Monday, December 3, 2007

Winston-Salem Journal article

Welcome readers of the article in today's (Dec 3) Winston-Salem Journal. The Journal did get one thing wrong. This blog isn't JUST about HD Radio. It's about radio, audio, video, and digital multimedia, INCLUDING HD RADIO!

Another point on the article...the comments about interference refer primarily to AM HD. And there isn't any AM HD in the Triad yet, so it really doesn't apply. FM HD works beautifully! Buy an HD Radio, and see for yourself. There are lots of great models. Read more at

Radios are available from MANY locations, including

Best Buy
Circuit City
C Crane
Universal Radio
J&R Music World
The NPR Shop

Later I'll modify this post, and add direct links to radios. In earlier posts you can read more info about HD Radio.

Here's what HD Radio sounds like at my home, in Wilkes County (Boomer) NC

By the way, virtually all HD Radios also receive analog AM Stereo. Here's a sample of what WNMB in North Myrtle Beach sounds like in AM Stereo, as received on an Accurian HD Radio

The least expensive HD Radio now is the HD100/HD101 from Radiosophy, an American company (GO USA!)

This article isn't finished, but it's bedtime, so I'll sign off for now. Thanks for your interest in my blog, and HD Radio!

Friday, November 9, 2007

HD Radio in the Winston-Salem Journal

The Winston-Salem Journal is preparing an article about HD Radio to appear "late in November", and this morning they interviewed me about the technology, at the suggestion of Denise Franklin, General Manager of my favorite public radio station, and one my wife and I support...WFDD/Winston Salem (88.5FM).

I pointed out the many advantages of HD Radio, including vastly improved sound quality for people like me in "deep fringe" areas, where my choices formerly were "noisy stereo or mono".

I also told him that my first impression of HD Radio was to be stunned by the utter clarity. Individual instruments in an orchestra can be clearly heard. It's the audio equivalent of "cleaning the window". EVERYTHING is crisper and clearer. The background is dead silent. You can hear EVERYTHING in the room when an announcer speaks...papers rustling, chair squeaking, coffee slurping. It's like being IN THE STUDIO.

But more important for people who aren't audiophiles or "radio geeks" is the added variety in programming. HD made it possible for WFDD to continue with the news and talk programming which are so popular, AND return 24/7/365 classical music to the Triad (Winston-Salem/Greensboro/High Point) area. I pointed out the "extra channels" that I enjoyed on other local stations as well.

I'll let you know how the article turns out. I told the reporter that "there are some people saying nasty things about HD, but if you dig a little you'll find it's VERY FEW PEOPLE who speak in VERY LOUD VOICES", and most of them are owners of small-market stations which can't afford to stay up with the latest technology. Either that or they're owners of AM stations. And to be fair, I pointed out that "while FM HD works just great, I have yet to be convinced that AM HD is an equally wonderful idea". I made him aware that there are some LEGITIMATE concerns about interference, reduced sound quality to existing listeners, and reduced coverage for AM stations.

I know "HD Radio SUCKS", the technology is "DEFECTIVE", I'm a "SHILL", and it's all "A FARCE". That should keep the ONE PERSON who consistently tries to get this crap on my blog satisfied. No need to post your "well-informed" opinions, I've already done it for you.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Skullcandy "Smokin' Buds" Ink'd

What a terrible name for a consumer electronics company..."Skullcandy". What a horrid company logo...a SKULL! What ugly, blue, green headphones! I didn't expect much when I saw the "Ink'd" earbuds on sale at Staples yesterday (10/28/07) for 12.99! But I love earphones, and love finding a bargain, so I thought "what the hell".

The first thing I discovered was that the rubber tips that come fitted were perfect for my reason to try the two other sizes which were supplied. So I inserted the plug into my Sandisk Sansa E250 mp3 player, running a customized version of the Rockbox operating system (this version allowing "bookmarking" of MPEG video files, and allowing starting video files at any point simply by entering the time...other than that, it's pretty comparable to the current build of Rockbox. More coming on this player, and Rockbox firmware).

