back to article DON'T PANIC: No FM Death Date next month, minister confirms

Culture and Comms Minister Ed Vaizey told Parliament last night he won't announce an expiry date next month for a popular technology that everyone uses and loves: FM radio. Vaizey will, however, make a much-anticipated strategy statement, while the larger radio stations had hoped he'd set a firm date for when broadcasters …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    50% of what?

    There will be no switchover until the majority of listening is digital

    with the number of adults with access to a DAB digital radio up 10%

    It sounds suspiciously like there's an assumption that when the number of adults with access to a DAB radio exceeds 50% that will mean that the former condition has been met. This is emphatically not the case.

    1. Hairy Spod

      Re: 50% of what?

      dont worry it will take ages to get to 50% of all listeners.

      10 + 10% is still only 11 people with a DAB set

  2. Roger Stenning
    FAIL

    Tell you what. Mr. Vaizey...

    ..when DAB coverage and signal quality matches or exceeds FM for the vast majority of the country, and the size and cost of the receivers come down to more realistic sizes and levels, then, maybe, you might interest me in getting one of those things.

    But not until then.

    You have a shedload of work to do yet, don't you?

    The answer to that, by the way, is "Yes".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tell you what. Mr. Vaizey...

      "You have a shedload of work to do yet, don't you?"

      No, he doesn't. There is no sensible question to which the answer is "DAB", except for the question "Which crummy technology do people not want, and should be put out of its misery soon?"

      1. Roland6 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Tell you what. Mr. Vaizey...

        >There is no sensible question to which the answer is "DAB"

        Ofcom: We need some more spectrum for M2M and Wifi, plus some extra for 5G wouldn't go a miss any ideas where we might find some under utilised spectrum who's current user's won't complain?

        1. Chad H.

          Re: Tell you what. Mr. Vaizey...

          DAB-II

      2. Deadly Headshot

        Re: Tell you what. Mr. Vaizey...

        Yes there is - DAB is ideal for people willing to sacrifice quality, usability and signal availability for lots of channels and who don't have access to the internet!

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Tell you what. Mr. Vaizey...

      "..when DAB coverage and signal quality matches or exceeds FM for the vast majority of the country, and the size and cost of the receivers come down to more realistic sizes and levels, then, maybe, you might interest me in getting one of those things."

      I think you've missed the one on battery life.

      AFAIK DAB eats batteries.

      1. tin 2

        Re: Tell you what. Mr. Vaizey...

        Indeed. I've got two personal DABs and two little portables, and I don't think any of them can last 10 hours on a set of batteries. I've got an Hitatchi Superwoofer (remember them?) - it's a big, loud bastard with stereo, lots of speakers, lights and everything, yet it has had the same set of batteries in since I don't know when (at least 3 years now).

        DAB is *NOT* an acceptable replacement for FM, unlike (arguable) DVB for Analogue PAL. And I speak as someone with that many DAB radios. They need to come up with and push something else before people are forced to move.

  3. SJG

    Radio Silence in Cars ?

    ... and what about in a car. Many manufacturers (even including BMW) still sell cars with only FM. Adding DAB at home is fairly easy - buy a set and plug it in. With the integrated radios in most cars this just isn't feasible.

    There's even a safety aspect of this - moving from the integrated radios and steering wheel controls to a new DAB radio fixed somewhere under the dashboard is clearly a real backwards step.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

      "Adding DAB at home is fairly easy - buy a set and plug it in."

      Except that I don't fucking want to. DAB offers me nothing that FM can't do, in fact the quality of FM is usually better than DAB, and I've already got FM receivers.

      The sooner knob end politicians stop trying to tell me what I want the better, and at least Ed Vaizey has had the sense to realise that DAB is a solution looking for a problem. If he really wants to separate himself from the herd of incompetents and thieves at Westminster, then he could simply admit that DAB isn't wanted by the majority and doesn't solve any problems. And then he could develop a close down strategy for DAB, instead of prolonging its zombie existence.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

        "Except that I don't fucking want to. DAB offers me nothing that FM can't do, in fact the quality of FM is usually better than DAB, and I've already got FM receivers."

