I have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of reception on my FM radio. If you ask just about any radio enthusiast, they will tell you a tuner that comes as a part of an amplifier generally does not pick up as many stations. With this in mind, I picked up the Sony XDRF1HD HD Radio Tuner for $79.99, shipped free from Amazon.com. The reviews lauded the unit's selectivity and reception, and I must say I'm generally pleased so far. Read on to see my initial thoughts.
I often wish to test new equipment purchases first by seeing how much I can figure out without finding a manual. Truth be told, I still haven't bothered to search out the manual for this tuner, and that's always a good sign in my view. Set up was quite simple. The tuner includes one button on the front and ten on the top. I assumed correctly the button on the front was for power. On the back is a single set of RCA jacks for output and inputs for both an FM and AM antenna, both included. Strangely, no RCA cord to connect the tuner to my amplifier was included, so I had to provide my own. A remote control (minus batteries) is also in the box.
The aforementioned buttons on the top are arranged in a single row. They are evenly spaced for the most part, except for two groups of two which are together. These are the channel up/down and preset up/down buttons. Other buttons switch between AM and FM, scan for frequencies, and store presets. I was able to figure out the functions of most of the buttons without consulting the manual.
The reason for buying this new radio was reception. Naturally, I wasn't expecting much improvement considering the included antenna was your typical T-shaped wire contraption. To my surprise, the included setup does quite well. Not only am I able to pick up several more stations than before, the selectivity on this unit is exceptional for a consumer-grade unit. Selectivity refers to the ability to separate stations that are close to each other. Many tuners will not perform this task well, allowing for stations to overlap.
In addition, this tuner is an HD radio. While the value of HD radio can be debated for days, the ability to pick up HD radio frequencies is a nice plus. This works best in major cities, but the tuning of HD frequencies on this tuner was simple. In short, if an HD station is found, an extra stop will be made when tuning up or down. In other words, if 102.5 has a secondary HD channel, it will generally be found between 102.5 and 102.6. It takes a few seconds for HD signals to start playing, so you would hear silence until the signal was received.
All in all, at just under $80, I feel the Sony XDRF1HD HD Radio Tuner is a good value for the money. With the proper antenna, the reception could be among the best for consumer-grade tuners.
Product: Sony XDRF1HD HD Radio Tuner
Price: $79.99 from Amazon.com
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.