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on April 2, 2008
I have been following the development of Hybrid-Digital radio (HD) since I listen to radio more than any other audio source. I finally made the move to an HD tuner recently with the purchase of the Sangaen HDT-1X and I would like to tell you my impressions of the hardware and the sonic quality of the signals I'm receiving. Prior to the HDT-1X my experience with FM tuners has been with vintage equipment from Sony, Sansui and Kenwood.

The HDT-1X is an audio component designed to be used with an additional component such as an integrated amplifier, preamp or receiver. It's sized to fit with other equipment in your rack or audio cabinet. Standard AM and FM signals can also be received with the tuner. It weighs 5.7 pounds (2.6 kilograms) and only comes in black. Sangean markets two other models of HD radio receivers, the HDT-1 and HDR-1. The HDR-1 is a tabletop radio. The HDT-1 has the same appearance as the HDT-1X but there are two important differences that caught my attention.The HDT-1X has a optical-out port and the ability to adjust the brightness of LCD display. Both of these features are important to me. Other differences between the two models are a bit more esoteric and are covered on page 16 of the manual. It's available for download from the Sangean web site.

The unit ships with a remote, a very nice heavy duty dipole FM antenna, AM loop antenna and a set of RCA cables to attach the tuner to another audio component. The power cord is detachable. The remote requires two AAA batteries which are not included. The user manual is 22 pages long, very well written, illustrated and filled with all kinds of interesting and useful information about the unit.

Within minutes after UPS dropped it at my door I had it cabled to a vintage Sansui 7000 receiver. I attached both antennas, the power cord and I was on my way. The layout of the front panel is simple and straightforward. You can read more detail about the controls by downloading the manual from Sangean's web site. I'll just hit the highlights in this review.

Set up is very easy. I managed to tune my first HD station without consulting the manual simply by hitting the HD Seek rocker switch on the right of the tuner. I locked onto WMXD (92.3) which bills itself as a classic soul and contemporary R&B station in Detroit. Wow! It nearly knocked me out of my chair. No hiss, signal strength meter pegged, dead silence when there should have been dead silence. Great, well defined punchy bass, clear midrange without a trace of muddiness. In short, it sounded fantastic! I noticed that the station was broadcasting multiple channels of HD. I hit the tuning rocker and that took me to a great gospel program also being broadcast by WMXD. This stuff sounded fantastic. Far superior to satellite radio and closer to that of a fine audio CD.

I managed to locate a total of 18 stations broadcasting in HD. Thirteen of those were multichannel which means I am able to listen to a total of 31 different music streams on FM. Bouyed by my success I fished out the manual and started reading what else the radio could do.

The Info button controls what information is displayed on the LCD screen. It can be operated from the front or the remote. One of the displays is a more sophisticated signal strength meter composed of 18 bars. The weakest station I was receiving was at 16 bars. This is outstanding performance considering that I am only using the dipole antenna supplied with tuner. Normally, I need an outside antenna to eliminate the hiss I get on regular FM. Although I have never bench tested the HDT-1X the sensitivity seems to be outstanding.

Using the presets is a snap. Very intuitive. It works much like my car radio. Find the frequency you would like to store, hold one of the buttons on the keypad down for two seconds and it's captured. I filled up the FM presets in just a few minutes using the HD Seek switch. You can also input the frequency of the station manually through the keypad as well as using the Tuning switch which walks you through the band one frequency step at a time. There is also a Seek switch which takes you to the next strongest station.

Of course, you can listen to non-HD radio as well. That's good because my favorite station is CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) 2 from Canada and they don't broadcast in HD. I miss the great clarity and rock solid signal when listening to this station but it sounds better than my Sansui or Denon receiver sections.

