​​Reason #2: These things run WAY too hot!


Major internal components get very hot, dramatically reducing the tuner's service life.  Sony probably saved $2.50 in the cost of building these by omitting a cooling fan.  If you don't keep the thing cool, it can literally fry itself over time.


Reason #3:  The XDR-F1HD is capable of sounding VERY good!


I never make any claims about the Sony being "audiophile" gear.  Sony mass-produced these to retail for $100.  There is nothing audiophile about its build quality.  Would a component tuner aimed at the audiophile market have an injection-molded plastic case?


Nevertheless, the digital processing of the XDR's Tuner/DSP section is EXCELLENT.  The chipsets were originally designed for very high-end mobile audio applications.  Sony apparently looked at these components and said Hey, we can make a really good component tuner out of this.  Sony was right.


Unfortunately, Sony cut some corners on the analog side of the audio processing.  The details are explained elsewhere on this site.  The stock audio processing is dramatically measurably improved by the new audio preamp board I install.


Reason #4:  Sony left out some user convenience features and made a few dubious decisions in the design process


  • The display is always lit up whether the tuner is On or Off.  Yes, you can turn down the brightness, but are you going to mess with that every time you use the tuner?
  • The clock time and station presets are lost every time power is removed.  This is incredibly annoying.
  • There's no way for the user to force the tuner into Analog-Only mode when HD is present.


Reason #5:  The factory FM alignment is a little off on every single one of these.  I've never run into one that can't be improved at least slightly.  Other technicians and engineers have confirmed this.  


My upgrades & Mods described below can mitigate all these issues.  If you're interested in upgrading your XDR-F1HD and extending its service life, contact me: xdrguy@comcast.net  (Dave)


NOTE: Ability to mod & upgrade your XDR-F1HD is contingent on it being in good condition and not overly heat-stressed when I receive it.  If I discover any issues with that, we’ll discuss how to proceed.

Text & Images Copyright © 2016-2019 XDRGuy. All rights reserved.​

REPAIRS: If you have an XDR-F1HD  that doesn't work, contact me.  Please include a description of exactly what the symptom is ("Stuck on flashing WAIT message" for example).  I can probably repair it.  If the XDR is severely heat-stressed, the minimum recommended repair is to replace all the aluminum electrolytic capacitors, rebuild the power supply, and add 2 cooling fans.  If the issue is a simple random component failure not related to overheating, sometimes a repair can be done very inexpensively.  I don't charge anything to do a diagnosis.


Certain unique parts for these things are becoming hard to find.  Replacement DSP & HD Tuner modules are no longer available except by cannibalizing parts from other tuners.  The original Sony RMT-CF1A remote control is also now NLA as a separate part.

5 Reasons Why the Sony XDR-F1HD is Worth Modding & Upgrading

(Scroll to bottom of page if your XDR is in need of repair)


Reason #1:  The XDR-F1HD's FM reception is unmatched by almost any other consumer gear, vintage or new


The XDR's ability to pull in difficult FM stations might be unsurpassed by any other tuner at any price.  The video below demonstrates the XDR making weak fringe stations listenable.  The Sony XDR-F1HD is compared to a new Sangean HDT-20.  The Sony completely embarrasses the Sangean.  


There are no tricks used in the demonstration.  Both tuners were fed from the same outdoor antenna via a 2-way splitter.  The audio from the tuners has not been tampered with in any way except to match the levels to make the test fair.​  Use headphones if possible.  Note that the Sony is able to maintain good stereo separation on very weak signals that cause the Sangean to switch to Mono.

​​8/26/2019: "Essential Mods Package A"


If you want to extend the tuner's service life and improve its audio quality at modest cost, "Essential Mods Package A" might be all you need.  The parts used in Pkg A are exactly the same type and quality used in Ultimate Mods Pkg B.


  • Install a single premium cooling fan.
  • Upgrade all aluminum electrolytic capacitors in the power supply, Main Board & Tuner/DSP Module with higher-quality 105℃ rated parts*.
  • Replace the display backlight LEDs if they're dim.
  • Replace all top and front tactile switches.
  • Install Sony structural & reliability mods to the audio jacks if not already present.
  • Align FM section for best sensitivity.
  • Install the K6JRF audio preamp mods: Flatter frequency response, reduced distortion, improved headroom.
  • NEW: Now includes installation of a Super Capacitor for memory retention of station presets & clock.
  • Package A includes Priority return shipping to a US address and 30 day "fix it or replace it" warranty.


“Essential Mods Package A" Price: $120


Optional Package A add-ons from Package B: Contact me for pricing.


=============================


8/26/2019 “Ultimate Mods Package B”


"Mod Package B" is the ultimate set of mods and upgrades for your XDR-F1HD and includes all of the following.

 

  1. ​Install two premium-quality expensive ULTRA QUIET internal cooling fans.
  2. Disable the tuner's analog audio preamp & replace it with a custom analog audio preamp board.
    • ​​The new 4-layer audio board is silkscreened & soldermasked using through-hole parts.  Nothing is surface-mount, no sockets, jacks, or connectors.
    • Each audio board is hand-assembled using silver-bearing solder 
    • Audio performance specs for each board verified with an HP 8903B Audio Analyzer.  This includes frequency response, distortion, S/N ratio, and headroom.
  3. Install Forced Analog switch including LED indicator for FA Mode (requires drilling hole in rear panel).
  4. Install auto-shutoff for the display backlight when the tuner is in Standby.
  5. Upgrade the original zinc-plated audio output jacks with gold-plated premium panel-mount jacks (eliminates the need for the Sony structural & reliability mods to the audio jacks).
  6. Install 1.5 Farad "Super Capacitor" memory backup to preserve station presets & time during loss of power.  
  7. Replace top & front tactile pushbutton switches.
  8. Align the FM section for best sensitivity.
  9. Replace all of the main board 85℃-rated aluminum electrolytic capacitors with more robust long-life 105℃ parts, voltage derated where feasible.  Includes replacement of the aluminum electrolytic capacitors inside the main tuner/DSP module with higher-quality parts*
  10. Power Supply: Upgrade the smoothing capacitors with more robust parts, reduces power supply ripple.  
  11. Upgrade the 10.5V side of the power supply from half-wave rectified to full-wave, improves efficiency & reduces ripple.
  12. Replace the display backlight LEDs if they're dim.
  13. Pkg B comes with a 90-day 100% "fix it or replace it" warranty and Priority return return shipping to a US address.

 

"Ultimate Mods Package B": $250 (New Lower Price!).  See photos below for an example with the "Ultimate" mods.  *One capacitor used in the tuner/DSP module is replaced with a long-life 85℃ rated part due to availability.