back to article Germany flicks off-switch on DAB

Germany will end Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) next year after a ten years experiment. Public radio stations demanded another €180m to keep it going, but the independent commission responsible for the allocation of licence fees says it is over. DAB has been under development since 1981, and Germany was the first country in …

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  1. cor
    Dead Vulture

    DABbling in radio

    Clearly the consumer couldn't give a DAB.

  2. caffeine addict Silver badge

    of course...

    it doesn't help that DAB reception is crap. In Cambridge (hardly the arse end of no-where) I can get better FM pickup on a hand held radio than I can through a decent aerialled DAB set. Christ knows what it's like in the middle of the black forest.

    Never seen a DAB enabled car stereo either...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    DAB profiling and Euroscepticism

    Odd, how two of the most Euro-sceptic nations are the only ones where DAB has taken off to popular levels?

    is this because these two nations are particulary technophile?

    or

    DAB transmission inhibit the dark waves that brussells transmits turning all though under its influence into Euromonkeys.

    A coincidence or conspiricy!?

    Maybe DAB transmissions also make you partial to a decent bacon sandwich?

  4. Kenny Millar

    It didn't catch on because it is inferior.

    The problem with Digital Radio is the same as with Digital TV.

    It's fine up to a point, but when you get a moments interference on analogue you might get a slight click, hiss or crackle, but with digital you get a drop out. In terms of radio it means a moments total silence, in things like Digital TV it means a frozen or jumpy picture.

    As humans we simply prefer to have a wee bit of interference than to have drop outs.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clearly better?

    One of the problems with DAB is that in terms of sound quality (which for a radio is what matters most), a good FM signal will deliver better quality. How do you compete when your "new" system isn't as good where it matters?

    The same goes for digital TV but in this case, the broadcasters and various governing bodies seem to have got away with it.

    An average analogue TV signal / receiver is WAY better than an average digital TV signal / receiver. No contest. However, to hide this from Jo public, the broadcasters have for some time deliberately downgraded the analogue signal so that the difference is less noticeable (it's "downgraded" by deriving the analogue signal from the already poor digital signal - this is not a conspiracy theory by the way - it's fact). The other thing digital TV has going for it is, of course, more channels and a few other bells & whistles like interactive services etc. Unfortunately for DAB, it doesn't have enough bells & whistles to make the switch worthwhile.

  6. Nick Drew
    Thumb Down

    'most people didn't seem to care for the clear digital-quality sound'

    ...sounds like the UK. And to be honest, 'clear digital-quality sound' in itself is something of an obfuscation; in this country Radio 3 is the only station to broadcast digitally at a decent bitrate.

    Another way to read the story is that really, without the BBC pushing digital on us nonstop (have you ever stopped to listen to those freakin ads on Radio 5 every 10 minutes?!), even the UK wouldn't be making much headway with digital radio. It really is an answer in need of a question, particularly in its current format.

  7. Chika
    Flame

    Supreme Indifference

    That's what you get from me. To be honest, the word "digital" is being used as a marketing tool rather than a specific description of any real benefit and, given the nature of DAB and some of the pitfalls of using it compared with traditional radio, the benefits to us end users are marginal at best compared with what benefits the broadcasters get out of it.

    IMHO, Germany has the right of it here.

  8. Mage Silver badge

    Ireland

    Ireland is only starting to roll out DAB.

    It will actually have LESS stations than an aerial on your roof can get using FM/VHF. It won't have the BBC Radio (LW, MW, Cable & Satellite and 1/3rd population on VHF-FM).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't it always economics that drives these things?

    I thought the real reason for digital TV was so they could turn off the analogue transmissions, move everything onto a single-frequency network, and sell off the excess bandwidth.

    Maybe this isn't so lucrative in the VHF radio band as it is in the (larger and more useful) UHF TV band? In which case there would be no good reason to change to a more complicated, more power-hungry and lower quality standard...

    And as for DAB+... I have heard AAC+ and, though AAC is a big step up from MP2, the "+" part of it can be pretty ropey to listen to. I hope it never catches on.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I never managed...

