Soundworks 820HD Radio - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 45 Old 04-14-2007, 12:15 PM - Thread Starter
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I have been really looking forward to purchasing a Cambridge Soundworks 820HD Radio since last November and CS finally released them for sale. I purchased one and immediately had three problems with it. 1). The display has a purple color to it with lines running through it, the contrast adjustment did not correct it satisfactory. 2). The optical digital output does not work. 3). Loss of AC power wipes out time/date/favorite settings. Has anyone else purchased an 820HD and what has your experiance been? Is it just me? I decided to request a refund.
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post #2 of 45 Old 04-14-2007, 01:29 PM
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I bought the radio and returned it. The sensitivity was poor. I found 1 HD station with the dipole antenna.

I love Cambridge products (I have 2 of their table radios) but I thought this radio was lacking. I agree the display is not as good as pictured in the ads. I never tried the optical output.

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post #3 of 45 Old 04-15-2007, 10:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewkplymi View Post

I have been really looking forward to purchasing a Cambridge Soundworks 820HD Radio since last November and CS finally released them for sale. I purchased one and immediately had three problems with it. 1). The display has a purple color to it with lines running through it, the contrast adjustment did not correct it satisfactory. 2). The optical digital output does not work. 3). Loss of AC power wipes out time/date/favorite settings. Has anyone else purchased an 820HD and what has your experiance been? Is it just me? I decided to request a refund.

They didn't include a battery backup? Their regular clock radios do. What a stupid thing to leave out.
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post #4 of 45 Old 04-16-2007, 07:10 AM
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For one thing, forget the dipole antenna if you don't live in an urban or suburban area. You need at least a set of rabbit ears, placed aa high as you can get them. Preferably you need an outdoor, passive antenna, on a mast, or if not possible in your attic, oriented toward the station(s) you wish to receive. The same is true for clean FM stereo, by the way!
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post #5 of 45 Old 04-18-2007, 05:45 PM
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I am no expert (I just play one on AVS Forum), but I am sure these are isolated events. I doubt that a company as estemed as Cambridge would release a product before it was ready.
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post #6 of 45 Old 04-20-2007, 10:56 PM
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I thought this was interesting. It is from a reply I received from Cambridge Soundworks:

>It is true that the 820 does not have a back-up battery.

As for how it sounds, compared to the 740, etc., it is really hard to compare them, as they have different designs. It is all relative to taste, the type of radio one is listening to, etc. The 820 does not have a built-in, powered sub-woofer, so it is not going to have quite as much bass. But HD radio does not have as much bass signal in it as analog radio does... The speakers in the 820 were designed to compliment the sound of HD radio.<<br />
HD does not have as much bass. Hmm.
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post #7 of 45 Old 04-21-2007, 06:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewkplymi View Post

I have been really looking forward to purchasing a Cambridge Soundworks 820HD Radio since last November and CS finally released them for sale. I purchased one and immediately had three problems with it. 1). The display has a purple color to it with lines running through it, the contrast adjustment did not correct it satisfactory. 2). The optical digital output does not work. 3). Loss of AC power wipes out time/date/favorite settings. Has anyone else purchased an 820HD and what has your experiance been? Is it just me? I decided to request a refund.


The digital output does work, you just have to use the volume control on the radio and use a dummy plug in the headphone jack to kill the speakers. I agree with you about the sensitivity using a dipole, but the radio compares quite favorably with a standalone FM tuner when hooked up to a rooftop antenna. It is also very selective.
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post #8 of 45 Old 04-21-2007, 12:50 PM
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Thanks for the tip, wickerman. I just tried that technique on the Radiosophy receiver (dummy plug, volume control). No luck. The recorder still says, "Can't Lock."
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post #9 of 45 Old 04-22-2007, 01:03 PM
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I am surprised that there are not more reviews of this new Cambridge Soundworks 820HD radio. I am curious as to how it compares with the other table top clock radios in terms of sound quality, sensitivity and selectivity.

I just tried the Boston Acoustics Receptor HD radio and returned it because I could not take the constant boom of the one note bass boost that they have programmed into it. At low listening levels (like when you go to sleep listening to the radio) the bass is so boosted that all you constantly hear throughout the room is the whoomp, whoomp, whooomp! of the bass boost. Even with the bass trim control turned all the way down, the bass resonance is still noticeable and bothersome. Bad move Boston Acoustics! You should have allowd the users to easily and permanently adjust the tone controls. I know that there is a secret menu to get in and adjust the tone controls... I did and it works great! But I could find no way to save the custom tone settings. As soon as you power if off and turn it on again, it reverts back to the factory settins... boom, boom, boom!

I wonder how the Cambridge Soundworks 820HD sounds compared to the Boston Acoustics Receptor HD radio... so anyone happen to have both side by side to compare and share their experiences and opionions?

Thanks!

