the past few months I’ve made several business trips to Los
Angeles. Invariably these trips require renting a car, and I have
been lucky to have been upgraded to a 2013 GMC Acadia or its closely
related sibling the Chevrolet Traverse. Both are made by General
Motors and offer HD Radio with Artist Experience as a standard
typical implementation of HD Radio with Artist Experience in a 2013
GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse. Both GM vehicles offer HD with AE
as standard. The author was listening to KBIG(FM) in Los Angeles when
he took this photo.
have always taken an interest in new radio receiver technology; these
days my work with Clear Channel Media + Entertainment has me involved
with it more than ever. That being said, it’s nice to finally see a
product or feature the industry has been waiting for actually
realized in a final product.
more, since GM is offering these as a standard feature in 2013 and
presumably future models of this vehicle, obtaining one of these
radios for evaluation or purchase is now easier. I have seen this
receiver on the demonstration floors at the Las Vegas Convention
Center during CES and the NAB Show. It’s one thing to have a few minutes in
the car at a trade show, quite another to drive the vehicle for a few
on the receiver itself, GM has done an excellent job with its
tuning knob, volume controls and touch screen are responsive. It’s
easy and intuitive to set an HD1 or HD2 station as a favorite. The
integrated steering wheel controls also allow you to scan stations,
presets and change volume with ease. My only complaint is the soft
buttons at the bottom of the radio to control the unit take some
getting used to. Because the soft keys don’t provide any tactile
response when depressing them, it takes some time to master their
GM provides some tactile bumpers near these soft keys to help you
find them while driving, but those bumpers were confusing to me at
first. I thought I had to press those silver bumpers, but it turns
out you have to touch the “Menu” or “Seek” labeling instead
to get the appropriate response. Once you figure that out (and for me
it wasn’t immediately intuitive), you’re off and running.
find it easy to accidentally bump the emergency “hazard” lights
that are located directly below the radio display. I would prefer
hard keys that provide tactile response and also intentional pressing
to activate the function desired by the key.
a bonus for stations that are not transmitting HD Radio, GM has a
good implementation of RDS features with Program Service and
RadioText (RT) support on analog-only FM stations. A feature I would
like to see GM consider is adding RadioText+ (RT+) to allow for
analog-only FM broadcasts with RDS to provide a similar “look and
feel” on the display to put it near par with HD stations using PSD.
directly on the HD implementation of the radio, GM has done a
fantastic job. I’ve found in my cursory driving the blending to
analog and digital is graceful. The performance of the audio on HD
stations, Main Program Service MPS (HD1) and Secondary Program
Service SPS (HD2, HD3, etc.) stations all works great.
AM side sounds good, too. Los Angeles has several stations that
transmit an AM HD signal, and it’s a real pleasure driving around
the market to hear the analog blend into AM HD. In a few rough spots
under bridges downtown, I found when the radio blended to analog on
some of the 5 kW AM HD stations in the market, I couldn’t wait for
digital coverage to resume.
the real hero of the day is that GM has a solid implementation of
Artist Experience (album art) via HD with this radio.
noticed no issues with the implementation. The receiver also offers
full station logo support.
think the trickiest part is to listen to an HD station long enough
for the receiver to initially acquire the station logo. Of the three
rentals I’ve had, one had very low mileage and had not acquired any
of the L.A. station logos.
had to resist the urge to go channel surfing on stations that I know
are transmitting a logo in the market and wait until the receiver
acquired the image. That’s because the station logo often is sent
infrequently to conserve bandwidth for other HD services.
typical/default configuration from iBiquity is one station logo image
per channel is sent every 15 minutes. This requires you to stay on
the HD1 or HD2 (etc.) of a specific station for that time period so
that the receiver can acquire the logo. The idea is the logo is
something that, once acquired, will not change frequently, and will
be stored in the receiver’s permanent memory.
your core listeners, this condition will not be difficult to satisfy.
GM does a great job with the permanent storage. Between driving
sessions in both morning and evening, the radio retained all the
station logos I had acquired all week. Subsequent rentals with higher
vehicle mileage had acquired most of the station logos available in
the station logos acquired, the receiver transitions seamlessly from
an album art image for a song, to the station logo, and into the next
song’s album art image. GM’s implementation of Artist Experience
and station logo has been perfect under my observations in the past
few weeks. Better yet, it puts a very nice graphical face to radio —
and offers a comparable experience to when the system plays songs
that have album art off your iPhone or iPod.
most concerning is that as of my last check in mid-June 2013, only
seven stations in the Los Angeles area were transmitting Artist
Experience via HD. Of these seven, six belong to my employer, Clear
may have heard iBiquity and others indicating automotive receivers
that support HD and Artist Experience are coming. Well, they are out
there. GM offers the technology in select models now as standard, and
the list of other OEM’s out there with HD and Artist Experience in
vehicles is growing rapidly.
that do not have this technology implemented are at a disadvantage.
Clear Channel Media + Entertainment and I have been a proponent in
providing the industry with suggestive tips on how to implement this
technology. At the NAB Show in April I presented on this topic, and I
wrote an in-depth white paper on the implementation of this
technology in the NAB Broadcast Engineering Proceedings, which are
available from purchase from the trade organization.
pleased to be partnering with the Society of Broadcast Engineers to
provide an in-depth, live, interactive webinar on this topic on
Thursday, Sept. 12 at 2 p.m. Eastern. Registration details are
available at sbe.org. If you cannot attend the webinar live,
it will be archived by SBE at the same site.
presentation will focus on Artist Experience implementation via HD in
three parts. First, I’ll focus on what types of receivers are out
there now that support this technology, including pictures of various
units and address their implementations. The second part of the
presentation will examine the technical details of how Artist
Experience works. And finally, I will discuss implementation
strategies of Artist Experience to help you relate the theory behind
the technology into reality. This will draw on the experience that we
have collectively learned at Clear Channel as we rapidly implemented
Artist Experience via HD Radio nationwide in 2012.
Alan Jurison is a
senior operations engineer for Clear Channel Media + Entertainment’s
Engineering and Systems Integration Group. He holds several SBE
certifications including CSRE, CBNE, AMD and DRB. His opinions are
not necessarily those of Clear Channel or Radio World.