Tuesday, October 30, 2007
FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK
Terrestrial radio isn't dead. More than 3,000 stations are broadcasting HD, delivering CD-quality audio with no monthly fees. You just need the right tuner to pick up the signal. — Roger Thomasson
[Someone needs to set the author of this article straight, there are only half that many stations broadcasting in IBOC in the US! - ed.]
Sunday, October 28, 2007
The following samples represent the following radio formats:
- 24 kbps, KFAB, Omaha
* XM low bitrate talk radio
- 24 kbps
* Standard AM
- KFAB, Omaha
Mainly these samples exist to show what digital HD Radio sounds like on AM. Recently the FCC granted radio stations the privilege to broadcast HD-AM at night. This makes a world of difference for talk radio shows.
According to sources on the web, both HD-AM and XM Talk 165 broadcast around 24 kbps. Their audio samples do sound about the same to the ear.
The compression artifacts on both HD AM and XM radio are quite noticeable at this low bitrate. A strong AM signal on a good radio can rival the digital in overall fidelity. However, the lack of hiss, pop and fade, along with immunity from outside interference makes the digital experience more enjoyable.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
The problem with HD Radio is that it isn’t readily available in all areas, and the quality of sound is still something to be desired over regular FM radio. We found that some HD Radio stations in our area were not clear and were dropping in and out. These problems aren’t singular to this particular model HD Radio either, all HD Radio’s will suffer from this problem due to the current infrastructure of the technology.
It seems like a much better decision to go with XM or Sirius satellite radio, since it is available nationwide and without interruption most of the time. If you still want to give HD Radio a try, the XDR-S3HD Tabletop HD Radio from Sony will set you back $200.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Broadcasters have long cast a wary eye toward the digital realm. Even with grudging acceptance that ‘the world is going digital’ the unease is endemic. And the answers from consumers only reinforce every digital fear.
Programming side broadcasters tend to be rather more right-brained than the left-brained engineers and accountants. Programmers talk about concepts; engineers talk about boxes. Broadcasting needs both sides of the brain, certainly, but visualizing consumer behavior remains the domain of programmers.
Something about digital radio has bothered broadcastings’ concept side, something not well articulated.
American broadcaster Cox Radio commissioned veteran audience researcher Bob Harper to find out how radio listeners may or may not use the new digital radio platforms. In a series of focus groups conducted in three US cities two years ago Harper sorted out a quite different layer of digital questions. The results were summed up nicely by one study participant - “Why don’t they just leave it alone?”
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
By Tom Feran
Plain Dealer Reporter
In television, HD stands for high definition. In radio, it doesn't really stand for anything, which may sum up the problem that HD Radio has with most consumers.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Technology is always changing in today’s fast-paced environment. Almost every industry in the United States has seen major technical changes. Radio is no different. Most Americans have heard of HD TV, however, the concept of HD Radio sounds unfamiliar.
According to hdradio.com, HD Radio takes FM stereo broadcasts and transforms the sound into CD quality. The AM band also benefits from HD Radio technology, as AM broadcasts are transformed into FM quality sound.
Public radio in Washington, DC continues to shill for the Hybrid Digital/Analog (not “High Definition”) HD Radio™ system. The public radio audience is as skeptical of this as other segments of the consumer audience — maybe more so. This is a version 1.0 transitional technology – good only until all radio is digital — and public radio listeners are more highly-educated than other radio market segments.
It doesn’t help that station management insists HD Radio™ is a “robust, sustainable service” while displaying a transmitter map showing you can’t get their 500 watt HD Radio™ broadcasts most places the station’s 50,000 watt analog signal is heard, and suggests that an old-style TV roof antenna makes a dandy accessory for your brand-new HD Radio™.
To “jumpstart the migration of the existing audience to the new radio dial position, to propagate the new technology” the station is giving away HD Radio™ units, and the nonprofit public radio station is flogging the things with website links to retailers. It’s very sad, and coming to public stations across the nation, because the money has already been spent.
It reminds me of an old 1960s LP for kids, “You be a DJ.” Kids would play it, introduce songs, and talk - and no one else was listening.
HD Radio™ Fantasyland — 1 comment
Mike Licht wrote 19 hours ago: The FCC recently adopted the HD RadioTM standard over competing technologies, and stations have begin a radio campaign to …
HD Radio Manufacturing Capacity Doubled Since 2006
broadcastequipmentguide wrote 1 week ago: iBiquity Digital Corporation, the developer of digital HD Radio technology, announced today that demand for HD Radio receivers has resulted...
HD Radio™, Ford Tough -- to Receive — 4 comments
Mike Licht wrote 2 weeks ago: HD Radio™ will be available in 2008 Fords – a dealer-installed accessory, not a factory-installed option. Translation: expensive. You …
IBOC TECHNOLOGY:An Assessment of Technical & Operational Issues in the Canadian FM Radio Environment
(Deals with FM IBOC, but there is a direct connection to AM IBOC by inference)
The Digital Radio Co-ordinating Group (DRCG) has prepared this report to assist broadcasters
and government regulators in assessing the technical & operational issues associated with
introducing in-band on-channel (IBOC) digital radio broadcasting (DRB) services in the
Canadian FM radio environment. Because it has been adopted as an IBOC standard by the US
FM radio industry, and equipment was therefore readily available, iBiquity Digital Corporation’s
HD RadioTM system was utilized in this evaluation.
The DRCG considers that, based on the evidence currently in hand, it would be risky for
Canadian broadcasters to proceed at this time with an unrestricted roll-out of HD Radio
services in the FM band, in the manner implemented in the US.
