Mike also shares the following email he received from Jaycar regarding the purchase of an AR-1780 from the United States:
Thanks for your enquiry.
The product is on special now until Dec 26 2018 at the Australian site.
Please see the following price in AUD for the order.
AR1780 x 1 $89.00 AUD
Standard Air $33.40 AUD
Total $122.40 AUD
But the Australian site is not running for overseas online order.
If you are interested to getting the product, please provide your credit
card payment to proceed the order by email or phone.
You can call our regular phone +61 2 8832 3245 during Australian
business hours to provide your credit card details. The business trading
hours are 8:30am – 5:30pm Mon – Fri. It’s 11:11am Friday here. Our staff
will make this order for you.
The price in USD will be as follows.
AR1780 x 1 $94.95 USD
Economy Air $15.00 USD
Total $109.95 USD
The product is dispatched from Australia to the USA, so local customs
duty & taxes may apply. Delivery time estimated about 6-10 business days
via post standard air. You can track it at the post office site.
Customer Service Representative
Several SWLing Post readers discovered direct orders can be placed with Jaycar, thus taking advantage of Jaycar’s sales.
A couple weeks ago, Post reader, Paul, shared his correspondence with Jaycar where they implied an order could be placed via email directly with a Jaycar representative. I reached out to this representative for clarification because I felt uneasy about even suggesting that readers send credit card information over email. I asked if they had a secure order form. I never heard back from Jaycar and have been too busy to follow-up.
Turns out, SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, just placed an order for the AR-1780 via Jaycar and shared the details–all it takes is a phone call. Troy writes:
I ordered the AR-1780 from Jaycar.
I contacted them through their web site, exchanged emails with a Customer Service Supervisor and she told me that they actually have a toll-free U.S. number that goes to their Australian call center (staffed during their business hours)! FYI, it’s:
I got it for $134 AUD or $103.40 USD shipped!
Thanks for sharing, Troy! A great option for ordering Jaycar products in the US.
If any Post readers in Canada have also successfully placed an order through this toll free number, please comment!
Earlier this year one of my readers in Australia noted the addition of the Digitech AR-1780 to the product offerings of the Australia and New Zealand-based retailer Jaycar.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that there are few in-country sources of shortwave radios in both Australia and (especially) New Zealand. Jaycar, in a sense, represents what RadioShackand The Source have offered in the US and Canada––a more accessible electronics retailer with some shortwave radio selection.
The Jaycar models are either very cheap sub-$30AUD digital portables, or pricier large portables with a form factor similar to the Grundig S350DL and S450DLX, or the C.Crane CCRadio-SW. The new AR1780 fits somewhere between––a compact portable that promises a compliment of features tailored for the radio enthusiast.
In this review, we’ll take a close look at the AR1780, starting with its feature set.
What appeals to me about the Digitech AR1780 is the amount of features provided by such a compact, traveller-friendly form factor.
Here’s a comprehensive list of the AR1780’s features and specs:
FM 87.5 – 108 MHz
MW 522 – 1620 kHz or 520 – 1710 kHz
SW 1711 – 29,999 kHz
LW 150 – 450 kHz
AIR 118 – 137 MHz
FM (including RDS)
AM mode: 6, 4, 3, 2.5, 2, & 1.81 kHz)
SSB mode: (4, 3, 2.2, 1.2, 1 & 0.5 kHz)
Signal strength meter
Voice/Music selectable audio filter
Dedicated fine tune control
Headphone jack (3.5 mm)
Key lock button
Key beep on/off
Tuning knob and tuning step up/down buttons
Display button cycles through alarm, time, temperature, and signal strength
FM mono/stereo selection
Selectable 9/10 kHz regional MW tuning steps
Power source: 7 VDC or 4 x AA cells (not included, can be internally charged if NiMH cells)
Antenna: Built-in telescopic and 3.5mm socket for external antenna
Weight: 253g/0.56 lbs (excluding batteries)
Dimensions: 150(W) x 95(H) x 30(D)mm
The Digitech AR1780 ships with a small user manual. In fact, other than the hand strap, the user manual is the only additional item in the box besides the radio itself.
The manual is quite thin––slightly smaller in height and width than the AR1780––and only contains about eight front-and-back mini pages. Although readable, it’s littered with grammatical and punctuation errors. While a manual is certainly a welcome reference item with this feature-packed radio, this manual comes up short, lacking detailed explanations of features and even leaving some out altogether: it does not, for example, offer any explanation on the use of the excellent squelch control, nor does it fully explain the station memory set on multiple memory pages––! Rather unfortunate, as these features deserve a clear explanation.
