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January 12, 2019 11:51 am  #1


HD Radio In Toronto

I had a chance to try out the the Directed HD radio I wrote about on another thread last month. Not a bad little radio. The built in FM antenna is quite good and I received 14 HD channels ( plus most sub channels) . Including two from NY where I was able to tune into the sub channels ( WDCX and WTSS). Things should improve in that regard into the spring and summer.

Re the Canadian stations, Much of the action is on the ethnic stations and I think 3 or 4 of them have 4 sub channels including 105.9 The Region.

KX 94.7 has the Wave -smooth Jazz and The Grand as sub channels

CJXX 94.7 has The Wave plus CKDO as sub channels

Classical FM has Zoomer as a sub channel

Element FM is in HD with no subchannels. TSN, Sportsnet, 1010, 640, 680 and CHML are all available as HD sub channels.

I was only able to lock in one station on AM in HD last night and that was WCBS and the radio has AM stereo capability but no luck there. Anyone aware of any AM HD that might be catchable during the night or day ?

Nothing too interesting at this point except that some AM stations are in HD stereo but DX'ing might prove fruitful in the future.

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Last edited by Fitz (January 12, 2019 12:02 pm)


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January 12, 2019 12:41 pm  #2


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

I use to be able to receive WHAM 1180 HD in the Mount Albert area in the daytime. Listening to WHAM at that distance was a great way to contrast between the sound quality of analogue AM verses HD because the HD mode only kicked in when the signal was sufficiently strong to break the threshold. Stunning improvement over the narrow frequency response of analogue AM.

In HD, it was like Rush Limbaugh was right in the car with me - a mixed blessing to be sure...

Last edited by Tim Brown 2016 (January 12, 2019 12:43 pm)

 

January 12, 2019 4:31 pm  #3


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

Tim Brown 2016 wrote:

I use to be able to receive WHAM 1180 HD in the Mount Albert area in the daytime. Listening to WHAM at that distance was a great way to contrast between the sound quality of analogue AM verses HD because the HD mode only kicked in when the signal was sufficiently strong to break the threshold. Stunning improvement over the narrow frequency response of analogue AM.

In HD, it was like Rush Limbaugh was right in the car with me - a mixed blessing to be sure...

I was able to get an HD blink on WHAM but it never kicked in. The blood pressure raising talkers dominate AM radio in the US.and it's pretty much a wasteland
 


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January 12, 2019 4:41 pm  #4


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

My clock radio has HD but no AM, so it's been useful since 680 is my preferred wakeup station.


 
 

January 12, 2019 5:58 pm  #5


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

CIRV 88.9, CIUT 89.5, and CFXJ 93.5 have been granted HD channels as well. Anyone know what the plans are for these new HD stations?

 

January 12, 2019 6:08 pm  #6


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

CIRV HD is already on with the main plus 3 sub channels ( all ethnic). I should also point out that HD is really the only way to get The Grand ( outside of the internet stream) in this area but the signal is only as good as an HD lock on the KX station and drop outs are common, I am in Pickering. HD is better than an internet stream quality-wise,

Last edited by Fitz (January 12, 2019 6:13 pm)


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January 12, 2019 10:46 pm  #7


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

Tim Brown 2016 wrote:

In HD, it was like Rush Limbaugh was right in the car with me..

Don't have the passenger seat fumigated yet! There are dozens in Ontario who would pay good money for sniffing rights.
 

 

January 15, 2019 12:14 am  #8


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

I am quite impressed with this Directed HD radio. The main problem is the sameness of most of the programing.

I have been able to tune in all kinds of American FM stations with the RBDS information on most. Have been able to pick up stations from Rochester and even Erie Penn. Was able to pick up the oldies station from Peterborough on 96.7. The classic rock and community stations from Cobourg. My FM and Bob FM.

There's two area stations with FM translators and a sperate HD broadcast. That gives one a chance to compare the analog vs digital on the same radio and try and figure out the impact of digital compression ( granted that even the analog broadcast may be playing digital files). 

