Tag Archives: Sangean ATS-909X

Matt’s Marathon MediumWave Matchup

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Matt Blaze (WB2SRI), who shares the following guest post:


Matt’s Marathon MediumWave Matchup

by Matt Blaze

Here’s another simultaneous receiver comparison, this time of ten portable medium wave receivers plus the Icom IC-R9500 (as a “reference receiver”). Previously, I used the same antenna for all the comparisons, but since these are portable receivers, I wanted to compare their performance using their built-in antennas. I did two comparisons, both of moderate to weak signals, one in the evening of a DX signal and the other in the daytime of a regional station.

The receivers were the Potomac Instruments FIM-41 (a “field intensity meter”), the Panasonic RF-2200, the Nordmende GlobeTraveler Exec (a beautiful German SW portable from 1968), the Sony ICF-EX5MK2, the CCrane Radio 2E, the Sangean ATS-909X, the Sangean D4W, the new Tecsun PL-990X, the XHDATA D-808, and finally the CountyComm GP5-SSB, plus the Icom IC-R9500.

All the receivers were recorded simultaneously. The radios (except the Icom R9500) were on the roof of my building and oriented for best reception (signal/noise) and kept sufficiently away from each other and other metal objects to avoid interference, The R9500 was in the shack and used a Wellbrook loop on the roof, also oriented for best signal/noise. I took the audio from the Line Out if one was available and from the headphone jack (via a “direct box” level converter) if not. I tried to match the audio levels reasonably closely, but different ACG characteristics made it difficult to be completely consistent across all the receivers throughout the sessions.

As in previous comparisons, for each session I’ve got a narrated stereo mix with the R9500 on the left channel and each receiver, for a minute or so one after the other on the right channel. You definitely want to use headphones to listen to these so you easily tell the left from the right radio. I’ve also provided mono “solo” recordings of each receiver for the full 15 minute-ish sessions so you can hear a receiver you’re interested in in detail.

Sound Devices 688 Multitrack Recorder

The recordings were made with a Sound Devices 688 recorder/mixer (which can record 12 simultaneous channels of audio). The portable radios were hardwired to the recorder, and the 9500 (which was downstairs) was connected via a Lectrosonics digital radio link. (Everything except the R9500 was on battery power to avoid mutual interference and ground loops, etc). The narration used a Coles noise canceling ribbon mic. Everything was done in a single take per session – there was NO postproduction editing – so I apologize for a few glitches and awkward moments.

You can see a “class photo” of the setup below, although the position and orientation of the radios was different during the actual recordings.

KCJJ

The first recording was at night, where we tuned to 1630 KCJJ in Iowa City, IA. This is effectively a 1KW clear channel; other than a few TIS stations, there’s not much else there on the east coast, and the signal is reliably weak to moderate but readable here on the east coast.

Narrated L/R stereo comparison:

Individual solo tracks:

CCrane Radio 2E

Sangean D4W

XHDATA D-808

Sony ICF-EX5MK2

Potomac Instruments FIM-41

CountyComm GP5-SSB

Nordmende GlobeTraveler Exec

Tecsun PL-990X

Icom IC-R9500

Panasonic RF-2200

Sangean ATS-909X


WSVA

The next recording was made during the day, of WSVA, a regional station in Harrisonburg, VA running 5KW in the daytime. Their signal is also reliably weak-moderate but readable here.

Narrated L/R stereo comparison:

Individual solo tracks (receiver should be obvious from the file name):

CCrane Radio 2E

Sangean D4W

XHDATA D-808

Sony ICF-EX5MK2

Potomac Instruments FIM-41

CountyComm GP5-SSB

Nordmende GlobeTraveler Exec

Tecsun PL-990X

Icom IC-R9500

Panasonic RF-2200

Sangean ATS-909X

Hope your readers find it useful!

-matt


An absolutely amazing job again, Matt! Thank you so much for taking the time to put this comparison together and sharing it here on the SWLing Post.  

Click here to check out all of Matt’s receiver audio comparisons.

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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.

Enjoy:

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

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Sangean ATS-909X2: Pricing (Europe), Photos, and Product Details

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Armin Sander, who shares a link to the Sangean Europe website where they’ve posted details about the upcoming Sangean ATS-909X2 (click here to read our previous post about this model).

