N9EWO Review : Sangean ATS-909X2
LW / MW / SW / FM / AIR Portable Receiver
STOCK, no modifications)
View the comparison chart located on the bottom of this page.
HUGE "Thank You" to Dean B. as without his help, this review would NOT be
Review : SANGEAN ATS-909X2 (as Stock)
Firmware Versions Tested: 070, 073
Country of Manufacture: China (not marked on radio cabinet, manual or
Serial Number of Test Sample (Manufactured in October 2020): dK2010424xx
*** Own a Sangean ATS-909X2 with FIRMWARE 070 ? ***
- Excellent sensitivity all around (all bands).
- Very good dynamic range even with long outdoor antennas (see con).
- Improved SW whip sensitivity (vs. old ATS-909X model).
- Added Air Band coverage (vs. old ATS-909X model).
- Analog up conversion
first IF with a second IF DSP stage that gives for excellent selectivity.
- Very Good SSB
mode with low distortion audio, and separate USB and LSB selections
- Decent MW audio quality when in 6 kHz bandwidth setting (see con).
- Very Good manual ECSS mode (see
- Excellent top notch
FM performance (sensitivity, selectivity and audio quality) (see con).
- Easy to
view larger LCD (vs. old X model)
- LCD backlighting features with 3 brightness settings (on full
time when operating from external AC adapter).
- Frequency display down to 100 hz resolution.
- Tuning Steps down to 10 Hz steps (vs. 40 Hz on old X model).
- Front panel tuning jog
shuttle wheel (with detents) that feature 2 well chosen tuning rates
(different depending on band) between which auto change between modes (see con).
- Quick Tuning feature allows for FAST 100 kHz steps (AIR / FM and SW Bands).
- Very good ergonomics (see
- Stereo Line Out jack that continues to use standard stereo mini phone jack (that also has proper level).
- Up to FIVE IF bandwidth filter selections (see con)
- Audio Quality much sharper (less muffled) over elder X model (see con).
- Auto bandwidth function with defeat switch on right side (see con).
- Battery operation still using good old 4 AA's (no weird lithium ion batteries here).
- Improved high-tech internal Ni-Mh
battery charging and bad battery detect circuits (includes charging AA
batteries in parallel NOT in series).
- SW / MW side mounted variable attenuator (still marked as RF Gain)
that works well to tame overloading or raspy audio.
- Hard rubber (plastic ?) push buttons that have good tactile response (see con).
UP DOWN slewing buttons that work extremely well.
- 3-position tone control works above
(for a switch type tone control).
- Useful and excellent performing all mode squelch (unheard of feature in portables).
- 1674 total memory channels (was 406 with the X model).
- Memory channels include Alpha Tags (for pages only on SW).
- 3-event timer and
- An unusually accurate
12-segment (is really 12
and not say 6) signal strength indicator that also includes digital RSSI, and SNR and Digital S-Meter.
- Improved “Radio Data System”
(RDS) features over X model.
- RSSI and SN Digital Signal Strength Information.
input jack for mp3 player or other audio device.
- Attractive metal speaker
- Includes a SWITCHING TYPE AC to DC adapter that has low RF noise.
- Also includes excellent soft padded plastic carrying
SW antenna and earbuds.
- Clock displays separate from
- LW band coverage (not tested).
- External antenna jack works for SW, LW
and MW, also eliminated the strange Stereo Plug wiring scheme that the X version used (see con and text).
- Hinged battery cover (see con).
- No Soft Mute being used on the MW or SW bands.
- Three alarm timers with snooze plus Sleep timer (up to 90 minutes).
- Does NOT use the undesirable USB power input (uses standard 5.5mm OD x 2.1mm ID round coaxial power jack/plug.)
- More solidly constructed than
most other Chinese sets in this price / size.
Range while decent did rarely overload in testing during peak nighttime
conditions / long outdoor antenna (easily controllable).
- Painted plastic cabinet / knob wheel with Graphite color could be more prone to show wear in time ?
- Klunky tuning "jog wheel" that get a bit tiring after awhile for some (very subjective con here).
- Slippery and tight rotating volume
pressing the F button prior of using direct frequency entry and then ENTER to make it happen.
