Being a non-hip kind of guy, I don't fill my commute with podcasts that you've never heard of. Instead, I listen to old-school FM Radio. Even at home, I find myself listening to the radio about half the time. That's despite the fact that I have a music collection in the range of 500 CDs, all of which exist as MP3s on my computer. But there's something to be said for the simplicity of "push the button and the music starts--no crashes, boot up time, or software updates." Luckily my iPod Nano is pretty reliable too.

I listen primarily to three radio stations. Roughly classified, they are:

I listen to the first two in roughly equivalent doses, while 95.7 is more of a "filler" station. Sometimes they play a lot of stuff I like, other times I can't stand it.

KFOX has been pushing HD Radio pretty hard. That got me wondering if it's worth even thinking about. I have no trouble with reception and find the broadcast sound quality to be just fine for my tastes. Reading about HD Radio on doesn't help much either.

The digital technology even enhances the AM and FM bands' audio fidelity--AM sounds more like FM does today, while FM signals boast a CD-like quality. Best of all, the static, hiss, pops, and fades commonly found on today's radios are virtually eliminated, ensuring crystal-clear reception.

I can't remember the last time I noticed static, hiss, pops, or fades. In other words, they've been "virtually eliminated" without me having to do anything.

The way I see it, most HD Radios seem to pretty expensive ($150+) and I'm not seeing much of a benefit. Therefore, I ask you (my technically minded often leading edge readers): Am I missing something? Is HD Radio really worth going after? Or should I just wait until HD is standard and costs 20% of what it does today?

See Also:

Posted by jzawodn at October 29, 2006 09:24 AM

Reader Comments
# Todd Mitchell said:

I have HD radio in my car--was an factory installed option. I can say with 100% certainty that when I'm in NYC and able to pick up digital/HD broadcasts, the sound is much 'cleaner' over standard FM.

However, not worth the upgrade by any means. The primary reason for avoiding the upgrade is the limited number of stations broadcasting in HD.

And if you did find yourself wanting HD, consider a satellite radio subscription. Car/person or internet stream. More choice, high quality regardless of your location.

on October 29, 2006 09:55 AM
# ralph said:

I've been a radio geek for at least 30 years. Consensus among my radio geek friends is that HD Radio is a solution in search of a problem.

I've taken the leap to satellite and wouldn't go back, but if you're happy with FM the way it is, you really won't gain anything by moving to HD at this point. There's considerable doubt as to whether HD will even survive, particularly in the face of the competition from satellite. The FM owners seem to think that what people want is a technically "better" system, but what the satellite network owners seem to realize is that programming is what drives people to a given system. Given that, I don't think I would bet on HD Radio at this point. Better to wait and let it shake out.

on October 29, 2006 10:36 AM
# Josh Woodward said:

HD radio is nothing more than polishing a turd. Any fidelity gain is crushed by the fact that they'll still compress the shit out of already over-compressed music to make it louder than the next station on the dial.

on October 29, 2006 11:12 AM
# Richard Crowley said:

The compression issue is likely never going to be solved, as so much of the playbook followed by the popular music factory is centered on volume. Its not so much a radio issue as it is a music industry issue. I've pretty much abandoned the radio: my car stereo doesn't even have the radio wired up properly, I just use it to plug my iPod into the line-in port.

I've never heard of HD radio, but it seems doomed against the available-anywhere-ness of satellite.

on October 29, 2006 11:29 AM
# James Briggs said:

Spooky, I'm also a die-hard FM radio listener, mainly 98.5.

If you're close to a station and have an audiophile receiver for around $500, you won't be able to tell FM from a CD.

When I lived in Toronto, I used to listen to the 2 good classical music stations, one public and one private.

Visitors to my place were stunned when I said it was FM and
not CD or a live person talking.

on October 29, 2006 01:43 PM
# Jeremy Cole said:

Hi Jeremy,

My understanding is that radio stations are pushing HD so hard because the FCC will eventually make them get off of standard FM band, since HD takes a lot less bandwidth than FM. Thus, it is in their best interest to get people switched to HD sooner rather than later, so that they can keep their listeners long-term. Yes, solution in search of a problem, but the FCC is busy installing a problem.

That said, I don't plan to buy an HD radio. If my stations disappear I will probably go to XM or something.

on October 29, 2006 02:01 PM
# Dan Isaacs said:

I pretty much live in my car. And I'd hate it if not for XM Radio.

on October 29, 2006 02:43 PM
# John Handelaar said:

Meh. An even crappier 'upgrade' than the digital radio taking hold in the UK.

That they're selling it as a sound quality issue (like anybody cares about that) means that they're not selling the extra channels. I assume if there was any decent new programming, they'd be talking about that instead.

on October 29, 2006 03:24 PM
# Justin Rudd said:

I tried it out here in WA state. So far other than the $100 I spent on the radio, I can't tell a difference. It is still ad filled crap :)

on October 29, 2006 04:17 PM
# Cristian Mezei said:

It's just marketing, IMHO Jer.

Every radio station today, has a CD-Quality crisp sound, no matter the receiving gadget.

on October 29, 2006 04:36 PM
# Travis said:

I've been hearing the ads for HD as well around here (Baltimore/DC corridor). I've gotta agree that I can't see them winning on a sound quality issue. Radio is all about the content. I *love* my XM - even if they're saddled with a few Clear Channel channels, I can easily program them out of the receiver. XM was the one option that I insisted the Wife get on her new car this year :) Given that it's a limited bandwidth scenario some of the channels are probably not as "pure" as a good FM station, but the possibility is there (as heard on their 'Fine Tuning' channel which broadcasts has a very high bit-rate, and in 5.1 surround).

The big win is three-fold for me. First, the content is excellent. The people programming the music channels seem to have a lot of freedom, and I've heard a lot of music that I probably never would have otherwise. The comedy channels are a great break from reality as well. Second, the ability to listen on-line is nice. I probably listen on-line in the office as much as I do "over the air". Finally, the meta-data is awesome. See #1 - I frequently channel-surf since the receiver allows me to flip thru the dials much like the TV-guide, switching only when I see something more interesting than the current channel. The same receiver (SkyFi2) also has the Tivo-like pause and rewind buffer. Great for running into the store real quick and not missing the punchline on the comedy channel :)

Reception is pretty consistent - there's the usual hollows where signal is lost briefly, but out here in the sticks it's always there, and they've done a great job covering most major cities with terrestrial repeaters that fix the problems of satellites and tall buildings.

About the only thing I can complain about is the monthly charge, but if it keeps the Clear Channel programming nazis and the crappy advertisers at bay, I'll pay it.

on October 29, 2006 04:49 PM
# Hooda_Thunkit said:

CDs are an approximation of its analog source. Granted it is a very good approximation, but an approximation none the less.

Listening to a digital source over an analog radio, because of the bandwidth, is as good as it gets (unless the station is using an analog source.

HD digitally compresses and otherwise "dehances" the signal and compresses it into less bandwidth to allow more stations to use the same spectrum.

