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  1. #1
    nightflier
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    Revisiting HD Radio - Summer 2006

    So I've been waiting patiently to purchase a new tuner. I have two component systems without FM radio right now, and I'm listening mostly to CD's/LP's. My thought was to wait for a decent HD radio tuner. I tried the Boston Acoustics HD tuner several months ago and walked away rather unimpressed. Besides, what I really want is a component to add to my system, and not a clock radio. So where is the technology now? Specifically, for those of you who have a tuner:

    - What other tuner options are out there besides the Boston system? Are the components from Cambridge Audio & Rotel available with HD radio yet?

    - What stations are available in the LA area?

    - What is the sound quality really like? 64K-mp3? 128K-mp3? CD-quality? How does the sound compare to XM/Sirius?

    - Do the sub-stations offer any content yet? If so, is it better/worse?

    - Did you have to get a new or better antenna from what you were using for plain FM?

    - Any other thoughts, recommendations?

  2. #2
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Too bad about that Boston model. My wife has one of their AM/FM Receptor models and I thought the tuner inside was one of the better ones out there right now.

    On Clear Channel's stations, I hear the promos for HD Radio all the time. So, the broadcasts are definitely out there and Clear Channel (and presumably CBS Radio as well) is doing its part with this marketing campaign. Clear Channel's promos talk about the sound quality improvement, but they seem to focus more on the "hidden" commercial-free music channels (i.e. the multicast stations). Whether or not these multicasts include anything of interest to anyone is another subject altogether. These promos also include plugs for Crutchfield.

    I get the impression that HD Radio's success will depend much more on the mobile market than the home market. If car makers can be convinced to start including HD Radio tuners in their factory installed units, then I think the rest of the market will come on board.
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  3. #3
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Rotel

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    So I've been waiting patiently to purchase a new tuner. I have two component systems without FM radio right now, and I'm listening mostly to CD's/LP's. My thought was to wait for a decent HD radio tuner. I tried the Boston Acoustics HD tuner several months ago and walked away rather unimpressed. Besides, what I really want is a component to add to my system, and not a clock radio. So where is the technology now? Specifically, for those of you who have a tuner:

    - What other tuner options are out there besides the Boston system? Are the components from Cambridge Audio & Rotel available with HD radio yet?

    - What stations are available in the LA area?

    - What is the sound quality really like? 64K-mp3? 128K-mp3? CD-quality? How does the sound compare to XM/Sirius?

    - Do the sub-stations offer any content yet? If so, is it better/worse?

    - Did you have to get a new or better antenna from what you were using for plain FM?

    - Any other thoughts, recommendations?
    Makes a high-end HD radio tuner. But to purchase it for the sake of a couple stations would be pretty cost-ineffective. The Yamaha 4600 receiver also has HD Radio built in. I had expected more manufacturers to include HD Radio in the higher end receivers but so far it's just the Yamaha that has it. One HK model only has an expansion slot for it.

    Pretty sad market penetration considering we're several years into HD Radio's debut.
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  4. #4
    nightflier
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    Interesting point about the car-radio market. I should include those who have a car HD radio in my post.

    Anyone?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    Interesting point about the car-radio market. I should include those who have a car HD radio in my post.

    Anyone?
    I have satellite radio (Sirius) and the sound quailty is exceptional.It's the wave of the future.I have a Sirius starmate replay in my car and a Sirius receiver in home.The one in home is extremely close to CD quality and by the way I don't listen to Howard Stern.Just a suggestion

  6. #6
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Sirius is a pay service

    Quote Originally Posted by Fergymunster
    I have satellite radio (Sirius) and the sound quailty is exceptional.It's the wave of the future.I have a Sirius starmate replay in my car and a Sirius receiver in home.The one in home is extremely close to CD quality and by the way I don't listen to Howard Stern.Just a suggestion
    HD radio is free.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    HD radio is free.
    Sirius is $6.95 a month for two units.How much does all your equimpment cost you?You sound like some kind a miser or something.

