Sony to Market First U.S. Digital Radio Sets in July

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Sony Corp. (SNE) says it will introduce its first HD Radio products in July, joining the growing group of companies seeking to make the next-generation digital radio technology a standard feature in audio products over the next several years.

HD Radio is new form of digital radio broadcasting that allows radio stations to deliver extra music content on up to four side channels that piggyback on the frequency it already uses.

So far, more than 1,200 radio stations nationwide have adopted the technology, according to the HD Digital Radio Alliance, a group of broadcasters promoting the new format.

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A listener, however, needs a special radio receiver to hear HD Radio signals, which also boasts improved sound quality.

About 50 models are available already, often sold as part of a car stereo or home audio component, according to the alliance.

"Digital terrestrial radio is the last frontier in audio," said Andrew Sivori, a senior product marketing manager at Sony's personal audio division. "And it's coming to price points that are becoming more reasonable for consumers."

Sony's first HD Radio products will be the XDR-S3HD, a $200 tabletop AM/FM/HD radio, and the XT-100HD, a $100 tuner module for vehicles that will work with most Sony car stereo units.

The HD Radio alliance projects that more than 1.5 million HD Radio devices will be sold in 2007, as prices have dropped significantly from the time the first products debuted more than two years ago at about $800.