The Digitech AR-1780, like many DSP-based portables, includes a handy temperature display which can be toggled for Celsius or Fahrenheit.
I really appreciate the modest, portable form factor of the AR1780, so it had that going for it before I even opened the box. I travel with portable radios a lot, so the compact body of the AR1780 is very appealing. It’s not as compact as the C. Crane CC Skywave series, or the Grundig G6, but is much smaller than my Tecsun PL-660 and PL-880, or my Sony ICF-SW7600GR.
Comparing size: The Tecsun PL-680 (top), Digitech AR1780 (middle), and the C. Crane CC Skywave (bottom)
Unlike the radios mentioned above, the AR1780 does not include some sort of protective case or bag. I believe this is an omission for a radio aimed squarely at the traveler.
Fortunately, the plastic chassis of the AR1780 feels substantial enough. With the key lock engaged, the only likely problem that could arise from having no protective case is damage to the display, such as scratching.
The buttons all have a tactile feedback and seem to respond quickly enough, save powering up the radio, engaging the SSB mode, or changing bands, each of which takes a couple of seconds to engage.
I especially like the fact the AR1780 has, on the right, a dedicated multi-function tuning knob. One can turn the tuning knob to scan frequencies or press it to cycle through fast or slow tuning steps (or to turn off this knob’s function entirely).
The AR1780 also has a dedicated fine tune control––a tuning wheel just beneath the main tuning knob also on the right side of the radio (see image above). The only odd quirk about this is that this is where most radios have a volume control. Being a creature of habit, many times I’ve inadvertently shifted frequencies when I simply wanted to turn up or down the volume! The volume control, meanwhile, is in the same position on the left side panel of the radio between the antenna and earphone jack.
Speaking of volume, the AR1780 can provide plenty of it-––almost room-filling audio––via the internal speaker. Best yet, I like its balanced fidelity: mellow, with notes of bass, but ample treble when listening at moderate volume. The audio response curve is almost ideal for such a small package.
Something else worth noting: the AR1780 fits nicely in the hand. In general, it’s a great size for portable listening.
Major bonus for a travel radio: the AR-1780 is powered by standard, accessible AA cells. Note that the frequency range information silk-screened on the back stand is incorrect–shortwave coverage extends up to 29,999 kHz.
On the downside, however, one negative I noted shortly after beginning use: muting between frequency steps. In AM mode, this is not as distracting as in SSB mode. Muting makes band scanning a more tedious and fatiguing experience. Unfortunately, in this era of DSP-chip-based receivers, it seems muting has resurfaced.
Also, as with many other DSP portables, you can often hear “input” noise when pressing buttons. In other words, if while listening to one frequency I decide to key in another, I’ll hear a little clicking or buzz in the audio as each button is pressed. This is a very minor annoyance since it only happens when buttons are pressed, nonetheless, I thought it worth mentioning. I often wonder if it’s a result of poor shielding, something from which similar models suffer.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve had the AR1780 on the air almost every day. I’ve compared it with a number of receivers, but mainly The C. Crane CC Skywave, The CountyComm GP5-SSB, and even the Grundig G6. Below, I break down my notes by band.
Let’s start with the “bonus” band: the VHF aviation band.
I’m sure there a number of readers who’ll never use this band, but I am not one of them. Personally, I really enjoy listening to aviation traffic, especially when I travel by air. Since the advent of the AIR band on ultra-compact radios, I no longer feel like I have to lug an additional scanner or receiver just to listen to the local air traffic control; that’s a plus.
Performance-wise, the AR1780 seems to be equal with the CC Skywave on the AIR band. Like the CC Skywave, the AR1780 has a squelch control––a fantastic feature, indeed. Simply tune the radio to your favorite aviation frequency, press and hold in the tuning knob on the side, and then use the tuning knob to adjust the squelch level. I find level 3 or 4 works well.
Note that unlike the squelch on the CC Skywave, the squelch control on the AR1780 actually carries over to the shortwave band. If you have squelch set on the AIR band, then switch to another band where squelch isn’t needed, you will need to turn it off. I never use squelch on the shortwave or mediumwave/AM broadcast bands; normal fading (QSB) can trick the squelch to open and close while tuned to a frequency.