  8. #8
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    And you sound like some kind of liar

    Quote Originally Posted by Fergymunster
    Sirius is $6.95 a month for two units.How much does all your equimpment cost you?You sound like some kind a miser or something.
    From the Sirius website;

    Once you've picked your SIRIUS system, choose a subscription plan. They start at only $12.95/mo. and offer several money-saving long-term options. You can save some money and get the two year plan for $271.95 Wow, big savings there....

    Of course if your flush you can always choose this option;

    Subscribe for the lifetime of your radio! Pay ONLY $499.99 once and forget about bills.

    Yes, forget about bills, and forget about $500 too.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    From the Sirius website;

    Once you've picked your SIRIUS system, choose a subscription plan. They start at only $12.95/mo. and offer several money-saving long-term options. You can save some money and get the two year plan for $271.95 Wow, big savings there....

    Of course if your flush you can always choose this option;

    Subscribe for the lifetime of your radio! Pay ONLY $499.99 once and forget about bills.

    Yes, forget about bills, and forget about $500 too.
    Look,I don't have a problem with you.For $6.95 a month I get around 120 stations of near CD quality sound.Jeess,we all have bills of some sort.If it would make you happy I'm sorry for calling you a miser.

  10. #10
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Sounds like a billing mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by Fergymunster
    Look,I don't have a problem with you.For $6.95 a month I get around 120 stations of near CD quality sound.Jeess,we all have bills of some sort.If it would make you happy I'm sorry for calling you a miser.
    I'm happy for you, but the rest of us can't expect that kind of providence.
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  11. #11
    nightflier
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    I agree that $7-13 per month is a bit much. If you figure that a receiver and all the equipment is also expensive, the HD radio option should be a whole lot more attractive, especially with the commercial-free simulcasts. But that hasn't been the case; you hardly hear anything about HD radio. Some stations advertise that they broadcast in HD, but how many regular folks have actually heard HD radio?

    Personally I'm getting a little impatient. The sales reps at AA and Crutchfield love to talk about the virtues of HD radio, until you ask them: do you own one? They don't. I feel about HD radio about as excited as I feel about HDTV. I bought an HDTV tuner and I now have and extra five channels in HD - big deal and I hardly ever use it. Same sentiment with RDS. If the technology is there and everyone in Europe and Japan is enjoying it, what's the hold-up here?

    I can buy a great FM tuner component for $300 ($100 on eBay), but getting an HD tuner is next to impossible, unless I want a table radio - I don't. HD radio is supposed to have a whole lot better sound than FM, so why would I want this from a little speaker in a plastic box on my nightstand? I want to hear this through my tower speakers and my headphone amp! Or at the very least in my car with my 7-speakers & sub....

    Isn't anyone else infuriated about this? Is it because it's not profitable enough?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    I'm happy for you, but the rest of us can't expect that kind of providence.
    I said two seperate units.Oh,by the way I listen to almost all the stations.If I have people over from the inner city we all sit around and listen to rap.If I have people over from the south we all sit around listen to country.etc....You know how it goes.

  13. #13
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    What's the hold up indeed...

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    I agree that $7-13 per month is a bit much. If you figure that a receiver and all the equipment is also expensive, the HD radio option should be a whole lot more attractive, especially with the commercial-free simulcasts. But that hasn't been the case; you hardly hear anything about HD radio. Some stations advertise that they broadcast in HD, but how many regular folks have actually heard HD radio?

    Personally I'm getting a little impatient. The sales reps at AA and Crutchfield love to talk about the virtues of HD radio, until you ask them: do you own one? They don't. I feel about HD radio about as excited as I feel about HDTV. I bought an HDTV tuner and I now have and extra five channels in HD - big deal and I hardly ever use it. Same sentiment with RDS. If the technology is there and everyone in Europe and Japan is enjoying it, what's the hold-up here?

    I can buy a great FM tuner component for $300 ($100 on eBay), but getting an HD tuner is next to impossible, unless I want a table radio - I don't. HD radio is supposed to have a whole lot better sound than FM, so why would I want this from a little speaker in a plastic box on my nightstand? I want to hear this through my tower speakers and my headphone amp! Or at the very least in my car with my 7-speakers & sub....