- No Synchronous Detection
- No built in digital recording function.
- Slight LCD Microprocessor noise when using whip antenna on very low SW frequencies (see text)
- LSB and USB audio level less than with AM mode (see text)
Frequency Display "OFF" in AM and SSB modes with test sample and no way
for the owner to easily calibrate / correct it (see text).
- Tuning bug with 10/20 Hz USB/LSB step that pops up 1 kHz
higher with jog wheel (when it's really not receiving 1 kHz higher).(Fixed with FIRMWARE 073) (see text).
- Fair / Poor audio quality on SW. 6 kHz MW Bandwidth NOT available on Shortwave. (Widest SW 4 kHz bandwidth too narrow for quality "wide" listening....WHY SANGEAN !)
- LSB and USB sound different (see text).
- Auto Bandwidth feature tends to be too choppy (annoying back and forth stuff with weak signals)..
- Only ONE bandwidth available on SSB modes (WHY SANGEAN !)
- Lone SSB filter is a bit too wide for decent Ham radio use but good for Pirate SW Broadcast Listening (about 3.5 kHz ?).
- DC jack input is 9 VDC at 1.2 Amps (not 7.5 DC as with later ATS-909X samples).
- External Antenna Jack not available for FM or AIR Bands.
- No PC programming for editing memory entries or CUSTOMER FIRMWARE updates possible.
- 3-language skimpy owners manual
(USA version) that only covers
very basic operation and also printed on low cost very thin newsprint paper.
- LCD backlight cannot be toggled on for Full Time use with Batteries (can on AC adapter).
- Batteries are difficult to Insert and remove.
- Audio quality exhibits some minor raspy sounds at times along with some minor amplifier hiss,
- Even with decent SSB / Manual ECSS modes, the lone compromise AGC
decay rate is
still a bit too fast.
- 3-step battery indicator is only of
- Reports of button failures after a
few years of normal use (old X model data).
- County of manufacture (China) is
missing on the receiver or box. This is a common trait for Sangean.
- Variable quality control (alignment issues ?, see yellow block below)
|**** IMPORTANT NOTICE ****
*** Sangean ATS-909X2 Issues with Low LSB Audio and Drift ***
Dan Robinson and Thomas Witherspoon both report these issues :
- SSB audio drops down to nothing (Robinson reports more drop on LSB).
- Excessive drift.
- Dan Robinson has provided a "You Tube" video here that shows the extremely low SSB audio bug.
- Gilles Letourneau is NOT experiencing these bugs with his sample (his "You Tube" Video here).
Our test sample does NOT suffer from either one of these ills (as tested in the review below). So these bugs appear NOT to be related to firmware (factory alignment) and is it a sample to sample issue ? This sounds like a repeat disaster of the LATER ATS-909X production samples with P01 firmware (also when hardware changes were made).
Drift with our test sample was at a decent 17 hz from cold start.
Again these bugs do NOT affect all samples, so please keep that in mind ! Updates will be provided here if and when more information becomes available (check back).
© N9EWO, all rights reserved
Size - Weight and Cabinet / What is different over the elder ATS-909X model ?
Sangean discontinued the ATS-909X receiver in late 2020. It was replaced with the ATS-909X2 model in early 2021. Same identical size as the old X elder model, that is 8.2 x 5.3 x 1.65" inches (208x135x42mm). Weight without batteries is 1
lb. 10 oz. (728g). While the X model cabinet came in a choice of
Black or White, the X2 model is available in a attractive Graphite
(silver) or once again in the White color (Black no longer offered).
The White cabinet might be more desirable as it uses less front panel
painted plastic that could get partially removed in time, especially on
the main tuning wheel. (NOTE : The White cabinet was not available at
the time this report was compiled).
Frequency coverage is near identical except for the addition of the Aircraft VHF band. That is from 118 to 137 MHz.
The main features of the Sangean ATS-909X2 :
- LW / MW / SW uses a Si4735 IC for enhanced IF bandwidth selectivity.
- Larger LCD display over old X model.
- 100 Hz digit added for LW / MW and SW bands
- Unusually good single side band performance for a portable.
