HD Unplugged

Here’s an interesting post about HD with some sound bites to back it up, on the blog “Reviews & Insights” in a piece entitled “HD Radio Undressed: The Naked Truth.” The first YouTube video shows a local Chicago TV station parroting the company line about the wonders of IBOC. The second gives lie to the ubiquitous claim trumpeting “static-free AM radio.” The conclusions:

iBiquity has long claimed that HD Radio eliminates the static and interference typically associated with analog AM reception. Here, some RFI produced by my well pump disproves their claim — the static causes the receiver to drop back to analog mode, and then it takes several seconds to regain the digital signal. The receiver is an Auvio HD Radio Tuner from Radio Shack. On FM it is fine, but on AM it has very poor performance, even on analog signals. WOR is the only “HD Radio” (IBOC DAB) signal I can reliably receive in digital mode on the AM band. WFAN is flakey at best, and all other digital signals just show a flashing “HD” symbol on the receiver but never can decode the digital audio. Also, the compression artifacts in the digital audio produce a very gritty, metallic sound — very harsh and unpleasant to listen to…. The last time I tried an “HD Radio” receiver was in 2007, and nothing has improved since then. Even on the best FM signals, the digital audio is still harsh and metallic, the digital reception is still very flakey, and radio stations still have problems synchronizing their analog and digital audio. So despite all the hype, “HD Radio” just isn’t worth the money, and analog AM/FM radio still works and sounds better!

Of particular interest are the many comments, a few of which follow:

Someone uploaded a video of lightning causing problems with HD AM, and when the radio received the HD signal the music sounded like complete shit compared to the analogue AM signal. What exactly does a well pump do and does the pump run constantly? How far away from the radio is the pump located? Are the radio and the pump both on the same electrical circuit?

I have never bought an HD radio, and I never will thanks to your video. I agree that AM/FM radio works better! I just hope terrestrial radio doesn’t go away…

I can’t believe how bad AM HD sounds with it’s saccharine fake treble that’s just a step below fingernails on the blackboard. I swear if the clip ran longer I’d have to wash my AKG-240 of the blood dripping from my ears. AM-Huge Disappointment!

IBiquity was nothing but a big black hole that radio dumped millions of dollars into that could have been spent on improving programming. The technology sucks!

HD radio just sounds like a marketing gimmick, people will buy anything with “HD” slapped on it.

HD radio sucks. Its sponsored by the NAB and this tv station got some under the table cash. Mostly the “news bit” was more like a sales pitch. I’ve tried HD radio and the stations always cut off about 40 miles from the city. It might be good if you live in an urban area but not in a rural area. Satellite radio is way better than HD radio. Coast to coast coverage of the same content and no static. I rather spend the $17/month for commercial free and uncensored music and all the NFL and NHL games.

And these from the hinterlands, where the most serious damage is done to the public airwaves from digital hash:

The only HD Radio station in South Dakota is KTSD-FM in Reliance, which is a “South Dakota Public Radio” retransmitter. I have never heard HD Radio in person, mainly because receivers have been out of reach, and I’m also not interested in getting one.

I live about 45 miles away from a major city. Our little town has one FM station. I’ve been waiting for HD radio only to find out that out here it won’t do me ANY good! I can gets lots of regular FM stations here. Why change that? I remember when most new ideas seemed like good ideas. What happened? And NO WAY do I want to move to a big city. Everybody is going nuts in big cities these days.

As noted before, 40% of HD channels are local public radio stations — funded initially by $50 million in taxpayer dollars courtesy of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Which, for its part in funneling local dollars away from local content into disasters like the digital initiative, should be de-funded. Or, if not, all taxpayer dollars should come with the proviso that any station accepting public funds in any manner should be required to post a complete disclosure of how its money is spent. This total lack of transparency transcends any arguments over the political bent of the stations. Share your thoughts with your congress people: See the link “What Can I Do?” on the left to get started.


3 Responses

  1. I went by my local Ford dealer to get another key made, and I talked with a couple of salesmen. No signs of HD Radio! I told them about the Keefe/Wolf investigation and they indicated that may be partly why Ford is stalling. They had no idea what HD was (thought that I meant Satrad radio), and said that no one had asked about it – LOL!

  2. “Why ruin something that works as close to perfect as analog FM ?”

    It’s because iBiquity and the NAB/NRSC Board Members, who are investors in iBiquity, are hoping for an iBiquity IPO. Analog FM devices are ubiquitous and work almost flawlessly, but it’s all about greed and scamming the general public.

    As far as NPR, they are not listed as investors in iBiquity, but they have got to be involved in some fashion. I believe that Struble is offering CEO’s penny-stock in iBiquity, as the driving force in companies adopting HD Radio. From my Google Analytics, I’ve seen Best Buy and Amazon searching on “iBiquity IPO.” Since iBiquity is a private corporation, I believe such investments do not need to be reported to the SEC.

  3. I don’t know much about it but digital radio on AM is real bad. It might be quieter in some cases but the audio quality is dismal. Even with a consistently strong signal the strange noises and inconsistent audio quality make listening a chore. The constant switching back and forth is a good reason to turn it off. But the part I really don’t get is FM. Analog FM is so good that digital FM with all it problems isn’t needed. Why ruin something that works as close to perfect as analog FM ?

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