    ...to tune in digitally. Thankfully the radio I have has an FM receiver, so it's not completely useless.

    I can't say I'm surprised by this event.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    ??????? What am I missing?

    Am I missing something? DAB is great. I have crystal clear reception in my home and office. My alarm clock radio can pause Radio 1 while I have a shower. I can record direct to SD cards. I have EPG. I never wonder what a song I hear is called. Whats not to like? I think I must have missed something on my old crackly radios.

  12. Dominic Sayers
    Unhappy

    So how do we recover the FM/MW/LW part of the spectrum for digital use?

    Am I being dumb here? I thought that the point of digital broadcasting was that it used less bandwidth than analogue. Thus, if we can successfully transition consumers from their old crystal sets to DAB receivers, we can (maybe in 25-30 years time) repurpose the old analogue part of the spectrum for digital use, and get better value from it.

    It's a long game and that's why we need independent commissioners - so they can take the long-term view without too much interference from commercial pressures and (ptui!) democratic governments, both of which are characterised by an extremely short-term outlook.

  13. Ed Courtenay

    Cost

    IMHO the real reason why DAB hasn't taken off in the way that most broadcasters hoped it would is twofold:

    1) As pointed out earlier by 'caffiene addict' - where are the in-car DAB radios fitted as standard? I've never seen one

    2) The cost of a reciever; when you can pick up an FM reciever for next to nothing, why are the great unwashed going to fork out more than they can pick up a DVB-T tuner for on something that only picks up some radio stations?

    I for one have a DAB tuner, and absolutely love it but I can fully understand that most people's reaction to it is "meh!".

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DAB radios are waaaaay too expensive

    so I haven't bothered buying one.

    I suspect this may be a relevant factor.

  15. W
    Black Helicopters

    email to enquiries@culture.gov.uk

    Following a previous Reg story (linked below) I sent the following to: enquiries@culture.gov.uk on 26 November 2007, FAO: James Purnell (as of today I've only recieved a confirmation of receipt):

    Re: The "Digital Radio Working Group"

    Dear Mr Purnell,

    If (and it's a big "if")...

    ... the shoddy DAB broadcast quality is a mere technicality that could be overcome and that DAB could broadcast everything at at least the wholly "good enough" FM standard...

    ...when the signal becomes weak, the sound wouldn't crumble into white noise and the audio were to remain vaguely listenable...

    ...manufacturers could install it into every car by default...

    ...the price of the hardware was at least half of what it is now...

    ...the design of the hardware could be vastly improved to develop beyond "retro", "woody", or "50s space-age" (smiles go to the Marshall Amp one though)...

    ...and the energy consumption of hardware could be reduced to match that of FM...

    ...if they could resolve those 6 technical issues, DAB is still left with quality issue.

    It has the megre USP of having only 3 niche BBC stations (+ 2 AM talk stations) on offer. That's it: 6music/1Xtra/BBC7 - stations with a combined listening share of less than 1% according to RAJAR figures.

    I'll generously add points for 5Live/TalkSport, as they're on AM and a very very few FM radios don't receive AM but we're still only around the 5% mark. Apart from that, BBC R1-R4 are on FM, so no points there. Remarkably, the dire commercial filler stations do have perfectly adequate equivalents on FM too, yet people do listen to them, so i'll add another 5% to listener figures.

    But those 3(+2) stations are all as "free" side offerings on on TV (Freeview/Virgin/Sky). And the internet.

    And pausing and rewinding live radio iof very little use. Those are bloody minded enough to record DAB radio will use a DVB-T USB stick with their PC (and then pass out due to acronym-itis).

    For those that want real choice beyond FM, Wi-Fi internet radios are an ever more sensible option for wireless households and will render DAB in the home a nonsense. Unfortunately that doesn't help government revenue generation by way of the sale of radio spectrum though, does it?

