XHDATA D-808 Put Through Some Paces

I’ve had this radio for a few months and have used it sporadically and feel like I’m getting a good grip on its strengths and idiosyncrasies.

It’s a good strong radio with lots of features.  When I got this radio it was pretty much unobtanium except through AliExpress and eBay.  I got mine from eBay but paid a few extra dollars for it.

The XHDATA D-808 is about the same size and weight and has most of the normal features found on the other shortwave radios in its class and then some.  Of particular delight to me is an external antenna connector.  I know a lot of people judge radios on their stand alone merit but I like pushing the envelope.  I seldom use a shortwave radio without an external antenna of some kind.

Also this D-808 does Air Band.  I work on a Marine Corps Air Station in the Operations Building and our guys support emergency arresting gear.  I like to monitor the Air Band at work for aircraft which might be taking an emergency arrestment.

MW performance is good but of course better with an external antenna and my Magnetic Loop antenna works wonders with the D-808.  Lets talk a little about that antenna connector though. I use regular coax from the wall plate to the radios and use F to whatever I need adapters to make the connection to the radio.  This radio needs an F to 1/8th” plug. The adapter I use works FLAWLESSLY on every other radio I own with a 1/8th inch antenna jack.  However, comma, the D-808 tends to push the connector out sometimes seemingly like magic without touching it or without movement.

That’s weird.  Sometimes it pushes out further than that.  I have to keep an eye on it.

While the LCD looks pretty great while you’re looking dead on at it if you tilt the radio even a little it become illegible.

LCD – Click to Enlarge

Another thing that’s weird about the radio is the Single Sideband mode of operation.  There is a button that says SSB but it only toggles between whatever sideband mode it is in and normal operation.  For example if it is set in LSB pushing that SSB button only gets you LSB or Normal.  Not USB.  To switch to the other sideband mode you have to push the info button. What in the actual hell?

The info button has no corresponding label indicating that function and the SSB button is labelled USB/LSB which ain’t exactly kosher.

And speaking of USB the Fine Tune is where you’d expect the volume control to be.

I can’t tell you how many times I screwed that up.  Almost every other radio there is has the volume on this side of the radio.

Must have been made by a lefty.

And speaking of that Fine Tune Control I find that it isn’t dead money accurate.  I listen to Aeronautical HF transmissions and on most radios tuned dead on the radio on USB works perfectly.  On my D-808 however it needs to be fine tuned to minus 5 to make the voices not sound tinny.  I’m actually not complaining about this, just making an observation.  Dialing stuff in is fun in my estimation.

Captured some audio with the adjustment made.

I recorded that by pumping audio into my laptop using a program called Audacity . That brings me to one thing this radio is lacking in my estimation, and one of my favorite features.   A dedicated Line Out.  If you plug a cable into the headphone jack and pump it into a computer the radio silences.  I had to have another radio on to know when to hit record.   A real live Line Out would be AWESOME to have on this radio.  I like to record stuff, if you don’t do that, then it shouldn’t be an issue.

I should note that with Audacity you can do Voice Activated Recordings so then you wouldn’t really need to have another radio available to listen to so you know when to hit record.

While much of this review may seem negative, it isn’t meant to be.  No radio is perfect and the XHDATA D-808 is way more feature packed and capable than many other radios in the same class and price range. These are just my observations and maybe somebody somewhere will read them and implement them at XHDATA, whatever company that may be.  If they don’t it is still a damn fine radio.

9 thoughts on “XHDATA D-808 Put Through Some Paces

  1. chipbutty

    I don’t know of many modern portables with a line out. I agree though, a line out is handy. I have the D-808 and recently bought the Retekess/Tivdio/Audiomax V-115. I think I must be only person in radio land without one. Anyway, it’s amazing for its recording capabilities. Records to its SD card via line in, microphone or from it’s own radio tuner. I connect my radio’s headphone socket to the V115’s line in and I can listen to the source radio through the V115.

    I hadn’t given the SSB arrangement a second thought until I read your comments. All the buttons with a secondary function have it denoted above the button in orange. The same with the info button, it’s labelled USB/LSB above. Only that button has two secondary functions. The other being the lock function, labelled below.

    I find it resolves SSB brilliantly. The problem is it can take an age to find the right setting. WIth the BFO on my PL-660 I can be there in less than a second.

    It’s a fabulous radio. Very sensitive on SW and seems to be a favourite with DXers. I had little interest in FM when I bought this radio but now I find myself trying and succeeding in picking up E Skip on a daily basis. Airband is also very, very good. Trounces my PL-660 and is more sensitive than my Radiwow R-108. MW is good. LW is dreadful but that appears to be a characteristic of DSP radios.

  2. chipbutty

    Forgot to mention. I don’t have a problem with the antenna socket on mine but it does require a firmer push than my other radios to engage that last couple of millimetres of the antenna jack. Once it’s in it isn’t coming out on its own.

  3. Jack K.

    I got to play with this and its near-twin, the Digitech AR 1780 and definitely prefer the Digitech. (Then again, I read elsewhere of your disdain for AA batteries, do the XHDATA would be the better choice!)

  4. SimonM

    I have just bought the XHDATA D-808. It’s my first SW radio for a long time. Very small and lightweight.

    Bought directly from the manufacturer’s website but delivered in a couple of days UK to the UK using the Amazon Service for delivery.

    The manual supplied fits in the box (but for my tired old eyes) is a bit too small to read but can be downloaded and printed out. Worth reading to find out how things work. Things are always a bit more logical when they are explained and tried out…

    One thing that recently changed is the display. It’s no longer back-illuminated in blue but has a soft yellow glow that I like. At night it has just sufficient backlighting to work without introducing a glare. The display is also easier to view with the radio on its stand e.g. viewed directly isn’t as good as viewed at an angle.

    I don’t know if there are different versions of the firmware or how to see which one you have. The instructions do deviate slightly in some places to indicate that there are changes made over time.

    I don’t have much experience of connecting an external aerial for SW listening. How to do this successfully for not too great a spend would be good to know? I have the supplied 10 foot plug in aerial and also the 23 foot wind-up AN-80. They do work, but I do wonder what is optimal.


  5. John Tampa Fl

    I’m enjoying my D-808 for about two weeks now and I can highly recommend it. Experimented with all the bands this little gem has to offer and it delivers.
    USB/LSB and shortwave performs well with any antenna array that will work. Excellent MW, LW, FM and air band.

  6. Dan

    Hi John,

    Is it possible to plug a coax cable from a TV antenna wall plate to this radio with the help of that adapter? Or is there some other unique thing to make this happen? Radio beginner here 🙂


  7. Glen

    Your antenna connect problem could be just a mismatch between the male plug and the 3.5mm socket on the radio, or something else. I had a similar problem with a PL-259 plug and 3.5mm male adapter attached to heavy-duty RG-58 coax. This heavy plug/adapter, combined with the weight of the RG-58 coax would twist the plug sideways in the socket and eventually disconnect itself from the socket. The small 3.5mm sockets on these light portables were never designed to securely hold these heavy plugs and adapters. What worked for me was getting a 3ft length of lightweight RG-174 coax with a 3.5mm plug on one end and and the appropriate female socket for my PL-259 on the other. This gets rid of the heavy plug/adapter hanging off the side of the radio, and the light RG-174 cable doesn’t have enough weight to pull or twist the plug out when connected to your radio.

  8. David A. Thomas

    Any idea where to get the original d-808 with white backlight like in this review? Xhdata doesn’t sell it anymore


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