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HD radio doesn't sound any better - Page 2

post #31 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by narkspud View Post

If the changes are too extreme for the bitrate, resolution is the first thing that gets thrown out. You've seen the picture go blocky on a fast-moving HD image, right? There you go.

Actually, I have never seen it. And I've had an HD TV for at least four years.

I've seen strange movement due to watching on an LCD TV, but never on a plasma, and never blocky due to fast movement. Does reception have anything to do with it? I have a straight shot to Mt. Wilson, and then down the coast to San Diego.
post #32 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwagoner View Post

Actually, I have never seen it. And I've had an HD TV for at least four years.

I've seen strange movement due to watching on an LCD TV, but never on a plasma, and never blocky due to fast movement. Does reception have anything to do with it? I have a straight shot to Mt. Wilson, and then down the coast to San Diego.



No, it's not reception. And if you haven't seen it on KCET (4 fulltime subchannels, one of which is HD), then I don't really know what to tell you. The Los Angeles OTA forum is full of howls of outrage at the artifacts on KCET.
post #33 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by narkspud View Post



No, it's not reception. And if you haven't seen it on KCET (4 fulltime subchannels, one of which is HD), then I don't really know what to tell you. The Los Angeles OTA forum is full of howls of outrage at the artifacts on KCET.

Well there you have it ... I don't watch anything of culture!

What specific shows should I tune in? (seriously, I really don't watch much KCET).
post #34 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by narkspud View Post



No, it's not reception. And if you haven't seen it on KCET (4 fulltime subchannels, one of which is HD), then I don't really know what to tell you. The Los Angeles OTA forum is full of howls of outrage at the artifacts on KCET.

Does it make a difference of cable vs. over the air?
post #35 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwagoner View Post

Does it make a difference of cable vs. over the air?

Yes, but usually the cable is worse.

Pretty much any HD show on KCET with a lot of motion in it will show the artifacts.

Excessive detail can do it too. I recall there was one particular set of sparkly costumes at the Olympics closing ceremonies that caused a horrible mess on KNBC's HD feed.
post #36 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by narkspud View Post

Yes, but usually the cable is worse.

Pretty much any HD show on KCET with a lot of motion in it will show the artifacts.

Excessive detail can do it too. I recall there was one particular set of sparkly costumes at the Olympics closing ceremonies that caused a horrible mess on KNBC's HD feed.

I have Cox Cable, which in my area has been slow to add HD channels partly because they want to maintain quality. I will try to pay attention to KCET on air vs. cable.
post #37 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwagoner View Post

Actually, I have never seen it. And I've had an HD TV for at least four years.



I can only assume that you never watch any sports.
post #38 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl View Post



I can only assume that you never watch any sports.

I don't watch a lot, but various members of my family do, and no one has ever noticed or pointed it out. Didn't notice it on today's UCLA football game (loss) either.
post #39 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwagoner View Post

I don't watch a lot, but various members of my family do, and no one has ever noticed or pointed it out. Didn't notice it on today's UCLA football game (loss) either.



Good heavens, rwagoner, the UCLA vs. Fresno State game wasn't even in HD today!. Look at the College Football Coverage Map for this week. Wisconsin vs. Michigan and Colorado vs. Florida State were in HD. Arkansas vs. Texas and Fresno State vs. UCLA were not in HD. I guess HD isn't for everyone.
post #40 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl View Post



Good heavens, rwagoner, the UCLA vs. Fresno State game wasn't even in HD today!. Look at the College Football Coverage Map for this week. Wisconsin vs. Michigan and Colorado vs. Florida State were in HD. Arkansas vs. Texas and Fresno State vs. UCLA were not in HD. I guess HD isn't for everyone.

It was on Channel 707, the HD channel for KABC. I did think the picture was bad, but I didn't have my computer set to the "what sports are in HD coverage map" website. I'll make sure I go there before I ever change channels in the future.
post #41 of 148
I did a search using "KCET artifacts" and did not find much. I guess motion could be a problem, but my understanding is that some problems are TV related. LCDs being the worst.

I just watched a National Geographic special program that had been recorded on a DVR from KCET over Cox Cable Palos Verdes (not over the air). It featured a lot of fast moving animals, sped up special effects, fast bicycles and fast cars. none of the fast motion scenes had any sort of blocking or other problems whatsoever. I did not try over the air, and I don't know if Cox gets a direct feed or just gets the signal from an antenna. But the picture was rock solid, clear and perfect throughout. I will check the antenna as well later.

