High Definition Radio, also known as HD Radio, was first landed onto the market many years ago. However, with the cost of equipment purchase, lack of marketing and push for satellite radio, most consumers are unaware of the HD Radio option. Unlike satellite radio, HD Radio is free of charge but requires the purchase of expensive equipment. Understanding the basis of the technology and it’s advantages and disadvantages will help consumers determine what listening option is best.
How does it work? With HD Radio digital technology, there is a substantial increase in the amount of information transmitted along the same radio wave we currently use resulting in a better quality of sound. Digital sound allows for few reception delays so the end result is a more clear, crisp and clean sound without fuzz, snaps and loss of airtime. This improved quality in sound offers many advantages to the consumer.
HD Radio advantages include new and crisp, clean sound but also offer the advanced technology to display informational text on the radio screen. By utilizing this advanced digital display mechanism, syndicated radio programs can now provide regional and local information in a text format. While both AM and FM frequencies are offered on HD Radio, the AM level may never reach the level of quality as the HD FM option but the current AM sound will improve to the level at which we hear FM radio signal today. This, in itself, will provide the listener with more options in radio as the AM channels become more clear. Unfortunately, FCC regulations today, only allow for AM HD listening until dark at which point the HD option is no longer available. The FCC has chosen to regulate the AM HD option due to interference with more distant AM stations.
Disadvantages to HD Radio include, primarily, the inability to speak with a disc jockey. HD Radio is designed to automate which means it will not require disc jockey service therefore, if you have a question about an artist or a song, there will be no one to contact. Additionally, not all HD channels are presently using digital text display so you may be listening to a continous music format and nothing more. Disadvantages also involve the receptors used in HD Radio as the cost to purchase the equipment varies to purchase prices upwards of $1000 each. However, a less expensive version, in a clock radio, has been designed but cost still remains the primary factor which prevents from biting into HD Radio market. To offset these costs, HD Radio stations and receptor manufacturers boast the advantages to HD Radio versus satellite radio which amounts to nothing more than an explanation of free versus non-free radio options.
In summary, the cost to purchase HD Radio equipment may be a deterant in the HD Radio advancement however, when analyzing this against the cost of monthly satellite radio fees, the two products may prove to be similar with the only difference determined by the amount of money the consumer wishes to invest and at what interval the investment will be done. In either case, the equipment is equally restrictive.