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FAQ Guide to HD Radio

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by: Gary Brikowski

Why upgrade to HD radio?

Imagine listening to your favorite local AM and FM stations without annoying static. Not only does it improve sound clarity, but HD radio also includes extra FM stations, iTunes tagging, and more entertainment all around. Best of all, there is no subscription required. Just install the HD radio components and you are ready to enjoy digital broadcast radio. Be sure to check with your local area regarding signal availability before you purchase HD radio components.

What do I need to listen to HD Radio?

The best option is to buy an in-dash receiver with a built-in HD radio tuner. Another option is to buy a HD radio ready head unit as well as an add-on HD radio tuner. Finally, if you plan on keeping your factory stereo, you can purchase vehicle specific HD radio kits for your factory stereo. All of the above options give you access to free digital broadcast programming.

Is there a subscription fee?

Unlike satellite radio, HD radio broadcasting is free—there are no subscription fees! Once you have your HD radio tuner set up, you can listen to digital AM and FM stations, including HD2 and HD3 multicast channels. These channels offer more music, sports and news options.

What is iTunes tagging?

You no longer have to wonder, “What was the name of that song?”  HD radio brings the song titles to you. The exclusive iTunes Tagging technology enables HD radio receivers to store song names while listening to the HD radio stations. “Tag” songs you like while listen to the radio. Later on you can upload the stored names onto your iPod, and the next time you sync your iPod to your computer, you will be able to locate the songs on the iTunes store.

What other information does the HD radio display?

The HD radio display not only indicates the artist name and song title, but it also scrolls extremely useful information. This includes live weather and real-time traffic updates, local news, sports scores, school closings, and emergency alerts. The scrolling information depends on the station you are listening to.

Does the sound quality of HD radio make a difference?

Yes, HD radio makes FM stations sound CD quality, and AM radio FM quality. You won’t hear the pops, hisses and static that characterizes the regular radio listening experience.

How does HD radio work?

HD radio uses a digital audio signal while traditional radio uses an analog signal. The digital signal is superior because it can be compressed, so it sends more information over the same radio frequency. A digital signal is also less prone to signal dropout and interference.

What is multicasting?

HD radio enables multicasting, or broadcasting multiple channels on the same signal. Basically, two separate genre channels can be set to the same station. So if you were to tune into a multicast on 94.1 FM, the HD radio display indicates that you can switch between the regular rap 94.1 FM and the additional HD broadcast of rock 94.1 FM. The extra rock station is considered a HD2 station. HD radio has HD2 and HD3 channels. Multicasting benefits you because you can choose between more specific listening options, like all sports, all news, or genre specific programming.

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