Engineering Humor

The engineers over at are having some more fun with HD radio. One commenter, Mike, gushed about the possibilities of the FM version, and one of the old salts responded, “I think Mike passed gas and mistook it for something meaningful.” Said another:

In other words, there just isn’t enough value offered to the average listener for them to bother with HD. At least satellite radio offers a ton of format options which seem to justify the price of entry to many consumers. HD really doesn’t. And therein lies the problem. It’s not just the technology, it’s what station owners have (and haven’t) done with it. There’s no reason for the average consumer to go out and buy an HD radio. The “added value” just doesn’t equate to the cost/trouble of purchasing a new HD radio.

So, is FM-HD a failure too? Well, based on the lackluster offerings and absolute lack of interest shown by consumers, you could say that it is. However, it doesn’t have to be. Unlike AM HD, it has potential. But, breathtakingly poor management of this new aspect of the medium has definitely stunted its growth so far. We shall see how it goes, but at this rate it will never take off. Why? Because it’s a 2010 answer to a 1990s question. Technology moved past this point about 10 years ago. Sure, there’s nothing to say that the few of us with HD radios won’t get to use them for a long time.  But I am having serious doubts that HD radio will ever be relevant. For that to change, “lightning” will have to strike and strike soon. So far, there’s no evidence of that in the forecast . . .

Which brings to mind the recurring question: If radio is flaming out with what it offers on its analog stations, what can it bring to all these extra stations that will turn folks on again? And get the younger generation to put down its iPods? In Austin, KUT fills its two HD stations with canned content — with one whole station devoted to canned jazz, much to the consternation of the live jazz scene here, which saw its shows on the analog station replaced by AAA pap.


2 Responses

  1. Also, there is evidence that the analog sections in HD radios have been dumbed-down, and it is a fact that at least on AM-HD the analog bandwidth for stations have been reduced to 5khz, giving AM-HD an advantage over analog. These HD Radio folks are amazing.

  2. Aside from the lack of any compelling HD2 offerings, even with the few stations that are upping their FM-HD power, dropouts will continue to plague HD Radio. Also, the tuners for HD radios are very cludgy and do not promote channel-surfing, which is effortless with regular analog tuners (message boards and forums are filled with these complaints). Also, there are time-aligning and digital artifacting problems.

    Why would stations double/triple the number of radio stations on the dial, as this just introduces more competition and dilutes the analog channels? The answer may be that the HD2/HD3 channels blank out adjacent-channel stations, forcing listeners to listen to their local HD Radio stations.

    Here is an interesting article on the Hitler’s Volksempfänger radio, which parallels HD Radio’s objectives, such as forcing listeners onto local stations:

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