Commercial HD Radios Debut at CES - Radio World

Commercial HD Radios Debut at CES

First HD Radios Available; Supplemental Audio Channels to Be Demoed
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First HD Radios Available; Supplemental Audio Channels to Be Demoed

LAS VEGAS Terrestrial radio will achieve parity of sorts with its satellite compatriots at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Jan. 8-11.

This is the year Ibiquity Digital's receiver partners have commercial HD Radios ready for retailers and the general public to buy. Up to 12 receiver companies plan to show HD Radio products to be launched this year.

At the same time, partners working on the second-channel concept using HD Radio technology are pleased with test results and coverage of the digital signal on the supplementary channel. Harris, Kenwood and National Public Radio will have an update about this project at CES, including the first public listening demo of the concept.

Ibiquity will have a 5.1 surround sound demo with a partner company to be identified soon. The music source material will originate from an encoder in the booth; listeners can hear the digital audio from a decoder in a receiver in a GM Hummer.

Ibiquity also plans a traffic-based demo, with a receiver in a Chevy Tahoe.

The idea is to show broadcasters, retailers and consumers what's possible with scrolling text on HD Radios, said David Salemi, Ibiquity vice president of marketing.

Tuners galore

The first generation of HD Radio data services will be supported by protocols called Main Program Service and Station Information Service.

MPS, the station's primary aural service, consists of digital audio and program-associated data. MPS data uses file-tagging software called ID3 to provide text information such as artist name and song title.

Information sent over SIS includes station identification and location, which may be useful in the future for receivers for position determination; identification of services available in the digital signal; and time synchronization information.

ID3 also supports text descriptions with ads, such as phone numbers and Web addresses.

Four manufacturers are expected to show HD Radio front-end tuner modules: Toko, Alps, TBK and KiRyung.

Also at CES, the organizations working on the second channel concept plan to reveal results of their tests and present the findings to the National Radio Systems Committee. Tomorrow Radio partners Kenwood, Harris and NPR expected to wrap up the so-called "regression" tests with the new Ibiquity codec in mid-December.

"We're not seeing any surprises," said Mike Bergman of Kenwood USA. Some radio engineers were worried that, without the analog fallback, the ability to tune quickly between the main channel and the supplemental channel would be hampered. That's not the case, said Bergman.

"The audio is great and the system switches back and forth from the main to the supplemental channel pretty quickly."

Kenwood plans several Tomorrow Radio demos. Harris equipment will generate two FM hybrid signals and one AM hybrid signal using Harris AM, FM and HD Radio Digital exciters. Harris representatives will participate in the Kenwood booth.

Tomorrow Radio

Dexstar exciters will be used to generate the HD Radio signals. One will be running at the full hybrid mode 96 kbps main channel audio while the second will generate the signals for the supplemental channel. This Tomorrow Radio Dexstar will feed the 64 kpbs main and 32 kbps supplemental audio channels.

A Harris Neustar DAB Audio Processor will preprocess the compressed HD Radio bitstream.

The demo will show a Kenwood KTC-HR100 HD Radio receiver supporting HD Radio and Tomorrow Radio. NPR will supply content for all the demos, and the supplemental channel at 32 kbps will show a mix of speech and music.

Kenwood will show several HD Radio receivers, including the KTC-HR100, the first commercially available HD Radio receiver.

For satellite radio, Kenwood will show its line of Sirius products. The booth will include a demo of the KVC-915DVD controlling both a KTC-HR100 HD Radio receiver and the KTC-SR902 Sirius Radio receiver. The unit has dual zone controls for front- and rear-seat audio sources.

XM Satellite Radio plans to introduce a head unit with an integrated tuner, eliminating the need for the second box during an install. XM claims it is the first integrated head unit for satellite radio.

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