATS-909X2 in late April, 2021
    Built Date: Oct, 2020
    Software Version: vs73
    Here are my impression of this radio
    Very Good sensitivity on MW/SW/FM/Air bands. LW not so good as to near by aeronautical beacons
    I found SSB to have audio distortion but when I reversed the supplied AC power supply in the AC wall outlet, the noise & distortion dropped quite a bit. This audio distortion was also present on the AM mode too.
    The supplied AN60 Reel antenna is no good for this radio, at least for MW/SW reception because it only connects to the Ext AM Input jack. Per the owners manual the Ext. AM input jack has an impedance of 50ohm at 10MHz making this input for external antennas at or near 50ohms or at least through a Antenna Tuner or matching 50 ohm Balun . I found that when I connected my Sony Reel antenna which is about the same wire length and clips onto the telescopic antenna vs. connecting to the Ext. AM Antenna jack this really helps improve SW reception especially on the lower freq. bands. Sangean sales their AN60 Reel antenna with an adapter to clip onto telescopic antennas…why did they not include it hear in their top line receiver? Overall I am impressed with this radio, The DSP processing is very Kool. The large LCD display is very good and the backlight settings work Great! No noise when I touch it with the radio on.
    Here are two things I think Sangean gets right for the Radio Hobbyist…
    Having a manual RF Gain {Attenuator Control}
    Using a conventional RF front End i.e. RF Amp/DBM mixers/Dual Conversion Oscillators/ IF Filters all before the DSP chip thus providing only the 450KHz IF for the AM bands to be processed by the DSP chip.
    I do have a couple of questions on this new radio maybe someone can answer…
    What DSP chip are they using? the same on from Silicon Labs used in the ATS-909X?
    How is the VHF-AM Aircraft band provided, thur the DSP as is the VHF-FM band?

  4. Shawn j

    Hi guys just to let you know the sangean ultimate is getting the last firmware update. If you have the older version contact sangean to get the update

    1. Andreja

      Yes, it does. The AN-200 can work with it as well, but you need to couple it to the internal antenna. As far as I remember, the external antenna port is only for SW.

      1. Eric p Dreizen

        Unlike the IC R8600, which uses my external SW dipole for AM broadcast. I can only attribute this to the sdr circuitry, since AM broadcast is outside the range of SW freqs, but somehow they make it work, & better than any radio I’ve ever owned! I hear AM broadcast stations I never knew existed! But it’s a $2500 radio! W/ my present 909, AM broadcast is heavily impeded when I use the ext SW antenna. I always have to pull the jack out if I want to listen to AM broadcast. No problem w/ the 8600, understandably! Still, I don’t see why Sangean allowed this, as it is ostensibly the best portable on the market. I will still purchase the X2, however, & will NOT use same AC adapter, just to be on the safe side. The Sangean takes a strong 2nd fiddle to my Icom, but I do listen to it occasionally. DanH said to wait 6-8 weeks to see improvements in this model, & the earliest posts here go back to around Feb 22nd, so I’ll go ahead & order, probably from Amazon. HRO’s price that I see here is ridiculous! And the tuning knob is not very smooth. I doubt it’s any different now but I notice it’s a metallic color now.

  5. Rafael Scapin

    I just received an email from Sangean with what each new firmware does:

    VER-70: Mass production version, has mass production of the first version of the United States regulations.

    1. Correction in the Air/FM/AM band on page 3/4/5 cannot press the M-plus (P) plus number key Memory radio station (only press the M-ENTER key memory)
    2. Cancellation in the info screen displayed by RSSI at the same time as SNR
    3. Correction In SW page selection out time (not confirmed), 100k at rotary tuning (normal 1k/5k, slow/fast)
    4. Corrections In ATS execution, the bet bandwidth key will be interrupted
    5. Fix Store SW/MW/LW at LSB/USB xxxx.5 to xxx.9 kHz, save it and call it back, and it will display 1kHz more

    1. Fix Store SW/MW/LW at LSB/USB xxxx.5 to xxxx.9 kHz, after storage, bet SW key to call meter band, and then bet SW key to cancel meter band, which will display 1kHz more, while slow/fast/pause LCD icon will not display the problem point
    2. When correcting SW band LSB/USB, xxxx.5 to xxxx.9 bet enter key and encoder down, tuning radio station (quick pick 100kHz), it will display more than 1kHz problem points
    3. Correction The frequency of an on-the-machine occurrence (FM band) occurs outside the 64.0 to 108MHz range when the FM band rotates quickly on the encoder station)