After feeling like I've been shouting into the wind alone for so long about this, it's great to see others taking a critical perspective on HD's fundamental flaws. Check the following blogs for lots of information about this tainted technology, especially since these folks are also doing an excellent job aggregating news coverage of the issue:
As HD Radio braces for a sliver of success -- adding advertisers and a new wave of portable receivers -- critics say tight control by big radio companies at the top is smothering the fledgling industry's chances.
"Radio's most popular formats were created by radio rebels, outlaws, misfits and ne'er-do-wells -- not by corporate marketing executives," says Robert Hughes, co-owner of San Diego rock station KPRI, which has no immediate plans to broadcast in HD.
Over the last two years, about 1,500 U.S. radio stations have made the leap to digital broadcasting, terrestrial radio's response to the overwhelming success of the iPod and the threat posed by satellite radio. The technology -- known as HD Radio, although the letters don't stand for "high definition" or anything else -- allows stations to broadcast in higher fidelity and offer secondary channels to listeners with special digital radios.
Stations spend an estimated $100,000 each to upgrade their transmitters to carry digital signals, according to the HD Digital Radio Alliance trade group, which is dominated by huge radio companies.
But so far, digital radio has generated nearly no buzz. HD Radio technology company iBiquity Digital estimates about 200,000 HD radios were sold last year, and predicts between 1 million and 1.5 million will be sold this year.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Just leave AM radio alone! Please turn off HD Radio IBOC, pull out the NRSC filters and let a grand old medium serve its public well! No other technology can achieve direct nationwide distribution using a ten dollar hand-held receiver. And, no, I don't want to listen to all my radio via the Internet quite yet. Get back to basics and let AM radio shine again. Have you ever heard two or three IBOC beehives phase together? Oh, my poor ears! Here comes the train! Let's stop it before it's completely out of control!
Note: Most AM stations utilizing IBOC do not utilize the system at night. According to IBOC proponents, as of October 2007, "fewer than 100 stations" are utilizing the system because of skywave adjacent-channel interference problems (see "DROPPING LIKE FLIES," this site.) An unknown number of AM stations using IBOC are "daytimers" meaning they have no nighttime authority under any circumstances, or are "daytimers with post-sunset authority" meaning they have very small nighttime operating power. Since IBOC utilizes only about 1/100th of AM carrier power the system would not work reliably with the usual PSSA authorized station, operating with only 5 to 50 watts, so daytimers are not candidates for nighttime use of the system.
RELEVANT STATISTICS: 95% of AM stations do NOT operate IBOC, with something between 98% and 99% of AM stations NOT operating with the system at night. Only 84% of FM stations are utilizing IBOC, including noncommercial licensees. This is after four years of frantic industry promotion, ineffectual on-air promotion and lobbying of the FCC to establish IBOC as "the" digital standard.
Ever wished you could get the same quality of sound from your radio as you do from your CD? Or that your radio signal didn’t fade out just when you wanted to listen to the game? Now you can. Get the kind of sound that was previously reserved for your HDTV, CD system or MP3 player. Get it on your radio. And get it for free!
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* No station drop-off
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NOTE: Webcasts such as this one utilize a compressed electronic file and should not be considered a true replica of the superior sound quality you get with HD Radio.
End The Radio Engineering Scourge That Could Mean Doom To AM Radio
A hybrid digital/analog broadcasting system has been pushed through a perfunctory FCC approval process, by the developer working in concert with the National Association of Broadcasters and large corporate radio groups to benefit a few big-market Am radio stations.
Not only does "In-Band", On-Channel" hybrid/analog AM radio not work well - it generates harmful interference which could end AM radio listening as it has existed since 1920.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
By: RANDY DOTINGA - For the North County Times
If a radio station broadcasts music and nobody listens, does it make a sound?
Last week, I wrote about how local stations are embracing HD Radio, which allows them to broadcast in higher fidelity and offer alternative programming on digital subchannels. If you get an HD Radio ---- they cost $100 and up ---- you can tune in to about 10 of these local channels, some of which I wrote about last week.
But while plenty of stations have spent money and time on the digital technology known as HD, there are plenty of signs that few people are interested.
Consider North County rock station KPRI, which doesn't have a digital signal. According to KPRI's Bob Hughes, it seems that a grand total of one person has asked when the station will start broadcasting in digital.
And who's that person? Me. Your humble radio columnist. That, Hughes said, "speaks volumes about HD."
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
WASHINGTON -- October 15, 2007: The HD Digital Radio Alliance -- a joint initiative by a number of leading broadcasters to promote consumer adoption of HD Radio -- has renewed its charter and committed to an additional $230 million in marketing funds for 2008. That brings the group's total financial commitment to $680 million.
"Our renewed charter shines the spotlight on local markets and the unique content offered on the new HD2 radio stations," said HD Digital Radio Alliance President/CEO Peter Ferrara. "Now is the time for each local market manager, program director, and sales manager to step up and make HD Radio a part of their business objectives for 2008."
iBiquity Digital has re-launched its retail sales training web site at hdradiouniversity.com. Developed in collaboration with Chalk Media Corp. and its chalkboard learning platform, HD Radio University is designed to educate retail sales people, who are currently selling HD Radio products in the U.S.
