Sony XDR-F1HD Technical Review - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 359 Old 04-17-2008, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
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I've just posted a technical review of the new Sony tuner here:

http://ham-radio.com/k6sti/xdr-f1hd.htm

I'll be regularly updating it.

Brian
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post #2 of 359 Old 04-17-2008, 04:34 PM
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If I read Brian's review correctly, so far the performance is both outrageously good and presents an outrageous bargain. Now, if only availability was better...
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post #3 of 359 Old 04-18-2008, 04:30 AM
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Now, if only availability was better...

J&R music world has them listed!!
http://www.jr.com/JRProductPage.process?Product=4222752
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post #4 of 359 Old 04-18-2008, 07:37 AM
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Thank you Brian. Excellent review. Looks like this is the reciever to beat now in terms of price/performance ratio.
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post #5 of 359 Old 04-18-2008, 08:09 AM
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I almost feel bad for Sangean. They set the bar. Now Sony did. Frankly, I'm surprised they came out with something this cool.

Thanks for the review!!!

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post #6 of 359 Old 04-18-2008, 08:40 AM
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... and analog AM is still poop. Feh.
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post #7 of 359 Old 04-18-2008, 10:28 AM
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Seems pretty good...$100...amazon looks like they have it in stock.

sort of OT here but since we've seen RDS on some and AM stereo on some I have to ask what non HD radios these days have RDS or AM stereo ?

A friend of mines girlfriend has a ford focus that had RDS (soda spill killed a chunk of it)
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post #8 of 359 Old 04-18-2008, 01:52 PM
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I'm just waiting for a local dealer to have them in stock. My so-called full line Sony dealer Stereovisions did not have it or plan to get it and I have yet to see it in a place like Circuit City or Best Buy.

Thanks to Brian for the excellent review. I'm old enough to remember when the audio press consistently provided actual lab results on tuners so I was able to understand everything he said. FM tuners (and in many case broadcasting) have gone south over the years and are not priorities.

We listen to our classical station a lot and as they have recently and unfortunately gone to a mixed format (with hours of news in addition to music BUT with an all-music format in HD) need a quality tuner. The Sony seems to be it.
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post #9 of 359 Old 04-20-2008, 07:04 AM - Thread Starter
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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
difference.

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
Sony.

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---

Bob
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post #10 of 359 Old 04-27-2008, 11:09 AM
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This seems to be an outstanding receiver at a great price - are there any major performance drawbacks?
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post #11 of 359 Old 04-27-2008, 05:38 PM
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Not performance that I've heard, just availability...
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post #12 of 359 Old 04-28-2008, 07:18 AM - Thread Starter
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The only place that still seems to have the XDR-F1HD in stock is sonystyle.com.

Brian
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post #13 of 359 Old 04-28-2008, 08:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alins View Post

This seems to be an outstanding receiver at a great price - are there any major performance drawbacks?

Lousy-sounding analog AM.
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post #14 of 359 Old 04-28-2008, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
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It doesn't sound lousy to me. Just bandwidth restricted. It has a very linear detector, is much less sensitive to local noise than tuners with unbalanced AM loops, and it handles much higher AM signal levels without distortion than the HDT-1X. It may also have a noise blanker, although I haven't tested for that feature yet.

On what stations did it sound lousy to you?

Brian
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post #15 of 359 Old 04-28-2008, 10:00 AM
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Brian, if I may ask, how hot did the unit get? I'm guessing that it wasn't hot enough to melt the plastic, but is it safe to leave the unit unattended for 12 hours on time or more? How do AM sensitivity levels compare with either Sangean? My only concern would be the heat generated by the unit and how that will effect the radios life span.
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post #16 of 359 Old 04-28-2008, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
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The XDR-F1HD gets quite warm, but not alarmingly so. I trust that the Sony engineers did their thermal homework. It would be a huge scandal if the product was unsafe.

I compared the Sony and HDT-1X side by side with their respective AM loops. The sensitivity seemed just about the same. I never heard a station on one that I couldn't copy on the other. However, I have custom aligned the AM front-end tracking in my HDT-1X. I found it to be way off in every unit I've checked as delivered from the factory.

The Sony has limited audio bandwidth on AM, but it has none of the shrillness of the HDT-1X with its ersatz AM curve, a real blunder. However, the HDT-1X can be equalized to sound terrific on AM. I played around a little with a ten-band equalizer on the Sony, but I got only a few dB improvement and didn't even bother to listen to the results. It could be equalized with a custom network to at least 4 kHz.

I just checked and the Sony does not have an AM noise blanker. [Yes, it does. Corrected 7-30-09.]

One thing to be aware of is that although the HDT-1X will extend its frequency response to 8 kHz on AM, I've only seen it do this under very special test conditions on the bench. I had to use an extremely low modulation level (11%, as I recall) and a special test-signal spectrum. For some reason, on the air the Sangean is very conservative about widening up the IF bandwidth, which controls the ultimate audio bandwidth. It often seems to wind up at its narrowest setting, which yields 4.5 kHz audio. I saw it extend to 6 or 6.5 kHz a couple of times, but usually it is much less adventurous, even on strong local signals. I don't know why it behaves this way. It's really a shame.

