N9EWO Review : Sangean ATS-909X2
 LW / MW / SW / FM / AIR Portable Receiver
(as 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 here.


Sangean ATS-909X2 in Graphite Color
It's general receiver architecture is not much different over the old X model.
Still uses two ceramic IF filters (on SW) before the Si4735 DSP chip.

(Our Sangean ATS-909X model review available here)  (N9EWO Photo)

N9EWO Review : SANGEAN ATS-909X2 (as Stock)
Firmware Versions Tested: 070, 073
Country of Manufacture: China (not marked on radio cabinet, manual or box)
Serial Number of Test Sample (Manufactured in October 2020): dK2010424xx

*** Own a Sangean ATS-909X2 with FIRMWARE 070 ? ***
USA owners of the ATS-909X2 that wish to have Firmware 073 installed:
contact Sangean America for upgrade information.
European owners contact Sangean Europe BV.

PRO :
- 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 (see con).
- Decent MW audio quality when in 6 kHz bandwidth setting (see con).
- Very Good manual ECSS mode (see con).
- 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 con).
- 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).
- Well-positioned UP DOWN slewing buttons that work extremely well.
- 3-position tone control works above average (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 sleep/snooze functions.
- 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.
- Line input jack for mp3 player or other audio device.
- Attractive metal speaker grill.
- Includes a SWITCHING TYPE AC to DC adapter that has low RF noise.
- Also includes excellent soft padded plastic carrying case, reel SW antenna and earbuds.

- Clock displays separate from frequency (see con).
- 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.

CON :
- Dynamic 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 control.
- Requires 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 marginal use.
- 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)

  *** Sangean ATS-909X2 FIRMWARE CHANGE LOG (to VER 073) ****
  Broken English as was converted from Mandarin (PDF Format).
(our thanks to "Sangean America" for this information)



**** 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).

Dave N9EWO
N9EWO, all rights reserved
Ver 2.1

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 kHz (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 paragraph). These 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 !
T
he 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 used here).

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 but also 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 receivers).


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 question) ?    



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)
(NOTE : 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 near rock 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-909X2Up 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 quality" :

- IF YOU normally use and prefer narrower bandwidth filters for MW/SW AM Mode listening then you will be very pleased with the ATS-909X2.

- IF YOU are 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 being the widest available with the ATS-909X2 (near unacceptable in our view).

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 (attenuator).

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 (just a annoyance). I would rather have this vs. nasty SSB audio clipping distortion.

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 shown 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 page. 


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 accidentally 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 channel.


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.


Included ATS-909X2 SWITCHING AC Adapter Label (N9EWO Photo)
  Output 9.0 VDC at 1.2 amps : HKP34-0901200dU
Very surprised on how clean it was, but would rather
 still use a good regulated linear transformer type adapter
 
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.

Dave N9EWO
N9EWO, all rights reserved
Ver 4.2

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 are ready to go for use with the ATS-909X2. 
My review on the DAR-101 can be found here.


Sangean's 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)
[Notes : 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 more information.].

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).

Step #1

Program the ATS-909X2 for ALARM TIMER operation (see pages 14~15 in the OWNERS MANUAL).

Step #2
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.

Step #3
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.

Step #4
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.


N9EWO's Sangean ATS-909X, ATS-909X2, Tecsun PL-660/680/880 Comparison Chart

Links for 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






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