Below is a two min clip of  two stations. Each station has the HD for 30 secs and the analog FM translator. The first station is playing Fludd and the second Elton John. I won't say what comes first on each track, the digi or analog. WAV file not MP3.

Also the selectivity of the radio is good to be able to pick up both translators from where I live in Pickering.

Analog VS Digital

Last edited by Fitz (January 15, 2019 9:37 am)


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January 15, 2019 1:57 pm  #9


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

Isnt Virgin CKFM 99.9 and CHUM FM 104.5 have HD signals back and running again?

The rest of the bigger stations in Toronto wont have HD from what I heard. 

 

January 15, 2019 3:07 pm  #10


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

CHUM FM will not be running HD any time soon, from what I hear. 
The balance of stations which broadcast from the CN Tower, will need to have an upgrade to the "Master FM" antenna.  This is not a simple matter, given the fact that so many stations are multiplexed into the 40-something year old antenna.  Not only a rebuild or replacement is envisioned, but that's a very big and expensive project.   Again, to my knowledge this is not proceeding at a fast pace.  This is a $$$$$ issue, and some of the CN tower operators may not have the appetite for a big expensive upgrade (thinking of Jazz FM, which is fiscally strapped)  Besides, Rogers has their AM's on HD-2 and HD-3 from FCP.   CKFM's operation in HD, is due to the fact that Bell has utilized an existing aperture on the tower (which they own) for their HD antenna.

At First Canadian Place, it's a whole different ball game.   At FCP, most stations "own" their own antennas, and there is adequate power at the site for most broadcasters to upgrade to HD operation. So, in 2019 we will likely see HD operation by CIND and Flow 93 (or whatever it's called these days).

 

January 15, 2019 3:29 pm  #11


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

tvguy wrote:

CHUM FM will not be running HD any time soon, from what I hear. 
The balance of stations which broadcast from the CN Tower, will need to have an upgrade to the "Master FM" antenna

Thanks for this tvguy... To be precise, is it not the CN Tower FM combiner that needs replacement to accommodate HD Radio? Why would the actual antenna need to be replaced? From what I recall (40 years ago), that's a broadband antenna up there. Is it a polorization issue?

 

January 15, 2019 4:02 pm  #12


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

Tim Brown 2016 wrote:

tvguy wrote:

CHUM FM will not be running HD any time soon, from what I hear. 
The balance of stations which broadcast from the CN Tower, will need to have an upgrade to the "Master FM" antenna

Thanks for this tvguy... To be precise, is it not the CN Tower FM combiner that needs replacement to accommodate HD Radio? Why would the actual antenna need to be replaced? From what I recall (40 years ago), that's a broadband antenna up there. Is it a polorization issue?

How come it worked for TV?  I believe the tv antennas are still the same ones used back then in analog with changes of course in modification and...they were lucky that most of them were UHF to start with.

It still might not be worth it as they would use analog and HD unless a new combiner would do both.  

 

January 15, 2019 4:20 pm  #13


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

markow202 wrote:

Tim Brown 2016 wrote:

tvguy wrote:

CHUM FM will not be running HD any time soon, from what I hear. 
The balance of stations which broadcast from the CN Tower, will need to have an upgrade to the "Master FM" antenna

Thanks for this tvguy... To be precise, is it not the CN Tower FM combiner that needs replacement to accommodate HD Radio? Why would the actual antenna need to be replaced? From what I recall (40 years ago), that's a broadband antenna up there. Is it a polorization issue?

How come it worked for TV?  I believe the tv antennas are still the same ones used back then in analog with changes of course in modification and...they were lucky that most of them were UHF to start with.

Can't say for certain but I'm pretty sure the antennas for TV were replaced. Two phases:

1. DTV Transition
2. DTV Cutover:

Combiner #1: RF Channels 19, 20, 25
Combiner #2: RF Channels: 40, 44, 47

I think RF Channel 41 is on it's own antenna.