The interactive learning web site is designed to give retailers the tools they need to increase their knowledge of HD Radio Technology. The site opens with an informative video, featuring leading consumer electronics product educator David Chalk. Entitled "The HD Radio Story," the learning site covers the basics of HD Radio Technology as well as new advanced features such as the recently announced iPod iTunes Tagging.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
This is the cheapest HD Radio receiver now on the market, but even at $200 it's too expensive given its subpar sound
It's true that the RadioShack Accurian is the most affordable way into the appealing new club that is HD Radio, but it's costly for all the wrong reasons. One look underneath the base of an Accurian explains its $200 price tag. There, a sticker reads: "HD Radio Technology Under License From iBiquity Digital Corporation." Instead of developing a radio capable of superior sound quality, I'm guessing that RadioShack paid iBiquity a fortune for the license, cheaply put together a subpar product, and passed the licensing cost on to consumers.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
HD Radio still has a lot to prove, starting with its relevancy.
Will people turn off their satellite radios, pause their iPods or fold shut their MP3-loaded cellphones to flip on a newly digitized AM/FM radio?
Uh, not so far. Despite more radio stations' shifting to the new digital technology licensed by Ibiquity Digital Corp. (ibiquity.com), HD Radio is still in the Perez Hilton stage: loved by some, unknown or unwanted by most.
With a Stalled Rollout and Little Support From the Big Three, Are Industry Insiders Starting to Doubt HD?
It’s beginning to seem like a long time ago when many of us started laying plans to add IBOC digital transmission to our stations.
The topic has dominated our industry as a seminal yet controversial issue since the early 1990s. Early adopters have been running HD Radio for almost five years. But the long ordeal of converting radio broadcasting from analog to digital in this country is still in its infancy.
By the time you read this, fulltime AM-HD IBOC operations will have commenced for many key stations. The early fallout from skywave interference will be raining down from the ionosphere and the FCC will be dealing with the first round of formal complaints. Except for real interference that falls inside protected contours, other complaints will undoubtedly be dismissed.
AM-HD has from the beginning been widely criticized as the noisy and disruptive neighbor a lot of folks hoped would not move in next door. Other than a few isolated cases, Ibiquity has assured us the problem will not be all that bad. Instead of worrying about the background hiss or losing fringe area listeners, we should focus on the benefits of high-fidelity digital stereo on AM for the first time.When all is said and done it probably won’t matter if AM-HD in the hybrid mode succeeds or not. The big signal AM news-talkers are the anchors saving the AM band and don’t need 15 kHz stereo to remain successful. If anything, lost fringe area coverage hurts them more than any benefit that might be derived from HD.
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You can record while you listen, or you can set up recordings to occur later, or according to a repeating schedule. You never have to miss a favorite show again. Recordings are saved to your hard disk, and can be added (automatically!) to your iTunes library for listening on your iPod.
radio SHARK 2 can "pause" live radio.
Griffin's radio SHARK software keeps track as you listen. Need to jump up and answer the door? ...take a quick refreshment break? Go ahead; the show will go on... when you tell it to. You can pause the broadcast and come right back to where you left off, moments or even hours later.
radio SHARK 2 adds Internet Radio to your old stand-by AM & FM.
radio SHARk's on-screen radio "tuner" looks, feels, and works just the way you expect a radio dial to work. Your dear Grandma & Grandpa would feel right at home with it. There's nothing to learn, no dues to pay, no paradigm to shift. But, let's face it — it's the 21st Century. Along with the usual fare of AM/FM talk shows, call-ins, top-forty, and easy (and sometimes no-so-easy) listening, you get to browse the ever-expanding world of Internet Radio. You get to sample broadcasts that couldn't squeeze their way between the curve of the earth and the ionosphere. You, or your listening, at any rate, get to go global, You get to try, before you buy, great music and sounds from all over the world, via Cyberspace. And how hard is it to master? It's just like listening to Radio.
radio SHARK 2 gives you computerized control over your radio listening.
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Tuesday, October 9, 2007
There is a general disinterest amongst consumers in the new Digital HD Radio. According to a survey by Bridge Ratings, when asked the question, "Would you buy an HD radio in the next two months?" only 1.0% responded "yes". Some engineers have also expressed distrust or dislike of the new system.
HD Radio tuners have been noted as being very insensitive, making reception problematic. In hybrid mode, the HD Radio signal is 1/100th the power of a station's analog signal. For this reason, the HD Radio signal will sometimes drop out and the receiver will revert to analog mode. This can be especially problematic in fringe areas, where the digital signal may frequently be lost. In addition it has been noted that the analog section displays poor reception capabilities compared to older non-digital models.
Whereas DRM and DAB are controlled by non-profit consortiums with members from more than 30 countries, iBiquity ultimately has control over HD Radio receiver-manufacturer licensing and broadcaster licensing. HD Radio has been officially adopted only by the US and Brazil. iBiquity has stated in PR articles that countries evaluating HD Radio include Canada, France, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Switzerland, and Thailand. However as of mid-2007, Canada and Switzerland have officially selected, or are also testing, the Digital Audio Broadcasting standard, and France has already chosen DAB. iBiquity and other sources do not explicitly state in published articles what technically comprises the "evaluation", whether there are ongoing or elapsed test transmissions, and the quantity or power of transmitters.
HD Radio has been criticized for being incompatible with the standards selected by most other countries; hence overseas travel with an HD Radio, or the sale of radios to or from countries that don't use HD Radio is not possible. Manufacturers presently must design and build separate radios for the U.S. market. For broadcasting on frequencies below VHF (including Shortwave and AM/Medium Wave), most countries (and the standards organizations ITU, IEC, and ETSI) have adopted the Digital Radio Mondiale system, abbreviated "DRM" (not related to Digital Rights Management). For VHF and higher frequencies, a majority of countries have adopted or are evaluating the Digital Audio Broadcasting, abbreviated "DAB" system (see "Regional implementations of DAB" in Digital Audio Broadcasting).
