Is a HD radio worth investing in?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by dead of night, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. dead of night

    dead of night Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Northern Va, usa
    Hi, is HD radio broadcasting on the decline or rise? I am reading good reviews of several Sangean HD radios, but don't want to be stuck with an HD radio if HD stations slowly disappear.

    What do you think?
     
  2. Mitsuman

    Mitsuman Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis, MO USA
    It's all I listen to in my car, but finding a home HD radio is difficult these days.
     
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  3. feinstei9415

    feinstei9415 Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    HD considerations aside, a used Sony HD table radio from EBay is a great investment due to the fact that they have the same guts as the very-well-thought-of AM/FM tuner, the Sony XDR-F1HD which was recognized as one of the best tuners ever made in terms of reception quality (it had a self-adjusting IF bandwidth to pull in distant adjacent stations and great sound). The best of the Sony HD table radios is the XDR-S3HD since it has an "Aux-Out" jack so it can be plugged into a stereo system. The model XDR-S10HDiP has an IPOD dock on it, but lacks the "Aux-Out" jack (you can easily add one, but it takes about an hour of disassembly and drilling the back case for mounting two RCA jacks).

    The multicasting abilities of HD radio on FM give a great variety of stations depending on where you live. Unfortunately, the stupid HD-Radio website does not give you a definitive list of all of the stations in your area (for example, I live in South Bend... the website does not give me the 3 multi-cast NPR station in nearby Elkhart which is perfectly receivable in South Bend).

    What amazes me most about HD radio (BTW: "HD" stands for "Hybrid Digital", NOT "High Definition") is what it can do for an AM radio signal. The fact that they can tack on a pretty-high-fidelity-stereo AM signal to an existing analogue AM signal is pretty cool technology.

    Many radio engineers and listeners don't like HD Radio because it hurts the ability to hear weak stations that are adjacent to nearby strong HD stations on both the FM and AM dials due to digital hash. The Sony radios that I mentioned above do not have this problem due to their ability to automatically adjust their IF bandwidth to pull in weak adjacent stations (I can pull in Chicago stations that are adjacent to local South Bend stations just fine with the Sony XDR-S10HDiP radio that I have sitting in my bedroom).

    I use a McIntosh MR-88 AM/FM tuner which is equipped with HD-Radio capability which also has the "self-tuning" IF feature. When hooked to my outdoor FM antenna, I easily pull in stations in Chicago, Milwaukee, Lansing, etc.
     
  4. feinstei9415

    feinstei9415 Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    By the way.... I purchased (and then returned) one of the Sangean HD radios. The Sony table radios are markedly superior in terms of both fidelity and ability to pull in distant stations. Try to find a used Sony....
     
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  5. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker Formerly Philip Hamm

    Location:
    Northern VA, USA
    I use it in the car all the time. The problem is the substations are not very well utilized by the broadcasters and on most HD radios they are not as easy to find/use as they should be. I think HD radio is kind of a bust as far as taking over the FM infrastructure, but as far as making for good sounding radio and multiple substations I like it.
     
  6. hifisoup

    hifisoup Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Illinois
  7. Catcher10

    Catcher10 Well-Known Member

    I don't use it the car, I should try though as I have a Sony Xplod system but you have to buy a HD module or something.....At home that is all I listen to. My ZuneHD32 media player has FM radio and receives in HD and I think it is excellent sounding.....no noise. I don't have a receiver, only int amp, the Zune is connected thru my TubeDac11 via toslink, I have a Zune docking station, so I get a nice sounding hi-rez signal from the TubeDac11, best FM sound I ever had.

    The Zune dock has a wire lead antenna, not the best but works decent, I guess I could run that lead to a better antenna but I don't do FM much anyhow, really only listen to NPR for Jazz, the local station here has 2 channels.
     
  8. dead of night

    dead of night Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Northern Va, usa
    Hi, was it one of the recent Sangean HD radios? They are out this year, and well reviewed. I had a nice Sony HD table radio, until it stopped working for no reason. Reading the Amazon reviews, this was a pretty common problem.
     
  9. Lord Hawthorne

    Lord Hawthorne Currently Untitled

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    The technology has a future, but commercial broadcasting is in a dead-end rut, witness the heavy debt the largest broadcasting corporations have been carrying for years. Small play lists on "local" stations that are the same in every market, and heavily-syndicated programming on the rest, make radio dull and redundant in most of the country.
     
  10. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker Formerly Philip Hamm

    Location:
    Northern VA, USA
    I had a Sony stereo with SACD (that was awesome for multichannel DVD, CD, and SACD in the car!!) in my last car. It was great - I got the HD radio add-on thingy from Sony for it to listen to a specific subchannel on one of the local broadcast channels; that was my first exposure to HD Radio and I love it in the car. Granted my exposure is limited, I haven't seen the subchannels well represented in any of the car systems I've seen (their existence and how to access them is downright hidden in my current Subaru stereo). The add-on module is easy to install but it takes a lot of room.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  11. Ron Scubadiver

    Ron Scubadiver Active Member

    Location:
    Houston TX
    Chances are you can stream the stations you want over the internet.
     
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  12. pdxway

    pdxway Active Member

    I used the older version of Insignia brand like this:

    Insignia™ - Tabletop HD Radio - Black »


    I use headset to RCA adapter to connect it to my receiver. Good enough for background music. Plenty loud and clear. It cut down the annoying statics that I typically get from normal FM.

    But for critical listening, may be go with those recommended by others.
     
  13. SonyTek

    SonyTek Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Inland Empire, CA
    If you're talking about using FM HD in the home and not in the car, you can pick up one of Grace Digital's internet radios such as this one (I have one of these I use every day)

    Stereo Internet Receiver »

    I have found most (if not all) of the local FM stations here in LA stream their primary channels as well as their HD-1, HD-2, etc. signals over the net. I would assume that's probably the case elsewhere also.

