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Future of Radio- How long can Analog hang on?

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From the FCC website:  Digital Radio - The Sound of the Future

Background

First there was digital television, called "the latest breakthrough in television." Now, digital radio is catching on as a popular form of broadcasting. The Federal comunications Commission (FCC) has moved a step closer to bringing digital radio to millions of Americans.

What is Digital Radio

Digital radio is the transmission and reception of sound that has been processed using technology comparable to that used in compact disc (CD) players. In short, a digital radio transmitter processes sounds into patterns of numbers, or "digits" – hence the term "digital radio." In contrast, traditional analog radios process sounds into patterns of electrical signals that resemble sound waves.

  • FM digital radio can provide clear sound comparable in quality to CDs. Digital receivers provide significantly clearer sound than conventional analog radios, just as CDs sound clearer than record albums;
  • AM digital radio can provide sound quality equivalent to that of standard analog FM, and sounds dramatically better than analog AM. Some broadcasters believe that digital broadcasting may bring music back to the AM band;
  • Digital radio reception is more resistant to interference and eliminates many imperfections of analog radio transmission and reception. There may be some interference to digital radio signals, however, in areas that are distant from a station’s transmitter.

Digital Radio Technology

In 2002, the FCC selected in-band, on-channel (IBOC) technology as the technology AM and FM broadcasters use for digital radio broadcasting. Broadcasters have begun IBOC transmission on an interim basis while formal transmission standards are developed.

Transition to digital radio requires broadcasters to install new equipment. During the transition, broadcasters operate in a “hybrid” mode, broadcasting the same programming using both analog and digital signals within a single AM or FM channel. Many FM broadcasters now offer two or more digital channels, each with different programming. The new digital technology will not require allocation of additional radio spectrum and will have minimal impact on present broadcast services. Consumers will continue to receive their current analog stations with minimal disruption.

Although many stations now broadcast in digital, radio broadcasters are not required to convert to “all-digital” broadcasting at this time.

Advantages for Listeners

Digital radio offers a number of consumer advantages over traditional analog radio, including:

  • Better audio quality, more robust signals and new auxiliary services, such as multiple audio programming channels, audio-on-demand services and interactive features;
  • Enhanced radio designs with simplified functions. Simply select the station you want from the call letters or names displayed on the screen and the computer within the radio will do the rest;
  • Potential to introduce new data and information services that will be displayed on the radio’s screen. For example, a station could send background information about a band when that band’s music is playing. Advertisers could send information about discounts and sales. Listeners could program their radios to receive customized weather reports, news or stock quotes.

Do I Need a New Radio to Receive Digital Stations?

Yes. A digital receiver is required to receive digital signals. However, all radios capable of tuning to a digital signal also will be able to receive analog signals. Some models cost more than analog radios, but the FCC does not have pricing information. Digital receivers also are available at most electronics retailers and in some new cars.

Will Digital Radio Impact Subcarrier Frequencies and Services Such as Radio Reading Services?

Many states have services, such as radio reading services, that broadcast over the subcarrier or Subsidiary Communications Authority (SCA) of a public or private radio station. These services provide information, either free or for a nominal fee, to people who are unable to read print.

Under some circumstances, digital radio signals may interfere with the subcarriers used for radio reading services. While relatively few listeners are likely to be affected, the FCC is concerned about digital radio’s potential impact on radio reading services, and expects broadcasters to work to resolve any complaints regarding interference to such services. Public broadcasters plan to replace the old analog radio reading services, which generally have limited audio quality, with new digital service.

For More Information

For information about other telecommunications issues, visit the FCC’s Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau website, or contact the FCC’s Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiry and Complaints Division
455 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554.

Print Out

Digital Radio - The Sound of the Future Guide (pdf)

 
 
So it isn't dead yet. But how long will it take? How many of us have or prefer Digital FM? I'm lucky. Philly had a lot of digital options, so I have a Sony XDR-F1HD. Nice little tuner. There are mods out there, too. Ranks among the best tuners ever. I just wish it was standard 19". So the question is- should we sink money into out beloved analog tuners, or is it a waste of money and time? I'm not sure.

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I was thinking about this earlier, sparked by Jim's (@Retriever project with BillD's TX-11a mod project.
 
Who/When/What - and is it even possible...
 
Is there a (radical) modification possible for a TX-11a to make it digital-radio possible?  Either to support what the future outlined by the FCC is thinking, or to support XM/Serius.
 
I know there are other ways to get the connection linked up..., all adequate..., but the idea I had in mind was to think that it would be cool to have the TX-11a shell housing modern digital FM.
 
A good analogy would be like putting a Chevy 350 powerplant in a jalopy or hot-rod.  Or, if you know of the modern kit car to build a high-performance replica of a Shelby based on a ford Mustang drive train, powerplant, and suspension - from Factory Five Racing (Link HERE).  Picture below.
 