Another convenient feature: press and hold the AIR button to start an automatic scan of the entire band. It’ll run through the AIR band once, saving any active frequencies. This is an ATS feature, so only makes one pass. I wish you could set it to continuously scan the aviation band in a loop, much as a traditional scanner would.
The AR1780 does a fine job on the FM band. It easily received my benchmark FM stations and even decoded the RDS from one broadcaster about 110 miles from my home base.
When listening to marginal FM signals, the AR1780 can be set to mono mode instead of default stereo mode.
What’s more, the internal speaker is exceptional at handling music––reasonably full fidelity given the limitations of the speaker size.
I’ll be the first to admit that longwave is not an easy band for me to evaluate. Here in North America, there are so few opportunities in the summer to log trans-Atlantic longwave stations. Indeed, unless I’m travelling to New England or the Canadian Maritime provinces, I never try to do so on a portable. I leave TA longwave DXing to my SDRs and tabletops back home where I can listen with the assistance of a large antenna.
But when I travel to Europe, longwave is a must, so my travel radio needs this capability. Based on my ability to receive benchmark LW airport beacons, I’m going to assume the AR1780 will do a fine job receiving European longwave stations while in Europe.
Likewise, the AR1780 should serve you well for both daytime and nighttime reception on mediumwave. Fortunately, switching between 10 and 9 kHz steps is simple: with the radio powered off, simply press and hold the “0” button to toggle between these steps.
On longwave and mediumwave, you can also use SSB mode (both upper and lower sideband). This could come in handy to reject adjacent signal interference on MW.
Likely an oversight on the part of the manufacturer, you can even engage the squelch feature, though why you would on LW and MW, I’m not sure.
Of course, with the fine-tuning control, you can navigate both bands in 1 kHz steps should you desire.
In short: the AR1780 is adequately sensitive on mediumwave and likely on longwave, as well. I wouldn’t rely on it for any serious DXing, but for a travel radio, it will serve you well.
Being first and foremost an avid shortwave listener, I spent the bulk of my AR1780 evaluation time on the shortwave bands and I’m overall very pleased with its performance.
In almost all of my comparisons on the shortwave bands, the AR1780 had a slight edge over its competition, namely, the CountyComm GP5-SSB, the Grundig G6, and the C. Crane CC Skywave.
To be clear, though, it was a very slight performance edge which I think may be attributed to the fact the AR1780’s telescopic antenna is longer, giving it a bit of gain over its competitors. For example, the AR1780’s antenna is about 17.7 cm (7 inches) longer than that of the smaller CC Skywave.
Still, placed on a table and not held in the hand, the AR1780 was able to pull in weak signals better than its competitors. I also compared it with the the Tecsun PL-680––one of my most sensitive shortwave portables––and, not surprisingly, the PL-680 outperformed the AR1780.
Again, I should stress that the sound from the AR1780’s internal speaker is more pleasant to listen to for extended periods than that of its smaller competitors.
Single sideband reception on the AR1780 is pretty impressive for a radio in this price class. On my particular unit, I found that the fine-tuning control was almost always needed to budge the frequency a few tenths of a kilohertz, even when I knew a particular signal was exactly on frequency. My Grundig G6 always had the same problem––indeed, sometimes in SSB mode, I had to listen “up” as much as 2 kHz on the G6.
The fine-tuning control works very effectively in SSB mode, nonetheless. Audio is quite pleasant, although the noise floor is not quite as low as it is on my larger portables like the Tecsun PL-680, PL-880, and the new S-8800. In my comparison tests, the AR1780 was slightly more sensitive than the CountyComm GP5-SSB, and about equal to that of the Grundig G6.
In short? SSB is a welcome, capable addition on this compact portable.
Every radio has its pros and cons, of course. When I begin a review of a radio, I take notes from the very beginning so that I don’t forget my initial impressions. Following is the list I’ve formed over the time I’ve been evaluating the Digitech AR1780:
Display is clear and easy to read
Time is always present via display button
RDS info scrolls on lower line
Backlit display easy to read
Viewing angle good, save from top
Dedicated fine-tuning control (even on FM)
External antenna jack
9/10 kHz selectable MW steps
Time set is simple
Adjustable bandwidth in AM and SSB
Decent battery life from four standard AA cells
Audio from the built-in speaker has better fidelity than other radios in this size
No bag or carry case
DC input voltage is an odd 7V
Muting between frequency changes, especially annoying in SSB
Sometimes keylock activates backlit display permanently
Scan function on AIR band doesn’t loop, it’s an ATS pass only
My AR1780 had incorrect information silk-screened on the back regarding frequency coverage
Minor: sluggish response when switching bands or modes
Is the Digitech AR1780 worth the price? I think so. For $129.00 AUD (roughly $103 USD), you’re getting a full-featured radio that is, by and large, a pleasure to operate. It has its quirks, but so do so many ultra-compact portables in this price bracket. It’s certainly worth considering if you live in Australia or New Zealand.