Sangean Europe has announced the price as €329.00 with two color options of “white” and “black.” The “black” model almost appears steel or light charcoal in color based on the product images.

They are taking pre-orders with an expected delivery of December 15, 2020.

They also posted the following product description and list of features::

The Discover 909X is the perfect world band radio to roam the globe with. The world is brought together via radio since a long time; enjoy it with the Discover 909X. Never forget your favorite radio stations because of the alpha-numeric memory system. The built-in 3″ speaker lets you conveniently listen anywhere. You can also listen to the Discover 909X using the 3.5mm headphone jack and the included earbuds. It provides performance and features generally found in the more expensive table top communication receivers into a very compact and stylish package. For the monitoring professional who’s on the go, the Discover 909X is the ideal choice! Featuring wide-band AM/FM coverage from long wave, medium wave, short wave. The DSP comes as standard (Digital Signal Processing) with the unit and includes a number of features which can significantly enhance reception through improved interference rejection. For everyday portable operation, use four “AA” batteries (not included). For operation from your home, choose the supplied AC-AC power adapter.

** 10 New Improved Features **

1. Air band
2. FM Soft mute
3. RDS PTY and RT
4. MENU and INFO setting
5. Auto Bandwidth Control
6. Bigger LCD
7. 3 times the preset quantity
8. Dimmer LCD back light and fade IN/OUT
9. 10Hz tuning step of SSB
10. Smart charger (single battery detection)

Photos


Thank you again for the tip, Armin! We’ll continue to post updates as they become available.

Click here to check out the Sangean ATS-909X2 at Sangean Europe. 

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A new Sangean ATS-909X model in the works? Two 909Xs lead Dan to a potential discovery…

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


How two Sangean ATS-909Xs led me to news of an ATS-909X2

by DanH

I decided to buy a second Sangean ATS-909X this summer. I operate shortwave portables on batteries and wanted the ability to switch radios if one ran low on power during a listening session. I received the new radio and used it for about a week before noticing slight differences between the two 909Xs. Then I noticed big differences with the power supplies and began to ask questions. The answers led me to the new Sangean ATS-909X2 mostly by accident. Rumors have circulated for years that the 909X would be the last shortwave portable made by Sangean. It now appears that the rumors are not accurate. Thanks to an anonymous source the true story begins to appear.

I purchased my first 909X in 2015. It was built in 2014 and has been used almost every day since it arrived. The firmware is v. 1.29, the color is black. My 909X is featured in SWL and DX videos I shoot for the YouTube channel Willow Slough DX.

The new 909X was purchased early in August. This radio was made late in 2019 and has firmware v. P01. Minor changes include the color of the magnetic metal piece on the radio’s kickstand and tightness of the volume control knob which has been loosened a little.  Another small change affects the beeper that sounds with certain keyboard commands. The beeper is now relatively soft-spoken.

The newer 909X features major changes made to the power supply including the AC/AC wall wart adapter. I use the 2014 909X with battery power for shortwave listening because AC operation introduces noise at different frequencies across the shortwave bands. Incidentally, internally generated noise like this happens with all of my shortwave portables when operated from AC power. The 909X is no exception. Portable SW radios made during the last 30 years just seem to do this regardless of make or brand.

The 2020 909X generates significantly less interference than my five-year old 909X. These radios have different model wall warts. The older radio is a 120 VAC / 60 Hz unit as opposed to 100 – 240 VAC / 50 – 60 Hz. The new adapter sports a ferrite core RF choke on the power line which is now shielded wire instead of small gauge zip line. So far, subtle traces of signal mixing from the new adapter are heard only when using my Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones. The power connection for the newer 909X is now center pin positive instead of center pin negative. Not surprisingly, the newer adapter does not work with the 2015 909X.

