Radio's High-Definition Blitz

MikeH1

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Too be honest I don't quite understand this whole HiDef radio idea. Is there really such a thing or is it just a marketing ploy from ClearChannel & friends? I find it rather funny that the same companies that helped kill FM radio is out on a massive PR stunt like this to gain back the listeners they helped to lose.

Link
 

Brian Little

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Okay how is it "high def" when its a freakin 128k or so mp3 being digitally transmitted? Sorry but that is NOT high def at all.
 

Garrett Lundy

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The local radio station have been MP3 for years now.

"HD Radio: Still not quite as good as a 24 year old CD!"
 

LanceJ

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Excuse my French but to me that HD designation is just bulls**t marketing. On an article posted over at stevehoffman.tv last year, IIRC one of iBiquity's (the company who designed this system) spokespersons was asked what HD meant specifically. She said it didn't mean anything.
So IMO they just want people to think it means hi-def.


Unless they recently changed it, HD radio uses a proprietary lossy compression format that maxes out at 96kbps. Yuck.

And guess what happens when they do multicasting i.e. several channels at once? You guessed it, for two channels it gets halved into 48kbps per channel, and for three............bleh!!! DEFINITETLY not "CD quality" as I have heard some DJs say about it.

And doing a google search, people have reported that the digital signal has caused problems in the form of audible static when listening to the FM signal (the digital signal is "right next door" to the analog one). I can't prove this was the cause, but when the local oldies station began their HD service, my Tivoli radio and the Delco in my car both have to this day static on that station all the time now - very irritating.

And yes, going by personal experience and others' reports FM radio can sound excellent - and almost truly CD quality* - but only if the broadcaster doesn't overcompress the audio signal (so it sounds better in noisy cars and with cheap boomboxes) and bump up his bass & treble controls to "10". It's no coincidence that until the early 90s that most audio manufacturers offered component tuners with good-to-excellent analog output sections coupled with sensitive tuning sections with barely audible background hiss. Same with their better receivers.

To see what I mean check out this awesome site: www.fmtunerinfo.com


* FM's frequency range is limited to a span of 30Hz to 15kHz, but within this range is the huge majority of information in most music genres. And generally most males past 30 cannot hear much past 12kHz anyway.
 

Kevin C Brown

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This is a joke. The music/hardware people just don't get it:

The average person just does not care about high res audio. Just look at SACD and DVD-A for examples.
 

Rachael B

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I was looking at a catalog called Hollywood Gadjets at my mom's house this afternoon. It had some mickey mouse brand of HD radio tuner for $250. This ait't gonna fly, IMO.
 

Chris

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Here's the thing that HD Radio misses:

(1) It's still full of commercials.
(2) It still plays edited radio cuts of all music
(3) They still are basically subject to the same "payola" and corporate push to put radio plays and repitition
(4) It's signal range is even more limited then FM. So, you aren't going to carry a signal with you for any real distance.

Uh.. so, with all that in mind, I guess I say: What's the point?
 

Kevin C Brown

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I think they are just trying to come up with a way to compete with XM and Sirius.

Screw em all, I say, I found a college station I listen to that has:

a) a very wide variety of music, that even if I don't like a lot of it, I still get exposed to stuff I wouldn't normally go out of my own way to find

b) it's free

c) no commercials; just the random PSA and underwriting
 

LanceJ

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About six months ago I read an article discussing how some of the HD broadcasters couldn't understand the public's lack of enthusiasm concerning their pet format. The author's opinion - and mine - about this was mostly that the *music* selection still severely stunk so why bother investing in the format, never mind the fact the tuners themselves were expensive (and almost all of them seem to be built into what's basically glorified clock radios)

Without trying to sound sarcastic, despite its low fidelity I truly think if AM broadcasters suddenly started playing tunes people actually liked & without the load of commercials that saturate most stations now, store shelves would soon be bare of anything capable of tuning in that format. FYI: don't forget the airwaves are for the public's use (this is a law, not my opinion) not a corporation's personal profit-generating machine...... a machine which isn't generating much profit now because they are not paying attention to what that public wants!


For people in Houston, if you want to hear a huge variety of music (pretty much everything expcet classical) tune your radio to KPFT 90.1. It's a listener-supported station so they have to play what their listeners like. They also broadcast(?) on the web. And this is a big breath of fresh air: the majority of their DJs actually know something about the music they are playing!! As of the time of this post their Grateful Dead show is on.
 