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post #10 of 45 Old 04-22-2007, 05:43 PM
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I am in the market to get a table clock HD radio. Not many choices available. But I am considering the Cambridge Soundworks 820HD radio now after trying the Boston Acoustics Receptor HD radio and returning it due mainly to its too boomy bass and unbalanced sound at low to moderate levels. This is the level that it would be used mostly with in the bedroom, and it just booms a one note bass resonance throughout the room. At louder levels, it get more balanced out and can impress someone with its big sound. But I am not going to be listening to it that way much, so it just did not serve my purpose.

I have a Bose Wave Radio CD first generation model and a Cambridge Soundworks 740CD radio still. They do not have HD capability of course. I just said above that I also had the Boston Acoustics Receptor HD radio, so what I would like to know from others who have the Cambridge Soundworks 820HD radio is how it sounds compared to these other models I listed. I am hoping I can get an idea of the 820HD sound if someone who also has these radios has compared them and can describe the differences or similarities, pros and cons.

I am also wondering how the Sangean HDR-1 HD table radio sounds. Seems that most folks mostly describe the receiver sensitivity performance and neglect to describe in more detail how the radio sounds. After all, the main point of this HD stuff is the pursuit of cleaner better sound fidelity, not just DXing.

Thanks!

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post #11 of 45 Old 04-25-2007, 10:24 PM
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I just got one of these Cambridge Soundworks 820HD radios. I had called and talked to a customer support sales rep asking why there were no professional magazine reviews released yet on this model and he said that they only started shipping this model in March 2007. I asked about reported bugs and he said that there were none. Well I just got mine today and have some mixed feelings about it. I can say that the receiver does have a problem with holding HD lock on weak to medium strength signals. With just the provided dipole antenna in my ground floor living room some HD signals would show strong on the signal strength meter but then intermitently fade out and the signal meter would fluctuate from 0 to full strength drifting in and out. The unit would lose HD lock and then relock in again, over and over. My also new Sangean HDT-1 which arrived at the same time today, was also on using its dipole antenna in same room and space next to the 820HD radio on the same station. The Sangean signal meter would show steady full signal strength and hold HD lock while the Cambridge Soundworks 820HD signal was doing its fade out and fade in bit. I don't understand how it would show a wildly varying signal strength when the Sangean showed steady and strong signal on the same HD stations. This is the only bad part that I can say about the 820HD. Oh, I also notice the purple tinge on the otherwise blue display screen. The Sangean HDT-1 tuner had the same purple tinge to its otherwise blue display also! It looks like they both use the same LCD screen. White letters on blue background but if you view it at off angles, the purple lines become more visible. As long as that is not a defect, I can live with it.

The unit otherwise is built quite nice and exudes a classy high quality finish and build. This sucker is also quite heavy! I did not know it would be so heavy. It really is built quite excellent. When I move the 820HD upstairs to my bedroom where it was intended to reside permanently, I got better results with the dipole antenna. I found a position for the antenna which brought in all soughts of far away distant stations as well as my local NYC stations. The HD signals all locked on and stayed pretty much steady except for an occasional fade and HD drop out that seemed to occur when I heard a jet airliner flew by and signal conditions faded. Don't get me wrong, this receiver seems to be just as sensitive in analog mode as other receivers, it's just that it seems to have an overly sensitivity to HD lock on signal strengths that are varying and fading in and out. I suspect that when I connect my outdoor TV antenna to it, that I will not have any fade at all.

Sound? At first I thought the sound to be anemic and thin like a cheap table radio. But after moving it into my bedroom it turns out that it can generate a well balanced sound. No boomy fatiguing bass (like the Boston Acoustics Receptor HD radio that I returned) and no over peaked sizzling highs. The unit has adjustable bass and treble controls which I used to tune it to my liking. I wound up setting the bass to +3 and the treble to +7 for my bedroom acoustics and it sounds very well balanced and non-fatiguing. So sound wise, it is okay for a table clock radio. It sounds better than my Bose Wave CD Radio unit (and I am not a Bose basher) I actually rate the Bose Wave radio sound more balanced and less fatiguing than the Cambridge Soundworks model CD740 table radio that I also have. The 820HD is more like the Bose Wave Radio sound but more balanced. Where the Bose Wave Radio emphasizes a twinkly high end, the 820HD does not and therefore to me is more natural and accurate sounding. The bass is around the same for both radios (that is not much of it). The Soundworks CD740 has a subwoofer and can pump out some decent powerful bass for its size, but in the end the CD740 radio is spectrally unbalanced with either too much booming bass and/or too much emphasized highs. It can impress you with a big sound but it is not accurate and gets fatiguing to my ears after awhile. I cannot listen to it for long periods (the CD740 that is). The new 820HD sound at least can be adjusted to sound rich and pleasant. What the 820HD sound will not do is impress you with a big hi-fi sound like the CD740 radio or the Boston Acoustics Receptor HD radio can do. I like the more tame and balanced sound from the 820HD best of all the table clock radios I have mentioned and tried so far. (I also like the sound of the JBL Ontime ipod speaker dock clock radio which equals or beats this 820HD radio) but it does not have HD capability nor does it have a remote control. Speaking of remotes, the 820HD remote is quite nice also. It picks up pretty good from across the room. I don't have to aim it straight at the front panel to make it register. I like that. So remote is pretty good too.

