back to article The future of radio may well be digital, but it won't survive on DAB

Radio in the UK passed a significant milestone on 17 May. For the first time, more than half of Brits now access radio digitally. According to Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR), the figures have risen from 49.9 per cent in the last quarter of 2017 to 50.9 in the first three months of 2018. Passing the 50 per cent digital …

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  1. David Knapman

    My pet peeve with lack of coverage on main roads is on a Motorway, no less. On the A74(M) about 50 miles south of Glasgow there's a dead spot that takes about 30 minutes to drive through (ignoring the odd splutter when it gets a signal for about 10 seconds)

    1. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge

      I know the exact area you are talking about. When looking at it on a map, it's very sparsely populated, hence one could imagine that it's not really going to be an important for DAB coverage. On the other hand, it's the main route between England and Scotland FFS! Sort it out!

      On the plus side: I drive from Aberdeen to Durham and back every week along the A1, and DAB Radio6 works flawlessly all the way. Perfect.

    2. LeahroyNake Bronze badge

      DAB Is just as bad on the M4 between Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea. FM works fine all over the south west without having to retune every 25 ish miles.

      Also that annoying bloke on traffic broadcast from somewhere in Sommerset keeps coming up when I'm in Wales. Wish I could block that 30 seconds of traffic news and 5 minutes of talking cr@p.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        When the BBC engineers first started planning the FM network, they had the freedom and money to do it Properly. That's properly, with a capital P. Meaning that the intention was to make it the most comprehensive, best engineered radio network that could be humanly achieved.

        And they did. The UK FM network is nigh on unsurpassable. The tweaks that have happened since the 70s to accommodate commercial stations and RDS have only made it better.

        Tech fact - one of the earliest radio shows to exploit the UK FM stereo network was Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, all the way back in 1978.

        Even today, the best technical quality broadcast radio in the country is BBC Radio 3. With a proper FM radio and a good antenna, the fidelity is truly outstanding, and is better than any digital medium no matter what compression technology they've gone and used.

        Part of the reason for this is that Radio 3 was given an extra large slice of the FM spectrum, and could therefore use a greater modulation depth. Thus the dynamic range of audio that could be transmitted by Radio 3 is higher than all the other FM stations in the country.

        So the UK FM network sets a very high bar indeed. Picking DAB to replace it was the decision of technical numbskulls, who were unaware of the vastness of a DAB network that would have to be built to match (never mind surpass) FM. Anyway, DAB is the wrong standard to use. DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) is far superior, repurposing existing AM transmitters as digital broadcasters, and also making far better use of the FM band than analogue FM does. It's a really good technology, but unfortunately the politicians who made the decisions never bothered asking if there was anything technologically superior than DAB. Choosing DAB irrevocably was a bit like deciding to use 8" floppy disks for evermore, despite the availability of USB memory sticks.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          FM and Digital engineering

          I thumbed-up your post about the quality of the UK FM network, but I think you are being somewhat unfair, thanks to having the full benefit of hindsight, about DAB. When digital radio was originally being planned, way back in the 80s, DAB/MP2 was as good as it was. At that time, few, if any, could have foreseen the subsequent advances in audio codecs and in internet technologies, and quite how soon they would then occur.

          Yes, DAB is "yesterday's" technology now, and perhaps the biggest failing was not that DAB existed, but that it is not possible to firmware upgrade existing radios to be able to handle DAB+ or DRM instead. But, again, back then, the idea of upgradable firmware was probably some combination of unimaginable/impossible/unaffordable...?

        2. Martin an gof Silver badge

          While I agree that the frequency planners did an excellent job (though you have to be aware of the international co-operation that was necessary, particularly on the south and west coasts)...

          Radio 3 was given an extra large slice of the FM spectrum, and could therefore use a greater modulation depth

          is utter tosh. All radio stations in the UK have to conform to the same set of standards, and modulation depth is not allowed to exceed +/-75kHz under any circumstances.

          ITU reference

          Ofcom looks after this sort of thing in the UK. Note that in this Technical Parameters for Broadcast Radio Transmitters they don't even bother mentioning modulation depth.

          It is the same for every transmitter.