    Isn't anyone else infuriated about this? Is it because it's not profitable enough?
    It really does seem that the USA is always the last to receive the fruits of advanced HD tech. Our broadcast TV spec was always behind in resolution compared to the EU & Japanese. My guess, and it's only a guess, is that Sirius & XM are doing all they can to squash this HD Radio evolution.
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  14. #14
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    I agree that $7-13 per month is a bit much. If you figure that a receiver and all the equipment is also expensive, the HD radio option should be a whole lot more attractive, especially with the commercial-free simulcasts. But that hasn't been the case; you hardly hear anything about HD radio. Some stations advertise that they broadcast in HD, but how many regular folks have actually heard HD radio?

    Personally I'm getting a little impatient. The sales reps at AA and Crutchfield love to talk about the virtues of HD radio, until you ask them: do you own one? They don't. I feel about HD radio about as excited as I feel about HDTV. I bought an HDTV tuner and I now have and extra five channels in HD - big deal and I hardly ever use it. Same sentiment with RDS. If the technology is there and everyone in Europe and Japan is enjoying it, what's the hold-up here?

    I can buy a great FM tuner component for $300 ($100 on eBay), but getting an HD tuner is next to impossible, unless I want a table radio - I don't. HD radio is supposed to have a whole lot better sound than FM, so why would I want this from a little speaker in a plastic box on my nightstand? I want to hear this through my tower speakers and my headphone amp! Or at the very least in my car with my 7-speakers & sub....

    Isn't anyone else infuriated about this? Is it because it's not profitable enough?
    I don't see any reason for fury or impatience -- it's very early still. I've only been hearing the HD Radio promos for the last few months, and it takes time for the public to become aware that the format is out there. Can't expect manufacturers to climb on board until they see the buying public demanding to include the feature with new hardware.

    XM and Sirius were much more motivated to flood the market with tuner units, because they rely on subscription revenue. HD Radio has the broadcasters now behind the format, but who's going to market the HD Radio tuners as loss leaders like XM and Sirius have done (recently, I saw the Sirius tuners selling for $25 at Best Buy)? XM tuners only began appearing on home receivers about a year ago, so it's not like HD Radio is that far behind the curve. And as far as the subscription revenue goes, XM and Sirius are going after exclusive content like out-of-town sports broadcasts, which would be the likeliest reason that I would subscribe to satellite radio. The music channels (which I've found very good in general on both XM and Sirius) are a nice bonus, as well as being able to stay tuned to the same station over a long drive.

    As I indicated earlier, I suspect that HD Radio is taking aim at the OEM mobile audio market. If HD Radio tuners suddenly start appearing in every factory-installed car audio system, that creates awareness and potential demand for additional products for home and portable listening. Then again, GM's inclusion of RDS tuners on all of their car audio systems did not prod most broadcasters into including the RDS text features with their broadcasts (only a few U.S. stations I'm aware of use the RDS signal to transmit text messages with song titles or news/traffic alerts). And OEM radios with AM stereo tuners didn't do anything to proliferate those formats either. HD Radio might be a little different though since it seems that the major broadcasting players are supporting the format and putting the broadcasts on the air well before the hardware's out on the market.

    If your expectation for HD Radio is near-CD sound quality, I have a feeling that you'll be disappointed. Radio stations nowadays largely use digital music servers rather than the original CDs (similar to how in the analog days, radio stations mostly used carts [single-song continuous loop tape cartridges similar in appearance to 8-track tapes] rather than the original LPs or 45s), and unless they go with a separate audio feed from what goes to the analog FM transmitter, the audio is also likely to be compressed. A bump up in resolution might only serve to highlight just how bad the source audio quality actually sounds.

