HD Radio may have a future with the hundreds of radio stations that use the technology and with radio manufacturers like Polk Audio and Boston Acoustics Inc., but not with Tivoli Audio LLC–at least not for now.
During a June 21 press conference to announce new products, Tivoli Audio founder and CEO Tom DeVesto said his company wouldn’t be enabling its products with HD Radio any time soon “…because I don’t really see what the consumer benefit is.”
Tivoli Audio is known for its high-end, conservative-looking table radios like the Model One. At the press conference at New York’s St. Regis Hotel, Tivoli Audio showed off colorful new additions to its portable radio line and new table top radios.
When asked about HD Radio during a Q&A session, DeVesto said it didn’t appeal to him. “There’s no content that you can’t get with analog radio,” said DeVesto. “There’s really no advantage that I see to the consumer today.”
HD Radio technology allows existing radio stations to broadcast static-free digital radio programming using the same AM and FM frequencies they are now assigned. According to iBiquity Digital Corp, which developed and licenses HD Radio, the technology results in AM reception that has the fidelity of today’s FM stations and FM reception with the clarity of a music CD.
HD Radio also allows stations to stream text data like weather and traffic reports along with their audio broadcasts. For example, during a music broadcast an HD Radio-enabled radio can display the name and artist of the song that is playing. HD Radio is free–no subscription is required–just an HD Radio-enabled radio.
DeVesto said today’s FM stations, when tuned in with quality equipment, already provide better audio quality than what HD Radio promises. He also noted that the modules necessary to build HD Radio reception into a radio are expensive and only available through iBiquity. He said HD Radio might be more appealing when there is more unique content available.
At the press onference Tivoli showed off its limited-edition 2005 Fashion Collection colors for its PAL (Personal Audio Laboratory) portable radios. These weatherproof, rectangular units offer Tivoli Audio’s trademark precision analog tuning dial and a 2.5-inch speaker. The speaker is monaural but a headphone jack offers stereo output. The $129 units have rechargeable batteries that offer up to 16 hours of playing time, according to the company. The 2005 Fashion Collection colors include sky blue, pink, orange and lime green.
The new $329.99 Tivoli Audio iSongBook, a slim, digital-tuning portable radio, offers a flip-down dock that accommodates Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod digital music players and a detachable second speaker. The 2.2-inch deep unit can run on AA alkaline batteries but also has a built in battery charger for nickel-cadmium (NiCad) or nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. A small remote control unit controls the album and play list functions of a connected iPod. The second speaker can be attached to the right side of the unit or detached and connected with an included audio cable.
Also seen at the press conference was the $299 Model Satellite, which has a Sirius Satellite Radio receiver in addition to an AM/FM tuner. The sleek table radio is built into a cherry wood cabinet, offers a three-inch, top-mounted speaker and comes with a small remote control.