I recently helped set up a new house with cables including long HDMI cables that would not be easily replaceable after drywall went up. We wanted the latest HDMI 2.1 cables, which are capable of at least 40Gbps bandwidth. To do this for long cable runs, we needed expensive optical cables. Since these cables needed to work, we had to test them. To do so, we purchased a receiver that we planned to buy later anyway, the Denon AVR-X6700H.
If you press the back button (below and left of the circle) and up cursor button (part of the circle) on this receiver, an “installer” secret menu item appears, a diagnostics mode. This can test cables and show the throughput achieved by the cable.
We’re glad that we ran those tests. Two of the cables we purchased failed the full HDMI 2.1 spec by not achieving 40Gbps:
Unfortunately, HD Radio has a misleading name. The letters “HD” stand for nothing. They only mean that it is digital instead of to analog. Digital does not mean that it is higher definition or higher quality than analog. It does mean that radio stations can fit more channels on the same spectrum.
What does HD Radio give you?
The Washington D.C. metro area has some great HD Radio stations. HD Radio gives you free extra channels to listen to outside of what is available on a normal AM/FM radio. Every channel listed below with a -2 or -3 is an extra channel that is not offered in analog AM or FM.
Washington D.C. HD Radio Listing
Nws/Tlk/Inf, American University
Bluegrass, American University
BBC / NPR / WTMD, American University
WPFW Soon in HD
Jazz, Pacifica Foundation
Nws/Tlk/Inf, National Cable Satellite Corporation
C-Span, National Cable Satellite Corporation
C-Span 2, National Cable Satellite Corporation
Clscl/NPR, Greater Washington Educational Telecomm Association
WKYS Soon in HD
Urban AC, Radio One Inc.
Alternative, CBS Radio
Adult Alternative – The Jam, CBS Radio
CHR/Rhymc, CBS Radio
Gospel, CBS Radio
Urban AC, Howard University
WHUR World, Howard University
AC, Clear Channel
Smooth Jazz, Clear Channel
Country, Clear Channel
Classic Country, Clear Channel
WLZL Soon in HD
Tropical, CBS Radio
WLZL-HD2 Soon in HDon
Hispanic AC, CBS Radio
CHR, Clear Channel
New CHR, Clear Channel
Oldies, Clear Channel
Oldies 50’s & 60’s, Clear Channel
Rock, Clear Channel
eRockster, Clear Channel
WMMJ Soon in HD
Urban AC, Radio One Inc.
News, Bonneville International Corp.
iChannel -Global Unsigned Bands, Bonneville International Corp.
Traffic and Weather, Bonneville International Corp.
One of my favorites is the Sony XDR-F1HD. This costs about $100 and needs to be connected to an amp/receiver. It can not be connected directly to speakers unless they are powered speakers that can be connected with RCA cables.
If you need a new amp/receiver, there are some that have HD Radio built-in. My favorite of these is the Yamaha RX-V863, which can be ordered for $619 currently with a little haggling.
Is HD Radio worth it?
HD Radio has been around since 2002 and has been somewhat slow to take off. But if you like the extra stations it gives you, it can be worth the cost of the new equipment. Unlike Sirius and XM, there is no subscription to get HD Radio.
Washington D.C. offers more HD stations than most markets. The extra stations cover many genres and niches such as News, Bluegrass, Alternative, Country, Oldies, Jazz, and Gospel. If any of those stations interest you, give HD Radio a try.