    But, it very well could be a boon on the AM side if it can bring the audio quality close to how FM sounds. From what I've been reading, it seems that the broadcasters are most excited by the multicasting capabilities of HD Radio, since it effectively multiplies by fivefold the number of broadcasts they can make per station license. The multicasts are currently commercial-free and aimed at niche audiences (like KBIG's proposed all-disco multicast), but if they ever find a big enough audience, I think it's a safe bet that commercials will begin appearing.
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    AR Member JeffKnob's Avatar
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    Maybe it is just me but my Sirius radio in my car doesn't sound like CD quality. It sounds more like a 96kbps mp3. I have a roadmate that runs through my cd changer inputs. Is there much of a difference in quality between Sirius tuners? I would want to know if I will hear a difference before purchasing a new unit.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffKnob
    Maybe it is just me but my Sirius radio in my car doesn't sound like CD quality. It sounds more like a 96kbps mp3. I have a roadmate that runs through my cd changer inputs. Is there much of a difference in quality between Sirius tuners? I would want to know if I will hear a difference before purchasing a new unit.
    With my in home set up the sound quality is better then my starmate replay which is in my car.In other words the important thing is that it does'nt sound the exactly the same for everybody.It all depends on the what type of systems your using it with.

  17. #17
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    That was my opinion of XM too

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffKnob
    Maybe it is just me but my Sirius radio in my car doesn't sound like CD quality. It sounds more like a 96kbps mp3. I have a roadmate that runs through my cd changer inputs. Is there much of a difference in quality between Sirius tuners? I would want to know if I will hear a difference before purchasing a new unit.
    Which I heard hooked up to a pretty good system consisting of an ARC LS25 preamp Classe 401 amp, and Magnepan 3.6r speakers. The sound was clear, but flat and uninvolving, more like a 128k mp3. Compared to his Dynalab FM tuner it was not nearly as good. The Meridian 24bit CD player simply blew it away.
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  18. #18
    nightflier
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    Plastic parts = plastic sound

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffKnob
    Maybe it is just me but my Sirius radio in my car doesn't sound like CD quality. It sounds more like a 96kbps mp3. I have a roadmate that runs through my cd changer inputs. Is there much of a difference in quality between Sirius tuners? I would want to know if I will hear a difference before purchasing a new unit.
    I am guessing that a little dash-board player is just not going to have the sound one gets from a well engineered component. For those of us used to 25lb. boxes with quality capacitors and power reserves, a little computer-chip-based plastic box the size of an iPod is just not going to cut it. Interestingly, there is a huge market for products that take as much of the processing out of the iPod: external speakers, remotes, better headphones, etc. This tells me that small & portable is only of interest to on-the-go folks and that they are still looking for any way to improve the sound of these mediocre devices. I am actually surprised that the market for XM & Sirius accessories is still so much smaller than the iPod accessories craze.

    With satellite radio, the best I've heard is the Polk XRt12 receiver (I don't know if there's a comparably well designed unit on the Sirius side). We compared it to the Roady and it was strikingly better - not quite CD quality, but definitly better than 128Kb mp3's. We also had it plugged into a very good DAC to try and off-load as much of the processing to better components. Ironically this was the first time that I had something else beside a disk player plugged into my DAC, so there may yet be a future for these components too - one can only hope.

    But before HD radio grows up to hi-fi, I agree that it first has to be initiated in the on-the-road market. In cars, the commercial-free simulcasts is probably the most appealing feature. I hardly listen to commercial radio anymore because of the constant interruptions. Public radio stations like KUCI & KPFK here in LA are obvious exceptions, but they have no funds to go digital. Have any of the major car-manufacturers said anything about HD radio?

    And what has iBiquity been up to lately? If someone could just put some fire under their pants....

  19. #19
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    I am guessing that a little dash-board player is just not going to have the sound one gets from a well engineered component. For those of us used to 25lb. boxes with quality capacitors and power reserves, a little computer-chip-based plastic box the size of an iPod is just not going to cut it. Interestingly, there is a huge market for products that take as much of the processing out of the iPod: external speakers, remotes, better headphones, etc. This tells me that small & portable is only of interest to on-the-go folks and that they are still looking for any way to improve the sound of these mediocre devices. I am actually surprised that the market for XM & Sirius accessories is still so much smaller than the iPod accessories craze.
    Like it or not, the iPod is the gravitational center of the audio industry right now. Consider that iPod sales are more than double the combined total of the entire home audio component industry. Take the sales total for every home speaker, amplifer, receiver, CD player, turntable, preamp, and home theater processor, and then double it, and you still haven't reached the sales total of the iPod.