The U.S. FCC selected HD Radio as the official digital radio system in 2002, and without provision for compatibility with DAB (ratified by the ITU-R standardization body in 1994) and DRM (ITU ratified April 2001). Thus, although an analog radio from one continent can be taken to another and it will work to some degree, the differences between HD Radio and DAB/DRM make listening to the other system impossible.
Unlike regular car radios, which come fitted as standard equipment with virtually all automobiles, HD Radio requires consumers to purchase a new radio costing more than $100.
Here at Bridge Ratings, we are often asked about HD radio. Is there a future? And, if there is a future from a consumer's perspective, how well- in our opinion - will HD radio enhance terrestrial radio's future?
In a just-completed Bridge Ratings study of 3179 consumers ages 12+, our client's goal was to determined the current status/awareness of HD radio among average Americans and how it compares to Internet radio in use and interest.
This chart provided by BIA Financial Network expresses the most current status of the number of HD On-air radio stations in the U.S. 278 HD stations are on the air in the top ten radio markets - about 36%. This compares to 18% of the stations in markets 51-100 that have invested in HD technology for their stations.
I was impressed with the British Invasion in the 1960's. "Those Brits are real good", I thought to myself as the whole string of music successes starting with the Beatles came across the 'pond' to invade America.
Now, they're showing up America once again, but this time it's in the area of HD radio - or "Digital Radio" as they package it.
In a survey just released by Britain's ratings service
At first glance, this is rather impressive. However, when combining those three digital radio sources in the U.S., the percentage of the American populous that listens to some form of digital radio is closer to 50%:
- Internet radio - 60 million
- HD Radio - 500,000
- Digital TV - 90 million homes
As part of a nationwide digital radio sales push, Best Buy on Monday announced plans to offer HD Radio products at all of its 832 U.S. stores. The rollout, part of the retailer's partnership with the HD Digital Radio Alliance, is effective immediately.
"The HD Digital Radio Alliance and iBiquity have created momentum with customers that now make HD Digital Radio one of the hottest electronics choices around," said Chris Homeister, Best Buy vice president of merchandising. "Product is now available in all of our stores, so no matter where our customers live, they can discover HD Radio and experience the crystal clear sound and new programming choices."
In addition to the HD hardware -- including options for car, home and mobile listening -- Best Buy's HD Radio rollout includes a customer education and marketing program that incorporates an interactive, in-store display. This effort will be bolstered by tie-in ads created by both Best Buy and the Alliance.
"This is another major step forward for HD Radio technology," said Robert Struble, president and CEO of HD Radio developer iBiquity. "Following rapid adoption by the broadcast community and an increasing range of products for the mass market, Best Buy's efforts will dramatically accelerate consumer adoption of this great new technology."
Description: This is a group for discussing HD radio, it's viability in the market place, HD receivers and technology, programming, reception, and in general anything concerning HD radio that shouldn't be clogging up other newsgroups, like rec.radio.shortwave.
Monday, October 8, 2007
HD Radio is a great way to upgrade your car's radio, since you get better-quality FM broadcasts and your favorite AM talk show sounds likes it's on the FM band. The only catch is that you need a head unit or home receiver that's HD-Radio capable. At least you did until Visteon's HD Jump (set to retail between $200 and $250) arrived on the scene.
The HD Jump is a small transportable HD Radio receiver that can be used in the car or in your home with an optional dock. It mounts on top of your dashboard or wherever's convenient, really. The large monochromatic display shows station information, song titles, and the like, and it lets you select between multicast HD signals (extra stations on the same frequency) on stations that that are actually using them (still a rarity). It has an FM-modulated output, but that won't give you the audio benefits, so better to use the auxiliary output and plug that into the aux input of your head unit.Even better, the HD Jump also has its own aux input, so you can plug your iPod or other portable audio device into the it and use its FM modulator to broadcast the signal to your car's in-dash receiver.
By Richard Menta 3/24/07
Central New Jersey is an ideal location for receiving broadcast radio and television. The state is perfectly sandwiched between New York and Philadelphia and with a population of nearly nine million residents it is heavily targeted by the stations that serve these two major cities. This is the most densley populated state in the country and the one with the second highest per capita income, making it an advertiser's dream.
The FM dial is so crowded, in fact, that there are only a few relatively open frequencies where I can effectively utilize the FM transmitter that allows me to listen to my iPod in the car. What better market is there to sample the burgeoning HD radio offerings, all provided by the same stations that presently serve this region?
Across the U.S. radio stations are in the process of installing new digital “HD Radio” transmission equipment. This will allow them to broadcast a digital radio signal as well as their existing AM or FM signals.
There is one problem though - almost no-one in the country actually owns an HD radio. Some car makers are beginning to install them in new cars, but finding an HD radio for your home is nearly impossible. In any event most Americans have no idea that HD radio even exists.
A clue to why this situation exists may be found in an advertisement in the latest issue of Radio, a broadcast trade magazine.
I found it hard not to think back to the Grapes of Wrath, and imagine how much happier the Joad family (pictured here?) would have been if they could have listened to their Old Time Radio shows in crystal clear digital HD sound. Certainly the Great Depression wouldn’t have seemed so depressing. Who knows, maybe they wouldn’t have left for California!
Radio listening has been in decline for a couple of decades, and satellite, Internet, and podcasting are all making inroads. Regular broadcasters are getting nervous about what the future holds for them.
