Text & Images Copyright © 2016-2019 XDRGuy. All rights reserved.
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 reception is unmatched by almost any other consumer gear, vintage or new
The XDR's ability to pull in difficult 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 involved 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.
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
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 mitigate all these issues.
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.
Mods and Upgrades: If you're interested in upgrading your XDR-F1HD and extending its service life, contact me at email@example.com (Dave)
Current Modded XDR Availability: Here
Mods & upgrades are priced individually as shown, add $15 for return shipping. Or $275 for Items 1 thru 10 when done all at the same time, including return Priority shipping to a US address. Other optional upgrades priced as noted.
EXTERNAL POWER SUPPLY OPTION:
Note about the tactile pushbutton switches: I've been running into increasing problems with flakey pushbuttons. For example you press "DISPLAY" but the tuner behaves like you pressed "HD SCAN". This is caused by the tactile switches developing high resistance across the contacts. I can now replace the switches with new exact replacements for $10. If you want to DIY the switches are Mouser p/n 611-PTS645SSM502. Note that the original switches may have felt pads on top that you will probably need to transfer over to the new switches in the same locations. Otherwise when the cover is installed the buttons may feel mushy or not work without pressing very hard. If you're going to replace any switches at all, consider doing all of them at the same time including the power button.