Therefore, HD will eventually become of lesser quality as the FM and AM bands are "rebanded" to allow for more broadcasts.

Like what you hear now?

Stay with what you've got until HD radios are standard equipment and the new channel alignments are implemented and you have no choice.

on October 29, 2006 07:09 PM
# Joe Duck said:

NOT worth it, but I don't have it either.

on October 29, 2006 09:07 PM
# Mark Barrera said:

For $150 I would spend my money on satellite radio. HD radio is only on a few select stations and I doubt that you will see your public radio station putting out an HD signal but it is on Sirius. I have gone both routes and have to give my two thumbs up for Sirius.

on October 30, 2006 08:36 AM
# Dan Isaacs said:

Meh. I have Sirius my wife's vehicle, and the signal is awful. Going under a bridge loses the signal, driving too close to some trees loses the signal. My XM rarely loses its signal, and even works in parking garages and my garage (even though it's antenna is located in the front of my car, but the sirius one is on the back of my wife's, nary a foot away from a clear sky.)

The other, much more important issue, is that Sirius has DJs that talk incessently, whereas XM just plays music. Sirius is just FM radio via outer space. Most of the programming is indistinguishable.

on October 30, 2006 09:06 AM
# rabble said:

HD radio sucks. If you have it in your car, and for some reason it can't pick up the HD signal, then it'll drop back to normal analog FM. But there's a difference in the broadcast time between the two, so it'll jump about 10 seconds forward or backward as you go between HD and analog radio. This could happen driving under powerlines, behind a building, in the mountians. Some stations fix this by time delaying their analog broadcast to sync it, but most don't.

It's been reported that people have returned their cars which came with HD radios because it was "broken" because of this time sync problems.

Then again, with satelite radio you are paying per month, which sucks.

I say, stick with FM analog. It works.

on October 30, 2006 11:17 AM
# Bubba said:

Personally, I have a factory head unit that plays MP3's from a cd. I can load up a few hundred songs on one CD and listen for hours and hours.

I'd never fork out the cash for anything like HD Radio or XM as long as I can use WinAmp and StationRipper (kinkaardschok FTW!)

NPR is the only thing even close to tempting me. Then again, having 4 audiobooks on one CD is quite nice as well.

on October 30, 2006 12:56 PM
# Mark said:

HD Radio is very noticeably better quality than standard FM Radio and if you live in a city where your favorite (free) stations are broadcasting using HD then it may be worth considering. Here in the Twin Cities many of the larger commercial radio stations now broadcast in HD and so does Minnesota Public Radio. However the receivers are still quite expensive (including car radios) and personally I don't think that they are worth the cost yet. When the receivers prices drop to a much more reasonable (nominal) level then HD should take off (which is still a big IF). The obvious advantage is that you don't need to pay a monthly licence fee to listen to the radio. The radio broadcasters are caught in the situation where they first need to invest $$ in HD technology even though there are very few HD receivers in order to create a market for people to buy more such receivers - which it turn will hopefully reduce prices. This is a long-term gamble but I don't think these broadcasters have much of a choice.

Very few new cars come equiped with HD Radio, in fact only one that I am aware of (a luxury car), so I doubt anyone is actually returning their car HD radios. This situation is also a major impediment to HD radio becoming successful as commute time is a significant local market radio audience.

on October 31, 2006 07:31 AM
# Michael Maggard said:

I’ve never heard anyone say “Gee! Your car radio sounds terrific!” to any of my buddies who do have HD radio, even those whose cars came with built-in 78 brand-with-an-umlaut high-end speakers & enough sound system wattage to run a drink blender. Indeed I don’t think they or their passengers particularly notice the audio quality of their radios at all.

Not noticing is probably an artifact of our low-brow musical tastes & NPR/talk radio habits. Were we listening to material where real quality was an issue things might be different, but then we’d probably also not be listening to radio at all. For quality audio we rely on now-standard 6 CD changers & iPods wired in, get exposed to new stuff through friends or regular old FM.

Those that are serious about their radio, for show tunes or talkshow hosts or gay/arabic/socialist special interest material, then it’s one of the two sat. services. And for those of us who regularly do long commutes away from our preferred radio fare the satellites come in handy for those stretches with only christian, country, or Radio Delilah are available.

But tooling around town, buzzing back & forth to the office, $100-$150 for better sounding more-of-the-same doesn’t cut it. That’s money better spent on iTunes or new CDs or getting the car properly cleaned for once, not an aftermarket radio with a half dozen slightly special stations.

on October 31, 2006 10:34 AM
# H.A. Reynolds said:

I wanted to upgrade the "head" unit in my 350Z to allow an iPod adapter. While I was at it, the wife convinced me to try HD radio (primarily for NPR classic music, which I like), so I got the JVC HD unit. I figure I paid an additional $30-40 for the HD as an experiment, which wasn't unreasonable. Unfortunately, the experiment was a bust.

In Houston, most FM antennae are south of downtown, but I commute NORTH of downtown (min 30 miles from most FM antennae), so the HD signal strength is VERY poor; during a 25 minute commute, I am in-and-out of the HD signal 5-10 times. Some funky "intermod" effects can occur at the cusp between analogue and digital (echoes, delays, etc)which ARE mildly entertaining.

Despite what they say, HD sound quality is NOT QUITE "CD" quality (it's 96 kbps, same as the default MP3 or AAC compression schemes) but it IS much much better than standard FM. [maybe they should say "MP3 quality"]
However, I DO like it a lot, WHEN I can hear it.

I need to research the transmission schemes the local stations are using; I suspect they are NOT yet using separate amps and antennae (the HD requires a linear amp; an added cost for FM stations). I think this is why the HD signals are weak, esp. the NPR signal.

Unless and until the signal strength gets better (e.g. stations separate the FM and HD amps and antennae), I have two choices: (a) buy an Radio Frequency (RF) amplifier and splice it into the antennas coax (and cross fingers), or (b) turn off the HD and listen to the iPOD until things get better.

Note: I am a Ham Radio Operator (K5HAR), so the RF amp wouldn't be too daunting, but I am mildly piqued that the HD was oversold. I might be able to get an RF amp which will also work on the VHF/UHF Ham radio bands to talk to satellites and the Space Station in case it doesn't work for HD; I need to research that.

Fundamentally, I can't see any reason for a non-radio geek type to invest in HD until the signal strength is at least as reliable as standard FM. Better quality doesn't matter if you can't receive the signal. Before you buy, make sure you can hear it WHERE YOU ACTUALLY DRIVE.

