good old tuners going obsolete

Well I didn't getting any feedback on my post about the Marantz ST-7001. I know it is one of many that will be the new wave of the future. Already radio stations are advertising that they are launching HD channels. Which means that if your using that much cherished - - - - - - - - ( fill in the blank with your favorite tuner ) you will not be able to pull in any of the HD channels, you will be limited to only the channels you are receiving now. And it is my understanding that some of the stations are already planning on putting different programing in the slot that is available to analog tuners. Of the high end tuners I have been able to trace so far, only Marantz and Magnum are making HD tuners. What I just can't figure out though, is why people are so willing to shell out big bucks for these analog tuners here and on ebay. They will soon be next to worthless :(
So roughly when do you see "worthless" actually happening? One year, five years?
This is off the point a bit but, does "High End" radio really sound any good? I can't possibly see how it could.
yeah, turntables became worthless too, once MP3 became the standard.
KT88 makes a good point. Turntables are still useful as we keep our own LP collection. A tuner is dependent on the radio station. Once the station drops the "software", the tuner is useless.

I've been noticing a trend for many years. Radio station equipment is getting cheaper and losing audio quality at the same time. Digital processing is now used for compression and to limit phase modulation. The "encoders" don't appear to be concentrating on sonics. Just features and price.

Seems pretty obvious that as radio stations upgrade to the newer equipment to jam in more stations on each tower, the sound quality will suffer.

The HD channels are not high definition, except by branding. I believe they are merely bit-limited compressed digital audio, probably MP3 or similar. Old analog FM is far superior in terms of sonics. It can actually be quite good. Not sure how many broadcasters are still using such a quality setup. Maybe one?

Most current broadcasters, both here and in Britain, are broadcasting at very reduced bit rates, kind of the radio verson of MP3s; very compromised sonically and way less data than a good FM broadcast received by a decent analog tuner. Arcam's CEO touches on this in an interesting interview in this month's Stereophile. Have you actually compared the two?
This situation all began when the government decided they wanted all of the analog channels in the current megahertz band ( including FM ) If things go according to plan then the big switch will happen in late 2009. There are various opinions about the FM frequencies, but most believe that they will be shifted. At any rate EVERYTHING is scheduled to go digital in late 2009. That indicates that a analog tuner will not be able to pickup a signal at all. Well unless of course you buy a digital converter for it. But that would be defeating the purpose, wouldn't it? So this is not a matter of people still owning their vinyl and they have big buck to persuade someone to make them a $50,000 turntable, this is a matter of bye bye analog, no choice in the matter. By the same token every analog tv will also need a digital converter. So why in the world does someone want to pay $2500 for a Sansui TU-X1 when in 2 years it will be nothing more than a door stop?

Can you cite a source for your information that all OTA broadcast is going digital by late 2009? As a huge FM fan, I'd be very interested. Thanks.

This HD issue has been beaten to death on the FM Tuner forum. I'm hoping that someone from that forum will jump over here to give their enlightened viewpoints. I also am a die-hard FM lover. I don't know what I'd do without my beloved NPR station not broadcasting in FM anymore. I also have a highly modified vintage Citation Eighteen that would be very sad if I had to turn it into a "door stop".
Most of what I read was items listed in the technology sections of various web pages such as yahoo. I will do my best to find these pages agian though. But it is common knowlegde to any Best Buy or Circiut City or any other electronics store you go into. Even the CTR TV's over 24" have digital tuners in them now. I have been in the cable TV industry for over 12 years and we saw it coming 7 years ago. FCC mandate " All signals must be digital 12-29-09 "

I my self enjoy NPR through my analog tuner. I also listen to other stations and was actaully considering buying an even better Sansui tuner than what I have now. Then I remembered what was going to happen in 09. But the real kicker was when a small local station said they are getting close to launching 3 digital channels.

I agree, they are not HD, just digital.
Here is a bit of it. You can read the entire concept if you follow the link and form your own opinion.