        The only FM receiver I have in the house is a bedside clock radio. Everything else streams across the 'net.

        I doubt my setup is unusual.

        1. -tim

          Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

          Are you sure your TV isn't a DAB radio? The stats on digital radio sales from Downunder include TVs, new cars and a trivially small number of portable digital radios so in other words most buyers of digital radios don't know they have one and most will never ever use the radio function.

          1. John Tserkezis

            Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

            "so in other words most buyers of digital radios don't know they have one"

            I don't think so. The Radio function built into Digital TV sets here pick up no more than a handful of stations. All of them some flavour of either SBS or the ABC. Tuning them in is part of the TV tuning setup, it is in no way separate. I suspect they're a subset of the digital TV standard that just caters for just audio.

            I have a real DAB+/FM radio reciever, and it has many, many more stations, 61 at last count in Sydney (metro area).

          2. jonathanb Silver badge

            Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

            No, TVs are usually DVB Audio, a very different technology.

      2. mrfill
        FAIL

        Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

        Can you let me know the FM frequency of 6Music and 4extra then please?

      3. Deadly Headshot
        Pirate

        Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

        DAB is great for pirac- I mean recording for later listening, as long as you can get a good enough signal. It's a lot easier than setting your PC up to do it and you get more opportunities than FM. For general listening, though, you can't beat an FM radio with a manual tuner!

    2. circusmole

      Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

      "Many manufacturers (even including BMW) still sell cars with only FM."

      My BMW has a DAB/FM receiver!!!

      However, because of the crappy reception in and around my area, and the consequent frequent drop-outs, I have the thing switched to FM most of the time. The sound quality on FM sounds better to my ears than that delivered by DAB.

      1. ridley

        Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

        That will be because the sound quality of FM IS better than DAB. Most of the DAB stations transmit as cr**py sub 200bps digital, radio 5 live is sometime 64bps and it sure sounds like it too.

        I have a DAB radio alarm clock and it is forever losing the signal, I wish it had an FM option...

        1. ridley

          Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

          I did in fact mean 200kbps and 64kbps, 64 bps would be really really dire

          1. DiViDeD Silver badge

            Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

            "64 bps would be really really dire"

            Oh I don't know - 64bps might make 2Day FM sound a little less dreary

        2. Mark #255

          Re: radio 5 live

          Well, R5L's only analogue broadcasting is through AM (693 and 909 kHz). I remember having to listen to that in the car, and it was frequently dire in audio quality, with fading and other interference.

          A 64 kbps DAB stream is at least as good as that.

    3. Steven Raith

      Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

      SJG is correct - when I was looking at new head units with iPod thingies and reversible badger interfaces, not much more than a year ago, DAB units still commanded a hefty premium over FM units.

      And that's without the whole SCRUNCHSQUEEL of DAB breaking up causing me to have an apoplectic fit in the car, as opposed to FMs fairly stateful decay to static.

      Fuck DAB till it has a genuine 95% saturation rate. Until it gets that far, it's useless.

      Steven R

      1. Goat Jam

        Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

        Surely the point is that there is nothing on FM worth listening to in the first place? Well, not in Arstrayia anyway. Maybe FM airspace is not such a bogan (read: chav) wonderland in old blighty? Imagine that!

        1. Deadly Headshot

          Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

          Do you not have any BBC rebroadcasts down-under? I'd have thought that that was the perfect thing for the nation closest in tastes to its motherland ;) .

          1. DiViDeD Silver badge

            Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

            "Do you not have any BBC rebroadcasts down-under? I'd have thought that that was the perfect thing for the nation closest in tastes to its motherland ;) "

            Unfortunately, the only BBC rebroadcasting is the occasional programme on ABC News, and a passthrough World Service stream when 2RPH (Blind Reader Service station) is off the air.

            Foxtel gives us BBC World News Radio on the ole telly, but that's it.

            The saddest thing is that the vast majority of Australians seem to identify not with the Old Dart (UK), but with all things merkin. We appear to have more apologists for merka here than merka has itself. Case in point recently was the lead story on Channel 9 News, which was video of someone parking his car badly in some anonymous American town, I think because it came with 'spectacular video', as the presenter called it. OK, so he smashed a dozen cars and ended up with two wheels hanging out over a 30 metre drop, but News Value?