What's really a kick is listening to AM. The powerhouse station in Detroit is WWJ at around 50,000 watts on 950. This is a news station and I spend a lot of time in my car listening to it to avoid traffic delays. The AM radio in my truck is awful and all the maladies that an AM radio signal is subject to doesn't help either. Pops, clicks, crashes and ignition noise are just part of the game with AM. Not so with HD-AM. AM sounds nearly as good as FM and comes through in stereo. If I didn't know I would have a very hard time telling difference between an AM and FM signal on HD. Of course, the programming would give it away in a second. I can only find two AM stations broadcasting in HD in the Detroit area.

All of this goodness was repeated when I hooked the unit up to my Denon 3805 with one important difference: I used an optical cable to attach the tuner to the receiver instead of the RCA jacks. Whoever invented the optical cable for the interconnection of audio components should get some kind of award. Not only is the connection of equipment simplified but it really cuts down on the cable mess. And I'm really good at cable management too. The Denon is a receiver so it already has a built-in tuner that sounds great. The HDT-1X is attached through an unused port on the Denon and operates separately from the receiver's built-in tuner. It's a relatively inexpensive way to upgrade an existing receiver to HD radio.

My experiences with the Sangaen have been nothing but positive. If I had to search for a flaw it would be the remote which requires you to point the remote directly at the tuner to transmit commands properly. Another item which might bother some people is that the display can not be turned off completely. It can only be dimmed with the HDT-1X. You can at least dim it to a non-obtrusive level. This is the only model of HD radio that Sangaen makes that allows the display to be dimmed.

I would recommend this product to anyone wishing to explore what HD radio is capable of.
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on April 10, 2011
I used the Sangean HDT-1X Radio for a few two weeks, and it worked quite well. I live in LONG BEACH, CA, about 25 miles from L.A., and the HDT-1X locked into the available HD-2 and HD-3 stations just fine (approx. 25 in all, about 8 of which I like). One by one the stations I have listened to most in recent years have disappeared from the AM & FM dial, ultimately ending up on HD (let's just call it Hybrid Digital). With Sangean HDT-1X I have some of these favorites back. For example, 94.7 KTWV--the SMOOTH jazz version (HD-2) which was so popular for years and years; K-MOZART 105.1 (HD-2) CLASSICAL Music; RETRO--formerly Retro 1260 AM, now 105.1 FM (HD-3) Standards/Swing. Admittedly, the latter isn't high fidelity, but it's still much better than when it was on AM 1260 with all the buzzing and humming! Well, you get the idea.

Setting up the HDT-1X was fairly easy (my first attempt with HD Radio), and I find the dimmable DISPLAY, the programmable REMOTE, and RCA connections all work quite well. By the way, the REMOTE does NOT require the pushing of two buttons have some have claimed (once your preset stations are programmed in). Just a quick, light tap of any of the numbered keys sends you right to the preset station you want. And, unlike so many of the tiny, thin remotes out there now (with the little "bubble" buttons), this remote fits nicely in your hand and is sensibly laid out. (By the way, the same 10 preset buttons are on the unit as well.)

You can tune this unit with MANUAL TUNING (1 hz at a time), with a SEEK of all stations in your area, or with a HD SEEK button which quickly locks in only on the HD stations available. Very handy!

I recommend this unit for those hunting for lost stations living in urban areas with lots of HD programming. However, if you're after multitudes of free radio, you might consider what I'm now playing with: INTERNET RADIO. It's much more difficult to set up, and even a bit clumsier to run than HD Radio, but my goodness--dozens and dozens of stations in each genre you like! It's amazing!! Try the GRACE SOLO, just $90 (it has no speakers, but plugs into your stereo amplifier) and it really works.
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on June 17, 2009
Updated: Have owned this for six months now and used it nearly every day. Some of the criticisms I noted in my original review (below) have been explained to me as more likely my lack of understanding, not a fault of the tuner (see comment). I should also have noted that reception with the tuner is excellent--using only the supplied antenna. My house has a stucco exterior and I assumed I'd have to run an antenna into the attic to get around the chicken wire. Not necessary.

