HD Radio - an oxymoron if there ever was

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nanZor

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Maybe this should be placed in the rants section? :)

This isn't just an old Grandpa shaking his fist at you wacky kids on my porch pining for the days when stations took pride in their analog FM signal.

There are issues, some of which are described here:

https://www.lifewire.com/problem-with-hd-radio-534510

CD quality? You mean sounding like a bad remaster of an original classic that has no dynamic range left?

One trick not discussed is the temptation to just squeezing in more and more HD channels until the audio quality is so bad that someone complains. But who does that these days, other than to just tune away.

The worst part is interfering with your own analog signal. And frequently, that can mean the digital infrastructure set up for HD (ahem), is also used to put out a crappy analog signal.

I'm not recommending we go back in time, but just to say if you are going to go HD / Analog hybrid, get your act together!

Sadly, my own college alt-station, KCSN is starting to sound like a compressed commercial station. But, ok here comes Pink Floyd's "Arnold Layne" for us geezer alts. DESTROYED on analog fm. Ugh, so sad. Can I get these kids to take a trip to other colleges outlets, like KUSC, KKJZ, or KPCC for a refresher? Harsh, but you don't destroy Arnold Layne and get away with it. :)

To prove I'm not just picking on kids - my "original alt station", KROQ in the 70's and 80's for me, who dared play Jethro Tull while every other station is playing nothing but Led Zepp and KISS every 10 minutes, is just un-listenable to me now, despite me wanting to hear the cool new and semi-old stuff. What a shame to barely see the VU meter move. That's ok when listening to the Ramones, but all the time?

Or simply eat your own dog food and listen to your own station. Perhaps those running some stations have just *never heard* what a good signal sounds like.

"Ok Gramps, time to go back inside" .....
 
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nanZor

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Just take your HD gear out of line please

... Gramps just woke up from his nap and apparently feistier than ever ...

I'd been out of the FM radio broadcasting enjoyment thing for a bit more than a decade, and holy cow, what a mess when I researched it from many points.

Here's the deal. Nodoby is listening to HD radio - at least not enough to matter. If they aren't listening they are streaming instead. But don't kid yourself - there ARE people who listen to FM analog, not just propeller heads on this forum, so it still behooves you to provide a quality signal.

In other words, FM analog and streaming *complement* each other. HD radio is just an attempt to shoe-horn in on that.

I know you spent a fortune on this stuff, but do you have the GUTS to take it out of line, or are you merely using HD radio as a "spectrum placeholder" to justify other projects, or hoping that some miracle will come along we'll all be FORCED to go pure-digital? Like Norway and DAB?

Think about the children! Fed sonic garbage (I'm not talking specific content, but audio quality) how do you expect them to even recognize quality over quantity? Whether it's Beethoven, Motorhead, or Interpol, (yeah I listen to them all) the artists and the people who listen to them deserve some level of quality audio.

And more importantly for the advertisers - is the audio so badly compressed, unsynchronized and so forth that it's hard to tell what it is they are even trying to promote?

Operators are standing by during our pledge - please remove your HD radio stuff, and put that same amount of effort and money into re-establishing what made you great in the first place - good quality broadcast signals, and not just bandwidth-placeholding pink noise. Or are you waiting for the day to drop your analog baseband and become just like Norway. I feel sorry for them.

Kids: P.S. It's really cool to the buck the trend right? I know I did and still do. Get out your analog radios, and if you don't like a station's sound - SAY SO. Don't be sheep.

Norwegians: we're here to help. Even though you can't listen to the beautifully modulated signals of classical KUSC firsthand, you can stream it instead. I wonder how many of those who had DAB forced down their throats (not JUST an end-user conversion issue), are just going to stream outside their own country on a regular basis? Heh, shortwave (of a sort) lives on!

Sorry - I guess I got really angry when I saw all the foolishness that has been taking place...
 
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nanZor

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Why HD radio is a mess

Late to the party, but for us propeller-heads, here are some of the details:

US:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HD_Radio

Elsewhere:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_audio_broadcasting#DAB+

Read them carefully. Or, pay real close to attention to DAB+'s "ensemble". Or HDradio's "multiplexing". Can you say "10 pounds of um, sand, in a 2 pound bag?"

Sure, my beloved KUSC has an hd channel. I wouldn't blink an eye if it went away tomorrow. Good riddance. But at least these guys know what they are doing.

I dunno' man - if I were running a station, I'd be wondering when the car-dealership down the street starts dictating my operations.

Ugh, have to stop - it makes me so angry.

Update: to feel better, I just put "The Normal" T.V.O.D. on endless repeat, and just substituted HD for TV. :)
 
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nanZor

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Can't get even the basics of analog right!

