Please note that the following is not designed to start a flame
war or anything. I thought it might be useful to anyone else
who is shopping around to hear my opinions on these two radios.
These are only my humble opinions and just because I have opinions
does not mean I know what I'm talking about. :)
I have just recently purchased a brand new Sony ICF-SW7600G AND
a used RadioShack DX-398 (the DX-398 is essentially a Sangean ATS-909).
After using both radios for about a week with the builtin whip
antennas, roll-up antennas, and 50 foot roof antenna, I have
decided that the DX-398 is a superior radio in features and performance
than the Sony SW7600G.
There are some features on each radio that the other does not have.
The Sony has Sync Lock circuitry and the DX-398 has RDS radio
data system capabilities. I live in New Mexico and of course
my shortwave reception capabilities are limited by my location.
I found that the Sony Sync Lock did not really improve shortwave
listening enough to make this a significant feature for me. I still
noticed fading when listening to BBC and other well known
broadcasters. Using USB and LSB on the DX-398 is much easier and
more pleasant than the Sony from a user-interface perspective. The
DX-398 switches between AM, LSB, and USB with a front panel button
and the mode you're currently using is displayed on the LCD display
and remembered when the station is saved as a preset. The Sony
uses a physical switch on the side of the unit to select sideband
modes and it is much more difficult to check what mode you're in.
SSB finetuning on the DX-398 is a joy. A simple-to-use step
button on the front panel puts the large tuning knob on the side
into SSB finetune mode and it works quite well. The sony uses
a very small thumbwheel on the side for SSB finetuning and I found
it to be too small and sensitive for accurately adjusting SSB
tuning. The DX-398 has close to 300 station presets arranged
in pages as opposed to the Sony's 22. Each band on the DX-398
has it's own pages for easy preset storage. The DX-398 has ATS tuning
which automatically stores strong stations into preset memory when
you have traveled to a new area. You can memlock presets that you
don't want to be overwritten.
I found that on all three antenna types I use that there was really
no big differences in shortwave reception sensitivity between these two
radios. I have already mentioned that I was not that impressed with
the Sony's sync lock capability. Radio Netherlands rates both of
these radios with 5 stars, but I found the DX-398 to have more usable
features and a much easier and more enjoyable radio for DX'ing
and listening. The Sony size is thinner and smaller and comes in a
neatly designed footprint, but the slighly larger DX-398 has a much
better sounding speaker system than the Sony and the DX-398 has
FM stereo on it's record out and headphone jack. The Sony only gives
you FM stereo on the headphone.
Overall, I rate the DX-398 to be better than the Sony ICF-SW7600G.