The Sangean ATS-909X2 has landed

This morning, I took delivery of an ATS-909X2 that Sangean dispatched for me to evaluate. I’ll be writing a review of this radio for an upcoming issue of The Spectrum Monitor magazine.

I won’t lie: this is a handsome radio.

I know some SWLs dislike the front panel tuning dial, but I like it. It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite radios: the Sony ICF-SW55:

I also love the ‘909X2’s large display and intelligent backlighting.

I’ve just started setting up the ‘909X2: inputting local time, setting DST, changing the format to 24 hours, and learning my way around manual and direct-entry tuning.

The manual appears to be very comprehensive and I plan to go through it page by page because this radio actually has quite a lot of settings/configurations.

SWLing Post contributor, DanH has had his ATS-909X2 for quite a while and I expect he’ll be updating us on his findings when he has time. Also, I understand Dave Zantow has been evaluating this radio and should also be sharing his thoughts soon. We’ll provide updates when available.

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18 thoughts on “The Sangean ATS-909X2 has landed

  1. Dan E

    I’ve had mine since end of February – firmware V70. With the exception of the low audio on SSB (which is fine since I bought it for AM SW Broadcast and AM listening), mine has been great.

    Sensitivity on the whip is fantastic! Fun Fact: My signal actually degrades when I plug in the ANT-60 reel and string it across the room. I’m not sure why that is, but I think it has something to do with the ANT-60 plug being mono and the antenna jack on the radio is stereo from what I’ve read. An adapter did not resolve it though.

    Unless I hear that the new firmware fixes some major things, I’m keeping mine as is and not sending it to Sangean for an update (I don’t want to be without it that long!)

    Reply
  2. Shawnj

    I think this is a amazing radio to have. It’s not perfect but all radios you have some quirky tributes to them. Sangean makes fantastic radios and I own a lot of there different models. The most favorite is this one and then I put the sangean 505 on par next in line.

    Reply
  3. Lou

    How about the biggest elephant in the room that hasn’t been addressed?

    Where’s the stock on Amazon?

    Based on the wide range of comments about the performance of the x2, I want to buy it from a company that has a fair return policy aka no restocking fees or return authorization hoops to jump through.

    Honestly, if it wasn’t for the fact that traveling overseas with a portable SW radio is a hell of a lot easier to explain away than a SDR radio or amateur radio gear, I wouldn’t even bother with the x2.

    Just something I’ve always done. Pack a radio in my bag because who knows if something happens and you need information. It’s good advice at home and definitely overseas where you might be up a creek without a paddle if a disaster or worse happens.

    Reply
  4. James Patterson

    I fully agree with Michael’s comment above about the lack of SW receiption where he lives.It is exactly the same over here in NewZealand.We certainly do not get the globle SW stations anymore,and Utility stations such as Marine,Air Craft and Military are very fait if any at all.Im not sure what has happen to SW receiption world wide but it has certainly taken the shine off my passionate hobby,and my SW radio collection just sits on a shelf now collecting dust.Gone are the years when I could just hang a wire out a window and globle reception came in as clear as a local radio station.Now Im straining to hear anything other than Chinese stations coming in all over the bands.Seems they have taken over where others may have left.Even the Chinese SSB communications are very close to AirCraft frequencies now where they were never befor.So if anyone can enlighten me why the big difference now I would truely be thankfull.This happened well befor Covid. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. DanH

      1. There are fewer shortwave broadcast stations to be heard than before but I still find plenty for good listening here in Northern California. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBS1S1WX1DkCp037ZWfLzvA/videos
      2. We have barely left the solar minimum, which occurred last December. Shortwave propagation is still in the pits with SFI in the 70’s and low 80’s at best. If SFI rises to near 100 in a year or two propagation will improve noticeably.
      3. Every year more and more of the shortwave spectrum falls under the fog of RFI from household electronics. The solution is getting out of town and into an electrically quiet area for shortwave listening. Making improvements to external antennas at home can be a big help. Powering the offending devices OFF will help and so can the use of effective RF chokes.

      Reply
  5. James Patterson

    I own the 909x and only problem I found is low sensitivity with the whip antenna but as soon as I connect an outside antenna it springs to life.Whip antenna is really only good for FM,not SW on its own otherwise a truely wonderfull receiver.I also own the Sony SW 55 pictured above,as dead as could be but I have kept it as an souvenir of Sony’s greatest portable radios,as it did work fine for at least 10 years befor it completly died on me.

    Reply
  6. DanH

    I have used the Sangean ATS-909X2 since mid-February. In side-by-side listening comparisons I found the 909X2 to be “more sensitive” when using a telescopic whip antenna for shortwave reception than the 909X. I have two 909Xs to compare with the 909X2. My definition of sensitivity is admittedly subjective and based upon observation of signal strength and signal-to-noise with the radios tuned to the same stations. I don’t have the technical knowledge or the necessary instruments to perform actual receiver sensitivity measurements.

