HD Radio Redux: Still Months Away

A few weeks ago, I filed a small feature (samizdat link) for The New York Times on digital terrestrial radio, known often by its trademarked name, HD Radio. HD Radio overlays digital audio side-by-side with existing analog AM and FM station broadcasts, allowing AM stations to produce something that sounds like analog FM, and FM stations to have CD-level dynamic range and even additional digital subchannels.

When I filed the article, the timing was good because it appeared that one HD Radio receiver was on the market and three more would ship in the next few weeks to months. The one on the market is a $1,900 Yamaha behemoth that does 47,000 different things and has a million jacks on the back--and it happens to be the only HD Radio equipped component or tabletop device of any kind. (All the other HD Radios are embedded in car receivers; Kenwood, for instance, makes a generic module that works with a huge line of their receivers.)

Well, I've just done the survey of Boston Acoustics, Polk Audio, and Radiosophy, three companies expecting an August or later shipment for their products. Polk had told me earlier that they had pushed back to the first quarter of 2006. Radiosophy now says Jan. 2006 (instead of Sept. 2005) on their site. And Boston Acoustics said that Nov. 2005 is their firm shipping date instead of August, which was fluid.

What this means is that it's still the best radio you've never heard. But not for much, much longer.

All three companies ideally wanted to hit the pipeline for Christmas this year. Hitting November to March means that they'll be a little lost in the shuffle.