The first thing I noticed was that isolation is near total. It would be hard to hear someone standing next to you, even if they were SCREAMING! Time to listen to some music! First up, "Forget about it" from Alison Krauss....featuring her whisper-quiet voice at it's sweetest. I immediately noticed something quite different from the vast majority of earbuds...the midrange and highs sounded RIGHT! Voices didn't sound hollow, bloated, nasal, or any of those other nasty things that earbuds usually do to them. The timbre was pretty much spot-on! Highs were also clean and extended, without obvious emphasis or peaks! Then the song reached the chorus, Alison's voice soared, the bassline sank, and my jaw dropped. These 'phones are unbelievably full, and extended on the bottom-end...going clean to the "bass-ment". Yes they're on the "warm" side of neutral "down there", but not bloated or "one-note" in any way. Everything was clean as a whistle. WOW! I suddenly came to realize that these were among the best headphones or earphones I'd ever heard at ANY price...and that includes multi-megabuck Stax electrostatics, high-end Sennheisers, BeyerDynamics and others. I just heard more detail! A case in point was a tune from "Windham Hill Sampler '86" that I bought new during the Reagan Administration. I've listened to this disc countless times, but never noticed accents on snare drum on this one particular track ("Dolphins" by Mike Marshall). WOW! That's the very definition of high-end gear...allowing you to hear deeper into a recording, bringing you closer to the music. And this extra clarity wasn't the result of an over-accentuated, soon-to-be-fatiguing high end. Not on your life!

Are there faults? Of this, and every other audio product. But they're too few, and too small to mention. Ok...I'll mention one...left and right channels are not labeled. I labeled them by wrapping a piece of freezer tape around the cord of each channel at the dividing poing of the "Y", and color coding the one for right red, and left black with "Sharpie" pens. That's it. Buy the damn things! Hell, buy two pairs of 'em. I'm going back for a spare!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I'm full of shit!

On at least one topic (others too, no doubt), I'm full of shit! The topic is the "best source of legal downloads". Earlier I enthused that it was "E Music", hands down. A month later I did as I always do...dropped my E-Music account, and moved on...this time to Yahoo Music Unlimited. They simply offered more of the artists I was interested in, and were a great fit for my Sandisk Sansa E250 and Archos GMini402 players.

Besides...with a little bit of software, ANY of these formats can be easily converted to unencrypted mp3. Not that I'd know from personal experience. Breaking DRM is against the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and a crime. Even if I paid for the content! What a great law! God bless the (recently departed) republican congress! ;)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

HD Entering the mainstream

Finally HD Radio is becoming more than just something for radio geeks, as it begins to be included in mainstream devices, at prices that people would pay for the device anyway, with or without HD Radio. A few examples below.

Insignia (Best Buy) shelf system with AM/FM, CD, MP3, WMA, AND HD Radio...just 150 bucks (a bargain with or without HD)

Sony High Quality Stereo Table Radio WITH HD (High end table radios are already established bestsellers for companies like Bose, Cambridge Soundworks, Tivoli, and PolkAudio).

Dual car stereo with HD for 89.99 (also plays cd, mp3, and wma...again, a great buy with or without HD)

These are MAINSTREAM products, at prices that people routinely pay for such devices. With more products like these, HD can't help but become mainstream, as more and more Americans discover they actually "already have it".

"Honey, this light that says "HD Radio" is on. I think it sounds better. What does that mean?"

Monday, October 15, 2007

HD Radio at Best Buy

Last week I was at Best Buy in Winston-Salem, NC, and they were playing a long message over the PA system extolling the virtues of HD quality audio (their term, not mine), new "hidden" channels that you can only get with an HD Radio (new music formats, more news, etc...the things we listen to radio for), and NO MONTHLY FEES, EVER!

It's about time they started promoting HD Radio like they mean it. The technology (for FM stations, I still have no experience with AM HD) works great. The sound is fantastic. And it truly has brought me programming I can't get anywhere else, even with a 5mbps broadband connection, and an XM subscription.

As for AM HD, I have yet to have anything "lock on" with my Accurian (Radio Shack) HD Radio, including WBT Charlotte (about 80 miles from my home). But when near Charlotte (Statesville, Hickory), I HAVE heard some low level noise on adjacent channels (to two Charlotte stations...1110AM, and 610AM). A friend says the 610AM signal in Charlotte is damaging reception of his analog-only 630AM licensed to Hickory, and I believe him. It's always been a challenge fitting a gallon (high quality audio) in a quart container (a 10khz AM channel). A challenge that stations HAVE been able to meet for many decades. But the extra bandwidth occupied by HD isn't "a gallon", but more like "ten gallons". And the little 10khz-wide AM channel just can't contain it, so it's "spilling over" onto 1st and 2nd adjacent channels. Drip, drip!