    In my car, I have a JVC head unit I installed that has FM HD, but in the hilly area I live, it drops in and out constantly so I rarely use it.
     
  14. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ohio
    I'm hopefull that once it becomes entirely unprofitable, the big companies sell stations and they become independently owned and operated. Kind of like a local record store vs fye
     
  15. forthlin

    forthlin Forum Resident

    Completely with you in spirit. However, the new independent owners are going to want/need to turn a profit too. As long as they have to play the ratings game to succeed, I wouldn't expect much to change.
     
  16. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ohio
    I think that might need to be the change to make it profitable. That and making it a small business with just a few employees that do an air shift that they program themselves and then operations responsibilities for the rest of the work day. I think there is a market for free interesting programming, the problem is there is no creativity in the medium. Perhaps a bit in marketing but none in programming
     
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  17. Uncle Meat

    Uncle Meat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston, Tx, US
    I love it, listen to it ALL the time, but I would think it depends on what stations use it around your area.
    Here, in Houston, NPR and Pacifica both use it, so I wouldn't buy new radio without it.
    Like SACD, a great product that people miss out on....
     
  18. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker Formerly Philip Hamm

    Location:
    Northern VA, USA
    Interesting analogy but HD radio is more like HDCD IMO. It's a nominal improvement and the backwards compatible basic concept is perfectly adequate for 99.9% of the population.
     
  19. SixtiesGuy

    SixtiesGuy Forum Resident

    One of the reasons corporate radio is the failing, over-commercialized mess it is today is that these corporations are still trying to pay off the enormous debt they incurred years ago when they bought up all the stations they own. They paid too much for them and have to run a ridiculous number of ads to try to make enough money to survive. Plus, they all fight to appeal to the same, very limited audience advertisers think are in the "money demographic". If these stations became available at more market-appropriate prices, independent owners would be under less financial pressure and might be willing to try alternatIves to current programming .
     
  20. Bubbamike

    Bubbamike Well-Known Member

    If you like MP3 you'll like HD Radio. HD1 is usually 64kbs while HD2 and 3 are 48kbs. I've found very little on the side channels to be worthwhile. Fun to play with at first but nothing to get excited about. Not to many new installations as HD is pretty much dead at this point. Which is why there are so few new tuners. Sony stopped making home versions, as has Polk. So you are limited to Sangan and Grace. YMMV
     
  21. Mitsuman

    Mitsuman Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis, MO USA
    I guess we're fortunate here, because not only do we have the longest running and best FM rock station, KSHE 95, but they have two HD channels that sound excellent and play virtually commercial free AOR just like I remember them playing on-air from the mid-70's up until around 1984.
     
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  22. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ohio
    I think the answer is "yes". How much of an investment are you really looking at to get free content? I don't think the signal is going to go away if you have a station that is broadcasting something you want to hear. If it is a choice, something that can stream internet stations from around the world is going to be more fun but you have to pay for the internet signal.
     
  23. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker Formerly Philip Hamm

    Location:
    Northern VA, USA
    The biggest problem with HD radio is that subchannels are hidden in most implementations that I've seen.

    B101 is a pop station in the Philly area - their .2 subchannel is an 80s channel with a great playlist and (orders of magnitude) better sound quality than the Sirius music 80s channel and very near zero commercials. I listen to it whenever I'm in the area driving. Where I live the CBS Sports talk channel used to broadcast 3 subchannels that were other market CBS Sports channels. It was great! Listening to the Philly area sports channel on my commutes was a big reason I got an HD tuner in my car. Since then they replaced the Philly feed with a Baltimore feed (they kept NY and Chicago feeds in place - and it's still very cool to me that they do this with their HD capability). These days I just use the internet streaming radio apps to do the same thing. Lots of NPR stations all over the country use the subchannels effectively also .

    Lots of car radio tuners like the one in my Subaru Outback have HD Radio. However, there's nothing on the display that indicates that there are subchannels - every channel that is HD is by default HD-1. There's nothing to indicate that there are any other subchannels available, and you have to hit a special "HD" button to access them. On my Sony you hit the station preset button multiple times to get to the subchannels. I'll bet that 99% of the people with this radio/Outback don't ever use subchannels or even know they are there. You have to hit the button, and there's *nothing* to indicate that hitting that button would do anything. You have to either be specifically looking for subchannels on each station, or know by some other means that they are there. I found that cool B101 subchannel entirely by accident.

    HDTV implemented subchannels much more effectively in most tuner UIs IME.

    Many car radio tuners built in to new autos have HD capability - do new receivers have it also?
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
  24. Mitsuman

    Mitsuman Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis, MO USA
    My Sony shows all of the sub channels, if they exist, for any broadcast FM station I tune in to. In order to access any stations sub channels, I simply press "Direct Tune" on my touchscreen and enter for example, 9, 4, 7, 2 and it will tune in 94.7-2. I press an open pre-set slot on the screen and voila, I now have 94.7-2 saved as a preset station.
     
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  25. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Location:
    Boston MA
    I get what you are saying.
    I have been using a McIntosh MR88 HD radio for the last year and I love it. I also have an HD radio in the car. The technology definitely has a future. I am not a tech, buy I'm thinking that if I can receive 1080i TV over the air via an antenna with great results, why can't I receive Hi-res audio the same way. With my MR88 I can send a digital signal out to my Esoteric which can handle hi-res of all sorts via it's digital inputs. Right now I don't bother because I am not getting hi-res, just close to cd quality which is pretty good.

    I live in Boston and several stations offer 3 different channels. For instance, Classic Rock-Blues-Crooner music.
     
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