" The transition from analog to digital technology could be made in any number of ways--the possible architectures for a new band plan are as infinite as the engineering imagination. The most popular transition model in use around the world today is the Eureka 147. In this model, an existing radio station receives a new swath of spectrum from which to broadcast its digital signal. Over time, the station's analog signal is terminated and new stations are allowed to use the vacated bandwidth. This model has been proven effective in efficiently allocating new and existing audio space.

The U.S. implementation model before the Federal Communications Commission, however, is quite different. Called the In-Band-On-Channel plan, it allows existing stations to use the space on and around their current analog channel to broadcast the digital signal. For example, a station broadcasting at 97.9 would use the space between it and the stations next to it on the dial for its digital broadcasting. When its analog signal is eventually terminated, the entire swath of bandwidth would belong to that station. "
Ditto Armstrod and Sherod. I have a Fanrare FT-1A Analogue
Fm tuner and pick up a plethora of wonderful FM stations in the greater Phila area, which I will sorely miss if and when they cease broadcasting in current format. I have only recently subcummed to getting Digital (comcast) TV, and absolutely hate it. It constantly is plagued with digital distortion where my standard signal never was. I plan to unsubscribe this week. Anyway, I will sorely miss my cherished FM signals (In addition to my Fanfare, I also use a vintage circa 1961 Scott FM LT110 tube tuner which, with a good FM signal (live brodcasts for example) bests even my best CD source material). The better we get the more we go down hill...
Bbro, If your digital box is macro blocking ( or tyling ) then you have a problem that should be serviceable. A good tech should be able to solve your riddle. If not then keep going up the comcast chain until someone important enough hears about it. Then you will get a good tech. If you try hard enough you should be able to find the e-mail address of the president for Penn. I know my president gets enough e-mail from irrates! Let me tell then people start scrambiling!

I am anticipating instead of static from a weak sation or a rainy day ( in digital radio ) we just wont get anything at all.

Although it might be "common knowledge" at Circuit City and Best Buy, here's what the FCC has to say:

Please direct your attention to the bullet, "Refrains from imposing a mandatory conversion schedule for radio stations to commence digital broadcast operations".

I read that to mean digital only OTA broadcasts aren't quite as imminent as widely believed. If you have evidence to the contrary, I'd love to see it.

Digital-only OTA braodcasts would be tough one for the radio stations to swallow since just about 95% of their listeners listen while driving. Dead silence wouldn't cut it for most drivers, and buying and retro-fitting digital receivers to millions of automobiles would probably be a slow process.

Alan Iverson was sitting in a commentators both once upon a time. The commentators were speculating on what was going on between two teams and who would win. They asked Alan his opinion and he said " The only guys that know is the guys on the floor "

So is it with this digital turn over. The people directly involved know what is going on, the rest of the people can only speculate. I'm sure the folks that do the posting on the FCC web site really don't have a clue what or when. That is reserved for a few select folks that are not saying anything. Of course there is a battle of how soon this will all happen, it was originally planned that all TV networks would be digital by the end of 2006. There are many reasons why that didn't happen. Amongst them would be the networks didn't want to buy all the expensive gear to make it possible. TV manufacturers didn't want to produce so many digital tuners ( they were to busy making money off of their analog ) And of course their were enough folks pressuring their buddies in office not to make it happen. However FCC did mange to have both Congress and Senate pass the 2009 deadline in to law. So unless there is another act of congress- For sure get ready for a change in how your TV receives ( or does not receive ) a picture. Will the radio stations also need to follow suit? Time will tell, but for sure the day is coming for the conversion. And it will happen.

Oh and in case you have not bought a car lately..... Check out what type of radio they have.
I'm not arguing that digital's not coming - it's already here. I'm just trying to get clarification on this supposed 2009 "deadline". So far, you haven't cited a single piece of evidence for it, and all the evidence I've found refutes it. If Congress passed a law, surely you can find some reference and point me to it. I'm sure others reading this thread would be interested too.
Here is a start for you with the link below if you want to search further. I will also do some research on the raroi end of it. I myself hope they keep brodcasting my favorite analog station for years!

