JVC KD-SHX900 and KD-HDR1 Review

JVC's KD-SHX900 and KD-HDR1 are automotive AM-FM HD Radio receivers with a CD deck that also plays MP3
and WMA (Windows Media) files.  Both are reviewed here as they are similar in performance.

The AM and FM analog tuner sections are quite good. Sensitivity is as good as most any
other auto radio, and selectivity is likewise good.  It is resistant to overload and
spurs even very close to transmitter sites.  All in all, a quite competent analog tuner.

The CD player works as described.  No problems or quirks noted.

The KD-SHX900 has amazing graphics ability, though sometimes that gets in the way of the basic
radio functions.  Some can be turned off, some cannot.  The KD-HDR1 is a simpler and more functional design.

The HD Radio section is a bit of a question.  It does work, but HD coverage seems to be
about half the radius of good, useable analog reception.  For example, WBZ-1030 is maybe
30 miles or so north of me.  Analog reception was solid throughout my normal driving area.
HD Radio coverage was spotty.  Outside interference such as the buzz from traffic signals,
or even ignition noise would kick it back to analog.  At sunset the multipath from short
skip skywave would render HD unuseable.

Many efforts were made to DX with the HD Radio.  WOR-710 in NYC is maybe 150 or so miles
away, and their signal is focused this way.  They put in a useable analog signal of maybe
.3 to .5mv/m.  That's a signal strength that's listenable with a good radio in an
electrically quiet area.  In many evenings of trying, the HD decoded precisely once for
about a minute or so.

Other efforts were made on WHAM-1180 at sunset with no decodes.  Some time back, WOWO-1190
accidently left the HD signal on all night.  I listened for maybe three hours and never
got a decode, despite great analog signal strength.

FM was similarly marginal on HD.  Boston area signals were rarely good in HD for more than
a fraction of a minute, unless I was stopped in a carefully chosen spot.

The KD-SHX900 does not support the newer HD2 multicasting, so the side channels cannot
be heard.  The later KD-HDR1 does receive HD2 subchannels.

If you are looking for a decent radio and are not specifically looking for HD signals, this
is a good choice.  From what I have heard, the HD reception is on a par or even better than
any other receiver.  All in all, I could recommend it as long as you aren't expecting HD
Radio to equal analog coverage.

The KD-SHX900 was discontinued as of March, 2006 and replaced by the KD-HDR1 receiver.  The KD-HDR1
can be found for $229-$299 in the internet.

© 2006 Craig Healy All rights reserved.