I’d like the AR1780 to be a little more refined:
No muting while band scanning in AM or SSB modes
A proper scan function to accompany squelch on the AIR band
Squelch that doesn’t carry over when bands are switched
What I do think is impressive for this price:
Overall smooth audio from the internal speaker
Dedicated external antenna port
Dedicated tuning and fine-tuning controls
Useful screen which displays time and even RDS information
Sturdy, relatively long telescoping whip antenna
These are features that make the AR1780 stand out among radios in its price class.
Is it a benchmark performer? No. But it does the job rather well for the price, and frankly, I think I’ll use this during travel occasionally, even though I have several other smaller portables.
Why? Well, for one thing, this radio has better audio fidelity from the internal speaker than most of my ultra-compact portables. When I’m in a hotel and listening to a local radio station or even a shortwave broadcaster that’s punching through typical hotel RFI, I’ll appreciate the richer, mellower audio. Many of my smaller portables are lacking in this respect, thus I usually end up listening through headphones.
In fact, the only thing this little receiver lacks for us here in North America is NOAA weather/Environment Canada radio frequencies––but it’s no wonder it’s not included, as it was never intended for this market. But I’m glad the step size on the AM broadcast band can be switched to our 10 kHz spacing, which makes it useful here in North America.
In short, the AR1780 has exceeded my expectations––though admittedly, it may be because it was my first experience with a Digitech radio and I had heard so many lukewarm reviews of previous models.
Regardless, I’m happy I paid a small premium to order this little rig from Down Under.
If you’re a radio enthusiast in Australia or New Zealand who wants the best performance in a portable, and doesn’t mind a larger radio, then do splurge for the Tecsun PL-660, PL-880, or Grundig Satellite. There is a dedicated Tecsun distributor in New South Wales and there are always, of course, retailers on eBay and one of my favorites, Anon-Co in Hong Kong.
Thank you for the tips! Yes, indeed, I would purchase the AR-1780 for $99 AUD in a heartbeat. It’s certainly a great value at that price (roughly $77 US). I don’t think Jaycar ships internationally, so this sale may only apply to those living in Australia and New Zealand.
I can’t tell via the Jaycar site how long this sale may last. If you live in Australia or NZ and have been considering the AR-1780, I would jump on this deal. It’s a decent little portable. Besides visiting a Jaycar location, you can also place your order online.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Cap Tux, who writes:
This radio seems to have recently been released in Oz, no idea of its performance on SSB et al. but seems to do everything the C.Crane Skywave does. Heavy on batteries though at 4 x AA and nearly twice as heavy with similar dimensions to the Skywave, not major if it performs well and has good battery life.
Apparently the AR-1780 uses the SiLabs DSP chipset going by comments on Radio Reference. Also has RDS, Temp, the keypad layout looks similar to a Eton G3.
Taken from Jaycar’s website site:
This is a very compact world band radio, covering the most popular frequencies. It features rapid digital tuning, 1000 memory presets, and an easy to read display. Single Sideband Modulation (SSB) is used to listen in on 27MHz CB radio, short wave amateur radio and morse code. The large internal speaker provides clear audio, and you can connect your favourite set of headphones for personal listening. Powerful enough to receive what you want, and compact enough to take wherever you want.
– FM/MW/SW/LW/AIR Bands
– Single Side Band (SSB)
– Telescopic Antenna
– 3.5mm socket for external antenna
– Selectable Bandwidth: 1 – 6kHz
FM 87.5 – 108MHz
MW 522 – 1620kHz / 520 – 1710 kHz
SW 1711 – 29,999kHz
LW 150 – 450kHz
AIR 118 – 137kHz
Batteries: 4 x AA (not included)
Weight: 253g (Excluding Batteries)
Dimensions: 150(W) x 95(H) x 30(D)mm
Many thanks for the tip, Cap!
