With warmer nights, I seem to be picking up Buffalo PBS HD better. But, each time the Sony determines it should shift into HD, there is a half-second of silence. This is really noxious to the ear esp. since the Sony was shifting pack and forth a few times a minute.
When it shifts back into FM-stereo, there is no pause. Not sure if there is also some kind of time-shift processing-latency happening.
I think some fix has been posted but the surgery is more than I'd like to perform (unlike the surgery to mono-ize FM-stereo which is trivial, of course). The Sony has switches for neither.
Although Sony is leading the pack using the new Philips chipset with their tuner, I am sure other brands will appear soon. And that they will have just a few more bells and whistles (like some control over threshold for HD grab or release or cycle time) that come pricey when offered by a fancy company like Sony.
Yes, other fixes exist like adding a switchable loss pad so that the Sony stays under the HD threshold... no fun.
Otherwise, the net-result sound is still amazing (both it's brute specs but even more the inaudible trick processing that delivers clean sound and great stereo).
You have the Sony HD FM receiver like I do, but seek to find a model that can switch to analog when reception is not as good as you'd like? It turns out there is a way to do that, all you need to do cut a single line on the board and place a switch in it. K6STI describes how to do it here, under "Forced Analog Reception"
When k6sti (Brian) was still active at our site I mentioned to him that with my electronics background I was fairly sure I could make the mods okay, but he was quite cautious about the potential for not getting it right so I never bothered. Hearing that from him was important, as he was not trying to roll out a consumer-grade mod and wasn't suggesting it for experienced solderers either. I also asked him if a capacitor could be added to the power supply instead of his mods, and he felt that it wouldn't be workable.
A second solution to the XDR-F1HD's power-off problems would be a UPS, which might keep the tuner and a small audio amplifier operational for a half day or so during a power outage, and much longer if not running continuously. When simply unplugging/replugging the tuner one would do that with the UPS instead, keeping the tuner juiced up all the time.
"... cautious about the potential for not getting it right..."
That's helpful guidance you are passing on from Brian, albeit no more specific than is possible when variable humans are involved. So that still leaves me wondering if I should gamble doing it, kind of like when Dirty Harry asks the perp, "Feeling lucky today?"
There are two mods I'd like to do. (1) HD-defeat, which involves cutting a trace in a non-RF location and inserting an SPST switch and (2) adding to the minute 20-minute memory evaporation time by adding in parallel a 1 F cap or a battery, again, which is a non-RF location and, at least for the battery back-up, can be connected to the visible top-side with test clips (I'm not sure if the cap can also be top-side connected with clips to the same places???).
I'll check with local Sony about re-alignment of the tuner - if their Canadian lab handles the HD tuner! That's my error backstop.
This morning I visited the Sony authorized repair depot on Yonge Street north of Lawrence. Always good for my ego to meet a professional who knows no more about circuits and test gear than I do. On the other hand, and without joking, not always good for getting high-class service.
He said neither he nor anybody at the importer's Don Valley Parkway shop could do anything about alignment. This surprised me since Brian Beezley seems to be able to do great re-alignment of tuners with his gear. So in the repairman's view, you have to trust the tuning when it comes out of the box and don't do anything inside to change it.
So, I bravely proceeded to do mods on the Sony. Two are badly needed.
Mod 1. Retention of clock and station memory more than 15 minutes. There are three circuits on the web - start with Brian's review.
Mod 2. Lock-out HD and lock-in FM-stereo so that the tuner doesn't switch from one to the other. Since the HD-digital takes longer to work its way out of the broadcast station, there is a nasty silence and time-warp as the Sony tunes from one to the other and back. Seems PBS-Buffalo has added a time-delay, I think, so that there is a half-second silence, but no time-warp.
Easy enough to open the Sony box and free the circuit board; the tuner sensitive pieces are pretty protected from misalignment. But Mod 2 requires some fine trace cutting and mini-soldering and so I did only Mod 1 to start with.
My present reception of PBS-HD is rare so I can live without this mod until the next upgrade of my antenna (or their expected change to broadcast power... but they are still 80 mlles from Toronto, eh).
For Mod 1, you are simply paralleling a large capacitor with a super-large super-cap 1 farad, 3.5 v (for 20 hr storage, estimated) or with some little 3.6 v lithium batteries, like for cellphones.
