This is a first rate portable SW Radio and should be seriously considered when shopping for world band receiver. My real problem is third party sellers turning Amazon.ca into a glorified dumping ground for overpriced product; and Amazon allowing it to happen. This specific radio can be bought at three (3) Canadian retail stores at a price of $70.00 to $145.00 LESS than what it's being sold for here. Amazon.ca is destroying their name and credibility... too bad really.
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185 of 190 people found the following review helpful
A Surprisingly Excellent PortableMarch 10 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I recently purchased the new 909X model, and did some technical tests on the 909x versus my Tecsun Pl-390 and Grundig 750. First, as to FM reception, the 909X has outstanding FM reception, as to both the number of stations received and the tonal quality. I was able to easily log 18 RDS stations from my central Florida location in daytime. As to tonal quality, this is where the 909X is a great portable. The built-in amplifier and the high-quality speaker, give the FM listener a range of tonal quality approaching my Tivoli Audio SongBook radio. This excellent tonal quality carries over to AM reception also. My next test was on the shortwave bands. I was surprised as to the radio's sensitivity and, again, good tonal quality on SW voice and music programs. Although my Grundig 750 and Tecsun PL-390 are very sensitive shortwave radios, the big plus in the 909X is it's very high signal-to-noise ratio. What that means is that weak signals received on the Grundig 750 and Tecsun Pl-390 come in with a large amount of background noise. The 909X, in contrast, has a surprisingly low background noise level on the various shortwave bands. This low background noise level allows weak signals to become more audible and less anoying to copy. Also, the 909X appears to be equally sensitive on all shortwave bands. Even the normally weak 26-28Mhz band sensitivity on most portables, I was easily able to tune in some CB radio traffic at that higher frequency. I also tested medium wave, and found it just as sensitive as on my Grundig 750, again, with better tonal quality, and the wide/narrow filters worked well to separate loud from weak stations.
Just to mention some other things that make this portable shine are the alpha-numeric page memory system, world time in many cities which sync automatically after you set your local home time, and the many ways that you can tune stations. The 909X even has a squelch control in addition to an effective RF Gain control. Due to the very low background noise level of the 909X, I have yet to use the squelch control even when seeking for weak shortwave signals
So, in conclusion, with just using the radio's long provided whip, and better, the reel-in antenna acompanying the radio, the 909X serves as an excellent portable to carry on trips, and carry around in its nice case. I can't overemphasize the great signal-to-noise ratio of this radio. Yes, the 909X is rather large and expensive compared to other portables. But, what you get in this larger package is a high-quality speaker and a great built-in audio amplifier of very large tonal range.
132 of 140 people found the following review helpful
Sensational Upgrade in ATS-909X? Revised opinionMarch 2 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I filed this review not long after buying this radio. The radio worked as described, or better, until I started having an annoying intermittent failure of the volume control about a year later. Volume came on very high and could not be cut. I'd turn the radio off in disgust and try again a while later. All would be well. But, eventually, it stuck on high volume which made the radio worthless because the loud volume was an annoyance, and also severely distorted the audio. I contacted Sangean's support about this. They offered very little in the way of suggestions, and would not take the radio back under warranty because I had bought it from a Korean reseller. As such, the review below is entirely "at your own risk" because, for me, this radio is now an expensive paper weight, and will probably soon be in the trash. Absent any recognition of the problem, or any useful service for this problem, Sangean is off my list for future purchases.
January 2, 2014
Original review I bought this direct from Taipei because of detailed and impressive advance notice, though the price here is now far better. Okay, that information was PR, but in the case of this complete re-design of the ATS-909 it was pretty close to how the product performs.
I've used a variety of portables over the years, including the brilliant, but rather heavy, Sony ICF-2010, and its successor, the fine 7600GR. I've also tried a few of the new Chinese shortwave competitors, including the Degen 1103, probably the best cheap shortwave radio ever made.
Sangean, however, is not competing against Degen or Kaito. Established for a very long time as a maker of superb portables, they took some heat for the ATS-909. I can't comment on that model, as I have never tried one. The ATS-909X, however, is to my mind the successor to Sony's 7600GR as the best portable for its broad range of reception, which includes FM, LW, MW, and SW. The AM range is 150-29999. (note: the ATS909X does not have synchronous detection, using DSP and digital bandpass instead to clarify weak signals, but that's not a bad thing, just a different way of handling the same problems). The MW can be set for either 9Khz steps or 10, with corresponding ranges for different parts of the world.