So AM HD causes interference to adjacent channels (apparently). And when it works correctly, digital coverage is a lot more restricted than analog (I have no trouble receiving WBT's analog signal!). How badly do we want digital to work in the mediumwave band? And are we allowing that desire to cloud our judgement? I'm a huge believer in digital technology, and that in the future all media (most of it, anyway...I still enjoy print on paper!) will be delivered as packets of data...binary code. What I'm questioning is whether THIS (AM HD) is the best way for AM stations to deliver those packets!

Vizio VX32L

In July my wife and I bought our first HDTV...a Vizio VX32L...599 at Sears. It's a 32" 720p panel (no need for more resolution in this size simply wouldn't see it). At first I had trouble getting decent black level. Finally, against my better judgement, I started experimenting with the automatic doo-dads under the "Advanced" menu. A combination of "black level extender", and "auto-luma" did the trick. Now there's plenty of contrast, and plenty of detail in dark scenes. Plus images really "pop" on over-the-air high-def material (we also put up a new Antennacraft antenna, with Winegard pre-amp, and Channelmaster rotor).

Reception in our deep-fringe location (80 miles from Charlotte NC, about 60 from Greensboro, 100 miles from Asheville and Greenville/Spartanburg) is great. I do wish the damn thing had a signal strength meter for aligning the antenna, however.

Now a couple of gripes. There are plenty of inputs, including two composite/S-Video, two component, one VGA, and two HDMI. I hooked up my new dvd recorder to HDMI, and was surprised at two findings. 1)-There is no aspect ratio control through HDMI. If the content is 4:3, and coming through HDMI, it gets "stretched"...period. Bummer. Still most feature films and primetime shows are widescreen. Then there's the BIG blow...images are just too damn dark through HDMI. Black level ("brightness") can't be raised enough to bring out detail in dark sequences. BIG F###ING BUMMER! Fortunately images through component inputs look great. I wish I could send 720p in through component, but my DVD recorder only allows 480p through this output. Not really a deal-breaker, as the TV seems to "upscale" just as well.

All in all, a great tv at a great price. Soon, more on my new DVD recorder...a Philips with ATSC digital tuner!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My confession

I love audio equipment. I have my entire life. I have a radio studio/recording facility that I use to produce for clients. I have a very nice audio nice as I can afford. But I must confess that these days I find the most enjoyment listening through headphones to inexpensive, often portable devices. Like my Accurian HD Radio. And various mp3 players through a Koss headphone amplifier^ac^EQ50 into Sennheiser HD-435s (yeah I'd giggle too if I were you. But you'd stop giggling when you actually heard it!) By the way, ignore the specs for the Koss. The bass is flat to 20hz at least...verified with swept test tones I generated in Adobe Audition 2.0).

I actually hear more detail, more musicality from this rig (usually with a very cheap Philips mp3 player or Archos Gmini 402 ) than from most any system through conventional speakers. Even high end systems, with exotic electronics and speakers don't provide the relaxed musicality as this cheap system. Sorry, but it's true. I ENJOY IT MORE, and end up listening lots longer. I tell you that because this blog isn't about bullshit. If I believe something to be true, I'll shout it from the rafters, no matter what anyone thinks...and no matter how contrary it is to "conventional wisdom". And I believe the following to be true...inexpensive, headphone-based equipment these days FREQUENTLY provides more real-world musical enjoyment than expensive, speaker-based systems...even VERY high-end ones. And when bang-for-the-buck is factored in, it's no contest.

Best online resource for LEGAL music downloads? Unless you're into mainstream stuff like Britney or Toby Keith...if you actually go for musical merit over chart position, then it's E-Music hands down!

EXCELLENT sound quality, enormous variety, and forty free songs for joining! NO they're not paying me. But I wouldn't recommend them any higher if they did! No DRM, no weird formats, no bullshit...just VERY high quality mp3s you can play on ANYTHING! Now go listen...TO THE MUSIC, not the audio system!