- SSB tuning in down to 10 Hz steps permits precise signal clarification.
- Up to five bandwidths are available.
- New Quick Tuning feature on AIR / MW and SW bands.
- When using the AC Adapter, 1.3 Watts of audio power is available.
- Tuning methods Include : ATS,
Direct keypad entry, auto scan, manual up-down tuning "Slewing", memory
recall or manual knob tuning jog wheel.
- FM includes RDS display (RBDS with PS, PTY, RT and CT )
- 1674 total memories with "Page" Alpha Tags.
- World time / local time clock that displays full time.
- ATS (Auto Tuning System) available on all bands (except AIR).
- Uses standard AA cells (alkaline or rechargeable Ni-Mh types).
- New hi-tech built in AA battery charger circuit that also detects bad cells.
- White LCD backlight offers 3 brightness levels.
Frequency Coverage of the Sangean ATS-909X2.
AIRcraft band added over the elder X model.
No external antenna connection available for FM or AIR bands.
Ergonomics / Construction / Standard DC Power Jack / External Antenna Jack
General ergonomics are good as was with the old X model. Button
tactile response is excellent. Pushbuttons are of the same hard rubber
(or plastic ?) variety just as with the X model. Also just as before for
direct entry a frequency one must press the F key first and then ENTER
at the end. Good news is with LW / MW and SW frequencies are entered in
(no dot required).
Whip antenna is extremely robust right up to it's top tip segment, also
continues to swivel and rotate. Its base pops up in order to clear the
cabinet when it's tilt stand is in use.
The right side volume control is nice and large and the
use of that rubberized paint with X model is no longer an issue.
However it's still slippery (like trying to grab a greasy door knob)
and a bit hard to turn. A plus side is it has no wobble or play......zero. This just may help with longevity here ?
It's tuning jog wheel works as with the X model. Still has the detent's that you
will either love or hate. Fast-Slow tuning step button is right in the
middle of the jog wheel which makes for extremely easy selection.
Plastic cabinet has a solid quality feel, plus the real metal grill
gives a nice touch. Battery cover is hinged. The front panel is painted including the jog
wheel (in Graphite color). How well this will hold up in time
remains to be seen.
All 3.5mm (1/8 inch) MINI phone type connection jacks are found on
the left side of the cabinet (REC-STANDBY is 2.5mm MICRO size MONO
type). All are STEREO type jacks (except for EXT ANT, see next
have a solid feel and make use of METAL ground (ring) connections, with
the exception of the green plastic LW / MW / SW antenna
connection (see photo below).
The external AM EXT ANT jack is for the
LW / MW and SW bands and does NOT work with the FM broadcast or AIR
frequencies. Sangean changed the wiring scheme with the
external antenna jack (vs. the X and the
original 909 models). Before it used a stereo jack / plug arrangement
(RING was for LW / MW / defeat of the internal loopstick when grounded). With the X2 NOW only it uses the
TIP for SW AND
LW / MW bands and no more weird stuff (so one can use a MONO type plug
and the internal LW / MW antenna being defeated when inserted).
Here is something you don't see much anymore !
The outer ground jack connections are METAL on the ATS-909X2.
(except for the AM EXT ANT jack). All have a extremely solid feel. (N9EWO Photo)
A tiny numbered thumb wheel is also crammed on the left side of the
cabinet for controlling the RF Gain (which is actually a variable
antenna attenuator). It does make for more difficult use being very
close to the 9 VDC input jack (if used).
The ATS-909X2 uses the old STANDARD round coaxial DC input jack (size
5.5 mm OD x 2.1mm ID, positive tip). No strange USB power connections used here !
Improved Internal AA Battery Charger / 9 / 10 kHz MW Step Switch
For those who prefer portable receivers that use standard batteries, the
ATS-909X2 uses FOUR AA cells (no oddball lithium batteries being
Inserting and more so removing batteries from these 4 separate cavities
is a bit daunting (TIGHT). We say keep a PLASTIC screwdriver or a
old PLASTIC radio alignment tool around to dig these out when required.