So, the only problem or trouble area I don't like about this radio is that flaky shaky HD signal drop out symptom when the FM signals are not that strong to your antenna. You could get around it with an outdoor antenna like I am going to do or you can skip over this radio and get the Radio Shack Accurian or Sangean HDR-1 which from all reports I have read have the best sensitivity. But I don't know how they sound because I have never tried those radios at home.

This was a long post so I will cut it here... can answer more if anyone is interested. I have not tried the optical digital output yet. I plan to when I find my optical interconnect cables. I hope this makes a great HD tuner when I connect it via optical output to my stereo system. At which point I will compare it to my Sangean HDT-1 tuner (which at this time I have the opionion that the HDT-1 has too much bass boost in its frequency response, bass is too overwhelming in my system which is all high end stereo gear BTW). Maybe my HDT-1 is defective, I dunno. Time will tell as I find out more about it.

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post #12 of 45 Old 04-28-2007, 04:50 AM
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Maybe another Cambridge 820hd user can give me their opinion. My 820 seems to have decent sensitivity when hooked up to a rooftop antenna. But when I use the telescopic or Dipole antennas the sensitivity is horrible. I live 15 miles south of where most of the philadelphia FM stations transmit from and I cannot receive HD signals on most stations. The analog reception is disappointing since it is tough to get a good stereo and RDS signal. Also I can barely hear a smooth Jazz station located in Trenton NJ which is only 40 miles away with a power of 50,000 watts. I have a $70 radio that is capable of much better sensitivity using its own whip. The Station is Trenton is crystal clear on that radio. I will say that with a rooftop the cambridge is better than the $70.00 radio probably because it is more selective. This is disturbing to me for a radio that cost $300.00. I also have a JVC KD HDR 1 in my car and the analog and HD reception is excellent and it only costs $200.00. The 820 is not really any better outside with the whip. If anyone else has experienced this with their 820 HD I would appreciate some feedback. That way I can determine whether I need a refund or exchange.
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post #13 of 45 Old 04-28-2007, 11:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wickerman67 View Post

Maybe another Cambridge 820hd user can give me their opinion. My 820 seems to have decent sensitivity when hooked up to a rooftop antenna. But when I use the telescopic or Dipole antennas the sensitivity is horrible. I live 15 miles south of where most of the philadelphia FM stations transmit from and I cannot receive HD signals on most stations. The analog reception is disappointing since it is tough to get a good stereo and RDS signal. Also I can barely hear a smooth Jazz station located in Trenton NJ which is only 40 miles away with a power of 50,000 watts. I have a $70 radio that is capable of much better sensitivity using its own whip. The Station is Trenton is crystal clear on that radio. I will say that with a rooftop the cambridge is better than the $70.00 radio probably because it is more selective. This is disturbing to me for a radio that cost $300.00. I also have a JVC KD HDR 1 in my car and the analog and HD reception is excellent and it only costs $200.00. The 820 is not really any better outside with the whip. If anyone else has experienced this with their 820 HD I would appreciate some feedback. That way I can determine whether I need a refund or exchange.

Hello, my 820HD radio is the same way. It is not as sensitive as my Sangean HDT-1 tuner. I just compared them side by side checking stations using the same outdoor antenna and on the weak 88.3 WBGO Jazz station in NJ (I am in NYC area) the 820HD hardly holds lock and loses HD. The Sangean HDT-1 tuner however locks in solid and holds forever... go figure. Cambridge Soundworks advertisements and statements on their own website for this radio says that their engineers spent special attention to ensure highest quality reception available and they also make a ridiculous statement about the included collapsable antenna as if it was so unique and special and never done before. What a bunch of marketing hogwash. Collapsable folding FM antenna's have been around and used on all sorts of radios since the beginning of time and there is nothing special about it having better receiving properties than a piece of wire antenna really. Wow what marketing hype.

Other than the sensitivity issue, the radio otherwise seems to be pretty decent in all other respects. But then again, the sensitivity is just as important as the sound of the radio.

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post #14 of 45 Old 04-28-2007, 12:37 PM
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I also wondered about Cambridge's claim that their telescoping antenna was "unique in class." After all, the Radiosophy Multistream has a telescoping whip antenna, and it finally made it to market several weeks before the Cambridge 820 shipped. The Radiosophy antenna is also virtually useless, in my experience. I think the problem is that the digital circuitry in the receiver generates so much RF noise that the antenna has to be removed from the set by at least a few feet in order to pick up any stations. On the AM band, the length of the lead on the loop antenna is insufficient to get far enough away from the radio, and even the strongest stations are too noisy for tolerable listening.
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post #15 of 45 Old 04-28-2007, 12:42 PM
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Hello, my 820HD radio is the same way. It is not as sensitive as my Sangean HDT-1 tuner. I just compared them side by side checking stations using the same outdoor antenna and on the weak 88.3 WBGO Jazz station in NJ (I am in NYC area) the 820HD hardly holds lock and loses HD. The Sangean HDT-1 tuner however locks in solid and holds forever... go figure. Cambridge Soundworks advertisements and statements on their own website for this radio says that their engineers spent special attention to ensure highest quality reception available and they also make a ridiculous statement about the included collapsable antenna as if it was so unique and special and never done before. What a bunch of marketing hogwash. Collapsable folding FM antenna's have been around and used on all sorts of radios since the beginning of time and there is nothing special about it having better receiving properties than a piece of wire antenna really. Wow what marketing hype.