        2. DiViDeD Silver badge

          Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

          ArseTrailer has some wonderful FM stations. Where else can you choose between 'Classic' Rock (ie Hotel California, baker Street, My Baby Is The Centrefold, rewind, repeat) and 20 stations playing exactly the same Top 40 songs interspersed with DJs who seem to have all been cloned from the same moron?

          But we do have 2 (count em) classical/jazz stations and ABC News too, and none of them available on DAB without putting your radio on an outside wall and wiring it to the Dish

      2. Nigel 11

        Re: Radio Silence in Cars ?

        Fuck DAB till it has a genuine 95% saturation rate. Until it gets that far, it's useless

        And even if it does get that far, it'll still be useless. I'll just have to stop listening to radio, and spend a bit more time compiling my own zero-compresion music collections.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Well now

    I wonder which of the Tory party backers has the vacant FM bands in their sights ? I'm sure they'll get them for a snip just like they captured The Post Office on the cheap.

    Andrew, can we have a proper thief icon please ?

    1. Chemist

      Re: Well now

      "I wonder which of the Tory party backers has the vacant FM bands in their sights "

      AFAIK it's cross-party

      (I think it's madness)

      1. boltar Silver badge

        Re: Well now

        "(I think it's madness)"

        Its even madder than people think - the FM band is only 20 Mhz wide - ie sod all use for any serious digital services other than audio. So what exactly they're planning on doing with it is anyones guess. The phone/internet companies will hardly be lining up to buy it.

        It seems to me the only reason for the push to DAB is that its digital and therefor the arts degree morons in charge think that anything digital is automatically better than anything analogue regardless of evidence to the contrary and they must be seen to be doing something wrt broadcasting, DAB is something , so lets do it.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Well now

          hmmm

          88-108Mhz DAB+?

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Well now

          "It seems to me the only reason for the push to DAB is that its digital and therefor the arts degree morons in charge think that anything digital is automatically better"

          That's probably the reason given to the politicians so they can sound "informed" when talking to the public but in the background it's all about compressing the FM stations in a few few digital MUXes and selling off the bandwidth for more mobiles phones and/or wifi.

          Also, as already demonstrated by digital TV and existing DAB, the quality delivered to the end user is often lower thanks to decreasing bit rates to squeeze more channels into the same space. When sat. and cable were switching to digital they "sold" it to us on the promise of "crystal clear pictures and HiFi sound". Yeah, it was. For a while. Now we see TV channels with so little bandwidth that at time you can't tell the difference between grass and coloured tarmac.

        3. DiViDeD Silver badge

          Re: Well now

          I think you'll find the real push for the FM switchoff is from all those companies who bought into diestamped commercial broadcasting a few years ago, who now have to maintain both FM and digital retransmission facilities. Obviously it would be cheaper to dump one and since DAB is the cheaper, they'd like to close down FM.

          Well that, and the fact that any cheap arse company running prerecorded Lowest Common Denominator Top 40 ad stations is naturally going to have audiophile sound quality top on his list of priorities of course.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well now

      It wasn't the Tories that started this lunacy - Labour were pushing for it from around 2005. Still don't let that stop you being a Guardianista moron mmm?

      1. GothBoy

        Oh dear...

        Testing began on DAB in 1990 with the service going public in 1995. Two years before the Labour government, who hadn't been in power since 1979. Don't let the facts get in the way of your right-wing foaming at the mouth moment.

  5. FunkyEric

    DAB

    is shit

    there fixed that for you

  6. Mage Silver badge

    Sounds like a commitment

    Do do nothing!

  7. BongoJoe

    Build It And It Will Come

    First, can we have a DAB signal here? I would like to try this new technology that everyone is talking of.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: Build It And It Will Come

      Don't bother.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DAB....

    is shit, always has been shit and will remain shit until the day it gets taken off air.

    I have a pretty high-end FM tuner (Magnum Dynalab FT-101) with a nice little beam pointing at the Sutton Coldfield transmitter and given a decent non-compressed-to-hell signal, it sounds pretty good. Am I going to get compensated if FM is switched off for loss of service? Am I bollocks.