BTW the iPOD controls and sound are TERRIFIC on the JVC ARE TERRIFIC. Very happy with that part, even with the standard Z speakers.

on October 31, 2006 08:20 PM
# Mark Creager said:

I would take FREE over satelite any day. you guys are dorks. just like cigarettes, you never stop paying for your habit until the day you die. next we will see a CD that plays ten times THEN you have to press a button on your CD player to RENEW the LICENSE for the privelege of playing the CD you bought for $10

satelite is a rip off, you guys are dorks

on November 3, 2006 12:14 PM
# Neil Schubert said:


Take a listen to my tests at

Don't confuse HD Radio with HD TV! I was very skeptical about HD tv at first, but the technology of computers has made it much better than my first views of it in 1998. HD TV has some big bugs, like the aspect ratio issue, as well as how to record it easily at a consumer level (aka VCR). Transmit power needs to be increased to the same level as conventional analog UHF television. I think that additional FM audio stations should occupy the VHF band, if analog ever does go off the air (doubt it will, the date is now 2009!) Once power is increased, I will fully embrace HD TV. So, for those of you who used to hear me whine about HD TV, this is the ok to mount a UHF antenna on your roof and GO HD!

HD radio, on the other hand, has not improved reception. It is causing very big technical issues for the broadcast community. I will be putting out a page on my site called "in band on somebody else's channel (IBSEC)" which explains why the technology is NOT compatible with the existing FM channel plan, and will therefore "Betamax" as a technology. I'd have it out there now, but I "saved over" it.

It's ironic that someone mentioned bandwidth - HD radio actually occupies more bandwidth than a standard FM broadcast. For those who are discussing sound quality, you should see my HD page at:
or go to
These are actual tests I did while driving a 75 mile trip between Appleton and Milwaukee, wisconsin and Milwaukee and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. I bought a radio just to evaluate the technology. Simply put, I heard NO improvement whatsoever.

Sound quality is not improved one bit (pun intended), due to the the common fact that HD radio uses a lossy compression scheme (somewhat like mp3). The reason that radio has issues with sound quality has to do with the way the audio signal is processed to get it on the air, NOT the quality of the FM signal. FM radio has had better quality in the past, but has gone the way of the recording industry - crank it and clip. That's why CDs and even well made mp3s sound better than FM. FM itself is not the problem - it is digital audio processing used at the station that is the problem.

If you live in Canada, you will most likely not experience poor sound quality on FM, as Industry Canada still has regulations that pertain to audio quality, proper emphasis and stereo separation.
The US got rid of these in 1984 when a bill passed allowing TV stereo. Quality improved for a few years, then got caught up in a volume war, and then got digitized. The "fuzz" people hear on radio is actually high audio frequencies being digitally clipped. The quality is degraded even further when the station's automation system uses minimumally encoded lossy audio compression (like mp3 at 96k). Add to that a flurry of new CDs that are recorded "already clipped" by the high-quality RIAA standards that no longer exist in the recording industry. What you get is crappy sound on FM.

Most HD Radio broadcasts are sending you the exact same over-compressed signal that they are broadcasting in analog. Bad sound sounds bad, whether Digital or Analog is the medium. The blend circuit in many car radios fades to mono when the signal strength drops - even though two channels can still be received. Many radios have poor analog tuner designs which pick up multipath, AM noise, and have poor stereo separation (FM analog has 60 DB separation, but the average radio seems to only get to 28-30.

As far as signal is concerned, this is how I see it:

A simple explanation is this: Where I live, I can recieve approximately 95 FM stations - that's almost one for every channel space, plus a few on different antenna angles. Yes, I have a good radio - a Toyota Car Radio (made by Matsushita "Panasonic") attached to an outdoor FM antenna. With the exception of a few stations that are washed by local high-power towers, I get a station on every frequency - 92.1 92.3, 92.5, 92.7, 92.9, 93.1, 93.3, 93.5, 93.9, 94.3, 94.5, 94.7, 94.9, 95.1, 95.3, get the picture. I have access to as many FM stations as XM has. The FCC (pre-clinton era and back to WWII) had properly allocated the FM dial on a grid-like setup, so that stations would never interfere with each other. On a good radio, you usually get spacing capability like this(based on signal strength): 92.1 92.5 92.9 93.3....Each strong station must be at least one space apart in order to pick up the other. This is the average home stereo, and many audiophile tuners, and most stock stereos in cars (although they have been improving). A genuine sony walkman made after 1994 can only differentiate like this: 92.1, 92.7, 93.3, 93.9. 94.5.....

With HD radio, the station occupies about twice what a normal FM station would occupy. So, as an example, with 94.5, 94.3 and 94.7 are blocked by the digital signal. The sony walkman will pick up audible noise from 94.3 and 94.7 in strong reception areas. The average radio will pick up 94.5 well in weak signal areas, but may have multipath noise when close to the transmitting tower. While this may be a minor issue, the analog is actually degraded to make the digital look good!

Now, the other issue: Anywhere beyond 50 miles from the 94.5 example, there may be an analog transmitter on 94.3 or 94.7. In my test examples, there are both. While 94.5 analog may cover the full 50 miles or longer, the digital gets jammed up by the analog from either 94.3 or 94.7, or the digital from 94.1 or 94.9. In other words, the digital can never cover the entire range of the analog, and is thus, limited to about 1/4 the power of the main analog channel.

The point: Digital does not improve frequency response or Total Harmonic Distortion. It does improve signal to noise, but only when it works. The problem is that where analog has very little noise, digital works. At the point at which digital dies out, analog is still going. Analog gets noisy way beyond when digital drops. So, nothing is improved other than making a big mess of the FM dial, and jamming up reception for people in between cities.

The engineer that nobody has ever heard of,

Neil Schubert

on November 4, 2006 04:50 PM
# A.E. Manfredi said:

Ironically, seems that HD radio hardware is available primarily for in-car use, which is where it makes the least sense. Because when transmitted in "hybrid" mode, i.e. along with the analog signal, the digital signal is fairly severely compromised. In the FM band, it is 23 dB or more down compared with the analog, which obviously makes it far less robust. See page 4:

In the AM band, in hybrid mode, the digital signal strays so far beyond the standard AM channel allocations that they can't transmit at night. So again, heavily compromised solution.

There's no talk of ending analog broadcasts, so unless some broadcasters decide on their own to go all-digital, the hybrid mode is what we'll be stuck with for the foreseeable future, is my guess.

Another reason why in-car use won't show HD radio off very well is that the acoustic environment is ridiculously bad in a running car. With about 70 dB SPL of backgound noise much of the time, if not more, who could possibly hear the difference in quality between digital and analog FM? Same goes for the little overpriced table radios the manufacturers seem to favor for now. It's like pretending to detect the difference between HDTV and NTSC TV on a 5" screen. Either will look just great on a tiny screen. If someone tries to tell you they notice a big difference, I'd be skeptical.

So if there is a difference in audio quality, it won't be apparent until good tuners for home stereos become available.

Still, multicasts are available already, so that's one reason to think about it. Not for the car, necessarily, but in situations where the signal strength won't be a problem. I'm waiting for a home stereo component tuner to become available. Then I'll snap one up pronto. As to satellite radio, please. Do we really need another monthly bill to satisfy our endless list of addictions?

On the spectrum use question, in hybrid mode, an IBOC FM station uses spectrum up to +/- 200 KHz (actually +/- 198.402 KHz) of channel center, which is twice the width of standard FM channels. In essence, each FM station that transmits HD radio is using up the guard bands around its frequency allocation, at low power, to transmit the digital info.