    VER-73: Shipping
    When being used for FM band fast rotation encoder selection, an on-the-machine condition occurs (FM band) frequency is outside the 64.0 to 108MHz range)

    1. paul nakroshis

      Thanks for the post! I just my 909×2 with ver.70 and it is fantastic. Only issue I have is that if it is too close to a wifi router, i hear a tap-tap-tap sound at about 2hz. Move it 4 feet away, and it is gone. My 909x doesn’t respond this way.
      But boy, the x2 is way more sensitive and a dream on ssb. I
      am going to sell me eton executive and my xhdata. I’ve always preferred the layout and aesthetics of the sangean, and now the performance matches. My favorite SWL radio along with my Satellit 800.

        1. Charlie Alexander

          Notation all the 909X2 is a great portable
          Oniy 2 down sides are audio & signal level in SSB are low and only one filter for SSB but it seems well chosen

  6. Charlie Alexander

    With the AC Adapter on the Signal Strength and volume go up.
    Includes SSB levels

    It added some hum, so I put 2 more (IT had one) Clamp on Ferrite Cores – looping the cord around them also

    The hum is almost gone

    1. Shawnj

      One of my most favorite radios to listen to.Sangean hit a home run with this models. Tons of features and flexibility. Only 2 radios that are a equal are the Tecsun 990 and Tecsun H501.No radio is perfect but this radio has more pros then cons.

  7. Chuck Rippel

    They’ll fix it. Get enough returned, they’ll have to correct the issue.

    The 909 series are beautiful radios. I have a late model ATS909X which is easily the best-looking one I own. It sounds good and is fairly hot when using an external antenna.

    You never know what you are going to hear. I keep a Techsun Q3, an FM and MP3 recorder/player ($29) connected to the “Line Out” jack on radios which have them. When that T.O.H. or near T.O.H. ID is played, jut hit the record button and the audio is recorded on an SD card.


  8. DJ

    Sorry if it’s a dumb question, but I’m in SSB mode on the 909X2 and it shows 41 meter band when I’m on LSB 7125, I can’t find in the manual the SSB meter bands?

    1. DanH

      The 909X2 like the 909X shows only the international broadcast bands, not the amateur radio bands. Notice that these bands are shown on most of the keyboard keys. The keys are multi-functional. For example: the “6” key is also the “M, N, and O” key as well as the key for the 31m band. To access a shortwave band quickly power up the radio, press the SW key and then press the 31m key. You will now be on the low end of the 31m band. 31m will appear on the LCD display next to the S meter.

      A part of the 41m broadcast band is shared with the 40m ham band. Due to some oddities in the history of radio band allocations the 41m band is actually shorter in wavelength than the 40m band.

  9. Michael Hammon

    The air band goes to 137. Mhz,would have been really nice if it went up to 138 Mhz to include the NOAA weather sats. A fun thing to do. Anyway to add this?

  10. DanH

    I appreciate having the tuning wheel detents when using 10 Hz fine tuning for SSB.

    A plan to remove the tuning wheel detents was considered earlier in 909X2 development and was leaked from company memos. So were plans for a mini USB jack for firmware upgrades, illumination of the cancel button and integration the FM and AIR buttons instead of the LW and MW buttons. None of these ideas survived to the final version of the radio.

  11. DanE

    OK – Have had my 909X2 for about 6 hours. In my opinion it’s a keeper.

    Yes the SSB volume is quite low, but I have a Yaesu FT-991A sitting here in front of me for HF/SSB work. I bought this for AM SWBC listening and this unit does that exceptionally well in my opinion.

    Off the whip mine is outstanding. Not noticing any noise when I place my hand over the screen unless I touch my thumb to the antenna at the same time (I don’t anticipate that happening very often).

    According to the barcode/serial number, mine was manufactured in October 2020. Software version 070

    1. DanH

      I glad that you are happy with the 909X2! Both of my 909Xs have low audio on SSB as does the 909X2. I need to turn up the audio gain when using SSB. On the 909X the problem is worse when using LSB instead of USB for ECSS for some reason but that has been fixed for the 909X2. There seems to be more audio available for SSB on both the 909X and 909X2 when using headphones.