I bag on HD-radio as a big culprit of bad sound, but even if we were to clean up that act, the fact remains that most stations have crappy audio processing to begin with - ammunition for loudness wars.

1) Using a webstream processor for your fm analog. Hello studio-inside-steel-drum!

2) Cranking your orban, optimod, omnia 3fmt, or other processor so badly that everything just bangs off the limiters - essentially SQUARE WAVES.

3) Oh, let's jack that up some more - sprinkle some additional distortion with "composite clipping".

THIS kind of garbage is a self-fullfilling prophecy about why radio sounds so bad these days. We have become the self-parody of Spinal-Tap and "going to ELEVEN". :)

US Radio stations that perform this kind of dis-service to our nation should simply be taken off the air and given to those who give a damn about quality.

Ok, rant over....
 

MTS2000des

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HD Radio can actually sound pretty decent with good processing. But the real problem is OTA radio has no programming worth listening to in most markets, as corporate conglomerates have destroyed any quality local programming.
 

nanZor

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You're making me put on the conspiracy hat ...

Let's make our OTA programming (hd or analog) so uncompelling and boring, along with bad audio, that we essentially FORCE our listeners to stream.

That way, it isn't really a one-way broadcast, but a two way computer connection where we can benefit from subscriptions, or if that can't be forced, we can make background revenue from all the data-aggregation and app tracking of users. And of course the normal ads ad click-throughs that can go with that if web-based.

The problem is if that conspiracy is really true, is that you really can't force a user streaming off the net to "stay within radio range" essentially and tune to anything across the globe. (notwithstanding political firewalls and such).

What I fear is the radio industry putting itself out of business on purpose - all the while blaming old-technology, new trends and such, when the *real* issue is one of basics - quality of content and quality of transmission.

Some may call it being old fashioned and not being able to deal with the revolution.

I call out the problem of most failed revolutions, because they never ask themselves "what do we do AFTER the revolution?" Yep, nobody is locked into a local / national stream, but has an entire globe of services from which to subscribe. Thus, the revolution was all for naught.

I'm blessed to have several local LPFM'ers who prove that "old" technology still works GREAT. And even they stream, but they don't blow off the basics of their radio transmission.

The public isn't stupid, but if we can be slowly coaxed into things like sheep - well I guess we get what we deserve.

Sorry - another rant over with. I should probably restrict myself the last subforum here. :)
 

MTS2000des

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Telecom Act of 1996 and docket 80/90 killed radio, the corporate take over predates streaming popularity by about a decade. If anything, streaming was the answer to the corporate scum that is radio. Recall in the late 1990s when RealPlayer dominated the world of streaming audio (it sounded like crap but that's the best you can do on a dial up connection at the time).


Overnight, dozens of online stations appeared into the early 2000s. Some were quite good. KickRadio.NL was one of my favorite online destinations in 2005/2006. Then the costs of streaming went up, which was driven by the record companies and clearinghouses, forcing streaming to the "pay to play" model which are the record companies' wet dream. No more CDs to pirate or MP3s, just sell them a subscription with encrypted end to end content you can cut off anytime when they don't pay. Independent online stations just can't compete living off donations alone.


The only thing to save OTA radio is CONTENT. Problem is the cost to delivery is high, and they are competing with services like Spotify and Apple Music that have the custom playlists listeners want without the annoying ads and DJs no one likes. HD radio is a day late, dollar short.
 

nanZor

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I agree about CONTENT being king, but if you can't improve that, you blame "old technology" or needing to change for changes sake. HD-Radio was something nobody asked for, and nobody truly needs or wants. Like compressed audio these days.

I can imagine a Ray Bradbury surreal tracking / subscription nightmare in the future: your kid asks "hey, can I go play with Jamie down the street for a little while? Sorry, son, we used up all our "outdoor" minutes at the park. Maybe next week".

"So can I stay inside and listen to the radio? My teacher said there was this cool old music by a dude name Bach I should listen to". "Hate to break it to you, but you know we went over the limit on our frivolous-appliance allocation. We got plenty of space booked up, but you can't even turn the radio on until our appliance-minutes reset next month." Ahhh, DAD!!! Sorry son."

That's a long stretch from HD-Radio, so I'll put my foil hat away for now. :)

But sure enough, it all comes back to content, and sufficient fidelity to make that enjoyable in the first place. We have all the tech, but the overall multiplexing to make the next buck kills it.
 
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nanZor

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Continuing on once more and then I'll stop beating a dead horse...

"Son, you know the NA-NA state provides a free classical channel. I think it's slice 157"

"Yeah, but on that, I can't tell the difference between a cello and a flute!"

"Whatever - the 1990's swamp-buggy racing channel is right next to it. Maybe they'll play a commercial with some classical in it. Just do your best son, that's all we ask".

-Mic drop - I'm done. :)
 
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