Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Golan Klinger, who leaves the following comment regarding the Digitech AR-1780:
I bought my AR1780 from Jaycar when they were first announced because I was too impatient to wait for the Skywave SSB.
It looked good on paper and I was really pleased when I finally tried it out. It turned out to be one of the best travel-sized radios I’ve ever owned.
Being a radio junkie, I did buy the CC Skywave SSB when it was finally released and an XHDATA D-808 when they first offered them at a huge discount. Both are capable radios, the latter being almost identical to the AR1780, but if I had to choose one, I’d take the Digitech. I just love it.
And that’s the thing isn’t it, Golan? Sometimes our favorite radios just “feel” good.
Like you, I’m a bit of a radio junkie and own all three of these radios. My preference is the CC Skywave SSB closely followed by the AR-1780. I also love the D-808, but although it’s superior to the other two radios in terms of audio and is slightly more sensitive than the AR-1780, I still tend to reach for the other two radios first.
Note that all three of these radios were featured in my “Best of the best” portable radio reviews.
Thanks for sharing, Golan!
What is the sound quality like? The XHDATA has a small tinny sounding speaker that I can’t listen to for too long . It detracts from the overall good performance. Plugging in a pair of PC speakers does wonders for it. I hope the digitech is better.
I haven’t had all three radios out, side-by-side, in some time. I believe, in terms of audio, the D-808 is the better of the bunch overall. With that said, I feel like the D-808 sounds more muffled than the others, but also less tinny. The CC Skywave SSB is a bit more toward the tinny side in that it doesn’t have much in terms of bass characteristics–the audio is clear, though and overall pleasant. The AR-1780 is perhaps the “cleanest” sounding of the bunch–a very slight hint of bass and bright trebles. I wouldn’t call it tinny because there’s good mid range for spoken word.
In short, none of these radios are audio fidelity kings–that’s for sure. But I think they’re all quite acceptable and much better than, say, my beloved Sony ICF-SW100 (audio is not its strong suit). With headphones, of course, audio is much improved on all of these models.
Searching for acoustically favourable locations for the radio may be of some help. I have found that D-808 (as well as some other radios) sound best at some of the corners of my listening room. By happy co-incidence, one of the corners also provides the best reception for MW and some SW bands for me. In the latter case, the corner is formed by a large front window and a narrow side window and the radio is placed on the window sill.
It is also interesting to try out what happens to the audio quality when rotating the radio so thet the speaker points to different directions. I put the D-808 besides me on the tabletop. The bass was strongest when the speaker pointed directly towards me. On the other hand, when the right side was pointed towards me, the bass was attenuated and but the treble was improved (which may be useful when trying to follow a foreign language broadcast).
Funny, I’ve read that the XHDATA’s audio was thinner that the AR-1780. I have the Digitech and I must say that audio across all the bands is balanced and very pleasant. (I like the audio better than the Sony ICF-SW7600GR & Grundig G5 and performance is very similar in a smaller package.) I really enjoy using and listening to this radio. I don’t have the XHDATA, but I definitely prefer the style and AA batteries of the AR-1780. I’ve had mine for a year and it hadn’t disappointed. Did I mention it really does sound great for its size?
The CC Skywave (original & SSB) have slightly better ergonomics, better build and support – plus they’re smaller in size. You can find plenty of detailed comparisons on this site, your preferences (performance and $$ to spend) will dictate what works best for you.
Traveling domestically and sitting in the yard, I have a hard time choosing between the Skywave & AR-1780, so I usually bring them both!