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Sony HD Radio Tuner Hits All Right Notes

You want one of these and you might not realize it yet. Want to know why? Because it just might be the best ever made.

I'm talking about Sony's (SNE - Get Report) XDR-F1HD AM/FM/HD Radio tuner. This is a radio tuner. That means you have to plug it into a hi-fi or home theater setup to listen. It receives local AM and FM stations as well as all the new HD channels.

HD is the new digital method for U.S. broadcasters to deliver over-the-airwaves audio and data in addition to their analog signal. If radio stations choose to broadcast in HD, they can add one, two or more digital channels on the same frequency as their analog station.

Best Tuner Ever?

On the FM band, the first HD channel is usually a digital version of the regular analog station. Other digital channels, by law, must provide separate and varied programming. AM stations use an HD signal to rebroadcast a digital version of their regular signal. Listening to HD radio is free (unlike XM/Sirius (XMSR) satellite radio). All you need is a new tuner.

If you live in an area with few radio stations, this Sony tuner probably won't do much for you. On the other hand, if you live in, around or near a large urban area, such as New York City or another area with a large selection of FM stations, then you should be interested. Despite a few email complaints I sometimes receive concerning "Nothing good to listen to on radio so why bother?" I believe that these new, over-the-air digital music streams can, and in some cases do, provide terrific sounding, commercial-free music worth listening to.

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