          Unless you can point me in the direction of contrary documentation?

          M.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The day DAB died

      When all the stations buggered off from D1 (with high 90 something percentage coverage) to cheaper D2 with around 45% coverage, mainly around cities.

      My DAB radios went in the bin and I stopped listening to these stations, as if you are going to force me to internet radio, you need to be ready for having to competr with a much bigger set of competing stations.

      Not listened to Planet Rock in over 2 years, not since they went to D2, the day DAB died...

  2. createahandletheysay

    Wait

    There's more stations than BBC6 on DAB?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait

      "There's more stations than BBC6 on DAB?"

      Not in my house there aren't...

      1. PickledAardvark

        Re: Wait

        I always think of it as BBC6 in spite of its official name.

        And I'm delighted that the silly price DAB radio I bought 15 years ago still works with current broadcasting standards. It works best in one particular location -- inches make a difference. It has outlasted a gorgeous looking Roberts analogue radio which functions only as an ornament. Maybe I could hack it and put something useful inside. I'll buy a new DAB radio when my old one conks out, ideally one with push buttons to select my preferred channels rather than a "tuning" knob.

        OP: "A lot of others aren't even available in stereo, which seems pretty bonkers in the 21st century." My radio is mono and 7" wide; it is enough for casual radio listening whilst cooking. If I want to listen to music -- to bury myself -- I tweak the knobs on my hifi for Robert Johnson, Louis Jordan, early Stones and Beatles but it still sounds like mono...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wait

          >I always think of it as BBC6 in spite of its official name.

          Nah. It's radio 6. BBC 6 would be on the telly.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Wait

            BBC 6 is BBC 1 SD

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Wait

      Planet Rock,... in my kitchen, while I cook. That's DAB for me.

      And occasionally, digital warble. No idea why that happens, it works flawlessly for weeks, then randmly it'll start dropping out and warbling one day, and be fine the next.

      1. Multivac

        Re: Wait

        Don't buy a Bosch washing machine, completely wipes out the DAB signal when it's running.

      2. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Wait

        My radio does the same sort of thing and it's bloody annoying when it happens. I normally have rock solid reception on the Surrey & North Sussex mux which is fine. However every so often and far too often in my opinion it dies completely. The station I listen to is Eagle Radio and the display just says "Station unavailable" which is of no use. I thought it might be atmospherics but it happens in all weathers and is a pain. My expensive radio doesn't scan that block (10C} automatically and it's a real song and dance to get the station back up and running. I have to do the following:

        Unscrew the aerial,

        Turn the radio on and scan

        It finds nothing.

        You then have to go into the settings,

        change the tuning range to include 10C

        rescan and add the station to the same preset as I used before.

      3. David Paul Morgan

        Re: Wait

        we love Planet Rock in our house. I had to buy an extension antenna for my sony monolithic bluetooth/fm/dab/cd brick to reduce (but not eliminate) the warbling.

        it's very annoying.

        However, when i get up, I just shout "OK Google, Play Planet Rock Radio " and it's ready and waiting when I make the morning coffee!

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Wait

      4 Extra perhaps?

      My mum will kill anyone who tries to end that.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Wait

      "There's more stations than BBC6 on DAB?"

      There's a BBC6? I often wondered what was below Radio7 and assumed the rename to Radio4Extra was to remove that anomaly. :-)

  3. Lee D Silver badge

    Still haven't worked out how DAB came into being in an era where we could transmit the same kind of MPEG-compressed streams, buffer them properly, and have small retransmissions necessary to fill in the gaps.

    Thus, though your radio might be a few seconds behind, at least it won't completely cut out just because you go through a tunnel, or go funny because you're near a big building.

    Sorry, but everything now should be over IP. There's no reason not to. DAB could easily have been that - just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

    I have a car with radio and DAB built into the entertainment system. I can honestly say I've only ever used either by accident (stupid voice control, and bad placement of the "mode" button on the steering wheel", right next to vol up/down).

    But the car has its own Wifi, can interface with 3G etc. sticks, bluetooth PAN, connects to my phone as soon as I start the engine, etc. As such, DAB is really a dead-middle-ground.

