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Sony XDR-F1HD Technical Review - Page 11

post #301 of 359
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dartman View Post

Well it's great to hear folks can still find this unit. I wonder if they even still make it or if they are planning a newer version maybe with some of the extra bells and whistles this one doesn't have. I still use mine just about every day and it still sounds great and still runs a bit hot

I may buy an extra, just to stow it away for whenever.
post #302 of 359
Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl View Post

I discovered something about the F1HD's signal bars. There's a pirate radio station in town with audio that's often clipping because most of the time it's just an MP3 player on autopilot (like an HD-2 station) and no one's monitoring it.

Whenever the audio clips, the bars actually drop. I wonder if it thinks it's the result of multipath or something.

It sounds kinda like when I used to tune up CB radios for myself and the really good units had what we called forward modulation where the RF power would go higher with the louder sound/modulation as you talked.
The crappier units would actually loose power and go backwards, especially when not peaked out right.
It's FM but might be something similar...
post #303 of 359
Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl View Post

I discovered something about the F1HD's signal bars. There's a pirate radio station in town with audio that's often clipping because most of the time it's just an MP3 player on autopilot (like an HD-2 station) and no one's monitoring it.

Whenever the audio clips, the bars actually drop. I wonder if it thinks it's the result of multipath or something.

If it's an FM station, the louder you modulate it, the wider the frequency band or area that it uses gets. So maybe the transmitter output stage can't deal with the wide bandwidth and losses RF power.
post #304 of 359
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post

If it's an FM station, the louder you modulate it, the wider the frequency band or area that it uses gets. So maybe the transmitter output stage can't deal with the wide bandwidth and loses RF power.

That's kind of like my uneducated theory. Maybe the transmitter cuts power purposely to avoid breaking FCC modulation regulations. If it clips the RF power, that will clip the audio.

But you'd think it could limit this in the audio stage before it reaches the RF stage, right? That's why I think the F1HD is actually thinking it's seeing multipath since that could appear to be overmodulation.
post #305 of 359
I like the XDR-F1HD so much I may want to buy another just in case. I use it more than just FM analog and HD; I have a homemade AM loop with 3 turns of wire accross its frame (2.5 feet across) connected to the Sony's AM terminals and this loop really pulls in distance AM signals really well and the tuner doesn't overload from very strong signals on both AM and FM.
post #306 of 359
So where is the new Sony HD Tuner already? Anybody know when it was first introduced? Sangean already had its update.
Any opinions on the Sony being updated to address the imperfections? I need some hope!
post #307 of 359
Sony doesn't seem to be so much into component audio as they once were--like a lot of manufacturers. The only new HD tuner I've seen lately is Radio Shack's Auvio line.

The existing tuner wouldn't need a lot of changes if they use the existing chipset, just implement some features to make it more competitive with the Sangean. I'd like more information about modulation/bandwidth/bitrate and a real signal strength indication; it's all there in the chipset firmware. And a better quality audio output, plus a serious quality digital output. If Sony can be convinced there's a market out there...
post #308 of 359
I noted in Brian's original review that he found the XDR-F1HD to have an issue with what he describes as a rather wide FM passband, and that he thought this might cause it to perform poorly at locations with strong, nearby transmitters.

This is EXACTLY my situation. I have two, high deviation, over-modulated, high power FM broadcast stations within 2 miles of me, line of sight on a huge tower and they positively SWAMP OUT the front ends of ALL my radios. On my scanners I use FM trap filters on the antennas to get rid of it, but this obviously isn't going to work for an FM Tuner! The stations are on 106.7 and 92.7 , so a narrow slot filter won't work either.

Thus far I've tried about a dozen different FM tuners or receivers and none work very well, including a GE Super Tuner portable and a Pioneer Super Tuner Pro-Line receiver and a Sony A/V receiver. These stations are so bad that if you drive down the road to within a city block of the tower site your car radio mutes - I kid you not, its downright impressive. I've experimented with all sorts of FM antennas, too and none seemed to make a bit of difference, I'm just swamped out locally by these powerhouses.

I love FM DX'ing and listening to obscure, local, non-commercial stations. And I'd like to try HD radio, too. But I'm about ready to give up. I have an old Sangean ATS-803A portable that almost works, but every other radio here is just about deaf on FM.

