Mobile phone FM tuners and France trip

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    Alfredo_T
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    I have recently been using the FM receiver in a Samsung J7 with the NextRadio app. Here’s a comparison against a 1989 vintage Toshiba KT-4018 analog tuned headphone portable (with AFC) and the FM tuner in an iPod Nano.

    When I first used the J7’s FM receiver, I thought that it was monophonic. The radio’s selectivity is extremely good, but this means that there is audible distortion. I didn’t note stereo reception until I very carefully manipulated the headphone cord, and even then, it was poor. There is no RDS. As a benchmark, in Hillsboro, I can hear KNRK and KLOO without background hiss. LPFMs at 96.7 and 100.7 can be heard, although the headphone cord has to be positioned carefully–otherwise, the stations quickly disappear into the noise floor.

    The iPod Nano’s tuner features RDS decoding. Causing stations to be received in stereo is less challenging, and the separation is better. As a benchmark, both KNRK and KLOO are noise-free, though KLOO is mono. I can hear the LPFMs about as well as on the J7.

    It’s been a long time since I have opened up the Toshiba, but given that it is a Walkman style radio, my educated guess is that only a single ceramic filter is used for compactness, leading to mediocre selectivity. Receiving the LPFMs or KLOO is difficult because the AFC tries to jump to the much-stronger second-adjacent stations. Reception of KNRK is noisy unless I carefully position the headphone cord. However, the stereo separation is much better than on the other two receivers, and there is less audible distortion than on the Samsung J7.

    The France part of this post primarily concerns a quirk of the NextRadio app. France and other European countries assign FM stations to frequencies that end in both even and odd numbers. NextRadio was designed for the U.S. market. Reception of stations on even-numbered frequencies is possible, but interesting things happen. Say that a station broadcasts on 89.0 MHz. One can properly tune in the station either by directly entering the frequency or by using the seek function. However, the frequency is erroneously displayed as 89.1 MHz. The tune buttons move the frequency up and down in 0.2 MHz increments. Thus, if one is at 89.0 (which displays as 89.1), pushing the “+” button moves one to 89.2 (which displays as 89.3). It can be somewhat confusing!

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