Originally Posted by DrDon
If you're expecting consumers to measure bitrates and resolutions to determine "CD Quality," then, yeah, there are going to be differences. But the phrase is "CD Quality" ..not "CD Exact." I know if I visit a restaurant that states "international quality," I'm not going to be disappointed to learn they only have domestic locations. I've been on cruises that offer "resort-quality accommodations." I did not get mad that part of my cruise didn't include a stay in a resort. At the same time, I was way impressed with the experience. A cruise is not a resort, but they can offer "resort-quality accommodations" most will say live up to the promise. With that in mind, I think the term "CD Quality" isn't meant to deliver the exact bitrates of CDs, but a similar experience of listening to one. (A well-engineered CD, that is. I've heard a lot of CDs mastered with crappy gear. A LOT.)
In my experience, I think all well-engineered stations deliver on the "CD Quality" promise. Remember, consumers think the commercial mp3's they get from iTunes are CD-quality. And they're quite happy with that. And, assuming a station isn't using commercial MP3s as a source, an HD Radio audio quality way exceeds those mp3s. I've yet to meet a single person who has taken a ride with me in my truck and listened to the difference when a station transitions from analog to digital. I get a "WOW!!" every time. Oddly, the biggest wow comes when I switch between XM and HD Radio. They're expecting little difference at all. Granted, the Detroit HD Radio stations are tightly engineered and deliver a sound experience meant to impress the automotive industry. But I've listened extensively to stations in Cincinnati, Atlanta, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Orlando and Tampa. I have to say, most of those (not all) have a sound quality the human ear cannot discern from a CD of the same music. Which meets the "CD Quality" promise. Especially classical stations which tend to employ far less compression.
Here's a friendly offer: Let's meet up in Tampa. Let's drive around in my Silverado. You'll be blindfolded so you can't tell when I'm playing a CD or the local Classical station. I'll flip from CD to XM to HD. If you can guess correctly every single time, then I'll be happy to accept your expertise and experience over mine. And buy dinner.
I like your points. I think your are correct, it just comes down to interpretation.
I'm a pretty literal person, so I suppose that's where I get hung up on the CD quality that HD Radio advertises.
Seattle culture is very tech-heavy; nobody I know (besides, maybe, Grandma) regards iTunes as CD quality. Once smartphones could easily play music and had data plans to support it, everybody I knew that had XM ditched it due to the incredibly low quality.
Cars, and especially trucks, are a horrible listening environment, by the way. My sedan has 10 individually crossovered speakers (not including subs), with dedicated amps and DSPed to "match the car". But it is still a car, there's only so much you can hear in a car. My HD Radio in the car sounds (except for my one poopoo station) pretty darn good. Listening in a car, there's a decent chance I'd end up buying you dinner
It's when I listen to HD Radio at home on the real speaker system that the digital compression shines its balding scalp.
I knew from the get-go that HD Radio only supports 150kbps in hybrid-digital mode, and is split among up to 2 further substations, and is using an antiquated proprietary audio compression codec. I wasn't very disappointed, but I attribute that to knowing ahead of time that "CD quality" was their marketing claim, and not at all reality.
I suppose the cities that you frequent might have better HD broadcasts than Seattle's. That might close the gap a little, but I still think most of the people on AVS Forum are going to be critical enough to easily tell the difference between CD and HD on a decent listening setup.
I think we are really on the same page, it's just my literal interpretation of CD quality doesn't translate to reality.
Relevant to the OP: I'm also a pretty cheap
thrifty person, so I always look at the value in things. And for the price of HD receivers, I was hopeful to get more. ATSC receivers (totally different, I know, but for ballpark-comparisons sake) are under $40 and do a whole lot more "receiving" than just highly-compressed digital 2ch audio.
PS I'd love to get in a stranger's car, blindfolded, and see where I end up.