    At any rate, I don’t use telescopic whip antennas for shortwave reception very often. Most of the time I’m listening to shortwave indoors at home with an external antenna placed as far away from domestic RFI sources as possible. Why settle for less when I have a portable that performs so well with external antennas?

    Some have attributed issues to 909X2 firmware VER 070. I have not. I am waiting for my 909X2 to return following installation of VER 073 firmware by Sangean USA. I’ll pass along any performance changes with the new firmware if I find any.

    The 909X2 has been incredible fun. I have enjoyed using the auto bandwidth feature on shortwave and MW. There are instances where this feature is very useful particularly when it is difficult to copy words from a challenging signal. Use this feature in conjunction with the audio tone control for best results.

    Some of my most listened-to stations on the 909X2 have been Radio New Zealand International, Voice of Korea (N. Korea) and Radio Thailand, all in the English language. I’m located in Northern California. I am currently busy searching for fresh DX from the new A21 season. It’s always fun to find new stations before they appear in the shortwave schedule listings.

    I’m sure Thomas will have a blast with his latest radio and look forward to reading his reports!

    DanH

    Reply
    1. TomL

      Would love to hear audio comparison of the Auto Bandwidth feature turned on and off. Supposed to be helpful for intelligibility of fading signals but works differently than a Sync circuit. No one on youtube has tested it.

      Also wonder how audio sounds compared to a Belka-DX (which is shortwave only but small and supposedly good quality SSB reception).

      Reply
      1. DanH

        I provided a demonstration of 909X2 auto bandwidth control (ABC) on this video of RNZI recorded at a distance of 6,600 miles. This recording was posted on YouTube two weeks ago. I switched on ABC at about 2:18 into the video, during a music selection. The effect of ABC on a fading signal can be disconcerting with music but a useful tool with speech. In addition to the action of AGC on the signal you have rapidly switching bandwidths constantly changing audio response as the radio seeks the bandwidth with the best S/N ratio. These processes seem to work together most effectively with speech rather than music. In this recording I am using the audio setting at NORM, which usually provides the brightest audio on shortwave and MW. More often than not I find that the NEWS audio setting sounds best when using ABC on rapidly and deeply fading spoken word. The NEWS audio setting is tailored for the voice range found in conversational speech.
        https://youtu.be/B0jDNTZ8EQk

        Curiously, auto bandwidth control on music sounds better after you listen long enough to get used to hearing it. It also sounds better after the first IPA.

        Reply
  7. Michael von Tiemroth

    It would have been a great radio had it come out 15 years ago. Shortwave is dead at least in Europe. Not much around except for Chinese propaganda. Also for Europe it should have included DAB+ reception. The 909×2 is only a slight upgrade to the predecessor 909x and not worth the asking price of 329 Euro on the Sangean.eu website. I

    Reply
    1. Mark

      Depends what one is looking for, the 909 X2 has better sounding AM due to the better filter selection.

      SSB sounds wonderful on the Sangean 909 X2 compared to the Tecsun PL-990x, ECSS works great which is impossible on the 990x due to it’s appalling sound quality on SSB, the PL-880 and S-8800 also sound woeful on SSB.

      The Sangean ATS 909 X2 makes a wonderful SW receiver with External antenna and has less images than the 990x too. Because ECSS works so well on the 909 x2 it really is a DX’ers dream of a radio.

      I love the tuning too, one hand operation is perfectly easy to use.

      Another wonderful radio is the Tecsun PL-680 Analogue receiver, the sound is also fantastic.

      Reply
      1. Paul Origlio

        Thanks for reinforcing what others have said about the 990, thereby saving me a few bucks. Very much agreed on the 680. I own two and just ordered one for a friend. Anxious for Amazon to get more 909×2’s.

        Reply
    2. Andreja

      Wow! This experience is quite different to what I’ve heard. I literally just take my 909X2 to a park, extend the antenna, and the bands usually tend to be full of broadcast stations, and quite a few of them are not CRI.

      Reply
    3. Hannu Hakonen

      I agree that CRI is quite strong almost in every band but I stilI wouldn’t say SW is dead. Yes, there are fewer stations there used to be but still there are plenty to listen to. UK, Spain, France, New Zealand, USA etc. are still transmitting plus there are lots of pirate stations and independent stations.

      Reply
  8. East Troy Don

    My 909X’s SW sensitivity with the whip has never been stellar but has always decreased significantly when the batteries arent at 100%. Hopefully the 909X2 has addressed this.

    Reply
  9. Dan Robinson

    Key questions: has sensitivity on the whip antenna improved in comparison to the old 909x? Will the new firmware that was mentioned would be available at the end of March or in April improve any of the issues mentioned in various reviews?

    Reply
    1. Mark

      Sensitivity on the Whip is pretty good, better on AC but it suffers badly from some internally generated noise that will hopefully be fixed with an updated production run due soon. It goes away when you plug in the AC adapter.

      The Sangean ATS 909 x2 sound quality on SSB is amazing compared to the Tecsun PL-880, 990x and S-8800.

      Reply

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