Re: Sangean HDR-14 UL HD AM/FM Radio - What do you think?

Mark Roberts

Hola, Jorge -
The situation in the United States is not one that would indicate that HD is the future of radio. In the San Francisco Bay Area, one of our two National Public Radio stations has turned it off. The commercial FM stations running HD have been abandoning their HD-2 channels. The all-sports stations on FM (we have two of those) have turned it off - the time delay makes it difficult for listeners to bring their radios to the ballpark or stadium to hear the play-by-play of the action that's in front of them. There are still a couple of interesting formats on HD-2 stations, but in other cities, HD-2 channels seem to be used primarily for AM simulcasts. No AM HD here - the nearest is in Sacramento (about 130 km away). The Federal Communications Commission has authorized digital-only AM stations, but that's a relatively new development. The big commercial chains (Audacy, iHeartRadio, Bonneville, Cumulus) are the ones who've kept HD alive. As for receivers, many new cars can receive HD signals. However, that's not widely promoted. I bought a car two years ago; the "infotainment system" can receive HD but it was turned off by default. I had to go through the menus to find the setting to turn it on.

Ultimately, programming drives adoption of anything new in radio. In this case, one of those HD-2 channels in San Francisco has a format that no one else has in the area, and I like it, so I've bought a couple of radios and a tuner in order to hear it. If I lived in Albuquerque (New Mexico), where there are very few stations with HD broadcasts (a bit odd since Cumulus owns the top stations there), it would be a different matter.

I know some Mexican stations are also broadcasting HD; I don't know about Canada. You're right, it's definitely not a worldwide standard. I personally think it's a mistake, but we Americans can make a mess of broadcasting standards when we try!


On Sat, May 22, 2021 at 11:56 PM Jorge Garzón via <> wrote:
Hi Mark, 
Well, there is no HD AM stations here in the Old World and never will have! I bought mine from the EUA because, despite its size, it had PI decoding capabilities. Unfortunately the RDBS and RDS systems are not compatibles in between them. That's funny as sometimes I got US calls when internally receives some RDS PI codes that coincide with a W... or a K... call in NA. 

But it's a good receiver to go bushwalking, ultralight with good sound, very easy to carry in my rucksac and receives PS, CT and RText opening these subcarriers easily. 

Peter, what about to change the Eton Traveler whip for a longer one? This will improve the sensibility of the receiver compared to the other ones. Did you try this? 
¡Saludos desde España! 

El dom., may. 23, 2021 a 6:13, Mark Roberts
<markrobt@...> escribió:
"still sports the best LCD display technology that the 1990s can offer" -- haha!

It's hard to find AM stations broadcasting in HD. There are none in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example. KCBS (740 kHz), KGO (810 kHz), and KTCT (1050 kHz) tried broadcasting it at various times but ultimately discontinued it. KNBR (680 kHz) could not broadcast it at all, according to my understanding, because the antenna system could not pass the bandwidth required. KHTK Sacramento (1140 kHz) is close enough for an HD signal to be detected, but not strong enough to lock into the signal. I was in Denver a few years ago, had my HDR-14 with me, and got OK results. The sound quality will depend upon the quality of the station's encoding: it's really quite variable, more so than for FM.

It will be interesting to see how it does with the digital-only stations (what few of them there are) that are starting to convert from analog.

For radio collectors: the Sangean SG-108 is the same radio, but in a whitee  case with gray lettering.

On Thu, May 20, 2021 at 8:37 AM Michael Schuster <> wrote:
As somewhat a collector of IBOC ("HD Radio") sets I purchased this upon its release. A miniaturized version of the HDR-14, crammed into the cabinet used for the Sangean DPR-65 FM/DAB+ portable, there had to be some design compromises. Your intended comparison sets should prove to be an interesting exercise as the others are really aimed at different market segments - apples and oranges. The HDR-14 is not a DX rig but aimed at the casual program listener who has HD stations nearby and wants to take advantage. Frankly if you're outside of North America I can't see any reason to buy it over other postabls unless you are a collector .... but then, many of us are!

When this model was introduced I posted to the SWL blog a quick comparison with its direct competitor - the NiceTex ("SPARC" "Audiovox") SHD-TX2. In the end the NiceTex is marginally a better performer on RF and has much better audio from the speaker due to its passive radiator design. It was never well distributed though and unfortunately seems to have been silently discontinued along with the majority of their private label portables.

The HDR-14 is quite competent on FM which is probably true of most portables designed in the last few years. Its HD capture is really good, which does require very good sensitivity. AM performance is hampered by a small ferrite antenna and rather wide selectivity - again reflecting the design choices made in its market position and re-using a cabinet that did not even have AM section in its original configuration. There are quite a few birdies on AM which may or may not matter depending on whether you have stations which overlap those frequencies. I live in an area in which one of the last remaining AM-HD stations is still on the air, and it does handle it very well. I even snagged AM-HD Dx occasionally from a station ~75 miles away or so.

It is somewhat of a battery hog though, and true to Sangean's design philosophy of beating existing circuit designs to death, still sports the best LCD display technology that the 1990's can offer.

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