Luxury Losers

This exchange on features new owners of luxury automobiles that bought into the HD radio upgrade, before finding out it wasn’t such a hot deal . . .

The HD Radio feature in the 2010 RRS seems to be either broken or worthless.

The stations I listen to generally have a very strong signal in the areas where I spend 99% of my time. Very occasionally such as on the side of one particular hill, or in my employer’s garage, I can’t get perfect reception and in the analog world would hear a bit of tuning/reception artifacting. The station doesn’t even come close to disappearing entirely in these situations, so my naive expectation was that HDRadio should easily overcome this — in fact that was the whole point of HD Radio in the first place!

What I instead notice is that frequently the RRS lights the “HD” indicator, while at the same time I can clearly hear the analog reception artifacts (snow etc). This seems just plain ole’ busted — the system is telling me that it’s receiving an HD signal but is clearly not actually tuning into it. Cycling the HD Radio setting between on and off does not help.

The dealership service guy tried to explain that sometimes the signal is too weak for HD Radio blah blah blah. I am not buying it — if the signal is strong enough for me to mostly receive the analog signal, then it should be good enough for the HD signal  . . . and in any case the system has the HD indicator lit.

All of the above said, I am quite sure that I have heard HD Radio on some occasions because there were obvious digital artifacts. I’d describe it as almost like a fraction of a second was removed from the stream every so often. Subtle, but very noticeable and after a while, annoying.

Anyone else? Even if HD Radio actually is worthless, the RRS system should not be lighting the HD indicator while it’s clearly tuned to analog signals, and it should not be introducing artifacts while it’s tuned to digital ones.

Re HD Radio oddity
by  » Sat May , 2010 5:21 am

I have HD radio on a BMW and occasionally have these issues. It seems that HD signal has to be very strong, which it usually is not, and if not, it goes to analog. The entire time of back and forth it only shows it’s HD. When the signal is strong I really cannot tell much of a difference in the sound from HD and analog and would prefer the option to leave it on analog to avoid the the back and forth from HD to analog, however BMW doesn’t give that option. I just leave it on Sirius or listen to a CD.

Re: HD Radio oddity
by » Sat May , 2010 12:19 pm

Thanks for the reply. I agree that there is little difference in sound quality.

I finally realized that I could try tuning an HD2 channel and see what happens, because these have no analog fallback. Sure enough, even in areas of very strong (analog) reception, the HD2 channel drops out completely and the radio says “no HD.”

HD Radio seems like a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. There’s a few hundred $$$ I wish had back.

At least the RR implementation allows me to turn HD radio off completely.


One Response

  1. Here are some more from BMW and Sonata owners:

    This is an older article, but it shows that dealerships don’t want to deal with HD Radio problems:

    “Radio’s Revenue Falls Even as Audience Grows”

    “HD radio is pretty much going to be nonexistent, because they can’t figure out how to get the auto guys to include that as an option, and the auto guys that do include HD don’t let the consumers know about it, Ms. Ryvicker of Wachovia Capital Markets said..”

    So, where’s the pressure coming from? CEOs that bought into HD Radio?

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