2013 Lexus GS 350: Bonus Sounds
April 4, 2013
HD radio sounds great in theory, but all I've noticed in most of our HD-equipped cars is how the signal wafts in and out of the broadcast. One second the signal is rich, full and enveloping, the next it compresses into a thin, almost single point-source sound. The Lexus GS 350's system works better than most, though. Perhaps it has a better buffer that holds the HD signal longer, as I don't notice it wavering near as much as other units (looking at you, BRZ).
But HD radio's ability to broadcast other signals from the same call letters makes it shine. KROQ, for example, is a Southern California radio institution. But it's not the same station I once listened to, the station that broke English bands like Depeche Mode and The Smiths, and homegrown icons like X and Jane's Addiction, in Los Angeles. Now the ROQ is all Linkin Park and sensitive screamers doing the same loud-soft-loud thing the Pixies were doing 25 years ago.
I digress. The brilliant thing about HD channels is that a station like KROQ can keep making its dough peddling Millennial angst, while catering to pathetic nostalgics like me on the sub-channel. Win-win.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor