Tuesday, August 11, 2009

HD Radio

I mentioned in my last post that WBCN will live on in cyberspace and will also be broadcast on 98.5 HD2, and it got me thinking about how great HD radio is.

It offers CD quality sound, no static or interference, a wide variety of programming (in most cases 2 or 3 times the stations you’re receiving now), a data stream (song, artist, traffic, stock info), iPod tagging, and best of all… it’s free.

Most radio stations are now multicasting digital signals along with their standard analog broadcast, giving you 2 or 3 completely different broadcasts simultaneously. Take 98.5 for example. There’s the standard analog broadcast, WBZ-FM, then there’s a digital version of the same that you would pick up on 98.5-1 on your HD radio. But wait, there’s more! There’s also a 98.5-2, which is going to be the new home of WBCN in HD, and if you act now, they’ll even throw in 98.5-3, an HD version of WBZ-AM. Same holds true with WZLX. 100.7-1 is ZLX in HD, and 100.7-2 is Radio Mojo, Boston’s only all blues station. Mojo is my new favorite station, and it makes me wish that all of my radios had HD tuners.

How do they do it, you ask? Well, here’s a pretty good explanation from the people at Ibiquity, who came up with the idea of digital multicasting.

Did I say that it’s free? Doesn’t matter, it bears repeating. It’s F.R.E.E. free! All you need is an HD tuner, and pretty much all of the big players are beginning to incorporate them into their products. Here’s my review of my personal fave of the moment, the Sony XDR-S10HDiP HD Radio With Dock, and I see that Microsoft has built an HD tuner into their latest Zune. Portable HD radio… now that could be a game changer for me. Do you hear that Apple..?

Nope, probably not, but I can dream.

Here’s a listing of what’s available in the Boston area right now, and WBCN has a great listing of what’s to come later this week, after the big shuffle.

So, if you haven’t tried it yet, you should. Great quality audio with no subscription, no wires, no WiFi, no 3G, no strings attached.

It’s the future of radio.

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