Issues of interest to regular listeners and DXers: a) sensitivity -- it's as good or better than the 7600GR on SW, excellent on FM, and better than Sangean's CCRadio Plus on MW. Enhancing this on FM is a simple solution, a switch for mono FM, important if a signal is faint or erratic in stereo. b) selectivity -- the 3-way tone control, Wide/Narrow filter's skirts, digital bandpass, and DSP all contribute to cleaning up and separating adjacent signals well; I heard what I tuned. c) The ATS-909X is happy on either the built-in aerial or with a Kaito tunable loop (I prefer the latter, an inexpensive but marvelous tunable loop). d) The DSP IC's tricks work fine with weak signals, almost as well as the Sony 7600GR's synchronous detection. e) the sound quality on any filter setting is (to my ear) as good as the 7600GR and far better than the Degen 1103, which shows distortion if not slightly detuned. It also has noticeably more audio output than the Sony 7600GR. f) squelch. Yes, the ATS-909X resurrects an old method for keeping the racket down between stations. Most scanners have this feature and, if you use it carefully, it can make exploring noisy AM bands easier on the ears. (Tune to the weakest station you can still understand; then, adjust squelch to just slightly above where the weak station blanks out. Then, anything that's below that threshold will be silent.) g) RF gain -- it's rare for these to be on a portable any more. They're often not on desktop models. However, if you've got a really hot station you listen to regularly, it's nice to be able to back off on RF amplification. Judicious use of this gain control is also useful in picking apart stations that are extremely close together or where you can use a combination of antenna tuning and fiddling with RF gain to pull one station out front and put the other behind.
A few notes on FM: You don't get better FM on a small radio than this unless you include HD Radio circuitry. I don't know why Sangean didn't do that -- maybe a future model. Even so, you can plug this radio into a set of powered PC speakers and get sensational audio, or it sounds fine as is. Selectivity is excellent. Signal to noise almost sounds like HD radio. Of course I live in NYC, so signals tend to be very good. The images that plague cheap radios don't exist on the ATS-909X. It's happy with strong signals or weak. RDS mode, if in use by broadcaster, will show items like call letters, program title, and sometimes what's playing.
Further on MW. Believe it, it's better than a Sangean's own CCRadio Plus for sensitivity, selectivity, and, to my ear, audio quality. I can easily pick up stations from Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Charlotte, Boston, upstate and western New York, and that without the assistance of an external loop or Crane's twin coil external. If you've got stations on top of each other, not uncommon, using the USB/LSB control can separate one from the other, a trick unavailable on a CCRadio Plus (though you can detune the latter slightly for similar effects).
SW -- even on cheap radios, DSP can give startlingly good results on SW. When you can afford a little more effort in deploying this American IC, and higher quality components to interface with it, as Sangean clearly has, the consequence is an ease of tuning that's disconcerting. On my old FRG-7, for instance, first you did the preset on the antenna side, then the megahertz setting, then the kiloherz knob, hand fiddling with preset and KHz knob until you got a satisfactory signal. The old Wadley loop circuit worked well, but it took a while to get there. With DSP, digital bandpass, and PLL, none of that's required. Sangean's implementation of these new electronic elements is as good or better than any similar radio I have ever tried, including the ICF-2010, and the 7600GR. To be fair, neither of the latter employ DSP.
Memories -- here's how they're described in the manual.
Okay, it's not got 1000 memories or more, but the way they're distributed makes a very good fit with each band. I challenge anyone who claims to have more than 27 listenable FM stations in their area. There's a lot of stuff pre-set, which has never been particularly useful for me. Further, these pre-sets are not, as far as I can tell, going to be updated by Sangean (as they used to be by Sony and ICOM). However, you can create your own preset mixes for each page as a substitute for what's provided. The way they do it is a good model. They've put 9 pre-sets for a major outlet, such as DW, on one page. Select that page, and DSP hunts for the one that has a readable signal. Neat.
Another tuning tool is ATS, which is fabulous for the traveler. It's been around for a few years. You go to LW, MW or FM, press one button, and all of the readable signals are put into temporary memory. Get off the plane, tune into the new city, done in a few seconds. Not unique to Sangean, but a marvelous addition. (On some setups, such as the Degen 380, ATS works on SW bands, but not on the Sangean.)