But it brings up another question: Is the decoder in the television a factor? Perhaps it isn't as much a problem on the transmission side as it is on the receiver side. Is it possible that instead of getting pissy with me over sports, your TV's decoder is a little slower clock speed than mine? I found this on a site comparing Panasonic plasma TVs:

>16-bit video processing makes it possible to reproduce images with 4,096 equivalent steps of gradation and an incredible 68.7 billion viewable colours. The picture noise and black blocking that occur with insufficient gradation is suppressed even in scenes with intricate detail, fine textures and subtle expressions. Even the most detailed parts of an image are rendered with beautiful smoothness.

High Resolution - Even for fast moving subjects

Superb motion image display<<br />
That would seem to hint that the receiver's processor is at least as important as the encoder's. Keeping in mind that I know little of the circuitry involved.

Getting back to HD Radio, I am trying to get KCBS from San Francisco from my house in Los Angeles County. I get the HD info (the KCBS logo shows up) but I can't get an HD lock using the standard antenna. Still trying things though
post #42 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwagoner View Post

It was on Channel 707, the HD channel for KABC.

Of course not everything shown on your ABC station is in HD. When you see a football game and the sides have "pillars", that means the game is being presented in upconverted SD. There are other clues like the softer picture.

Quote:


I did think the picture was bad, but I didn't have my computer set to the "what sports are in HD coverage map" website. I'll make sure I go there before I ever change channels in the future.

If you think this upconverted SD game looked good then you shouldn't bother checking whether something is in HD because for some reason HD is not looking any better than SD on your HDTV. It might be something as simple as your setup. Are you sure your HDTV is connected with the correct cables (component, DVI, or HDMI)? Many dumb cable company installers will run an RCA composite cable to your HDTV and swear you're seeing HDTV. This was more common four years ago when you got your set.
post #43 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl View Post

Of course not everything shown on your ABC station is in HD. When you see a football game and the sides have "pillars", that means the game is being presented in upconverted SD. There are other clues like the softer picture.


If you think this upconverted SD game looked good then you shouldn't bother checking whether something is in HD because for some reason HD is not looking any better than SD on your HDTV. It might be something as simple as your setup. Are you sure your HDTV is connected with the correct cables (component, DVI, or HDMI)? Many dumb cable company installers will run an RCA composite cable to your HDTV and swear you're seeing HDTV. This was more common four years ago when you got your set.

Read what I wrote again. I said that I did think the picture looked bad. However, I am used to ESPN sports looking bad, though, so I just assumed it was typical ESPN. And there are times when an HD signal does have pillars, as not all HD is widescreen (though ESPN's pillars usually say HD now that I think of it).

There is a HUGE difference in good HD compared with anything else. I know that. But I have seen bad HD as well, usually on ESPN. I have not seen the blockiness you described, that I now think is due to the receiver and not the transmitter. My connection is HDMI; I can see the individual blades of grass on an HD game. I did the connections and installation myself and have never used composite connections other than with the VCR.

I have a lifetime of electronics experience including the repair of high-end audio, both tube and transistor, and the installation and repair of professional broadcast equipment as chief engineer of a student-run radio station (carrier current and cable FM from UCLA). Please don't assume I am an idiot.

By the way, I love your signature line.

Richard
post #44 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwagoner View Post

But it brings up another question: Is the decoder in the television a factor? Perhaps it isn't as much a problem on the transmission side as it is on the receiver side.

If you have a lower resolution set then it will make the blocking and mosquito noise less noticeable, but I know of no television set that can mask macroblocking that exists in practically all HD sports

Quote:


Is it possible that instead of getting pissy with me over sports, your TV's decoder is a little slower clock speed than mine? I found this on a site comparing Panasonic plasma TVs:

HDTV's are required to properly decode MPEG-2 without dropping frames. They're allowed to do processing after decoding but I can't think of any processing in MPEG-2 that can create detail where it doesn't exist in the source it's decoding.

The "clock" you might be reading about is the refresh rate. Some newer sets have a 120hz refresh rate and the post-processing is able, to some degree, interpolate frames between the decoded frames giving the appearance of smoother motion. I have one of these sets and it even has a split-screen demo mode to show what it's doing. The extra frames do sometimes mask the mosquito noise but they also soften the picture a little bit.