Recording Digital TV part II

Just talked with J&R. Today is Wednesday. I ordered my Toshiba and HDMI cable on Saturday. It still hasn't shipped. I told them they can get it here by Friday, or they can keep it (life is short, and consumers have options. Retailers should be reminded of that, FORCEFULLY!) We'll see.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Recording Digital TV

About a month ago, I bought a new Vizio HDTV (VX32L...more on it in the future), along with a new big-ass over the air tv antenna, preamp, and rotor. I now get just about every digital station in Charlotte (the exception being channel 42, WTVI), a couple from Winston Salem, and Greenville/Spartanburg. The antenna is also great for pulling in HD Radio...with solid reception up to 100 miles away.At any rate, after watching glorious digital tv in 16:9 widescreen for a while, I have become increasingly intolerant of the 4:3 aspect ratio of most content I can record on my DirecTV DVR. DirecTV says I can't have a HD rig from them yet, because large trees behind my house block the line-of-sight to their HD satellites, which are lower on the horizon than the standard-definition satellites. So I have turned to another method of capturing digital tv in all it's 16:9 of the new standalone DVD recorders with a built-in ATSC digital tuner. It's a Toshiba DR550. (And yes I'm aware that you can't capture the full resolution of HDTV with a DVD recorder, but you CAN record a damn nice picture, with the original aspect ratio). I had J&R Music World toss in an inexpensive HDMI cable (no reason to spring for an expensive one for a short run (6 feet). After all, we're talking binary code here...ones and zeroes. You can either re-assemble the bitstream at the other end, or you can't. There's no "magic" at work...just simple math.) I haven't received the unit yet (August 21). I'll probably be here on the 22, or 23. When I have some practical experience, I'll write more.

By the way, that's exactly how I plan on doing things at this blog. I'll write from practical experience. There will be no "this technology sucks", or "this technology is wonderful" without actually investigating. For that reason, there will be some times when I don't blog for a while. I haven't forgotten you, Dear reader! I'm doing the research necessary to hopefully write something meaningful, that's all!Do YOU have any experience with capturing digital (over the air ATSC, or cable QAM) tv in 16:9 to DVD? If so, please post a response to this, and I WILL publish it.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Pandora on Pocket PC

I probably shouldn't tell you this, but if you're a Pandora (customizable internet radio...lets you design personal "stations" that ONLY play songs you like), and are frustrated at the lack of support for Pandora on portable devices, there IS a way to listen on your PocketPC, Smart Phone, or "internet pad" (whatever those things from Nokia are called). In fact, it's possible to re-encode ANY audio playing on your home computer in a format that will play on a portable device. Yes, I'm aware of services like Orb. These DO NOT allow you to reformat streaming audio from stations that are incompatible with portable devices. But YOU can do it. Here's how.

Download the free Windows Media Encoder from Microsoft available here

In XP double-click on the speaker icon in the system tray (or go to "programs/accessories/entertainment/volume control", couble click, and open the system, volume control. Click "options", "properties", and "recording". Under "show the following volume controls", choose "stereo mix". A second box will open with "stereo mix". Click the box in it as well. Then click "properties", and "exit".

Now open the Windows Media Encoder. Under "New Session" choose "broadcast a live event". Click "ok". In the next screen, choose "audio" only, no video. By your audio device, select "configure", and in the next screen, under "pin line" select "stereo mix". Click "next".

In the next screen choose "pull from encoder". and click "next".

Open your word processor. Copy and paste the URL for "internet connection", and "lan connection" too if you want to also connect just on your lan, but not on the internet. Save these urls into a word document (or whatever word processor you use. The "notepad" in Windows will work fine).

Back in Windows Media Encoder, choose "next". By "audio" choose "cd quality audio", which will show "70kbps". Make sure that's checked (these settings can be changed later if you want to bump up the bitrate). Click "finish".

You can now simply click "start encoding", or if you want to adjust bitrate you can click on "properties", then "compression". Click "edit".