    To be honest, I think it's also "listening live" that's dead, rather than "listen on demand". People don't want the waffle and adverts and talk-overs and the "most popular" song on constant loop. They want to listen to what they want to listen to. Again - possible on IP technology, but not on DAB.

    Give it another generation for the current kids to grow up and get their own cars, etc. and you'll see that DAB is dead. Nobody cares about it. If it's not on-demand, it's dead, and we're all carrying on-demand music/podcast streaming devices on our person that connect to cars and hifis, and are much more likely to be with us than a DAB-capable radio.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      I enjoy listening live to 6 Music - the music is varied and the hosts put the music first. And after all, how would I know to search for something on Spotify (or in a record shop!) if I hadn't already heard? On a Sunday morning I can put Cerys Matthews on and make my breakfast without having to attend to any playlists.

      I don't like ads on commercial radio, and Radio 2 is intensly annoying for many reasons - not least DJ's habit of talking g over a song and then not telling you what it is (their one job!)

      1. 27escape

        Spotify does have "Discover" modes

        It sets up 6 daily modes based on your tastes, as well as a weekly mode, these act as radio channels to get around the cost of playing individual tracks.

        There are also genre radio channels, as well as channels for activities, like contemplation, jogging etc.

        Works reasonably well, finds stuff I would not normally listen to, you just have to remember to wander about so that you do not keep in a pigeon hole

      2. therealmav

        Radio 2 is intensely annoying for many reasons...

        Steve Wright, that’s the main reason.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There are plenty of reasons NOT to use IP

      1) There are still a huge number of Mobile 'dead zones'. Some are less than 40 miles from London.

      2) Broadcasting means that I can't be tracked and the advertisers can't know what I've listened to.

      3) I've got to pay for the data that comes over the IP stream

      4) aren't we out of IPv4 addresses? It seems that widespread use of IPv6 by the average person is as dead as a Dodo.

      Streaming (like Cloud Services) are not the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.

      Yours Grumpy with a Valve Radio.

      1. The obvious

        Re: There are plenty of reasons NOT to use IP

        1) yes there are but that's not an unfixable problem and it should be sorted from a perspective of public safety

        2) multicast is your friend

        3) yes, fair point

        4) pretty much all mobile handsets support IPv6 today, if the networks are still dragging their heels after over 2 decades then that's a very different problem and ultimately they aren't going to fix it without demand

        So basically there aren't lots of reasons, there's one - the cost of internet access.

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: There are plenty of reasons NOT to use IP

          The thing that's not fixable is that I can take my battery radio away for a two week backpacking trip and I'll get something on either FM, AM or LW wherever I go in the UK. Even if the Highlands get enough data coverage to stream radio reliably my phone battery will be dead after 24 hours, so it will be bloody useless. The transistor radio will work for weeks on a couple of AAs.

          1. uccsoundman

            Re: There are plenty of reasons NOT to use IP

            But you are not supposed to be enjoying yourself in the Highlands. You are supposed to be in the city, either slaving away at your job, or at home consuming media that those in charge want to sell you.

        2. Flicker

          Re: There are plenty of reasons NOT to use IP

          Multicast??? Don't make me laugh - with no hope of a workable standard across UK ISPs and CPE or motivation for them to support it carrier-grade consumer multicast is a mirage that's never going to happen here. The BBC ran a trial some years back which I spent ages trying to persuade my ISP to particiate in - the Beeb eventually gave up in the face of complete ISP indifference and myriad technical equipment issues.

          I've implemented multicast media distribution in an enterprise using a carefully controlled and configured narrow set of hardware / firmware and even that's not a picnic - for example a minor difference between the multicast support in different firmware levels led to the complete meltdown of Heathrow's IP network some years back following an upgrade (not my site BTW...). It sounds like a great answer but forget it as a practical solution.

        3. spinynorman

          Re: There are plenty of reasons NOT to use IP

          @The obvious ... and exactly how many people use multicast?

          1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

            Re: There are plenty of reasons NOT to use IP

            At a previous employer we used multicast for IPTV. It only worked if we were able to control the exact switches (make, model and firmware version) used within the building, and even then it was site-area network - doing inter-network multicasts, especially with an ISP, rapidly becomes an exercise in building your own network stacks. If the network supported it, however, multicast was a superb choice: point-to-point TV is a bandwidth hog for high numbers of users, but on multicast, the peak network load is limited by the number of available channels, not the number of viewers..