CFTO is the only VHF station post-transition. Not sure if they're using the original 40 year old antenna on the CN Tower. ATSC assumes circular polarized antennas. Doubtful the original CFTO antenna was built that way.

Last edited by Tim Brown 2016 (January 15, 2019 4:21 pm)

 

January 15, 2019 6:39 pm  #15


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

With the way the top antenna radome is enclosed and Skypod underneath, I dont know how they would remove antennas to start with.  Seems to be a fixed system.

 

January 15, 2019 9:47 pm  #16


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

The issue with HD, as I understand it, and perhaps some engineers can weigh in, is that the digital (HD) subcarriers add about 10% (additional RF) to the existing envelope of RF going into the antenna.   Across the FM band, at the CN Tower, that's a significant amount of additional RF into a very old antenna.  I had been told that the Master FM antenna, was "maxed out" in terms of the amount of RF that it can handle. (not just a combiner issue).   Consider that CHFI operates at 44 KW ERP, CBL-FM 38 kw ERP  and there are several other high power (grandfathered) Class C stations.   I also understand that a typical Nautel transmitter (HD) may consume more power than an older analog transmitter.  So there may be an electrical upgrade (plus standby power generation) required for all stations to transition to HD & HVAC upgrades.  My recollection is that the master antenna at the Empire State Building which was quite old, also required a major upgrade to transition NYC stations to HD.   I also understand that with CKFM (and initially for CHUM-FM), the RF for the HD digital subcarriers, is routed into a separate antenna, so the HD component by-passes the Master FM antenna. I recall that Scott Fybush did a comprehensive article of the NYC Empire State Building master antenna system a few years back.

One might speculate that from a status quo situation, various stations that use the Master FM antenna could reduce the Analog ERP, while adding HD Digital subcarriers, but that would impact their analog coverage, which no general manager would likely choose to do.  

here is an interesting article on the Empire State Building antenna rebuild - by Fybush:
https://www.radioworld.com/news-and-business/under-a-cocoon-esb-plans-for-new-fm-era
 

Last edited by tvguy (January 15, 2019 9:56 pm)

 

January 15, 2019 10:38 pm  #17


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

tvguy wrote:

The issue with HD, as I understand it, and perhaps some engineers can weigh in, is that the digital (HD) subcarriers add about 10% (additional RF) to the existing envelope of RF going into the antenna.   Across the FM band, at the CN Tower, that's a significant amount of additional RF into a very old antenna.  I had been told that the Master FM antenna, was "maxed out" in terms of the amount of RF that it can handle. (not just a combiner issue).   Consider that CHFI operates at 44 KW ERP, CBL-FM 38 kw ERP  and there are several other high power (grandfathered) Class C stations.   I also understand that a typical Nautel transmitter (HD) may consume more power than an older analog transmitter.  So there may be an electrical upgrade (plus standby power generation) required for all stations to transition to HD & HVAC upgrades.  My recollection is that the master antenna at the Empire State Building which was quite old, also required a major upgrade to transition NYC stations to HD.   I also understand that with CKFM (and initially for CHUM-FM), the RF for the HD digital subcarriers, is routed into a separate antenna, so the HD component by-passes the Master FM antenna. I recall that Scott Fybush did a comprehensive article of the NYC Empire State Building master antenna system a few years back.

One might speculate that from a status quo situation, various stations that use the Master FM antenna could reduce the Analog ERP, while adding HD Digital subcarriers, but that would impact their analog coverage, which no general manager would likely choose to do.  

here is an interesting article on the Empire State Building antenna rebuild - by Fybush:
https://www.radioworld.com/news-and-business/under-a-cocoon-esb-plans-for-new-fm-era
 

http://i68.tinypic.com/24x3yit.jpg

 

January 16, 2019 2:31 pm  #18


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

tvguy wrote:

