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Boston Acoustics Recepter HD Radio

December, 2006

Piero Gabucci

 


Specifications:

HD Radio with Multicasting
Input for Headphones, iPod/MP3
   Players or Other External Devices
20 Preset Stations
Second Speaker Option
● Remote Control Included
● Dimensions: 4.4" H x 7.6" W x 6.8" D
● Weight: 1.6 Pounds
MSRP: $299 USA

Boston Acoustics
www.bostonacoustics.com

Introduction

We've been bombarded over the last few years with HD-This and HD-That. With High Definition television accelerating and the current debate with High Definition DVD formats taking center-stage, the poor radio market has fallen behind which it shares in general with all high resolution audio formats.

Frankly, I'm not surprised, as commercial over-the-air "free" radio hasn't been entertaining since FM was introduced, and like most consumers, I find that getting good reception is frustrating.

Now, satellite radio, such as XM or Sirius, delivers digital sound and depending on your gear, some pretty good quality. It's predominately commercial and host-free, yet most importantly is fee-based.

HD Radio

Enter HD Radio, which promises digitally transmitted CD quality sound for free. But, of course, you'll need an HD Radio tuner capable of receiving the over-the-air digital signal.

So what is HD Radio? First and foremost, it's your local radio stations transmitting in digital format, like the satellite guys. This bumps up AM to sound as good as current FM quality, and FM to sound like your CDs.

All that static and drop-off should disappear too.

One other thing it does is allow the radio stations to multicast on the same frequency. Developed by a company called iBiquity Digital, your favorite radio station could broadcast different formats at the same time, all carried on their assigned frequency.

And unlike the mandate for television transmissions to switch entirely to digital, no such requirement is set for radio.

With the technology now getting adopted by more and more radio stations (converting to digital broadcasting is inexpensive), manufacturers are responding with HD Radio equipment in cars, in your hi-fi system and with stand alone units such as the Boston Acoustic Recepter Radio HD.

More information including finding the HD stations in your area can be found at www.HDradio.com.

The Design

Outwardly, the Recepter looks like a bulky alarm clock in platinum/silver.

Including the second speaker component which is optional, the unit looks more like one of those "Wave" radios. It's about 4" high, 7 " across, and 6" deep. If you include the optional speaker, add another 4" across.

Connecting the two units via an 18" or so cable allows you to keep it together or spread them apart for better stereo imaging. It's also supplied with a compact remote control.

Overall, it's a handsome unit, and the bright blue dimmable display is quite legible and attractive. The screen will display time, source, frequency, HD reception, and all the typical alarm clock indicators.

The top has the usual clock functions, Snooze/Sleep and a flip-up panel for setup functions.

Operationally, the Recepter is quite straightforward. Once a HD station is tuned in, the unit will signal revelations.

Two knobs on the front control tuning and volume. By pushing on each, they will turn the unit on or off and give you the 20 possible presets.

Included is a dipole antenna which I found offered the best reception - looks like a "T" against your wall.

Let's not forget iPod (like that's possible these days) on the rear is an iPod or MP3 cable connection. You'll find that right next to a headphone jack.

The Performance

The sound comes from a 3" driver, and I found very little information on the construction. I really didn't want to take it apart to identify the design. Surprisingly I found a small 1" port on the rear behind each driver.

The sound is extremely pleasant and laid back although a bit on the warm side. It does deliver enough believable deep bass aided by those rear ports. Keeping the speakers apart and standing back several feet yielded some pretty good sound dimension that I found thoroughly enjoyable.

The dozen HD stations in my area (the NY metropolitan) all came in extremely clear, and a few offered more than one format.

The Receptor took a few seconds to lock onto an HD signal but had no problem keeping the signal strength. The difference in sound between an HD signal and a good quality analog source is marginal for some stations and exceptional for others, i.e., HD Radio is generally better.

The playback from the iPod surpassed my expectations. I enjoy the pleasant and overall presentation of the MP3 sound through the Recepter.

Conclusions

High Definition (HD) Radio is a solid breakthrough and will hopefully allow FM radio to grow by the improved reception, although, adversely, it's programming from multicasting.

I won't kid you that this was the greatest fidelity I've ever heard - but so what. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to the Recepter as I write my reviews or do anything near my desk where the Boston Acoustic HD radio sits, hmm, permanently.


- Piero Gabucci -

Copyright 2006 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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