First developed in the 1930s, the car radio has been an essential part of the car audio revolution of the past half-decade. Since its introduction, the amount of car radio options and accessories has grown enormously; from MP3 and WMA playback to the burgeoning satellite radio market.
There is however a new player on the block—welcome high-definition car radio. If you’re thinking about investing in an HD car radio for your vehicle, you’ve come to the right place.
iBiquity Digital Corporation created and introduced HD radio in 2002. It is a digital standard as opposed to AM or FM, which are analog systems. Digital signals allow the station to broadcast additional data than an analog signal cannot, such as artist/album info. This data is often displayed as text on the face of the radio, often paired with local traffic and weather reports, stock prices, news alerts and more.
In addition, HD FM radio stations broadcast a sub-channel. This allows those stations to broadcast one type of music on the main channel while playing another on the sub-channel. In the future, these designated signals will pave the way concerts, extra sports channels or other special interest broadcasts. Additionally, some HD stations include “tagging,” which allows the listener to identify a song for later purchase through iTunes. The quality of the audio from an HD car radio is similar to the sound quality of a CD.
Currently, there are about 1,900 stations covering 84 percent of the U.S. broadcasting HD.
Only HD radios are capable of accepting the digital signal. However, these radios can also accept AM and FM frequencies. Many car manufacturers offer HD car radios as an option or standard equipment on their vehicles. Some of the brands that offer HD car radios include BMW, Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Scion, Hyundai, Kia, and Mini Cooper.
HD broadcasts are generally more varied and commercial-free. In addition, there is no monthly fee to receive HD as there is for satellite radio. If you are looking for a way to improve your radio sound quality and increase the features that are available on your radio, an HD radio may be the right option for you.