    Yet with all of the above being blindingly obvious, the government is still wondering why sales figures for radios are meagre when DAB only stations have only attracted a 10% or so market share thus far and a DAB radio is only of any use in a bedroom without digital TV or a kitchen.

    All of the above is blindingly obvious and there's still the need for a taskforce?

    Yours in disbelief,

    [Me]

    [My Location] (a member of the small "6music in the bedroom" demographic).

    PS: You'll also be wanting to read the comments to the recent news story carried on TheRegister.co.uk (at "www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/23/dab_working_group/") and the Channel 4 News Forum (at "community.channel4.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/503603557/m/6530046049" ) before going any further with the Digital Radio Working Group.

    PPS: Where, and to whom, do I send my consulatation fee invoice?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Cambridge - the arse end of no-where

    Seems it could be if you've never heard of a DAB car radio.

  17. stuart ward
    Stop

    DAB & Digital tv

    I actually have a DAB radio in my car (peugeot RT4 standard fit) but it has no convincing reason for DAB. The only way I noticed was the scrolling banner on the dashboard display , really annoying catching it out of the corner of your eye, otherwise it's a radio to listen to. So what's new? Don't listen to the radio except in the car so won't buy a DAB radio.

    I also have digital TV in my house, Freeview and SKY, just for the range of channels available mainly. Still can't find anything worth watching sometimes from 100's of channels. The digital wizzardry doesn't mean a lot to me except for the electronic program guide which saves the hassle of going to teletext and selecting page 120 or 606.

    So remind me again , apart from making loads of dosh for the goverment from selling the frequency, why are we switching to digital?

  18. alyn
    Unhappy

    The technologies fine - the implementation's crap

    I was working in the BBC R&D Dept when DAB was being developed. It was designed as a mobile transmission system. They always made great emphasis on the "single frequency network", but it was never implemented. They now sell off the multiplexes to the highest bidder and are trying to use it for local radio services. It was never intended for this purpose. They never installed the fill-in transmitters so it's useless as a mobile medium. In north Surrey its pretty useless even for home use, you need a roof-top aerial to get a decent signal.

    ...and they intend to shut down the FM service in a few years. Unless they implement DAB the way is was designed it will never happen.

  19. Richard

    @ caffeine addict

    I live in Cambridge and our DAB reception is fine on both DAB receivers we have. Both using an indoor antenna. FM reception however is poor, and greatly affected by using any electrical equipment (PC, microwave etc).

    I'd say for casual listeners who listen to the radio while they're doing something and don't / wouldn't notice any issues with audio quality, DAB is far superior in terms of ease-of-use and sound quality. For the serious audiophile with a proper external aerial, DAB broadcasts probably are too compressed. Unfortunately the price (and lack of availability) of DAB sets has made them too expensive for most of those casual listeners who would otherwise be the ideal market.

  20. Jolyon

    Audio quality important? Not for most.

    Agree that good FM beats DAB for audio quality but who really cares?

    Do people really turn to the radio for a hi-fi experience?

    More likely to be the morning alarm or something to have on in the background.

    DAB has enough gimmicks for it to be worth switching - or has for me, my family, the in-laws etc

    The channel choice, the track info, the program guide and the pause / rewind do it for me.

  21. Tim Cook

    DAB & DVB T

    DAB suffers from being, well, not very good. Here in the UK, it has the protection of harbouring some very good content (BBC7, Radio 6 etc) which makes it worthwhile, but as a technical standard it's not up to much, and a lot of the additional dross doesn't really make up for the drop in quality.

    Digital telly is something else. When videophiles like the anonymous coward above state things like "an average analogue TV signal / receiver is WAY better than an average digital TV signal / receiver", I have to point out that's the exact opposite of the truth, and one of the reasons why DVB-T is winning out across europe, in stark contrast to DAB. The truth is, the average analogue picture is pretty awful, and always has been. Most people have long suffered a bit of fuzz, a little ghosting, a dodgy Channel 4, a Channel 5 they can only get when the wind blows the right way, etc. A basic Freeview box is a revelation to these people, because as long as their aerial is picking up half a signal from the right mast, they instantly get a near perfect picture on 1-5 and then some. It's a revellation for many people, something that ropey old DAB could never claim.