            While Multicast IP is great in theory, but at a LAN level, it was never widely adopted by switch manufacturers (IGMP, the protocol that allows receivers to join and leave multicasts, is best implemented at the switching rather than routing level of the network stack, but that requires that switches inspect the frames they receive in order to find the join/leave messages), and at a WAN level, there's no good routing protocol.

            But that's really not what was "wrong" with DAB. The designers made a good choice of transport layer; the problem was that the content stream encoding specified just before audio decompression hardware progressed to the point where it became possible to run the much better frequency-domain decoders (e.g, MP3) on cheap silicon. The root of DAB's problems are that in MP2, the available bitrate is equally allocated across the audio signal's frequency bandwidth - if there's no information present in a given sub-band, you can't reallocate its bitrate to other, more information-rich sub-bands. Thus, for certain types of signal, in which only a small part of the frequency range is carrying information, MP2's "used" bitrate is a fraction of the channel rate. Unfortunately, instrumental or vocal solos in classical music are exactly that kind of signal.

            DAB+, on the other hand, is pretty good, even at surprisingly low bitrates (I can receive the same services on DAB and DAB+ where I live)

        4. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

          Re: There are plenty of reasons NOT to use IP

          pretty much all mobile handsets support IPv6 today

          Indeed. As an example, it's several years since Apple mandated that all apps in the App Store *must* function correctly in an environment that has only IPv6.

        5. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: There are plenty of reasons NOT to use IP

          "2) multicast is your friend"

          and the router bandwidth that it would require is NOT. Just sayin'.

          On a related note, about 30-something years ago (in the USA) the AM band was almost dead. NOBODY listened to music stations on AM. There were attempts at AM stereo, but it doesn't address the fundamental problems. Quadrature detectors in AM receivers help a LOT, but you still get a lot of noise. Yet, just about every car still has an AM radio. Why?

          Well, AM was basically saved by the news/talk format. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, MIchael Reagan, Dr. Laura, Glenn Beck, and many others [including local talk hosts and nighttime shows like 'Coast to Coast AM'] basically re-opened the AM band with shows that people could listen to while driving, working, or whatever. For drivers, there are the frequent traffic updates. And so AM is still "a thing" around 100 years after the first radio transmissions.

          As for FM, digital exciters can improve the quality on the modulation side, and digital music playback in the studio gets rid of the pop/hiss/scratch of vinyl. FM quality is extremely good (at least here in the USA).

          This is all because AM and FM broadcasters (including the PBS and college stations) need to compete for an audience, here in the USA. I'm not sure about how the BBC is set up, but it seems to me that there isn't a significant amount of competition for them on radio. That's probably the driving force for 'change' even when 'change' isn't for the better. You know, like what Micro-shaft did with Windows "Ape" and Win-10-nic.

          (I'm quite happy with FM radio quality and AM programming out here on the left coast of the USA, and the fact that ancient radios can still receive it)

          /me wonders how you can teach electronics to a kid when crystal radios no longer receive anything?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "But the car has its own Wifi"

      My car was built in 1998, and I've got good reason to assume it will carry on for at least another 5-10 years. It isn't going to get wifi.

      1. Toltec

        "But the car has its own Wifi"

        Do you have a smart phone?

    4. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

      Lee D.: how do you buffer live radio?

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

        Live radio is already buffered.

        Seven-second delay to cut out obscenities, etc. when they have phone-ins.

        Literally just delay it by a few seconds (okay, you'll have to adjust the clocks in the studio but I imagine they already do).

        Nothing important ever happens quickly enough that you can't afford even 20 seconds of delay, and if you do it properly (it being broadcast) you won't even notice (just say it's the 10 oclock news at 9:59:40). This then gives all receivers 20 seconds to gather packets and retries in order to keep the buffer full so that it play seamlessly for you.

        Honestly not rocket science, and already in use (which is why people have to turn their radios down if they are phoning in - the safety delay lets you hear 7-second-delayed feedback).

