HD Radio Makers, B'casters Plan Strategy At CES

By Joseph Palenchar & Amy Gilroy On Jan 16 2006 - 8:00am

About 18 home and car audio companies displayed or demonstrated digital AM/FM radio here at International CES, where an alliance of broadcasters met daily with retailers and suppliers to launch coordinated promotions in the coming months.

Peter Ferrara, CEO of the Orlando, Fla.-based HD Digital Radio Alliance, conducted the meetings on behalf of the eight major radio station groups that formed the alliance late last year. Six of the broadcast groups are in the top 10 by number of stations operated.

The alliance also plans to coordinate the rollout of FM multicasting in the top 25 radio markets to diversify terrestrial-radio formats to compete more aggressively with the diversity of satellite and Internet radio. Digital radio makes it possible for an FM radio station to deliver two or more programs simultaneously on its assigned frequency. The multicast FM channels initially will be commercial-free.

The alliance plans a multicast announcement in the second half of the month.

Among the companies that showed HD Radio products, Onkyo showed its long-awaited HD Radio module, an option that can be inserted into the company's existing top-end modular A/V receiver, the $4,999-suggested TX-NR1000, and top-end Integra DTR 10.5 receiver. The module is due in the second quarter at an unannounced price.

In a related development, iBiquity unveiled a hardware/software platform for adding HD Radio to any aftermarket or OEM satellite-ready head unit..

Other home and car audio companies that showed products in their booths and in the booth where HD Radio inventor iBiquity exhibited. Many of the home products had been previously announced, including models from Audio Design Associates, Boston Acoustics, DaySequerra, Polk, Rotel, Sangean and Yamaha. Philips and Radiosophy are also expected to show home products.

Car audio companies exhibiting products included Alpine Electronics, Delphi, Dice, Eclipse, JVC, Kenwood, Panasonic, Sanyo and Visteon.

Companies currently offering products to consumers or soon to be in early 2006, iBiquity said, include ADA, Alpine, Boston Acoustics, DaySequerra, Dice Electronics, Eclipse, JVC, Kenwood, Panasonic, Polk Audio, Radiosophy, Rotel, Sanyo and Yamaha.

Boston Acoustics offers a stereo table radio at a suggested $499; Polk plans late March or early April deliveries of the $599-suggested XM-ready I-Sonic entertainment system, a single-chassis system with DVD player, HD Radio, and speakers. Rotel is targeting the first quarter for its component HD Radio tuner. Yamaha's product is an A/V receiver, the $1,899-suggested RX-V4600 with integrated HD Radio.

ADA showed an HD Radio card that can be inserted into its distributed audio HTR-2400 receiver and Tune Suite distributed audio system, at a price of around $600. DaySequerra plans a tuner chassis that accepts multiple HD Radio module and TV-receiver modules. And Radiosophy plans a transportable tuner that plugs into a tabletop amplified speaker system and into a home system.

In the car, Eclipse and Kenwood will continue to offer outboard HD Radio tuners that connect to multiple in-dash head units at respective suggested retails of $400 and $449. Alpine, which was expected in late 2005 to offer a $1,600-suggested DVD head unit with integrated HD Radio, plans to unveil an outboard tuner that connects to any of its AiNet head units. Its targeted retail is $249.

Also new:

  • JVC's $329-suggeted CD receiver with integrated HD Radio. It will replace the current $849-suggested model.

  • Kenwood's $799-suggested EZ900 CD-receiver, the industry's first head unit with integrated HD Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio tuners.

  • Dice's HD Radio adapter for any car stereo system with inputs for a CD changer, navigation system or other auxiliary device. It ships after CES at a tentative price of less than $300.

Also to demonstrate the technology, local stations KSTJ-FM and KXTE-FM delivered live multicasts, and stations will broadcast live traffic information for display on car navigation systems.

iBiquity also plans to preview a new HD Radio retailer training site located at www.cyberscholar.com.

More than 600 stations are broadcasting digital signals alongside their analog signal, and more than 2,400 more stations are in the process of converting to HD Radio, iBiquity said.

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