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Digital Radio Product Offerings to Grow

More HD Radios, Including In-Dash Car Models, Are Due Out This Year

More HD Radios, Including In-Dash Car Models, Are Due Out This Year

The marketplace will see more HD Radios in stores this year, lower prices for those products and – for the first time – terrestrial digital radios in cars. That’s the prediction from receiver manufacturers and Ibiquity Digital.

In 2004, three receiver manufacturers – Kenwood, Panasonic and JVC – shipped HD Radios to retailers in the category of aftermarket auto sound.

This year, expect to see 15 to 20 terrestrial digital radios from more manufacturers and in more categories including home, tabletop and OEM. The average price should drop from an average of $800 to roughly $500 per unit, says Ibiquity President/CEO Robert Struble.

This fall, HD Radios will be in one or two in-dash brands as OEM equipment, he said. Contractually, he couldn’t reveal who those automakers were, but an astute observer might take a clue from automakers that had cars in Ibiquity’s booth at CES: BMW and Toyota.

BMW commits to HD Radio

BMW plans to include HD Radios in its vehicles as OEM equipment. On the show floor, BMW had a prototype receiver in the dash of a 5 Series vehicle. The automaker plans to have HD Radios installed in at least some vehicles for the U.S. market.

The automaker is still working out which models would include the digital radios. BMW has offered Sirius radios since December 2003, said Dr. Michael Webber, an engineer responsible for development for the automaker.

He told Radio World the attractions of HD Radio for BMW are improved sound quality, combined with the promise of a digital data delivery pipe into the vehicle. “With digital, we can broadcast traffic data into the car easy and fast. The only data pipe we have now is analog RDS.”

RDS can deliver data into the car with a speed of about 100 bits per second, while HD Radio has the capability of delivering the data at speeds of 1,000 to 2,000 or more bps, said Webber. Higher speeds translates into more traffic data with better resolution, the automaker believes.

He would not reveal what receiver manufacturer would make the HD Radios for BMW.

BMW eventually plans to offer HD Radios as options for all of its U.S. vehicles, Webber said.

The automaker is also looking at DRM as an AM solution for its European autos.

More HD Radios

Displayed at CES were the first HD Radio car products from Alpine, Eclipse and Jensen. Alpine showed an in-dash DVD receiver that features an integrated HD Radio tuner. It’s satellite-ready and iPod ready for expected summer delivery, according to the company.

Eclipse has an outboard HD Radio tuner module with which all head units would be compatible to ship in February. Jensen also planned to introduce a CD receiver with separate HD Radio tuner module.

Panasonic is on its second generation of HD Radio products, introducing an HD Radio unit that receives XM Satellite signals also. This CD receiver has HD Radio capability integrated into the head unit. March shipment was expected.

Kenwood is working on new HD Radio product and was said to have an integrated HD Radio in the works, a source close to the company said.

Visteon, which announced two years ago that an unnamed European automaker planned to include HD Radios in the dash, says the unit goes into production this year.

Delphi expects to offer an aftermarket HD Radio in the future, possibly by 2006.

Audio Design Associates and Boston Acoustics plan to release home HD Radios this spring. ADA plans to release an IBOC module that plugs into its Tune Suite, designed for multi-zone listening. The product can be configured for four zones and can include AM/FM analog, HD Radio, weather band and XM.

Boston Acoustics is offering a previously announced tabletop model with multi-channel receive capabilities. It was announced at the fall NAB Radio Show; the company displayed prototypes of the product at CES.

Toko Certification Center

Trying to speed its time to market for HD Radios from Asian-based manufacturers, Ibiquity Digital and Toko Inc., which makes tuner decoder modules for HD Radio, will open an international HD Radio certification center at the Toko facility in Japan. The center will provide technical support and product certification services for licensed HD Radio consumer electronics partners.

Engineers from Toko will test and evaluate HD Radio products according to the same criteria used at Ibiquity’s certification facility in Maryland. The data will be aggregated and provided to Ibiquity for certification of the product or device.

DaySequerra Monitors

There was some station hardware news out of CES as well.

DaySequerra, a subsidiary of ATI-Audio Technologies Inc., has introduced three HD Radio broadcast tuners, as reported in Radio World earlier. The units were to begin shipping to radio stations and CE retailers shortly after CES.

The company introduced the HD Radio Monitor, model M2, a receiver and modulation monitor for HD Radio broadcast sources. The high resolution, peak and hold 50-segment LED meters in the M2 indicates RF carrier modulation % and audio modulation in dB; The M2 can also include optional alarms for over-modulation, loss of audio and loss of carrier. M2 tuner functions can be monitored and controlled remotely with a USB interface.

The company also displayed the HD Broadcast Reference tuner, designed to be a benchmark IBOC receiver. It can, depending on configuration, receive and distribute 10 audio and video signal sources including HDTV, HD Radio with surround sound (if transmitted), analog AM and FM, and TV to multiple zones. Future broadcast modules will include satellite radio as well as streaming Internet audio, the company said.

Ibiquity Executive Director of Broadcast Business Development Scott Stull said the product introduction means broadcast monitors from three manufacturers will soon be available for HD Radio: Belar, Audemat-Aztec and DaySequerra.

KUVO(FM) DOE Mike Pappas said DaySequerra would deliver one of the first units to KUVO for a combined SBE/AES seminar on HD Radio Feb. 23 in Denver.

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