      My 909X2 has the same production date code and firmware version as yours.

      1. DanE

        Forgot to mention – when listening in SSB mode, if I switch the tone selector to NEWS, it seems to help bring the voice further above the noise floor a bit.

      2. Chuck Rippel

        Mine arrived from Amazon about 4:00 today. Its now 9:03 and I’m packing it back in the box. When switching from AM to SSB, the audio disappears and only by increasing the audio gain nearly full can you extract anything useable.

        I’m calling this one defective. Will wait till they get this obvious problem fixed.

        Chuck Rippel

        1. Charlie Alexander W8WCA

          Hi Chuck Long Time!

          I just got mine late yesterday ( 2-28-21) it does the same thing very low volume in USB/LSB. On mine LSB has a bit more volume than USB.

          I may return mine as I usually an in SSB and with only one bandwidth for SSB that kind of kills it for me.

          In AM SW the filters are pretty good (Better than on my PL-880), and I like the audio better it seems a little quieter sounding – less noise

          That said I sure like a lot about this

        2. Charlie Alexander

          Hi Chuck! Long time

          I just received my 909X2 late yesterday & last night was not great for listening but I did for a couple of hours.

          Audio volume on mine drops a LOT in SSB also – I have to turn audio way up. For some reason LSB has more volume than USB

          That and the fact it only has one filter for SSB are a real problem for me.
          I listen to Utilities a lot and I tune thru SWBC bancs in SSB often (Especially with no Sync)
          I do like the looks and feel of it – but that only goes so far!

  12. DanE

    Thank you DanH! I waited for your review and went ahead and purchased. Should arrive today. I also downloaded the user manual from Sangean, and for those curious about the lack of bandwidth selection in SSB mode, it clearly states in the manual that this is not a bug in the firmware, but functions as intended.

    Looking forward to sitting down with it this evening.

  13. DanH

    I have heard some comments today (not from here at SWLing Post) about the name of my website Willow Slough DX https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBS1S1WX1DkCp037ZWfLzvA . Naturally enough, “slough” is an Old English word that has been virtually forgotten today except for boaters or residents of the Mississippi River Delta or California Delta regions. Slough is pronounced “sloo”. A slough is a small river or creek that empties into a wetland, river or bay and is under the influence of tides. A slough carries a sometimes unearned association with “cultural backwater” which I find unjustified. The nearest significant body of water in proximity to my home location is Willow Slough. I find excellent shortwave DX conditions there from time to time.

    1. Paul

      Dan, thanks for making that clear explanation of what sloughs are, which I learned while once living in the California delta near Suisun Bay. Many of the sloughs there were engineered constructions which fed into the wetlands and bay. This is not far south of your stomping grounds. I didn’t have as much success DXing there, but I lived in an apartment and didn’t really know what I was doing! I just received my 909X2 and have enjoyed your initial test videos.

  14. John

    No selectable SSB filters in DSP ? That can’t be right – if the Tecsuns have it why would Sangean omit it ?

    Clearly someone with no clue or radio experience made such a decision – if true.

    Could be a deal breaker for many.

    1. DanH

      Why would you use a portable multiband radio to listen to densely-packed amateur radio (ham) HF bands? Doesn’t your amateur handheld or desktop transceiver do that? Clearly, Sangean is not trying to compete with ham gear for this market segment.

      1. John

        You’re ignoring the fact that shortwave listening isn’t just about monitoring broadcast stations and Hams. It’s also about monitoring utility stations in USB. Such stations can be difficult to copy and necessitate the need for selectable SSB filters in order to mitigate noise and improve DXing of weaker signals. SSB is of course useful for ECSS as well.

        The PL-880, PL-990, PL-330, XHDATA D808, Digitech AR1780, Eton Executive all have selectable SSB filters. Do you think that the manufacturers of these radios chose to implement such a feature for the heck of it ,? No – they chose to offer more tabletop like selectivity for portable sw users.

        As for Sangean, they do know their target markets quite well however if they choose to offer a non selectable SSB filter on the 909X2 then they put this radio at a serious disadvantage when compared with the likes of Tecsun and XHDATA.

        I’ve always considered the Sangean 909 series as portatops as they combine features of a desktop receiver and a portable in one unit. It makes no sense to lug a desktop receiver around to monitor SSB if a DSP portable can do a similar job with less bulk.

