local HD radio

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Posted by John on February 25, 2011 at 09:48:14:

My surround sound system's tuner crapped out a few weeks ago, so I picked up an HD radio tuner at Radio Shack. The Auvio (Radio Shack house brand) tuner was on clearance for $40 and was a lot cheaper than buying a whole new receiver/amp for my entertainment system.

First off, I now know why the Auvio tuner (link below) was on clearance -- it sucks. I have tried multiple antennas with it. FM reception is poor (I seem to have two problems: it's overloaded by the nearby transmitters on the community tower and WMTV tower) but, if I reduce the gain, it then has trouble receiving many of the class A signals in town (92.1, 93.1, 105.1 and 105.5). Many of the distant stations that used to come in fine on my old tuner (94.1, 107.3) are also problematic. AM reception is even worse. Local stations come in OK, but the Chicago stations I used to be able to pick up (WGN, WBBM, WSCR and WIND) are all gone. Again, I tried multiple antennas with the same results.

Second ... I would say that given the HD lineup here in Madison there's no reason to get a HD radio. The station I was most excited about (and most disappointed in) was 101.5's MAD Radio channel. I was surprised to hear some actual local content -- I figured they'd just plug in Clear Channel's alternative format, but they drop in some local stuff like traffic during rush hour. And, to be honest, I would hope that the alternative format Clear Channel serves up to its HD radio stations would be better programmed. It seems like CC Madison is putting in virtually no effort into programming MAD radio. Just in the short while I have been sampling MAD Radio, I have frequently heard artists repeated within a few minutes of each other. The first time I listened to MAD radio, I heard two different Nirvana songs within about 10 or 15 minutes of each other. Maybe that's why they don't stream it on the web -- they don't want people to hear how bad it is. It's a shame, because CC has some great alternative stations (KTCL is one of my favorites), so there are some folks there that know how to program it.

If you really like the blues, I guess you'll like 105.5's blues channel. If you can get it -- the Auvio had a hard time pulling in 105.5's HD signal, but the analog signal sounded fine. And if you need a classical music fix during morning edition or all things considered, then 88.7's 24/7 classical HD subchannel is great. But the secondary channels on 96.3 and 104.1 are close enough to the format on the primary channel format that they don't really add much. Couldn't really pull 92.1 in well enough to check out the "Pride" format. I did get the HD signal light to pop on for 94.1, 98.1, and 106.3, but MWF isn't running any HD subchannels. The HD subchannels for 94.9 and 105.1 that have been listed as "coming soon" for the last few years on hdradioalliance.com are still missing. Guess it depends on how you define "soon." 970 and 1070 did sound a little nicer in HD. 1310 is listed as having HD on the HD radio alliance site, but I'm not getting a HD signal on 1310.

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