Apparently though not nervous enough to drag their ideas and marketing out of the 1940s and into the the new Millennium.
HD Radio promises a lot but what does it actually deliver? According to Gizmodo, if you’re listening to it with the Accurian Tabletop HD Radio, not much - in fact, despite the claims of CD quality the sound was pretty meh and the price decidedly bwuh?!
At $175, Gizmodo were hoping for something more fulfilling than merely on-screen song details. Not recommended.
Expert warns listeners will tune in to new technology
In an address that made the musings of Nostradamus seem rosy by comparison, a respected industry observer warned radio executives Wednesday that their industry would all but evaporate within 20 years.
Michael Harrison, publisher of the talk-radio magazine Talkers, told a group at the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Show that competing technologies -- like Internet, Wi-Fi, podcasts and cell phones -- would all but fill the niche they now occupy.
"These are dark times for terrestrial radio," Harrison said. "And most people in terrestrial radio are in denial of it."
Meeting this week at the Charlotte Convention Center are more than 4,000 radio industry executives, on-air personalities and station owners for the NAB's annual gathering.
Harrison, who entered broadcasting in 1967 and has published Talkers since 1990, said he believes most listeners will abandon the traditional AM and FM radio services and migrate to new technologies in the next two decades.
"The next 15 years will be the demise of terrestrial radio as we know it and the rise of the extraterrestrial," he said. Just as Vaudeville gave way to movies and horses to the automobile, he said, radio will be overtaken by gadgets that serve people's needs more efficiently.
Radio isn't an industry in need of a pep talk -- profit margins of 40 percent are not uncommon at stations and listenership has held up well compared with the erosion of broadcast television.
But advertising revenues are flattening, innovations like HD radio have been all but ignored by the public and the industry is struggling with finding a revenue model that works with new technology like Internet streaming.
There is a place where the audience for free, over-the-air radio is growing, not shrinking, where new technology allows listeners to pause and rewind songs as they play or to bookmark their favorite tunes.
In that place, millions of listeners have bought newfangled digital radios to tune in to recorded books, a news station aimed at kids, a classic jazz channel, sports events not available on ordinary AM and FM radio, and extended live coverage of concerts and music festivals.
I used a Sanyo ECD-HD1990M Car stereo reciever for these tests. I chose Sanyo, because of their history of making good analog radio receivers with excellent selectivity and sensitivity. See my “The Best Radios” for more information.
The antenna in all of these tests was placed on the top of a chevy Astro van, on the “CB MOUNT” flat spot, towards the rear of vehicle, and a braided and foil shield, high quality cable was run through the vehicle away from internal wiring to a PL259 “UHF” plug, where it was then screwed into a motorola plug adaptor and plugged into the radio.
Q: What is HD Radio?
A: The term "HD Radio" is iBiquity Digital Corporation's trademarked name for their digital audio broadcasting technology, which has become the IBOC standard adopted for the United States. (more)
FOLLOWING CLOSE ON THE HEELS of last week's announcement from Clear Channel Radio, virtually all the other big American radio broadcasters said Tuesday they will begin using technology that allows listeners to "tag" songs played over HD radio for later purchase on iTunes. The list includes CBS Radio, Cumulus Media, Cox Radio, Entercom Communications and Greater Media.
JVC Mobile announced the first plug-and-play HD-Radio receiver that can shuffle between the home and car without requiring professional installation.
The JVC KT-HDP1 can work with most existing radios to provide HD-Radio multicast reception. The AM/FM/HD-Radio unit is shipping now to Best Buy and will carry a suggested retail of $129 plus $49 each for the do-it-yourself home and car kits. A $39 kit is also available for users who prefer professional installation.
HD Radio promises clarity and diversity. What it delivers is a whole different story.
Published: March 7, 2007
Driving across the Bay Area every day, you can't help but hear the great news: HD Radio has arrived! There are now secret stations hiding between the stations you can hear. All you have to do is go out and buy a new HD Radio and you'll hear your old stations in crystal-clear digital, plus secret ones that you've never even heard before. All with no subscription!
But after an investigation of HD Radio units, the stations playing HD, and the company that owns the technology; and some interviews with the wonks in DC, it looks like HD Radio is a high-level corporate scam, a huge carny shill. Do not tune in until your unit comes standard on that used Honda Civic you buy in 2015.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Radiorama Corporativo of Nogales, Mexico, is purchasing 13 Natuel V10 HD Radio transmitters for installation in cities along the Mexico–USA border.
“Radiorama has been a market leader in broadcasting for many years and has decided to boldly introduce this next phase in broadcast technology along the entire Mexico–USA border,” said Peter Conlon, Nautel President and CEO.
“We are excited and proud to lead the Mexican market in this new broadcast technology, and are happy to be working with Nautel in the implementation of HD operations,” said Adrián Pereda López, founder of Radiorama. “This project demonstrates our commitment to bringing the best in programming and broadcast quality to our listeners.”Radiorama operates more than 220 AM and FM stations across Mexico.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Here is one I hear over and over again. Supposedly, Ibiquity bought about 30 radios and tested them. Not a single one had a bandwidth over 3 kHz or so - leading to the conclusion that AM bandwidth can be limited to 5 kHz and nobody will care or be able to notice the difference.
How to complain about interference
Complaints should go to the station being interfered with, not the station(s) causing the interference. There are a few exceptions, however. If you feel that an IBOC station's own digital emissions have degraded their analog signal quality, you should let them know. Or, if you have reason to believe that their IBOC equipment is malfunctioning, you should contact them, but make sure you're on firm ground before you do so.
