HD Radio

HD Radio (HDR)[1] is a trademark for an in-band on-channel (IBOC) digital radio broadcast technology. It generally simulcasts an existing analog radio station in digital format with less noise and with additional text information. HD Radio is used primarily by AM and FM radio stations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, with a few implementations outside North America.

HD Radio logo.

The term "on channel" is a misnomer because the system actually broadcasts on the ordinarily unused channels adjacent to an existing radio station's allocation. This leaves the original analog signal intact, allowing enabled receivers to switch between digital and analog as required. In most FM implementations, from 96 to 128 kbps of capacity is available. High-fidelity audio requires only 48 kbps so there is ample capacity for additional channels, which HD Radio refers to as "multicasting".

HD Radio is licensed so that the simulcast of the main channel is royalty-free. The company makes its money on fees on additional multicast channels. Stations can choose the quality of these additional channels; music stations generally add one or two high-fidelity channels, while others use lower bit rates for voice-only news and sports. Previously these services required their own transmitters, often on low-fidelity AM. With HD, a single FM allocation can carry all of these channels, and even its lower-quality settings usually sound better than AM.

While it is typically used in conjunction with an existing channel it has been licensed for all-digital transmission as well. Four AM stations use the all-digital format, one under an experimental authorization, the other three under new rules adopted by the FCC in October 2020. The system sees little use elsewhere due to its reliance on the sparse allocation of FM broadcast channels in North America; in Europe, stations are more tightly spaced.


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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article HD Radio, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.