    The market for iPod accessories does not really exist to improve the sound quality of the iPod -- it exists to augment the iPod's functionality. I heard Apple's iPod Hi-Fi speaker dock yesterday, and it's no better than a middle-of-the-pack mini-system yet it sells for around $400. Why? Because a mini-system built around the iPod that can draw from your entire music collection at the same time is more appealing than a traditional mini-system that limits you to 1 or 3 or 5 CDs at a time. A lot of the other external accessories I've seen basically turn the iPod into a boom box.

    I think that the iPod has created an expectation on the part of listeners that they can have the bulk of their music collection with them at all times. Compared to the old days of having to lug around cassette cases or CD binders, this is revolutionary and the rest of the industry now has to adapt or be left behind. All you have to do is look at how many receiver and car audio manufacturers have begun offering iPod connectivity.

    As far as audio quality goes, I think the culprit is more likely the highly compressed formats and the less-than-stellar earbuds that most listeners use. No question that the common 128k resolution MP3 resolution produces audible signal loss, and the earbuds that come with the iPod purportedly leave much to be desired. However, a market for higher quality earbuds has emerged (some of the ones I've seen from Shure and Sennheiser cost more than the iPod itself), and the iPod does include the option for using lossless audio formats. Wilson Audio actually used an iPod running lossless audio files to demonstrate its top-of-the-line system at last year's CES.

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    With satellite radio, the best I've heard is the Polk XRt12 receiver (I don't know if there's a comparably well designed unit on the Sirius side). We compared it to the Roady and it was strikingly better - not quite CD quality, but definitly better than 128Kb mp3's. We also had it plugged into a very good DAC to try and off-load as much of the processing to better components. Ironically this was the first time that I had something else beside a disk player plugged into my DAC, so there may yet be a future for these components too - one can only hope.
    I believe that unit uses Burr-Brown DACs, and if Polk paid any attention to the analog signal path, it's not surprising that it audibly outperforms the portable tuners. I'm not sure though whether XM's actual broadcast bandwidth is that much greater than 128k MP3. Both XM and Sirius keep that information tightly guarded (I have a feeling because they use lower bitrates for certain channels). The sound quality of 128k MP3 can vary a lot depending on the encoding software that you use.

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    But before HD radio grows up to hi-fi, I agree that it first has to be initiated in the on-the-road market. In cars, the commercial-free simulcasts is probably the most appealing feature. I hardly listen to commercial radio anymore because of the constant interruptions. Public radio stations like KUCI & KPFK here in LA are obvious exceptions, but they have no funds to go digital. Have any of the major car-manufacturers said anything about HD radio?
    I thought that many of the NPR affiliates were the first on the air with HD Radio broadcasts. According to Ibiquity's website, the L.A. flagship NPR affiliate, KCRW, is already broadcasting in HD Radio. But, it doesn't look like they have started multicasting yet, although KCRW would be a natural fit for multicasting because they already stream multiple feeds on their website. However, it looks like 13 other stations in L.A. are already multicasting.

    http://www.hdradio.com/hd_digital_ra...+Angeles%2C+CA

    As far as car manufacturers go, Ibiquity's website shows HD Radio already offered by BMW and their list of OEM manufacturers covers many of the major players in that market (Fujitsu-Ten, Panasonic, Pioneer, Delphi, etc.).

    http://www.ibiquity.com/automotive
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    Fergymunster: 6.95/month for two? How?

    Where'd you manage to score Sirius service for two units at 6.95/month?

  21. #21
    nightflier
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    Wooch,

    "Take the sales total for every home speaker, amplifer, receiver, CD player, turntable, preamp, and home theater processor, and then double it, and you still haven't reached the sales total of the iPod."

