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FM radio; is it going the way of the dinosaurs....?

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  • FM radio; is it going the way of the dinosaurs....?

    This is just off the top. I have not really researched the topic, but it seems that......since the 1920's, radio has been a mainstay of communications for news and entertainment for almost every human on the planet. Mostly earth-bound broadcasts have supplied this role. Radio waves; electromagnetic radiation, flying through the air, around and through every living thing on the planet. Popular consumer use began with reception devices that were at first called radios. They listened to broadcast media from corporations like Columbia Broadcast System (CBS), American Broadcast Company (ABC) and National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in the United States. The broadcast consisted of news and entertainment. On the entertainment side, music has been featured as the mainstay of popular broadcasts. All kinds of music.

    Now it seems people aren't so much interested in listening to a radio. It is not because they don't want to listen to music or watch TV anymore. They're getting their entertainment and news through different devices. The technology that is used to deliver entertainment is evolving. If not radio, what is the popular thing now? Youtube? Are we using our cell phones to watch and listen to Youtube streaming videos as well as audio materials? I ask because I am not. I still listen to FM radio as a background ambience while doing other things such as work. Maybe I'm just an old fool that wants to cling to the devices of my past. Or is radio still with us?


    webmaster at The Analog Dept.
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  • #2
    From the perspective of someone who just bought a vintage McIntosh piece (MX110z) which has what purports to be a nice tuner in it (not of the caliber of an MR-78 or whatever), there is very little information or support for accessories, like antenna or folks that will install same. I mentioned in another thread that I called an A/V contractor I used to do some ethernet wiring, and he laughed at me. Others, who still use radio, have just recommended that I install a roof antenna with a rotor, but I'm somewhat constrained by my house, so I'm checking into that. I did a search of stations available to me in Austin, my zip, and there were quite a few. Some may be smaller broadcasters, country or western (counts as two) and of course there are the NPR/PBS affiliates here. But, it's a whole, unexplored world for me, even though I've been fooling around with hi-fi since the late '60s (and once I got into separate components, never really bothered with a tuner). My plan is to use it to hear material I might not have- or just dig some classical while my wife is cooking or we are having a dinner party. (I don't like radio commercials, but it seems like the NPR-ish classical programming does it in 'golf commentator whisper voice" so it isn't that annoying). I'm really at the beginning of a learning curve. Call me a late adopter.
    I think the answer to your question is all kinds of digital media, whether it is non-interactive radio, like free Pandora, to the hi-rez stuff, Sirius in the car (which, to me, isn't really much better than commercial radio- the 'classic rock' is the same schlock you used to hear during heavy rotation in the '70s). I rarely listened to radio in the car as an adult because I wanted to be completely aware of the car and my surroundings. But, I'm probably not the right person to ask about that.


    • #3
      For home use, internet streaming is giving FM radio some tough competition, but for mobile use such as the car FM still serves an important role.
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      • #4
        As far back as I can remember I always listened to FM in car and at home until we moved to where we're living now. There aren't any decent classical or jazz stations that I can pick up without a roof antenna which I don't have and in the car it's all XM radio which is good for news but sonically sucks for listening to music. Sadly no FM for me...

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        • #5
          The quality of the stations in San Diego is really terrible. Jazz 88(NPR) about the only station worth listening to. iHeart Radio is OK for grabbing some FM stations in other cities though on the PC. I find the sound quality of some of them to be pretty good too. I think many FM stations have actually reduced their transmitter power as well. Not sure, but I did hear something about all over the air signals going digital sometime in the future, just like broadcast television.
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          • #6
            I think the number of people who listen in their cars will keep FM radio alive for some time. AM radio is still the king for lots of sports.


            • #7
              Been a big fan of FM till I moved from to Central NY where the number of stations (few) with decent material dropped to zero.

              Looking at it from a "sellers" perspective, I doubt that there is much money in the medium anymore. Small local stations "bundle" AM with FM - as do conglomerates. Thought that college radio would keep the medium alive but don't know about that either, as those stations are having trouble filling up airtime due to lack of volunteers. The Long Island college station went from Jazz to NPR during the day because of that. The CT NPR station went to "all talk" a number of years back.

              And the declining income problem certainly doesn't bode well for financing/keeping "clean signals" on the air - let alone what adding digital subcarriers to the main signal (to try and sell other services) does to the sound quality.

              Any manufacturer market an FM tuner (or receiver) these days?

              Bottom line - sell your 10B / MR71/78 / Fisher 5000 while it has some value.


              ps a few years back I was finishing up aligning the multiplex section of some tubed tuner, and to check it out was scanning across the band for some nearby stations. Came across the local pop station and thought something was wrong with the tuner because the stereo light didn't come on nor did it go into stereo. Other stations seemed to be OK. Happened to "run into" the station manager a month or so later and he confirmed that "O yeah, our stereo generator broke a while back and we haven't been able to get anyone to fix it. You are the FIRST ONE to mention / inquire about our FM not having a stereo signal". For me; that says it all


              • #8
                It is the beginning of the New Dawn for FM radio, just like vinyl never died so goes it with radio. Our local jazz FM station has live concerts in their broadcast studio and the public can sit in, they also put together winter concerts in the beautiful lush tropical gardens (Flamingo Gardens) since it is a NPR station their is only fund raising commercials. They can also be streamed from I- heart therefore no tuners or antenna needed. For me the quality of FM is better than the internet. "Long Live Live Radio"


                • #9
                  I own a number of good FM tuners but have to admit that I'm just as happy or even happier listening to FM radio stations streamed over the internet. The selection of stations that one can choose from around the world more than makes up for any degradation in sound quality. As an ex-New Yorker, I like being able to listen to the NY radio stations even though I now live on the opposite coast.

