Monday, August 1, 2011

HD Radio's Slow Death Continues

From Richard Wagoner, LA Daily News Radio Columnist:

Radio Shack has every one of its house-brand HD Radio units on clearance, if they are still in stock. This includes iPod Touch/iPhone dongles and the Auvio tuner (which, if you can still find one at the clearance price of $30, is a steal).

This means Radio Shack is essentially out of the HD Radio business. A shame, since the Shack was one of the early supporters.

It doesn't mean that the technology is dead, but it certainly isn't flourishing. You can still buy car stereos with HD Radio at various retail stores and at online stores as www.crutchfield.com. Best Buy still carries a few portable products in its stores and online as well.

What went wrong? Two things: content and marketing.

HD Radio -- a system of sending digital audio via traditional airwaves that promises improved fidelity and more listening choices -- still rarely offers much in the way of content.

Locally, Saul Levine provides music you can't hear elsewhere -- classical and adult standards -- via HD Radio secondary channels tied to Go Country 105. But he is the exception. All too often the secondary channels are essentially the same as the main channel.

And the marketing was even worse than the content. Can you remember even one commercial? They have been running for more than five years.
Read More.

TomZTake: Please note MC headline is mine, not Richard's.

5 comments:

  1. I own three HD radios, including one in the car. While I was initially very excited regarding this new technology, disappointment and dismissal of it altogether came rather quickly.

    Within a few months, I said this is going nowhere and, all these years later, it has had less impact than that. (The RadioShack news doesn't surprise me, never did anyone working in those stores knew what or where they were.) The engineers behind HD technology either never tested this thoroughly or kept their mouths shut when it was rammed down the industry's throat.

    1. Sound Quality. A complete joke. The fact that HD really stands for nothing speaks volumes. (It does NOT stand for high-definition, but hey, it sure sounds good and the fact that HD-TV was huge, let’s go with it.) Digital artifacts sound harsh and, unless you're only running the main channel, audio sounds like a low-quality stream. (Most Cox stations only run HD-1 and they sound OK, but never as good as analog.)

    2. Coverage. A complete joke. Stations I can easily receive with a $30 portable won't reach with HD. On Long Island, NYC stations get out to exit 64 comfortably. I lose the HD signal around exit 48, with drop-outs well before that. I cannot believe anyone would think this had any chance, when signals constantly slip back and forth into HD. And the secondary channels drop out to complete silence! (Most of us can put up with a little noise, but try listening to music or conversation when it goes blank every 15 seconds) And lastly, try listening to music slipping in and out of HD when the two signals aren’t synced properly. This passed muster to the folks down at NPR labs? iBuiquity must have had one hell of a sales team.

    3. Content. The only time I recall an interest in HD radios was when CBS-FM dumped oldies to the HD-2 channel. (Someone who was in the car with me while we listened to the format went out and bought an HD radio the next day – only to discover he couldn’t receive the HD signal 25 miles away!) Look, there were programmers who attempted something different in the beginning, but there is no one who can say there is enough compelling content on the sub-channels to “buy a $100 radio!”)

    Three strikes already, but here’s one more: a 15-20 second delay means WFAN and WCBS turn HD OFF when running a baseball game. It means setting your clock on 1010 WINS is incorrect. And if you really want to hear how bad digital can sound, try listening over the AM band.

    Are there any positives? I didn’t see any, although I’m sure the iBuiquity website has plenty of reading material. I’ve been in this business for over 30 years and, for the life of me, cannot fathom how this ever came to the light of day. In many respects, I’m glad it didn’t take hold, aka television. As a collector of over 100 radios, it doesn’t look like they’ll be obsolete anytime soon.

    So why has HD hung around so long? AM stereo (a better idea at the time, IMHO) lasted half as long. Worked better and sounded better, yet outside of Chrysler and GM car radios, never really caught on. (Please save me the C-Quam / Kahn / Magnavox debate. Similar competition didn’t halt the success of the VHS system around the same time.) But someone IS paying for those HD commercials you hear on every station, every hour in every daypart and hopefully it was worth everyone’s investment in HD equipment.

    HD “it stands for nothing” radio has been around for ten years and still, no one I know outside the business has any interest, if they’re aware of it at all. This was not an improvement over analog broadcasting, neither to the listener nor the industry. It was and is a complete joke, if there ever was one.

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  2. Digital Radio is one of those 'me too' technologies. It's struggling for acceptance in a world that just doesn't see the need. Except for a few radio insiders and a very small minority of listeners that go orgasmic over it the rest of us choose to ignore it and hope is just goes away.

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  3. This problem has a very simple solution.
    Take the coin being invested in these abstract HD ads. Instead, give the receiver makers a little incentive to just add the HD chipset to radios. The people will discover HD very quickly! HD components in quantity are very cheap. Many folk were surprised when their Chrysler and Ford car radios pumped their favorite AM in stereo. Stations must quickly take the 10-fold power increase and IBOC must help ease the burden of returned merchandise on HD radio vendors-- until things start hopping!


    being invested in these abstract HD ads. Instead, give the receiver makers a little incentive to just add the HD chipset to radios. The people will discover HD very quickly! HD components in quantity are very cheap. Many folk were surprised when their Chrysler and Ford car radios pumped their favorite AM in stereo. Stations must quickly take the 10-fold power increase and IBOC must help ease the burden of returned merchandise on HD radio vendors-- until things start hopping!

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  4. HD Radio is a farce!

    http://hdradiofarce.blogspot.com

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  5. Hey,,
    Hd radio is the well for this time. because anyone anywhere listen it.. and HD radio is very powerful.we shall bye it very low cost. so all people can do it.
    http://www.electronicsnews93.blogspot.com/2012/12/hd-radio.html

    ReplyDelete