HD tuner performance? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 8 Old 04-10-2019, 05:41 PM - Thread Starter
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HD tuner performance?

Hi. I am pretty new to HD radio, and I really like it. So, I’m wondering about adding it to my pickup. I know this isn’t really an automotive-oriented place, so let me know if I’d be wise to inquire elsewhere.

When I was high school to college age, I replaced a factory radio or few with aftermarket head units (this was well prior to HD), or added radios where there were none. What I found at that time (‘80s, basically) was that, essentially without exception, the radio tuner performance of aftermarket units was just flat outclassed by factory tuners, on FM and particularly on the AM side. What’s the landscape today? Is it still like that? I want HD radio, but I don’t want to lose the ability to hear stations that are more than 50 miles away (I’m exaggerating a bit there, but hopefully you understand).

Are there automotive HD head units that are noticeably better or worse than others? I should probably mention that I deeply despise touch screen machines, so I’ll be looking for one with actual dials and buttons. :-)

Thanks for any input.
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post #2 of 8 Old 04-14-2019, 06:54 AM
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I'm sure some are better than others, & I'm by no means an expert on the tech side. I can tell you my experience, though. It seemed to me that distant HD stations are less likely to come in than regular FM ones. I'm in KC & get all the HD stuff ( what there is of it - not a lot to choose from here ) just fine. But HD stations just 40-ish miles away ( like KANU 91.5 HD-2 in Lawrence, KS ) are pretty much impossible to get in the KC metro.

I can tell you to avoid the Dual brand stereo. The one I have in my car is freaking haunted. Ha ha...
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post #3 of 8 Old 04-14-2019, 08:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for sharing your experience. I certainly don't want a haunted radio! (-:


I had read that the FM HD signals don't travel nearly as far as analog FM. My wife's car _occasionally_ drops out briefly on the NPR station's HD2 (all jazz) channel near home, which is 30 - 35 miles straight-line distance from the transmitter, and both we and the transmitter are elevated compared to everything in-between.


I'd just hate to choose a fancy-looking head unit and find that I can't pull distant AM stations at night. Occasionally family trips see me driving through the middle of nowhere overnight, so KSL, KNBR, sometimes KOA, and some of the not-super-distant AZ stations are nice to be able to pull in. I always struggled with that on aftermarket head units in the past. I'd also hate to lose longer-range analog FM performance. There's a stretch in Nevada where I swear there's only one radio station, AM or FM, and while I don't exactly care what items the locals are selling on the live call-in flea market, at least it gives me something to listen to. (-:
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post #4 of 8 Old 04-15-2019, 06:43 PM
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FYI: I don't know of any current Aftermarket AM/FM/HD Car Head Units that support DIVERSITY Antennas, so that when FM signal is lost on one Antenna, it is very likely that there is a usable signal on the Other Antenna. However, many/most Car Manu's DO provide Head Units that support DIVERSITY Antennas (on at LEAST FM/HD), which typically provide a Space Diversity Processing Gain of 10+ dB, depending on Fading conditions, on top of the 3 dB Dual Antenna Gain. My plan is to find something on eBay to replace the [LOSER] aftermarket Kenwood [AM/FM/HD/NAV/CD/etc] that came in my "new" 2006 Volvo V70 R Wagon so it can hopefully perform as well as the factory Head Unit [AM/FM/CD] in my 1998 V70 GLT Wagon:
https://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/26-...ml#post2758602
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/160-c...l#post56286334
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/91-au...l#post54754950
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post #5 of 8 Old 04-26-2019, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Interesting. My factory FM radio antenna system is utter garbage. Major FM radio reception gains are obtained by all the owners I’ve read about when they replace the factory antenna and lead with aftermarket. This has no impact on AM reception, of course.
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post #6 of 8 Old 04-26-2019, 01:50 PM
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I have an HD aftermarket in my truck and it works MUCH better than the unit I tried to use at home for my HTS. Stations I get in my truck (with the standard whip antenna) I can't get in the house with a powered FM antenna.
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post #7 of 8 Old 04-27-2019, 09:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bulwnkl View Post
Are there automotive HD head units that are noticeably better or worse than others? I should probably mention that I deeply despise touch screen machines, so I’ll be looking for one with actual dials and buttons. :-)
There's an electronics engineer and avid DX'er in the Radio Discussion forums who claims the Pioneer Supertuner III D with a 31 inch whip is pretty much the best case scenario for car reception. About 10 years ago he wrote in that forum about taking one apart. He found at that time it contained the same chipset that was in the Sangean HDT-1 home stereo component tuner, which he said was widely hailed in DX circles as one of the best DX tuners ever made up to that time, irrespective of the HD radio capability. Adjacent channel rejection on it is legendary, he said, on the order of the Marantz 10-B.

I had a Pioneer Supertuner IV in one of my vehicles back in the late '90s. I remember doing a lot of research on car tuners and even back then, Pioneer had a reputation for having the best reception. The Supertuner IV was quickly discontinued -- I don't know why -- but Pioneer kept making the Supertuner III. Then the Supertuner III D came along with DSP and adaptive IF technology, and that's the one Pioneer still makes today. I don't know if they still use the same chipset as the HDT-1 but given the slow pace of tuner development these days, I wouldn't be surprised.

I haven't had a Pioneer in my car for many years. I have a Kenwood navigation HU in my vehicle now and the reception seems fine but there's nothing exceptional about it, other than the fact it has HD Radio that works well where I live now in the NYC metro.

Search for posts by rbrucecarter5 over at radiodiscussions dot com and you'll probably find lots of interesting stuff about his DX'ing and reception experiences in the car.

Last edited by Carnivore; 04-27-2019 at 10:46 PM.
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post #8 of 8 Old 04-28-2019, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks! I'll have a look over there!
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