    I just can't accept that. Maybe the volume (actual number of units sold) might be greater, but the value of these units compared to all the A/V equipment sold in the US, including all the custom-installed stuff, can't possibly compare.

    "The market for iPod accessories does not really exist to improve the sound quality of the iPod -- it exists to augment the iPod's functionality. I heard Apple's iPod Hi-Fi speaker dock yesterday, and it's no better than a middle-of-the-pack mini-system yet it sells for around $400."

    Yes and no. Headphones are the major exception to this argument. Better quality is the most often quoted selling point when headphones are pitched, and they are the most popular upgrade for iPod owners.

    "I think that the iPod has created an expectation on the part of listeners that they can have the bulk of their music collection with them at all times. Compared to the old days of having to lug around cassette cases or CD binders, this is revolutionary and the rest of the industry now has to adapt or be left behind. All you have to do is look at how many receiver and car audio manufacturers have begun offering iPod connectivity."

    Again, I don't think this revolution is Apple's doing. This started with the MP3 file. There were MP3 compatible CD players in cars long before there were iPod hookups - iPods didn't even exist then. And if you remember, there were MP3 players of all sorts before iPods took off.

    "As far as audio quality goes, I think the culprit is more likely the highly compressed formats and the less-than-stellar earbuds that most listeners use. No question that the common 128k resolution MP3 resolution produces audible signal loss , and the earbuds that come with the iPod purportedly leave much to be desired. However, a market for higher quality earbuds has emerged (some of the ones I've seen from Shure and Sennheiser cost more than the iPod itself)"

    If it is the MP3 format that people complain about then that does not explain the huge market for better headphones, especially sound-isolating ones like the Shures. I also read online that a lot of people are augmenting their iPods with an outboard amp (usually the BitHead), and that the headphone amp in the iPod is a big source of complaints.

    "and the iPod does include the option for using lossless audio formats. Wilson Audio actually used an iPod running lossless audio files to demonstrate its top-of-the-line system at last year's CES."

    This surprised me when I read it. Even a loss-less format will not sound as good according to many critics. It's almost as if the high-end manufacturer was saying that all those sound improvements and finer quality details that the high-end stuff purports to bring out - sales pitches made for the last 20+ years - was just snake-oil. I'm not denying that WA did this, but it does make one wonder about the industry....

    "I believe that unit uses Burr-Brown DACs, and if Polk paid any attention to the analog signal path, it's not surprising that it audibly outperforms the portable tuners."

    Well I don't know what DAC they use, but our outboard DAC was a marked improvement over the Polk one. We were using a MSB DAC with an upsampling chip, so the upsampling may have had something to do with this, but it was clearly audible.

    "I'm not sure though whether XM's actual broadcast bandwidth is that much greater than 128k MP3. Both XM and Sirius keep that information tightly guarded (I have a feeling because they use lower bitrates for certain channels). The sound quality of 128k MP3 can vary a lot depending on the encoding software that you use."

    There was a noticeable difference between XM's talk-radio and the music channels as well. I don't know if that's just because of studio noise in the talk-radio rooms, but it could also be because they use a higher compression algorythm. Now isn't XM supposed to improve their audio quality sometime soon? I also heard that they would be offering some content in 5.1 surround sound. Any truth to these rumors? And what is the actual compression they use? Anyone have a contact at XM/Sirius that they can ask?

    "I thought that many of the NPR affiliates were the first on the air with HD Radio broadcasts. According to Ibiquity's website, the L.A. flagship NPR affiliate, KCRW, is already broadcasting in HD Radio. But, it doesn't look like they have started multicasting yet, although KCRW would be a natural fit for multicasting because they already stream multiple feeds on their website. However, it looks like 13 other stations in L.A. are already multicasting."

    NPR / KCRW is indeed HD, but for those of us sorry folks who still listen to classical, it's slim pickins. KMZT and KUSC, the only two classical stations left in LA, are not HD. With KUSC possibly selling out to clear-channel soon, and KMZT getting all kinds of similar pressure, it looks like classical stations will eventually all dissapear before HD can rescue them.