    Of course, for the minority that live next to Crystal Palace/happen to have had the perfect analogue setup in the first place - DVB-T is seen as a degradation - and indeed it is slightly sub-par compared to be the best analogue signal. But those people are not the norm, and neither was their experience of analogue "average".

  22. Jason Rivers
    Thumb Down

    it would have worked if the technology was better.

    for it to work the consumer has to have no choices. if I go out an buy a radio, I'll buy a Radio, I won't think "ooo it must have DAB" - because that's not true, if they said they were turning analog radio off, then I might change.

    we're told analog tv will be turned off in the next few years (before 2012) will I get a digital picture before then?

    I'm in Basingstoke, infact, I'm in the center of Basingstoke.and I get no digital picture. my nearest antenna is Hannington. that's about 8 miles "As the crow flies" - 8 miles is hardly a big distance.

    My Girlfriends house is a mere 3 miles, infact from her window I can see the antena. she can't get any BBC Channel most of the time, apart from BBC Parliment, and she gets E4+1 but not E4.

    I know the TV and the Radio streams are a little different, but they're all broadcast from the same place, they're both using the same technology, and quite frankly, it's shite.

    I'm now paying Branson £30 / month so I can watch his Virgin TV. when some people get "Freeview".... but at least the virgin TV does work.....sort of.

  23. MrT
    Thumb Up

    @ caffeine addict

    DAB works just fine in my Vectra - don't have much call for reading the extra text etc when driving though. The bog-standard Vauxhall ICE doesn't have it, but most of the upgrade options do. It came free with the 6-CD version. Look for ones with something that looks like a black PC mouse clinging onto the base of the roof-mounted aerial instead of the slim version on either the base or satnav versions. Ignore any with the Mickey Mouse thing clinging to the pointy end...

    The only place I've noticed it fail was beyond the far end of Stranraer, next to what looked like a military antenna installation. Course, that's the advantage of FM - like any analogue signal, it degrades instead of cutting out completely. Where I live, (in a big northern city, so, like you, not exactly in the sticks), digital TV is very patchy, with even the BBC channels breaking up at times, so whilst digital is a nice idea (lower bandwidth, more info on the side etc), it's needs better coverage in all formats.

    What'll do it in for DAB and not for DVB-T is the same argument as in Germany - unless the analogue is pulled, folk won't feel the need to shift. So, we'll be forced to have Digital TV, and hope that when the analogue signals are switched off that the power will then be boosted to cover weak areas. We won't be forced across to DAB because there's no intention of shutting down FM. After all, LW is still around - FM hasn't replaced all that went before.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ssshh!

    I have a DAB receiver and have used it in the E.Midlands, W.Midlands ans SW.London.

    Reception is great, some stations arguabley might be a little tinney, but you do get access to some stations that not available via FM OTA.

    I am happy the great unwashed havent caught on to it, or else the same may happen to DAB that happened to Freeview!

    Initially freeview had a range of channels covering a range of interests, now its gone mainstream all the interesting stuff has gone replaced by inane surplusses of Shopping, Chart music, Quizes, ITV 1-99 even BBC3 + BBC4 has gone down the pan and look more like ITV schedules most days!

  25. Billy Goat Gruff

    Timechecks

    I've got a DAB by the kitchen sink and it's OK. But if you wanted to get the accurate timecheck that Radio 4 do, could you do it on DAB?

    If you watched a rugby match on ITV and wanted to listen to 5Live commentary, could you do this with DVB/DAB?

    If progress were not in reverse we'd be hailing 'True Live (TM)' where all your timechecks and commentaries were 'Truely Live - without the digital lag'

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Sound quality

    Freeview is a bit ropey but most of the time it's ok (ie, when not watching sport or other fast moving footage in which case it really is crap) and I no longer have a snowy Channel 5 or those two bands that ran down the screen ever since they built Canary Wharf and the Gherkin.

