Polk Audio has taken the wraps off the I-Sonic Entertainment System 2, the follow-up to the company's impressive 2006 tabletop AV system. The new ES2 model gets the iPod dock that was missing from the original I-Sonic, but it loses the Swiss-Army-knife luster of that all-in-one model: gone are CD/DVD player and XM satellite radio support (though an auxiliary line-in port lets you connect any external device of your choosing). Video output (for the increasingly burgeoning number of video-capable iPods) remains, as does the dual alarm clock and HD Radio tuner. And it's the interaction between the HD Radio and the iPod where the new I-Sonic debuts a first-of-its-kind feature called iTunes Tagging. … Read more
Remember George? The iPod-friendly tabletop radio from audio start-up Chestnut Hill Sound garnered mostly positive reviews when it debuted earlier this year, thanks largely to its unique wireless remote control, but the $550 sticker price limited its appeal. Well, as of today, it's a decidedly better deal. Chestnut Hill has lowered the price to $500 and will bundle in the outboard remote charging stand--pretty much a must-have accessory--at no extra cost for units sold through the end of the year. To date, the charging stand cost an extra $50 as well, so the net savings on the new deal … Read more
Looking for a deal on a high-end tabletop radio? Cambridge SoundWorks has cut the price on its four newest models:Cambridge SoundWorks 705 (was $120; now $80): This retro-styled AM/FM radio also features a line-in port, so it can double as an iPod speaker.
Cambridge SoundWorks 820HD (was $300; now $200): The only Cambridge model that receives all-digital HD Radio broadcasts also doubles as an excellent alarm clock.
Cambridge SoundWorks 735i (was $300; now $200): More conservatively styled than the 820HD, the 735i adds a dedicated iPod dock to its AM/FM clock radio functionality.
Cambridge SoundWorks 745i (was $… Read more
Sony just sent me the XDR-S3HD tabletop HD Radio to review. I'm not quite done with it yet--I'm still evaluating the sound quality and reception versus the Polk Audio i-Sonic--but it appears to be a perfectly capable HD Radio. The big advantage of the Sony is that it's the first name-brand tabletop HD Radio that's available for under $200. That edges out the earlier Sangean HDR-1 ($250), as well as the Boston Acoustics Recepter HD and Cambridge SoundWorks 820HD (both $300). (While the Radiosophy HD100 is available for a scant $99, the photos alone don't exactly inspire confidence). The relative advantages and disadvantages of the Sony versus those competing models will be covered in the full review later this week, but the bigger question I keep running into when reviewing these products is this: is the HD Radio format good enough to justify the purchase of a dedicated radio?
HD Radio's extra stations For me, the supposed increase in sound quality just isn't that much of a selling point--you're just hearing those same lame Clear Channel playlists, albeit on a digital rather than an analog band. But the multicast (or HD2) stations are a different story. They're substations that offer alternative programming that's unavailable on the analog dial. For instance, New York's WPLJ offers adult contemporary music on its main station (analog and digital), but has two multicast stations--95.5-2 and 95.5-3--that play '70s and '80s music only, respectively. And because the industry is trying to hook people on HD Radio, these HD2 stations--for the time being, anyway--often broadcast free of commercials.
OK, now we're getting somewhere: there's some exclusive content dispersed throughout the HD Radio dial, so maybe it's got some value after all. But then I remembered something. When Tivoli Audio announced its two new NetWorksGo Wi-Fi radios last June, CEO Tom DeVesto defended their lack of HD Radio reception by saying that it was essentially superfluous: most of the multicast HD2 stations would still be available, just via Internet streaming instead of over the air. So I decided to put DeVesto's claim to the test.
Today, Sony announced two new HD radio products: one for the home and one for the car. Now, if you gave up on terrestrial radio ages ago--either for the iPod, Internet radio, and/or satellite radio--you're probably not all that concerned about new developments in that area. But for those who still enjoy AM/FM radio programming, HD Radio offers some compelling developments. Namely, it allows for a wider selection of channels via substations, and it provides better quality audio than standard AM/FM radio--"crystal-clear digital sound" by some accounts. We ain't talking CD-quality … Read more
Need to find info on anything radio related? Check out Radio-Locator. The site offers a searchable database of AM and FM radio stations around the U.S. (and the world, in fact). You can search by ZIP code (most useful) or state, or look up specific stations by their call letters. If you search by ZIP code, you'll get a list of all the stations that should be accessible in your area, along with distances and signal strengths and hyperdetailed information on the stations themselves (the owner's address and phone number, FCC license info, programming genre, transmitter location … Read more
On show for the first time at this year's SEMA 2006 in Las Vegas is the HD Jump, a transportable radio receiver from Visteon that enables drivers to take their HD radio on the road.
The HD Jump connects to car's audio system either with an auxilliary input jack or--for those cars without an aux-in--via an FM band. The device has an integrated monocromatic display that displays real-time artist, song title, and station information. It also comes with its own dock for mounting on the dash.
With more than 3,000 radio stations now broadcasting in HD, and … Read more