    "As far as car manufacturers go, Ibiquity's website shows HD Radio already offered by BMW and their list of OEM manufacturers covers many of the major players in that market (Fujitsu-Ten, Panasonic, Pioneer, Delphi, etc.)."

    When I was shopping for a car last year I asked all the dealers about HD radio. None of them even knew what it was, including BMW. They were all trying to push XM & Sirius, but HD radio was unheard of. I also asked Crutchfield about purchasing a car add-on for HD radio reception and they had nothing available (and they also started pitching XM & Sirius). I have a feeling they are all getting quite a kick-back from the satellite guys.

  22. #22
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    I just can't accept that. Maybe the volume (actual number of units sold) might be greater, but the value of these units compared to all the A/V equipment sold in the US, including all the custom-installed stuff, can't possibly compare.
    Doesn't matter whether you accept it or not, the total size of the home audio component market in the U.S. totals about $1 billion, whereas the iPod sales last year were over $2 billion. Despite the relatively variety of companies that produce home audio equipment, as a whole it's not that big an industry. It's not just possible, it's actual.

    http://www.twice.com/article/CA6319031.html

    I work with data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys (the data that the federal government uses to calculate the Consumer Price Index), and the average U.S. household spends only about $40 a year on audio gear. The sales trends in that article that I linked are consistent with this data. Basically, if you bought a $1,000 receiver, you've equaled the average annual audio expenditures for 25 households.

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    Again, I don't think this revolution is Apple's doing. This started with the MP3 file. There were MP3 compatible CD players in cars long before there were iPod hookups - iPods didn't even exist then. And if you remember, there were MP3 players of all sorts before iPods took off.
    The revolutionary aspect of the iPod is the expectation that you can now carry your entire music collection with you everywhere you go. The wholesale change is in the mindset. You're no longer tethered to your disc and tape media. That's why you see so many devices now trying to extend the functionality of the iPod, and why people are willing to pay $400 for devices that don't sound any better than a typical mini-system. The MP3 players that you mention either had limited memory capacity or relied on disc media -- a far cry from the capability that the iPod offers.

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    If it is the MP3 format that people complain about then that does not explain the huge market for better headphones, especially sound-isolating ones like the Shures. I also read online that a lot of people are augmenting their iPods with an outboard amp (usually the BitHead), and that the headphone amp in the iPod is a big source of complaints.
    My point is that the iPod is capable of a lot more than how most people use it. You can use higher quality headphones, and you can use lossless formats. Yet, most of the accessories that I see for the iPod have little to do with sound quality. Sound isolating earbuds don't necessary improve the sound quality, but they do make the outside world quieter.

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    This surprised me when I read it. Even a loss-less format will not sound as good according to many critics. It's almost as if the high-end manufacturer was saying that all those sound improvements and finer quality details that the high-end stuff purports to bring out - sales pitches made for the last 20+ years - was just snake-oil. I'm not denying that WA did this, but it does make one wonder about the industry....
    That very well might have been Wilson's message. From what I heard, their demo even went as far as lining up an assortment of very high end looking components and cabling before revealing that the source for this reference system was not some fancy transport/DAC combo with exotic cabling, but an iPod using a rudimentary connection.

    Would not be the first time that a manufacturer has done something like this at a trade. McIntosh and Dunlavy reps used to pretend to switch out cables, interconnects, and source components and let the listeners stumble over themselves over how "huge" a difference they could hear, before letting them know that in fact nothing had been changed in between listenings.

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    There was a noticeable difference between XM's talk-radio and the music channels as well. I don't know if that's just because of studio noise in the talk-radio rooms, but it could also be because they use a higher compression algorythm. Now isn't XM supposed to improve their audio quality sometime soon? I also heard that they would be offering some content in 5.1 surround sound. Any truth to these rumors? And what is the actual compression they use? Anyone have a contact at XM/Sirius that they can ask?
    Could be the original source as well. Considering that most talk radio is beamed over to AM radio stations, there's simply less incentive to maintain the signal integrity from end to end. But, I have read that XM and Sirius alter the signal quality based on the content.