    But DAB is just rubbish.

    There are a few stations that kind of sound ok but most have a flat sound or you get that 'grainy shimmer' like when you listen to online radio stations over dialup. This site pretty much sums it up, the BFSB and Rainbow Radio clips sound digitally dire. blip.tv/file/597632

    And people look down their noses at AM radio yet in 2008 new music radio stations are still appearing on DAB in grainy *mono*! How much of a step backwards is that? At least AM music sounds warm and has the excuse that it's decades old.

    I listen to some shows on BBC7 but normally do it using a television rather than a proper radio because it's twice the sound quality and in stereo.

    If it isn't possible to have a dedicated radio system that sounds good, why not abandon the whole thing and let people get good quality radio from FM, Sky/Freeview or broadband. Surely there are enough FM stations to cater for peoples' "rights" to have free radio. If they want the luxury of having scores of stations then get a Wi-Fi radio and broadband. (Just not Tiscali though, eh...)

  27. James Smith

    Bunny hopped by the net

    I listen to the radio in the car or in the office.

    In the office, I'll stream the station over the net ...

    In the car, standard FM is good enough.

  28. Nick Fisher
    Thumb Up

    DAB is good for one thing, at least.

    Test Match Special, 'nuff said.

  29. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    I got one for the sound quality :-(

    It's true that the radio's are rare as hen's teeth here in Germany but because the station I listen to most, Deutschlandfunk, has pretty poor FM reception, I asked for a DAB radio for Christmas. Result: my brother picked up a cheap one that does the job perfectly. Fortunately it still also does good old FM!

  30. Thorsten

    May not happen...

    It's only a recommendation to reduce the funding of the public radio stations.

    This recommendation now needs to be cast into a treaty, which needs to be ratified by all 16 German states' parliaments, and the head of the broadcasting commission already said he's not happy with that particular recommendation, so expect some horse-trading.

  31. Frank Bough
    Unhappy

    What They Said

    IMO DAB has failed because car manufacturers don't fit it to cars. Add to that problem those of inadequate bit rates on most channels and a poor quality transmitter network and you've got a flop. I use DAB in my bedroom radio and I like it - I like BBC7 and 6Music, I like the ease of tuning and the extra programme info and the sound quality is better overall (indoor aerial) than my FM tuner.

    I've long found it frustrating that I can't have DAB in my car, and now expect the system to die a long, slow, sad death. Shame, maybe use the band for an IP-based system?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    +1 for DAB

    I've had a car DAB for about a year now and love it. In fact I've changed my car and kept the radio I liked it so much. And today I bought a Roberts DAB for the kitchen.

    Sure, the sound quality isn't as rich as a good FM signal, but lets be honest, in a car humming along at 70mph you'e not going to hear the occasional imperfection. Ditto in a noisy kitchen. We're not talking component hifi here.

    I like the selection of stations available and the additional info displayed. The pause function is a novelty, but I suppose it could be useful if you need a pee but really want to hear the footy scores...

    Yep, I'm a convert :) Lets hope DAB+ will be an improvement to the signal quality.

  33. Law
    Paris Hilton

    sigh

    DAB is bollocks anyway - crappy reception in all houses I've lived in the last 4 years (about 5 houses) - that's hertfordshire, hampshire, cheshire and Greater Manchester.... I'm just glad my dab radio also had analogue or I'd be very upset!! For me, interweb streams are the future... my N95 is my radio, and I use it to listen to all my faverite channels in the same way I can on the pc in winamp... and they are at decent bitrates too, and with buffering there is no drops or pops.

    It helps that my phone is usually always near a wifi router, or a decent 3g signal... but in the 10+ years people talk about in terms of upgrading radio technologies, I'm betting that wifi/wirelessusb/fibrenetworks etc will have come along so far as to basically blanket the UK/Europe in a thick web cloud that nobody will be able to leave!! :)

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  35. Darren B

    I have a DAB Radio because....