Kevin C Brown

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Lance- You just expressed the thought I was formulating. It's not the resolution that's important, it's the quality of the broadcasting. One reason why I try to avoid most FM programming is because they play the same songs over and over again. I imagine that wouldn't change with any new falootin' HD format as long as it's controlled by Clear Channel and others of the same ilk.
 

Paul_Medenwaldt

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A local new station did a report a couple months ago on HD Radio and there were only about 8 radio stations that were in the 'Hi-Def" range at the time of the story. Not worth spending a few hundred dollars on a couple stations.

I rarely listen to FM anymore since getting XM. I was glad XM and Sirius are around. The variety they have is tremendous and it makes the local radio stations sound pitiful when they advertise their 'vareity' in music.

Living in the Twin Cities we have a local classic rock station KQRS that has been dominant in radio for almost 30 years. They play the same songs over and over. I may be biased but when ever they would play a KISS song, they would only play Rock and Roll All Nite from the Alive album. That was pretty much it, but maybe late in the evening they would play Domino, but that was it for KISS, but they would play 10 classic rock songs from Led Zepplin.

I was helping my brother in law put up sheet rock one day and we were listening to KQRS and i kept track of the repetitive artists they played. Within a 4 hour span, they played 2 Fleetwood Mac songs 3 Eagles tunes, 2 Led Zepplin songs, 2 Aerosmith songs and 2 Billy Joel songs. I was so bored with that selection of artists. Thats what drove me away from FM, not the commericals.

Paul
 

Garrett Lundy

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Back in highschool the art teacher kept a radio going during class and kept track of what got played, every day, for the entire school year. And like clockwork: the same 6 songs would be played in the same order for 4 weeks. I never noticed it until then.

Thats when I learned to really hate Ace Of Base's The Sign
 

Kevin C Brown

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I have thought about this some.
There is a classic rock station here, 107.7, KSAN, that used to be good. They had a no repeat policy during the day, and they would play "deep" tracks pretty often. (I couldn't believe it when they played Deep Purple's live Space Truckin', all 20 minutes of it, during a Sat night drive from Concord back to San Jose.) But then something changed, and now they are like most stations where they'll only play a few tracks from each artist. Now? They play an edited version of Humble Pie's I Don't Need No Doctor. Was 9 min, now about 4 min. Makes me so freakin' mad that they butcher a song like that. I'd rather them just not play the stupid thing.

But here's the question: someone must like this approach because why else would they change?

Could it be that the "masses" really do like to hear the same songs over and over and over and over again? That the programming directors of all these stations *don't* know what their listeners like to hear?

I can't fathom it.

I'd try XM or Siruis, but it has to be cheaper. There's some deal being advertised here: $99 for 3 months, programming and hardware. That's ridiculously high in my opinion. And that's a "special" offer. But I do get some Sirius channels with the Dish Network.
Sometimes I play that, digitally, from my setop box into my audio system.
 

Paul_Medenwaldt

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But here's the question: someone must like this approach because why else would they change?

Most radio stations these days only expect the average listener to listen to radio for a few hours. That gives them the liberty to repeat the same artists throughout the day.

here's some deal being advertised here: $99 for 3 months,

Its a pretty good deal depending on the hardware they give you. If it is one of those Roadster models then you have the option to take it out of your car and bring into the house and hook it up to a stereo or a special unit that is designed to play with the unit.

Paul
 

LanceJ

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That "change" from what the people wanted to what these huge media corps think you should like started in 1996, the year the Telecommunications Act Of 1996 was signed. That act is what allowed ownership of stations by 1 corporation to go from a maximum of a few dozen to more than a 1000 (and right now they are asking the gov't for the limit to be further increased - talk about greed in action).

Also, generic playlists save the corps money: that is because doing surveys and having DJs actually pick up a phone and listen to their local listeners' opinions eats away at their profits.

And in many smaller markets there are very few actual living/breathing DJs working in the station in the first place: the corp just makes a generic recording that is sent out over the internet to its stations all over the country; once received by the station's computer system these recorded announcements and song names are added at the right spots during the playback of the music. So many stations are literally just "robots" playing those tunes, excpet for early morning drive times and other more active parts of the day.
 

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