If you wish to use rechargeable Ni-Mh batteries (highly recommended)
but care NOT for the set to recharge them (use external recharging),
just keep the battery selection in the battery compartment to Alkaline
type. However the down side is the battery indicator reading will be a
bit off this way.
These can be recharged internally and the X2 the charging circuit
is more advanced that not only charges each cell separately
detects bad ones (which will happen sooner or later with ANY
rechargeable battery). The charge rate is a bit high at 500 mah, but is
not at any super battery cooker level either.
Also located in the battery compartment is a Medium Wave
(MW) 9 to 10 kHz channel spacing switch (as it usually is with Sangean
|N9EWO Test - ATS-909X2 Current Consumption
(approx serial no : dK2010424xx)
|Using Included 9 VDC AC Adapter. Normal volume.
(current not measured with internal batteries). Test Meter : Fluke 77 IX
LCD Backlight Brightness : FULL
(Backlight OFF : Deduct 25 ma from readings below).
(ma = milliamperes)
SW / LSB / USB : 140 ma
MW : 140 ma
FM : 105 ma
AIR : 130 ma
Larger LCD / Slightly Larger Frequency Digits / Microprocessor Buzz / 3 Brightness Levels / New 100 hz digit / Cool Operator
The ATS-909X2 has a larger size Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) over the X
model. This accommodates the now near full line of Alpha information
(including alpha tags), added feature icons including current Bandwidth
filter setting. Also slightly larger digits for frequency and the
addition of a 100 Hz digit.
A popular topic floating around the internet is while using the whip
antenna and it's tendency of receiving self inflicted microprocessor
and or LCD driver noise. Either only while placing a hand near it or
just in the back ground whining away all the time mixed with signals.
With the test sample we indeed detected this interference present,
however was ONLY with frequencies BELOW say 3 MHz and was of only of
extremely weak strength. Yes placing a hand or finger on or near the
LCD made this noise a bit stronger, but even here is was only of a very
weak nature. Could this be a variable sample to sample trait ? Of
course this is not an issue at all when connected to a external
antenna. Overall with the test sample this was NOT
a serious issue (and no where near a deal breaker). Will your
experience be different with any given production sample (good
THREE well chosen brightness settings plus OFF are available for the WHITE LCD
backlighting (OFF-LOW-MEDIUM-HIGH). It will remain on when using the external AC Adapter. Sadly this does not work when using batteries.
Is timed to OFF by 3 user adjustable settings in the menu (10, 20 or 30
seconds). As tested with firmware 070.
Our early test sample
of the ATS-909X the rear cabinet becomes quite warm after while in operation
with the AC to AC Adapter. With the X2 it remains cool to the touch even
after extended operation (with AC adapter).
Tuning Steps / Quick Tuning Feature on AIR / FM / SW Bands
Tuning steps were properly implemented with the ATS-909X2 (see excerpt
from the owners manual below). Step selection is a breeze with the
selection button in the middle of the jog wheel. If one presses the
STEP button and holds it in for a second, it will lock just the wheel's
operation (do this again to to reactivate it). LCD indicator will show
a middle pause tuning icon (instead of the left and right arrows).
Another tuning method provided is called Quick Tuning. Allows for
quick "zippy" step of 100 kHz on the AIR / FM and SW bands. Is
toggled by pressing and holding the ENTER key while rotating the
Jog tuning wheel. A very nice touch and works well. A lockup firmware bug with this feature was fixed with 073.
However all is not proper with tuning steps as we cover next.
Tuning Steps with the Sangean ATS-909X2
. Overall these are excellent choices.
Additionally "Quick Step" allows for fast 100 kHz steps (see text above).
Alas there is one major "Tuning Step" bug as covered below.
Frequency Display Off with Test Sample (AM and SSB modes) / Strange Frequency Display - Tuning Bug / Stability Decent
As it is with most portables (and a nasty trait more recent with many Tecsun models),
the ATS-909X2's frequency display is off with the test
sample on MW and SW bands in all modes (sorry we did not test the Long Wave
band). See the chart below for our testing numbers (was not Firmware dependent). LSB and USB are
different in the amount being OFF. Sadly there is no way for the owner to EASILY calibrate any frequency display.