This looks like a full-featured portable. As mentioned, it certainly resembles the Grundig G3 in many respects.
If the AR-1780 performs well, it’ll be a very welcome addition to the Australia and New Zealand markets.
Please contact me if you’ve purchased the AR-1780 and would like to write a guest post/review. I’m very curious how well this portable stacks up against other portables especially in terms of overall sensitivity/selectivity and noise floor.
Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Phil Ireland, who shares his review of the Digitech AR1946:
I’ve now purchased the AR1946 and I have to say, I’m very impressed! No noise problems at all with mine, although if you listen very carefully under certain conditions, you can discern a slight digital hash. Not in anyway imposing though.
This radio is super sensitive, AM comes very close to the CCRadio-EP in performance and FM is outstanding. SW is very impressive but there are a few quirks in tuning:
below 10MHz, you hit the Frequency button, key in the value and hit the Frequency button again to tune [to the desired station]
above 10MHz, you hit the Frequency button, type in the value and it jumps straight to the frequency [without pressing the Frequency button again].
Not a great issue but worth knowing.
This radio has 7 bandwidths in AM both accessible on MW and SW and rudimentary fine tuning with a separate wheel control. Unfortunately FM only has 1 bandwidth but seems well chosen. DAB+ is not available in Regional NSW so that cannot be commented on.
The telescopic antenna is ridiculously small but seems to pull in the signals with no problems. There are external antenna connections for improved performance. Audio is very pleasant and you can control both treble and bass with the push of a button. The display is bright, well lit and easy to read with a useful tuning indicator. There are a number of useful features and with 700 memories, there are more that needed. The radio is very reminiscent of the Grundig Satellit 700 in some respects. Build quality seems very good, time will tell if reliability becomes an issue.
What I don’t like is the radio partially mutes when tuning, this is annoying when bandscanning with the rotary tuning control. I have noticed what appears to be synchronous detection being used as occasionally when tuning onto a frequency, you will hear the detector lock on frequency. If so, there is no control over this feature. That may explain the display showing synch but the final model has automatic synch lock..
The AR1946 dispenses with Airband that was good on the AR1945 and SSB. Its a pity that SSB is omitted but along with the Tecsun PL310ET with DSP, they don’t have SSB capabilities as well. I suspect the same DSP chip is being used in this radio.
Can I recommend the radio? A resounding yes! As mentioned I’m very impressed. Try before you buy, though, as it may be that QC is variable along with many Chinese radios of late.
It seems, like with many other DSP portables (including the Sangean ATS-405) internally-generated noise may vary from unit to unit. I’m guessing this could have to do with slight variations in the board assembly (variations in soldering, grounding, shielding connections).
As Phil advises, please check your radio immediately after purchase and compare it to another shortwave portable if you have one available. This way, if you detect a noisy receiver, you can get a refund or exchange within the time limits of the return policy.
Digitech has released their latest shortwave portable: the Digitech AR1946.
If you live in Australia or New Zealand, you’re probably familiar with the Digitech brand which is sold at JayCar Electronics. If you live in other parts of the world, you may never run across a Digitech (branded) portable.
SWLing Post reader, Avo, purchased the new AR1946. He commented with the following brief review (I inserted a few product photos from JayCar):
[The] AR1946 is now out. Had one for a day but ended returning it as shortwave was full of garbage. Fully DSP based according to the box.
I do have to say that FM performance is superb. Sensitivity and selectivity is better than any previous radio I have used and RDS is very usable even on weak signals. 10 kHz steps with a very smooth non muting dial make it a pure DX machine in my books for FM.
Digital [DAB+] is ok but kept cutting out even with good signal strengths. AM modes have 7 bandwidths that work very well. MW is a bit dull but no images.
If only SW was good I would recommend it as a good all rounder but at $219 for just a great FM tuner I think it’s expensive.
Saying all this, the unit feels good quality wise and in my opinion is a better attempt than the [Digitech] AR1945.
I think a revision can sort out SW and if so, I am definitely repurchasing….
Many thanks for your assessment, Avo!
It sounds like your unit suffers from the same problems many recent DSP portables have experienced: a high noise floor. This was the issue affecting the recently released Degen DE1103 DSP. I’m not sure why this is happening more in some of the most recently released receivers, but I assume it has to do with poor engineering and internal shielding.
I bet that the noise level may vary unit to unit. Avo, you might ask for another to test before getting the full refund (if Jaycar’s return policy allows).