The HD Radio Logo
Though the initials have nothing to do with the words “high definition,” HD Radio is similar to HD television, using a digital signal to provide consumers with improved quality and additional programming choices. While in many ways a reaction to the launch of satellite radio services like Sirius and XM Radio, HD Radio differs by providing these improvements for free, eschewing the subscription fees satellite radio charges. Consumers need only purchase an HD Radio receiver to enjoy the new service.
The Advantages Of HD Radio
Diane Warren, President of the HD Digital Radio Alliance, a trade group supported by many major broadcast companies, says the new technology is well timed. “In this economic environment, being able to receive all these extra stations around the country for free is immensely appealing.”
The new receivers improve the sound quality of FM stations to rival that of a compact disc while the sound quality of an AM station improves to that of traditional FM radio.
The upgraded system also delivers additional programming using a technology called compression. FM stations are able to broadcast additional signals, known as HD-2 channels, that can be tuned in with HD Radio receivers
Many radio stations have used this new bandwidth to provide programming focused on genres of music that are generally underserved by AM and FM radio such as blues, jazz and heavy metal. Other broadcasters have been more creative using these new opportunities to develop programming aimed at unique life groups. Formats on HD-2 channels have been focused on such diverse groups as the homosexual community, immigrants from southern Asia and fans of specific NHL teams.
All Kinds Of Receivers
For people who drive a lot, iBiquity Digital Corporation, the company that developed HD Radio, recently announced that Land Rover as the 13th auto manufacturer to provide HD receivers as an option in new cars. They join a diverse group including Audi, Ford, Kia and Scion amongst others. Listeners can also purchase upgrade kits for older cars in most retailer’s car stereo departments. Home and office listeners are equally well covered with a variety of choices, including tabletop and portable receivers, as well as models designed to plug into existing home audio systems.
Warren says she expects continued growth and consumer adaptation of HD Radio technology, “With receivers available for every personal taste and with innovative multicast stations on-air, HD Radio’s future is bright. We’re confident that with the broad station selection being offered, people will find something truly unique and consumer interest will only go up.”