With FIRMWARE 070 there was a very annoying tuning step bug discovered in testing. When using the 10/20 hz USB/LSB fine tune step (tuning with jog wheel) all of a
sudden jumps up 1 kHz higher (when it's really not receiving 1 kHz
higher). Also stores this
weird happening into memory channel data. Good news is with FIRMWARE 073 this bug has been cleared up for the most part. UPDATE : WE have to say ALMOST totally fixed as very INTERMITTENTLY the undesired trait twitches back but now is only for a step or two and then jumps back to proper operation.
|N9EWO Test - ATS-909X2 Frequency Display Error
(with approx serial no : dK2010424xx)
|(frequencies listed below are in kHz, 1 hour warm up, room temperature)
Test Frequency - 5000.00 (WWV)
FIRMWARE 070 / 073 (made no difference here)
LSB : 4999.70 (300 Hz LOW)
USB : 4999.99 (10 Hz LOW)
AM (using narrowest bandwidth setting) : 5002.0 (2.0 kHz HIGH)
: Display shows 1 kHz higher when in one of it's SSB 10/20 Hz fine tune
fits with the jog wheel. But is not actually receiving 1 kHz higher.
This bug was cleared up for the most part with FIRMWARE 073, see text).
Stability is most adequate and
respectable for a portable in this price
point. However do not expect TCXO performance either. In testing from a
cold start (room temperature), it was about 17 hz HIGH in AM mode.
After around a 15~30 minute warm up period it settled down and remained
stable (Note : It drifts down not up). That is being extremely picky
here and is still at a good standing.
SW Whip Sensitivity Improved Over ATS-909X Model / Very Good Dynamic Range
The biggest grumble with the old X model was the lack of
sensitivity on shortwave bands using it's attached whip antenna. With
the X2 model this has been improved by quite a bit. Using a decent external
outdoor antenna sensitivity on SW was near as equal (or close) to even most
tabletop communications receivers. That whip antenna is long and more
robust when compared to other current Chinese portables that bend by just
looking at them. Antenna does swivel and rotate and also pops up a bit
from it's socket to clear the cabinet properly when it's flip out stand is used.
Internal MW loopstick is decent for sensitivity and works very well. However we
felt it is not at a stellar standing here. No funny microprocessor noises were noted.
FM Broadcast performance and sensitivity is as it was with the older X
model (that is excellent) Sadly the external antenna jack still does
not work with FM Broadcast or AIR bands. AIR band also seems to perform
well with decent sensitivity.
Dynamic range was never a problem with the ATS-909X2. Only once did we
experience any SW overloading with long external antenna's. The so
called variable RF Gain control (which is actually an attenuator) on the left side will
squash any overloading. However it should not be needed too often.
LW / MW and SW Now Enhanced with the Si4735 / Some Limitations / Auto Bandwidth Feature
The ATS-909X2 uses a near same basic receiver design
as with the old ATS-909X model. By viewing the X2's service manual :
First IF (intermediate frequency) is 55.845 MHz. Second IF is at
450 kHz also uses LT450ITW (4 kHz) and LT450JTW (3 kHz)
low cost ceramic filters (the narrower one is slightly wider over the X model). FM uses the Si4735 entirely for reception.
The big difference is that the X2's 450 kHz output is channeled into
the Si4735 IC for enhanced narrower selectivity selections on the LW /
MW and SW bands.
SSB mode is restricted to ONE lone bandwidth (WHY SANGEAN !). The value
used here is not listed in the manual (see chart below). As a guess we
say it is in the wider 4 kHz area ? Mind you this is good for manual
ECSS use, however is a bit too wide for decent amateur radio listening (but is decent for say Pirate radio stations).
The widest SW AM MODE bandwidth is limited to 4 kHz (WHY SANGEAN !). MW
it is at 6 kHz. Mind you these do sound a tad wider than specifications
list (perhaps 5 kHz tops ??). But why not at least provide the 6 kHz on SW (or better yet 8 kHz) ? This is a real mystery to
me (or should we say misery here) ?
FM broadcast offers THREE bandwidth
settings. This is of course is unheard of with just about any FM receiver
period. How useful this was in the testing period was unclear (not much difference ?).