    XM has started broadcasting three channels in Neural Surround. It's a new encoding format that's supposed to offer backwards compatibility with two-channel carriers along with discrete surround decoding. Yamaha and Pioneer recently began including the feature with their newer receivers. I have no idea if it's true discrete 5.1 or if it's yet another matrix encoding scheme like Dolby Pro Logic II.

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    NPR / KCRW is indeed HD, but for those of us sorry folks who still listen to classical, it's slim pickins. KMZT and KUSC, the only two classical stations left in LA, are not HD. With KUSC possibly selling out to clear-channel soon, and KMZT getting all kinds of similar pressure, it looks like classical stations will eventually all dissapear before HD can rescue them.
    I seriously doubt that the L.A. market will go totally without a classical station. There's too much foundation money and sponsorship out there that any of the other public radio stations would be all too willing to snatch up (you think KPCC would stick with its current format if a classical format were available?), especially if KMZT disappears as well and the L.A. Phil needs a broadcast partner (for me, that would be poetic justice given that the station owner sacrificed a great jazz station and the entire air staff in order to take over the classical format that had been vacated when KFAC changed owners). And who's to say that neither of these stations will eventually go HD?

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    When I was shopping for a car last year I asked all the dealers about HD radio. None of them even knew what it was, including BMW. They were all trying to push XM & Sirius, but HD radio was unheard of. I also asked Crutchfield about purchasing a car add-on for HD radio reception and they had nothing available (and they also started pitching XM & Sirius). I have a feeling they are all getting quite a kick-back from the satellite guys.
    Last year was last year, this year is this year. Crutchfield is part of Clear Channel's HD Radio marketing campaign, so how could they be in satellite radio's pocket? Check the link, they got add-ons for sale.

    http://www.crutchfield.com/hdradio
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  23. #23
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    [QUOTE]I work with data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys (the data that the federal government uses to calculate the Consumer Price Index), and the average U.S. household spends only about $40 a year on audio gear. The sales trends in that article that I linked are consistent with this data. Basically, if you bought a $1,000 receiver, you've equaled the average annual audio expenditures for 25 households. [QUOTE]

    Kind of makes you wonder how many American households that Florian has equaled this year...

    There, I said it. Sorry for interuptin', you may continue the debate...
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  24. #24
    nightflier
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    It's not so much a debate as a discussion, from my end at least. I learned a lot here and the fact that iPod sales are more than 2x the total a/v market comes as a big surprise to me. The Wilson Audio demo is also troubling for the industry, in my opinion. It worries me about the future of hifi.

    Wooch, regarding the demise of KFAC, I know that was a big let down but I'm not sure that the ownership had changed, though. In the 70's Jazz was not generating the revenues that they needed to keep afloat and they had to decide to go on or sell the station. As they say in the godfather, "it was just business, nothing personal." Of course, this is why many people are worried that they will leave classical for a more profitable format. Since they are operating at twice the bandwidth of most other FM stations, the circling sharks are getting hungry. Poetic justice may be romantic, but it won't help classical music in LA.

    KUSC, is also being pressured to go commercial. Eventhough they have a large support base, including several corporate sponsors, it is not enough to keep operating commercial-free. The university and the alumnis have all but abandoned the station and they are not able to make ends meet. Several of the companies, including ClearChannel, that hope to buy the station have already said that they would have no choice but to change the format to generate the necessary profits.

    And to the best of my knowledge nether station has shown any interest in HD. KMZT certainly could benefit by multicasting more programming (gasp - maybe even Jazz), but they apparently don't have the funds to make the move. KUSC certainly has no extra funds for this, and I also don't think they see this improving their financial woes.

  25. #25
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Hey nightflier.
    Thanks for mentioning KUSC--I just picked up the livestream. There are exactly zero full time classical stations out here...there's one pirate station that plays the same Brahms album between 4:00 and 4:17am on the third Sunday of every other month

    Thanks again
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

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