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

          Lee D. Live radio is buffered at the transmit end, not the receive end.

          It's not delay I'm talking about - it's the fact that vast tracts of the country don't have enough data coverage to do a Google search, never mind live streaming. The train journey from Ipswich to Liverpool Street has 10-15 mins of no data coverage - and no signal at all at Shenfield (Vodafone). You can't buffer that. I was in North Norfolk two weeks ago and spent hours with no data.

          1. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

            Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

            > I was in North Norfolk two weeks ago and spent hours with no data.

            At least you could tune into North Norfolk Digital

            1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

              Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

              No data, no phone, bugger all tv signal and even Norfolk FM is dire ... what hope has North Norfolk got if they go DAB or IP?

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

          Radio 4 isn't buffered for obscenities - who can forget the Today programme when Jim Naughtie accidently referred to Jeremy Cunt the culture secretary? And Andrew Marr making the same slip an hour later when referring to his colleague's gaff?

          Anyway @Lee D to answer your question as to why DAB want built with buffering, it's because solid state memory was expensive in the nineties. It was present only on the higher end portable CD players to mitigate shock-induced read errors. It was standard on MD players - it had to be because a recorded Minidisc might not playback in the order it was originally recorded (users could split and reorder tracks by altering the Table of Contents) - but this required less storage per second because MiniDiscs stored compressed ATRAC audio. Pricier models offered 15 seconds of Electronic Shock Protection over the standard 3.

          Some DAB radio sets do offering buffering, but it isn't a part of the standard.

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

            "

            ... to answer your question as to why DAB want built with buffering, it's because solid state memory was expensive in the nineties.

            "

            Nope. It's because DAB is one-way with everyone receiving the same data stream. Therefore if you get corrupted data, there is no way to tell the transmitter to re-send that data, so buffering would be pointless. Same is true of multicast - it's inherently one-way so error correction is not possible.

            It would be possible to send two (or more) identical streams of data separated by a few seconds, so if you miss a bit during a fade the chances are you can get it on the second stream a while later, but that will of course require twice the bandwidth. You could also send blocks of data with PAR blocks appended that allow the receiver to correct errors provided it has received enough PAR blocks - but again that's a massive increase in bandwidth (and also needs some hefty CPU power in the receiver - which equals low battery life).

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

          Live radio is already buffered.

          At source, not the same thing.

          Buffering it in the receiver so you can surf through dead spots is easy but means 20-30s of "buffering..." silence every time you change channels.

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

            "

            Buffering it in the receiver so you can surf through dead spots is easy but means 20-30s of "buffering..." silence every time you change channels.

            "

            And of course two-way communication with the transmitting station so you can request the bits you missed to be re-transmitted, which is only possible via cellphone data which will cost you money.

            You can do that right now, you just need to point your smartphone to a suitable online radio station. Of course, mobile phone coverage might be even worse over a particular route than DAB coverage

        4. tfb Silver badge

          Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

          'Buffering as necessary' works if you have a single stream arriving which you then relay around in some hard-real-time way (for instance as analogue signal). If you, for instance, have a radio (well, device) in the kitchen which is buffering and something in another room which is also buffering and you want to listen to the same station in both rooms, then, well, it's not fun.

          Multiple sources of the same content need to be in sync to within whatever the human perceptual limit is, which I guess is more than 1/100s but well under 1/10s. Obviously this is not achievable if your house is large enough (30m separation means 1/10s delay and there's nothing you can really do about that), but if your house is that large you have other problems, like where to store the servants.

          This is a soluble problem (if the devices have a good notion of time via NTP say, and there is time code in the data they're receiving then they can agree to a common almost-always-OK buffer time), but it's not actually solved.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

            Multiple sources of the same content need to be in sync to within whatever the human perceptual limit is, which I guess is more than 1/100s but well under 1/10s.

            It depends on the application. I used to work at a radio station and some (not all) of the on-air talent would refuse to monitor "off air" from the transmitter that was fed by a NICAM link because it "phased in their head". Given that the studio and racks were entirely analogue, and they were perfectly happy monitoring the other, analogue-fed transmitter, that implies that the 1ms delay of NICAM is about where problems begin.