    1. The one I purchased was cheap at Tesco's < £30

    2. My house seems to have some sort of radio wave distortion field stopping FM signals (and all the Mobile Operators) from penetrating the walls to a reasonable level.

    Like most consumers I personally couldn't give a fugg about the technicalities of which signals better, all I am interested in is if I can get BBC Radio Channels and listen to them without having to listen to incoming flights into Luton airport between songs or more hiss that I can take in the mornings with a hangover.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Some lame excuses in 'ere

    I've had DAB in car/kitchen/hi-fi for 4 years now and don't regret a moment of it, what really sucks though is the Beebs transmitters are rubbish, commercial DAB transmitters have a much better output and give a much better reception than any BBC channel, same with freeview, BBC4 (my favourite channel) is unwatchable most nights, so I've gone the beardie V+ route mainly for BBC4, but the BBC HD channel is great eye candy, the problem really lies with the Beeb's cheapo implementation of the standard, if price is a problem for car users, try the Pure Highway, £69.99, fits in 10 minutes, runs on 2 AA batteries, and can be used with headphones as a portable, also upgradeable via usb....

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know this stuff

    There's a lot to go through, and much of the above is correct, basically DAB could be better, for a number of reasons.

    Signal strength -my nearest transmitter (Sandy Heath) puts out 100kW of radio 1 (why??) and 5kW DAB - and this is for about 20 stations' worth. www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/dab/coverage_maps.htm - with this level of power you will not get as good coverage as with FM. they should pump it up a bit.

    That said, the signal will sound perfect right down to whrer a similar FM signal would be all hiss, and then it will drop right out as the error-correction caves-under.

    signal quality - the compromise between number of stations and bitrate is skewed because only about 10% of the allotted bandwidth for DAB is actually in use. the powers could fix this but there are some EU harmonisation issues, or something. The MP2 codec is not so good as MP3, AAC, but gives near-CD quality at 160kbps and above, and even though they're under-running it at 128kbps it sounds better than FM on all but the best tuners. the lack of hiss is great, like when CD's came out vs vinyl.

    price

    you can pick-up a DAB radio for £40, maybe FM radios are cheaper but at the low end they are shite.

    Car radios

    there are a few out there, but its still hard to design a sensitive tuner for the car environment, to the price they wat to pay, and when there's no big pull for it. To do it properly you need a dual-tuner as well, and a lot of software to keep track of what stations are available as you move through the country.

    Portables

    I've seen these heavily discounted, it is just too difficult to get enough signal out of a body-worn antenna (i.e. the headphone lead) The robi thing for the ipod works ok though.

    content

    i can't listen to commercial FM because the adverts are so shite, but there are some all-music channels on DAB that you can leave switched on 24/7.

    Spectral efficiency

    FM is inefficient because to get national coverage you have to do a 4-colour theorem thing, so it costs you 4 channels (minimum). one of the clever things about DAB is the single frequency network, where distant transmitters signals actually reinforce, even though they're late (this is due to the long symbol time available in an OFDM system) DAB is the most spectrally efficient thing out there, and DAB+ bumps it up by another factor of 2. - thats why 4ustralia and NZ look like they will adopt it.

    the downside is that it needs ~30 MIPs to decode it, but silicon gets cheaper pretty quickly, ask Mr. Moore.

    shame the Germans opted out.

  38. Tom
    Thumb Down

    Digital - my arse

    I have a digital radio, but the only station I can receive digitally is Virgin, and that doesn't always work. I mainly use it as a normaly FM radio. And it isn't digital radio I have a problem with, the digital TV signal isn't brilliant. I have to frequently retune the digital box and I can't get the full range of channels. Often I can't get channel 4 through digital, which is the only way I can watch it because I live in Wales and get S4C instead, and there is only so much Pobol y Cwm I can stand.

