October 2010
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Digital Radio: A solution without a problem

Or, it could also be phrased “A solution that causes more problems.”  Radio World, once again, has a good article on the consequences of increasing IBOC power of the FM hybrid system.  Especially telling is figure 24, a fuzzy 400 Hz sine wave showing how much distortion is added to the analog signal by a mere 4% HD  signal.  I’d be especially interested to see the results of the full 10% now allowed.

Naturally, HD proponents will cry “But this is only temporary!  Wait until the transition to all digital!”


If HD radios were indeed flying off the shelves as iBiquity claims, and if the public expressed interest, okay, maybe.  Clearly, that is not the case.  The only thing that HD radio is doing is creating more interference. Period.  More interference to the parent station and more interference to the adjacent channels all for an audience that does not exist.   Another way to put it: NOBODY IS LISTENING.  One of the station that I service had a Harris Deathstar go off line for four days.  NOT ONE PHONE CALL, NOBODY CARES!

The public did not perceive a technical problem with analog FM broadcasting.   Of course, that can always change as the band gets filled with interference.

Lets see where FM IBOC stands:

  • Rolled out with 1% digital power vs analog carrier, the system was found to lack building penetration and generally performed poorly in mobile listening environments (NPR labs study, Nov 24, 2009)
  • FCC allows up to 10% digital power vs analog carrier to overcome these problems, a few stations implement some type of power increase
  • The  shows that self interference is the largest problem IBOC needs to fix, one that is un-fixable due to the laws of physics
  • The public yawns, turns on their iPod

IBOC is a failure, both in AM and FM bands.

We are watching the self destruction of radio broadcasting in the US.


A pessimist sees the glass as half empty. An optimist sees the glass as half full. The engineer sees the glass as twice the size it needs to be.

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