5 Reasons Why the Sony XDR-F1HD is Worth Modding & Upgrading
(Scroll to bottom of page if your XDR needs 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.
Reason #2: These things run WAY too hot!
Major internal components get very hot, dramatically reducing the tuner's service life. Sony probably saved $1 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 can be dramatically and measurably improved.
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 described below can mitigate all these issues. If you're interested in upgrading your XDR-F1HD and extending its service life, contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
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.
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4/15/2020: "Level 1" Essential Mods
If you want to extend the tuner's service life and improve its audio quality at modest cost, the "Level 1" mod package might be all you need. The parts used are exactly the same type and quality used in the "Level 2" package.
"Level 1" Essential Mods Package: $150
Optional individual add-ons to Level 1 package from Level 2: Contact me for pricing.
4/15/2020: "Level 2" Ultimate Mods
"Level 2" is the ultimate set of mods and upgrades for your XDR-F1HD and includes all of the following.
"Level 2" Ultimate Mods Package: $275. See photos below for an example with the Level 2 mods.
*One capacitor used in the tuner/DSP module is replaced with a long-life 85℃ rated part due to availability.