Not much different from what DTV does in the terrestrial bands, if you think about it. As long as analog TV is still with us, digital TV uses previously "tabboo" frequencies. It amounts to the same thing. In some cases, a digital TV station uses the channel adjacent to its analog station, and typically at much lower power. This is almost identical to the way IBOC works, in terms of spectrum use.

Hybrid IBOC AM broadcasts go way out to +/- 15 KHz (actually +/- 14.717 KHz) of channel center. So, of course, that won't work at night. AM channels are 10 KHz wide, and the digital stuff makes them 30 KHz wide. At night, where AM broadcasts travel far, the digital spetrum would create unacceptable interference. But if analog AM is removed, then this scheme would be good for AM, because it reverts back to a 10 KHz channel width.

I'll get one soon, for in-home use, where I can hope to detect a difference in sound quality, and where I can be confident that any new multicast stream I'm tuned to will continue to be receivable from one minute to the next.

on November 6, 2006 03:07 PM
# Marc Moran aka Van Man said:

Hey guys.
Some very good posts on HD. I was researching it in order to see if it was worth getting. But after reading this, I will stick with a conventional HU.
Thanks guys.

on November 9, 2006 06:22 PM
# said:

I wonder how many times the format will change, making digital radios with one format obsolete and requiring you to buy new radios to keep up with new formats. Already, the US has decided to embrace the proprietary "HD" format instead of the "DAB" format that's been adopted in the UK and elsewhere.

on November 15, 2006 09:27 PM
# Steven White said:

After trying out HD radio, I'm firmly in the "it ain't worth it" camp. In the areas where digital reception is possible, analog reception is perfect. Here, the analog sounds better than the compressed digital-- granted, I cannot stand the swimmy sound of overly compressed audio and prefer static and noise over it. Satellite radio sounds awful, and I hate that the broadcasters are pushing FM down to that quality with the HD system.

The only advantage HD has is with multicasting. But, good content on a secondary channel is hard to come by, and the ever-growing number of alternatives still makes it a hard sell.

on November 27, 2006 12:21 PM
# 700WLW said:

HD Radio is a fraud and a farse - HD Radio/IBOC causes adjacent-channel interference and has only 60% the coverage of analog. HD radio sales a anemic, and the general public is not buying into this joke. HD radios need dipole and loop antennas mounted outside, to even have a chance to pick up the same old terrestrial radio junk on the HD channels.

on December 1, 2006 01:19 PM
# ScotMac said:

Sirius and XM are not better sound quality than HD-Radio. HD-Radio gives you close to CD quality sound for *FREE*. It is *much* better quality than regular analog radio. It is a no-brainer.

on December 2, 2006 11:48 PM
# Glenn Fleishman said:

Jeremy, did you ever buy (or choose not to buy) an HD Radio receiver?

I wrote up a set of reviews of the current set of receivers on the market (tabletop ones, that is) for the New York Times that ran last Wednesday.

Much of what's said in the comments here doesn't track what I've seen with actual, shipping radios.

on December 12, 2006 08:05 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

I haven't done anything yet, no.

on December 13, 2006 12:03 AM
# leonardo menderes said:

I've fiddled with my Accurian receiver, and there are important traits:

--HD is like regular FM mostly, but with less noise. You will likely not tell any difference in the car, but at home it's very nice, especially for acoustic or jazz or classical.

--The selectivity is phenomenal on the Accurian at least. This means that an amplified or attic antenna in a mixed area will net you a lot of extra normal FM stereo channels as well. FM tuners had cruddy selectivity before...maybe they had to get their act together for HD. Anyway, this is an important bonus, at least on the Accurian.

--The high-end phasing and stereo imaging isn't all messed up like on satellite radio. Witness it for yourself: bring some good headphones around to the sat. shops....I got naseous from the compression sizzling and bubbling...I'm happy to have picked HD over Satellite. XM bubbles and Sirius sizzles, I think....I can't take it...ears are too good.

on December 15, 2006 12:21 PM
# Brian said:

HD Radio/IBOC causes adjacent-channel interference and has only 60% the coverage of analog. The HD channels are only low-bitrate streams of the same repetitive material. HD radios require dipole and loop antennas, and reception is still problematic. Consumers are not interested in this joke:

on February 11, 2007 07:09 AM
# jack said:

Well i'm not sure about HDRadio and the part that worries me is that they might decide to charge a fee, if it becomes popular. And as far as Xm or Sirius radio, no chance i'm not going to pay for radio...........

on February 17, 2007 09:50 PM
# Martin Usher said:

I knew that we'd get digital radio in the US eventually but I hadn't paid much attention to it, I assumed it would eventually turn up. It has, and we appear to have a lemon. I can't see why we got suckered into a non-standard system when there are international consortia that have been developing standardized systems. The result is a system that appears to be technically suspect (single-source technology) and which is expensive to buy into (relatively few receivers, all costing quite a lot of money for what they are).

The "HD" is deliberate misrepresentation -- is used by the marketing people to imply "high definition" when it means nothing of the sort.

At least I now know why a local AM news station's audio quality took a dump when the moved to their new state-of-the -art broadcasting facility. They used to broadcast in AM-stereo (kind of odd, my car radio's the only one I've ever come across, but it actually worked). When they moved they went back to mono and the audio feed got a lot of noise on it, sounding as if it were produced on a 1970s era portable casette recorder. Now I know -- they've got a "HD" feed.....didn't anyone bother to listen to this stuff before going overboard investing in it?

Oh well, there's always the Internet.

on February 27, 2007 01:02 AM
# Homer said:

HD radio is great. The sound is terrific. If you have not heard it please don't comment. You people that spread falsehoods about the technology and havn't experienced it yet, do damage to the search for better technology.

I purchased the Sangean HD component tuner (HDT-1) for less than $ 200.00. It is actually the most sensitive and selective tuner I have ever owned. There is nothing you can say to convince me that HD is bad. I receive things I never could before. With HD I get 2 or 3 extra HD channels along with the analog channnel. The HD is clear and wide, as far as dynamic range is concerned.

As far as the transmission range is concerned. HD does not need as much wattage as the analog signal. Remember only ones and zeros are tranmitted. long with a good error correction, this hybrid system is exactly what they said it would be, a great addition to the traditional FM band!