        Selectable SSB filters on a SW portable brings such receivers closer to a communications receiver in a compact package.

  15. Ron F

    Re: “ECSS or SSB” … “10 Hz SSB resolution means that ECSS is excellent on the 909X”

    That’s not ECSS – that’s just plain ol’ “zero beating” of an AM signal in SSB mode; a technique that’s a century or more old.

    It’s the “SS” (Selectable/Single Sideband) bit without the “EC” bit, and lacks any of the advantages of ECSS (or synch. detection) e.g. easy tuning, faster / more responsive AGC than straight SSB (improves immunity to fading), strong immunity to receiver drift & path-related phase errors (no bubbling/warbling/whistling of voice/music), overall reduction of phase & frequency errors in recovered audio, etc, etc. that give them much better audio clarity & quality. Compared to the 0Hz accuracy of ECSS or Synchronous AM, 10Hz resolution ain’t that good…

    (It’s long amused me how many hams & technically-unaware SWLs co-opt more high-falutin’ terms and apply them to older methods just to make them sound “cool”. This is a recent example – although I read somewhere that misusing ECSS to refer to zero-beating AM against the BFO has its origins in an old WRTH.)

    Re: “Now I understand why the 9090X2 shortwave bandwidths are relatively closely-spaced: auto control shifts quickly between multiple bandwidths.”

    Without seeing inside one: it’s much more likely that it’s because they’re the standard bandwidths of the Si47xx’s DSP filters. Despite using the SI4735 for demodulation, the earlier ATS-909X didn’t use its filters and relied on the two ceramic filters (which were both a little too broad for my taste) in the IF stage. The X2’s use of DSP filters might come as a nasty surprise to those reviewers and Sangean fanboys who lauded the 909X’s use of ‘proper’ filters, and disparaged other radios which used the SI47xx’s ‘digital’ (with an undercurrent of ‘inferior, cheap, and nasty’) filters.

    The filter auto-selection sounds like an clever idea though. It’ll be interesting to see how well it’s implemented & pans out in practice…

    1. Chuck Rippel

      Interesting. ECSS or Exalted Carrier Single Sideband detection has been in use by the SWBC DX hobby longer than synchronous detection has been available. I remember using ECSS in the early 70’s on an Allied SX-190 to combat fading on some choice DX target. Both systems insert a carrier into the the received signal however sync detection has virtually no frequency error as the circuitry phase locks the frequency of its inserter carrier with that of the intended target (unless it unlocks which causes the circuit to search for a phase lock, howelling during the process).

      Learning what near exact zero beat sounds like combined with very, very careful tuning of either an analog or digital radio with 10 hz resolution can yield the same listening experience with ECSS as you get from Sync Detection and, it doesn’t unlock unless the station or radio drifts.

      1. Ron F

        To kill 2 birds with one stone:
        > “I remember using ECSS in the early 70’s …”
        and from Michael Black below:
        > “Exalted carrier goes back to at least the late forties …”

        ECSS dates back to at least WWII – the first reference to the technique I know of is in US MIL STD 188 (the original, before the A/B/C & later expanded into numbered sub-documents versions) from, I think, 1945 or 6. Which suggests it’d been known & used for at least a few years before that.

        > “Both systems insert a carrier into the the received signal however sync detection has virtually no frequency error …”

        Sync detection might have “virtually no frequency error” – but ECSS has *no* frequency error because the actual carrier is used. In practice, *neither* have any frequency error (at least, in the case of synch detection, as long as the oscillator remains locked).

        The main difference between the two is ease of implementation & tuning – with the advent of PLLs sync detection became easier to implement than the sharp narrowband filter required for ECSS, and a single set of bandwidth filters could be used rather than a tuneable carrier filter or separate USB/LSB filter sets. Both will also respond to and track transmitter or receiver drift and propagation-related phase/frequency distortion, at least to some extent (as long as the carrier remains within the carrier filter’s passband in the case of ECSS or, in the case of synch detection, within the lock range of the PLL).

        The downside of both is that enough carrier needs to be present to make them work, and the additional downside to synch detection is that the PLL also requires a reasonable amplitude and frequency lock range (which is somewhat at odds with locking speed and accuracy) – if it loses lock, you get the chirps and whistles as the PLL falls back to its unlocked frequency.

