General Question

willbrawn's avatar

Is a HD Radio a worthy upgrade?

Asked by willbrawn (6588 points ) April 17th, 2009 from iPhone

I hear about it all the time. Is it worth upgrading too? Is the service that much better? Do you have one? What have been your experiences with it?

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8 Answers

GAMBIT's avatar

I have HD radio and I do not use it. In my opinion you can get so much music free on the internet. HD radio is not worth it.

Here are some stations I listen to:

Slacker.com, Live365.com, pandora.com, accuradio.com

I hope this is helpful.

squirbel's avatar

HD radio is gimmicky at best.

squirbel's avatar

“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… Between the high prices, poor listening options, homogenized content, and a decade and a half of FCC dealings that went into this monopoly, critics are calling the move to digital radio a ‘catastrophe’ and a ‘complete giveaway’ to behemoths such as CBS… All the major radio players, such as Clear Channel Communications, are iBiquity investors. Which means Clear Channel is paying itself for the right to broadcast, and every mom-and-pop station that wants to go digital also has pay the big boys. Nice setup!”

GAMBIT's avatar

If you are looking for a better radio for your car I suggest XM/Sirius but you will have to pay a monthly fee. HD doesn’t have a monthly fee but as @squirbel stated it is only a gimmick and the many stations they avertise are poor.

dynamicduo's avatar

HD radio? I’ve never heard of it at all, and the first thing I think of is that it’s a gimmick. They’re trying to draw an analogy between HD video and this mythic HD audio, with the result that you should think that HD audio would be a better quality than regular audio. The problem with this is that the two technologies, video and audio, are really nothing alike. Video is a set of images, audio is a waveform. It’s much easier to compress audio without losing quality than it is to compress video without losing quality. Furthermore, HD video signifies a marked difference in video image size (720p versus 480p), but there is no such difference with HD audio than with real audio, as a waveform is a waveform. All the “HD audio” means is that the bandwidth is increased, thus compression could be lowered and you would be sent a higher quality audio. How much higher quality? I would say not enough to justify the price of the setup. Based on absolutely no facts whatsoever beyond my knowledge of audio and compression, I would say you would get no more than a 10% increase in quality, whereas going from SD to HD video gives (in my opinion) almost a 100% increase in quality.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a difference in the quality of a non-HD audio stream and an HD one. However it’s worthwhile to note that you will likely not experience as large of an improvement as you do going from SD to HD video. If you enjoy the radio now, I doubt you would find value in it.

seekingwolf's avatar

I wouldn’t upgrade to it because that costs a lot and HD Radio still has a long way to go.

However, many new cars are sold with HD radios for pretty cheap, so if you had that opportunity, then that may be an option.

Personally, I wouldn’t go for HD Radio because I plug in my Blackberry in the car and listen to Internet Radio, but if I get a new car in the future, I may spring for the HD Radio if it’s not too expensive.

robmandu's avatar

I agree that the digital “quality” of HD is likely nothing to write home about.

The big selling point, at least in the markets around here, is that much like HDTV broadcasters, the radio station can embed additional channels of programming.

So… you like the one alternative station in your area but would like more? Then, theoretically, that station could offer additional channels of programming. They could, for example, broadcast live from an all-day concert on their second channel. Whatever.

Also, HD radio would offer song titles, artist names, etc. on the display. And likely could provide more detailed weather and traffic info, too.

With Sirius/XM teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, I’m not sure I’d be willing to invest in that technology. If I was out looking at aftermarket radios today, and I could get the HD capability for minimal additional cost, I’d probably go for it.

Oh look. Best Buy is offering a JVC in-dash CD deck complete with built-in HD radio tuner for $120.

Doesn’t seem to me that there’s that much premium in the price. So then, why not? I say go for it.

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