HD Radio not  high definition: Investigation by
Keefe Bartels



HD Radio compliantsHD Radio, which is the trademark of iBiquity Digital Corporation, claims to provide superior quality sound to FM and AM radio.   In particular, it has been described as providing “‘CD quality to FM and FM quality to AM.’”  HD Radio, however, does not stand for “High Definition.” In fact, according to iBiquity, the “HD” does not stand for anything.   Instead, iBiquity likely uses the “HD” as a marketing device based upon consumers’ understanding and ever increasing desire for HD television.  HD Radio and HD television are completely different technologies.

    Despite iBiquity’s claims of improved sound quality and transmission, there have been numerous complaints about HD Radio from not only the radio industry but also consumers.  These complaints have included:

  • Radio receiver bumping station from HD to analog mode;
  • Echo sound heard when the radio switches between HD and analog modes;
  • Crackling or static sound when HD mode is inactive;
  • Insufficient numbers of HD Radio stations;
  • Loss of signal while driving in valleys or between high buildings;
  • Signal disruption for environmental conditions; and
  • Adjacent channel interference.    

    Greater numbers of automakers are factory installing HD Radio receivers in their vehicles.  For 2010, automakers including HD Radio in their vehicles are:

  • Audi;HD Radio complaints
  • BMW;
  • Ford;
  • Hyundai;
  • Jaguar;
  • Kia;
  • Land Rover;
  • Lincoln;
  • Mercedes Benz;
  • Rolls Royce;
  • Scion;
  •  Volkswagon; and
  • Volvo.  

    Automakers are aware of the complaints associated with HD Radio.  For example, in 2007, BMW released a Service Information Bulletin describing the problems associated with HD Radio, but noted that there was no retrofit kit or procedure available.

   The attorneys at Keefe Bartels are continuing their investigation into HD Radio and whether consumers are being forced to purchase technology that does not work as claimed.  If you have experienced problems with your factory-installed HD radio receiver, we are interested in speaking to you.  

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