I can't wait for someone to come out with a portable, so I can buy one. There is nothing wrong with the HD system. Just about every station in the New Jersey area is using it and mixing the formats too. Great way for some of the alternative platforms to be heard. I get stations from as far away as New York (60 miles)and Philadelphia (40 miles). The range is fantastic!

on March 19, 2007 08:09 AM
# Guy said:

I agree, HD sounds great. In New York I am getting about 20-25 HD stations at full quieting, and this is with the built in antenna. I would not use it in a car for background noise reasons. The technology is coming of age, and it is free! The new Cambridge Soundworks HD radio is excellent and even elegant, with immense fidelity and crispness, and even good bass. There are multiple antenna input choices as well as an optical output to go straight to DAC or digital speaker system.

on March 27, 2007 09:39 PM
# Drew said:

I own 2 Boston Acoustic Receptor radios. One by my bed, and one in the office. I decided to plunk down the extra $$ because I read a lot of good stuff about HD Radio. I live about 40 miles outside of New York City and I could barely pick up anything in HD. When it just wasn't that different. Really, there was no discernible difference in quality. Bummer. I returned the HD radio and picked up the Tivoli Model Satellite Radio
Sirius is so cool. We actually sit in the livingroom and listen to it at night...there's so much content. I love being surprised by what will come on next. And I'm a person that streams my iTunes library to my stereo. I just want to hear something new...or some old stuff that I don't have. We just love Sirius and paid the lifetime fee (we hate monthlys!) Anyway, that's my experience with both. Hope this helps.


on March 29, 2007 12:40 PM
# Brian said:

Guy, above, is an HD Radio shill.

on April 1, 2007 07:18 AM
# Nelson said:

It depends on your area. If you have multiple stations broadcasting in HD then definately get one. You'll get extra stations you can't get anywhere else via the multi-cast feature. For instance where I live, I get a "new country station" and an "all 80s" station that didn't exist before. Obviously, if you live out in an area with no HD stations, then there's no point. And if you're in an area with only one or 2 HD broadcasters, then it just depends on how much of an early adopter you want to be.

on May 15, 2007 12:40 PM
# said:

Just remember, Clear Channel and all the others are selling off their over the air broadcast stations.

Wanna bet they buy up XM and Sirius, and make it "same old, same old"?

on May 20, 2007 11:39 AM
# z said:

I am from bay area and I am having much difficulty receiving signal. I use a dipole and want to get an outdoor antennae; finally learned, from here, about the signal. The stations here are clear and they don't have commercials or djs. The programming is excellent, I just don't know what is the vested interest of how does the station make any money? Who pays, or how is it profitable? No commercials and constant wonderful programming. Anyone?


on July 31, 2007 09:00 PM
# Mike said:

I'm a 30-year audiophile. I say this only to give some credence to my ability to evaluate high-end home audio sound quality. For what it is worth, here's my take on HD Radio.

I listen to all kinds of music, from jazz to classical to pop, country, and everything in between. I use vinyl, cd, and fm radio. It is sometimes nice, as at least one person mentioned above, to let someone else choose the music. You can select that someone else by changing stations. Thus, radio sound quality is important.

Enter HD radio.

To enjoy the improvement that HD radio has over regular FM, you need a good component tuner. These tuners are now available and connects to your audio system in the same way as does a cd player, i.e., via a line input with RCA-type interconnects.

Voila! You can listen to either regular FM or HD broadcasts. The larger the market, the more stations you will find broadcasting in HD. For example, in the Dallas Ft Worth market, there are over 25 FM stations broadcasting in HD.

Let me get to the main point of my comments in light of all of the comments that followed from Jeremy's question "Is HD Worth It?"

Yes. In fact, a resounding yes. The sound quality is better.

HD Radio is definitely worth having if you like listening to radio at home (broadcast, cable, and/or satelite). If you want better sound quality than regular FM can offer, HD is a good choice. The improvement in reception and overall sound quality is stunning. It has enhanced my enjoyment of FM radio as a music source.

The better your other equipment (amps, speakers, etc.), the better HD radio will sound compared to regular FM. I particularly noticed an improvement in the highest and lowest frequency ranges. Subwoofers peform much better with an HD signal.

So as to end my comments, I will not go into other details of what makes HD radio better than regular FM. However, if someone wants more elaboration, I'll try to respond.

on September 7, 2007 01:14 PM
# Jim said:

My main concern is better reception of weak stations (that also broadcast HD) at home. Will the Sangean home tuner help? Any other component HD tuners available?

on October 28, 2007 08:11 AM
# Mark Carter said:

I don't believe the sound quality of HD radio will be superior. I have a very good audio system. I listen to the classical music NPR station out of Bemidji MN. The quality is excellent. I also have a very large CD and LP collection. I have an advanced audio work station with a professional external DAC and Steinberg WaveLab 6 recording and editing software. This has allowed me experiment with all manner of lossy codecs at various bit rates.
I have not found a lossy codec that comes anywhere near CD quality, or analog FM radio for that matter. There are certain types of music that are an absolute torture test for lossy codecs. The worst is high treble voices in ambient cathedral spaces with large pipe organs. The effects of all these codecs are most unpleasant. The only codec I have found that consistently delivers CD quality is the lossless FLAC codec.
I have a lot of opera DVDs and they have a CD quality PCM track. The quality of that track is head and shoulders over the Dolby digital track, which uses lossy AC 3 compression. I can't imagine that this digital radio scheme will satisfy those of us who want to use radio for critical listening with very high fidelity systems.
I have made numerous trips to the UK, and had a chance to evaluate DAB. I used BBC radio 3, which broadcasts in the highest bit rate, for the comparisons. I used a good Sony tuner for the FM signal. The audio system was capable of excellent fidelity. I can tell the sound of the FM signal was superior by far to the DAB signal.
If anyone needs further convincing, Dolby labs developed lossless compression algorithms for Blue Ray and HDDVD discs. If lossy AC3 really was CD quality, do you think they would have gone to the trouble to develop a new algorithm?
This digital radio is another example of the current technical headlong race to the bottom.

on November 7, 2007 01:05 PM
# Jamie said:


As all of the above are bashers of the HD radio and proponents of the XM. I would've gone with XM years ago, except I have this HUGE problem with paying a subscription fee for radio, even if I can listen to whatever I want whenever I want. I recently trashed my cable TV since the internet now allows me to watch my shows on the network sites. I've gone from a $160.00 a month cable bill for 1200 channels that are mostly repeats and usually don't have anything I want on them to a $45.00 bill for exactly what I want when I want it. My problem with XM, when I paid the extra to get it in my rental cars, was that it was the same basic thing. I found myself listening to a handful of the many choices on the stream. If they were to offer channel packages for a lower subscription, I might be tempted.