Provided is a Auto Bandwidth
feature. We found this to be more of a annoyance than a feature. It
flopped around on weak signals way too
much where it was supposed to be more automatic. Thank goodness there
is a defeat switch located on the right side.
Available DSP IF Bandwidths with the Sangean ATS-909X2
. Up to 5 bandwidths available on LW/MW and SW bands. However the 6 kHz filter is not available in the SW bands. ! Other than that near unacceptable oversight is decent here including 3 for the FM broadcast band. SSB
modes are fixed at only ONE available bandwidth. SSB bandwidth is a bit
wide for proper amateur radio listening.
Overall Audio Quality while improved over the old ATS-909X, still lacks / Excellent All Mode Squelch
Overall audio quality has been improved over the old X model.
It's much less muffled and uses DSP to allow for a much sharper
sounding outcome with MW and SW Bands.
However don't get too excited here as in testing it is still no excellent
performer with audio quality on the SW band. This is partially due to the narrow
bandwidths Sangean provides as covered above. WE need to stress AGAIN that there is no wide SW
bandwidth one can
use when conditions warrant (say 8 of 10 kHz). It's tolerable mind you,
but was expecting better. The audio amplifier also has a very slight
hissy trait (turn down the volume to minimum and put your ear right up to the
speaker). This is not at any disconcerting level and no deal breaker.
|Bottom Line : Sangean ATS-909X2 N9EWO testing - AM Mode "audio
- IF YOU normally use and prefer narrower bandwidth filters for MW/SW
Mode listening then you will be very pleased with the ATS-909X2.
- IF YOU
looking (prefer) for better audio quality with wider filter(s), you
should look elsewhere as in our view it is
rather disappointing here. In these days of DSP bandwidth filtering we
desire (more like REQUIRE) at least one wide IF filter being available
in a SW receiver (8 kHz or above). MW is a tad better providing a 6 kHz
widest filter setting, SW Band again falls flat on it's face at 4 kHz
the widest available with the ATS-909X2 (near unacceptable in our
NOTE : Please remember that there is always a
possibility that Sangean could change this scheme with Firmware updates
down the road (or perhaps they may not) ?
Owners should remember the audio amplifier gives about double the
output when connected to the AC Adapter (at 9 volts DC). It's
definitely more punchy with the adapter in use.
As with the X model, there is a excellent ALL MODE squelch function.
This is very rare on any SW receiver let alone a portable. Very useful,
works well and adjustment is simply super easy to make happen.
Sangean Has Chosen NOT to Include Soft Muting on LW / MW and SW Bands / Selectable on FM
One will NOT find Soft Muting
being used in the ATS-909X2 on the LW / MW or SW bands (whew !). So that nasty is not to be found. However
there is a soft mute that can be switched on for the FM Broadcast band.
Thank goodness it's default is set to OFF.
Important Line Output Jack Included / No Internal Recording Function / Line Input Jack
With the ATS-909X2 lacking any internal digital "off-air" recording function,
Sangean at least provides a LINE OUT jack (fixed audio level before the
audio amplifier). This is what is required to make decent recordings on
a external digital recorder or even a old school cassette tape
recorder. The level is proper, clean and supports stereo on FM.
If it's like the elder ATS-909X line out circuit here, there is probably no internal line output
buffer amplifier ? But without a schematic to look at that is unknown,
Just as on the X model there is a very handy LINE INPUT jack for
plugging in a MP player or such. It is activated by pressing the button
just above the DC input jack. AUX IN appears on the LCD when on. Works great.
No Sync Detection / SSB Performance / SSB Audio Lower / SSB Audio Distortion /
Lower Level vs. AM / Manual ECSS Good But Some Distortion Still Exists
As normal with Sangean receivers, there is no Synchronous
Detector. Sangean receivers never have had it and probably never will ?
Again the SSB bandwidth is restricted to one lone
setting. With the test sample LSB had a sharper sound while USB was
more midrange with a bit more BASS.
