Sangean ATS-909X Short Wave Radio

As I find myself getting into Short Wave Radio again I find myself picking up more radios to play around with and assess.  The latest acquisition is a Sangean ATS-909X.  $205!  OUCH!  But lets see what we have before we pass judgement.

First of all in the batch of current model short wave portable radios this is by far the most attractive of the bunch (in my opinion).  Attractive is good but sound, sensitivity, and selectivity are really what matters with a radio of this caliber.

This might be the first radio I’ve seen though where I needed to go through the manual right from the get go to get started.   I strongly recommend if you get this radio to go STEP BY STEP through the manual to get the time, time zone, world time, etc. all set up.   One bizarre thing I noticed was that after I did get set up the box near the bottom said “AUSTRALIA”.  Well, that just won’t do.

I changed mine to say “New Bern” which is the name of the town I live in.  I couldn’t think of anything more interesting or exciting to put in there.  Oh well.

The radio comes with a very nice pouch with a positive velcro closure.  Nice touch and expected for $200+

So that’s good. What’s bad?  No batteries. $200 plus and I need to buy $11 worth of batteries?  Boo.

It has a charger and it has an external antenna which is nice.

So I turn it on and find an FM channel and lo and behold it does RDS (station name and info).  Very cool.

Now switch to SW and I literally have no clue how to get around the bands. SW is broken into 14 separate bands. Boo. The manual doesn’t clear it up a lot but I finally figured out that all the buttons have print on them showing what meter band it is. Push the SW button then the corresponding button for the band you want. Clear as mud.

Another anomaly I just found was performing a manual input of frequencies using the keypad was a bit bizarre.  The manual says “push the FREQ button, then input”.  Ok.  Where’s the FREQ button?  It isn’t labelled.  It’s the “F” key on the top row of gray buttons.  A little silkscreen that says “FREQ” would be helpful here.

Sadly most new radios have several issues like this.  Some features are impossible to find without the manual.  But, hey, that’s why there’s a manual!

It sounds pretty good.  About as well as you can expect a single speaker portable radio to sound and I’ll go as far as to say it sounds better than my Tecsun PL-880.  Still you don’t listen to these radios for audiophile type performance.

The killer features for me on this radio are that it has an external antenna connector, it does Single Side Band, Upper and Lower, and it has a Line Out.  I like the Line Out more than anything.  It allows me to record directly to a computer sound card.

And more and more as I use this radio I’m finding that the MW performance in EXCEPTIONAL.

Anyway, I’ll add to this. Here’s a quick video.

And here’s a quick SoundCloud grab or SSB performance.

I like everything about this radio but I’d sure love to see it priced around $150 or so.  If I could only have one radio given a budget I’d select the Tecsun PL-880 but ONLY because of the price.  I’ll say that again.  Only because of the price.

9 thoughts on “Sangean ATS-909X Short Wave Radio

  1. Mike Bott

    The ATS-909X has been accused of performing poorly on its whip antenna. A couple of years ago I conducted a small experiment with my Sangean ATS-909X and my Tecsun PL-660. This was done using the whip antennas only and fresh batteries in each. Tuning from 5000kHz to 16000kHz, I found: No signal could be found on one that the other could not tune. While on the same signal with deep fades, one might keep signal when the other lost it. Neither radio was better or worse than the other with this. The only true difference I noted was in the display of the signal strength as the Tecsun always showed a stronger signal being received that the Sangean. In this case, I don’t believe it is as serious a problem as others believe.

    1. John Hagensieker Post author

      I haven’t had time to do a side by side but my Sangean seemed to pull in the usual suspects with just the whip that I’m used to receiving on my other radios. I suspect you are right that it is not as bad as some others have stated. Thanks for reading my blog.

    1. John Hagensieker Post author

      At $200 beans I have enough of them! ha ha. I wish I had 1 for every room though.

  2. Jorge Berrios

    It is a good receiver but it is a poor receiver with its whip! This radio screams for a external antenna! Since my HOA association of neighbors does not permit to put Antennas outside my home, I hear my SW radios with their built in whip antenna of the radio! Here in Florida my other radios, Tecsun S-8800, Tecsun PL-660, Tecsun PL-880, Grundig Satellit 750 and they perform well with their whip getting Radio Saudi 7,500 miles from my QTH and this particular radio is dead and silent with the whip of the radio! Besides this it is a good unit with a decent speaker and good on FM and MW! People who use this radio with a external antenna have no problem receiving SW stations around the world as I heard from other people using the radio with external antenna!

    1. John Hagensieker Post author

      I live in an HOA as well and I have a dipole tuned to about 7 MHz stretched across my back yard from fence, to fence. Can’t be seen! I get great performance in the evening with it and even if I could pull in a station with the whip on any of my radios I almost always plug in the external.

  3. William Conlan

    Hello All.
    just signed up.
    I have Sangean ats909X and I cannot figure out the memory system.
    Its really getting to the stage where to get rid of it or not.
    I know I would miss it in the end but all the sites I have searched dont get back to me.
    I can do every thing with it except figure out how to program it

    Thanks vet much

    S.Ireland 🙁

  4. Jerry H. Neves

    I have one of the first models, the white version. I like this radio a lot. It performs well with outside antenna. Apparently when you use outside wire antenna the ferrite antenna for MW does not disconnect. For me this is a slight drawback. My main issue with this radio is the frequency input button, i.e. marked F, I have to push it real hard to manually input frequencies!!! Can not do it with radio standing up by itself, otherwise radio would fly off the table!! Wonder if this can be fixed?

  5. Robert

    I have a 909x audio strong on am and sw bands but barely audible with volume knob fully extended.Any suggestions?


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