Tag Archives: Sangean ATS-909X

Matt’s Monster Mediumwave Radio Selectivity Shootout!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Matt Blaze (WB2SRI), for sharing another brilliant audio comparison featuring benchmark portable radios:


Medium wave selectivity shootout

by Matt Blaze

I did another monster medium wave portable receiver comparison, this time with the aim of comparing receivers’ ability to deal with weak signals in the presence of strong adjacent channels.

Once again, I went up to the roof with eight MW portables with built-in antennas and recorded them simultaneously along with my “reference signal”, from an Icom R-9500 with an active loop on the roof. As before, I recorded a narrated stereo mix with the Icom on the left and the rotation of radios for a minute or two each on the right, but have “solo” tracks available for the full time for each radio. The nine receivers in the lineup this time included:

  • Icom R-9500 (with amplified Wellbrook loop antenna on roof)
  • Potomac Instruments FIM-41 Field Intensity Meter (my personal favorite)
  • Panasonic RF-2200
  • Sony IC-EX5MK2
  • C.Crane Radio 2E
  • Sangean PR-D4W
  • Sangean ATS-909X
  • Tecsun PL-990X
  • XHDATA D-808

I recorded two signals, one at night and one during the day.

Nighttime Signals

The first was at night: WWL New Orleans on 870 KHz. This signal is usually weak to medium strength here, but is a challenge for two reasons: first, it shares the frequency with Cuba’s Radio Reloj, and it is squeezed between two much higher strength signals: Toronto’s CJBC on 860, and NYC’s WCBS on 880. So you need a decent receiver and careful antenna orientation to receive it well here. That said, everything did pretty well, though you can see that some radios did better than others.

The mix

Solo tracks

Icom IC-R9500

Potomac Instruments FIM-41 Field Intensity Meter

Panasonic RF-2200

Sony IC-EX5MK2

C.Crane Radio 2E

Sangean PR-D4W

Sangean ATS-909X

Tecsun PL-990X

XHDATA D-808

Daytime Signals

The second signal was during the day and was MUCH more marginal: WRJR Claremont, VA on 670 KHz. This was real challenge for any receiver and antenna. The signal was weak, and overshadowed by WCBM Baltimore on 680, a 50KW daytimer that is very strong here. (I’m not 100% sure that we were actually listening to WRJR – I never got an ID, but the station format and signal bearing was right). We can really hear some differences between the radios here.

The mix

Solo tracks

Icom IC-R9500

Potomac Instruments FIM-41 Field Intensity Meter

Panasonic RF-2200

Sony IC-EX5MK2

C.Crane Radio 2E

Sangean PR-D4W

Sangean ATS-909X

Tecsun PL-990X

XHDATA D-808

Everything (except the Icom) was powered by batteries and used the internal MW wave antenna, oriented for best reception by ear (not just maximizing signal strength, but also nulling any interference). The loop for the Icom was similarly oriented for best intelligibility.

For audio nerds: The recording setup involved a lot of gear, but made it fairly easy to manage capturing so many inputs at once. The portable radios were all connected to a Sound Devices 788T recorder, with levels controlled by a CL-9 linear mixing board control surface. This both recorded the solo tracks for the portables as well as providing a rotating mix signal for each receiver that was sent to the next recorder in the chain, a Sound Devices 833. The 833 received the mix audio from the 788T, which went directly to the right channel. The left channel on the 833 got audio from a Lectrosonics 822 digital wireless receiver, which had the feed from the Icom R-9500 in the shack (via a Lectrosonics DBu transmitter). The center channel on the 833 for narration of the mix, which I did with a Coles 4104B noise-canceling ribbon mic. This let me record fairly clean audio in spite of a fairly noisy environment with some wind.

All the radio tracks were recorded directly off the radios’ audio line outputs, or, if no line out was available, from the speaker/headphone jack through a “direct box” interface. I tried to make the levels as close to equal as I could, but varied band conditions and different receiver AGC characteristics made it difficult to be completely consistent.

Making the recordings was pretty easy once it was set up, but it did involve a turning a lot of knobs and moving faders in real time. I must have looked like some kind of mad scientist DJ to my neighbors, some of whom looked at me oddly from their own roofs.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend!


Thank you, Matt, for another brilliant audio comparison! I appreciate the attention and care you put into setting up and performing these comparisons–not an easy task to say the least. That Potomac Instruments FIM-41 is an impressive machine!

By the way, I consider it a badge of honor when the neighbors look at me as if I’m a mad scientist. I’m willing to bet this wasn’t your first time! 🙂

Post readers: If you like this audio comparison, please check out Matt’s previous posts as well:

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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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