There is also DNR. If you have this turned on maximum then it's possible that your set is smearing the picture so much that you're effectively seeing SD. This was especially true with older sets like the one I replaced a few months ago.

Quote:


>16-bit video processing makes it possible to reproduce images with 4,096 equivalent steps of gradation and an incredible 68.7 billion viewable colours. The picture noise and black blocking that occur with insufficient gradation is suppressed even in scenes with intricate detail, fine textures and subtle expressions. Even the most detailed parts of an image are rendered with beautiful smoothness.

The problem is that you can't make bits out of nothing. MPEG-2 only supports 8 bit color. Displaying it as 16 bit color does nothing. No consumer HDTV video is 16 bits.

Certainly there is nothing that can make SD look as good as HD so something must be wrong with your setup.
post #45 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwagoner View Post

Read what I wrote again. I said that I did think the picture looked bad.

Ooops, you're right. Sorry about that.

Quote:


However, I am used to ESPN sports looking bad, though, so I just assumed it was typical ESPN.

Perhaps ESPN looks bad that's because of the artifacts we've been talking about here.

Quote:


And there are times when an HD signal does have pillars, as not all HD is widescreen (though ESPN's pillars usually say HD now that I think of it).

Absolutely no HD sports is broadcast with pillars. And I mean absolutely none. If you're seeing the pillars on ESPN, you are watching an SD upconvert between the pillars. You are however seeing a very good upconvert done with professional equipment.

Quote:


I have not seen the blockiness you described, that I now think is due to the receiver and not the transmitter. My connection is HDMI; I can see the individual blades of grass on an HD game.

That's good news. You'd be shocked at how many people think they're watching HDTV through composite video connections.

Quote:


I have a lifetime of electronics experience including the repair of high-end audio, both tube and transistor, and the installation and repair of professional broadcast equipment as chief engineer of a student-run radio station (carrier current and cable FM from UCLA). Please don't assume I am an idiot.

I do not think you're an idiot although I'm at a complete loss as to why you're unable to see the many compression artifacts that everyone in the HD Programming Forum can see every day. These artifacts are generated at the encoder at the affiliate station (except for FOX) due to bit rate limiations and anyone familiar with MPEG encoding can explain what they look like. The receiver can only hope to mask these artifacts, usually at the expense of true picture detail. They can't create detail that the station has never sent.

My only guess is that you have DNR set to maximum and you're seeing a blurred image that is masking both the artifacts and a lot of detail.
post #46 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl View Post

Absolutely no HD sports is broadcast with pillars. And I mean absolutely none. If you're seeing the pillars on ESPN, you are watching an SD upconvert between the pillars. You are however seeing a very good upconvert done with professional equipment.

I'm referring to when ESPN goes to their studio and has the HD logo on both sides of the screen so that they give the same picture to their SD/analog viewers. (I am not talking about the pillars from my TV, which are set to off or black, I mean it is broadcast by ESPN). Full screen isn't needed in those cases. Is that part actually a widescreen upconvert?

Not having watched every single sport I did not know that they never do anything but full screen. Makes sense, but I never say "always" unless I know definitely.

One thing I don't get: you say it is amazingly common to see the artifacts, but a search yielded few results ... primarily this exact forum thread. Most results had to do with people fearing artifacts and most just questioned why the picture was "not as good as ..." Can you direct me to a thread or two so I can understand this more ... and give this thread back to HD Radio?
post #47 of 148
From what I have heard and seen I see blurryness but only under a few conditions

1) fast motion

2) on my set which is a LCD

This is one of the reason why one person I know has a CRT hdtv (hard to find because they want you to think both are the same...trust me they aren't. I was in china and they had flat screen tv's in a hotel and all the content was sd...yet some people were raving about it)

He said the borne movies are good examples. I actually see some on hgtv shows when they go in a house and quickly turn the camera...but then again it is fast motion we see it blur naturally.