20140608063856700.jpg 
 
 

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Carver tuners, especially the TX-11a were miles ahead of everything else when they came out.  I did so many demos where I tuned in stations with one people could not get on their tuner.  Sometimes getting a weak station and then just switching on the ACCD to their shock and amazement.  I also used a paperclip as an antenna just to prove how little signal could produce listenable results.  When my Dad and I built the Dyna FM-3t tuner in 1962, it has a separate "kit" to make it "Stereo Ready" if you wished.  The base model was mono.  I don't listen to a lot of radio but I did ask for and get a new outdoor dipole mast mount antenna for Christmas.  I plan to install it soon.  That should make things in the Party Barn better for radio.  It wasn't bad until we had to replace the shingle roof and went with steel.  That really made the indoor dipole essentially worthless.  Jim

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I'm thinkin like 10 years, as stations upgrade thier equipment they will lobby the FCC for change over, due to cost of operating thier old equipment.

 

Better sound when it's tuned in?

 

LoL where have we heard that one. They will propably run a compression algorithm to save bandwidth, and when you lose signal it's just gone, much like sattelite.

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The big problem with "radio" is not the mechanism, it's the program material they broadcast. Digital will not change that.

 

The FCC screwed the pooch when they eliminated the requirement for "equal time for opposing viewpoints". That one decision doomed radio to being a vehicle for propaganda rather than a medium for enlightenment.

 

Add in the tendency to compress the soul out of music, excessive "station identification", and DJs who can't keep their mouths shut; and on the whole, you can keep radio in any form--analog or digital. In the last ten years, I bet I haven't listened to ten hours of radio. When the Orbitron rating survey sent us two dollars to participate, I had to write down that the only radio I heard that week was when I wandered into a Subway sandwich shop and they had a college hockey program broadcast over a local station. One week...five minutes of radio...and it wasn't even something I had chosen to listen to, it was inflicted on me by the owner of the restaurant.

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The lack of "opposing viewpoints" wasn't the deathly blow to radio, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was. Among other things, the Act removed ownership restrictions. Prior to the Act there was a sensible limitation on the number of stations an entity could own and in how many markets. With this limitation swept aside the door to broadcast conglomeration was opened and a race toward the lowest common denominator began. Station ownership became concentrated in a few hands, ie Clear Channel, and program diversity shrank dramatically. Now in the US you'll hear the same programming, particularly music, in every city coast to coast. The broadcast companies effectively became the gatekeepers of the popular music industry. Satellite radio to some extent defied this new reality, but let's face the fact that satellite radio sounds like ass.

 

Analog radio will last longer than 15 years. A transition date will be set, then extended.

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As far as I'm concerned, as long as there's NPR and a way to hear it, all is well with the universe.
Digital, analog, online, whatever.
Radiolab, On the Media, To the Best of Our Knowledge
South Carolina's Your Day with Clemson Profs answering listener questions..... 
There are people out there with actual minds trying to communicate with the non-braindead part of America that remains.
If you haven't listened in a while, I suggest you give it a few minutes of your time.
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Is there a (radical) modification possible for a TX-11a to make it digital-radio possible?  Either to support what the future outlined by the FCC is thinking, or to support XM/Serius.

 
Well, I suppose you could take a digital tuner, bolt it on top of the TX-11a, drill a hole in the case, run cables from the audio out of the digital tuner inside the TX-11a, and solder them to the output jacks. Seriously. I only bought my TX-8r for looks, and I'm going to keep her, dagnabbit! eusa_wall.gif
 
I only listen to radio in the car. I'm thinking of building a circuit to automatically change the station every five minutes, so I can try to keep ahead of all the ads and drivel. emangry.gif
 
When will the digital conversion happen? As soon as the station owners are certain it will make them more money than supporting analog.  

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Is there a (radical) modification possible for a TX-11a to make it digital-radio possible?  Either to support what the future outlined by the FCC is thinking, or to support XM/Serius.

 
Well, I suppose you could take a digital tuner, bolt it on top of the TX-11a, drill a hole in the case, run cables from the audio out of the digital tuner inside the TX-11a, and solder them to the output jacks. Seriously. I only bought my TX-8r for looks, and I'm going to keep her, dagnabbit! eusa_wall.gif
 
I only listen to radio in the car. I'm thinking of building a circuit to automatically change the station every five minutes, so I can try to keep ahead of all the ads and drivel. emangry.gif
 
When will the digital conversion happen? As soon as the station owners are certain it will make them more money than supporting analog.  

 
I usually listen to Sirius/XM in the car. I find lifetime subscription Sony receivers on eBay for cheap. I did a RoadShow once. Mixed reviews. Some channels do sound better than others. Maybe it's time for a Karma...
 
Digital FM can be pretty cool. WMMR, 99.3FM in Philly has HD2, where they only play LIVE concert recordings in their archives, few commercials. Very cool. Maybe I should RoadShow my Sony XDR-F1HD. I had one stolen, they go for $300.00 on eBay. We'd have to insure it for $300.00 each leg of shipping. If you are in an urban area, you will have options, out in the sticks, not so much. Check on the HD site HERE  to see what's in your area. Any interest in a RoadShow?
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I figured I'd hit the FCC site to see what the federal government is thinking and interestingly found this topic.
 