The issue with HD, as I understand it, and perhaps some engineers can weigh in, is that the digital (HD) subcarriers add about 10% (additional RF) to the existing envelope of RF going into the antenna.   Across the FM band, at the CN Tower, that's a significant amount of additional RF into a very old antenna.  I had been told that the Master FM antenna, was "maxed out" in terms of the amount of RF that it can handle. (not just a combiner issue).   Consider that CHFI operates at 44 KW ERP, CBL-FM 38 kw ERP  and there are several other high power (grandfathered) Class C stations.   I also understand that a typical Nautel transmitter (HD) may consume more power than an older analog transmitter.  So there may be an electrical upgrade (plus standby power generation) required for all stations to transition to HD & HVAC upgrades.  My recollection is that the master antenna at the Empire State Building which was quite old, also required a major upgrade to transition NYC stations to HD.   I also understand that with CKFM (and initially for CHUM-FM), the RF for the HD digital subcarriers, is routed into a separate antenna, so the HD component by-passes the Master FM antenna. I recall that Scott Fybush did a comprehensive article of the NYC Empire State Building master antenna system a few years back.

One might speculate that from a status quo situation, various stations that use the Master FM antenna could reduce the Analog ERP, while adding HD Digital subcarriers, but that would impact their analog coverage, which no general manager would likely choose to do.  

here is an interesting article on the Empire State Building antenna rebuild - by Fybush:
https://www.radioworld.com/news-and-business/under-a-cocoon-esb-plans-for-new-fm-era
 

Looks like the CN Tower will be stuck doing analog unless this gets one day pushed as mandatory such as it did with tv.  Then you'll see the money being spent to get this all sorted.

Wasnt it not Bell that caused a fire in the mast in 2017 due to HD?  

 

January 16, 2019 5:25 pm  #19


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

markow202 wrote:

Looks like the CN Tower will be stuck doing analog unless this gets one day pushed as mandatory such as it did with tv.  Then you'll see the money being spent to get this all sorted.

Wasnt it not Bell that caused a fire in the mast in 2017 due to HD?  

I confess, it doesn't look promising based on tvguy's insights. Nevertheless, at some point the Master FM antenna will start to fail due to age. The fact it's had a fair degree of protection from the elements because of the radome will perhaps delay the need to replace it by several years.

For those of extreme geekiness, check out this video on the state-of-the-art TV and FM facilities at the new World Trade Center. Are there any lessons learned here that could be applied to the CN Tower - not just for HD Radio but for the DTV Repack and ATSC 3.0?

 

January 16, 2019 9:57 pm  #20


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

markow202 wrote:

Looks like the CN Tower will be stuck doing analog unless this gets one day pushed as mandatory such as it did with tv.  Then you'll see the money being spent to get this all sorted.
 

There's not any real good reason to do that. With TV (and DAB in Europe) it freed up a bunch of valuable bandwidth. Mandating a switch to HD doesn't do so.
 


 
 

January 17, 2019 1:30 pm  #21


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

Tim Brown 2016 wrote:

markow202 wrote:

Looks like the CN Tower will be stuck doing analog unless this gets one day pushed as mandatory such as it did with tv.  Then you'll see the money being spent to get this all sorted.

Wasnt it not Bell that caused a fire in the mast in 2017 due to HD?  

I confess, it doesn't look promising based on tvguy's insights. Nevertheless, at some point the Master FM antenna will start to fail due to age. The fact it's had a fair degree of protection from the elements because of the radome will perhaps delay the need to replace it by several years.
?

If it hasn't failed by now, it will be fine.  Besides, I believe the transmitters more of an issue on failing last time I saw a Fybush article of 2015 all transmitters seem brand new.  

https://www.fybush.com/site-20150529/ 

 

June 15, 2021 11:15 pm  #22


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

tvguy wrote:

CHUM FM will not be running HD any time soon, from what I hear. 
The balance of stations which broadcast from the CN Tower, will need to have an upgrade to the "Master FM" antenna.  This is not a simple matter, given the fact that so many stations are multiplexed into the 40-something year old antenna.  Not only a rebuild or replacement is envisioned, but that's a very big and expensive project.   Again, to my knowledge this is not proceeding at a fast pace.  This is a $$$$$ issue, and some of the CN tower operators may not have the appetite for a big expensive upgrade (thinking of Jazz FM, which is fiscally strapped)  Besides, Rogers has their AM's on HD-2 and HD-3 from FCP.   CKFM's operation in HD, is due to the fact that Bell has utilized an existing aperture on the tower (which they own) for their HD antenna.