The AGC is using a single fixed setting too (not adjustable) and a
compromise between SSB and AM modes. Just as it was with the old X
model the decay rate which is fine for AM tends to be too FAST with SSB
modes. So for any super strong signals where this happens one will need to decrease the
sensitivity using the side mounted so called RF Gain control
Mind you it has near zero SSB audio clipping distortion that exists with many
Tecsun models (PL-880 and 990 for two) under usual signal strength
conditions. However don't expect tabletop performance here either. For
it's price point it works more than adequate (in fact very good here) .
Just as with later X samples, the AM
audio audio level is louder when compared to LSB / USB modes (with
narrower AM bandwidths this is less of an issue). So be
careful when going from SSB back AM mode. While not serious at all it
is worth commenting that with SOME very strong SSB signals a peek of
distortion / raspy artifacts was detected.
The 3 step tone control (and or RF Gain) helps to tame this.
As far as the lower SSB
mode audio issue goes, we did not find this bug to be a deal breaker
annoyance). I would rather have this vs. nasty SSB audio clipping
Manual ECSS also performs very well indeed with a little rub. Again we detected
(again) some VERY minor audio distortion with
stronger signals. But
again ECSS is still near excellent to help pull out weak MW or SW
broadcast stations for audio recovery and reducing distortion on the
stronger ones. It does a yeoman's job
here especially when compared to Tecsun SW portables on the market today
which fail completely in comparison.
"Info" Button Functions with Sangean ATS-909X2
Enhanced RDS over the elder X model
1674 Total Memory Channels / Alpha Tags / Memory Page Scanning / Lock Switch / ATS
1674 total memory channels are
available (was only 406 with the X model). These are divvied up as
below. Nine memories per page (but this varies with band) and quickly
accessed using the
Page button and numeric keypad. Memory channels store frequency and
mode, however does NOT store the bandwidth. There are THREE banks per
band available. So one can select a unused bank for ATS use (which the
LW, MW, SW and FM bands all have). Yes the ATS-909X2 features ATS for
another method of tuning.
Alpha Tagging is available. On SW tags are limited to "Pages" only
(which makes total sense). Are extremely easy to make happen using the
numeric keypad (once you get the hang of it).
Once a page is chosen on the LW / MW or SW bands (ENTER key), the
receiver silently scans those channels in that page and then
automatically stops on the strongest one (audio switches back on). If
no signals are found will then just land on a channel in that
A mechanical LOCK switch is
found on the
right side of cabinet. This locks all keypad buttons including the jog
tuning wheel. Also a memory
channel lock feature is provided for making sure that one does not
write over any given channel. This lock is toggled on the front panel
(M and then the Bandwidth button). A icon of a key with a M in front of
it in the lower left hand corner appears when activated for each memory
Memory Channels with the Sangean ATS-909X2 (per bank).
Alpha Tags are available. On SW this is limited to "Pages" only.
Each band has THREE banks available as selectable in the MENU.
Included SWITCHING Type Power Supply a Pleasant Surprise / Alternative 9 VDC Regulated Linear Supply Available
The included power adapter is a different SWITCHING DC supply that came with
the LATER production of the old ATS-909X and Sangean DAR-101 mp3 recorder (DC 7.5 Volts NOW is a DC
input 9 volts with
positive tip polarity. Remember that EARLIER ATS-909X and DAR-101
production used AC to AC adapters (did rectification and filtering
within the set itself).
What came as a shock and total surprise is how RF QUIET the included adapter was across
the shortwave bands. Mind you it still emitted the usual buzzy traits
that ALL switching power supplies give (more so on lower SW frequencies and MW). If one
uses an external antenna, most switching power supply
noise issues will be of little moment.
However WE still choose to use a REGULATED linear / transformer type
supply to reduce ANY chance of power supply noise to ZERO. As of this report being compiled, a compact and adequate
MW122A was still available. Is sold by LKG / Philmore dealers in
the USA. The connecting cable is sold separately.
Additional information and our modification information on these power
supplies may be found here. Modification is not important as
the current requirement is much less over say a Grundig Satellit 800
(but still not for when charging internal batteries, use the included
switching supply for that). In testing it operated way cool enough without modification for normal "receive" operation.
Bottom Line : Performs well for a portable SWL set. / Watch out For Variable QC !