Hopefully much of the picture quality will be resolved during the analog switchover...what was deemed simple is now getting complex. I have a set that can display 1080 but yet unless I go into a hidden menu I have no clue what resolution it is. Naturally the popular content or the higher profit content will go hd first...gradually more is coming
post #48 of 148
Some people see rainbows on a given DLP while others, looking at the same time, don't. I see things that my wife doesn't. I go back with the DVR in slo-mo and then she sees it, then she asks me, "How did you see that?". What some people can see, and others not, when it comes to motion artifacts, are largely due to human characteristics. There is a CBS station in Wyoming that has absolutely unwatchable HD, yet they don't see any problem with the picture - it is perfect. There is nothing wrong with not being sensitive to such artifacts, I think maybe it's a blessing, and there's nothing wrong with that.
post #49 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwagoner View Post

I'm referring to when ESPN goes to their studio and has the HD logo on both sides of the screen so that they give the same picture to their SD/analog viewers. (I am not talking about the pillars from my TV, which are set to off or black, I mean it is broadcast by ESPN). Full screen isn't needed in those cases. Is that part actually a widescreen upconvert?

If you're talking about the ESPN "curtain" pillars then yes everything in between them is a SD upconvert.

Quote:


Not having watched every single sport I did not know that they never do anything but full screen. Makes sense, but I never say "always" unless I know definitely.

I know definitely. There are absolutely no 4:3 HD cameras.

Quote:


One thing I don't get: you say it is amazingly common to see the artifacts, but a search yielded few results ... primarily this exact forum thread.

Search for the following terms: "blocking", "macroblocking", "mosquito noise", "stuttering", "subchannel", "HDLite", and "bit rate". The word "artifact" is not commonly used but it's technically correct. Most people are not familiar with technical terms and use more general terms like "bad", "sucks", "crap", and "unwatchable" to describe artifacts since they don't know the reasons behind them.

Read the HD Programming thread on the Olympics. There is a lot of technical discussion about why the picture quality was so poor.
post #50 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl View Post

Search for the following terms: "blocking", "macroblocking", "mosquito noise", "stuttering", "subchannel", "HDLite", and "bit rate". The word "artifact" is not commonly used but it's technically correct. Most people are not familiar with technical terms and use more general terms like "bad", "sucks", "crap", and "unwatchable" to describe artifacts since they don't know the reasons behind them.

Read the HD Programming thread on the Olympics. There is a lot of technical discussion about why the picture quality was so poor.

Thank you! I will.
post #51 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by noah katz View Post

I got the Sony, and I was surprised that HD sounds pretty much the same as regular FM, at least on the two stations I listen to the most that also transmit HD.

At this point, I'm thinking of returning it.

Are others really finding that it sounds significantly better?

It does for AM radio stations and weak FM stations.
post #52 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by TRT View Post

It does for AM radio stations and weak FM stations.

Compared to Video, Audio's a bit harder to tell there's an improvement - at least to the average untrained ear. When you walk into the TV Department of an electronics store and see the High-Def video, it's immediately obvious that it's better than your old analog TV at home. But when you hear digital audio from HD Radio, you probably can't tell.

I'm about 10 miles from the transmitter of one WMMR in Philadelphia, whose morning show (Preston & Steve) I listen to daily. If I'm listening to them on analog, they sound pretty good. If I were to tune into them on HD they'd sound pretty good too, and from memory alone I probably wouldn't be able to say "yeah that sounds better"

But there's that 3 second or so period of time when I first tune to the station... the radio starts playing the analog signal while it acquires and buffers the digital. Then it switches over to the digital, and right then the difference is obvious. Voices sound clearer, music sounds better, and it's really cool when it happens during a phone-caller talking.

In the long run though I might be willing to do without HD Radio's improved audio, since I'm not much of an audiophile. I'm more in it for the content, as my favourite music station is an HD-2 (YrockonXPN.org) and was my initial inspiration for picking up the hardware in the first place.
post #53 of 148
48 kbps does sound pretty close to the best FM stereo I've heard, but it does have better dynamic range and the highs aren't rolled off (if the station knows what it's doing). In areas of severe multipath like where I'm sitting now, most FM stations are just unlistenable while their HD Radio stations come in with no problems.
post #54 of 148
HD has several potential advantages, which can be dramatic. There are caveats attached to each of them, as I'll explain in the comment after each.

1)-Dead silent background.

Even under ideal circumstances, with a superb analog tuner, HD can be 20-35db quieter (or more). The caveat is that good analog FM stereo CAN have an inaudible noise floor under all but ear-bleedingly loud levels.

2)-WIDE OPEN HIGH END, even when pushed to the modulation limits.

