Here are some remarks Bob Smith made about the XDR-F1HD:
Sony -First Impressions
I received my XDR-F1HD in the mail yesterday, but didn't get a chance
to hook it up until this morning.
Since Bryan has already done his standard battery of tests, I decided
to just do subjective testing first rather than put it on the bench.
With Brian on the job, it's a little redundant anyway.
First, the test set up.
I decided to use my Sangean HDT-1X as the reference. To make
comparisons easier, I use my old Sony 75ES DAT recorder for both a
digital decoder for the optical output of the HDT-1X and as an A/D/A
converter for the analog output of the Sony. This gives me the
advantage of matching levels easier (the digital signal produces a
fixed level analog output, while the analog input level is adjustable)
I can use the peak and averaging function of the record level
indicator to match levels as closely as possible with dynamic signals,
since there is no way to calibrate the level of the HD signal.
The analog output of the DAT recorder feeds my McIntosh MA2275
integrated amplifier which then drives my Quad 989 Speakers.
Interconnects are the RCA cords you get free with cheap audio
products and speaker cables are 16 AWG zip cord.
I fed both tuners from a splitter that is connected to a 10 element
yagi at around 20' pointed generally South toward San Francisco. At
my location, that means I'm pointing directly into a mountain about 4
miles south, so all reception is pretty well hit or miss.
I just started from the low end of the band and tuned upward comparing
the differences between the tuners.
The first thing I noticed is that the output levels of the tuners
don't match very well, if you match the levels using HD, the Sony is
louder on analog. I also discovered that it really true that a slight
level increase of one source over another makes the louder source seem
brighter. This was only true on the HD signals. The Sony always
sounded much brighter than the Sangean, even when the Sony was lower
in level than the Sangean.
Immediately, I found that on all analog stations, the Sony had much
better high frequency response than the Sangean, even when the sony
was adjusted to a lower audio level for comparison.
The Sony was a lot more fun to listen to, I'm guessing it is the
better high frequency response. Even on the weaker stations, the high
frequency response held up. In the presence of background noise, the
Sony would crisp sounding audio while the Sangean sounded quite dull.
I'm guessing the dynamic filtering Brian mentioned must be making the
One of the first glaring differences I found was at a weak station at
92.5 MHz. The Sony sounds nice and clean with good high frequency
content, the Sangean sounds dull, almost like AM radio. I also
noticed that there was bad break up on voices of the announcers.
There are no adjacent channels on this frequency, so this must be due
to being close to threshold. I noticed that the stereo indicator was
on on the Sangean, and didn't see one on the Sony. Not knowing
whether or not the Sony had one, I put on earphones and found both
were in the stereo mode. The Sony sounded MUCH better with much more
separation, much better high frequency response, and just a heck of a
lot more enjoyment while listening. This almost seems magic. How
they get such superlative FM stereo performance is beyond me.
I did the test of adjusting the audio of the Sony both above and below
the Sangean's level, and in both cases, the Sony sounded much better
with better high frequency response. On this station, the Sony was
far and above the Sangean for performance.
I also noticed that when you are tuned to a blank spot between
stations with no adjacent channel splatter, the noise characteristics
of the Sony seem more balanced. The Sangean sounds as though the
noise were being fed through a bandpass filter with a 2 KHz peak.
I found a small weak coastal station at 96.1 MHz with an announcer
with what sounded like a Russian accent. On this station, she sounded
much brighter on the Sony than the Sangean, though I could hear some
distortion on voice peaks that weren't as noticeable on the Sangean.
All in all, I liked the sound on the Sony much better.
In all cases, no matter what the SNR of the incoming signal, the Sony
did a much better job, you could listen to stations that were unusable
on the Sangean in full stereo on the Sony and enjoy them.
The Sangean seemed to have a coarser' sound. When there was
distortion due to multipath or adjacent channel splatter, the Sony
seemed to handle them much better, the Sangean would have distortion
artifacts that seemed more clipped or (dare I say) digital' than the
The Sony reminds me of the difference I found when I went from my
first standard 3 IF tube/Ratio Detector tuner to one that had a real
limiter. With the Ratio detector and low gain, the weak stations
would still be listenable, but weaker, so you could turn up the audio
and still enjoy them. With good limiting, the noise pops would
overwhelm the signal and make it not as enjoyable. I attribute this
to the fact that 2 pi noise pops at threshold are much more
objectionable when driven full scale with a limiter. With a Ratio
detector, low SNR doesn't cause full scale noise pops.
I believe the Sony must do more processing of the signal prior to
limiting perhaps using some kind of threshold extension or adaptive
narrow IF filtering for weak signals.
All in all, I really enjoy the sound and weak signal performance of
the Sony much better than that of the Sangean.
And all this for $99. The thing is just so darned cute also. Makes
me want to buy more mini system' components and toss out all this
heavy metal I've been accumulating over the years.
--Wonder how much my 10B is worth these days on E-Bay---