Other than the sensitivity issue, the radio otherwise seems to be pretty decent in all other respects. But then again, the sensitivity is just as important as the sound of the radio.


The more digging I do The more I am realizing that this radio for the $300.00 they charge is severly lacking in sensitivity. Not eveyone is able to connect the radio to a rooftop, so asking a radio of this price to pull in solid HD and analog radio when you live 15 miles South of all the transmitters is not alot to ask when using a telescopic. I contacted cambridge and they told me that there is probably nothing wrong with the radio since it seems to work okay with the rooftop. He also said that table radios typically are not as sensitive as portables. If that is the case than they should lower the price. It is a shame because it really does have good sound, But knowing that I have radios that are 1/4 the price with better sensitivity is disturbing. MY JVC car radio is proof that it is possible to design an HD radio with good analog and HD sensitivity without using a special antenna. I will probably be returning it since I already have an Onkyo T9090II and a Yamaha RX V4600 AV receiver with HD. I should note that the analog tuner portion of the yamaha uses the same as the rest of their receivers which is actually OK by todays standards. One final note: I will say that when the 820HD is hooked up to the rooftoop it is almost as selective as my Onkyo which is pretty impressive.
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post #16 of 45 Old 04-28-2007, 01:33 PM
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Your JVC is connected to the car's antenna, is it not? That antenna is shielded from the radio by the dashboard, at least. I have yet to try the Radiosophy in the car using the whip sticking out the window, but I don't expect that it would perform as well as your JVC. Might be worth a try if I can find a cigarette lighter adapter rated at 3A.
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post #17 of 45 Old 04-28-2007, 02:09 PM
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OK, I tried it. Parked outside, about 10 mi. from most of the transmitters in the Atlanta market. Connected the Radiosophy to the car battery and used earbuds to listen. Yes, I remembered to switch the antenna to internal. Scanned the dial. Nada. Zilch. Bupkis. On the AM side I did manage to get a signal from flamethrower WSB 750, but it was weak and being cross modulated by WCNN, which has towers one mile from my house. So, even outdoors, the telescoping antenna is useless.
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post #18 of 45 Old 04-28-2007, 05:34 PM
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If the antenna being on or close to the radio has something to do with the weak sensitivity, than how will they ever be able to make portable HD radios? If they ever solve this issue than I would gladly purchase an improved unit. I would like to someday have an HD radio suitable to take on vacation. With the first round of radios I do not see that as being possible Unless I stay at a hotel within 5 miles of HD stations.
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post #19 of 45 Old 04-28-2007, 05:43 PM
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OK, I tried it. Parked outside, about 10 mi. from most of the transmitters in the Atlanta market. Connected the Radiosophy to the car battery and used earbuds to listen. Yes, I remembered to switch the antenna to internal. Scanned the dial. Nada. Zilch. Bupkis. On the AM side I did manage to get a signal from flamethrower WSB 750, but it was weak and being cross modulated by WCNN, which has towers one mile from my house. So, even outdoors, the telescoping antenna is useless.

Picspop

I'm sorry to hear you are getting disappointing results with your Radiosophy. 10 miles from transmitters in a market that where the analog signals are 100,000 watts isn't too much to ask for from a HD radio. 1/100th of that power level is more HD power than anything here outside of Philadelphia. In my JVC I can pull in HD 30-40 miles away. I imagine in Atlanta it should be greater as long as the terrain is flat. Still that distance isn't enough if terrestrail radio wants to compete in local markets with satellite radio.
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post #20 of 45 Old 04-28-2007, 06:02 PM
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Wickerman, I want to be clear that this result only relates to the internal antenna. The twin lead dipole included in the package pulls in lots of stations on FM. Overall, I'm very pleased with HD radio.
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post #21 of 45 Old 04-29-2007, 04:49 AM
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Wickerman, I want to be clear that this result only relates to the internal antenna. The twin lead dipole included in the package pulls in lots of stations on FM. Overall, I'm very pleased with HD radio.

Maybe I will consider that model. With the 820HD there doesn't seem to be much difference between the whip and the dipole.
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post #22 of 45 Old 04-29-2007, 08:41 AM
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Maybe I will consider that model. With the 820HD there doesn't seem to be much difference between the whip and the dipole.

Keep in mind that the Radiosophy sensitivity may be no better than the 820HD. NY Times reviewed five HD table top radios and the Radiosophy Multistream came in dead last for sensitivity. They said that the iPolk had the best sensitivity and that the Sangean HDR-1 used with its dipole antenna came in just close to being the best.