The search for a technical explanation for the mysterious (to me) and incompatible AC adapters required talking to several contacts. I found someone who earnestly wanted to discuss the 909X including the new AC adapter. That person floored me by saying “It’s the same adapter that will be on the 909X2.” That was last week…

Introducing the Sangean ATS-909X2

My unnamed source was happy to answer questions about the 909X2 and sent me leaked documents. The first is a sheet issued last spring listing some changes for the new radio. The second is a treasure trove: a 40+ page draft copy of the English language operating instructions for the 909X2 including line drawings. I hit gold and wasn’t even looking for it. This draft was issued earlier in the summer. I did some fascinating reading that evening.

At this point I want to caution readers that the 909X2 is very much a radio in development. The prototypes have yet to be distributed for evaluation although that is expected to happen soon. None of the features or component choices are set in stone at this point. Indeed, the very name of this radio may not be a done deal. I have heard the new model called either ATS-909X2 or ATS-909X Mk. II. Still, the draft copy of a manual that lists and explains operation of all of the many new features confirms that development is well underway. Production is rumored to begin in 2021. That date makes perfect sense as the 909X will be ten years old next year and Sangean likes to celebrate company anniversaries.

What will Sangean’s new multi-band shortwave flagship look like? The 909X2 shown in the draft booklet retains the size and form factor of the 909X to an amazing degree. The number and placement of buttons, switches, knobs and jacks remain the same. The functions of some controls may change and the location of some buttons on the radio may be switched around. A display menu will be added to operate many of the new features. Without taking a close look at how the outboard controls are labeled the 909X and 909X2 will look like siblings. A larger and much busier LCD for the 909X2 will be the most visible difference.

Here are some of the main features of the 909X2. Again, there may be changes before the final version is decided upon.

  • VHF AIR band in addition to LW / MW / SW / FM
  • Automatic Tuning System (ATS) for FM / LW / MW / SW bands
  • Total of 1674 radio station presets
  • Three memory banks for preset stations: store presets for different users and/or different areas or categories
  • Local/World Time with two customizable city names
  • FM RDS with PS, PTY, RT and CT features
  • Potentiometer-type RF Gain Control retained
  • Six-digit frequency display
  • SSB (Single Side Band): USB / LSB, 10/20 Hz tuning steps selectable
  • Three alarm timers with snooze
  • Larger display screen with more functions and improved backlight controls
  • New NiMH charge controller charges each 4xAA cell individually
  • Station presets/memory lock
  • Auto or manual bandwidth control
  • Selectable and band-specific bandwidth filtering for LW-MW / SW / FM / AIR
  • Tuning dial detents removed
  • 12-segment bar-graph S-meter plus signal strength and signal-to-noise displayed in dB

The new ATS-909X2 benefits from innovations that Sangean developed after the 909X was introduced in 2011. I’m looking forward to firing up this new radio as soon as I can get my hands on one.

DanH


Wow! Thank you for sharing your discovery, Dan! I, for one, welcome the new 909X version 2! Sangean is a solid radio manufacturer, so I would expect the new radio to perform at least as well as its predecessors. We’ll post updates as they become available.

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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!

Cheers,
Mark

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!

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VOK shifts broadcast schedule due to North Korea time zone change

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, DanH, who writes:

I put up a couple of videos on my “Willow Slough DX” YouTube channel nine hours ago that may rate at least an Arte Johnson (Laugh-in) “verrry interestink”. These are two videos of the North Korean shortwave station Voice of Korea operating with their new time zone and on their new schedule.

These are the two most recent videos of SW station receptions that I have posted during the last couple of days.

[The first video] is the VOK shortwave sign-on recorded at the newly scheduled time of 04:00, May 5, 2018 UTC on 15180 kHz. Distance: 5600 miles. Receiver: Sangean ATS-909X. Antenna: suburban 83m horizontal loop. Receiver location: Davis, California, USA. North Korea has changed its time zone to match UTC +9 which is used by South Korea. I was accustomed to tuning in Voice of Korea at 38 minutes past the scheduled hour for the English language news. Now I tune in at 8 minutes past the same hour. VOK broadcasts that were scheduled for 04:30 UTC now begin at 04:00 UTC. At the time I write this VOK shortwave programs listed on Short-Wave.info still show the old times:

Click here to view on YouTube.