        Zero-beating with the BFO, on the other hand, is not locked in any way and will *always* have phase and frequency errors. Whether they are audible &/or interfering or not depends on the amount of drift in the transmitter/receiver/BFO, the propagation path, the type of transmission, and the tolerance of the listener.

    2. Michael Black

      Exalted carrier goes back to at least the late forties, boosting the carrier so proper demodulation of AM happens. The context I’m thinking of was the introduction of the Q-Multiplier. It could peak a very narrow slice, but since the skirt selectivity wasn’t steep, it could boost the carrier without affecting the sidebands much.

      I know I’d seen references to “exalted carrier” in reference to SSB, but I didn’t understand it until I saw that late forties article. Sudden I realize that it could work back then, carrier supression wasn’t so great, so there was more carrier to peak.

      ECSS counts on having a good sideband filter, so one sideband is out of the passband. Suddenly, the receiver sees a single sideband, no worry about placing the BFO right between the sidebands. Plus, if the BFO is placed right, the incoming carrier is on the selectivity slope, so it’s diminished to some extent. Thus the BFO dominates.

  16. Peter L

    I love the look of this receiver, especially the white version. Glad to hear it functions well!

    I am sad that Sangean didn’t put an HD chip in this radio (since they already have a relationship with/license from Xperi). I know that most hobbyists love to hate HD, but I think it’s great. Helps IDing MWDX stations, too, on occasion! 😀

    Interesting that they expose the auto-bandwidth. On my HDT-20 (AM/FM/HD tuner) there is *clearly* automatic bandwidth changing but there is no panel indication and, to my knowledge, no way of manually setting the filters (I assume the ‘X2 lets you override the robot filter?).

    Still and all … Did I mention how great I think this looks? 🙂

    1. DanH

      Yes, a slide switch on the right side of the 909X2 offers auto or manual bandwidth control. The number of available bandwidth filters will vary: there are three each for AIR and FM, and five each for SW, MW and LW. I agree that the 909X2 looks great! But, if I had a choice I would have prefered a darker gunmetal tint. I really like the look of my black 909Xs.

      1. Peter L

        Thanks for your review (and Q&A replies!). This may become my new “covet” receiver … along with an IC-R8600 … At least I can mostly afford the Sangean. 🙂

    2. Mike S

      Besides cost containment, it just takes a look at the HD implementation in every Sangean HD-capable set in the current lineup, to see why it wouldn’t work with the 909X2.

      Since their very first digital sets. Sangean has been re-using the same old digital chipsets having stilted ergonomics and a 1980’s-style display driver in every single HD and DAB+ model. Witness that they all have the same basic display and operating procedures, and none of them usea a totally unique chassis.

      They are all backwards engineered into a suitable AM/FM or FM/DAB+ model. Again, probably to reduce re-engineering costs. They do perform well RF-wise (at the price of high battery consumption by today’s standards) but one could sense the suqare-peg round-hole conundrum clearly operating here.

  17. Mark

    Great video Dan, I see yours does have the noise when you move your hand over the screen but on mine this noise is there all the time on lower frequencies especially, it would be great to see you do a tuning test through the bands on the whip.

    Also, if you could check the bandwidth function, on SSB mine does absolutely nothing and is a little too wide.

    There is an updated production run due around the march which Sangean assured I would receive a radio from this new batch. I sent them a video highlighting some issues.

    I agree SSB audio is a little low and I hope they fix this too. It’s actually louder with the external power adapter.

    I also mostly use External antenna, after all, when at home why not install a decent external antenna ? I use the Bonito MA305 whip and it’s really amazing for it’s size. A radio is only as good as the antenna.

    Looking forward to more of your videos on the 909 X2. 🙂

    1. DanH

      Thanks Mark! Please feel free to provide links to your videos here. The noise we are talking about is much less prominent on my 909X2 than yours. It becomes weaker as frequency rises and I couldn’t detect it all at the 21m band and above. I looked for this noise at unoccupied frequencies with the whip fully extended, RF gain at max and with no external antenna connected to the radio. I will follow up with a band scan as you suggested and will post it here within a few days: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBS1S1WX1DkCp037ZWfLzvA

      It is my understanding that there is only one 909X2 bandwidth available for HF SSB by design. This is the same as with the 909X. Maybe Sangean is figuring that users that interested in SSB will already have multiple/variable SSB bandwidth features available on their transceivers. I don’t know.