Also if important to users, PLEASE note that none of the two advertised Radiosophy radios have remote control capability. They do not come with remote controls! I cannot see why Radiosphy left this desired feature off of their radios.

The NY Times review did not review the Cambridge Soundworks 820HD radio. I don't think that it was available at the time. The review was date 12/06/2006 so it was before the 820HD radio was released. Why it was delayed for sale I would guess that they were having bugs with it and fixing them... but as we are seeing first hand, the HD sensitivity part of the radio still leaves something to be desired. Whatever (820HD) engineers they advertised as paying special attention to the best radio sensitivity design, ought to be fired. They did not do their homework obviously.

The Sangean HD receivers which use the LG front-ends are apparently the most sensitive thus far according to all the reports I have read on all of the HD table radios available at this time.

So you may want to consider the Sangean HDR-1 if sensitivity is the most important aspect for you. Although it is not as feature packed as the Cambridge Soundworks 820HD when it comes to alarm clock functions, optical output, analog only mode switch, loudness switch, direct freq entry, number of presets, etc.
I don't know how good (or bad) the Sangean HDR-1 speakers sound though. I would venture to guess it is not far off from the 820HD... but you never know until you try one at home.

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post #23 of 45 Old 04-29-2007, 10:41 AM
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Unbiased

I may return it to swap out another 820hd to see if my unit was defective. The analog sensitivity with the whip and dipole is horrible. Obviously that would affect the overall range of the HD signal. In my JVC the HD range is 35-40 miles. On the Cambridge I cannot receive an analog signal from that distance even if I move the Dipole near a window. When I receive the replacement unit I might just kept anyway since it does work good with my rooftop. It is very selective and might make a good DXer. I just won't keep it permanently hooked up in my system since my DX champ is an Onkyo T9090II hooked up to the rooftop and I aslo listen to HD in my system by way of a Yamaha RX V4600. As I said in a previous post sensitivity with the yamaha is not a problem even in analog mode since it uses the same tuner as the rest of their AV receivers. I guess they know how to shield the digital sections. If any local retailers carry the Sangean in the near future I will give it a try. The Polk is just too expensive.
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post #24 of 45 Old 04-29-2007, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by wickerman67 View Post

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I may return it to swap out another 820hd to see if my unit was defective. The analog sensitivity with the whip and dipole is horrible. Obviously that would affect the overall range of the HD signal. In my JVC the HD range is 35-40 miles. On the Cambridge I cannot receive an analog signal from that distance even if I move the Dipole near a window. When I receive the replacement unit I might just kept anyway since it does work good with my rooftop. It is very selective and might make a good DXer. I just won't keep it permanently hooked up in my system since my DX champ is an Onkyo T9090II hooked up to the rooftop and I aslo listen to HD in my system by way of a Yamaha RX V4600. As I said in a previous post sensitivity with the yamaha is not a problem even in analog mode since it uses the same tuner as the rest of their AV receivers. I guess they know how to shield the digital sections. If any local retailers carry the Sangean in the near future I will give it a try. The Polk is just too expensive.

I hope your 2nd unit is better, but realistically I think it would probably b the same. I am keeping my unit as I bought it at a discount from a seller on Amazon.com and it is not under the Cambridge Soundworks guarantee. I don't want to hassle with a return with the seller since I think they are going to charge me 15% restocking fee if I want to return it. I have not asked for a return directly from them InfinitySales.com but in all correspondence with them so far, they were giving me that impression saying only that they will exchange the unit if it was defective. No matter, I like the radio overall and wll be keeping it. It is feature packed compared to all other HD table radios available at this time. The sound is as good as HD can deliver so no problem there.

I just today connected the digital optical output of the 820HD to my Pioneer VSX-49Txi high end receiver. I am surprised as you have already mentioned that they did did not implement this optical out as a true fixed line out, instead they have it tied to the speakers signal output where you have to plug in an earphone plug to disable the speakers. The volume control (as you have mentioned) controls the optical line output and also all the tone controls effect the optical line out signal! This I guess can be a plus as well as a minus depending on what you desire. But I find it a bit awkward that you have to disable the internal speakers sound by plugging in a mini plug into the earphones jack. What were they thinking!?! Shows that they were rushing to get this model out to market or just not experienced well thinking engineers.

Okay, with that said and out of the way, I found out that I had a Ham Radio interference filter in-line with my outdoor rooftop antenna cable which adds further attenuation to weaken the signal to my FM receivers. I removed that filter and now my 820HD receives that 88.3 WBGO Jazz station out of NJ without a problem. It locks on all the signals that my Sangean HDT-1 tuner locks onto now and in doing listening tests comparing the two, they both sound very good. The Sangean HDT-1 however is using its analog line outputs to my receiver while the 820HD optical output is using the built in higher quality DACs of my Pioneer receiver. The 820HD optical feed sounds fantastic and has a little bit more prominent highs (brighter) compared to the Sangean HDT-1 analog feed. It may be the differences between the Pioneers DAC processing versus the Sangean tuner's own built in DAC or it may just be the 820HD tuner's sound is a wee bit brighter due to its own amplification circuitry characteristics (after all we now know that its audio path is going through the 820HD's preamp and tone control circuit processor before leaving the optical line output). Really though, there is hardly any difference in sound from both devices. The bass rise I earlier reported and was hearing in the Sangean HDT-1 tuner audio outs has all but subsided (I don't hear the heavy bass boost anymore!) I think the cheap electrolytic capacitor's used in the unit had to reform and break-in after sitting on the shelf for who knows how long. Electrolytic capacitors can behave like this. I have no other explanation as nothing else in my system has changed.

