Beamer Screams

Greg Smith’s blog clued us to posts on the discussion boards from BMW owners — the original impetus of the building class-action suit against HD radio was provided by a lawyer in the firm who bought one — complaining about the standard-issue version installed in their new beamers. They’re not happy campers, in the main:

FJUNO78: [T]here is a good reason it’s free, it’s not that good, especially on a non-nav car.

rsjean: HD Radio is a sham at best. First off they knowingly play on the public’s misconception that the “HD” in HD Radio means High Definition. Never did. Never will. “HD” is simply a brand name and has no meaning, although in its early whitepapers, iBiquity (IP Holder of HDRadio) used the original name “Hybrid Digital.” That was later dropped. There is no connection with high-definition either television (HDTV), or in audio quality. Like HDTV the HD Radio specification provides enhanced capabilities over the old analog format, such as 5.1 surround sound if that floats yer boat.

The digital broadcast information in the HD Radio format is transmitted using COFDM with an audio compression algorithm called PAC – Lucent’s (Perceptual audio coder). However, audio compressed with this method led to complaints about poor sound quality, so in 2003, iBiquity combined it with an enhancer called SBR (spectral band replication) that improved audio quality at very low bit rates and branded the codec to HDC (High-Definition Coding). (HDC is a proprietary codec based upon but incompatible with the MPEG-4 standard HE-AAC). So what actually sounded worse was bandaided to make it less worse in a play to sell it to the broadcast community, hardware manufacturers desperate for a reason for you to have to but another RADIO and to the FCC to help them make it mandatory.

Bottom line is that its a move to dump analog broadcast in radio the way it was dumped in TV and reuse the bandwidth. iBiquity holds the IP on it but the FCC has not indicated it is interested in revamping the audio broadcast bands the way they needed to in TV which was tied to broadband capacity. I hate being scammed. Sorry if I ranted but this crap makes me angry. And shame on BMW for allowing their electronics infotainment partners to sell them on such a lame idea. Save the money and put an LSD in the E82 as standard equipment — that would make a lot more people happy….

Since there is no standard there is the ability for broadcasters to just plug the same existing data (music) into the new pipeline. No matter the capability then — it’s garbage in and garbage out. Since the entire scheme was motivated by potential of big money — no real thought was given to ensure that any of it were going to be used for quality.

It’s just like Digital HDTV. Broadcasters were given additional bandwidth to provide higher quality signals but many used the bandwidth to provide MORE STATIONS — MORE PROGRAMMING for MORE FEES. Filling up the new capacity that way. And this is in an environment where the FCC IS actively trying to police things. Not so in radio.

jeremyc74: Where’s the “big money” in HD radio coming from? There are no subscription fees, and the broadcast range isn’t any better than standard FM, so it’s not like radio stations are able to add a bunch of listeners and then up their ad rates. I don’t really see where they’d see the potential to take in any additional revenue at all, other than maybe lowering transmission costs with lower power transmitters.

HDproblems: “HD Radio Not High Definition”

“Despite iBiquity’s claims of improved sound quality and transmission, there have been numerous complaints about HD Radio from not only the radio industry but also consumers… Automakers are aware of the complaints associated with HD Radio. For example, in 2007, BMW released a Service Information Bulletin describing the problems associated with HD Radio, but noted that there was no retrofit kit or procedure available. The attorneys at Keefe Bartels are continuing their investigation into HD Radio and whether consumers are being forced to purchase technology that does not work as claimed. If you have experienced problems with your factory-installed HD radio receiver, we are interested in speaking to you.”…dAlerts168.asp

“Law Firm’s HD Radio Probe Picking Up Steam?”

“Keefe Bartels, the law firm that’s looking into whether consumers are unhappy with their new HD Radio car receivers, is hearing lots of stories… Keefe became interested in the technology when he bought a new BMW a couple of years ago. He says the dealer told him HD Radio wouldn’t work but that it was built into the cost of the car, because the receiver was part of a package. He says the dealer threw in a set of floor mats to compensate… Keefe says it is receiving complaints from all kinds of people and wants to determine how individuals have been affected… He’s also getting an earful from radio industry people, so this should be interesting.”

HD Radio is a sham. Since many of you are unhappy with your HD radios, this law firm wants to hear from you for a possible class-action. BMW knew back in 2007 that HD Radio simply wouldn’t work well, via a TSB, but BMW is forcing consumers to purchase HD Radio as standard, anyway. My guess is that the CEO of BMW was offered some sort of equity position in iBiquity for if/when iBiquity ever goes IPO. I already contacted the law firm.

HDproblems: Here’s where the money is coming from:

iBiquity gets royalties from everyone – stations, retailers, manufacturers, automakers, etc. Also, iBiquity recieves annual royalties from the HD2/HD3 channels from stations, and initial licensing fees to install HD Radio. There is no money to be made in HD Radio. It’s just a scam to line the pockets of iBiquity.


2 Responses

  1. Also, dd you see, on my blog, that Volvo also had a couple of TSBs that appear to be exactly the same as BMW’s TSBs? Looks link they shared the same HD Radio Trouble-Shooting Guide – LOL! Then, iBiquity, put out a Press Release touting that Volvo was making HD Radio standard for 2010/2011 models. I am still trying to dig up more HD Radio TSBs for the other automakers. This almost sounds like Civil Conspiracy to Commit Fraud.

  2. LOL! I went into all of the forums where there are HD Radio complaints and posted links to the law firm, posting as “HDproblems.” Some of the forums pulled the law firm links, but I believe they remain on Bimmerfest and a couple of other important forums. Hope they help drive traffic to Keefe Bartels.

    Another iBiquity con-job is acting like only HD Radio offers all of these new services (i.e., tagging, text displays, etc), but that is already being done through RDS/SCA analog services. Hell, one can buy a cheap $20 SCA analog radio to hear “stations between the statins,” or purchase more expensive FMeXtra radios to hear the equivalent of the HD Radio channels.

    Struble’s false claims have been repeated over-and-over on the Internet, and should be enough for Keefe Bartels to hang iBiquity.

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