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Positive Feedback ISSUE 33
september/october 2007


Sangean HDT-1 Hybrid Definition Tuner: Update on Sound and Coming Revised X Model
by Robert H. Levi


The word is out from Sangean. From their website:

Sangean America today announced the introduction of the HDT-1X, a deluxe version of its acclaimed HD Radio component tuner. The HDT-1X adds several new features to the existing HDT-1 model, most notably:

  • Sony/Phillips Digital Interface Format (S/PDIF) optical output- 100% Digital virtually lossless signal transmission.

  • Analog Mode Allows listeners to "lock in" an analog signal in fringe areas of coverage

  • Split-Audio Mode- Digital Audio in one channel, Analog audio in the other, allows users to hear the difference between analog and digital signals.

"Many of the customers who purchased the HDT-1 have told us that they like the unit, but feel it could be even better with some new additions. We listened to their feedback and have incorporated their suggestions into the new HDT-1X model," said Clayton Scott, sales and marketing manager, Sangean America. "The HDT-1X represents an excellent option for consumers looking to purchase their first HD Radio product or enhance their current HD Radio experience."

With HD channels multiplying like rabbits in heat, it seems strange that few equipment manufactures are making anything for this new, free radio medium. Even Magnum Dynalab is ignoring it and they breathe and eat tuners. Too bad I think. We need a company that listens to their products and makes sure they sound as good as they technically perform to make tuners for HD. Sequerra does, but I have not heard their new very expensive efforts. Otherwise, fewer major companies are addressing this major medium than are manufacturing 300B vacuum tubes. Weird.

Otherwise, the HDT-1X is unchanged per Sangean sonically. I can attest to the sound of the HDT-1 after listening to it for 6 months and upgrading it with Kimber Interconnects, AQ Power cord, MD ST2 Antenna, and plugging it into a Tice Power Conditioner. It sounds genuinely mediocre. It is technically sophisticated, versatile, has very low distortion, and is very sensitive. It's just musically challenged.

Remember how CDs used to sound in about 1990: clean but hard and crisp. Welcome to HD. Is it the fault of the Sangean or the HD broadcasters in LA? There is a warmth, sweetness, and sense of reality on the regular FM broadcasts that goes bye bye when you switch to HD. There is a wonderful sense of quiet and low distortion that HD brings to a baseball game, but it's not much benefit to Beethoven. The HDT-1 actually sounds more musical overall on regular FM broadcasts and the X version will let you choose this mode easier. Fascinating that no customers told Sangean to improve the sound.

I will endeavor to acquire a Sequerra and report soon. Meanwhile, at $250 or less the Sangean is a fun toy. With 100s of FM and AM HD channels around, it's loads of fun. Just don't take it too seriously.