I had really looked forward to trying out an HD Radio for this article. I went to quite a few of the manufacturers looking for a radio to review. But none were available. I even tried to buy one. I searched the local Best Buy, Circuit City, and Fry's, but to no avail. In fact, none of the sales clerks I asked even knew what it was. I did find some aftermarket HD Radios to install in cars at Crutchfield, the large consumer electronics retailer out of Charlottesville, Va. But I wasn't about to attempt to replace the radio in my new car.
Then luckily, I discovered one of the Boston Acoustics Recepter radios at Hammecher Schlemmer in New York City for $299 (see the figure). It's tiny, with a separate speaker for stereo and a remote control. I then went to the iBiquity Web site under the HD Radio tab and clicked on Stations On the Air, which shows a map of the U.S. All you do is click on your state to get a listing of available stations. I found five in the Austin, Texas, area. All of them are FM stations with various music formats.
I compared the sound from the Boston Acoustics radio with a standard tabletop analog FM radio. As subjective as such a comparison is, I did hear a clear difference. The HD Radio sounds more "digital" or CD-like. There is no multicasting yet on Austin HD stations, so I wasn't able to experience that feature, but I did love the digital display of music details. I suspect most HD Radios will be car radios where the real benefits of HD such as the lack of noise and fading will really be appreciated.