At First Canadian Place, it's a whole different ball game.   At FCP, most stations "own" their own antennas, and there is adequate power at the site for most broadcasters to upgrade to HD operation. So, in 2019 we will likely see HD operation by CIND and Flow 93 (or whatever it's called these days).

Hate to dig up an old thread but wanted to see if tvguy had any update on this 2 years later. It bugs me to no end that I can't get CHUM-FM in HD Radio when we have seen them test the station before. 
 
Also surprised Bell hasn't converted CKLH-FM and CHRE-FM to HD Radio yet. The signal for both stations go into Toronto and it would let them simulcast CHAM and CKOC as well. 

 

June 16, 2021 8:51 am  #23


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

There is no good reason for Bell to put HD on more than one FM in each market.

I don't see it on CKLH either as CHAM and CKOC are just syndication clearing houses.

CHRE makes sense; maybe they'll be next.


 
 

June 16, 2021 9:26 am  #24


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

dsscpuemu wrote:

tvguy wrote:

CHUM FM will not be running HD any time soon, from what I hear. 
The balance of stations which broadcast from the CN Tower, will need to have an upgrade to the "Master FM" antenna.  This is not a simple matter, given the fact that so many stations are multiplexed into the 40-something year old antenna.  Not only a rebuild or replacement is envisioned, but that's a very big and expensive project.   Again, to my knowledge this is not proceeding at a fast pace.  This is a $$$$$ issue, and some of the CN tower operators may not have the appetite for a big expensive upgrade (thinking of Jazz FM, which is fiscally strapped)  Besides, Rogers has their AM's on HD-2 and HD-3 from FCP.   CKFM's operation in HD, is due to the fact that Bell has utilized an existing aperture on the tower (which they own) for their HD antenna.

At First Canadian Place, it's a whole different ball game.   At FCP, most stations "own" their own antennas, and there is adequate power at the site for most broadcasters to upgrade to HD operation. So, in 2019 we will likely see HD operation by CIND and Flow 93 (or whatever it's called these days).

Hate to dig up an old thread but wanted to see if tvguy had any update on this 2 years later. It bugs me to no end that I can't get CHUM-FM in HD Radio when we have seen them test the station before. 
 
Also surprised Bell hasn't converted CKLH-FM and CHRE-FM to HD Radio yet. The signal for both stations go into Toronto and it would let them simulcast CHAM and CKOC as well. 

I doubt you will see HD on CHUM until the master Antenna is upgraded.   They tried to do HD on both 104.5 and 99.9, but the fire at the CN tower (that may have been caused by both 99.9 and 104.5's HD antenna) seems to have killed off the idea.    After the fire, only 99.9 returned to HD operations.

As for CKLH Hamilton, I can see them adding HD, to help them deal with being stuck with 2 am stations and only one fm in Hamilton.  

I seem to remember CHTZ-FM St Catharines is approved for HD.   Nothing has been activated yet.   Knowing Bell, they will use one of the HD sub channels to bring in their "PURE COUNTRY" national feed like they have in Kitchener and Toronto.

On both CHTZ and CKLH, it will depend on the state of their transmitter sites as well.   Adding HD isn't a huge expense, but if the sites are old, there may be other needs required to make it all work.    