Personally, I can't wait for HD radio to catch on. I work in military radio systems and I can tell you that a digital radio signal can reach much farther than an analog signal due to the much better receiver sensitivity. In analog radio, voice will reach farther than data due to discrete signal levels. In digital radio, a data stream will reach MUCH farther than the analog radio voice. This means that, as the HD radio environment matures, you'll be able to pull in radio stations from a further distance on a lower power footprint from the transmitting station than before. Hopefully this will even take care of the deadspots in the rural areas where the only thing you receive is the beyond-line-of-sight AM signals, or at least make AM radio more interesting again.
I don't presently have an HD radio even though the local stations do seem to broadcast in HD and I've borrowed a friends to check it out. It is nice to be able to drop to the HD2 or HD3 on your favorite station if a song you don't like or commercial comes on. As with any new technology, you don't want to buy into the first iteration for a couple of reasons. First and foremost is the cost involved with getting it. The first buyers foot the bill for development costs and then the price drops so that the rest of us can buy it. The second reason is that you want to wait for others to find the bugs in the system and then the manufacturer to fix them. It is sad that even hardware has gone to the Microsoft business model of release and revise with "upgrades" and patches. I'm anticipating installing an HD radio in my car right after the first of the year as the tuners have come down significantly from when I started looking at them and the local stations I listen to broadcast in HD.



on November 13, 2007 05:09 AM
# z said:

I disagree vehemently of your appraisal with the signal quality/strength. I get all the hd.1 signals perfectly. I bought a powered antennae and the signal refused to come in. I used the included dipole and got better results with that than the powered antenna, but not good enough. I bought a thicker dipole which works great, when it works at all. I bought a special antennae for HD Radio and it doesn't work at all. So I think the answer is an outdoor antennae...Here in the SF Bay area there are hills and valleys for the wave to bounce so it definitely won't go far.

on November 18, 2007 06:51 PM
# Robert said:

Can anyone comment on the quality of AM stations over HD? I live and drive very close to downtown of my city - range isn't a problem. I'm interested in getting higher quality audio for the 4 or so AM stations I listen to.

on December 1, 2007 08:30 AM
# litesong said:

My wife just got a $100 HD car stereo. To those who say they can't tell the diff between HD & FM analog broadcasts...your ears have turned to tin. Tho my wife left standard speakers in her car, HD radio is sparklingly wonderful...a clear difference. S/N is higher & stereo spread is more precise. Experimenting with treble, bass & loudness controls, you can isolate frequencies & see dramatic clarities that FM analog never had. Setting controls normally, orchestras show greater depth, violins are creamy, not sharp, solo oboes are woodier, clarinets & flutes have more presence, & bassons & basses have rolling texture in their deep tones. I will soon get HD radio in my cars with better speakers. I know excellent speakers will show even grander differences between digital & analog FM.

on December 28, 2007 07:36 PM
# S.P. Gass said:

Your post is over a year old before I read it... But, I came to the same conclusion as you: HD radios are expensive and I'll hold off on getting one.

on January 21, 2008 10:36 PM
# Vaughn said:

HD may be a farce. The Accurian Tabletop HD radio I have rolls off the high end of the regular FM audio and limits the channel separation. The HD has to sound better than analog FM.

It's easy to verify by connecting an analog FM into the AUX input and comparing the same Regular FM station.

Way to go NAB.

on February 18, 2008 09:56 AM
# stsimmer said:

I recently added the Sangean HDT-1 radio receiver to my system. I am disappointed in the quality of HD sound on the FM band - digital compression is obvious when comparing HD to Analog signals side by side. The sound flattens out in HD, taking the free and expansive dynamic of a good FM Analog signal and compressing it into a dull, one-dimensional soundstream.

What use is additional programming if the result is that all channels are of lower sound quality?

on March 30, 2008 08:12 AM
# said:

I just got the Sony xdr f1hd tuner at frys for $99. I got to say on this radio FM reception is surperb, and HD sounds even better. For $99 bucks I found it well worth it. I have one for the office and will be getting another for home too! Here is a review:

on May 2, 2008 09:58 PM
# Andrew said:

I think HD radio will be very successful, with its ability to put multiple subchannels on one FM band it will offer the variety people are looking for without the pricy subscription of XM/Sirus (which may or may not exist in their entirety after the merger). Anyway, I think that if you're thinking about doing it, and you have stations in the area with HD content I would go for it. If you're still iffy, wait a year or two, I am sure that HD radios will start to come down in price and now that the big conglomerates like Clear Channel are moving toward HD the others will soon follow suit if they are not doing so already. But I do have serious doubts on satellite's ability to stay in the game. Unfortunately they've taken the concept of radio and twisted it around. Sure there are less ads, but I really don't want to pay for the service. Plus it costs about the same to upgrade to satellite as it does to HD right now, so which is cheaper in the long run? HD doesn't have a monthly subscription, bottom line.

I just purchased an HD radio today because most of the stations in my area (and I live in a relatively small city) all broadcasting in or are about to be broadcasting in HD.

on July 1, 2008 01:13 PM
# Steven Wingate said:

To me the big advantage over satellite is that HD radio is free. I can't ever imagine paying for radio so Sirius and XM have no shot at getting my business. I do listen to a lot of talk radio on the drive home which I'd like to hear better. There are enough HD stations in L.A. to easily justify the cost.

on July 9, 2008 10:27 AM
# Douglas Hana said:

I read a lot of negative comments about HD Radio and some are certainly justified. Like others, I have been disappointed with what stations have done with their HD2 channels where I think a little imagination could have made HD a real competition. Most of the stations in my area that broadcast HD have used their subchannels as sort of variations on a theme. In other words, if their main FM broadcast is music from the '80s or '90s, its HD2 channel will be songs from the '60s, etc. If broadcasters can find better, more innovative ways to use the HD2 channels, i.e., content that can't be gotten anywhere else, HD might have a chance.

on October 7, 2008 03:02 PM
# said:

Definitely worth it, if you live near a city with HD radio stations and they have what you're interested in. It's not just the higher quality but also the HD-2 channels which just might be the music genre you're looking for.

Depending on where you live you may need a stronger antenna than the one supplied. The standard electronics store indoor dipole antenna and a transformer to link it to the receiver work wonders to bring in all the major stations in my area despite the long distance and poor location. I have no need to pay for satellite radio with all the choices available to me as it is.

on November 25, 2008 09:14 AM
# Terri said:

litesong, you rat! Glowing report of an HD radio receiver, and no mention of model or even manufacturer name! I sure would have loved this info as I'm shopping for a receiver for my husband's car this week! :] Hey, folks - in future, any time you've found a really lovely receiver or piece of equipment, or even a particularly crummy one for that matter, please remember to give us a hint at what it was so we can look for it, or avoid it? And thank you very much to the ones who already have! :]

on January 4, 2009 07:34 PM
# Paul said:

Very interesting discussion, and seemingly very divergent views from those who claim to be discerning listeners, if not audiophiles. I am not an "audiophile" but I am a discerning listener, and fully appreciate very near audiophile quality at a lesser price (i.e. Rotel amp, pre-amp &, tuner, Denon CD, old Large Advent speakers). I use a rooftop antenna in Minneapolis MN which produces, in my opinion, CD-quality sound on the FM dial. Even in my Ford truck with factory radio and slightly better speakers, the FM sound is nothing less than thoroughly enjoyable. I haven't yet jumped on HD radio, and would not even think of trying it for a quality improvement, but rather for additional programming for only the one-time cost of the turner. My local NPR affiliate (MPR) claims to have HD programming.

Minnesota Public Radio touts the Sony tuner for about $100 as being very high quality, and used in MPR studios to monitor their broadcasts. Anyone from MN or Minneapolis who can say whether the additional programming is worth another piece of gear?

on January 12, 2009 01:18 PM
# Nadine said:

I bought a Sony HD radio because I couldn't live without my CD101.9 Smooth Jazz station. At first everything was fine, but then it just times out consistenly and too annoying to listen to. So I turn on the tv and listen to one of the
jazz stations they have.

on January 24, 2009 11:37 AM
# Bobbyrae said:

I just recently got myself a DTV converter box so I could see all the HDTV broadcasts in my area and the first thing I notice is that I can get much cleaner reception of those distant stations that were so snowy before. The same thing will happen when you upgrade to HDRadio - more stations and cleaner reception.

