I was intrigued by the latest offering from Sangean, the ATS-505. The unit offers continuous SW coverage, AM(MW), FM and LW. The 505 offers SSB reception making it the lowest priced portable ($130) to provide this.
So what does it have? The first thing I noticed was a significantly easier to read display vs. the ATS-909/DX-398. The display shows frequency in large numerals (1/2 ") and which memory has been chosen. A push on the display button changes the display to show the clock. You can set two different clock settings on the 505 and toggle between them with the clock button.
Nine (9) memories are available for AM/MW, FM and LW. Two "pages" of 9 memories each (18 total) are available for SW. The 505 covers LW from 153-279 kHz, AM/MW from 520-1710 kHz and FM from 87.5-108.0 MHz (stereo with provided earbuds). Shortwave is covered continuously from 1711-29999 kHz.
The up/down buttons and tuning knob change the frequency by 10 kHz on AM/MW, 9 kHz on LW, 5 kHz on SW and 100 kHz on FM. The radio can be programmed to go +/- 9 kHz on AM/MW and 200 kHz on FM. Pushing the tuning knob in enables finer tuning with the knob. In the finer tuning "step" mode, the 505 tunes in 1 kHz increments on LW, AM/MW and SW. Fine tuning on FM = 50 kHz. The fine tune method does have quite an annoying quirk. Once you go into fine tune, any subsequent use of a control button will put you back into the default tuning step (i.e. - 10 kHz MW, 5kHz SW). This would include the up/down buttons, light button ,etc.
The SSB mode works only when the radio is operating on the SW frequencies. I was disappointed that this option was not available for AM/MW. The SSB "clarifier" BFO thumbwheel, with detent, works well. The BFO provides approximately +/- 2 kHz. Amateur SSB/CW signals were easily copied.
The 505 provides a DX/Local switch. However, it only works in the SW and FM bands. An external antenna jack is provided, but it only works for SW (not AM/MW). This receiver is quite sensitive on SW and I found that using an external antenna overloaded it. There is no wide/narrow filter choice on the 505,
with the 505 is a lighted display, which shuts off after
How does it perform? I think many will be comparing the 505 to its big brother, the 909/398. In a few respects, I prefer the 505. It seems slightly more sensitive on SW and I feel that the audio is superior to the somewhat mushy sounding 909/398. As a more basic radio, it is easier to operate. There is so much crammed into the 909/398, it is easy to punch the wrong button and can be difficult to see where things are. Other than that, the 909/398 is easily worth the 2x cost difference. The sensitivity on the 505 on AM/MW is very inferior. All of my other radios (2010, DX-398, DX-375, CCR, SR3) beat the 505 for sensitivity on AM/MW. Rotating the 505 doesn't provide nearly the level of gain/nulls seen in other radios. FM Dxing is superior on the 909/398. With its "true sideband," SSB splatter is much reduced on the 909/398. On the 75 meter amateur band, it was not unusual to hear splatter as far as 4-6 kHz away on the 505.
Final verdict. The 505 is a neat little general coverage radio that does a very solid job on SW and sounds great on FM. It's size (slightly smaller than 909/398) and light weight (27 oz without batteries) make it a nice travel or back-up radio. Use the tilt stand or buy a plexiglas stand, as the radio tips over easily. For AM/MW DX'ers, there will be disappointment (poor sensitivity, no SSB capability on MW, no external antenna, etc.).
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