    I was all for the move to digital telly, but scrapping FM because the various parties want everything digital is as has been mentioned, not what people want. Stop meddling with peoples lives and do something useful.

    If they want to get the RF-spectrum play-kit out, then they should start by sorting out the abortion that electromagnetic compatibility has become. Get shot of the Ofcom navel-gazing luvvies and appoint a real regulator with boots to stomp on the heads of corrupt Eurotwats who are pushing through standards to allow the wholesale junking of HF/VHF and UHF spectrum for us.

    With PLT, g.fast, badly designed LED lights and crappy wall-wart PSU's that are being allowed to come to market, I'll be surprised if in 10 years we will be able to receive any radio stations at home at all.

  9. Tim Brown 1
    Pint

    They should join forces with...

    ... the ipv6 folks. They can't organise a switchover either.

  10. Piro
    Pint

    Used to listen to Radio 2 in the office with DAB

    Just a general radio on there, but the stupid bubbling mud noises and the cutting out led me to turn the ruddy thing to FM.

    Now it works perfectly, all the time. A major town, not a suburb or village.

    DAB can be crammed up the arse of the people who are pushing this fæces into our faces.

    (Yes, my preference would also be Radio 4, dear reader, but it is not mine for the setting. I listen to Radio 4 in the car).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    If they time it right

    They could kill FM and DAB at the same time!

    There is a new standard for mains networking up for ratification that would allow massively increased power and subsequent interference to the radio spectrum, ADSL/VDSL etc.

    The BBC already found the current low level devices can take down DAB.

    (TL:DR disclaimer - this is more than 140 characters, has some big words and very few pictures.)

    http://www.cq-cq.eu/DJ5IL_rt004e.pdf

    I almost wish it did have some pretty graphs as we need more people who don't know a decibel from a Tinkerbell to understand the radio spectrum is a finite resource and related to the sound spectrum, its like Europe saying they are going to allow the constant sound of chain saws around your house because "nobody listens to bird song speech or natural sounds any more!". In some ways I look forward to the day they try turn off FM IF we can get people to understand what is killing DAB.

    Dear Mr Europe, the radio spectrum is not yours to covertly sell off to your mates.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If they time it right

      And exactly how am I going to listen to radi ostations while on the move? You know in places where there is no 2G signal let alone 3G, 4G or whatever.

      also, I'm going not going to PAY per bit to receive stuff that is BROADCAST to everyone over the ether.

      Streaming is all well and good but to say that it can replace BROADCAST services is a load of smellt dog shite.

      Until there is a sensible free to receive BRODCAST alternative to FM/LW/MW/DAB radio then leave the fuck alone.

      Why to posters here really not understand the benefits of BROADCAST as opposed to pointcast solutions?

      Yours,

      An ex Mullard Radio Engineer so I'm biased.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Black Helicopters

        Re: If they time it right

        My first post obviously was not well written (no change there then) I'm definitely not arguing for streaming radio, the complete opposite in fact. Once everything we do is monitored and analysed to death the ability to listen to the views of some distant radio station or a varied range of broadcast stations is crucial to keeping any sense of world connection and an agile mind.

        In a time of crisis (the promised power cuts say) lets see who can set up a simple few-component DAB station to keep the local people informed. Not to mention false flags attacks can only succeed if the media is well controlled. Once the net is down we will be blind, if FM and broadcast go – no streaming no clue.

        I would like to see something big enough happen to radio that the average person wakes up to the death of the broadcast world and the fact that the entire radio spectrum is being turned over to a few corporate interests and short term profit. We are being blinded.

        If they tried to turn off FM, all those who "put off trying digital" realise it doesn't work then we get into a proper conversation, I'm saying "go on try killing FM right now, see what level of shit hits the fan". Delay quietly hides the sell off of the radio spectrum.

        I'm a radio enthusiast or at least was, most of the spectrum is now hidden under mains networking or other hash and the younger generation just don't see that as a problem.

        While the net is up its hard to value broadcast and they just can't concieve a world without a working internet.

