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April 26, 2011

Comments

Bob C.

So, do you guys think that the modifications that Radio Labs advertises are worth the additional $109? Judging from what I am hearing about the 909X, it's not deaf like the 909.

The idea is intriguing, but one wonders if you get your money's worth from the modifications.

Pablo

As I continue reading on the 909X yahoo group, there´s a mixed bag regarding the off the whip performance. I guess it is not so terrible at all. Maybe the set could be not as sensitive with the suplied telescopic than a DE1103 (which is one of the most sensitive portables with the whip that I ever see) but don´t believe in such term of "deaf".
If Radiolabs plan to offer the mods for the 909x that means that some mods could be done by users too (taking the 909 mods as reference)..of course you should have some electronic skills...

Tim

Most of the reviews agree that the 909X's audio quality is substantially improved over that of the old 909. So, I hope Radio Labs doesn't tamper with this, because I found that the Super 909 had inferior audio quality to the standard 909. It was clearer, but far too tinny for my tastes. After spending a whopping $330 on the Super 909, I ended up selling it and going back to the older model, becuase I thought the original speaker tone was warmer.

Let them improve the circuitry, but please don't mess with the speaker!

Keith

I have a 909 with the Radiolabs mods. I sent my stock 909 to Radiolabs for mods so I do appreciate the difference between stock and modified. The mods are definitely worth the $109 plus postage.

Instructions for performing the mods are widely available on the internet and I do have the skills. However, I felt that by the time that I gathered the necessary parts and time I could not compete with Radiolabs.

The Radiolabs mods are all meaningful improvements. Very sensitive "off the whip" with solid audio.

What I don't understand is why Sangean would not incorporate every possible mod into the initial design process for their new product? Production costs? Planned obsolescence?

Tim

It's hard to imagine in what sense the Super 909 had "solid audio." Yes, it was clearer and brighter, which is helpful for shortwave and AM listening. But the "improvement" so thinned out the tone on the FM band that music sounded quite poor. In fact, I thought the other bands were badly affected also. It was due primarily to listener fatigue that I eventually sold the radio and went back to the old 909, which I still use to this day. Even the new blue light - as pretty as it was from a distance - practically blinded me when I tried to use the Super 909 as a bedside radio. Goodness gracious, who could look directly into that piercing light at 2 in the morning from 18 inches away?

I admit, the Super improvements did help the sensitivity and selectivity, but not to the degree that Radiointel suggested in their review. I sprang for that radio primarily due to their review, and I was so disappointed with the actual radio that afterwards I kept re-reading the review to figure out what all the excitement had been about. The comments on the audio - almost sensational - were light years from the truth.

Keith

I am surprised at the comments denigrating the Radiolab 909's audio. I heard just the opposite with mine. The new speaker that they installed gave the audio a greater emphasis in the mid-ranges that so much of shortwave falls into.

I just took a look at the radio. My default tone setting is "Normal." I seldom listen to FM on this radio. FM reception is good but it's true that the top end of the audio does seem to fall off. The audio is great for shortwave music/voice and AM(MW) talk radio.

Frank

The Radio Labs "super" mods may not be all that you think they are. Sure, there are no shortage of love fest reviews for them all over the internet but much of this is part of their guerrilla style marketing strategy. Maybe I can save someone from wasting their money and realizing too late that the stock 909 is pretty nice. I learned the hard way and ended up selling my “super” radio and getting another stock one, this is why:

The mute mod is probably the single best thing you can do to improve the 909 and the easiest. This is a matter of snipping the mute wire that goes to the circuit board. Anyone can do this. The smooth dial is a matter of preference. I personally like it, it’s another easy mod to do if you know how to solder and unsolder but it does not improve reception or audio so it’s not a critical mod to do.

I know everyone seems to get giddy over blue LEDs, not sure why. They are not easy on the eyes and being higher voltage LEDS they are a bigger drain on the batteries. The RCA antenna connection on the back is completely unnecessary and frankly a nuisance.