Both tuners sound great. The Cambridge Soundworks 820HD used with my outdoor antenna is serving me just as good or better than my Sangean HDT-1 tuner now, so I am happy with it.

The AM section on the 820HD is just as good if not better than the one in the Sangean HDT-1 tuner. The 820D seems to have wider audio passband (bandwidth) and you can easily hear much more highs than compared to Sangean HDT-1 which has an seems to have a sharp high freq cut and roll-off. Sangean sounds better to me on just talk shows (which is most of the AM stations by me) because you don't hear all the splattery sounding sibilances. The 820HD will be better for AM music stations when there is any. The 820Hd is the more accurate and better of the two when it comes to AM reception and quality.

So I am getting to like my 820HD radio more now, since I can use it as a component tuner in my hi-fi system when I want too. It's main purpose will be in the bedroom serving alarm clock duty. I love the fact that they allow you to set the two alarms independently and for weekdays only, weekends only, daily, once modes. Very nice there. But wish they would have implemented a sound level ramp up like the JBL Ontime IPOD speaker clock radio has. The 820HD alarm radio will just blast out at whatever level you set it to come on at and can shock you awake! That I don't like, but it is a minor gripe.

I also noticed that the LCD brightness automatically adjusts its brightness to the ambient room light levels. It works well but I wish they would have allowed manual brightness adjustment also.

Good luck on your 2nd 820HD should you decide to go that route!

Words of wisdom, "The more you know, the more you know that you don't know."
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post #25 of 45 Old 04-30-2007, 04:22 AM
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Originally Posted by unbiased View Post

I hope your 2nd unit is better, but realistically I think it would probably b the same. I am keeping my unit as I bought it at a discount from a seller on Amazon.com and it is not under the Cambridge Soundworks guarantee. I don't want to hassle with a return with the seller since I think they are going to charge me 15% restocking fee if I want to return it. I have not asked for a return directly from them aaaprice.com but in all correspondence with them so far, they were giving me that impression saying only that they will exchange the unit if it was defective. No matter, I like the radio overall and wll be keeping it. It is feature packed compared to all other HD table radios available at this time. The sound is as good as HD can deliver so no problem there.

I just today connected the digital optical output of the 820HD to my Pioneer VSX-49Txi high end receiver. I am surprised as you have already mentioned that they did did not implement this optical out as a true fixed line out, instead they have it tied to the speakers signal output where you have to plug in an earphone plug to disable the speakers. The volume control (as you have mentioned) controls the optical line output and also all the tone controls effect the optical line out signal! This I guess can be a plus as well as a minus depending on what you desire. But I find it a bit awkward that you have to disable the internal speakers sound by plugging in a mini plug into the earphones jack. What were they thinking!?! Shows that they were rushing to get this model out to market or just not experienced well thinking engineers.

Okay, with that said and out of the way, I found out that I had a Ham Radio interference filter in-line with my outdoor rooftop antenna cable which adds further attenuation to weaken the signal to my FM receivers. I removed that filter and now my 820HD receives that 88.3 WBGO Jazz station out of NJ without a problem. It locks on all the signals that my Sangean HDT-1 tuner locks onto now and in doing listening tests comparing the two, they both sound very good. The Sangean HDT-1 however is using its analog line outputs to my receiver while the 820HD optical output is using the built in higher quality DACs of my Pioneer receiver. The 820HD optical feed sounds fantastic and has a little bit more prominent highs (brighter) compared to the Sangean HDT-1 analog feed. It may be the differences between the Pioneers DAC processing versus the Sangean tuner's own built in DAC or it may just be the 820HD tuner's sound is a wee bit brighter due to its own amplification circuitry characteristics (after all we now know that its audio path is going through the 820HD's preamp and tone control circuit processor before leaving the optical line output). Really though, there is hardly any difference in sound from both devices. The bass rise I earlier reported and was hearing in the Sangean HDT-1 tuner audio outs has all but subsided (I don't hear the heavy bass boost anymore!) I think the cheap electrolytic capacitor's used in the unit had to reform and break-in after sitting on the shelf for who knows how long. Electrolytic capacitors can behave like this. I have no other explanation as nothing else in my system has changed.

Both tuners sound great. The Cambridge Soundworks 820HD used with my outdoor antenna is serving me just as good or better than my Sangean HDT-1 tuner now, so I am happy with it.