  18. Troy Riedel

    You *never* disappoint, Dan, I always enjoy your posts & videos and once again this is very informative. I look forward to your next update … and I look forward to Thomas receiving his so you guys can post “dueling banjo” reviews 🙂 Personally I doubt if I’ll buy this radio … I’m holding out hope the Elite Satelllit will be a home run (if/when it ever makes it to production and release).

    Just one off-topic note: when pre-ordering at Amazon, you don’t have to cancel your order & re-order if the price drops. Unless the policy has very, very recently changed, when you pre-order that only locks-you-in if the price goes up. If the price comes down, you get the lower price as of the day of release. I’ve never seen the price drop, then go up, pre-release.

    1. Troy Riedel

      Copied From Amazon’s web site (only applies to items sold by Amazon, not 3rd parties):
      … the price we charge when we ship it to you will be the lowest price offered by Amazon.com between the time you placed your order and the end of the day of the release date.

      1. DanH

        Thanks Troy! I am more of a SWL/DXer and video hunter than a reviewer. I am not a radio collector and I believe that a significant collection of radios is strong resource material for any good reviewer. I will be looking forward to detailed reviews of the 909X2 from Thomas and other greats like Jay Allen. I understand that Jay is already working on his review of the 909X2: https://radiojayallen.com/

  19. Paul Origlio

    Thanks Dan and Thomas. I’m curious about a few things. What are the selectable bandwidths for SSB? I listen to phone mostly but wonder if there are any narrower bandwidths, useful for CW? Also, does insertion of an external antenna disable the internal MW/LW antenna?

    1. DanH

      Paul, like the 909X there is only bandwidth available for SSB on the 909X2. I do not know the bandwidth of this filter but it must be relatively wide owing to the audio frequency response I have heard on 909X2 SSB. The available bandwidths for shortwave are listed in the operating instructions as 4, 3, 2.5, 1.8 and 1.0 kHz. I do not know yet if the 909X2 onboard antennas are disconnected when an an external antenna is plugged in.

    2. DanH

      Paul, I tested the external antenna jack on the 909X by inserting an unconnected mono BNC to 3.5 mm adapter plug into the 909X2. I did this while a strong signal was tuned on MW and SW. This disconnected both the MW/LW ferrite bar antenna and the telescopic whip for SW. So yes, plugging an external antenna into the antenna jack disconnects the onboard antennas.

      1. Andrei

        Hello, Dan
        If the ATS-909X2 has the same antenna connector like the older ATS-909X I have, then for MW/LW you have to use a stereo jack, or to insert the mono jack only halfway into socket. I just discovered on my radio that when using external antenna for MW/LW, the internal ferrite isn’t disconnected.
        There are some more discussions regarding the antenna socket, e.g. one comment on eham.net page of ATS-909X where user EI3IBB states that he has to insert the jack only halfway to work properly (I assume a mono jack) and also a thread on radioreference.com where user Gecko10 says something about the stereo antenna jack. Wrote those details so you or anyone else can easily find those posts on google.
        So when connecting a mono jack for MW/LW, the antenna gets shorted and that’s why nothing can be heard. I noticed on my radio that when connecting an external antenna the proper way for MW/LW, or when connecting a simple stereo extension cable, rotating the radio affects the signal, thus that at least on this model the internal ferrite isn’t disconnected.
        So if you can try again with a stereo connector for antenna, or a simple stereo extension cable, it would be great!
        Thank you,

  20. Daniel Robinson

    Interesting the noise that occurs when touching the cabinet — I’m not clear whether this existed on the old 909x — and recall that others have noted this with the x2.

    The headline question for me is whether Sangean took note of years of criticisms of deafness on the whip antenna and corrected that with the X2.

      1. Andreja

        The detent for the encoder is still there. I didn’t use the previous versions, so I don’t know if it’s more or less annoying than it used to be.

        1. DanH

          Yes, the tuning dial/encoder still has detents and feels exactly like the dial on late production 909X. I say “late production 909X” because I have two 909Xs: one made in 2014 and the other in 2019. The detents on my earlier 909X felt stiff until they were broken-in several months later. The newer 909X and 909X2 dials felt softer right out of the box. I have always like the detents on the tuning wheel.

      2. chipbutty

        I removed the detent on mine. Bit of a hassle but worth it. I was under the impression Sangean were going to remove it on the X2 but it appears not.


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