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Here's a neat little portable SW/MW/LW/FM portable from Sangean. It's smaller than a small paperback, checking in at approximately 3.75 x 5.75 x 1.25" and 14 ounces (with batteries installed).

Frequency Coverage
FM 87.5 - 108.0 MHz
LW 153 - 513 kHz
MW 520 - 1710 kHz
SW 1711 - 29999 kHz

Note: The 606/399 only receives AM signals on the shortwave bands. It is not sideband capable.

The 606/399 provides 18 memories on FM, 18 on SW and 9 each in LW and MW. On FM and SW, there are 2 pages (memory banks) of 9 memories each. Programming frequencies to memory is easy. After you tune in your desired frequency, just push the M (memory) button, the keypad number button corresponding to the memory position you are setting, then hit Enter. Recalling the memories is very easy. Just push the appropriate keypad number button to bring up your pre-set frequency. There is a button to push to toggle between memory banks (FM and SW), if you have pre-set more than 9 frequencies.

My favorite feature of the 606/399 is the memory scan. A push of a button has the radio scanning through all of the memories for that band (i.e., FM). The radio pauses on each memory position for about 4 seconds and then continues. Pushing any button on the radio stops the scan. I use this feature daily in search of FM music during the morning when most stations are dishing out inane talk / "entertainment." I have a dozen stations in memory. I keep the scan going until I actually hear music on one of the stations in memory.

Power Usage
The radio is powered by 3 AA cells. I have been using NiMH rechargeable cells with good results. A battery level indicator is provided (1 through 9) that appears when the radio is turned off. The manual indicates that the radio will display a low battery warning when the power level reaches 3 or lower on the indicator. I have been replacing my NiMH AAs with a freshly charged set when the indicator drops to 4. Commonly available AC adapters can be used to power the radio from AC.

The manual rates alkaline battery life at 12 hours. This seems about right. I am getting 8 hours or so on the NiMH AAs before I replace them…and they still have some life left in them.

Direct entry tuning on the 606/399 is straightforward. Just punch in the frequency you want and hit Enter.

The 606/399 manually tunes with up/down buttons. There is no tuning knob. Normal tuning steps are 10 kHz (MW), 5 kHz (SW), 9 kHz (LW) and 0.1 MHz (FM). MW tuning steps are adjustable for either 10 kHz or 9 kHz.

There is a fine tuning option as well. This enables the listener to tune in 1 kHz steps on MW/SW/LW and 0.05 MHz on FM.

It is easy to jump directly to the shortwave band you want to explore. Hit the SW button and then the keyboard number button that is tied to one of the radio's predefined shortwave bands. The shortwave band is printed on the radio right next to the buttons on the front panel. (For example, the 5 button takes you to the 49 meter band…the 8 button goes to the 25 meter band, etc.).

The 606/399 also features the Automatic Tuning System found on other Sangean radios. By engaging ATS, the radio will fill up its memories (on FM, AM and LW) with the strongest stations it receives. Users might find this feature useful as they visit cities they are unfamiliar with, etc.

Clock / Timer / Alarm
Two 24-hour clocks are provided. The clock is displayed when the radio is off or when you toggle to it (via the Display button) when the radio is on.

You can set two alarm times. If you set both alarms, one can be set to the buzzer and the other to "radio on." If you set only one alarm, you can choose between either alarm type.

Sleep timer is provided at either 60, 45, 30 or 15 minutes. Another handy feature is a countdown timer. You can set the radio alarm (buzzer only) to sound at any selected countdown time up to 23 hours 59 minutes. The alarm is LOUD.

Other Features

  • · External antenna jack (SW/LW/MW)
  • · DX/Local switch
  • · FM Stereo/Mono switch
  • · FM Stereo via headphones
  • · Lock switch
  • · 26 ½ " whip antenna
  • · Flip stand
  • · LED tuning indicator
  • · Backlight for display (stays on for 12 seconds)

Top Jack - AM External Antenna

Combination Switch
FM Stereo/Mono
AM/SW DX & Local

Headphone Jack

DC Input - 4.5 VDC
center is negative

Volume Control

Manual Frequency Lock Switch

What's To Like?
A lot. There are lots of features in this compact but solid portable. Very good FM/SW reception off the whip antenna. Surprisingly good MW reception as well. Radio is easy to master. Users will find it to be an excellent radio for travel. The memory scan provision is my favorite feature. Fine tuning is easy to use and is very handy for minimizing adjacent channel interference.

What's Not To Like?
There is no tone control on the 606/399. The audio definitely emphasizes the "highs." Personally, I see this as an advantage for communications reception but those using the radio primarily for music reception on FM may find the lack of bass to be less than ideal.

There is no choice of filter but I didn't expect one at this price point. The single bandwidth provides good adjacent channel rejection. Still, some may view the lack of wide/narrow bandwidths to be a weakness.

Perhaps the most annoying problem with the 606/399 is the interference caused by the tuning LED when listening with headphones. When the signal is varying and causing the LED to blink on and off, a most definite corresponding clicking noise is heard in the headphones. This is not present with normal speaker operation. A work-around I have found is to connect the Radio Shack headphone extension (with in-line volume control) to the 606/399 and plug the headphones into the extension. Turn the in-line volume down to a point where the clicking is no longer present, and then increase the volume of the radio to overcome the loss of volume from the in-line control setting. It works...why, I am not sure. Other users have reported similar success with headphones that have built-in volume controls. A permanent fix might be to simply clip the leads to the LED and disable it. It's not that useful anyway

The 606/399 is an excellent, easy-to-use radio - especially well suited for travel. A virtual steal when Radio Shack was closing it out for $40 in Fall/Winter 2002. For a very versatile portable when sideband reception is not needed, this is the one!

Best DX
Russ K3PI




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