Friday, October 10, 2008

KAXE Reception Issues and solutions

The FM band is becoming crowded and many listeners are losing reception of KAXE's signal on our translators at 105.3 and 89.9 in addition to our main signal on 91.7. The cause of the signal degradation is beyond KAXE's control, however there are some products out there that have recently come on the market that can help you recover a listenable signal once again.

Because the band is so crowded, it has become imperative that your radio is digitally tuned and with high selectivity. But tuners, including digital ones, differ TREMENDOUSLY in quality and their ability to separate signals. There is a new one on the market, the Sony XDR-F1HD that I've bought to test and it may be the answer to many reception problems.

This new tuner, and it is just a tuner that you must hook into an existing stereo system as it has no speaker outputs, uses a very sophisticated Digital Signal Processing algorithm to separate close signals. It is "Black Box" electronics and will never be held dear like a classic Sansui receiver of days gone by. However, this little monster performs extremely well and when used with an external antenna, is about the best FM receiver money can buy. Here's the amazing thing... this tuner costs about $100 including shipping.

A very thorough, high tech review of the tuner is here..

There are things not to like about this tuner... it loses the station presets when unplugged for more than a few seconds, the LCD backlight stays on continuously, it runs very warm, and it feels and looks cheese-y and does not integrate well visually with existing stereo equipment. Sigh. But it does work nicely and really does a fine job of separating KAXE from other stations close by on the dial.

I've not mentioned this radio also receives HD Radio (TM) broadcasts... KAXE has choosen to not broadcast in HD because of the interference it would cause to our existing analog listeners on our signal fringe. HD Radio (TM) is a whole 'nother discussion that I'll take you down sometime.


Erv said...

Nice to see such suggestions; however, DaShack is on battery power. Any suggestions for battery power? Currently I have a Grundig S350DL radio and the station drift drives me nuts. A better radio is needed and it must have an alarm to wake us to KAXE during the upcoming holy days!


Dan Houg said...

Hi Erv-
Your Grundig S350L is a good radio so I think what you need is an external antenna with a lead running to your radio. I've had excellent luck with the Antennacraft FM6. Even with this antenna mounted only 6' off the ground but outside, you'll notice a huge difference. This is a "TV" style FM antenna specifically tuned for the FM band. It is very directional so you need to align it for best reception by simply rotating it until you have the strongest signal.

Give me a call if you have more questions!
-Dan Houg

Wayne said...

I bought one of these tuners this summer. Reception in the Outing area had deteriorated to the point where I could no longer get a clean stereo signal from KAXE. I'm happy to report pristine audio, both left and right using only the wire dipole antenna included with the tuner. I'm not receiving HD radio in this area with any reliability. AM radio in HD is interesting and certainly an improvement in fidelity over traditional AM on the rare occasion that I can pull in a strong enough signal. I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure there is a vacuum tube inside as the cabinet does gets a little warm.

Dan Houg said...

Hi Wayne-
No vacuum tube inside! The warmth is coming from the power supply transformer. Check out the article review I reference in the blog and you'll see nice inside pics and a discussion of the warmth of the power supply.

Very cool to hear it worked well for the marginal reception! I value that kind of feedback


Wayne said...

OK, so no user serviceable tubes inside. I do miss those 5 tubers that could heat up a small room. My 24" lcd monitor probably matches the btu but without that comforting orange glow.

Tucker said...

Wondering if this little monster would resolve a reception problem I've had for years with a local FM station - they have two transmitters separated by some distance and operating on the same carrier frequency, with me about the same distance from both. The resulting multipath is terrible and even with a high end tuner (Yamaha TX-1000) and directional FM yagi and rotor, I can't get rid of distortion, even on mono but especially on stereo. They have gone HD so I'm thinking I might give the Sony a try, but I don't know how it responds to multipath on HD. Any thoughts on this?


Dan Houg said...

If you are sandwiched between 2 stations broadcasting HD, you have my sympathies. HD's sloppy signal can occupy up to 5 channels, spilling over noise into the adjacent frequencies. Analog FM, sits nicely in the one 200KHz channel allotted to it.

I would give the radio a try. It has some very creative digital signal processing that is about the best at separating signals. Buy it for $80 and take a chance!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan and others.

Just found your post on the Sony XDR-F1HD. Decided to purchase one but find no stock anywhere. Surprised considering the very excellent performance you and others have reported. Has this tuner been discontinued or, what is the status? Anyone know?

Thanks, Meaux