The Sony XDR-F1HD is by far the best tuner I've ever measured or used for reception of analog FM signals. Nothing comes close. I think of it as an exceptional analog FM tuner with HD Radio thrown in for free. Likewise, analog AM.

Brian
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post #17 of 359 Old 04-28-2008, 11:26 AM
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How well the Sony radio can lock in AM digital's signal in daytime and nighttime propagations? Just manly for radio Dxing.

4-28-08

"73's N5XZS"
From Timothy C. Johnson
Live Long and Prosper...
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post #18 of 359 Old 04-28-2008, 12:37 PM
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I put together some test samples, based on the EQ curves Brian published. Hope this gives an audible perspective on the subject.

Btw, it looks like the HDT-1X has the same curve as the Sony. http://radioguy.googlepages.com/amsounds.zip

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post #19 of 359 Old 04-28-2008, 12:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattdp View Post

Btw, it looks like the HDT-1X has the same curve as the Sony.http://radioguy.googlepages.com/amsounds.zip

What curve?

Brian
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post #20 of 359 Old 04-28-2008, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k6sti View Post

It doesn't sound lousy to me. Just bandwidth restricted. It has a very linear detector, is much less sensitive to local noise than tuners with unbalanced AM loops, and it handles much higher AM signal levels without distortion than the HDT-1X. It may also have a noise blanker, although I haven't tested for that feature yet.

On what stations did it sound lousy to you?

Brian

I haven't personally heard it, but to me "bandwidth restricted" to 4 kHz and "sounds lousy" are one and the same.

Not that I expect it to be any better than any of the other radios out there, but it would have been nice if it wasn't so average, especially attached to such a spectacular-performing FM section.

I have heard AM with the latest firmware on an HDT-1, and it's obnoxious.
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post #21 of 359 Old 04-29-2008, 10:55 AM
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I assume this unit can be readily connected to a pair of amplified computer speakers - correct? Anything to look out for?
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post #22 of 359 Old 04-29-2008, 05:28 PM
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Brian...
XDR-F1HD's Response Curve: http://www.ham-radio.com/k6sti/xdr-f1hd.htm
HDT-1's Curve: http://www.ham-radio.com/k6sti/hdt-1.htm

Crap.. I just realized in looking at the two that the XDR-F1HD (say that three times fast) has better bass response than the HDT-1. I'll have to re-whip something (making EQ "curves" in Audacity is, um... well, try making a curve out or straight lines.)

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post #23 of 359 Old 05-02-2008, 06:10 AM
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I recently purchased one of these Sony tuners, based on the positive review at the top of this thread and the price. My only complaint is that I wish I could tell it to stay on analog for those times when the HD signal is weak and it flips back and forth. Otherwise I'm quite impressed with the analog and HD sound quality.
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post #24 of 359 Old 05-02-2008, 11:04 AM
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Just ordered one from Amazon. They still have them there with free shipping.
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post #25 of 359 Old 05-06-2008, 11:07 AM
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I just purchased this tuner because of the feeback on this site and I must admit it is really good . I live in a condo so there is no roof antenna. I am using the dipole antenna that came with it. I am getting a couple of local Connecticut HD channels but am having trouble with the one NY smooth jazz station that went to a rock format and put the jazz on the HD side. I have a Terk powered FM antenna that is a table top model. This doesn't help at all so I went back to the dipole. What can I do to pull in better reception. Unfortunatley the dipole is tacked to the back of the cabinet that my NAD equipment is in and because of the wife approval factor I don't want to put the dipole up on the wall. Is there another antenna that I could look into or should I just shoot my wife.
Thanks
Pogo
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post #26 of 359 Old 05-06-2008, 03:05 PM
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Why not teach your wife to play jazz?
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post #27 of 359 Old 05-06-2008, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paogorman2001 View Post

I have a Terk powered FM antenna that is a table top model. This doesn't help at all....

Hmmmm. Why am I not surprised to hear this?

I would say try rabbit ears, but it doesn't sound like the wifey would be too crazy about those, either.

Can you put an antenna outside anywhere?
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post #28 of 359 Old 05-06-2008, 04:30 PM
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Are you in Conneticut and if so what part? Does your condo have a master antenna? I haven't lived in an apartment in years but when I did we had a roof antenna. Do you have access to a crawl space or a closet? Some put better antennas in those locations. For now creative antenna placement is very helpful if you are in a limited environment.
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post #29 of 359 Old 05-07-2008, 07:12 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions. I don't think we have a master antenna on my building . Eveyone is on cable I think. I will check though. Maybe by moving the slack in the dipole I will get a more exposure to signal. Well thanks again and I guess my wife is safe ----------for now!!!!!!!!!!!!
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post #30 of 359 Old 05-08-2008, 07:40 AM
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Ok
I saw that my building as a antenna on it. Assuming that it is still hooked up to my unit ( I do have a jack in the wall) Do I just run some 75ohm antenna wire?
Thanks folks
Pogo
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