I typically buy a radio after it’s been on the market for a while, often several years. This one, the XHDATA D-109, was released February 16, 2023 and I ordered it two days later.
It’s an MW/FM/LW/SW radio that adds audio playback from a micro SD card and can act as a Bluetooth speaker. It adds a two-alarm clock and thermometer. It’s not a radio for the serious radio enthusiast (lacking SSB), but it has some features in that direction, like variable bandwidth on AM and 1 kHz fine tuning.
The D-109 invites comparison with the R-108 from the same company. Here are some points:
|Model||Sihuadon R-108||XHDATA D-109|
|Fast/Slow tuning||Yes (button select)||Yes (automatic based on knob turning rate)|
|Memories||100 each for LW / MW / SW / FM / AIR||100 each for LW / MW / FM and 300 for SW|
* This was taken from the manual, but I think it’s probably μV, not mV.
The manual is available online. It’s not very good — confusing and incomplete in places. What does “the system will press the keyboard” mean? The variable tuning speed is only hinted at, and it’s never specified what it will do. The starting frequency of each shortwave band is another thing not in the manual, but here are the 14 bands. I appended the meter labels the radio displays when you select the band (via the SW+ or SW- buttons).
- 2300 kHz (120m)
- 3200 kHz (90m)
- 3900 kHz (75m)
- 5000 kHz (60m)
- 6000 kHz (49m)
- 7150 kHz (41m)
- 10000 kHz (31m)
- 11450 kHz (24m)
- 13600 kHz (22m)
- 15000 kHz (19m)
- 17650 kHz (16m)
- 19000 kHz (15m)
- 21450 kHz (13m)
- 26000 kHz (11m)
The radio arrived from China 9 days after the order. I’ve had some time to evaluate the unit, running some comparisons with my well-respected Tecsun PL-330. The first station the D-109 presented on an automated shortwave band scan was at 2245 kHz, a woman speaking in French (probably Adventist World Radio). The problem is that there is no such broadcast scheduled on that frequency. It was an image from somewhere on the shortwave bands. It shouldn’t have been an overload since I was just using the internal whip antenna. I have since found other images, so that’s one weakness with this model. Gilles at the OfficialSWLChannel on YouTube also commented on significant overload with this radio when using an external antenna in his video: XHDATA D-109 does not like external antennas it gets spurious signals and overload.
I made my own video about the overload problem.
There are many good things to say about this radio. I already listed features above, but I discovered one additional feature: the radio can be tuned at an increment of 1 kHz on MW, LW and SW. I didn’t see anything about this in the manual, except this cryptic statement: under the Tuning section: “Turn the tuning knob slowly and quickly (TUNING).” If you turn the knob quickly, the frequency advances 100 kHz on FM, 9/10 kHz on MW (depending on the setting), 9 kHz on LW and 5 kHz on SW. If you turn it slowly, the advance is 10 kHz on FM and 1 kHz on the other bands. It causes some difficulty in getting the desired tuning step. In fact it is maddening when you’re trying to do a band scan to count, for example, the number of MW stations you can receive. If you’re too slow it takes forever to get from channel to channel, but if you speed up, it may switch to 10 kHz and your efforts to speed it up make it skip stations. With that said, the automatic scanning works well and perhaps one won’t need to manually scan the bands. A long press of the [SCAN] button causes the radio to scan forward, stopping on any good signal for 5 seconds. You can press [SCAN] again to stop on the station.
MW performance is on par with other middle class radios, snagging 5 stations in my very low daytime signal area. Here is the comparison to some other radios on MW and FM:
I found that the automatic station scan occasionally stored a station twice on two adjacent frequencies on shortwave. I have set the bandwidth to 4 kHz and I think that will help.
I thought the D-109 noise level was a little higher than the PL-330’s, and that the PL-330 was a bit more sensitive — the same in comparison with the Eton Elite Executive.
I do like some of the operational aspects. This is the easiest-setting clock I’ve encountered. To set the time to 19:24, just turn the radio off and press [TIME]. That’s it. It’s an easy radio to learn.
Given the price and the feature set, I think it would make a good starter radio that one wouldn’t outgrow in a week. The only significant drawback is the overloading problem with an external antenna.
OOPIES I found that the Music play function didn’t work. I tried 3 different 16GB micro SD cards that I had used on other radio/music players with success. XHDATA responded to my email, saying that they tested the issue and found that some older 16GB micro SD cards don’t work, but that 8 and 32GB cards worked OK. I tested an 8GB card with success. I also discovered that a 64GB card formatted as exFAT will work. XHDATA has excellent customer service.
I paired the unit with my iPhone easily, but the volume was low, particularly odd because you can turn the radio portion up very loud. I also found that Music card volume was lower than radio volume.
XHDATA D-109 Fun Facts
- The D-109 manual on the XHDATA website says the radio has 100 memories for the SW band, but the manual that comes with the radio says 300. I’ve used 167 myself, so I’ll go with 300.
- The >>| and |<< buttons for the music function also serve as a fine tuning control for radio, changing the frequency by 1 kHz on MW/LW/SW and 10 kHz on FM.
- The turning speed of the tuning knob also affects the channel step: 1 kHz with slow tuning (10 kHz on FM).
- You can turn off the key beep by a long press of the ST/B button with the radio ON.
- The AM bandwidth choices are 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 kHz.
- The D-109 and the D-219 appear to use the same whip antenna.
- The radio has images: not every station you hear is really on that frequency. Sometimes you will hear what appears to be interference from other stations, but those weaker stations aren’t there on other radios. This is not bleed over from adjacent frequencies. It’s worse with an external antenna.
- The Always On display light setting keeps the light on even when the radio is turned off. Setting is a long press of the BW/button.
- No sound from the radio – Remove the antenna plug from the earphone jack.
Here is an example of good reception outdoors with just the whip antenna in daytime:
I’ve had this radio for 6 months now and written several articles that include it. Two things stand out over time with this radio. The first is simplicity of operation. The controls make sense and you don’t have to do weird stuff for common tasks and the display is easy to read. The other plus is the speaker, one that’s better than some more expensive portable shortwave radios.