  12. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    Maybe the Minister is being cajoled into making a decision that does not appear in his personal agenda?

    If so, where is the urge for DABcoming from?

    Who is bigging up a non-issue into something important?

    (My taken is that it probably is the same people who prefer to broadcast minority issue sports such as cricket or golf over major interest sports such as IoM. Tsk! Middle class morality again and in charge of treasury funds? Never? Sometimes I wonder if all of those dead soles dying in service in 2 world wars, civilians and other wars included are turning in their graves at the "freedoms" that so exactingly robbed them violently of life)

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    BTW am I right in thinking UK DAB <> Europe DAB?

    Something about the encoding?

    I think I can sum up the position of a lot of El Reg commentards as

    IP digital "radio." YES.

    DAB digital radio NO.

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: BTW am I right in thinking UK DAB <> Europe DAB?

      Yes, the primeval DAB standard used in the UK is not compatible with DAB+ as used everywhere else. So, there's a lie by implication: you might reasonably think that DAB+ is a superset of the original DAB standard, just like Stereo FM is a superset of the original Mono FM, but it isn't. A mono FM receiver works perfectly when fed a Stereo FM signal, but a DAB radio can't deal with a DAB+ signal at all, so guess how well your shiny new in-car DAB radio is going to work on t'other side of the Channel.

      I have a high-end FM receiver that I'm more than happy with (Quad FM3), or would be if the signal hadn't become noisy over the last year or two: it would be quite nice if Arquiva actually maintained the transmitters they're paid to maintain.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: BTW am I right in thinking UK DAB <> Europe DAB?

        Some UK DAB sets can be upgraded to DAB+, but here is little point unless your taking the radio abroad. That upgrade isn't free, though, because royalties have to be paid on the AAC codec DAB+ uses.

        Apparently there is a way of using an Australian proxy server to upgrade Pure DAB sets without paying a fee, but I haven't done it myself.

    2. Mark #255

      Re: BTW am I right in thinking UK DAB <> Europe DAB?

      Another point is that here in the UK we use Band III (200 to 230 MHz ish) for DAB transmissions, while over on the continent they also use Band L (1450 to 1480 MHz, Wikipedia assures me).

      Very few UK DAB receivers are able to tune into Band L transmissions.

  14. Roger Stenning
    Trollface

    It just occurred to me...

    ...that DAB actually stands for Dire And Bollocks.

  15. tkioz

    Wow. The UK is getting rid of FM radio? Seriously?

    I could get behind the switch over to digital TV, but FM radio? What's the point? Sure it might be better, but think of all the cars out there with suddenly useless radios. It's not like you can get a set-top box for your car.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "It's not like you can get a set-top box for your car."

      You can. But depending on where you are (ie most places) the DAB signal breaks up before the show ends and you have to switch to something else or go back to FM.

      1. M7S

        Adding kit in cars - actually a bit dodgy

        Many of these things, like satnavs, are suckered to the windscreen. Anything in the "swept area", i.e. that covered by the wipers is an MOT failure, not just at the time of the test (when you can take it off) but anytime that the traffic police officer wants to start writing. It's especially relevant if you've been involved in a bump whether it's your fault or not. Having this sort of thing could make it so in the eyes of the insurers and the courts.

        Yes I know world+dog do it with their sat-navs, that doesn't make it legal and I do see lots of road users with these things positioned right in their line of sight, not realising just how large an object it can block from view. Reaching for the thing to change channel if it's not close could also lead to a charge of failing to be in proper control of your vehicle. We used to have accidents as people changed cassette, that sort of thing might make a comeback.

        I expect also that there might be issues with reception if they are not "visible" to the transmitter through the glass, and also some of the glass in cars such as heating elements, UV filtering etc can affect reception, so its a sort of no-win situation for many potential users.

        And what of non-car vehicles with radios fitted? Radios are becoming more common on motorcycles, and I expect there are other types of users such as boats (both leisure and commercial). How far does DAB go, the trawlermen might need the shipping forecast?