 
So while I was thinking they would be looking to cut ties with analog and move more to the digital spectrum they are giving indications that they are looking for ways to improve the oldest analog (AM radio). 
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I was thinking about this earlier, sparked by Jim's (@Retriever project with BillD's TX-11a mod project.
 
Who/When/What - and is it even possible...
 
Is there a (radical) modification possible for a TX-11a to make it digital-radio possible?  Either to support what the future outlined by the FCC is thinking, or to support XM/Serius.
 
I know there are other ways to get the connection linked up..., all adequate..., but the idea I had in mind was to think that it would be cool to have the TX-11a shell housing modern digital FM.
 
A good analogy would be like putting a Chevy 350 powerplant in a jalopy or hot-rod.  Or, if you know of the modern kit car to build a high-performance replica of a Shelby based on a ford Mustang drive train, powerplant, and suspension - from Factory Five Racing (Link HERE).  Picture below.
 
 
It can be done! THIS chip could be integrated into just about any existing tuner chassis. I would piggy-back it on to the audio and antennae. Tricky bit is where to put the display.
 Si4734/35 Block Diagram
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Is there a (radical) modification possible for a TX-11a to make it digital-radio possible?   
It can be done! THIS chip could be integrated into just about any existing tuner chassis. I would piggy-back it on to the audio and antennae. Tricky bit is where to put the display.
 Si4734/35 Block Diagram
 
Thanks Kevin. That looks very interesting. Just got through the docs.
 
This looks like a very cool project. I'm sure it's way beyond my skill level.
 
I want to keep thinking that it might happen, though. 

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Going digital is just more corporate or government control, if there is a difference. Pick your poison.
 
The world's going to hell and radio with it. 

I listen to Digital FM. It's OK. I see technology progressing. The general public has accepted digital audio and all of it's flaws. The are now addicted. Electronic manufactures are making digital equipment. Consumers buy it. If we try, we can have a say in the future, or we can try to fight it. Where are the guys who fought solid state? No one cares.
 
Take a look at the work EFF is doing for you HERE . Keeping digital for the people.
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IMHO it will be like everything else and run its cycle.  But quality will eventually win out
 
Why is vinyl making a comeback?  Its not nostalgia its because the sound is better.  (or can be if done correctly)
 
I followed the path of stupidity (and did such well) in my life and music.  I had tons of vinyl, then got rid of them all for CD.  Then digital mp3 and Itunes comes along.  Wow takes up zero space!  Move everything to computer formats thin out the cd's
 
KICK myself daily for such.  eusa_wall.gif
 
Thats my opinion at least for what its worth.
 
Paul 
 
 

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Digital 'radio' is well under way.
 
Where the bulk of the action is - the internet. The final change-over will be legislated at some point. Within the next 10 years of so nearly everything made will have wifi capabilities and wifi will be available to 95% of the population.
 
Most traditional radio stations have internet streams, even some of the college  ones.
 
I took the plunge and picked up an internet audio streamer a while back.
OTA stations that are too far away are now available to me. As are those from all over the world. The list of internet only 'stations' is immense, the choices of genres is endless.
 
The SQ of many is excellent, many even have multiple streams in varying bit rates to choose from.
 
When every car, every phone, pad and whatever soon replaces those devices comes out is wifi connected to the whole world, traditional radio broadcast will eventually be relegated to a specialty segment of society.
 
I'm sure there will always be some enthusiasts to keep OTA alive. Maybe we'll be back to the days of 'rebel' stations from across the border.
 
Dom?emsmiled.gif
 

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I'm sure there will always be some enthusiasts to keep OTA alive. Maybe we'll be back to the days of 'rebel' stations from across the border.
 
Hmmm, Could create a new opportunity for Pirate Radio Station entrepreneurs. 

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I'm sure there will always be some enthusiasts to keep OTA alive. Maybe we'll be back to the days of 'rebel' stations from across the border.
 
Hmmm, Could create a new opportunity for Pirate Radio Station entrepreneurs. 

 
I don't think so. "Pirates"  are  usually on the forefront of technology, not the backside. Haven't seen any Pirate TV analog stations pop up. Analog radio may be relegated to conventions. Bunch of us old guys drag our boat anchors out to a venue where our 'king' has set up his transmitter and we all marvel at the wonders of 30 year old technology. TUNERCON! No thanks.
 
Vinyl will never die because it has superior sonic characteristics. Analog radio will go the way of Reel to Reel, Cassette, 8-track, CD, VHS, etc. because it is just not better than digital. Yes, there are a few great tuners, just like great tape decks and CD players, that perform to audiophile levels, but you need a radio station of similar high quality to get that performance. Local Analog FM clubs might pop up in urban locations, but content will drive the membership to probably very low numbers. Who's going to tune in to my PINK FLOYD station? It might cost $12,000.00/year to run it.(PrometheusRadioProject) I just don't see it. I'll miss analog radio like I miss Pintos and Vegas. Sorry.

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