If you go back and look at the original allocation of bandwidth for FM radio, you will find that FM stereo got really screwed because they originally couldn't see anyone broadcasting in it. So we have had to live with that short-sighted decision all these years. I have always hated losing my favorite station just because I drove 20 miles!

Is the upgrade worth it? Probably not, right now. I can think back to the original widescreen TV's that were only "HD-ready" and you had to buy a separate QAM/ATSC tuner for several hundred dollars. But of course the tuners are now integrated into the TV's and much less expensive. As I write this, JVC has a HD car stereo unit that is only about $50 more than the unit without HD. What's bumming me out right now is the almost total lack of home receiver with HD. Yamaha has it in the top of the line unit, which retails for about $1000! Yikes!

And there is the big question, which I cannot find an answer to: are they going to prevent us from recording HD radio? I can see them doing this since you would be able to make near-CD quality copies of songs and produce near perfect bootlegs. I don't want people doing that, but I do think I should be able to record stuff off the air for my own use.

on February 9, 2009 10:38 AM
# Fred who is looking for a new radio said:

Hey everyone. Nice comments on HD Radio. What I wish I could really get is a car radio that would pick up the digital radio stations (HR Radio) and also have a band to pick up the digital audio from local tv stations that may be around. There are a lot of tv programs that are just as easy to listen to as watch. Anyone have any ideas for me? Regarding HD Radio, I would be happy to put one in just to receive the side channels that would not be offered on the analog dial.

on February 17, 2009 04:31 PM
# Almas Khan said:

Give me a break what is this a Satellite Radio forum. Anyone with a "good ear" for music will tell you have sub-par Satellite radio sounds.

Before you go bashing free radio why not educate yourself on the quality of music you listen to. The quality for most channels is below that of ever standard FM not to mention HD radio. I bought an HD Radio box for my pioneer navigation unit last week and it was by far the best decision I made. Between my iPod and HD Radio I have more than enough "quality" audio to listen to . Maybe before you bash free radio you should take a minute and listen to HD Radio I live in Los Angeles have too many channels of HD Radio to count and it's stunning quality. And I've listened to my friends XM Radio which is scratching, and little substance of sound. Let's get some facts before flaming a good choice.

And Fred as for you go with HD radio assuming you have a good selection of choice in your area.

Satellite Radio is for the person who doesn't mind audio quality and wants just a bulk quantity of stations. Not high fidelity audio.....give me a break.

on May 1, 2009 02:01 PM
# Dave said:

HD radio is great, on the rare occasions it works. The signals are so weak everywhere I've been (all over California) that they constantly switch between analog and digital. Most stations have the two synced up, but the switch is annoying, and listening to the alternate station is worthless while driving. My radio doesn't have the ability to turn off HD, so I may try to open it up and disable the digital signal processing.

If you're going to be listening to the radio while stationary in a spot you know HD works, then go for it. Otherwise, don't waste your money.

on June 12, 2009 12:15 PM
# Lisa:) said:

I like new toys but didn't even think of an HD radio because I have XM. I was buying something on and they had this "special" for an iLuv HD radio/alarm clock for less than $50. I looked around it was a good price. Just got it today. It's ok. Like I first said, it's a toy. I'm having fun right now looking for those HD stations but there aren't as much as I thought they would be in NY.Don't see any difference in sound quality, I guess it depends on what kind of reception you get. Don't know if a better antenna would make much of a difference. In my opinion, HD radio is ok but it doesn't replace satallite and I wouldn't pay any more than I did.

on June 22, 2009 01:35 PM
# Jon H said:

I picked up a refurbished Boston Acoustics HD stereo clock radio at Radio Shack a few months back. I mostly listen to NPR and BBC over my computer, but the reason I bought the HD was to be able to listen to a classical station.

I live in the Boston area (then: Cambridge; now: Quincy) and there are only two classical stations that I know of. One has a fairly weak signal, and I couldn't receive it in Cambridge. The other, WGBH, is only HD.

WGBH's regular FM station is NPR and jazz. On HD, they offer three stations: the normal feed is sub-channel 1. Sub-channel 2 is the classical station. Sub-channel 3 is a repeater of the Cape Cod NPR network.

I haven't explored the other parts of the dial much.

Overall, I'm happy with my purchase. The sound is good, albeit a bit bass-heavy. (There's a setting for turning down the bass, but it's in a menu and the silly thing doesn't put the setting in effect the next time it powers up. It remembers it, it just isn't in effect. That's probably why the model seems to be discontinued. I've had to make do with just stuffing kleenex in the bass ports.) It has an aux input, so I can plug other devices, and one speaker is detached so it can be positioned away from the main part of the unit.

My main complaint is with WGBH's HD classical station. The sound is excellent, when the signal is strong, but for some reason they use a recorded station-identification, often in the late evening and wee hours of the morning, which consists of a symphony playing a soft part, a silent part, and then BAM! A sharp loud stab.

Not good at 3 AM.

Doesn't really have anything to do with HD Radio, however.

on August 2, 2009 06:30 PM
# Greg said:

I just bought my first HD radio, a tabletop unit with exceptional sound quality, in hopes of listening to WPLN, Nashville, TN's public radio station. Unfortunately, the the supplied antennas for AM and FM are inadequate and I am unable to receive the signal. In fact, here in the center of the state (25 miles from Nashville) I can pick up just two HD stations out of a dozen or so available. At night I receive WMOT out of Murfreesboro and around-the-clock WRVW out of Nashville. I plan to experiment with external antennas and possible directional antennas. Wish me luck.

on August 5, 2009 12:19 PM
# Henry said:

I bought a JVC HD radio tuner for my car and it is terrible! HD Radio cuts in and out as you drive so that you miss the most important parts of NPR news broadcasts, etc. It is enough to make you want to smash the HD radio with a hammer!
I don't know if it is because the transmitters are too weak or if my HD radio just sucks but I can't stand it. I am getting XM.

on September 26, 2009 07:27 PM
# George said:

I just got a Kenwood KDC-HD942U head unit (built-in HD receiver). My primary motivation was to make my dash look cleaner by getting the XM receiver off of it, but I also took the opportunity to get iPod integration and a bluetooth setup.

Near my work there are many HD stations. I cannot hear that much of a difference in sound quality, but my car is a little noisy. The thing I like the most is the extra channels that many of the stations broadcast. The thing I hate the most is the secondary channel become unavailable very quickly as I drive home (away from the city). Then primary channel starts drifting in and out of HD which causing some very minor distortion. Once it finally gives up on HD, the analog FM does not sound that bad, but it's somewhat annoying while it's deciding which signal to go with.