FCC tuner mandate: You may have heard that all TVs will have to be HDTVs by a certain date. That's not technically correct. The FCC has mandated that as of March 1, 2007, all new TV and video products imported into the U.S. or shipped to retailers that include an analog (NTSC) tuner need to have a digital ATSC tuner as well. There's a loophole though: if the product contains no tuner whatsoever--for TVs, this means it's a "monitor"--then the mandate does not apply. As a result of the mandate, nearly all televisions sold after that date should be ready for the analog switch-off.

Analog TV broadcast switch-off: In December 2005, the Senate passed a budget bill that calls for over-the-air television stations to cease their analog broadcasts by February 17, 2009. After that date, TVs and other gear with old-style NTSC tuners will be incapable of receiving over-the-air broadcasts. Part of the government's quandary is that the switch-off would cause thousands of TVs to go dark and would deprive many lower-income viewers of their only source of television. To address this issue, lawmakers propose to subsidize converter boxes that would allow people to watch the new digital broadcasts on their old analog TVs. The subsidy currently calls for $40 coupons to be given to households who want to buy the estimated $50 to $70 boxes. Given the slow progress over the last nine years since the introduction of digital and HDTV, we wouldn't be surprised to hear of more changes before 2009.
That certainly takes care of TV, but we're talking about radio here.

I just called the engineer at our local NPR station, and asked him specifically about a timetable for analog radio conversion, and he said that none exists. If fact, they're just now writing a grant for their HD equipment, and won't have it installed until mid 2009 at the earliest. He's not worried about missing any deadlines.

I asked him about sound quality, and he said that while the HD bandwidth is limited to 96k, it's an AAC stream and thus, just as Apple claims with their iTunes downloads, the sound quality is about twice that of an MP3 at the same bitrate. The problem will be when stations want to run multiple broadcasts and start splitting up the stream. The limit is 96k total, so the quality of each stream will be limited.

There is another station here streaming at 64k AAC+, and it sounds pretty good, not quite the frequency or dynamic range of the analog signal, but quieter, even on a good analog day. If stations will utilize their full bandwidth for one broadcast stream, HD might be pretty palatable. I fear, though, that commerce will win out over quality, and we'll rarely if ever see a full 96k stream.

I also find it interesting that the drop dead date for analog TV is 2/17/09, about a month after Bush leaves office. I predict that the first big act of whoever gets elected will be to stay the FCC mandate, and that analog TV (along with analog radio) will still be alive for a number of years. The marketplace will fix the time of death for analog broadcasting, not the government.

I believe I was the first to post here on Audiogon about so-called HD RADIO. The first responses were that I was joking.

Then, someone posted a link to the folks who had gotten FCC clearance to develop the standards for this new product. This person, as I recall, worked for the company.

I then watched as the first receivers, Pioneer I believe, for automobiles came into the market. I even traced down an outlet that had a demonstration of the two(!) radio stations then broadcasting in 'HD' in my major metropolitan area.

The first in-home receivers came from DAYSEGUERRA, which was really a high-end studio monitor built for the stations broadcasting in HD. Since then a few others, like Audio Design Associates ( entered the high-end market and now I believe Cambridge Soundworks has a product.

As close as I have followed this, I have opted to go digital, but not OTA(off the air). As I have recently posted elsewhere I had the opportunity to visit slimdevices and I purchased the TRANSPORTER which they featured at an open house. The Transporter was back-ordered so they gave me a squeezebox to tide me over.

The Transporter has a high-end DAC made for internet streaming audio and it interfaces real well with my Apple Computer. Almost my entire most often played library of CDs is now on my computer and this device is all I could have hoped for. As I live on the West Coast I can tune into late-night East Coast stations to pick-up their late night feeds that are pretty much chatter and commercial-free.

I do believe that internet radio will out compete the so-called HD Radio, at lest in the home environment which is why even the manufacturers have invested so much into automobile units.
Is there anything on the radio worth listening to? I live in the NY metro area and frankly, it seems like a wasteland....
"The marketplace will fix the time of death for analog broadcasting, not the government."

