Radio reception underground, is iTunes the best for digitizing your music collection?

Week of October 29, 2006

Q: I work in what is basically a concrete bunker. Radio reception is terrible. I’ve done a little reading on the internet and also picked my dad’s brain (he’s an electrical engineer) and I still can’t tell if the reception would be any better with HD Radio, or satellite for that matter. I have a tough time getting cell phone reception in the room so that probably rules out satellite, and hd radio waves are supposed to “piggyback” on regular radio waves so that sounds bad too.

Any ideas for better reception? I tried the tv antenna method you talked about and it didn’t help.
Tom Fink, Edina, MN

A: Unless you can put an antenna on the surface, satellite radio is out of the question.

HD Radio is a digital system, which means if you get it, you will get pristine sound, if you do not get it, you won’t get anything at all. It makes it hard to hone in on a signal when you are trying to tune in. My feeling is that no, HD Radio will not do any better than analog radio. In fact, you may be worse. When you are in something like a bunker, other than run an antenna line to the surface there isn’t much you can do.

My thoughts are to avoid the radio waves entirely and do an end-around- that is, if you have internet access in your workplace. If you go to you will be able to locate over 10,000 radio stations worldwide that stream audio over the web. This will allow you to listen to radio in real time on your computer speakers and have many thousands of radio stations available.

Q: I would like to digitize my entire music collection. I run a PC but have iTunes. Is there a better software choice?
-Bill Albert, Buena, NJ

A: I don’t really think so. I’ve tried several software progams for converting music to MP3 and other digital formats and I always come back to iTunes. It is intutive and easy to use, offers some great encoding options such as the Apple Lossless Encoder, and it is a free download from It is not for nothing Apple dominates the portable music player market, and it isn’t just the iPod’s superiority and Apple’s marketing that are responsible. The iTunes software is an important part of the equation, and it just plain works while being fun and easy to use.

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