The Radio labs filter mods sacrifice selectivity for audio quality. Sure they make the audio sound better, that’s what happens when you crank up the bandwidth, the Radio labs narrow filter is WIDER than the Sangeans stock wide filter (6.2 vs. 5.1). This means the audio sounds better on un-crowded bands but you pay a price! SSB reception is all but ruined and selectivity on busy bands is worse than stock! A shortwave radio with a narrow filter 6.2 wide is a joke!

The biggest desire for most owners is improved sensitivity, this is also the biggest disappointment of the super 909! Any improvement is almost non-existent. Monitoring times testing and comparison of the Super 909 vs. the stock Sangean actually shows the stock radio about equal on all bands. Maybe some people think blue LEDs means your radio is more sensitive? The silver version of the Sangean actually has a very good speaker and has already been upgraded by Sangean over previous 909 productions, sensitive also seems improved over early productions.

When you read the raving love fest reviews about the super 909 start noticing who wrote them and you will see, that besides some industry buddies, the same names pop up in the forums, on eham, on amazon, etc. The Radio Labs guys are nice enough people and they are just trying to run a business, I find no fault with them and their mods probably will give you better sounding audio but not a better shortwave receiver. Shortwave receiver audio quality has always been a tradeoff between audio quality and selectivity. If you put audio quality above selectivity then you may be happy with the mods.

Maybe it’s too late for the original Sangean 909 but now with the 909x the hype machine seems to be starting again. Do yourself a favor and think twice before letting someone modify your nice radio.

Russel

Frank,
You yourself sound like an industry plant.
I've got both receivers and the audio tone on the 909 has and always was far superior.

The 909x I have, filters are superb. I'm still a little upset about the firware version button glitch, but I hear they are working on a fix for it now to be reprogrammed.

As far as the filters, audio mods and sensitivity modifications on the original ATS-909, nothing compares to it. I don't see it as marketing hype and while the review was on the RadioLabs site, I see similar views all over the internet.

While your comments might be remotely valid, I've owned a lot of radios including a still-stock ATS-909 and a modified new ATS-909, as well as a stock 909x I use for travel and a clear mod 909x and the audio tones and clarity of all the modified receiver are far superior to any of the stock radios.
Well worth the money I spend. I would modify the other 2 radios, but I use them only occassionally when travelling out to my property.

Not sure what radio you're listening to, or what "tinny" sound you're speaking of, but I've noticed nothing but a good modification on an already great radio.

I'm not affiliated with any company and purchased my radios on reviews and a couple of good sales I saw online.

Chris

Use common sense and keep the radios as original stock. Sangean did it this way so performance would be best in all conditions. If you need better SW audio detune the station frequency and use the RF gain as a volume control. If the signal is weak use an outside antenna and SSB if needed. There are many tricks to help in receiving stations. Only exceptions are s/n,signal below threshold and or propagation. If this is an issue try again later. Some of the best receivers are not super sensitive in trade for better selectivity. That the key laddy.

Chris

Use common sense and keep the radios as original stock. Sangean did it this way so performance would be best in all conditions. If you need better SW audio detune the station frequency and use the RF gain as a volume control. If the signal is weak use an outside antenna and SSB if needed. There are many tricks to help in receiving stations. Only exceptions are s/n,signal below threshold and or propagation. If this is an issue try again later. Some of the best receivers are not super sensitive in trade for better selectivity. That is the key laddy.

Russ

I've had the stock 909 and the Radiolabs modified 909. The difference is night and day with the modified version actually having a distinct advantage in sensitivity, selectivity and sound. I also have a Sony 7600 to compare it to (as well as a couple of amateur radios - Yaesu 902DM and Kenwood ts-2000) and I will be buying a Radiolabs modified 909x. The track record, by my experience, is what counts for me. The improvement is so clear that I must doubt the negative reviews above. Best of luck to all.

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