  16. FuzzyTheBear
    Pint

    Try to convince stations that have millions in equipment ,towers transmitters and are amking a living to just let go. Won't happen. FM 88/108 MC penetrates rather well in buildings , got tremendous coverage of at least a hundred miles all around the transmitter and sounds great. Noone can even begin to tell me DAB is better than a tx at a nice low fm frequency to get in contact with car traffic , trucks on the roads etc. Rest assured broadcasters would throw a fit to hear that they are out of business to please another group . Politicians beware , stay out of broadcast radio. You will find the radio set owners , car owners , stereo set owners , personal fm radio owners and quite a few more chaps biting hard. .. in fact expect a mugging and your quick demise. We'll get Simon in as counsel on how best to dispose of the man

  17. SVV Silver badge

    I think the 50% mark may take decades to reach, if ever

    OK, I don't drive so I don't need it in my car right now, but my home radio listening is all done through my tablet (and powered speakers if I'm in the living room) - magically delivered through the magic of a wi-fi broadband connection.

    So, no need for DAB at all, and the UK only incompatibility problems are hardly likely to increase uptake. Plus ever increasing uptake of 4G and the ensuing decrease in price and increase in "unlimited usage" data plans that are already happening - as we all basically demand wireless internet everywhere - mean that DAB might be something that never really takes off.

    Maybe the Wi-fi standard could even be extended to allow the frequency bands that are currently used for DAB to be used as a kind of nationwide openly accessible broadcast only wi-fi signal?

  18. Fihart

    FM - not so much loved as entrenched.

    Tallying the number of radio units in my home; hifi tuners (4 for some reason), radio/CD player portables (3), MP3 players with FM (4 ?), old phones with FM (6?), Freeview telly with many radio stations not available on FM (1). Add to that internet radio.

    With 20 or so means of listening to the radio already, even the offer of a £40 Sony DAB radio at a car boot sale for £8 just didn't seem that tempting.

    Fact is, I mostly listen to Radio 4 and Radio 5. Any promise of extra stations on DAB is about as exciting as the multitude of, to me, redundant radio channels on Freeview or Freesat .

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FM - not so much loved as entrenched.

      Well, I've got a DAB radio in my garage. Admittedly not the garage where I'm living at the moment but I have got a DAB radio. Free, when it wasn't needed at work any longer. Work, where it came free with an order for something (stationary?) and wasn't much good inside our metal roofed building.

      But I do have one. Even if it isn't plugged in.

  19. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    If DAB is the answer

    It must have been a fucking stupid question

    1. Piro

      Re: If DAB is the answer

      a) what way do people NOT want to listen to the radio.

      b) should we try to get people to landfill perfectly good radios?

      c) shall we render most cars useless, as they have fixed, proprietary head units?

      d) make people listen to garbage audio quality

      e) reduce signal coverage for radio

      f) make radios last for no time at all and consume batteries like old school ghettoblasters

      g) all of the above.

  20. Haku
    Facepalm

    Yes, digital is always better than analogue

    For example, you can't buy music on vinyl anymore...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. garden-snail
        Trollface

        Re: Yes, digital is always better than analogue

        As a quantum physicist, I must point out that our ears, sound and indeed the Universe itself are all in fact digital when you break it down to the most fundamental level...

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Yes, digital is always better than analogue

          If you do that, you'll find that nothing exists at all, really. It's all just probability.

    2. Nigel 11

      Re: Yes, digital is always better than analogue

      The problem is with the data-compression used by DAB (and compressed MP3 etc), and the fact that the algorithms chosen generate time-varying non-harmonic distortions. Digitisation, as used on CDs and studio-master recorders, doesn't do this to any audible extent.

      Vinyl, valve amplifiers, and carefully constructed nonlinear transistor amplifiers generate harmonic distortion, which colours the music. Some people prefer it that way. I don't prefer it, neither do I detest it. At low levels, without the ability to compare sources with and without low-harmonic distortion, it's impossible to tell whether the tonal colouration was there on the master or not. Draperies etc. in concert halls also colour the music, by removing greater or lesser quantities of harmonics.

      If the only source of broadcast music is DAB, I'll never listen to broadcast music again. What it does to music (even with perfect reception) is simply vile.

  21. jason 7

    You know what.....

