The ’11 Bimmer you buy will have HD Radio, whether you want it or not:

BMW of North America, LLC today announced that the launch of the 2011 BMW 5 Series Sedan marks the first time BMW’s entire product line is equipped with standard digital HD Radio Technology entertainment systems. Most of the 2011 BMW model lineup featuring the upgraded technology started production this month and will be available at dealerships by June 2010.

The usual putative benefits are trotted out:

BMW customers hearing HD Radio broadcasts will experience CD-quality FM sound and FM-quality AM clarity with fewer static, pops or hisses.

And we all want fewer static, right?

Truth be told, I’d be happy with AM-quality AM clarity. That Other Band is capable of far better sound than most receivers can be bothered to provide, even without the digital trickery. Besides, as Scott Fybush wrote last year:

HD on AM radio? While the corpse hasn’t quite stopped twitching yet, the AM system ended the year looking awfully stiff, with only a handful of broadcasters (most notably CBS, Crawford and New York’s WOR) still pushing it at the corporate level, even as some of their local staffers quietly admitted that the adjacent-channel nighttime interference issues between closely-spaced stations such as WINS, KDKA and WBZ reduced usable analog coverage and rendered the digital signal all but unusable even within much of their home markets at night.

All of those stations are 50-kw blowtorches. WINS is at 1010 in New York; KDKA, 1020, Pittsburgh; WBZ, 1030, Boston. When you manage to kill the signal of a 50-kw blowtorch, you’ve accomplished something, albeit not something that anyone actually wanted done.

Still, I shrug. By the time (if ever) I’m in a position to buy (or lease) a new BMW, terrestrial radio will be reduced to NPR and its ilk, automated jukeboxes, and Rush Limbaugh.


  1. scooby214 »

    3 April 2010 · 7:46 pm

    We are down to one local AM signal that broadcasts in HD (WWLS 640), and its HD signal is daytime only. Now that KTOK is simulcasting on FM 96.1-2, they are no longer broadcasting in HD on their AM 1000 signal. I say good riddance to AM HD Radio, as even my car stereo would pick up the dreaded AM IBOC hiss during the day while listening to KTOK. The HD signal would shut off a few moments before pattern change, and the hiss would disappear. Thankfully, FM doesn’t suffer from such interference problems when broadcasting in HD, as KCSC’s HD-2 station is a neat little college station.

  2. Dick Stanley »

    3 April 2010 · 10:04 pm

    3D radio is what I’m waiting for.

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