Original Review:

Chose this over the Sony based on other reviews suggesting the Sony ran hot. Not a lot to say about it since it generally does what it's supposed to do.

Reception is as good or better than my receiver so I made it the default tuner for all stations I listen to. Like other reviewers, I bought this specifically for the HD broadcast of our local Public Station, which has more and better programming than their analog-only broadcast. And for that, it works fine. The sound quality doesn't strike me as being any better or worse than analog.

I'd give it 5 stars but for two issues:

1. Price is a bit high

2. The station presets for the digital broadcasts don't stick. In other words, if preset 1 is for KCBX-1 (digital version of their analog broadcast) and preset 2 is for KCBX-2 (digital only broadcast, with separate programming). The tuner eventually loses the KCBX-2 preset and selecting either 1 or 2 will just tune to KCBX-1.

For some reason, there's a slight delay (it says it's "linking") when it tries to tune KCBX-2 but not KCBX-1, even though both are broadcast in digital (one signal stronger?). This only happens after having been tuned to some other analog-only station. This "linking" delay might be the root of the preset loss but I haven't played with it enough to determine. This is a modest annoyance but, for the cost of the tuner, I'd expect better.

And for energy efficiency geeks obsessed by vampire loads, the Sangean uses about 2 watts when in standby.
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on May 28, 2009
I admire tuners that are just that - tuners - and nothing else. You won't even get a volume button with this unit. But you will get a good tuner, somewhat better than Pioneer's super tuner even. I live a long way from transmitters (65 miles) but have very low multi-path interference so in general our reception is great. That said HD radio somewhat like HD TV takes a little more boost in terms of dBu signal strength. So even when you're getting a full analog stereo signal that may not translate to digital HD. Here's an example: Compare with KQED that broadcasts 110KW and easily transmits HD to me, the station KALW SF. It's a favorite public radio station and broadcasts a very small 1.9KW. I get KALW at 17 out of 18 on the signal meter but not HD unless I unplug basically every appliance in my house including the frige; then sometimes there's HD. But if there's even a laptop plugged in or a router WIFI etc. forget it.
[...]

Just note that RDS is used with analog broadcasts.

All in all the radio is very nice and efficient so I can't complain. When connected directly with a digital optical cord to a set of speakers there's plenty of volume to spare.
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on December 18, 2011
I bought the HDT-1X by Sangean as the heroic Sony XDR-F1HD seems to be no longer available. I have three Sony units, and at only ~$100 a piece, they are fabulous. But now that those are no longer available, the Sangean seems to be the only available alternative for the home. At almost twice the price of the Sony, I was a little skeptical at first of the Sangean. It's also about three-times the size of the Sony, making it a little more challenging to fit into tight spaces. But no matter... On initial power up, I was treated to its bright, bold cobalt-blue display that is very informative. Quite a pleasure to read all in all. Also, on invoking the 'Advanced' feature set, I was very pleased to see not only detailed information on the current broadcast, but also an HD Radio defeat setting to force Analog Reception when faced with stations that oscillate between HD and Analog, such as when the station's signal strength is too weak to support constant HD. There is also RDS information available when in Analog mode, either when forced or when HD is simply not part of the broadcast. All of the latter are unavailable on the Sony. The Sangean sounds quite grand in either HD or Analog. Furthermore, programming presets is very easy, much like an old car radio, just tune, then press and hold the desired preset button. No need to interact with the 'Enter' button as with the Sony.

I would have given the Sangean five stars, but on opening the package, I was quite dismayed to hear a rattle coming from inside the Sangean! Fearing the worst and therefore maybe having to return it, I carefully opened the case, which was easy with only six Philips-head screws. Besides beholding a well-laid-out array of electronics and wiring, I found the rattling culprit!... a piece of jagged plastic that did not seem to belong to the Sangean. At least it wasn't a screw or other component of the Sangean. It seemed to be a random thing, which moreover did not cause any visible damage to the Sangean. So for lack of quality-control, I unfortunately have to ding the Sangean by one star for what is otherwise an excellent device.

