N9EWO Review : Sangean ATS-909X
LW / MW / SW / FM Portable Receiver
STOCK, no modifications)
sure and view the comparison chart located on the bottom of this page
HUGE thanks to
"John Case" as without his help, this review would NOT be
The discontinued Sangean ATS-909X.
Review : SANGEAN ATS-909X (as Stock)
Was available in White or Black case.
(see VERY IMPORTANT updates in green block
NOTE : Test sample was with earlier production BEFORE hardware changes
were made (firmware 1.29). Later and more current samples may not
perform as given in the below review (see green update block below).
Firmware Version Tested: 1.29
Country of Manufacture: China (not marked on radio cabinet, manual or
Approx. Serial Number of Test Sample: 290050xx
- Analog dual up conversion
with an additional well implemented Si4735 DSP stage that gives good
sensitivity and selectivity with 2 IF bandwidths on MW and SW.
- Good SSB
mode with low distortion audio, and separate USB and LSB selections
- Manual ECSS somewhat useful (see
- Excellent top notch
FM performance (sensitivity, selectivity and audio quality).
- Easy to
view “large” LCD that also features excellent back lighting (on full
time when operating from external AC adapter).
- Front panel tuning jog
shuttle wheel (with detents) that feature 2 well chosen tuning rates
which auto change between modes (see con).
- Very good ergonomics (see
- SW / MW side mounted "variable" attenuator (marked as RF Gain)
that works well to tame the receiver’s limited dynamic range.
rubber push buttons that have good tactile response (see con).
“Up-Down” slewing buttons.
- 3 position tone control works above
(for a switch type tone control).
- Useful and good performing squelch
- 406 total memory channels,
including a lone and very useful
priority button (includes alpha tags for pages).
- 3-event timer and
- An unusually accurate
12-segment (is really 12
and not say 6) signal strength indicator.
- Sensitive “Radio Data System”
(RDS) feature that works without any major intervention.
- Built in
automatic battery recharge circuit for internal 4 AA ni-mh batteries
- Stereo “Line Audio” output that has
input jack for mp3 player or other audio device.
- FM stereo LCD
indicator and stereo-mono selection.
- Attractive metal speaker
Includes a hum free AC-AC adapter (see con), soft plastic carrying
antenna and so-so earbuds.
- Clock displays separate from
- LW band coverage (not tested).
- External antenna jack works for SW
and MW (see con).
- Hinged battery cover.
- More solidly constructed than
other lower cost Chinese sets in this size (or somewhat smaller).
- Available in “White-Silver” or
“Black” cabinet versions.
dynamic range (MW/SW)
especially detected with external antenna’s at night (easily cured with
variable attenuator control) .
- SW whip sensitivity below average.
slow step rate is 40 hz, so tuning may be off including any manual ECSS
- "Klunky" Tuning knob “job wheel”
sometimes skipped or missed steps on
- Slippery and tight rotating volume
pressing the F button prior of using direct frequency entry.
- MW / SW
fading distortion above average.
- General audio quality on MW / SW "AM
Mode" is fair to poor.
- 5-language skimpy owners manual
that only covers
very basic operation.
- After some time during AC adapter
rear cabinet (near the power jack) becomes quite warm.
- AGC performance
for very weak signal reception is fair to poor.
- Clock digits small and
only 24-hour format.
- Even with good SSB mode, the AGC
decay rate is
still too fast.
- 3-step battery indicator is only of
- External antenna jack does not work
- Bandwidth selection is via a
mechanical slide switch on right side panel.
- Reports of button failures after a
few years of normal use.
- Later Samples include a noisy
SWITCHING type AC adapter (receiver is also DC Input on these later
samples as well)
- County of manufacture is
missing on the receiver or box (a common trait for Sangean).
expensive (about double) when compared to other Chinese sets with
the ATS-909X's audio quality on MW and SW is a utter disappointment. If
you desire better audio quality and a fairly decent
Sync Detector the Tecsun PL-660 might be a better portable choice (see
here) ?? But it too has it’s own bugs to deal with.
There are modifications around to help improve the dismal SW “whip”
sensitivity (at the cost of FM sensitivity), but we did not test this,
for most it will be better to forget this. When connected to a decent
outdoor antenna, or even just using the included “reel” one, the
sensitivity is equivalent to any other portable out there.
The included power adapter is the same AC to AC supply that comes with
the Sangean DAR-101 mp3 recorder (as shown in picture below). This 9
volt wall wart has AC output (not DC) and the rectifier, filtering and
regulation are done inside the ATS-909X / DAR-101. UPDATE : ATS-909X
and DAR-101 later production uses a 7.5 VDC input with
positive tip polarity (and include a SWITCHING type DC adapter). The DAR-101 stand
alone audio recorder is a perfect add on as the timer jack connections
ready to go.
Sangean discontinued the ATS-909X in late 2020. Replaced in early 2021 by the greatly updated "ATS-909X2" model (N9EWO full X2 review available here).
DAR-101 "stand alone" MP3 audio recorder (above) is a perfect add on as
jack connections are ready to go (if you make use of the timer
review on the DAR-1 can be found here.
© N9EWO, all rights reserved
Included ATS-909X and DAR-101 AC Adapters
and Later production (see text). (N9EWO
Early (Output 9.0 VAC
Transformer) : HK41UA-9.0-700
Later (Output 7.5VDC
Switching - positive tip) : HKP24-0750800dU
|IMPORTANT UPDATES with the SANGEAN ATS-909X
Later Production "P-01" Firmware /
Hardware has Issues
informs us that Sangean changed the ATS-909X's firmware to "P-01" (from
1.29) in later production. The MAJOR downside with HIS sample of this
later "P-01" firmware
is on LSB or USB modes the volume either drops severely or drops
out near all together. John
tells us that Jay Allen has also verified this bug.
I for one can
not stand listening to a ATS-909X for more than 30 minutes on SW (AM Mode Broadcast) before
my brain gets tired and MUST shut it off with a early sample ! But
BEFORE the firmware/hardware
changes it DID have very good SSB performance / audio.
there is more to the later "P-01" firmware. Avo Ohaniam reports
over on "SWLing.com", that
his "P-01" sample suffers from greater general drift (as noticed vs.
his older sample with 1.29), undesirable backlight changes, background
audio hiss even on super strong signals and a higher FM Stereo
threshold (that is it now takes a stronger signal for "Stereo" to kick
in). However he also states that his MW reception is improved, plus the
bandwidths are wider and better audio quality (this is not a bad thing
aside from the increased hiss). Another user report says
that his ATS-909X with the 1.29 firmware has unusable SSB as well. So
this saga gets even more interesting ! Were all of these just defective
samples (we don't know as this text was typed here) !
Additional Sangean ATS-909X
Information (All Subject To Change Without Notice)
- Amazon ATS-909X Reviews (Date Sorted)
- (You Tube Video) "Sangean ATS-909X
- The Good and the Bad"
- Incident at C.Crane (Aug 2005)