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FM radio vs HD1

Posted: 05 Apr 2019 20:26
by howardpgh
What sounds better? Regular FM or HD FM? I have an FM HD tuner that I never used, so I was wondering if if there is any advantage to HD other than having additional program streams on one frequency (channel). Ie: WQED FM vs WQED HD1 (local classical station)

Re: FM radio vs HD1

Posted: 05 Apr 2019 21:30
by simonineaston
I'd never heard of HD FM, until your post. A quick Googly-Woogly and I learn that one developer claims it "approaches CD quality". I don't think I'll be abandoning BBC's online digital streaming, anytime soon... ( ... d-quality/)

Re: FM radio vs HD1

Posted: 06 Apr 2019 15:16
by dysmike
In my experience with it (in a vehicle), the sound is very close, if not the same, if you're listening to the primary station. Once you're onto side bands, there's drop outs etc. That's because the analogue transmission is there for the primary station, but does not exist for the side bands.

That's all in automotive use, and we can all agree that this is far from a critical listening environment.

The biggest advantages are the side band channels, like TV it allows for more channels on restricted airwaves.

Re: FM radio vs HD1

Posted: 06 Apr 2019 15:53
by zlartibartfast
Hybrid Digital FM is capable of true CD quality playback, when the HD signal is strong enough. If the signal level falls below the threshold to maintain HD, then the tuner will fall back to conventional analog FM. A good tuner will make this switch seamlessly.

The side-band channels do not have an analog fall back, so in the case of low signal, the side channel(s) will drop out completely (as dysmike stated). Also the side channels are compressed, similar to XM (though perhaps not as much) so I regard the side channels to be comparable to MP3 playback.

I suggest you hook up that tuner and test drive it. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Re: FM radio vs HD1

Posted: 07 Apr 2019 09:13
by ChrisLovesRock
Keep in mind that the HD does not necessarily stand for "High Definition," or its audio equivalent "High Resolution." I'm sure regular FM sounds better, just because it's analog.

FM can sound quite good, I guess somewhere between YouTube/streaming and CD. Can't touch vinyl, though.

I imagine HD Radio has about the same sound quality/resolution as Sirius XM, which is about the same as streaming. Not too bad, but FM has it beat.

Re: FM radio vs HD1

Posted: 08 Apr 2019 15:44
by fscl
HD will definitely sound better provided you've got a good signal from WQED, are close to station / repeater and / or have a good antenna so that it does not switch between FM and HD (annoying as the difference is pretty evident).

While in HD mode, music is more dynamic and noise floor is lower. Signature station broadcasts Sunday morning mass and when the house pipe organ kicks in, especially in the lower registers, sounds like I'm in the chapel. :shock: =D> =D> =D> ... nivCh.html

The sub helps too...... :wink: :lol:

An older topic here: ... sc&start=0

Definitely set it up and listen for yourself.

Good luck

Fred and I'm still running the Sony tuner and loving it...... :wink:

Re: FM radio vs HD1

Posted: 18 Apr 2019 16:06
I got an HD tuner

A I understand it, for stations that transmit in HD, a HD tuner will reject reflected multipath signals ....and lock on the real one.

However, you need a strong HD signal.
Otherwise, the tuner will somewhat noticeably constantly switch between HD and standard FM..... in which case you would br better off with just standard FM .

As already stated HD does not mean High Def. The signal it processes will just be a bit cleaner at times.
If there is no multipath distortion in you area and you have a strong FM signal from a given station, HD probably will not improve on it

Re: FM radio vs HD1

Posted: 19 Apr 2019 18:17
In realty, a HD tuner can take advantage of the HD station's digital signal that they broadcast along with their analog signal on the same frequency .
However, as we all know digital is no "silver bullet" and keep in mind that you need a strong HD signal to begin with.

Here is the "rub" ....
Many FM stations have dumbed down there analog signal so much and their (analog) broadcast are already from a dumbed down digital source ....and their HD digital signal is probably no better that that .
You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.... just by converting the the dumbed down signal back to digital... again

Re: FM radio vs HD1

Posted: 12 May 2019 18:10
by KentT
HD Radio= Hybrid Digital. Not High Definition. MP3 quality, not CD quality. The best analog FM is superior quality through a high quality FM tuner fed a nice strong signal with a good antenna.

Re: FM radio vs HD1

Posted: 18 May 2019 19:04
by zlartibartfast
little bump here - I found some interesting info pertaining to this question, from a guy who mods the XDR-F1HD tuner that I use. The answer to the OP's question is: it depends on several factors. The HD1 (primary digital) channel of an FM broadcast has the theoretical capability of equaling 16 bit/44.1 kHz audio. It uses a CODEC similar to MP4/AAC. However, many FM stations choose to use their bandwidth in different ways, and in most cases, limit their HD1 signal to the same 30 - 15,000 Hz freq response that analog FM has. Also, some HD radios are no better than budget FM radios & there is no improvement in sound quality from them.

That Said, in my house, HD FM is better than analog FM when selecting the right stations. Your Mileage May Vary.

Re: FM radio vs HD1

Posted: 10 Jun 2019 03:47
by chgc
The station I listen to most has static on all my regular tuners (including some pretty good ones), but once the HD locks in on the Sony XDR F1HD, it definitely “approaches CD quality.” But, as ZBF said, YMMV.

Re: FM radio vs HD1

Posted: 13 Jun 2019 12:48
by KentT
CD Quality HD Radio is not. Even on the McIntosh MR 88, the best HD tuner ever made. It's equivalent to a 320 KBPS MP3 at best.

Re: FM radio vs HD1

Posted: 13 Jun 2019 13:46
by chgc
I just meant it sounds pretty good with essentially zero noise.

Re: FM radio vs HD1

Posted: 18 Jun 2019 13:53
by Peter Galbavy
For those thinking FM is "analogue" then you may be surprised. The transmission may be analogue but the delivery of the signal to the transmitters is unlikely to be so except in some very niche local stations. The BBC went digital way back in the 70s for FM and this was the basis for NICAM digital TV audio.

More info:

Re: FM radio vs HD1

Posted: 18 Jul 2019 00:32
by Sterling1
I installed a Kenwood HD Radio in my vehicle. It also incorporates a CD Player and it has a usb port allowing the Kenwood to control iTunes from my iPhone. HD Radio sounds better than FM in all manner that better can be discerned. But all is not candy. There used to be 12 HD channels in my market, Louisville, KY. Now, there's only 6 and most of the time those 6 are not broadcasting. When any HD channels are broadcasting, there's no static and no dropouts for the most part. Also, the Kenwood displays the station, artist, and song title from HD channels. Overall, I'm pleased with the technology, but not the cavalier manner broadcasters present it.