Hear Your Digital as Consumers Do
station that is running HD Radio should own a good broadcast monitor
that allows them to carefully and accurately adjust their processing
and analog delay. But how can you get a sense of the actual coverage
and sound that is ultimately delivered to the listeners?
HD Radio website displays the Insignia NS-HD01A.
(Click to Enlarge)
the last few years, mobile radios for the car have been easy to find
and work well. This is getting easier every year as more automobile
manufacturers add HD Radio to their standard electronics lineup in
the car. With a car radio capable of HD reception, you can drive
through your market area and learn firsthand the actual coverage
area, which is important to know when someone asks you whether they
should be trying out an HD Radio receiver. Coverage is critical
especially when it comes to HD2 channels, which will mute in weak
there’s still a third type of monitor that every station engineer
should have if they are responsible for an HD Radio signal. That
third type is the small indoor portable radio. A surprising number of
listeners, or potential advertising clients, still want to test
reception on an indoor device. A good choice for this kind of radio
is the recently released Insignia NS-HD01A. These list for about $50,
but you can usually find them online for something less than that.
remember buying one of the initial run of these small portables, and
it was somewhat disappointing. One of the great benefits of HD Radio
is the improvement offered in urban environments; multipath
distortion is virtually eliminated. But the original portable from
Insignia had a front end that would overload too easily, which meant
that it didn’t work near transmitter sites in urban centers, as in
Boston or New York for example. It also wasn’t all that sensitive.
To get reception, you pretty much had to be outdoors for the
headphone cord-based antenna to work.
the latest version these problems have been largely fixed. Not only
did it work inside my house, it held HD signals as I moved from room
to room. It even worked well in my personal car, which is not HD
Radio equipped, delivering seamless reception of station signals in
the downtown Boston area from a transmitter site about 7 miles out of
town. This is with the radio clipped to the sun visor and the
headphone cord hanging down, inside the car, with windows shut.
also updated the display to be brighter and improved the battery life
on this model. It will run about 10 hours on a full charge, or more
if you aren’t constantly changing stations as I do during tests
(the display lights up when changing channels but mutes to dark once
you have a station locked in to save energy).
radios perform well, deliver good reception and are not expensive to
boot. It’s an easy way to hear what you can do with an HD Radio
system in the home and outdoors on the move.
LeClair is chief engineer for radio stations WBUR(AM/FM) in Boston;
he has been technical editor of Radio World Engineering Extra since
its inception in 2005.
your HD Radio tips or column suggestions to