Keep in mind that interference complaints are more likely to be taken seriously if they affect reception in or near protected contours. You can find out what your local stations are using V-Soft's zip code radio locator.
The first question to ask yourself is whether the reception is by skywave or groundwave. Only the Class A stations on the "clear" channels have protected skywave service, so complaints about interference to skywave signals will likely fall on deaf ears unless one of those stations is on the receiving end of the interference. If in doubt, you can check a station's class using sites such as fccinfo.com or radio-locator.com. Of course, some of the large market Class A's have little or no interest in skywave service, WOR being a prime example. At the other end of the spectrum are stations such as WSM that still have big skywave audiences, and thus should be more receptive to interference reports.
I’ve saved up $500, but I want three toys. I want one of those new video iPods ($399), an international Treo-type phone ($299-$499), and a new HD Radio ($499 at the time of this writing). So I have a problem. I can only really afford one of these competing new technologies right now.
For the past six years or so, I’ve been intently watching the rollout of digital radio throughout the world. I’ve watched the battles between the competing digital technologies and I’ve watched the stumbles of the rollout in England . It was stagnant for eight years, but is now finally kicking in.
I’m a radio junkie and a large portion of my business comes from radio stations that are invested – literally – in the HD Radio rollout. So as the PR machine started winding up, the second channels started hitting the air, and stations started promoting them, I had a thought: “This thing had better work.”
So with that, I started asking my friends and peers in the business if anybody had a radio. I got two universal responses: “No,” and “I think the engineers have one.” I really couldn’t find anyone outside the engineering community who had experienced HD.
HD Radio right now is broadcast over existing radio channels, both AM and FM. It is not truly on-channel, as the IBOC (in band on channel) acronym would suggest, but on the two adjacent channels. This both causes interference to and receives interference from neighboring stations, especially in crowded metropolitan areas. The full-digital is designed to have the signal only on the assigned channel, but it will be roughly a decade before that could happen. Receiver penetration is simply too low, which would cut off the vast majority of listeners from stations if done too soon. That would be suicide.
So, where will we be in a decade? Given the extremely rapid progress of things like streaming audio and iPod-type devices, it's safe to assume that personal multi-function devices will be the norm. These will replace cell phones, iPods and PDAs, plus other functions like GPS and navigational accessories. WiFi will be universal in most metropolitan and suburban areas, corresponding to cell coverage. You'd have to get pretty far into the boondocks to be out of range. Potential satellite augmentation may even fill those gaps. Global coverage will be expected.
JVC's KD-SHX900 and KD-HDR1 are automotive AM-FM HD Radio receivers with a CD deck that also plays MP3 and WMA (Windows Media) files. Both are reviewed here as they are similar in performance.
The AM and FM analog tuner sections are quite good. Sensitivity is as good as most any other auto radio, and selectivity is likewise good. It is resistant to overload and spurs even very close to transmitter sites. All in all, a quite competent analog tuner.
The KD-SHX900 has amazing graphics ability, though sometimes that gets in the way of the basic radio functions. Some can be turned off, some cannot. The KD-HDR1 is a simpler and more functional design.
The HD Radio section is a bit of a question. It does work, but HD coverage seems to be about half the radius of good, useable analog reception. For example, WBZ-1030 is maybe 30 miles or so north of me. Analog reception was solid throughout my normal driving area. HD Radio coverage was spotty. Outside interference such as the buzz from traffic signals, or even ignition noise would kick it back to analog. At sunset the multipath from short skip skywave would render HD unuseable.
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The HD Radio camp is advertising that there are currently over 1,500 radio stations now broadcasting in HD (from its website, to press releases as well as in various other promotions)... but yet only 1,300 have filed with the FCC.
That's according to the Federal Communications Commission's Audio Division Chief Peter Doyle at least. And I'd say he's a pretty good authority on the matter.
At the NAB Radio Show last week, Doyle brought up the issue at a panel discussion, according to Radio Info.
"I keep hearing that 1500 stations are in HD, but only 1300" have filed the required notification with the Commission, said the FCC Audio Division Chief.
Doyle added, "if you're one of the 200, please let us know."
Senior Vice President, Engineering
Clear Channel Radio
AM DIGITAL SIDEBAND POWER
With all the discussion regarding the true RMS power
in the digital sidebands for the iBiquity AM IBOC system,
I decided I needed to conduct some research. It has
taken me a while to post because I needed to consult
with some experts and run some tests to verify our findings.
To me this is basically an academic exercise, albeit a
valuable one: the AM IBOC system will work, or not,
regardless of our calculations or discoveries here.
And not just nighttime. Dave tells me “It’s any time.” He owns stations near the Charlotte metro and thought about “inviting all who attended the NAB last week to tune in, to see what happens when your neighbor on the AM dial goes HD.” Now that Citadel/ABC has shut down its nighttime AM digital broadcasting pending further refinements, Lingafelt says “I just had to get this off my chest.” To wit: “630 AM [WAIZ], Hickory has had a good signal in the Charlotte area, and because we are airing a unique oldies format, we have had an excellent response in that part of the Carolinas. A few months back, I started getting calls and emails asking why they couldn’t hear us any more. I soon discovered that 610 [CBS Radio’s WFNZ] had gone HD and had knocked me out at 630 in their primary areas of signal, and created digital hash that affected the listening, even if you could still hear 630.” Dave says “It makes me so sad to see what’s happening on the AM dial in the name of progress. In the real world, no one is buying and no one cares about HD, but we continue to press forward, even though it threatens the good we already have.” He winds up with “I don’t believe anything has come along that’s more unlikely to take off in the marketplace in the year 2007 – and unfortunately, it’s destroying the AM dial.”
