Comparing the XHDATA D-808, Digitech AR-1780 and Tecun PL-660 on shortwave

On Friday, I managed to set aside an hour to finally do a video comparison of the Digitech AR-1780 and the new XHDATA D-808.

I placed a table in my driveway, far away from any source of RFI, and set up the radios in identical configurations: same orientation, antennas fully-extended, same AM bandwidth (4.0 kHz), same audio levels, etc. For good measure, I also included the venerable Tecsun PL-660 in the mix.

This was still daytime listening, so all of the stations were from 31 meters and up.

Apologies in advance: somehow the cord from my monitoring headphones is in the shot on some of these videos! I’m still getting used to the new Zoom Q2n video camera:

WRMI 9,455 kHz

Click here to view on YouTube.

WWV 15 MHz

Click here to view on YouTube.

Deutsche Welle 15,200 kHz

Click here to view on YouTube.

Afia Darfur 9,825 kHz

Click here to view on YouTube.

I should add that QSB was slow and deep on Friday. Twice I had to re-shoot videos because the station simply faded into oblivion.

I plan to do a few more comparisons with the XHDATA D-808 and Digitech AR-1780 soon as I’m very curious how SSB reception may differ.

Please comment with your observations. Which radio did you prefer? I’ll hold my comments for now.

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18 thoughts on “Comparing the XHDATA D-808, Digitech AR-1780 and Tecun PL-660 on shortwave

  1. Renzo 5bwaz

    I use a 660 since some years and I was looking for a new rx. My eyes was on 808 but after your videos, Tecsun for ever. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  2. Dan

    Thanks for the photos of the internals of these radios. This will help me as a problem has just appeared with my AR-1780. There seems to be a disconnection occurring internally with the whip antenna as the slightest movement causes the signal to drop on SW & FM bands. All the screws holding the whip antenna are tight which suggests something has come loose inside the unit.
    So I’ll have to pull it apart to try and find the trouble. This post should be most helpful to me.
    The most likely cause of the problem was a fall the radio had when I was on the beach doing some DXing when it fell out of the bag I was carrying it in about 3 weeks ago. So I’m cursing myself.

    Reply
  3. adi

    I just got my D808 from ALIx . Took just two weeks from order till my hands in Israel.
    Battery was dead, I put it to charge.

    Reply
  4. Frank

    Hi Everyone,

    I think that the Digitech AR-1780 and the XDATA D-808 may be using a China made DSP receiver chip.
    I came to this conclusion after I read a article located at https://www.yidianzixun.com/article/0IAtG2HF/amp
    To translate the article all you have to due is copy and past the URL link into Goggle translate which will translate the page into English.

    The manufacturer of these new DSP receiver chips is Broadcom and they are located in Shanghai, China. I also believe there is a good chance that the Cheese have copied the basic architecture of Silicon Labs DSP receiver chips and have modified them so they have full band SW coverage and can also receive SSB and CW.

    Frank

    Reply
    1. Guy Atkins

      Hi Frank,

      This is interesting information on the DSP chips! Thanks for the link and your comments. Perhaps a Chinese-sourced Broadcom chip is the reason the D-808 can be offered at such a lower price compared to the Eton Satellit for instance.

      Reply
  5. Bill

    Thanks for “taking one for the team” by performing the tests out in the frozen tundra wasteland. I could almost hear the Huskies fighting over a frozen Salmon. Glad you made it back (inside) alive, Tom.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      Bill, I’m will to put life and limb on the line in an effort to provide value to my readers. It’s simply a risk associated with the job.

      Did you notice the temp was so cold, breath was visible emanating from each radio’s speaker as I turned them on? I’m not completely positive, but I’m sure it was near 0 degrees Kelvin. Or was that 0 degrees Fahrenheit? Or 0 Celsius? Either way, I’m sure even polar bears would have found it uncomfortable.

      I wonder if this qualifies me for The Explorers Club?

      Cheers,
      Thomas

      Reply
  6. Piran Mohazzabi

    Hi thanks for your review. I have both AR1780 and D808 radios, seems to me D808 slightly more sensitive than AR1780.

    Reply
  7. Ronnie

    Many thanks for these comparisons. While on a video its difficult for me to be sure it is totally representative of how they sound in person it would seem the Tecsun PL660 is significantly better to listen to because of the “hiss” on both the others. I am particularly grateful as I have been tempted to buy the Digitech as a second receiver to my PL-660 but on this comparison – no way!

    Reply
  8. Georges Ringotte

    Hi Thomas,

    When you switch the videos directly from the 808 to the 660, the difference between the two is not always obvious as the QSB is quite heavy.
    It seems to me that the rendition of the 660 is better, but not necessarily the sensitivity.
    I believe that the audio gives a slight edge to the 660 (more mellow, less AF hiss).
    The antenna lengths, the different speakers, perhaps the different bandwidths, the different filters (Ceramic IF filters for the 660 vs DSP filters for the 808) can induce this behavior.

    However, the 1780 is far behind.

    Many thanks for the fine videos.

    Best regards

    Georges F6DFZ

    Reply
  9. Golan Klinger.

    Thank you for the comparison videos. I agree with the consensus that the PL-660 (with its longer antenna) performs best followed by the D-808 and then the AR1780. I must confess I’m disappointed with the results as I’m what the kids call a “fanboy” when it comes to the AR1780.

    Reply
    1. Jack K.

      Golan, as another AR1780 fanboy, the receiver has its strengths. Just bring a backup (or reel antenna) in the bag when you need more than armchair capture.

      Reply
  10. DanH

    Very nice comparisons, Thomas. I was also listening to SW on Friday afternoon and was getting better than usual reception of RNZI for several hours. In fact, I was listening to this station off and on from 2300 to 0400 UTC, which is very nice for late in January. I also noticed slow, deep fading here in Northern California. Stations would chug along fine for as long as 20 minutes and then fall into the mud for 5. With price and size considerations set aside completely, to my ears the Tecsun was the better SW performer of the three with the XHDATA trailing by a significant margin and the Digitech a distant third. I believe the results would be the same even if the PL-660 antenna was shortened by a foot.

    Reply
  11. Sergio Potes

    Thanks for the videos. The PL-660 seems to be the best followed by the 808. Lets see how they do on SSB.
    Thanks Sergio AE4TO

    Reply

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