Last edited by radiokid (June 16, 2021 9:35 am)

 

June 16, 2021 9:43 am  #25


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

I had heard, that someone in "programming" at Bell, did not "like" the coverage of CHUM-FM in the fringe areas, when it operated with HD, hence when HD operations were restored, only CKFM operated in HD - because it is the lesser of the two stations in terms of ratings/revenues.  There was no sound basis from an engineering standpoint for coming to this conclusion.  There is some possibility that when the Master FM antenna is upgraded, which is taking a long time, due to covid and likely financial pressures on the tenants,  you will see a number of stations from CN tower upgrade.  In a matter of weeks, look for HD on CJKX 95.9 in downtown toronto.   They have been approved for HD operation for the repeater which is on First Cdn Place and the equipment may have been installed.  Right now, the downtown repeater is analog only and nulls out the HD subcarriers from Durham region on the frequency.

 

June 16, 2021 10:33 am  #26


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

Question, is CHUM FM still on the Master FM antenna or are they and Virgin from what I heard, on a new seperate antenna? (despite only one running HD)

 

June 16, 2021 1:51 pm  #27


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

tvguy wrote:

In a matter of weeks, look for HD on CJKX 95.9 in downtown toronto.   They have been approved for HD operation for the repeater which is on First Cdn Place and the equipment may have been installed.  Right now, the downtown repeater is analog only and nulls out the HD subcarriers from Durham region on the frequency.

That one's interesting, as I find the analog/analog transition from the Oshawa signal to the Toronto signal imperfect, specifically once you get on the DVP. Will this help?

And again, I don't know of a single cluster in the country that has more than one of its FMs on HD, and for the most part it's not due to technical limitations. There is next to no consumer awareness of the technology, and I see no sign that it will be used as anything but a band-aid to help in-cluster AMs.
 


 
 

June 16, 2021 4:31 pm  #28


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

How much coverage would be lost if the CN tower FMs moved to FCP and increased their power to compensate for lost height? There's also that new skyscraper at Yonge & Bloor that will actually be taller than FCP. Instead of a costly Master re-build, could we see those who want an upgrade move altogether? 

With the TV stations it always made sense to be at the southernmost possible point in Toronto, so that people pointing their antennas towards Buffalo would get Toronto stations as well. This isn't the case for FM, so I wonder if much would be lost with a move to FCP or Y&B. 

Also how much interference will occur with all these super-tall condos and office towers popping up in the last few years? The CN tower is slowly becoming a less desirable place to have an antenna. 

 

June 16, 2021 5:34 pm  #29


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

torontostan wrote:

How much coverage would be lost if the CN tower FMs moved to FCP and increased their power to compensate for lost height? There's also that new skyscraper at Yonge & Bloor that will actually be taller than FCP. Instead of a costly Master re-build, could we see those who want an upgrade move altogether? 

With the TV stations it always made sense to be at the southernmost possible point in Toronto, so that people pointing their antennas towards Buffalo would get Toronto stations as well. This isn't the case for FM, so I wonder if much would be lost with a move to FCP or Y&B. 

Also how much interference will occur with all these super-tall condos and office towers popping up in the last few years? The CN tower is slowly becoming a less desirable place to have an antenna. 

FCP was never as good as CN but yes that could be due to power.  I think that roof would also be super jammed if this occured.  CN is still the tallest over the entire city. but, good analogy I thought about this once.

Why is the CN Tower a less desirable place?

Last edited by markow202 (June 16, 2021 5:36 pm)

 

June 16, 2021 6:31 pm  #30


Re: HD Radio In Toronto

Biggest issue with FCP is Safety Code 6!   With the current load of rf stations including tv, fm, and communications companies, the rf level is at or just below the level where power reductions would start happening.  Adding stations up there would further reduce the current power levels of existing stations and may even mean that the top floors may not be useable.

Also, FCP is just under 1000 feet and the CN master fm antenna is just under 1600 feet up!   That height difference means much better reach at a much lower power level and a big hydro savings!   Also lower maintenance costs at CN tower as only one antenna system to maintain.   FCP would have to either spend lots of money for a common antenna system or each station would have to put big filters in to prevent reradiation issues!

Last edited by Juggie1 (June 16, 2021 6:45 pm)