In the next screen, click the "70kbps" tab, and in the drop-down by "audio format", select the bitrate and sample rate you want. Bump it up for better quality, down if you have trouble streaming on your device (some supposedly "broadband" connections on portable devices can't support a sutatined bitrate of 70 kbps (64kbps actually). 48kbps still sounds good with Windows Media, and 32kbps isn't terrible. Hint...if dropping down to a lower bitrate, also choose a lower sample rate. This will prevent the codec from wasting precious bits encoding the least audible octave...the one between 10khz and 20khz. For slower connections, I'd recommend 32kbps, 22khz (22.05khz, actually). With lossy codecs, especially at really low bitrates (below 48kbps), every time you drop the bitrate, also drop the sample rate, and you'll help minimize audible artifacts. Click "ok", then "apply", then click the "x" on the top of the "system properties" box, to go to the main screen.

Click "start encoding". Stat the source you wish to stream to your portable device (such as Pandora). Nothing much will happen. Relax, remember you chose "pull from encoder"? Nothing is happening, because no devices are connected. Open "Windows Media Player", and copy and paste the internet URL you saved in your word processor under "open" and "open URL". BANG! You're streaming. Now save that stream as a "playlist" file. Choose the "m3u" extension, because it's more widely supported than the "wpl" extension. Save the playlist in a place that's easy to your desktop.

Close Windows Media Player, but leave everything else running. Open the Volume control in Windows again, and adjust the "wave" slider until the meters in Windows Media Encoder aren't going into the red. This will give you clean audio, with no distortion.

Now transfer that playlist file to your portable device (PDA, Smartphone, etc). Use whatever removable media is available. If your device has no removable media slots, e-mail the playlist file to an account you can open on the portable device (it's a tiny file, don't worry), and download it to your device. Open your media player on the device (connected to the 'net, of course), and open the playlist file. SHE-BAM! You're streaming Pandora (or your chosen audio from your home 'puter) to your portable device, anywhere in the world. You can even share the URL with a friend or two, but not MANY friends. Broadband download speeds may be as high as several megabits per second, but UPLOAD speeds are usually on the order of 256kbps, or 512kbps. Not a big problem, as the free version of the Windows Media Encoder will only allow five simultaneous connections anyway.

When finished, SAVE THE "session" before exiting Windows Media Encoder. Then you won't have to to through all those setup setps next time.

I know, it sounds complex, but once you've done it a couple of times, it'll be as easy as tying your shoes, and YOU get to decide what you want to hear (or see with a tuner card) on your portable device!

By the way, you can also use this method to stream ANY audio (or video, with tuner card) device connected to your computer. Perhaps there's an FM, AM, or HD radio channel you can't receive where you'll be traveling. Connect it to your computer's "line in" jack (with appropriate adapter cable), and select the "line input" in the Windows Mixer (Volume Control). Follow the above instructions for level adjustment, etc. ANY audio source you can get into your computer can be streamed. Like to listen to a scanner or shortwave? STREAM IT from home!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Something to listen to

HD Radio is great. Vastly improved sound quality (on fm, anyway), and more important...more VARIETY (with "multicasting"...allowing a single station to simultaneously broadcast multiple programs...known as "channels", or "streams"). But if none of those extra channels interest you, it's just so much background noise.

I often tell my wife that there's not much on radio that I enjoy listening to (despite 33 years in the business). I enjoy soft music, primarily instrumental. Go ahead, use the "New Age" label if you like. That's cool, as Windham Hill has stayed in business the last few decades largly due to my contributions "to the cause". Last night I discovered something on the radio in my area that I really love. WFAE Charlotte (90.7 FM) has a Sunday evening show called "Nightscapes"...three hours of instrumental, "new age" music. I freakin' love it! Perfect music to soothe the soul! It's even in HD, and sounds very good. Not perfect, because WFAE has THREE HD streams, and consequently divides their data-stream three ways. Still it was bright, crisp, "full" soundinding...clearly better than analog fm, and the music was GREAT. I'll be listening next Sunday, and on the Sundays that follow! If you're ever in Charlotte (or HIckory...where it's simulcast on 90.3 WFHE), check it out!

This joins "The Shuffle Channel" on WLYT (Charlotte, 102.9) as my co-favorite HD offering to-date.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

A processing artifact that puzzles me

I was listening to WLYT (Charlotte) HD2 this morning ("The Shuffle Channel", and heard something that truly puzzled me.