The clock, once set to local time, will show the correct time at the touch of a button in 42 other cities. It's a useful feature.
The package I received included two adapters, one for Asia and one for the US (this may not be true in some packages). The US power supply is perfect; it puts out no detectable RF noise. On batteries, the radio will run quite a while though, to be honest, I haven't measured its endurance exactly.
The included long wire aerial is nice to have for SW, but Kaito's tuned loop is such a nice antenna, despite its tiny controls, that it's a better choice, and not very expensive.
The faux leather case is quite nice and strong enough to protect the radio when your bag is being tossed about the airport's luggage handling area.
For design, I find the ATS-909X one of the most satisfying portables I've ever tried. It's just solid enough to not fall over when you tune it, but it's not heavy. The finish quality is excellent. You can tune it in five different ways, without spending a lot of time with the manual. It has fewer memories than some, but the distribution of memory pages to FM, MW, LW and SW is well considered, not to mention amazingly easy to use. It's also beautiful to look at, and has the most readable LCD display I've ever seen on a portable. Add that to its exemplary radio performance and you have a great and advanced alternative to several older standbys like the Sony ICF-2010 or Sony 7600GR. You also don't need to buy two radios to get both very high quality SW and MW!
My only issue was that there was no English manual, but I addressed that, finding a multi-language manual on Sangean's US Web site. To be honest, it doesn't really need a manual, as most functions are easy to find and use. But Sangean will have a finished English manual by April. I'm not quite convinced the DSP is a better solution than synchronous detection, but this seems to be the way Asian radio designers and manufacturers are going, and this manifestation of DSP is by far the best I've heard.
Get one now before they raise the price! And a note to Sangean, for the ATS-909X Model 2, include HD to this great radio.
74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
Sangean 909X Quite a nice performing portableMay 8 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I have read all the reviews of the New 909X,and I have to say some are quite misleading. I don't know if the nay sayers have under performing radios,I was told recently by a very high ranking person associated with a major radio company that after a new model is relaesed that the mfr will quietly make engineering evaluations and upgrades based on the first field reports, and never make public the changes, so I will assume that the early reports were based on the Beta radios. My first impression of the 909X out of the box was that the build quality was very good, with a nice feel in my hands. The first order of business was to read the English portion of the operation manual, then after installing 4 AA alkaline cells and setting the battery charge switch to the correct setting it was time to power up and "walk through" the functions. After I verified the 909X was 100% it was time to put it through it's paces. My first interest is AM MW DXing, so I tuned the 909X to 1360,and proceeded to pick up KWDJ operating with only 1000 Watts 100 miles away. At my location I am 2 miles from KOSS 1380 with 1000 watts. Picking up the signal from KWDJ 1360 100 Miles away with a measured field strength of only 400 Microvolts and with a 60 Millivolt signal only 2 channels away is quite a chore for any radio, the 909X with it's DSP IF amp easily seperated the two signals with no problems and no bleed-over. Another challenge was on low end of the AM dial. KMJ 580 from Fresno,200 Miles away has a measured filed strength at my location of 350 Microvolts and KAVL 610 2 Miles from me operates with 5000 Watts and has a measured Field strength of 100 Millivolts. The 909X easily picked KMJ and much to my surprise also received KTIE at 590 from San Bernardino, 100 miles away operating with 2500 Watts and with a measured signal strength of 400 Microvolts at my location! The 909X pulled in signals from AM stations all along the dial with ease. On FM the 909X displayed excellent selectivity and sensitivity,example: KPFK 90.7 Los Angeles operates with 110,000 Watts and has a signal at my location of more than 1 Millivolt (60DBU) and KGZO 90.9 Shater,CA is over 100 miles away and has a very weak signal at my location of less than 90 Microvolts!To receive the KGZO signal in full stereo is nealy impossible, however the 909X easily received the signal,full quieted and in solid stereo! By the way the 909X through all the tests, AM and FM used ONLY the built in FM rod antenna and built in Ferrite rod antenna with no external help whatsoever! I was also impressed by the great audio quality from the built in speaker. Another item was battery life. The original 909 was a HOG when using batery power,however all the tests I performed used one set of 4-AA Procell Alkaline batteries and after the tests, and listening with a moderate volume,the battery indicator in the LCD