I hope you are right. I will hope that FM analog will live on for a while.
I agree with Armstod (Armstrad made some pretty good tuners in the UK, BTW), but I believe that commerce will play an important role. Radio stations can barely hold on to listeners as it is, it would seem that they would be reluctant to diminish their listener base, and hence income stream, when the gear to continue to cater to it is already there and paid for.
hd radio does not stand for "hi definition", it stands for "hybrid digital". with resolution less than that of mp3, it certainly isn't anything resembling high resolution audio. and, its sideband artifacts can really screw up adjacent fm channels.

while most commercial fm station's audio quality is abysmal, the sound quality of a good station broadcast thru a quality tuner will easily rival the best digital & analog rigs. all it takes os for you to have one station you like, to make it worthwhile owning a high quality fm tuner. 89.3 wpfw in washington, dc, is all it takes for me. and, no, conventional fm isn't going anywhere any time soon. the fact is, that hd radio is expensive technology to implement, & it doesn't really offer most stations any worthwhile adwantages over standard fm. reception - especially in the car - is not any better, & in many cases, (especially in the car), it is worse.


doug s.
Just so where are all on the same page ( and I could go into far greater detail but i don't want to bore you )

QAM-Quadrature amplitude modulation

is a modulation scheme which conveys data by changing (modulating) the amplitude of two carrier waves. These two waves, usually sinusoids, are out of phase with each other by 90° and are thus called quadrature carriers—hence the name of the scheme.

Unlike the analog “Sinusoid” or " sine wave which curves up and down much like alternating current does. And in case you wanted to know- " The television signal is made up of two parts, both related to each other by the frequency of the carrier signal. The image signal is amplitude modulated and occupies about three fourth of the total bandwidth (which is usually 6 megahertz) the audio component of the TV signal is frequency modulated and has a frequency in the range of the upper quarter of the band frequency range. "

In QAM, the constellation points are usually arranged in a square grid with equal vertical and horizontal spacing, although other configurations are possible. However it appears that in America we have chosen the " square gird " In the same space that one could place a 6 Megahertz analog signal, we can now place 12 digital channels in a 256 QAM pattern. This makes digital signal very desirable.

Unlike analog signal that can bleed over into an adjacent channel, and cause " co-channeling " Digital will NOT bleed over at all. The reason should be quite clear. With analog the Sinusoid can be distorted more easily ( on your analog radio you know doubt have heard another station bleed through ) when this happens it is possible to get the audio or picture of another tv station over yours. With digital we are not relying on these waves to stay so harmonious. We are relying on a grid to stay square, when it does not there is nothing left to bleed. You will also find many adjacent channels are gone as well. To keep our signal pure we simply need to keep the system " air tight " If the system is not air tight then we have what is know as BER ( binary digit error ) When to many errors occur you will experience " jittery audio " and or" tiling " or macro blocking " Most common cause of a system that is not air tight are bad connectors, poorly shielded cable, or low signal. Oh and don't forget when the customer decides he is qualified to do his own wiring, this is a major cause of the problems we find.. Every time I go past Radio Shack I cures those worthless gold plated screw on fittings and that RG59 cable!

Ok back to what I was saying....With analog signal the sound becomes weaker and weaker, the picture becomes grainy or snowy. With digital signal when you have BER it just plain disappears! There is NO bleed over, well at least in my 10+ years as a system-network tech for cable tv. Of course running a 256 QAM is more risky than a 64 QAM signal. But Cable television has got it perfected " as long as it is a air tight system " Anyone with a digital box will have to admit that a digital picture is clearer and more defined than without the box. I expect someday radio will also achieve this.


Your quote

" and, no, conventional fm isn't going anywhere any time soon "

Since you have said it I can take it as gospel? I am wondering if your the president of the FCC?

Sedond is arguably the foremost tuner guru on Audiogon, and you choose to discount his input? You might want to re-think that approach. How about responding to my post above, where I present clear evidence contrary to your claims? Your 10+ years as a cable TV guy have served you well in that arena as your comments there are spot-on, but you still haven't been able to corroborate your allegations of a radio deadline.