So, I'm wondering if anyone here has tried the Sony XDR-F1HD Tuner at a similarly RF-flooded out location and what their experiences were. How did it work? Thanks in advance. If I take the plunge and buy one I'll post my results.

Happy Listening! - Ted in Wheeling, Illinois
post #309 of 359
^ Things can be rough in an environment like yours but if any tuner can do it I'd say it is the Sony. Part of what makes the Sony so good is that although it is very sensitive and can pick up a weak signal, it curiously is also very selective and can ignore nearby strong signals on the dial or even the same frequency but coming from a rival station in a different direction in another city/state:

"Capture ratio is how far below an unmodulated 65-dBf monophonic signal a 100%-modulated monophonic signal must be to obtain the specified quieting. With both signals in stereo, the XDR-F1HD can suppress a co-channel signal 19 dB stronger than one the HDT-1X can suppress. At my location this profoundly improves reception quality for many signals, setting the Sony apart from any other tuner.

The astronomical selectivity figure is real. The XDR-F1HD is noticeably more selective than the HDT-1X, sometimes retrieving listenable signals that are buried beneath adjacent-channel splatter or completely inaudible in the Sangean. The Sony's selectivity is more than 30 dB better than that of the best conventional tuner I've ever tested, a Kenwood L-07TII modified to cascade one 150-kHz and two 110-kHz Murata ceramic filters in narrow-IF mode." [emphasis mine]

- from one of the reviews I've lost the link for but I'm sure anyone could search for the original source if need be.

Of course there's only so far this can take you and if your local transmitters are right on top of you the tuner just can't hear anything else because it is being deafened by their loud shouting, as you already know. I'd recommend the unit to you but if it still is having issues I'd recommend three changes:

A) Chuck the supplied dipole antenna which is nearly omni-directional and get a directional antenna like a "Yagi" you can aim away from the overly strong stations as much as possible and towards the hard to get ones. This must be used in conjunction with

B) an in line variable RF attenuator, suitable for FM not just TV (no built-in FM "trap"), mounted right at the antenna input to reduce the strength of the antenna's signal. Remember the Sony has good sensitivity so an intentionally weaken signal can still be great but the attenuation kills the overwhelming, problem signal.

C) Buy or build a Faraday cage to put the tuner in. (Sine the Sony comes with an IR remote you should be able to operate most features even with the thing trapped inside a metal mesh or wire box. This will ensure that the circuits are only getting an RF input from the antenna terminals and the various solder points inside the tuner aren't accidentally acting as their own omnidirectional antennas which would be swamped by those too strong stations you have nearby.

Good luck.

edit to add: I have not worked with them personally, but some say one can use their unplugged microwave oven as an impromptu Faraday cage box for test purposes. Of course you won't be able to shut the door fully with the wires to the tuner hanging out the front, but it may be a good way to see if the shielding it provides will stop the part of the tuner that is being overwhelmed from being overwhelmed, and if the results are good then building or buying a real Faraday cage should be more likely to solve your problem.

Sorry if what I'm suggesting might seem a little nutty.
post #310 of 359
I live 4 miles from a combined FM station (94.1, 95.5) operating at 50kW & 18kW into a 4 bay antenna (read, a LOT of downward radiation), and both deliver pretty close to 75dbu on my antenna. I don't have FM traps but I am considering getting a couple of notch filters for the scanners.

Anyways, both 94.1 and especially 95.5 are broad as barn doors. On every single radio I have, 95.5, comes in well into 95.7. On the Sony, I only hear it a teeny little bit, and can decipher more distant 95.7's when the conditions help (New Hampshire, Hartford or Philly).
post #311 of 359
Ordered this from Amazon for ~ $86 shipped after reading the glowing reviews and stats here and elsewhere. Just fired it up today.

The odd size is perfect for me, it fits on top of my Denon amp in the unvented portion as if it were made to sit there.

After breaking it in for awhile, the phrase that popped to mind was "the new golden age of radio."