                  Perhaps in a sign of the times, my alma mater's radio station, WBRU in Providence, R.I. has decided to sell its FM radio station broadcast rights and move entirely to the internet.
                  It's clear that the younger generation views streaming as the way of the future.

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                  • #10
                    I've always enjoyed listening to FM radio as a way to discover new music & used to own a Cambridge Audio T-500 tuner which provided crisp sound, due in part to the dedicated FM aerial connection in my apartment. I kind of miss having a tuner in my system, so as a compromise I recently bought a Tivoli Dab+/Internet radio with stereo speakers for background listening. The sound is surprisingly good for the money!

                    I also like watching music videos on Youtube which is a great way of discovering new music, as well as re-discovering the soundtrack of your life! Would I ever buy a dedicated tuner again? Every now and then I do cast an admiring eye over the Accuphase T-1100, but really it is a dinosaur now. It would have to atleast have DAB+ radio to tempt me, and internet radio to seal the deal. Let's see what the T-1200 looks like .
                    Last edited by Bodhi; 07-25-2017, 12:14 PM.


                    • #11
                      When it comes to radio in the car...the up coming connected car infrastructure will provide a back bone that should include entertainment. The first on board equipment (OBE) scheduled to be delivered, is in the 2018 Cadillac. This OBE will include the ability to do car to car (V2V) and car to infrastructure (V2I) communications. Every car manufactured will eventually include OBE and the ability to hook into the connected car infrastructure.

                      This connected car thing will bring automatic best routing information, collision avoidance, emergency equipment avoidance, etc. There are lots of other services to be delivered in the connected car infrastructure including entertainment. Think of it as internet radio delivered to your car. This will likely spell the end of FM radio unless the radio stations sign on to be content providers. The radio will be there but not in the form we grew up with.

                      Its a shame because I grew up listening to radio and will miss scanning the dial. I especially loved listening to short wave broadcasts on summer nights.

                      Life is is just samples thereof

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                      • #12
                        I found this rockin' antenna from the C. Crane Company- it looks like one of those cheap folding dipoles, but is far more substantial and is stiff enough to bend and hold shape. I was turned onto it by the guy who had the Audioprism company, which used to make a pretty serious indoor antenna. This thing, which comes with a higher quality balun than the ordinary crap, costs all of $20. It far outperformed the Magnum Dynalab Silver ribbon antenna that I bought initially. Given that there are (only) a handful of stations that play interesting music and don't sound compressed, I think I'm done, antenna-wise. Recommended.


                        • user510
                          user510 commented
                          Editing a comment
                          got pix?

                      • #13
                        Steve, it doesn't look like anything special. Here's the web pic:
                        I can take a shot of mine in place. After playing around with positioning, I concluded that it worked great parallel to my equipment cabinet, and simply hooked each end under an equipment platform on top, so it spreads out into a wide, shallow 'V' behind the cabinet.


                        • #14
                          Click image for larger version

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                          "the FM Reflect Dipole Antenna. Interesting.
                          That's a little different from the average dipole. It appears to be twin-lead on the upper dipole part of it, as it needs to be if it is to be called a dipole, and then uses 75ohm coax with an F type fitting on the transmission line. No need for a Balun, apparently.

                          And it is promoted as an HD antenna in addition to its analog radio receiving function.

                          Cool. I've been fiddling around a bit with antennas. DIY stuff, so far.
                          webmaster at The Analog Dept.
                          system list:Classe' CAP 151 integrated, Carver TX-11b Tuner, NHT 2.9 Speakers, Thorens TD124 ( plus other Thorens models), Otari MX-5050 BII-2 R2R, Jolida JD100 cd player, ML-9600 digital recorder


                          • Bill Hart
                            Bill Hart commented
                            Editing a comment
                            I've wasted 20 bucks, and more, on stuff that gave me far less pleasure. (Oops, I know that sounds just plain wrong, but you know what I mean).

                        • #15
                          Yes, FM radio is a dinosaur.

                          I still listen to it from time to time in my car (only) between AM news and talk. It's a good way to hear new music but it's hard to find interesting stations and I dislike the commercials. It's fast (if not already) being replaced by satellite radio and streaming. I plug in my iPod to listen to on longer car trips.
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                          • mep
                            mep commented
                            Editing a comment
                            FM still blows away satellite radio on SQ though. Too bad we are going backwards in SQ in our vehicles.

                          • JCOConnell
                            JCOConnell commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Most new third party car stereos have a usb port to play mp3 files off a flash drive. Sound quality can be excellent as most will accept 16/44 wav files too.

                          • mkuller
                            mkuller commented
                            Editing a comment
                            All the 6300 songs on my iPod are recorded from CDs to Apple Lossless. Most car stereos can't play that from a flash drive.