Based on your explanation above, I have no doubt digital radio will have some significant advantages over analog, but that's not why you started this thread.

kt88, is this an audio forum, or a tv forum? what does your post have to do w/fm? i don't care about tv - i don't even own one.

hd radio broadcasts have sideband signal; this is what interferes with adjacent fm channels. and, hd radio compression is more severe than even mp3. lo-fi, imo.

doug s.
hey armstrod, thanks, but i am not really a tuna guru, just a tuna-holic. :>) there's folks far more knowledgeable about how fm - and hd-radio - really works, than myself. i suggest anyone who is really interested about fm in general, (and also about hd-radio), check out the website & its related yahoo tuna forum. as has awreddy been suggested here.

doug s.

Indeed, I'm a regular at both places. I'm just glad Kt_88's information is incorrect, and that we'll be able to enjoy our analog signals for the foreseeable future.

I don't own a TV either - haven't for 15 years, but I've been listening to FM since I was 10, starting with my Arvin tabletop rig. I miss bakelite...

Well! I guess you guys told me how it was, huh? I guess since you two have all the answers there is not much else for me to say.

Umm sorry I couldn't get back you sooner but my back went out. But I did find some interesting facts. But since nothing of you don't want to be confused with the facts ( since you already made up your minds ) I will leave you alone.

Ignorance is bliss

However I don't take back my challenge to Sedond. I do happen to have a friend that is employed by the FCC ( it took me sometime to track him down ) and even what he knows is limited.
i don't wanna waste my time digging up all the stuff i have read the past six months about why analog fm ain't going away any time soon. you wanna do it? have at it. you're right - it sounds to me like someone's mind *IS* awreddy made up - but it ain't mine...


doug s.
one other thing, kt-88 - this will fix your back - amhik.

but, if you awreddy know everything, you may not feel it's worthwhile to try it...

doug s.

I don't follow any of your arguments, and I can't follow your evidence since you haven't presented any, but I've decided resistance is futile so I'm choosing to believe you're right.

Got any analog tuners you're looking to unload? In my blissful ignorance, I want to be surrounded by many lovely glowing dials when they all go dark in Feb 2009. My quest starts today...

Armstrod - I can't add to the argument about when or if this will happen but if it does, the tuners will only go silent, not dark.

I guess my sarcasm wasn't obvious enough...

At least the stereo light will go off...


Well, when I was younger it used to drive me crazy when someone differed with my opinion. I found I was quite insulted that someone dared to have an opinion different from mine.

Now that I am older and more seasoned. I have learned that someone's difference of opinion to mine is just that. A diffence of opinion. Not an attack on my person.

At ease gentlemen.....
Hello, If two people have the same opinion, one of you is unnecessary/redundant.
Uh, Bob? What is your point?
Bob's point is very well taken.

oooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! Such wisdom has entered into the thread!

Now I'm just trying to figure out which one I want to be ( sooner or later I will be one of them ) I guess I will choose redundant. Then I can keep my job, and I always did like to repeat things :)
I'm still trying to figure out the philosophy of how one of two people with the same opinion is redundant; and furthermore, how is this related to the demise of FM radio? Am I living in the "Twilight Zone" ?
I'm not so sure we are supposed to understand it. I went through boot camp with a gent that had stopped studying psychology after he got his bachlors degree. He used to ask me silly questions such as: why do birds fly? I could think of obviuos answers, but I don't think he expected me to have the answer. He seemed to enjoy baffling people with questions a 5 year old would ask.

However regarding the statement of Acoustat6.

That would make Unclejeff one of the two? He does seem to agree with Acoustat6?

Just a thought
Back to the subject ( and I speak unofficially ) From a Conversation I had with a reliable source. The government actually wanted no more analog stations at the end or 06. However there were no laws in place and even attempting to pass laws was difficult. It would be somewhat like attempting to pass a law to stop the oil prices from rising. Anyway when it was obvious that the TV manufactures and then folks transmitting the signals were not going to cooperate with the 06 deadline. The FCC ( and other government agencies ) got busy and found enough folks in the House and Senate to vote the 09 deadline for digital TV signal into law. As I said before the government wanted ALL of the analog signals already, including radio. If my source is correct ( and who can be with great certainty now days ) There will be another push to vote into law, a regulation to force the radio networks to broadcast in a completely digital format. Look for it no later than 2012 I was told.