    ...I've never had the desire to buy a radio that has a brushed steel effect kitchen cupboard handle glued on top of it.

    Other than how DAB ever got past the basic testing phases all those years ago, I'm still puzzled that this (what 25+ years now?) tech hasn't reached 'given away free with 4 litres of oil' status yet?

  22. Snar

    I can't see the point in clearing Band II of FM - Apart from allowing it to be polluted by junk OFDM in-house PLT or from a cabinet to home g.fast crap.

    The band has no real commercial use in the telecoms market, so why not just leave things alone?

  23. Dieter Haussmann

    Our Audi has DAB and Internet radio, we use the latter due to far more choice of stations, and better reception of Giff Gaff's 3G than DAB. We can also add the channels on myaudi online portal.

  24. Enrico Vanni

    C'mon people. Stop treating this as some sort of conspiracy and see it as the clusterfuck that it is. DAB was a brave effort, but too little too soon, and in a world where standards matter the intentions of the people who brought it to market, noble as they were, should not be criticised. instead, blame the rent seekers who want something for nothing and push an inadequate standard for their own ends (ie. OfCom).

    I can remember when Radio 1 was not on FM at all, and Radio 2 shared its spectrum with Radio 4, so the lack of coverage is not the fault of the technology. DAB could work if it was resourced properly, starting with a switchover to DAB+ (which is no more an issue than when DVB-T digital terrestrial went from 2k to 8k base modulation, rendering many early and unsupported STBs obsolete). Almost all sets sold in the last decade are already dual standard or can be upgraded (although there seems to be an issue with the AAC codec and the licensing of said codec).

    1. druck Silver badge
      Flame

      I remember a little later on when Radio 2 had its own FM channel, but lent it to radio 1 for a couple of hours a week, one of which was on a Sunday morning. I used to wait to return to hear the music in wonderful clear stereo, rather than the dull mono of AM. When I heard that most DAB channels were in low bit rate mono, I swore never to adopt it. Think of the outrage if they switched of colour analogue TV, and digital was only in black and white.

    2. Nigel 11

      It is a conspiracy, in that there are public plans to deny us choice by discontinuing FM broadcasting at an unspecified future date. Until an announcement is made that FM is here to stay, be very afraid for your music broadcasting.

      Once that announcement is made, expect DAB to die out. The only reason it got any market penetration at all, was a lot of people bought a DAB set to try it out on the back of a load of media hype. (This customer hasn't binned his DAB set because it does represent a slight improvement over BBC World Service reception on AM. The other preset buttons remain unset).

  25. Herby Silver badge

    Might be some wait!

    Funny thing about radio is that it is a WORLD-WIDE standard. Unless other part of the world (like here in the USA) start going with DAB it just won't take off. Radio manufacturers won't care that the UK market wants DAB. There are all sorts of people that like the current FM broadcasts. When 4 channel stereo FM broadcast was being offered (I have intimate contact with the people involved, but not that type of intimate!) the lobby of the blind people that thought they would lose their reading channels (SCA subcarriers) brought it to a screaching halt as the attempts to answer all the form letters stalled the rule making.

    In lots of markets here in the USA, the engineers are waiting to flip the switch to OFF as soon as possible as it just doesn't measure up to FM in its many uses (both fixed AND mobile). My recent experience was driving around in a friends car and noticing the difference in audio quality as we went into a tunnel and the DAB dropped off. It was quite dramatic.

    Almost like digital TV (don't get me started) this looks like a reason to deliver more channels of lesser quality audio to the unsuspecting public.

    All politics, not one bit of good engineering!

  26. Fihart
    Coat

    Wonder if the decision makers have the facts.

    Interesting that a readership of, largely, techies here is so unanimous in their rejection of DAB.

    Presumably we are mostly the sort of people eager to adopt new ideas (if they work)*.

    On this small sample, DAB might as well get its coat.

    * Admittedly, after much muttering that I wouldn't, I adopted CD. But that has demonstrable convenience over vinyl.

  27. Old Tom

    BBC Local Radio

    I listen to BBC Radio Lancashire, but I live outside its coverage area.

