If you’re one of the many who have put up with that outdated, feature-lacking, inconvenient and poor-sounding OEM radio for too long, I have good news. The folks at Axxera have an affordable, modern, full-featured, good-sounding replacement all ready for you. The receiver I’m referring to is the XDMA7800. A single DIN-sized unit, perfect as a replacement for the OEM junk, the Axxera XDMA7800 comes with a host of modern features and conveniences and can be had for under 200 bucks (US).
Features and Functions
The XDMA7800 is a single DIN-sized receiver, with a built-in amplifier to power your speakers directly, or if you prefer external amplifiers, there are three pairs of RCA outputs. It supports playback of AM/FM/CD/MP3/AAC/WMA/WAV formats, is iPod, iTouch and iPhone compatible, and if connected to the optional HD Radio tuner, it also supports iTunes Tagging.
So whether you are replacing your tired factory radio because you want to play music via an iPod, USB, or SD card, or because you need Bluetooth connectivity for safer hands-free cell phone operation, the XDMA7800 has you covered. Playback of compressed digital files is simple and easy, thanks to a variety of different ways to get the data into the unit. Of course, it’s compatible with most iPod/iPhone devices, and will also play back MP3, AAC, and WMA files via your choice of front or rear mounted USB connections. Or if you prefer using an SD card, there is a slot nicely tucked away for an SD Card behind the fold-down removable faceplate.
Of course, the unit will also play regular CDs or discs that have been recorded with your favorite compressed tracks in any of the formats listed above. And if you use a USB drive or an SD card, it will even play back WAV files. You can even use an iPod on the rear connection, a USB drive in the front-mounted port and an SD Card all at the same time, simply by selecting the appropriate source.
With all of the usual options thoroughly covered for digital media playback, a high quality AM/FM tuner handles the conventional radio chores, but if you want to go thoroughly modern, there is an optional HD Radio tuner module (HDM90) available!
A host of controls and customizability are also built into the XDMA7800, so you’ll be able to dial in the cosmetic appeal as well as perfect the sound to suit your particular car and system. You say you don’t want to give up your steering wheel controls? No problem, mi amigo. A special jack on the back of the unit allows you to connect an optional PAC SWI-PS adapter, and you’re set to go.
With the included Bluetooth connectivity, you can pair your Bluetooth enabled cell phone to the XDMA7800 and it will store your address book, and provide caller ID on incoming calls. Taking a call is as simple as pressing one button, and even the remote mounted microphone is included. If you like to stream music via Bluetooth, you’ll be pleased that the XDMA7800 supports A2DP and AVRCP streaming and control functionality as well.
The 4440 pixel graphical LCD provides clear multi-line information and you can choose quickly from 31 preset colors, or with the individual RGB adjustment function, create your own custom color from any of over 4000 different colors available. Put it this way, if you can’t find a color you like on this unit, you’re blind. The display can also be reversed, for a positive image if that’s your preference.
Audio adjustments are comprehensive as well, incorporating built-in adjustable crossovers for the subwoofer output, and high pass crossovers for the front and rear channels. A quasi-parametric 3-Band EQ allows the adjustment of nine different frequencies, and there is also an adjustable filter Q setting for each frequency, allowing a lot of tweaking capability to get things dialed in just right. The subwoofer output level is independently adjustable and there is also a 0°-180° phase selection available.
Controls and Functionality
For a unit with this many features crammed into a single DIN chassis, the Axxera XDMA7800 is surprisingly easy to use. A large and easy to grasp rotary volume control dominates the left hand side of the faceplate, and the very easy to read LCD display provides all the pertinent info you need on the right side. Frequently used buttons such as source selection, track up/down and the telephone connectivity controls are large and logically placed. Because the unit provides such a wide range of adjustments, there are several layers of menus to sort and scroll through to get to where you want to be, but they can all be accessed with two buttons and the rotary knob, so once you catch on to where to find things, adjustments are quite easy and almost intuitive. My only gripe was the rather quick reset time on the menus. You have to be paying attention and get the adjustment done or the menu will time out and you’ll have to start again. This reality can be a bit frustrating when you’re trying to alter the subwoofer level when driving, for example. Another 15 seconds of adjustment time would have been very handy.
I’m one of those guys with thousands of songs on each of my iPods, so being able to get to the song I want quickly is an important feature for me. I found the XDMA7800 to be really fast at scrolling through my lists of artists and song titles, and I had no problem getting from A to Z efficiently. The process of finding what you’re looking for is very similar to what we’ve been used to on the iPod itself, so searching for a specific artist or track will be old hat to most people.
The front faceplate folds down to insert/eject a disc, and can be removed and stored in the included case when not in use. The faceplate does require removal to access the SD Card slot which is really no inconvenience, considering how seldom you’ll actually need to get to it. But even when you do, taking the faceplate on and off is a simple one hand operation.
Discs load quickly and the XDMA7800 has a quiet and smooth transport. I also liked the illumination behind the faceplate to enable finding the CD slot in the dark, and for the eject button as well.
Connected to my reference system in my listening room, the Axxera receiver sounded very good and, in fact, better than I had expected for such a modestly priced unit. The sound was smooth and accurate and virtually noise free during quiet passages or between tracks. Mid and high frequencies were reproduced with excellent clarity and definition, and I observed a good stereo image. I did note that I had to increase the gain on my amplifier, and made a mental note to double check the output level of the RCA’s.
During my listening, I experimented with the crossover and EQ controls, and everything worked exactly as expected. After a couple of hours of listening to the tuner, CD, and iPod sources, I came away quite impressed with not only the quality of the sound, but the comprehensive amount of tuning adjustability the XDMA7800 offers.
On the Bench