Heck the government even bought out NEXTEL's Megahertz band which takes affect before 2012. Now that is clout!

On a side note. I remember when AMD released the first Athlon chip to the public. I saw the AMD rep in the store and he was proudly displaying this huge chip to all the would look. About a month later I was in a Best Buy store and I asked when the chip would be made smaller so it would fit in a laptop. The sales people in the computer department basically laughed me out of the store and told me " That will never happen " I told them some how it would happen, i had faith in technology. As I recall 6 months later I walked into that same Best Buy and they were selling laptops with the Athlon chip in them. Funny thing, those sales people were not working there any more.

I guess technology wont be stopped by our opinion ( or our desire ) of it not to improve.
"That would make Unclejeff one of the two? He does seem to agree with Acoustat6?"

Thanks for the explanation, KT_88. That makes sense to me now. Can you answer one more simple question for me? Why is the sky blue?

I guess I'm one of a few old farts set in his way that just hates to see an older technology phased out. I do know that technology moves on, and hopefully for the better.
Geez Kt_88,

I've already started to hoard analog tuners, and now you tell me analog's not going away until 2012? They'll all be out of alignment by then...


Sherod saidUh, Bob? What is your point?

Regarding my statement of, "Hello, If two people have the same opinion, one of you is unnecessary/redundant".

This is a discussion forum. If we all had the same opinion, same thoughts, a mutual admiration society would exist. What would be the point? I for one want different opions, thoughts and ideas to expand my own ideas and possibilites. I allready know what I know, what do others know that is interesting and fruitful for me to learn?

P.S. A mutual admiration society can be quite useful infact.
If you and I are using the same equipment or are searching in the same direction we could put our thoughts together to expand on the possibilites of the eqipment or setup etc.
This would be useful in this case.
So whats the problem? Do you think people who make high end tuners are going to make them become obsolete? Hell know! All the government has done is create a market for a device that will still make our Tuners still work. This is America people. If there is money to be made someone is already working on said device or there already is one that will hit the market say around 2011. Something like a digital to analog and then threw your stereo system. I'm holding on to my Tuner,it just sounds to good to let go and at least for now the music is still free.
I get your gist, but FM radio isn't exactly "free". Commercial radio stations give us the free music because of advertising. NPR( National Public Radio) is partially subsidized by the Gov't through our tax dollars( each year that subsidy becomes less) and the balance of money needed for "free" broadcasting is covered by listener donations; so "free" is a loose term.

Even if there is a digital to analog converter made for your analog tuner. Then your tuner will no longer be analog? And how would this device be hooked up to your tuner? Since your tuner is in fact a source, and it relies on a analog signal, from an antenna. I think it is not likely that a device will be made that will input a analog signal into your tuner input. That would be pointless.

One of the local stations in my neck of the woods has already expanded to 3 digital channels. One of them is where the old analog station was. I am still able to receive my with my analog tuner. However the station has gone to the trouble to convert the signal back to analog for now.

The cable TV company I am employed at is already digitally simulcasting ALL of their signal. which means if you have a digital box, you receive no analog signal to it. However if you have a analog TV you still receive the analog signal. It would appear my local radio station has followed suit. So that would mean i am really listening to a digital signal. And this is a route that could be taken for us old tuner people.

2012 is a goal. I think if our congressmen ( women ) get enough flack from the public. Who knows how long it could be?

I'm with you Sherod I want analog to stay for quite sometime.

Armstrod, if you run out of room for one of them tuners, let me know. I could always store it at my place :)

Acoustat6, what the?

this thread has turned into something akin to Sports show talk radio.

Well, looks like that is the end of it. If I happen along any other news I will post it ( assuming I can find the thread )