The AM section on the 820HD is just as good if not better than the one in the Sangean HDT-1 tuner. The 820D seems to have wider audio passband (bandwidth) and you can easily hear much more highs than compared to Sangean HDT-1 which has an seems to have a sharp high freq cut and roll-off. Sangean sounds better to me on just talk shows (which is most of the AM stations by me) because you don't hear all the splattery sounding sibilances. The 820HD will be better for AM music stations when there is any. The 820Hd is the more accurate and better of the two when it comes to AM reception and quality.

So I am getting to like my 820HD radio more now, since I can use it as a component tuner in my hi-fi system when I want too. It's main purpose will be in the bedroom serving alarm clock duty. I love the fact that they allow you to set the two alarms independently and for weekdays only, weekends only, daily, once modes. Very nice there. But wish they would have implemented a sound level ramp up like the JBL Ontime IPOD speaker clock radio has. The 820HD alarm radio will just blast out at whatever level you set it to come on at and can shock you awake! That I don't like, but it is a minor gripe.

I also noticed that the LCD brightness automatically adjusts its brightness to the ambient room light levels. It works well but I wish they would have allowed manual brightness adjustment also.

Good luck on your 2nd 820HD should you decide to go that route!


Unbiased

Let me ask a couple of questions so I can make my decision.

1. How far are you from HD channels and can you pick up HD with the dipole on the 820hd?

2. With the Dipole do you get any reception from analog signals as close as 35-40 miles?

3. Does your dispaly ever say 12C Float when you turn it off. The only way I can get rid of it is to unplug the unit. It has happened more than once.

Also I contacted Cambridge and explained the situation. They seem to think it isn't defective. In fact what they said to me was that they designed that radio that if the signal is weak and noisy then it will not pick up the station at all. It sounds like a polished excuse for the lack of sensitivity.

On my 820HD analog from 15 miles away is shaky, even with the dipole.

Maybe someone who owns this radio as well as the Polk, BA, Sangean HDR1 and others can make comparisons and publish their findings
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post #26 of 45 Old 04-30-2007, 04:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wickerman67 View Post

Unbiased

Let me ask a couple of questions so I can make my decision.

1. How far are you from HD channels and can you pick up HD with the dipole on the 820hd?

2. With the Dipole do you get any reception from analog signals as close as 35-40 miles?

3. Does your dispaly ever say 12C Float when you turn it off. The only way I can get rid of it is to unplug the unit. It has happened more than once.

Also I contacted Cambridge and explained the situation. They seem to think it isn't defective. In fact what they said to me was that they designed that radio that if the signal is weak and noisy then it will not pick up the station at all. It sounds like a polished excuse for the lack of sensitivity.

On my 820HD analog from 15 miles away is shaky, even with the dipole.

Maybe someone who owns this radio as well as the Polk, BA, Sangean HDR1 and others can make comparisons and publish their findings

1) I am not far from NYC HD radio stations. I'd say 10 to 15 miles. The dipole still does not pick some stations up reliably. Some signals will read full scale strong and then fade to 0 on the signal strength indicator after playing for a few minutes. I have to find a spot for the antenna that picks up the signal I want real strong and steady before it will stay locked onto HD and not keep "annoyingly" changing back and forth between Analog and Digital modes. The collapsable antenna is even worse and is basically useless. This does not speak well for the 820HD's sensitivity.

2) I don't think it can pick up any stations that far away in HD. If it does, it will not last long and will lose lock and never lock back on HD mode. The yellow HD light will flash showing it detects that the station is broadcasting in HD, but it will not switch over to HD mode and hold it.

3) I have not experienced that 12C float error when powering off the unit. I have experienced quirky behavour of the remote control. Sometimes when I go to raise the volume level instead the 820HD jumps to another station way off somewhere else in the dial. This seems to happen when I go into jog menu mode to say change the loudness on/off or adjust tone settings, then return to raise or lower the sound level. I was willing to live with this quirk but was wondering if it is widespread or peculiar to my unit or some batch of units only. I dunno at this time. Not serious enough of an issue for me to fight for a return... but the sensitivity issue might be. I noticed that even with my outdoor antenna signal connected, that last night I had some dropping of HD signal of my favorite weak signal Jazz station 88.3 WBGO out of New Jersey. With the dipole or collapsable antenna the 820HD will never lock onto that HD channel. I am lucky and glad that I can get it with the outdoor antenna.
The Sangean HDT-1 tuner I also have, locks onto the same signal solidly and reliably with the same outdoor antenna, but the Sangean also cannot pick up the same jazz station with the dipole antenna. It (88.3 WBGO NJ) is a weak signal into the NYC area but a well sought after jazz station by many jazz music admirers.

The sales reps that we get to talk to on their support call line, are just salesman and not too technical at that. They will try to sell you on the radio rather than admit any problems with it. I don't know who to talk to at Cambridge Soundworks for the real answers. It's sad. This would be a damn fine radio if it were not for the sensitivity and HD drop out problems.