Active Surplus on Queen Street Toronto has all these pieces. I soldered in a lithium battery (an assembly with solder lugs) in series with a 350 ohm resistor. Based on Hillel's write-up, should last a month or more. So far, fine overnight.
Sure nice not to lose the stations and clock every time the power goes off. Also, I can power-up the tuner from a power bar with the other gear... and not have the bright panel lamp shine all night!
Well, I have heard the HD a bit. Hard to make comparisons when the Sony FM-stereo is so good and I can make comparisons only when the signal is strong enough for HD to work. Better, but not vastly so compared to FM at its best. I read that the digital HD does get somewhat corrupted with great distances. anybody know?
I've had fine HD reception from Rochester when tropo enhances reception.
What is more daunting though is quantifying the relationship between analogue reception and digital reception. With a number of stations appearing to use separate antennas for each transmission method, the differences between the two at times seems to defy logic, unless the exact transmission pattern is known. Case in point. I've noticed traveling by GO Transit via the QEW between Hamilton and Toronto that at times, WTSS (102.5) will hammer in on analogue, but the HD part won't tweak, but at home, with the analogue much weaker, the HD comes in quite well most of the time, but this too changes day by day. In fact, on Friday, riding along Barton St. in Hamilton, I had WTSS in HD at times, and there wasn't any real tropo to speak of. My only guess is the HD part must have a null towards the north-west. Lately, my reception of WBFO HD (88.7) has also greatly improved since September. Still need a sweet spot to get it, but not as finicky as before, and with tropo, almost rock solid. So this raises an interesting question... Are the HD antenna's nulled-out towards Toronto? Or is their height different enough to cause these anomalies in reception?
I also found out the hand-held HD radio I have puts ALL the FM reception through a few second delay. This became apparent when my wife & I were listening to CBC radio 1 in Ottawa (FM feed, no HD) and my radio had a few second delay... Really spooked me at first, but now that explains why my radio might be better at the switchover to HD than the Sony.... You might want to compare standard FM reception with a plain FM radio and listen for a delay...
My favourite HD channels so far.... WBFO (NPR, 88.7) HD2 "The Border" and WTSS (102.5) HD2 - Delta Blues. Both great to listen to.
My non-invasive solution to the problem of the info panel glowing brightly all the time was accomplished with a Harmony remote that runs the whole living room AV system.
I added some custom commands to the XDR-F1HD's routine on the Harmony so that when I select "Listen to Radio" it activates the tuner but also triggers a couple of dimmer commands in order to raise it to medium and then full brightness while on.
When I select another activity on the Harmony not requiring the tuner it triggers enough dimmer commands to set it to the lowest setting (quite dim) just before it powers it off. That's how it stays until needed again. At that dimness it doesn't seem more noticeable than the powered-off display of the DVD-VCR player beside it.
I can live with that. As for the power outage problem, maybe I'll dig out that giant capacitor I kept from a dead air conditioner I scrapped... I was saving it for something just like this but I'll have to go check the values on it.
Stampeder, thanks for your solution for the tuner display. I added 'bright' command once on the 'Listen to HD Radio' activity to turn display on brightest and added 'bright' command twice when turning activity off to dim display to lowest. Works great with Harmony One.
Not much on eBay (and high prices for recent offerings) and B&H say it has been discontinued and can't find much googgling.
It is/was fabulous compared to any other tuner I've had, with iBiquity HD just icing on the cake. But various annoying shortcomings (like losing its memory in twenty minutes with no power (unless you do a simple mod)).
Yes the XDR-F1HD and the XDR-S10HDiP are both discontinued. I spoke to Sony Style USA support about this to confirm. They had no information about if or when there would be replacement models. We will see.....
With the acclaim it received (and Sony must have known what a star they potentially had), why?
I understand the heart of the unit was a Philips component. Was this just the front-end or was all the trick signal processing that made the Sony great also inside the off-the-shelf Philips piece?
What other gear has that Philips component inside? Something in the pipeline from Sony for $350?
We just bought a Florida condo halfway between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. I was keen to try HD reception down there. A conventional yagi would get PBS stations front and back since they are about 170 degrees apart.
Maybe I'll have to carry the Sony whenever I go!!!
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