For the performance vs. cost, the
Sangean ATS-909X2 performs well for PORTABLE shortwave receiver. If
you are expecting a communications receiver TABLE TOP performance out
of this receiver, you are going to be disappointed. Again it's a
portable ! Just like any other receiver it has it's share of pro's and con's.
Excellent sensitivity (including the
whip), selectivity using DSP with many selections (except SSB modes)
with decent dynamic range with external antenna's. Audio quality is
adequate and much improved when compared to the elder X model
(especially with the X late production and P01 firmware). The lack of nasty
SSB clipping distortion is certainly a welcome trait over many of the
more current Tecsun receivers which are nasty bad here.
Well constructed with above average tactile keyboard response along
with a whip antenna that will not bend over with first use. Overall we
feel the ATS-909X2 is a respectable set in the ever shrinking marketplace for shortwave
receivers (portable or tabletop).
A pity that Sangean did not make the 6 kHz (or even 8 kHz) wider IF bandwidth available on the SW
band, as well as one or 2 more (one wider and one narrower) for SSB
modes. These changes in our view would have greatly improved the ATS-909X2's desirability
by leaps and bounds for SWL use ! One needs to be aware of the variable
quality control (general alignment ?) on the ATS-909X2. Be sure and
read the information in the yellow block at the top of this review.
© N9EWO, all rights reserved
Sangean's DAR-101 Digital Audio Recorder
The Sangean DAR-101 stand
alone MP3 audio recorder is a perfect add on as the timer jack connections
ready to go for use with the ATS-909X2.
review on the DAR-101 can be found here.
DAR-101 stand alone MP3 audio recorder
|DAR-101 with ATS-909X2 for unattended timer record.
(untested and NO support here, you are on you own)
: One must make a test recording prior using the proper stereo 1/8 inch
(3.5mm) STEREO patch cable between the DAR-101's LINE IN Jack and
the ATS-909X2's LINE OUT jack and adjust the REC LEVEL to a proper
approximate reading. Also if ones makes use of the VAR function (Voice
Activated Recording) with the DAR-101, it is then possible to have the
DAR-101 start and stop recording automatically
according to the input signal level. Here ONLY the MINI 1/8 inch
(3.5mm) STEREO cable is required. Another alternative would be to use the timer within the DAR-101. See the DAR-101's owners manual for
Patch Cables Required (NOT included with the ATS-909X2 OR the DAR-101)
1 - MINI 1/8 inch (3.5mm) STEREO Phone type audio cable (both ends).
1 - MICRO 3/32 inch (2.5mm) Phone type audio cable (both ends, Stereo or Mono OK here).
Program the ATS-909X2 for ALARM TIMER operation (see pages 14~15 in the OWNERS MANUAL).
Now you must put the recorder on Standby. Turn on the recorder. Switch the mode to "Music". Press MENU. Press RECORD SETUP. Dial Record Standby. Set to ON.
Connect the cables. Turn the ATS-909X2 receiver power OFF. Turn the DAR-101 recorder power ON.
First connect the MINI phone stereo
cable (both ends) to the LINE IN jack on the DAR-101 recorder and
LINE OUT jack on the ATS-909X2.
Then connect the "Remote" cable
(phone MICRO both ends) from the REMOTE (under telephone marking) jack
on the DAR-101 recorder and to the STANDBY jack on the ATS-909X2.
When the time arrives, the receiver will automatically receive the frequency preset and switch on the DAR-101. It will activate the recorder and the recording will begin.
After 1 HOUR (60 minutes), the radio will shut off
(NOTE : OFF time in ATS-909X2 RADIO timer mode is preset and cannot
be changed). The recorder will not be shut off however, but you can see it was recording. Disconnect the "Remote" cable. Set Recorder Standby to OFF. Shut off the DAR-101.
Additional Sangean ATS-909X2
Information (All Subject To Change Without Notice)
- ATS-909X2 Specifications.
- One page PDF product brochure.
- Version 1 ATS-909X2 English owners manual (PDF).
- Acrylic (plastic) stand available from "Source One" TUCSON, AZ USA
- Incident at C.Crane (Aug 2005)
You Tube Video's
- Sangean ATS-909X2 Teardown - preproduction EU version