    I can mostly receive on FM at home and in my car. At home - though not during live football coverage - I can listen over t'internet, getting better results. At no time can I receive the DAB signal; BBC Local radio is not transmitted on Freeview or Freesat.

    However, during live football coverage, the internet feed is cut, and FM is the only way I can listen to that station. I understand the licensing reasons for cutting the feed at these times, but that doesn't help me at all. They're also rather tardy at switching it back on afterwards, so you don't get the half-time and post-match discussion either.

    If FM was cut, I could only listen to the station when at home, and only while live football is not being covered.

    On top of that, with their multiple FM frequencies (covering different parts of the county), they are able to cover more than one match simultaneously - this excellent service would be ended by an FM switch-off.

    Oh, and listening on my phone while leaving the football ground - great now on FM, but I'm not holding my breath for DAB support on my phone.

    Streaming you say? No, they haven't restarted the stream at that time, and in any case mobile data is choked when you've got many thousands of people all converged in a small area.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BBC Local Radio

      "Oh, and listening on my phone while leaving the football ground - great now on FM, but I'm not holding my breath for DAB support on my phone."

      Don't worry, if that nice Minister is going to steal services from you & require you to buy new tin to use their so-called replacements, I'm sure he'll pay for the new kit out his own pocket.

      Or something like that.

  28. Sandtreader
    Stop

    Long grass

    Reminds me of Gordon Brown telling us we would consider joining the Euro when the economies converged - i.e. never. Let's hope this has a similar effect.

  29. batfastad

    Battery life

    For the last 10+ years I've been using a small LW/MW radio to listen to cricket during the winter nights. I can get through 5 test matches and a few one-dayers on 4 or 6 AAA batteries, probably about 25+ days' of usage on average. Call me when there's a DAB or internet radio the size of a wallet that can get anywhere that. I suspect that will be... never.

  30. altis2011

    DAB Fail

    By most measures DAB is, IMV, no replacement for FM:

    Audio quality : FAIL

    Coverage : FAIL

    Price : FAIL

    Battery life : FAIL

    User interface : FAIL

    It's only saving grace is the number of channels available but invariably that just means more of the same.

    *IF* we need to go digital then we should be looking at using DRM+ which is far more useful:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Radio_Mondiale

    After all:

    "[In] 2011, the paneuropean organisation Community Media Forum Europe has recommended to the European Commission that DRM+ should rather be used for small scale broadcasting (local radio, community radio) than DAB/DAB+."

    1. Piro

      Re: DAB Fail

      DRM, what an unfortunate name...

  31. Wize

    When will they understand that DAB does not work?

    In a top floor flat (3 stories) with views over the city I got DAB reception in only one room. That was the kitchen, so my DAB radio alarm clock may as well have been a chocolate teapot.

    Imagine what the reception is like in the narrow streets below where Satnav sometimes fails to maintain a lock from the tall buildings.

    And remember:

    FM with poor reception - slightly fuzzy reception, but can still pick up the news in an emergency.

    DAB with poor reception - forget it.

  32. Deadly Headshot

    One of the biggest problems I can currently see with DAB is that the frequency used happens to coincide by that generated by LED lighting, ergo: turn on an LED light and all DABs near by lose signal! Great for trolling, of course, but terrible for a technology. Almost as bad as the whole DVB/4G thing...

    1. Nigel 11

      And the funny thing is that your FM receiver doesn't notice. That's right, FM broadcasting is far less vulnerable to interference than digital broadcasting.

      (That LED light is faulty, though. Or a cheap illegal import that doesn't meet EC RFI requirements)

  33. BigAndos

    Can't we just scrap DAB? IP stream digital radio over 3G, 4G etc. Leave FM alone as a backup, for older kit and for areas with poor mobile reception.

  34. Yugguy

    OH aye DAB.

    Excuse me while I just go out and spend HUNDREDS replacing all my radios. And change the head unit in both the cars, all for something I DONT NEED AND DIDNT ASK FOR.

    Get bent.

  35. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Remember Vaizey counts all those internet radio users as "digital" so 50% not so tough

    Which is of course complete rubbish relative to actual broadcast digital radio.

    Sneaky f**ker.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019