I'm in love!

post #312 of 359
I never use the radio in my Onkyo 898 any more as the F1HD is such a nice receiver and just sounds so good. Too bad there aren't hardly any worthwhile AM stations in HD, most of the FM ones here are HD now with a HD2 channel as well.
post #313 of 359
Today's paper has them on sale at Fry's for $69.
post #314 of 359
But I already have one...It's very nice... Thanks!
post #315 of 359
Fry's has then for $69 again this week. Id' get one if I didn't already have a JVC.
post #316 of 359
Like last time when the other poster mentioned it when I checked, that price must be an in store only deal. The on-line price is now $99.99.

"In-store items and prices at Fry's retail locations may vary."
post #317 of 359
I purchased one of these for my dad for Christmas. While FM seems to work pretty well, on AM, which he listens to more, 3 reception bars gives nothing but static.

How many reception bars are on this unit? Do I have a defective AM section?
post #318 of 359
mrjktcvs, you can get static at all levels on AM unless it goes into HD but you need a strong signal with 5 bars for that. You'll usually need a good outside antenna to give you a strong signal for HD on both AM and FM unless you live right next door to the transmitter. It doesn't take a big fancy antenna though and a CB whip or even a car radio antenna will usually work OK as long as it's long enough and one between 6'-8' should be fine. Make sure to use good quality coax for the lead-in and that you ground the antenna base to keep noise out.
post #319 of 359
There are 3 bars I believe. I live in a major US city yet only get one AM station.

Are you sure the AM antenna wire connected to the back hasn't been inserted too far such that the plastic insulation might accidentally be the gripping point by the unit's metal teeth?

That's a common issue.
post #320 of 359
There are only 3 bars. I added about 6 ft of wire to the AM loop antenna in order to move it further away from the tuner & stero. The loop sits on a window sill & picks up all the local HD AM stations. In this spot, most of the non HD AM stations are static free.
post #321 of 359
I have to say the AM portion of this guy just doesn't match the quality of the FM portion but if you get a good lock on the 1 or 2 stations in HD most markets have it sounds pretty good. Regular AM stations have the usual rolled off sound most cheap AM tuners provide.
AM in HD sounds like FM with a watery MP3 quality thrown in to me but it's still so much better then regular FM from any receivers tuner I have ever had it's scary.
I have used some really good AM radios in my day from dedicated shortwave old school sets to a old Zenith tube table radio with a extra RF stage I used to shoot AM skip with when I was a teenager.
It wont touch those things for sensitivity, or sound on regular AM but that's not what it's made for.
post #322 of 359
I modified my tuner. It's noisy but I listen on headphones so it doesn't bug me at all. I attached two 12v small muffin fans to the top , which are fed from a seperate wal-wart. Since I started using it with the fans, it has never got as hot as it used to, so they are doing a good job helping it cool.
I've never been a big fan of how hot the unit gets, so this modification has worked well. As I said, its noisy if youre trying with speakers but the longevity provided by better cooling should pay off in the long run.

(The unit has twice the venting on the bottom as it does on the top, so I put both fans on top, sucking air through the bottom vent holes and out the top)
post #323 of 359
Quote:
Originally Posted by W1KNE View Post

I modified my tuner. It's noisy but I listen on headphones so it doesn't bug me at all. I attached two 12v small muffin fans to the top , which are fed from a seperate wal-wart. Since I started using it with the fans, it has never got as hot as it used to, so they are doing a good job helping it cool.
I've never been a big fan of how hot the unit gets, so this modification has worked well. As I said, its noisy if youre trying with speakers but the longevity provided by better cooling should pay off in the long run.

(The unit has twice the venting on the bottom as it does on the top, so I put both fans on top, sucking air through the bottom vent holes and out the top)

My solution for the heat issue was to use a mini USB folding laptop cooling fan under the unit in addition to the standard rubber feet for added height. You can find them for a few bucks shipped on ebay. I tried to include a link, but apparently I haven't posted enough to post URLs - I can post a link later if anyone would like.

The fan blows cool air up through the bottom vents of the XDR-F1HD and is completely silent. I use a USB extension cable and a USB AC adapter to plug the fan into a power strip. Total cost was around $5 shipped for everything on ebay and no need to void the warranty with an internal fan mod. The unit stays completely cool now. Since the legs on the mini laptop fan fold, I adjusted them so that the front legs are straight to slightly bent inward and the back legs are at about 45 degree angles, positioning the fan more toward the back of the unit where the vents and power supply are located. The mini laptop fan hides completely under the radio so it's not unsightly. Personally, I got a black one to match the XDR-F1HD finish and stayed away from the fans that included built in LEDs, but I guess someone could go that route if they wanted to pimp out their XDR-F1HD.

