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October 20, 2013



Hi Bill, nice review on the ATS-909X!

Did Radio Labs also modify the tuning knob to remove the detent? This was a change I did myself to a 909X when I replaced the narrow filter with an upgraded one.

The tuning encoder needs to be desoldered from the PCB, but after that it's pretty easy to remove the ball bearing that's responsible for the detent (click steps). I liked the smooth tuning of the modified 909X's tuning encoder much better.


I about purchased one awhile back for a nightstand receiver, but I could not readily justify the cost for a portable, especially given how many portables I already own.

I am mostly interested in SW, not MW and FM, so I instead picked up another desktop HF receiver. I shuffled around some receivers, and my Kenwood R-2000 ended up taking a spot in the bedroom.


4nradio, let me be dumb for a moment. I presume the detent is the device that makes the tuning wheel jump or click along as you turn it. If so, no, they didn't remove it. This is a bit of a disappointment to me, since I thought that was part of the modifications.

I think I would prefer not to have the detent. I'm not competent enough with a soldering iron to remove it myself.

However, I'm going to put up with it. The reason is that I read in some other review, I forget where, that the tuning wheel is purely mechanical. Since it isn't an optical encoder it is prone to wear. Therefore I'm going to avoid using it somewhat. (Since the radio has memory, up-down button, and direct frequency entry tuning, you could get by without the tuning wheel at all if you had to, except for fine tuning in SSB mode.) The detent makes the knob feel mechanical and serves as a reminder to go easy on it.

Right now I'm typing at my keyboard and have the Sangean going on the dining table nearby, tuned to KCJJ, a 10,000 watt AM rock and roll station out of Iowa City. This is pretty good DX for me. My other portables will tell me there is a station on that frequency, and bring it out of the murk from time to time well enough that I can get an ID. The Sangean makes it listenable. I'd say this set is doing pretty well. I'm still happy with it.


If it's anything like the old 909 it'll really sing with a good antenna. I highly reccomend putting up at least a longwire. Even an insulated at the ends Slinky between two trees or whatever would do the trick.

And I love, love, LOVE KCJJ. It's one of the last real radio stations. Unfortunately I think they cut off their cQuam (AM stereo) exciter, but it's still a great station.


Drive-In-Freak is exactly right. The 909X is not overly sensitive on the external antenna jack and it appears Sangean designed it to work decently with modest passive antennas. While camping in Washington, I've used the 909X with a 100 ft. longwire with no overload problems and ample signal pickup.

Here in suburban Seattle, lesser radios start overloading with 30 feet of wire but the 909X was able to handle 60 feet before any ghosting was noted (mostly intermod from locals appearing weakly on the lower tropical band frequencies... hardly a deal-breaker).

Also, the 909X worked well on a Wellbrook ALA100 loop of 30 ft. circumference, as well as with a 1-meter ALA1530.

If you never intend to use an external antenna with the 909X, it's reception on the whip alone is not up to the level of a Tecsun PL-660 (for instance) on its whip. I for one appreciate a portable that can handle a reasonable antenna at the external antenna jack.

Bill-- yes, I was referring to the mechanism that makes the tuning wheel click as you turn it. Some people like this, but many don't. A lot of radios use mechanical encoders due to the lower cost compared to the optical variety, but they'll typically provide a lot of use before corrosion or dirt or wear causes skipping or erratic operation. I don't think you need to "baby" it; I'd recommend you use it for tuning whenever you'd like.

BTW, there is an article in the ATS-909X Yahoo Group files section titled "Detent Removal Mod" which fully describes the mod in text and pictures. A correction to what I said earlier-- it is a bent piece of wire that needs to be removed, not a ball bearing. I was thinking of another model of radio. In any event it's pretty easy once you get the encoder desoldered.

Carl Boches

Just received a new Sangean ATS-909X black color from Amazon. I knew all about the so called deafness of the 909x. As of now my most sensitive small radio is my Tecsun PL-680. I took the 680 and the 909X out on my balcony in Cebu, Philippines and tested sensitivity and selectivity. Both radios were side by side, but not so close as to have any interference from each radio. Only the whips were used, and I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the 909X picked up 95% of what my 680 did. My conclusion is that there are more sensitive radios than the 909X but not by too much and that the ongoing quotes of the 909x being completely deaf is as far as I am concerned a lot hot air. Not to mention that the selectivity is outstanding.

William Conlan

Can anyone on the site help me to input frequencies on the 909x.
Seems there are loads of pre-programed memorys all AM.
Anyway of getting rid of them as they are very annoying
I would love to be able (Read Manual) to just fill the thing with USB/LSB frqs.

Many thanks and God bless you.

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