If you're familiar with the Bangles song "Eternal Flame", you know it's a lovely ballad in 4/4 time. At the first of the song, and at various points throughout, the fourth beat in each measure is punctuated with a "ding" on a bell. "Close your eyes...'ding'...give me your hand, (ding on the start of the word) Darlin', can you feel my (ding on first of word) heart beating....."

I've heard that song a million times. So imagine my shock and confusion when, listening this morning through headphones to this 48kbps HD2 stream, the "dings" were completely gone. THEY WERE NOT THERE! They were replaced with a very slight high frequency transient, which I wouldn't have noticed if I didn't know what belonged there.

Now I have commented earlier that the processing (audio compression and limiting) are too damn aggressive on "The Shuffle Channel". What I wonder is if this is the work of a Neural pre-processor, or similar device, tweaking the signal to minimize (data) compression artifacts. I know that all limiting softens transients. Cymbal crashes never have the SPLASH after going through the old Optimod (insert favorite processor here). But I have NEVER, in 33 years in radio, heard instruments DISAPPEAR from a mix. Anybody else ever noticed anything like this?

Headphone followup

Thanks for the comments so far, first of all. I've owned many headphones through the years. I have the Sony MDR-V6, and MDR-7506 (consumer and pro versions of the same damn thing). I've owned many Sennheisers...some I loved (HD-400s I owned in the 70s), some I came to be lukewarm about (HD-580). I've also owned Grado SR-60s, and SR-80s.

I came to tire of the overly aggressive "brightly lit" sound of the Sonys and Grados. Great for production and mixing (I know you're not supposed to mix through headphones. It's just that I produce much better mixes when I do!), but for just listening to music, I don't want to be beaten over the head with detail. I just want everything there, in it's place. So I've moved to a preference for a much "warmer" sound than what used to be the norm for me.

By the way...just because you've tried more expensive Sennheisers, don't think that means you have a handle on what the HD-435 sounds like. Sennheiser's "family sound" is turned on it's ear in these (and many of their newer 'phones). Bass is FULL, and very extended. Mids and highs are BACK WHERE THEY BELONG, not up front and 'in your face". If the MRD-7506 and Grado are "solid state" sounding, the HD-435 sounds more "like tubes". I know that's a lame analogy, but there's some truth to it. Though perhaps not as strictly accurate, the 435, to these tired old ears, is quite a bit more "musical".

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I'm a junkie, Man (Sennheiser HD435 review)

Many of us have addictive personalities. I'm one of them, I'm afraid. Some are addicted to drugs, others to alcohol, still others to sex. For me it's none of these. I'm a junkie alright, but the drug of choice is HEADPHONES!

When I was about 10 years old, my parents bought a huge Zenith console stereo. It was glorious! 12" 3 way speakers, three speed record changer, auxiliary input for a tape deck, external speaker outputs (more on that later), and AM/FM STEREO!

By my 12th birthday, the audio and radio bugs had bitten, and I bought an adapter cable at Radio Shack so I could plug headphones into the RCA speaker jacks. A pair of el-cheapo headphones from Brendles in Elkin NC later, and I had a near-religious experience. Stereo through headphones was MAGNIFICENT! EZ-104 (WEZC Charlotte...104.1) and WBT-FM (107.9 also of Charlotte) broadcast beautiful music in glorious stereo. Then WKBC FM (97.3 in North Wilkesboro NC) went stereo. WOW! I listened through headphones for HOURS. I was hooked. And I still am.

Through the years I've bought MANY pairs of headphones (I'd be embarrassed to tell you how many I own). My collection includes some of the "big guns"...Sennheiser HD580, Sony MDR-7506, Beyerdynamic DT-990 PRO, Koss A250, among others. But they mostly sit unused, because these days my favorite "cans" are the cheap (about 60 bucks...cheaper if you shop around) and outrageously good Sennheiser HD-435

Their bass is solid to the "bassment" (20hz and below), the response is smooth octave to octave, and the deviate from neutral on the "warm, full" side. The bass is slightly elevated in level, but this is perfect for the way I listen...mostly at night to soft music (cd, mp3, HD Radio, XM, internet radio). They're comfortable...and I'm talking about more than just their fit. The SOUND is can slip it on like an old pair of slippers. And unlike "analytical" 'phones such as the MDR-7506/MDR-V6, they don't emphasize what's wrong with a signal. You may hear things like artifacts in low bitrate digital streams, or slight distortion in recordings or broadcasts. But when there are problems, the 435s just make you aware of it, rather than BEATING YOU OVER THE FREAKIN' HEAD WITH' EM!