I hope this helps someone who may be looking for a cooling solution!
post #324 of 359
Love this little tuner. A quick trip to Rat Shack, and I picked up a mini-fan (2 inch), stick-on feet to extend height a bit, and for 17 bucks and change (plus lobotomizing an old cell phone charger for the 5V), I've got an inaudible (at three feet) cooling system that does a bang-up job of keeping case temperatures a few degrees above ambient.
This tuner really performs!
A winner.
(if the little 12V fan vibrates, just wrap a couple rubber bands around its edges - insulates it and holds it in position)
(Edit: the fan should exhaust upwards, pulling cool air from the bottom vents THROUGH the chassis.)
post #325 of 359
Has anyone actually seen this unit fail due to overheating? Unless you're blocking the vents, I don't see the purpose of all this extra cooling.
post #326 of 359
No, it probably doesn't really need it, but the power supply is perhaps the one thing in this tuner that compromises what is a great design. Solid state component life is certainly affected by ambient heat, and why not remove it if it's easy to do?
Or, you could just replace the tuner in five years or so - they'll probably be practically free then.
Some of us just like to tinker. I'm actually thinking about installing the "force analog reception" mod in mine - there is a "classic rock" station that sounds much better in analog on my little Sony, before the HD settles in...
post #327 of 359
Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl View Post

Has anyone actually seen this unit fail due to overheating? Unless you're blocking the vents, I don't see the purpose of all this extra cooling.

Not extra cooling

Extra Cool
post #328 of 359
I bought my HD tuner several months ago, and all is great. Yesterday, I actually wanted to see if I could read the display from bed, appx 12 feet away. I figured by setting the back light to high I would be able to see it, maybe. Well to my surprise the back light settings are different now. High = Medium, Medium = Low, and Low = Off. I have never modded nor opened the unit, its been sitting there since day one and hasn't moved. I have even tried the reset on the back, nothing changed back light wise, presets and clock got reset though. Some my find this to be a nice new feature that the back light turns off, but I am just worried I don't turn it on one day and there is no back light at all. It is also plugged into a APC VA550 battery backup, so I don't think its surge related.
Just wondering if anyone has had this happened or has any theories.
- Dave
post #329 of 359
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnosys View Post

No, it probably doesn't really need it, but the power supply is perhaps the one thing in this tuner that compromises what is a great design. Solid state component life is certainly affected by ambient heat, and why not remove it if it's easy to do?

Because it's not needed. The power supply is separate from the rest of the electronics and its heat vents right out the back. You can feel how much hot air pours out the left vents compared to the right vents. The interior actually stays pretty cool if don't block those vents.
post #330 of 359
Not true. See the technical article written by Brian (first of this thread.) The electrolytics are quite sensitive to heat build-up - the PS design is weak in this unit. All the surrounding components get quite toasty.
Your "handle" seems appropriate. Let us tinkerers have our fun

"Temperature

With a thermistor attached to C908 on the power board and the top cover in place, I measured 63° C (145° F) after one hour at 25° C ambient. I converted the 10.5-V supply from half- to full-wave rectification, intending to reduce transformer losses and lower the RMS ripple current in C908. After conversion the temperature rose more slowly, but it was only 1° F cooler after an hour.

Ken Wetzel added extra feet to enlarge the space under his tuner and improve air flow. This has only a minor effect on internal temperature, but it's easy to do.

A tiny fan mounted inside the tuner should greatly lower its temperature. Some 12-V fans become inaudible when operated at a lower voltage. Try the unregulated 5.2 V, switching the fan and a back-biased diode with a transistor turned on by the 8.5 V.

Reducing temperature will prolong electrolytic capacitor life. The expected lifetime doubles for each drop of 10° C. A fan might well lower the temperature 20° C, quadrupling capacitor life. Both the tuner module and HD Radio module contain surface-mount electrolytics that would be difficult to replace. "
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