Friday, October 5, 2007
by Paul McGoldrick
From this Editor's viewpoint of the radio industry iBiquity's IBOC is a wonderful idea, poorly engineered. Were there any analog RF engineers in the design team or did "digital" make assumptions about reality? All in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The Eureka 147 System produced results that were far superior to any of the IBOC systems with respect to audio quality, signal reliability and non-interference to existing analog services.
FM IBOC systems would produce unacceptable interference to their "host" FM station, as well as to nearby stations that operate on adjacent frequencies.
AM and FM IBOC systems would produce substantially-reduced service coverage, compared to that of their analog "host" stations.
The performance of FM IBOC systems degrades considerably, even to the point of failure, in the presence of multipath. The AM IBOC system cannot provide CD-Quality audio and produces impairments that expert listeners judge as "annoying".
Turn on the radio and you won't hear much about IBOC. Why is that? I've asked around over the last few weeks, and talked with lots of different experts interested in the impact of digital radio in the US, and most people agree that IBOC is not reported on by the general media because it's just too technical. Well, when I look over the pages and pages of notes I have in front of me, it seems that it is a pretty technical issue - nevertheless, I think it's also something that more people should know about - especially any people who rely on radio for their news, information, and entertainment.
In order to enjoy the dramatic improvements that AM IBOC has to offer, AM broadcasters must consider a system specific trade-off. AM IBOC places digital carriers up to 15 kHz on either side of an AM station’s main carrier. NRSC tests confirmed that a station transmitting an IBOC signal encounters very little, if any, interference to its own received signal. Although the IBOC digital carriers operate at very low power levels, in some cases stations on first adjacent channels may receive noticeable interference under certain listening conditions.
AM broadcasters are now offered an opportunity with IBOC to take steps that have the potential to dramatically improve the AM listening experience. Generally, interference attributable to IBOC on first adjacent channels should only be noticeable in cases where listeners are located outside the protected interference-free contour and should not cause significant AM listening problems during daytime hours. This is shown by the test results in Section 4 of this report.
No test results were obtained by the NRSC, nor were they requested from iBiquity, on skywave reception. However due to the propagation mechanisms that support skywave reception, the NRSC expects that first adjacent interference may pose potential problems for listeners during nighttime hours. Additional testing would be needed before the NRSC could further comment on the nighttime compatibility of hybrid AM IBOC. The NRSC therefore recommends that stations desiring to operate with AM IBOC do so during daytime hours only.
It's Time to Call a Halt to the AM IBOC 'Experiment' and Start Talking Alternatives
by Barry McLarnon
In-band on-channel (IBOC) is a method of transmitting digital radio and analog radio broadcast signals simultaneously on the same frequency.
By utilizing additional digital subcarriers or sidebands, digital information is "piggybacked" on a normal AM or FM analog signal, thus avoiding any complicated extra frequency allocation issues. However, by putting extra RF energy beyond the edge of the station's normally-defined channel, interference with adjacent channel stations is increased when using digital sidebands.
iBiquity also created a mediumwave HD Radio system for AM, however it has so far failed in technical trials to perform as superbly as promised mainly due to interference caused by using sidebands in an environment intended for narrowband amplitude modulation. The HD-Radio system employs use of injecting digital sidebands above and below the audible portion of the analog audio on the primary carrier. This system also phase modulates the carrier in quadrature and injects more digital information on this phase-modulated portion of the carrier. It is based on the principle of AM stereo where it puts a digital signal where the C-QUAM system would put the analog stereo decoding information.
So how did HD Radio do on QVC?
About 500 HD Radio receivers were sold last week on QVC in just over 20 minutes.
Three models were shown last Wednesday evening, the night the NAB Radio Show opened in Charlotte: the Polk Audio I-Sonic Audio Entertainment System, which includes a DVD/CD player; the Visteon HD Pulse, an HD-R tabletop clock radio; and the Radiosophy HD 100, also a tabletop.
Each radio enjoyed about eight minutes of airtime.The HD Digital Radio Alliance promoted the show with member station radio spots in 100 markets.
Sales figures for HD Radio sales are hard to come by and sketchy at best. HD Radio has been around for three years now, and last year there were perhaps a couple of hundred thousand sold. If the rate of sales had accelerated this year we probably would have read about it. However, the HD Alliance has been rather quiet on sales lately. Let’s face it, as new-tech toy sales go, HD Radio sales have been a dud. Radio reaches 93% of Americans every week and is one of the most effective marketing tools available to advertisers, yet we haven’t been able to sell in three years as many HD radios as Apple sold iPhones in a single weekend. That alone should alarm us.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Is HD Radio up to the task of helping traditional radio compete with other new media?
One study suggests the answer is no.
Internet radio will boom. Cell phone audio listening is gaining momentum. But HD Radio growth is disappointing. These are among findings of Bridge Ratings, which published this chart as part of a report on “Digital Media Growth Projections” in August. It shows booming expected growth for Internet radio (purple) and wireless Internet (teal) in the coming decade, with terrestrial radio (red) essentially flat, then eroding toward 2020, and HD Radio use bubbling along only near the bottom.
Martin Stabbert — don’t call him Marty — said his company was ready to go on at night on Sept. 14, the first date AM IBOC nighttime operation was allowed.
In calls and a memo prior to that, he told his chief engineers, “...if your plants are ready to run at night, please do. BUT - let’s monitor the results carefully. To the extent we end up with substantial IX that we can ourselves cure, we will...”
