Sony XDR-F1HD

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.

Editors' Rating
8.0 Overall

Review

Sony XDR-F1HD

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.

Design
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 +/-."

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Specs / Prices

  • MSRP $101
  • Brand Sony
  • Type radio tuner
  • Functions HD radio, radio
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
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