The Good Budget-priced AM/FM HD Radio component delivers extraordinary sound quality and low-noise reception; small size; remote control; bright backlit LCD screen.
The Bad No digital output; weak HD signals cause the XDR-F1HD to switch back and forth between analog and HD; the memory doesn't retain station presets if the radio is unplugged from AC power.
The Bottom Line Hailed by audiophiles as one of the greatest tuners ever, the Sony XDR-F1HD is arguably the best--and most affordable--way to add HD radio to any stereo system.
After years of being priced as luxury items, tabletop HD Radios finally dipped below $200 and even $100 in 2008. However, most of those models still didn't actually sound very good--either the tuner wasn't terribly adept at pulling in stations or the speakers were pretty cheap. That's where the Sony XDR-F1HD comes in. Instead of a table radio, the XDR-F1HD is an AM/FM HD Radio tuner component. You'll need to connect it to something with an auxiliary input (a stereo hi-fi, AV receiver, home theater system, or iPod speaker system) or even just a pair of powered computer speakers. The little Sony tuner receives analog AM and FM, as well as digital AM and FM stations that have adapted HD Radio technology to digitally broadcast audio and data in conjunction with their analog signals.
Sure, a lot of folks have abandoned AM and FM in favor of Internet radio and satellite radio; too bad the sound quality doesn't hold a candle to cleanly received FM. Getting that clean signal, however, can be problematic; FM is too often plagued with static, noise, and distortion. That's why the XDR-F1HD HD Radio is so impressive: so long as you're tuning in a local station, it's mostly immune to those forms of interference. The Sony pulls in hard-to-receive stations better than any high-end tuner we've ever used (and way better than the tuners built into audiovisual receivers). Some audiophiles believe the XDR-F1HD may be the best tuner available, regardless of cost, and we're inclined to agree. Best of all, we've seen the XDR-F1HD going for as little as $81 online.
The XDR-F1HD is a basic black box that will blend in with the rest of the gear in your AV rack. The compact chassis is just 2.3 inches tall by 7.1 inches wide by 6.3 inches deep and weighs about 2.5 pounds. With the exception of a centered LCD screen and power button, the front panel is otherwise bare. A row of control buttons are found along the front edge of the top panel: "Display," "Band," "Scan," "HD Scan," "Menu," "Tune +/-," "Enter," and "Preset +/-."
This guy's new album is coming to nearly every audio format
Everybody streams music, so why is Jeremy Heiden releasing his music on virtually every physical music format of the past 50 years?
Sweetening up the sound of digital audio
Old tech lends a new sound to the BorderPatrol Digital to Analogue Converter.
Best home audio products from CES 2017
As CES 2017 wraps for another year, we look back on the audio highlights and trends from this year's show: from Alexa, to Atmos, to making high-end hi-fi attainable again.
Adele's '25' finally coming to streaming services
The album was the biggest seller of 2015, and fans are finally going to be able to stream it on Spotify.
Top 4 audio highlights from CES 2016
At this year's CES, a number of different audio products vied for our attention. Here are our favorites.
Sony tempts audiophiles with new super-expensive 'Premium Sound' microSD card
Sony announces a new 64GB "Premium Sound" microSD card for audiophiles that costs about $160.
Google casts Internet music to its rightful home: speakers
The tech giant wants to do for music streaming what it did for movie streaming -- make it simple to access entertainment from the Internet with your mobile device and play it on your living room gear.
Apple's $3B Beats acquisition gets EU approval
Regulators say that the acquisition raises no competition concerns because the companies' combined market share is low.
Can Sony make a world-class headphone?
With financial woes mounting, the Audiophiliac wonders if a series of great headphones might help save Sony?
NAD's overachieving budget audiophile amplifier
True, the NAD C 316BEE integrated amp isn't exactly feature-laden, and it's rated at a mere 40 watts per channel, but it sounds sweet!
MDR SA5000: Sony's classic, audiophile-grade, full-size headphone
The Audiophiliac falls in love with an older Sony, the MDR-SA5000, and wonders, why doesn't Sony even try to make world-class headphones in 2013?
Sony's affordable tabletop 'hi-fi' system
The $150 Sony CMT-MX500i might serve as a terrific starter hi-fi or holiday present; either way the Audiophiliac thinks it's a sweet little system.