Sangean ATS909X Portable Receiver

Sangean ATS909X

After using a few portable receivers like Grundig and Tecsun, I wanted something better. I spent a long time looking, then finally settled on the Sangean ATS-909X. It got very good reviews with one or two exceptions. You can find a lot of reviews on eHam. Sangean's web site is here.

This receiver is definitely a cut above the others. I waited for a long time to get one, until the price dropped to a reasonable level. In general the radio is thicker and heavier than the others, and feels solid. Reception is better and sound from the speaker is much better than other portable recievers I have used. 

I have seen two main complaints in the reviews. The first is the tuning dial, which has click stops rather than freewheeling. After using the radio for some time, I find I like the dial as is. If you dislike it so much, there is a mod available. The other complaint is lack of sensitivity on SW using a short antenna. There is some truth to this, although in my opinion it is not so bad. I tried building a 4:1 UNUN which can be plugged in to the antenna jack for use with a short antenna wire. This improved signal strength in most cases, one or two bars on the meter, and no mods are required inside of the radio. It is easy to build, as long as you get the right toroid core. Instructions can be found on IV3SBE's web page. (UPDATE: sorry, link no longer works. However this Wayback Archive link works.) In my opinion a transmission line transformer like this is superior to the voltage transformer featured in the Yahoo Groups file section.

I like almost everything about the radio, and my criticisms below are just nits.

The radio is a pleasure to use. The memory arrangement can be understood with one reading of the manual. It is easy to select pages, and to save, recall, and delete memories. The memories in use in a given bank are shown on the display (the numbers 1 through 9 at the bottom of the display) so its easy to see which are in use and which are available. This is the first radio that I have been able to effectively use memories.

Tuning step is clearly shown on the display (fast/slow) and easy to change. The actual steps depend on the band and mode you are listening to. Suffice it to say that it is well thought out and easy to understand and use.

Tuning SSB is a challenge on any inexpensive radio, but this one is quite good. There is no BFO control. When you press the SSB button you get LSB. Press again for USB. The tuning dial changes to really slow steps and you can tune in the SSB signal using the main dial. It works very well on the ham bands and for other SSB signals on the SW band.

I would have liked to see a synchronous AM detector. Some other portables have it, although mostly they don't seem to help much. But AM reception on the ATS-909X  is quite good compared with some others, as has been noted in some of the reviews.

The RF AM Gain control is a really great idea but the recessed thumbwheel on the left side is clumsy to use and hard to tell how it's set. Your finger slides easily over the wheel and you can't tell if it's turning or not.

One last thing, the rotary tuning dial has developed a flakyness where it sometimes skips the wrong way from where you're tuning, then settles down to work properly.

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