He told me, “I also said if we find issues, or are not 100% satisfied with the performance we will address that at the appropriate time.”
It took some time to get feedback. “I would imagine some people listening the first couple of nights wondered what was going on but didn’t call the station, especially since the (nighttime) launch was over a weekend.”
Some stations had no complaints, he said, and roughly the same number did.
Listeners who have complained say they hear hiss and adjacent-channel stations say they hear noise on the channel, he said, adding that most of the impacted adjacents are stations Citadel owns.
Citadel and Ibiquity are figuring out the next steps — and who will pay for what.
Stabbert said Citadel employees have been measuring the effects of AM nighttime IBOC subjectively — by ear — so far; it’s working with Ibiquity to determine what equipment and resources are needed to figure out a resolution.
That may involve some on/off testing and/or reducing the injection of the digital energy into one or both sidebands.
“We have a general idea of what’s going on; as we step back, we can do empirical testing with Ibiquity,” Stabbert told me.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
There are a lot of unknowns at this point in the Citadel AM IBOC nighttime situation, but one thing is clear: Something is going on and the company wants to work with Ibiquity to get to the bottom of it.
Citadel Director of Corporate Engineering Martin Stabbert confirms that his company is taking a step back and stopped operating AM IBOC at night on 10 stations as of Oct. 1. The stations still broadcast in digital during the day. Of its 66 AMs, 16 have converted and four more are in-process. Citadel’s conversion efforts continue.
An excerpt from his memo to staff reads: “In response to the lackluster performance, the limited benefit and various reports of significant interference, Citadel is suspending nighttime AM HD operations at this time. Please reinstate your previous procedures for daytime-only HD operation as soon as possible.”
The company has received interference complaints from listeners and stations on adjacent channels, the latter from both Citadel- and non-Citadel-owned stations in and outside the markets. (He tells me the calls from “non-Citadel-owned” stations were cordial.)
Most of the complaints center around 50 kW Class As, he said, although internally, Citadel has observed effects from lower-powered stations on adjacents at night.
Bill Harms of Elkridge, Md., likes to listen to Frank Sinatra crooning on Vegas Radio, which broadcasts at WTRI-AM 1520, a Washington-based station. But over the past year, he's had trouble tuning in to Vegas as he drives through certain neighborhoods. As he complained to WTRI owner Buddy Rizer in an email, ''there's a hiss, a hiss that did not exist in the past.''
A growing number of radio listeners are encountering similar interference -- hisses, whistles or static -- on their favorite AM stations. The problem for WTRI began about a year ago, when Bonneville International Corp.'s WTOP, the AM station at 1500, began using a digital signal that interfered with WTRI's analog signal in some broadcast areas. It's one of the unexpected consequences of the radio industry's transition to digital broadcasts.
Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission gave a big boost to HD Radio, the digital technology that permits an FM station to broadcast multiple channels and allows AM stations to sound like FM.
The FCC ruling (109 kb PDF) leads off by eliminating filing requirements for FM stations that want to offer secondary, digital-only channels. The important part, however, comes farther down, and covers the so-far neglected area of digital AM: Stations can now broadcast digitally at night, not just during the daytime.
That's good news in a purely selfish sense; I'm looking forward to hearing Rich Chvotkin call a Georgetown game without the usual static and hiss. The vastly superior sound quality of HD AM could also allow broadcasters to offer music programming as well as the usual talk/news/sports mix.
(Would-be merger partners XM and Sirius seized on this angle in a press release today, arguing that a single satellite radio firm would still have plenty of competition: "The FCC decision underlines that HD radio on the AM/FM bands provide a real alternative to satellite.")
But HD Radio AM broadcasts may also obstruct one of AM radio's oldest attractions--so-called skywave reception, in which AM signals bounce off the ionosphere after sunset and allow listeners to tune in from hundreds of miles away. For example, two years ago, a Cleveland station's broadcast of an Indians game kept me entertained on the New Jersey Turnpike; a couple of nights later, I tuned into WTWP-AM's coverage of a Nationals game in north Jersey.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Watch for the radio tower behind the Bada Bing Club on re-runs of the Sopranos. The tower's 50,000-watt transmitter on Route 17 in Lodi, N.J., sends the signal for legendary radio powerhouse 770 WABC.
This popular station has launched the biggest names in talk radio, including Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
Local ratings show that plenty of Pocono listeners tune in to AM 770.
But about two weeks ago, WABC radio became impossible to hear in the Poconos after sundown. And although the daytime signal is still strong, WABC it is not likely to he heard here in the dark again.
An advancement in broadcast technology.
An e-mail from ABC-Citadel corporate engineering has reportedly issued an order effective this morning to suspend AM In-band on-channel (IBOC) operations, according to Radio-Info.
The communication came from Citadel's Martin Stabbard, according to sources.
The order, effective immediately, is reportedly for all Citadel AMs running IBOC at night. While no reason was given for the order, it is believed that interference issues are the most likely factor.
IBOC is the method in which iBiquity utilizes to broadcast the HD Radio signal - using sidebands to transmit the digital data over AM/FM waves. But since wider channels are required, both the AM/FM implementations of the iBiquity system often cause interference with adjacent stations on the dial. As a result, lower power stations can become unlistenable if they have an HD Radio station on an adjacent channel.
UPDATE: Apparently Citadel/ABC's AM stations will suspend nighttime HD Radio transmission until they can do further work with iBiquity to reduce adjacent-channel interference. Radio-Info adds that, "the FCC allowed nighttime AM digital as of September 14 - and the complaints have mounted up."