  39. Dave Handley
    Stop

    Digital Sucks

    My experience of digital TV has been that it sucks. I'm not surprised that other experiences of digital radio are similarly bad. Why do I think digital TV is awful? Well, of my last 3 abodes, 2 have been wholly and completely unable to receive any digital channels, and 1 has only been able to receive a handful of channels. If my last 3 houses were in Outer Mongolia I could understand that. But 2 of them have been inside zone 2 in London, and the other in a city.

    In my last place I gave up and got Sky. Great reception, shame the hardware they provide is so flaky.

  40. Ian Chard

    People care about reception, not quality

    Most people don't care about audio quality on the radio, they care about reception quality. Personally I never bought a DAB radio because, indoors at home and at work, I get crystal-clear analogue FM reception and next-to-nothing on a DAB receiver. Case closed.

  41. simon maasz

    digital but not DAB

    I have digital radio in my kitchen. It comes via a neat little wireless media player talking to the internet via my wireless router. I get all the Beeb radio stations, all the commercial stations and have access to about 6000 other worldwide stations, all neatly categorized by genre and name. (try out radio paradise, or smoothjazz for no-chat background music and you're hooked) Many of the best stations display artist/album info (not The Beeb tho'). This little box was about the same price as a DAB radio, and also plays all my music on my home PC over the network as well. Surely *this* is the future, not some line-of-sight signal attenuated by buildings/trees that will only give a decent signal if you are lucky.

  42. Julian Bond
    Thumb Down

    Just not very good

    The receivers are too big. They're too expensive. Battery life is too short. Reception isn't good enough; plain old FM works fine with the antenna down, DAB only works with it fully extended.

    Give me a 20 quid Sony tranny any time over a 70 quid Sony DAB

  43. Luther Blissett

    All your DAB radios are belong to us

    So when we decide to upgrade the codecs, you will have to all troop out and buy new DAB radios.

    The idea of a backward-compatible better codec is one I have difficulty wITh.

  44. AnthonyTimson
    Thumb Up

    No mass car deployment, no success...

    I've had DAB since the early days in my car, when I was crazy enough to go and purchase a Blaupunkt Woodstock. Since then I have moved to the States and used Sirius (where I could listen to Radio 1 in excellent quality), and now back to the UK where my new German car (6 months old and bloody expensive) can NOT have DAB retrofitted (thanks to this news I can now see why!!!).

    We can all whine about the technology (not as good as FM, breaks up, etc.), but radio is a predominately in-car medium from a marketing/business perspective. The breakfast show used to traditionally make/break the success of a station, and whilst the ability to tune around has greatly changed this (particularly in relation to the afternoon drive show), the essence of listening while driving to work is still a key element of radio's success.

    I live in South East London (someone has to!), and drive an hour to work every day. Because my journey is between Wrotham and Crystal Palace I lose the upper end of the audio spectrum due to a compromise that's had to be made so that people in South West and Central London can get a better signal. Couple that with the pirates who broadcast on every "spare" frequency (basically over Radio 1, 2, 3, 4, Classic, and between every local station) and it makes for a pretty undesirable experience thanks to the RDS handover attempts.

    DAB, whilst not being perfect is operational, and in the thousands of miles I have driven around the UK (rural and urban) it's stood up pretty well. We have an urban spectrum shortage on the FM band, and unless we re-architect the entire band plan we're stuck with a need to upgrade to something more efficient.

    So, car manufacturers - stop being cheapskates and make this technology standard. There is a trend for much cheaper DAB radios in the high street stores now so that no one can really complain about the price, but cars are where we are really missing out. AM and LW services will sooner or later switch to Digital Radio Mondiale but that's not common yet, so it's excusable that hasn't been widely adopted.

    /rant

    Ps. Germany phased out Analogue TV in some places a year or two ago. Doesn't seem to be really progressive in the radio world does it?

  45. Nick Piggott

    Not entirely correct

    This is based on a report by the KEF, which is the federal funding body for public service broadcasters. I should wait a day or so and see what the response from the broadcasters is before drawing any conclusions about the future of DAB or DAB+ in Germany. As usual, there is far more to this issue than has been covered in this story, or exposed in the KEF press release.

