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Monday, April 24, 2006


Digital HD Radio-More interference and aggrivation then value.

Building penetration tended to be poor, especially at distances greater than 20 miles from the radio station’s antenna.
My initial burst of enthusiasm had quickly tempered to confusion. Could I be doing something wrong? How could I not pick up these stations? After all, I live about 16 miles as the crow flies from the Empire State Building .
Technical Difficulties
I went to the Ibiquity Web site to find that there were at least 13 stations broadcasting in HD in New York . One by one I tried to tune them in, and one by one I was met with frustration. Constant fiddling with the antenna yielded part-time successes. I managed to get Z100’s second channel for about three seconds, then three seconds of dead air, then on, then off. This gave new meaning to the term picket-fencing. Digital is unforgiving. It’s either on or it’s off.
I took the radio upstairs to the bedroom. This time I had some success. WPLJ, WNEW, WAXQ, and several others sounded beautiful in HD. But mind you, every time I changed the channel, I’d need to go fiddle and reposition the antenna. Sometimes, as the digital signal faded in and out, a phasing sound would occur. On the AM side, continuous play with the antenna yielded a promising digital WNYC AM, but WOR’s digital signal amounted to a great big hum.
The hotly advertised second channels were still mostly nowhere to be found. Intermittent signals were achieved for WNYC, WAXQ, and WLTW. Twice the radio froze up altogether and I had to unplug it to “reboot” it. After considerable tinkering, I was finally able to listen to Z100’s new music channel at length. And the 32 kbps stream had plenty of kick and dynamic range.
But clearly, something was wrong. This whole thing was just not working as advertised.
Terrestrial radio might be hyping a technology that isn’t quite ready for prime time. If broadcasters are attempting an apples-to-apples comparison with satellite radio, right now they’ll lose.

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