display never changed! Quite an improvement over the original! On SW the 909X copied many stations with equal sensitivity from the low to high. On SW I used my RF2200 as a standard to gauge the signals on SW. All the memories and alarms worked as advertised, the RDS was a nice bonus when listening to stations that transmitted information about the content of the programming. I am very happy with my 909X. FYI,I purchased this out my own pocket with no ties to any MFR or retailer, and no special prices or incentives to have a favorable review. My recommendations are few, a sync detector would be nice,also a carry handle. It would nice to have the direct entry without having to hit the F key,frequency,and than enter.I did notice the keys on the touch pad required "extra" effort. All in all looks like a winner for Sangean. Chris Compton, Broadcast Engineer Lancaster, CA May 8, 2011
74 of 81 people found the following review helpful
Solid design and construction; great audio; lacking in sensitivityMay 4 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
As an owner of many radios over several decades, and a long-time Sangean fan, I REALLY wanted to like this radio. Often an early adopter, I put off buying this radio because a Chinese reviewer of a first-run sample complained that it was "deaf". Watching and waiting, I saw this attributed to a faulty component in that lot, and later people said that it performed well. Unfortunately, there is more enduring truth to the early Chinese review than I was willing to admit at first.
First, the pros: the design and construction quality are first-rate. Yes, there are some design-freak quibbles that can be raised (for example the spinning-disc tuning knob, the use of an LCD segment layout for the RDS that is poorly suited to alphanumeric display, the "narrow" filter being still too wide) but overall the positives outweigh the negatives. It looks, feels, and sounds great. There are very nice design touches (like a continuous RF gain control that works on MW as well as SW, for instance).
In the end, though, I found that on MW/SW/FM it was lacking in sensitivity when using the built-in antennas. An inexpensive DSP-based radio like the Tecsun PL-310 or PL-390 "hears" much more, especially daytime MWDX, than this radio costing several times as much. Even on FM with a shorter antenna, the Tecsun models were hotter. I realize that I can always add an external antenna, and of course that is the usual technique for SW listening, but I was not going to fiddle with an external loop antenna just to bring MW reception up to par. In the end, I reluctantly sent it back. Perhaps a later production run will get it right; but for me right now, at this price point, I couldn't justify keeping it.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Replaced my original ATS-909. Using AC adapter adds noiseMay 31 2012
Joseph A. Nowak
- Published on Amazon.com
Up until two years ago, I was using my original ATS-909 radio which I had for about 10 years. Two years ago my 909 truly learned to fly when, in a short moment of anger, my wife decided to teach it to fly! Needless to say it has never been the same since! It DID still work, but not as well (diminished capacity, you might call it!). I just recieved the ATS-909X today from Amazon. It's my soon to be birthday gift from my sweet wife. I haven't tried it out yet... but will later on today. The original ATS-909 was a VERY fine portable radio on both SW and FM stereo (with headphones or external powered speaker system). I expect this new model to be even better performance wise. I'll try it out this evening after 9 p.m. my local time. One thing I have already seen that I REALLY like compared to the old model, besides the styling, is the display brightness. Totally outstanding! And the display IS bigger. I'll update this review this weekend. Please check back here Sunday night.
June 8th, 2012 This radio operates in the same way as the original ATS-909. One note... If you use the AC adaptor while listening to shortwave, white noise is increased dramatically by around 15 to 20 db, thus drastically lowering the S/N ratio. It affects both the shortwave bands and medium wave (A.M. band). It doesn't affect FM much. So my recommendation is to use the AC adaptor ONLY to charge NIMH rechargable batteries in the radio... or for regular FM reception. On battery power, this is STILL a VERY excellent shortwave radio! What I HAVE noticed is that there are fewer government broadcasts from around the world, most noticably the BBC has far fewer programs now than they did ten years ago. Other countries are all broadcasting less shortwave than before. In the 1970s I had a Hallicrafters SW radio and at that time there were several times the number of stations broadcasting compared to now. Anyway the biggest difference I see between the new and the old model is the styling... AND the size and brightness of the display! VERY nice! If someone has found a quieter AC adaptor that works with this radio, please let us know! My reason for not giving a full five stars is strictly due to the severe interference from the A.C. adaptor. Almost a deal breaker for me.