Words of wisdom, "The more you know, the more you know that you don't know."
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post #27 of 45 Old 04-30-2007, 07:37 PM
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Before you go and return the unit, grab a distribution amplifier (without an FM trap) and connect it between the outdoor antenna and the Cambridge. It's worth a shot. If it doesn't work, you can always return the amp.
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post #28 of 45 Old 05-01-2007, 04:50 AM
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Unbiased

Sounds like your 820hd lacks sensitivity as much as mine, so it probably is not defective. Like I said in previous posts I live 15 miles south of the antenna farm in Philadelphia and 10 miles from the local Rock and Roll flamethrower. So I may keep my unit because their are things about the radio I do like, the sound and the ability to switch to analog because lets face it , some channels sound worse in HD. It is just a shame that they couldn't design a better analog section because that would also help the HD section. Better shielding would be better too. The JVC proves that better analog sensitivity translates into better HD sensitivity in my opinion. I also consider the JVC to be more sensitive than my HDT 1 with rabbit ears. When HD first came out I was skeptical because as more HD stations popped up, as most people have already noticed it makes Dxing adjacent channels almost impossible. Over time I learned to embrace it and hope that better receivers and more power to the HD transmitters will grace us in the future. Even DX champs like the Onkyo T9090II are powerless against HD adjacents. Maybe someone who posts on this thread who owns any vintage analog tuners might want to do a side by side comparison of the audio. I still think the audio from vintage tuners from Kenwood and Sansui and numerous others is better than HD. My personal favorite is the SAnsui TU 919. I know longer own this model but I still ahve tapes that i made using this tuner. Well mixed music really shines on that model and of course freedom from compression artifacts asociated with HD. Maybe other users of these sensitivity deficient HD radios might wnat to try this. If you are using a Dipole or other indoor antenna, try turning off any digital device in your home. I discovered my Roku Soundbridge and Router were degrading sensitivity to all portables in my house. When I powered those devices down the interference disappeared and reception improved marginally on the 820HD and more so on my other analog portables. The interference actually smothers some stations, but not so when the interference source was powered down. My HDT 1 was especially sensitive to the interference. One final note: LAst Night the 820HD hooked up to my rooftop was able to pick up 94.9 The Point in Norfolk VA from my Southern NJ location. I estimate the distance was approx 250 miles away, so maybe there is hope for this radio. I will try Mattdp's trick and appreciate the fact that his system is Bose and Terk free
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post #29 of 45 Old 05-01-2007, 09:42 AM
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Say... why don't we start a dedicated "Sangean HDT-1/X vs. Vintage tuner" thread. (It's a little off topic for this one.

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I will try Mattdp's trick and appreciate the fact that his system is Bose and Terk free

Thank you
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post #30 of 45 Old 05-01-2007, 04:43 PM
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It seems that the Sangean HDT1 has generated alot of praise on this site. After all for $200.00 it is a bargain. I had the oppurtunity to compare The Sangean with an Onkyo T9090II. Anybody tht knows vintage tuners knkows it is one of the best ever made at least for under $1000. As far as picking up stations they are both about even in terms of how many. The Sangean according to one site I checked out appears to have over 60db of adjacent channel selectivity. The Onkyo has always been know to have aound 45db. Even with the extra selectivity the Sangean has it isn't enough to ward off adjacent interference from HD channels, so there appears to be no difference in that regard. In fact the Onyo's rating is more than adequate for dealing with situations where there is no HD adjacent channels. I will say that the onkyo is still the king of the hill in DX. It received the weaker stations with less noise and held onto a stereo signal longer than the Sangean. If two channels occupied the same frequency the Onkyo fared better in this area also. Don't get me wrong. I think the Sangean is a remarkable Dxer, especially at $200.00, but at that price you can't expect miracles, but it would be nice. Now as far as sound When comparing the two with analog only channels I give the nod to the Onkyo. The sound was more open and natural sounding with tighter bass more accurate midrange and a smoother treble that won't irritate. For HD stations on the Sangean to sound better than the same channels the Onkyo picks up in analog form that depends on the station. On a couple stations in my area that i think do an excellent job with HD it can be a decent listening experience in HD. I am going to say that The onkyo sound is slightly better than the best HD stations on the Sangean. Mainly because analog has no compression artifacts that HD has. On the best stations it is minimal however. maybe when the Broadcast engineers get a better handle on how to utilize HD, the results could be different, But not right now. It is good to keep a good analog tuner on hand since the Sangean cannot switch to analog manually because lets face it, some statrions are so bad at HD that any analog tuner will give you a better sound. By the way I should state That I live in Southern NJ 15 miles south of where most Philadelphia stations transmit from and almost all of them now transmit in HD. One final note: I wish I never got rid of my Sansui TU 919. It is the best sounding tuner I ever owned period and is well sought after because of that. If anyone ever heard that tuner in action they know the Sangean and other HD tuners may never beat it in terms of audio. Lets hope more tuners like the Sangean will grace our presence since it looks like the future of FM. For More on the Sangean HDT1 click on this link. Note how empty inside it is.

http://users.tns.net/~bb/hdt-1.htm
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