They're great 'phones for the real world, if not for "audiophools" (those who care more about gear than music). REAL recordings, those with musical merit are enjoyable, even if the recordings aren't perfect. What more can one ask?

Buy them. They're FANTASTIC!

A Prarie Home Comanion AT LAST!

At last my favorite radio program on Earth is available noise-free at my rural locale. XM has added "A Prarie Home Companion" to their "XM Public Radio" channel. I know XM can sometimes suffer from audible artifacts, but NOT THIS CHANNEL. The engineering is excellent, and the audio quality superb. If you're an XM subscriber, check it out...Saturdays at 6pm EDT. Garrison has never sounded better!

Now if he'd just write a sequel to "WLT...A Radio Romance"! THAT was a fun read!

NO BS, just the facts, and my views on digital radio, audio, video, and multimedia

Welcome to my new blog. On it, I will bring you the latest news about radio...particularly digital radio (HD, satellite, and internet), audio, video, and multimedia (as in computer-based entertainment).

I look forward to this opportunity. But a word to the wise (and not so wise). This is MY's about my opinions, not a place to air your own. FRIENDLY dissent is welcome, but unreasonable, even hostile dissent will be edited and/or deleted at MY discretion. After can assault, er...bless us with YOUR views on your own blog!

I've been in radio since August of 1974...33 years and counting. Read more about me in my bio, but I'll assert time and again that I LOVE RADIO. Voices through the air at the speed of's MAGIC. And the new digital modes, the improved audio quality and extra services they provide, ARE THE FUTURE. If you disagree, you won't feel very welcome here. And if you disagree in terms I find offensive, you'll be edited and/or deleted.

Ok...there's a brief summary of what to expect. First out of the gate...I am very excited by HD Radio (read more at the official HD Radio website). In November of '06 I purchased what was the least expensive HD radio available...the Accurian table radio from Radio Shack ( I have quite literally never used it as a table radio. The headphone output is actually ideal as a line output, and I have used it as a component tuner in my bedroom system, pulling in a great number of HD stations from Charlotte, Greensboro, Hickory, and Black Mountain (Asheville) NC...up to 100 miles away, with an INDOOR antenna (the Magnum Dynalab SR-100 ( While it has served me shockingly well for an indoor antenna (mounted on the top shelf of my closet, in my home in Boomer NC...Wilkes County, in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains), today I step up to the "big leagues". Today my "new baby" is being installed...a top of the line Antennacraft roof antenna with Channelmaster rotor, and Winegard preamp. It will serve not only my HD Radio needs, but also HDTV (when my Vizio 32" tv arrives on July 7th), and analog radio and tv on my Media Center PC.

Here are some recordings I've made with my rig...examples of what HD Radio sounds like from great distances, with an INDOOR antenna

The second is the "Shuffle Channel" an HD2 stream from WLYT (102.9) in Charlotte NC.

Here's a link to a recording of WFAN (660 AM) in New York, demonstrating the quality of AM HD Radio

And here are some examples of analog reception...some of it pretty impressive in it's own right. First a recording I made with my Grundig S350 (Wide Bandwidth, Center-tuned) of WKSK (580AM) West Jefferson NC...about 35 miles from my home. WKSK has a brand spankin' new transmitter and tower, and state of the art (all digital) studio gear...a real 'class act' of a small market station still SERVING THEIR COMMUNITY. They even feature performances from live musicians on Saturday mornings...sometimes from the station, sometimes from the Ashe Civic Center, so listeners can participate.

Finally, a demo of analog AM stereo...which most new HD Radios support. This is WNMB AM in North Myrtle Beach South Carolina...also recorded from an Accurian HD Radio

I'd LOVE to receive other recordings of HD radio reception. PLEASE send them to me at and I'll gladly host them at my site. If you have REAL recordings of interference caused by HD stations, I'd welcome those as well.

Thanks, and enjoy! Your opinions are welcome. Mine, of course, are the undisputed truth (KIDDING!)