Analog FM has a "pre-emphasis curve". Similar to dolby noise reduction (though simpler, and not level-sensitive), highs are boosted at the radio station, and cut by a reciprocal amount in your radiio...which results in substantial noise reduction, as the high frequency noise gets attenuated along with high frequencies. Since highs are boosted A LOT, 100 percent modulation is reached far sooner in the high treble than in the midrange...that is, unless the station's audio processor dynamically reduces highs to allow reasonable loudness. Quite simply, analog FM stereo can be "bright" and clear, or it can be loud. It can't be both. LOUD FM stations have rolled-off highs. HD radio has no such restriction.

Caveat-many stations use the same audio feed for analog and digital, so the same rolled-off signal processed for the analog side gets encoded onto the HD1 channel. THIS is why analog and digital often son't sound very different.

3)-Stereo separation is several orders of magnitude greater with digital than analog.

Caveat-listening tests for years have shown that separation wider than 30 db or so really doesn't sound substantially "wider". It's as if your brain says "ok, that's wide enough" and no longer hears much, if any difference.

4)-VASTLY lower distortion. Traditional harmonic distortion figures are dramatically lower for well engineered digital, at a decent bitrate.

Caveat-This may be difficult to hear on many stations, particularly those who use lots of audio compression and limiting...because compressor/limiters themselves generate audible distortion.

There in a nutshell is why digital CAN sound much better, but often doesn't. The above is simplified, of course, and other factors such as the audibility of encoding artifacts at lower bitrates can become a REAL problem if stations get carried away with "multicasting".
post #55 of 148
Well I can say that being in a car I can pick up a fair amount of distortion easily on am and somewhat on fm. Some stations sound more like an enhansement...once the hd kicks on theres no crap in the background. I think much of it is a learning curve for stations.
post #56 of 148
If you go back and read the original 2001 or 2002 engineering documents submitted to the FCC, they clearly state "Hybrid Digital". The owner of this proprietary format has since developed amnesia and pretends HD does not mean those words, but the documentation is there to prove what it originally meant.
Quote:
Originally Posted by noah katz View Post

Are others really finding that it sounds significantly better?

Yes I can hear the difference but it's very subtle. I can hear the "shhh" disappear as it switches from analog to digital. Not worth the upgrade IMHO. Now if I was listening to AM, then I'm sure the difference would be huge, but so far none of the HD Radios I've tried can get any AM stations (analog or digital). I suppose the computer inside the box creates too much interference to "hear" the AM band.

So I'm back to listening to my 1987 FM and AM Stereo set.
post #57 of 148
On my 3-channel station I can see blockiness in the HD signal. It's subtle & only last for one or two frames, but it reduces the effective horizontal resolution from 1280x720 downto 320x240 - lower resolution than a VHS tape.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mgibsoj View Post

Now if HD did for sound what HD did for TV, then we'd have something to get excited about. Unfortunately, for many, it is simply more of the same, but for more $$$. ...But then, CDs had an HD counterpart at one time (still?? Microsoft bought it and that was the last I heard of it), but there wasn't a large enough market to make it a huge success.

Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio still exist but only as a niche market for audiophiles. (Similar to how laserdisc was a niche market until DVD came-along and killed it.) For music, listeners don't really care about quality; that's why they listen to cheesey-sounding Ipods.

They care about having lots of channels. IMHO the FM stations should be pushing their subchannels more. If you don't enjoy hearing FM100's "Best of 2008" maybe you'll enjoy the -2 subchannel playing "best of the 90s" or -3 subchannel with "best of the 80s", and so on.
post #58 of 148
HDTV is basically at a stage of being a big scam, because it's become so watered down since it's introduction to the masses here - and I doubt if it'll get any better.
post #59 of 148
While football and water sports are the most demanding (the stations that have those should never have a subchannel, especially 1080i), I'd say that there's a huge improvement for most content from SD (where I can count the scan lines from across the room and cringe at the blurriness), to HDTV (that is often incredible). There's now, and will continue to be for some time, a large number of SD viewers (those with cable, sat, and converter boxes), and stations that don't see the value in pristine HD, but as the viewing audience changes (as SD sets die off), the wheel may very well get squeakier - so I wouldn't give up hope yet for better HD if it is poor in your area.
post #60 of 148
HR Radio does sound better. Consumer Reports even reviewed it. At least I saw the info at this site...
http://www.hdradioreview.com/html/co...ews_hd_ra.html
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