[The second video] is the VOK shortwave newscast at the new time of 04:08, May 5, 2018 UTC on 15180 kHz. Some interference is heard half way through the clip:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Thanks for sharing this, Dan!  It never crossed my mind that VOK would change their international broadcast time based on the fact they shifted their country’s time zone. From a North Korean perspective, though, I suppose this makes sense. Thanks for the tip!

Click here to check out other recordings on Dan’s YouTube Channel.

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Recommending the Tecsun PL-880 over the Sangean ATS-909X

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Direwolf131, who recently commented on one of the Sangean ATS-909X reviews in the Post archives.

Direwolf131 writes:

I’m a few years after Steve’s comments but I will have a go at it, at least anecdotally speaking. I’ve owned a half dozen Sangean ATS-909’s, which includes two of the 909X’s, and one super-909 from radiolabs. The 909X is the finest looking portable I have ever seen or lain hands upon, and that includes several Sony’s that I still think of as neat looking, I had the white cabinet 909X first and then the much more striking (to my eyes) black cabinet 909X after returning the first one due to rock hard buttons.

They are both extremely attractive, and exceptionally well made, especially by today’s cheap Chinese standards. I must confess that I also still find the original 909’s almost equally neat looking, though not quite sporting the same robustness of build.

The 909x’s sound wonderful on MW & FM, and its a decent performer reaching out to fairly distant FM stations. Unfortunately that is largely the best of the radio, its performance on MW & SW is best described as pathetic, and not just due to being deaf, it has a lot of noise, even when attached to the superb RF systems tuned EMF antenna. The older 909 is also to my experience substantially better then the 909X when matched up to a serious outboard antenna, such as the above EMF, I found this difference especially surprising, its not even close.

The PL-880 from Tecsun blows it away on SW and MW sensitivity, while also offering the superb advantage of genuinely ECSS tuning anything on MW & SW, you cannot decently receive any MW or SW signal via ECSS with the 909X as its SSB can only be fine tuned to 40 Hz, which is terribly disappointing, you can zero beat the little Tecsun easily. serious ECSS capability is to my mind a much more attractive option then a sync circuit, and unfortunately with the beautiful little Sangean 909X you get neither.

I do hope anyone who happens upon this pays attention, because for the money the PL-880 is far and away the better performer, in fact my little 1103 from Degen/Kaito out performs the 909X, as does my Grundig Yacht Boy-400, and my Sangean ATS-803A. Its my great hope that Sangean seriously upgrades these deficiencies in the otherwise gorgeous 909X, its circuitry is noisier than the old 909 and its not nearly not as sterling a performer hooked up to household current and a decent outboard antenna as the old 909, its 40 hz tuning SSB once a great reason to buy a 909, is no longer competitive, especially against the superb PL-880 which again is capable of excellent ECSS even by Icom R75 standards, Sangean would do well to drastically improve the SSB performance of the 909X.

I hope this helps, I liked the original review up top, but again its several years old, and the ATS-909X is now known to be clearly outclassed by the more affordable Tecsun, actually by the PL-660 to boot, I really hope Sangean addresses the issues, its such a beautiful receiver, you just want it to be as good as it looks, unfortunately it’s not!

Thank you for sharing your evaluation and comments!

The Sangean ATS-909X is an interesting radio indeed. Almost everyone loves the design, audio and overall quality of the 909X.  Yet performance reviews are somewhat polarizing: some 909X owners claim the 909X has strong performance characteristics on shortwave, while others believe it’s almost deaf. Your findings coincide with mine from the Mega Review where I pitted the ATS-909X against the Tecsun PL-880, PL-660 and Sony ICF-SW7600GR. In that review, where I relied on a whip antenna, the 909X was noticeably less sensitive than the other three competitors. Based on the premium one pays for the 909X, I was surprised.

I have learned over the years, however, that the 909X can handle larger outdoor antennas and doesn’t easily overload. Additionally, the 909X requires a fresh set of batteries for optimal performance/sensitivity. Some users have even modified the radio with a 4:1 impedance transformer–click here to read a post/comments about this mod.

I would love to see Sangean produce an updated/upgraded version of the 909X, but at this point I’m not exactly holding my breath. I’ve heard that they’re slowly pulling out of the market. Hope I’m proven wrong because I’d love to see a new shortwave set from Sangean.

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