            Where I work now we've recently invested in a digital mixing desk and "snake". The manufacturer makes a big thing of the end-to-end latency of the system (i.e. analogue in on the stagebox, through the desk (digitally), gain, EQ, compression, routing, back to the stagebox and analogue out) being less than 1.1ms

            The ITU has guidelines which state that 1ms is as much delay as is acceptable for many digital microphone applications (PDF (see p4))

            In a large house, the delay due to distance will be masked from otherwise perfectly-in-sync separated receivers because the closest one will be loudest. The delay will just seem like a bit of reverb. But we're not talking 1 or 2ms with digital broadcasting. It can be many seconds in some cases - take the example of Radio 4 analogue against Radio 4 on digital satellite. LW and FM are as near as possible "live" (digital transmitter links aside). The satellite signal has to be encoded, multiplexed, sent to the uplink station, uplinked nearly 36,000km to the satellite, downlinked another 36,000km to your house (this trip alone adds at least a quarter of a second) and decoded by your box. You may then have a fancy AV amplifier which adds its own processing delay.

            I think, where I live, it's DAB that's the worst. I wouldn't be surprised if this is because it rebroadcasts a signal received via satellite. Put it this way, just last week I was listening to something on DAB and FM at the same time, and there was a good 4 or 5 second delay; enough that the kids moaned and I had to turn one of the sets off.

            I'd love to think that all equipment could be forced to output audio at exactly the correct moment, to within 5ms perhaps, but getting everyone to agree to do that?

            M.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

              Would have been interesting to try adding a ~1msec analog (sorry, analogue for you guys) buffer on the non NICAM feed for comparisons sake. I suspect that the lossy compression was a much bigger factor than the delay (assuming the 1msec delay is accurate).

            2. tfb Silver badge

              Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

              Well, 1ms corresponds to a positioning error of about 30cm: if you move one of the sources by that much, or walk that far, you've changed the timing by that much. So that's pretty clearly not something you need to aim for for a domestic audio system. But as you say the time skew you often get isn't usefully measured in ms, it's measured in whole seconds, and that's not anywhere near OK.

              I've just bought a new vehicle which has a radio which does FM and DAB, and has a fancy 'station-following' feature so it knows that it can follow a given station from DAB to FM and back when the DAB (usually) signal goes away (obviously only for stations which exist on both). After a day trying to listen to this strange disjointed mess that it turned radio into I worked out how to turn it off.

        5. PickledAardvark

          Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

          "Nothing important ever happens quickly enough that you can't afford even 20 seconds of delay..."

          Maybe Big Ben can be tweaked during its current refurbishment to deliver buffered bongs.

          1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

            Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

            Buffered clapper - more of a 'bouff' than a 'bong' ..

        6. Multiscat

          Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

          @Lee D

          "Seven-second delay to cut out obscenities, etc. when they have phone-ins.

          Literally just delay it by a few seconds (okay, you'll have to adjust the clocks in the studio but I imagine they already do)."

          This might surprise you but in 25 years of professional radio production I have never seen or had to work with any delay mechanism. That includes working time served at some of the largest BBC networks, commercial broadcasters, local radio, and with some big-name presenters. We rely on producer judgement, quick fader action, and when need be, apologies.

          But actually I can count on one hand the number of times punters have behaved in such a fashion that we'd need it - the reality is it just doesn't happen. Probably because We Have Your Number.

          I can also assure you the response we'd get from engineers if we asked for a special clock mode that set them back seven seconds...

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: just receive an IP stream, buffer as necessary.

            in 25 years of professional radio production I have never seen or had to work with any delay mechanism

            That's odd, because back in the 1990s when I worked in ILR, having a delay was part of the licence conditions.

            We just had to have one. It didn't have to be in-circuit and we didn't have to use it, but the consequences of not using it when necessary could be difficult (it happened once, just before I started, Adrian Edmonson I believe, and we were required to hold on to the logging tapes for a while). We had one of the early units that could "stretch" audio (almost) imperceptibly in order to build up a 7 second buffer without the presenter having to do clever things with a 7 second jingle.

            It had a large yellow button on the front labelled "DUMP", which amused my childish friends...

            M.

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