I am pleased with my Sangean HD tuner. As offerings from Sony, and also Polk Audio, have disappeared from the home market, offerings in the mobile audio market persist. I only hope that HD Radio continues to catch on and therefore cause more excellent products like the Sangean HDT-1X to continue to come to market and ensure the future of HD Radio as a whole.
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on November 20, 2010
I have used many audiophile quality tuners in the past. The Sangean HDT-1X (be sure you get the model with the X after the 1) outshines tuners which cost thousands of dollars (McIntosh, Day-Sequerra, etc.). The sound quality on FM stations which broadcast in HD sounds nearly like a good CD. The construction is also excellent. I like the remote control and really enjoy the stations which are only broadcast in HD which have no commercials. I first tried the Sony HD but returned it. The Sangean is a much better product. I had a small problem after the warranty expired, but when I called the manufacturer they said they would exchange it for a brand new one. This company has an excellent reputation with radio engineers and I was very impressed with the customer service they provided.
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on November 12, 2010
I have a high quality receiver without an HD radio, and it would cost me about $2,000 to replace the receiver with an equivalent HD radio model. This Sangean brings in those weak HD stations, and I like the features like the signal strength indicator, audio spectrum display, and full RDS support for non-HD channels. And important for me, optical audio output instead of analog only. It may seem an obvious part of HD radio, but this unit also supports AM stereo on HD channels as well.

Get a good antenna. For AM I use the Kaito AN-200, which is a good match for those weak signals and the hilly area I live in. FM antennas are widely varied and I can't recommend one I've come to like. The included FM dipole antenna is as good as any other. On the other hand, the included AM antenna is as lousy as most.
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on November 8, 2011
Truth be told, I bought this tuner to replace a very old one that finally failed. I'm glad it did. The HDT-1X is a phenomenal tuner. I spent a portion of my life selling high-end stereo equipment (speakers $40K/pair), the 'high-end' tuners by 'Arcam' and the like don't even come close. The HDT-1X is an updated version of the no-longer supported HDT-1. HD radio...the 'HD' stands for 'Hybrid-Digital', not High Definition...HD radio is superior to standard FM reception. WDRV in Chicago is why I purchased this particular radio. At over 60-miles from the station I still get 17-out of 18 bars on signal strength, using the included dipole antenna. Unit displays artist and song title. Great buy...not expensive.
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on March 27, 2009
First I would like to say that this is a great radio tuner. Unfortunately, in my location, it didn't pull in HD stations as well as I had hoped. My favorite station is about 60 miles away across low coastal land (East Central Florida) and I was hoping to be able to pull in it's HD signal. This radio tuner, however, does do a better job than my A/V Receiver tuner, even in analog mode. I found the supplied dipole antenna to be best, better than even the C.Crane Reflect, which, in my experience, is not much use at all, and certainly not worth the price. My local Public Radio HD station has digital drop outs which I can't seen to figure out, except that it always seems to happen when an airplane goes over.
My recommendation is that you buy this radio for your component system to add HD, especially if you live within about 50 miles of your favorite stations.
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on May 16, 2009
An excellent receiver that delivers both analog AM/FM and HD AM/FM radio signals. The product specs were on target. I have yet to try the optical output option, but the RCA type output sent through both low and high quality receivers/speakers have been excellent.

HD radio is cleaner and crisper sounding than analog, but the FM difference is not as striking as the AM. Sadly, few AM stations are broadcasting HD in my area. However, this unit captured more distant FM signals, both analog & digital, than my older analog receiver. (I am using an attic mounted FM antenna.)

My only real complaint is the lack of a complete shutoff on/off switch. The unit sucks a bit of energy all the time keeping its clock on and illuminated.
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