Overall, the programming is still inferior to Sirius/XM. I hate paying for radio, but the terrestrial stations are not great here in the Philly area. I have my choice of talk in the morning when I would much rather listen to music (rock/alt/80s), and in the afternoon I'm bombarded by commercials. The secondary channels seem to have less commercials (at least while I'm listening to them), but they drop out on the way home after being on the road only 15 or 20 minutes (of my 60 minute commute to the Reading area).

I've been listening to the iPod a lot more and may consider dropping Sirius is this trend keeps up. Also, I'm testing an iPhone for work right now, and the killer (personal) app for me is Pandora. I can stream Pandora over the cellular network and output the sound via bluetooth to my car stereo. It's acceptable quality, and I haven't had it drop yet (it buffers at lest 30 sec before starting to play). If work does not decide to go with them, I may go out and get my own for this very reason.

Don't get me wrong, HD radio could be very good. But, for me the reception issues and mediocre programming kill it. My only real reason to keep satellite is to hear new music, but I'm sure I can find a few podcasts that cover new music in the genres I'm interested in.

on October 4, 2009 02:48 PM
# said:

HD radio in my community offers during-the-day programming that is more to my liking than their offering on their standard FM frequency. Therefore It sounds appealing to me IF I could combine HD radio with an MP3 player. Apparently I'm a little early on that wish!

on October 11, 2009 12:07 PM
# tom said:

My favorite classical music station just converted to public radio on a different frequuency with a less powerful signal. The reception is not good. It was te only full time classical radio station in New York City. They told me that HD radio might make sense because they also broadcast in HD.
I have a bunch of money invested in my stereo system and now, I suppose, must consider an HD tuner. I've looked and found many at over $4,000. I live about 40 miles away from the transmitter. Will HD have a better chance of reaching my antennae.

on October 13, 2009 05:47 PM
# Shelly said:

Jeremy, The HD radio discussion is an old one...but I just recently purchased a new car and it has HD Radio. I have noticed that the music sounds like it is skipping or fades in and out. I took it into the dealer to look at it and they gave me a loaner car and it also has HD radio and does the same thing. Do you know if this is a possible characteristic of the HD radio? I haven't been able to find much on this...I thought I might be going crazy but when it happened in two different cars, I think there must be something to it. Any thoughts?

on October 22, 2009 07:30 AM
# DjInplay said:

I am an established full-time sound I have a sensitive ear. Quite simply I am disappointed with the sound quality of HD radio. Here's the deal with HD, it's a data stream...1 data stream per station. The more more HD channels a station has, the more the bandwidth gets divided up, thus more compression and more quality loss. CD like quality "as advertised" is only possible if a station has only 1 HD channel. Most of the stations in my market have 2 or more and the sound quality is less than a 128k mp3. It's rather easy to hear the issue during talk sets. There's this glassy, scratchy, pins & needles essy kind of thing in the vocal range...and once you start hearing it, you can easily pick it out in the music. Sounds very lossy. Yes the dynamic range and noise floor of FM isn't great, but at least it sounds natural. HD radio doesn't sound nearly as bad as satellite radio, but DOES NOT sound better enough to even justify electronic manufactures making HD gear or for radio stations to spend the money to broadcast in HD. HD radio is just another cheap gimmick.

on November 12, 2009 07:30 AM
# Tom B. said:

I didn't want a separate "table radio", and a car receiver didn't make much sense (too much noise in a car), so a year ago I bought a SANGEAN HD tuner ($149) that I hooked up to my home audio system. Regardless of what others on this blog said, there IS a definite improvement in HD FM sound quality over regular FM. If you go this route, you have to hook the HD tuner up to a spare CD input on your receiver, otherwise you won't hear the sound improvement. I live about 30 miles outside Buffalo, NY and I can pick up about 9 FM HD stations and the soud IS good. The local NPR station split their signal into 3 separate channels. 1 is regular NPR, 2 is pop/college set music, and 3 is all news and talk.
I bought a $10 rabbit ear TV antenna from Walmart and have it set on top of my entertainment unit. Definitely not high tech, but figured I'd try that first.I'll admit that the HD signal can be "picky" and you have to fool around with whatever type of antenna you have to get the strongest signal, but once it's set you're good to go. My advice:
Don't use the flimsy dipole antenna included in many HD and regular receivers. They don't work. At the least, you need rabbit ears or better yet an attic or roof mount
antenna. I'm not saying HD radio is the beat all to end all, but so far I'm happy with it.

on November 18, 2009 11:28 AM
# Sarah said:

Can a ham radio receive HD stations?

on December 16, 2009 04:00 PM
# David Curtis said:

I live in Boston and my NPR Station,WGBH, just bought another station, WCRB and moved all their classsical music over to this station. CRB has a terrible signal and can best be accessed over WGBH HD2. To accomplish this, I a bought a small Sony HD Tuner.
I find the HD sound to be brittle and sharp. Sure, there's no static, but sound is harsh. Even the live BSO broadcast sounded poor.
If this is HD radio, I think it's damn weak.

on December 21, 2009 01:12 PM
# Anne said:

I live in a very rural area and absolutely love my HD Radio [in my vehicle]. In fact, my daughter wants one, too. Maybe there is too much interference in more populous areas as my husband said his satellite radio was intermittent while in South Florida.

In rural southwestern VA HD signal and satellite signal are the same. When there is excessive tree cover the signal goes out. Yet, this is a rare occurrence and I would recommend HD radio to anyone in my area. Oh, and I have a Dual HD Radio. Nothing fancy I know, but again, the sound is clear and clean.

on January 30, 2010 07:04 PM
# Robert said:

In the San Francisco Bay Area HD Radio is a very worthwhile purchase for a vehicle. No multipath interference which makes listening to standard FM pretty horrible on many roads (I-280 and I-680 to name two.

Prices are way down since the early days of HD, and you can buy receivers at Fry's, Best Buy, even Wal-Mart now. Fry's had 13 different HD products last time I checked.

Between the improved audio quality and the better content, I find that it's rare I'll listen to non-HD FM any more. With the recently approved power increase for HD, reception will improve.

I have the DUAL XHD7714, not an expensive receiver at all.

on March 16, 2010 01:19 PM
# Steve Packard said:

I recently upgraded the audio system in my car and the head unit I selected was an HD radio capable model. It didn't really cost any more than the standard CD player head units.

I'd say that if you're upgrading anyway, consider HD radio. It's not a big enough difference to make it worth going out and buying a radio just for that, but it's worth considering if you find a unit with other features you like.

The sound is definitely better, but it can occasionally sound a little sharp and tinny. I think it likely depends on how the station encodes it.

I'd say it's worthwhile for a few reasons beyond the better music quality (which is only marginal):

1. It makes a huge difference on AM. I listen to AM for traffic and news regularly. HD radio sounds worlds better.

2. It tells you the song title and artist. Nice to know it sometimes when they don't announce it.

3. A few stations have multiple HD channels which include content you can't get on an analog radio. It adds another channel of stuff to listen to.

on June 4, 2010 10:35 PM
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