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I grew up in the 50s and 60s when AM was king. I don't recall the sound quality being as atrocious as it is today. Real or I just don't remember?
Your memories in this case are correct. The regulators limit power from the transmitters (so that stations on the same frequency do not interfere in the local market from a powerful distant transmitter), the stations compensate by highly compressing the signal which carries to fringe areas better. It's all about the listening area which translates directly to the rate card for advertising.
AM is mostly talk these days. There are a few stations I receive that play music that still sound great on good gear.
"If at first you don't succeed, keep on sucking till you do suck seed" - Curly Howard 1936
Volunteer, Medium Wave sound on multi-band radios-n-hi-fi receivers took a turn for the worse in the late 80s-early 90s. What used to be fairly clear-n-crisp response became mid-range centric instead. For a receiver which was considered lacking in fidelity, moi's slightly modded ICOM R-71A sounds fuller than mid-heavy ICOM R-75 (R-71's tape feed is rather muffled, & sounds better via headphone output). Used to enjoy Auntie Beeb's World Service & Radio Netherlands' music programming via Sony 2010 through various microphone-n-phono pre-amp feeds. Most sports broadcasts don't sound as entrancing nowadays, either. Gone are the days of hearing ticker-tape machines clack-clacking away in the background, along with occasional profanity from crowd mike. Listening to Ceres/Modesto's KVIN, 920 Khz, however, is like having a time portal back to when AM was king; with their lush-sounding night-time signal & oldies programming. Wolfman Jack's former flame-thrower, Mighty 1090 from San Diego, still retains their historically euphonic sound for their sports programming, though. Too bad they lost Pad Squad broadcasting rights. ... Happy Memorial Day!!! ... 73s para Sactown
I remember AM signal hopping that allowed me to listen to the St. Louis Cardinals and the Opry and remember it sounding better than anything around Louisville.
Definitely real. There's no technical reason that broadcast AM radio can't have almost the same frequency response as FM. Indeed, it used to -- as witnessed by passable sound quality is olden days of pre-FM-stereo multiplex when some experimental stereo broadcasts employed sister AM and FM transmitters. The main limitation of AM sound quality was poorer S/N.
When I was a kid we had a tubed table radio in our basement, with at least a six inch speaker. I (sadly) have no idea what ever happened to it, but I'm betting that if I compared that radio with my cheap Sony clock radio, the old one would sound better.
But even today, when I switch one of my AM equipped tuners, or my GE SuperRadio to the AM band, "just to see", it sounds pretty bad, even compared to what many feel is today's compromised sounding FM.
Is AM worse than it used to be? Possibly. Or maybe we've just grown accustomed to the sound of FM.
And they use the NRSCA pre-Eq curve which boosts the treble, before your AM stage cuts it.
My AM stage is two former wide-band stages and gets out to 13khz, I use the 'soft' Eq. switch which predates NRSCA, and it sounds fine if a tiny bit bright.
Skeptical Measurer & Audio Scrounger
Your memory may be correct. Everything has been cheapened. :> ((
Info. out to 10 KHz. is easy enough to do with AM and that's about right for a 78 RPM shellac record. L_RD knows that many of those were played over the air.
Corporate "bean counters" SUCK. It is possible to make a profit and not "shaft" the customer.
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