  46. Radio Listener
    Thumb Up

    DAB is far superior to FM

    I have seen a lot of negative comments about DAB.

    I listen to my radio mainly in the bedroom and in my car.

    I bought the now famous EVOKE-1 by PURE several years ago and have not looked back since.

    DAB offers four big advantages over FM.

    1) Wide choice of stations including DAB only content. I get 54 stations in North West London where I live

    2) In an area of good reception (which is most of the country) I get hiss and crackle free listening with no fade in or fade out

    3) It's easy to use, I don't need to remember or look up station frequency's and I can change channel with the push of a button almost instantly

    4) I have access to great features like ReVu on my PURE EVOKE-3, the ability to programme and record to a memory card (great when I am on holiday) I have a line in for my iPOD and also access to EPG (Electronic Programme Guide)

    DAB is not perfect, but I think its better and more available than Freeview which I agree is at the best of times terrible.

    Also you can get a quality DAB radio with excellent battery life from as little as £50!

    Germany is unlikely to 'switch off' DAB, see the link below and read the article below:

    http://www.worlddab.org/upload/uploaddocs/German_Press_Release_Final_English.pdf

    I think the future is bright for DAB, the UK is growing rapidly and with products like the new PURE Highway we will see more in car DAB. As far as Europe goes, forward thinking countries like Denmark have already embraced DAB and many others will adopt the new DAB+ standard.

    The futures bright, the future's DAB!

  47. Ali McGowan
    Go

    DAB radios are waaaaay too expensive (you what now?)

    In response to:

    DAB radios are waaaaay too expensive

    By Finnbar

    >> Do you call £30 expensive? I don't!

  48. Wolf
    Dead Vulture

    Re: Digital - my arse

    Hi Tom,

    what you are talking about is digital terrestrial TV (DVB-T) trying to deliver radio instead of a tv independent system.

    It's exactly what KEF recommends and it's exactly the wrong way!

    Digital is not the problem, but bad digital not fitting to the task can be a problem. Digital TV is not aimed at being used at travelling speed either.

  49. Ralph Beales
    Joke

    FM? AM?

    Interesting comment re-the analogue signal for the telly being deliberately degraded (or at least delivered in such a way as to ensure an inferior signal)

    Anyway, there's no such thing as an FM band, or an AM one for that matter. There's Long Wave and Medium Wave and Short Wave(lots of those) and there's Very High Frequency (these are all names for a range of frequencies on which radio waves may be transmitted) but there doesn't appear to be a Frequency Modulated or an Amplitude Modulated radio band, so any comments with reference to such things are clearly worthless and written in ignorance.

    May I suggest Charades? If lacking a good-quality wireless signal, then this wonderfully stimulating parlour game, negates a need for the dross churned out on Radio1.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    @Ali McGowan

    £30 will buy you a clunky, tinny, mono DAB radio, or perhaps a slightly better spec'd refurbished & discontinued factory repack from Richer Sounds on a good day.

    But £30 will buy you a nice sounding stereo FM radio with a bass boost that doesn't make the sound muffled that you can turn up a lot louder than the DAB sets, especially on headphones.

    Good DAB radios can cost a relative fortune, such as the Pure Evoke 3 or Roberts RD50 for £200, and they're still just kitchen radios! They're not "hi-fi" quality and even if they were most of the stations you can pick up are not. Many aren't even in stereo! I'm not even sure if you can buy an FM radio for £200 that doesn't include a tape or CD, but if you could it would certainly sound an awful lot better. FM pirates sound a lot better than many legal DAB stations.

    And the cheapest car radios cost £9.99. How much for DAB?

    This is the problem with DAB. The advocates keep promoting the £30 sets because they're too embarrased to admit you need to spend over £100 to get a half decent stereo one and when people buy the cheap ones they're left unimpressed.

    Nice to hear the worry about DAB being another betamax getting good coverage on tonight's Chris Evans show on Radio 2 (available on Listen Again in the first hour of the show).

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