back to article The coming of DAB+: Stereo eluded the radio star

Among my collection of radios, I have a couple of DAB sets, a 1940 Pilot Twin Miracle, a 1950s Ferguson that needs a bit of repair, and a rather long-in-the-tooth Marantz tuner as part of the living room hi-fi. It's a while since I powered up the Pilot, but it still more or less worked, which is not bad going for something that …

  1. John Robson Silver badge

    DAB...

    Nope - still no DAB sets here...

    I suppose if I replace the car then one might appear as a result of that, as it has for my parents.

    Since all my entertainment streams into the house over an IP connection I probably count anyway, but that's disingenuous. More interesting is the number of non-DAB radios that cannot easily be replaced (so those in cars which aren't in a nice replaceable housing for instance).

    Since there is no compelling reason to change from FM - it's not as if it sounds better, and there are already more stations than I can shake a stick at, many of them are good local services - why do I want to spend silly money on a power hungry radio?

    I checked for SWMBO's last birthday, and couldn't find one that sounded decent for a sane price, so I went with an older IP radio, and that sounds great. Has an aux in for the iPod dock as well...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: DAB...

        The sound quality is the big thing that, I think, might persuade some people to get a DAB+ set. If, for instance, the 'HD' streams for Radio 3 were available as high bitrate DAB+ instead of on the web, that might help. But, I gather, there are no plans for the BBC to do that at the moment, even though some there are keen to do it.

        1. druck Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: DAB...

          Strikingly, the proposal shows it as a 32kbps stream in mono. Given the efficiency of the AAC audio codec, that's going to sound OK, but mono? Really? As a way to showcase a brand new technology?

          It makes about as much sense as launching a 4K TV channel in Black and bloody white.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. John 156

            Re: DAB...

            It makes about as much sense as launching a 4K TV channel in Black and bloody white.

            ...with 405 horizontal lines

        2. Lusty

          Re: DAB...

          I don't think sound quality will drive any new sales. The vast majority of radio listening is background noise. Most of those interested in quality either buy music or already have DAB. I especially liked the quote "Mediatique, who produced the figures, think that by 2027 there will be 69 million DAB sets around". The idea that radios will still be a thing in 12 years amuses me. 12 years ago we didn't even have smartphones or proper mobile Internet, both of which are now ubiquitous. In 12 years time is be surprised if broadcast isn't dying off rapidly to free up spectrum for whatever next next next gen devices we have.

          1. strum Silver badge

            Re: DAB...

            >In 12 years time [I'd} be surprised if broadcast isn't dying off rapidly

            Extremely unlikely. Broadcast is free, data is expensive. The phone companies might like to kill off broadcast, but they'd have a war on their hands.

            1. Lusty

              Re: DAB...

              "Extremely unlikely. Broadcast is free, data is expensive."

              Broadcast is most certainly not free, it's quite expensive actually what with all those towering transmitters and massive power and distribution requirements.

              Data is relatively expensive right now, but then we're only half way through the revolution right now. 12 years ago most people used modems for access, 12 years in the future I would expect gigabit links to the home, and content cached at every provider so data services will be cheaper than broadcast at that point. Besides, with ultra high def we may get to the point where there isn't sufficient bandwidth for broadcast of a useful number of channels.

              Even now, though, broadcast is taking a backseat. Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Sky, catch up TV services are rapidly becoming the primary way people watch TV content (here in the UK at least). Even my mum uses streaming services rather than broadcast. For some reason, America appears surprised by the idea of content not over cable, with Apple TV being branded a revolution so perhaps the next 12 years will see everywhere else catching up.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: DAB...

        @1980s_coder

        1 - Yes, but |'m waiting until that is the case before I buy anything so speculative. We know that muxes are always squeezed to get quantity of channels over quality, I see no reason why that will change any time soon.

        2 - If I'm recording it then why wouldn't I just stream it later from home?

        3 - Admirable, but see my answer to 1

        Where FM is dire then yes, DAB (if available) should be an improvement - but a decent FM aerial might also do the job (difficult in a car and or a portable device)

        As for the freeview idea - see my answer to 1...

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: DAB...

            Yers, of course I'm looking at it through today's perspective...

            In my corner...

            I still have stacks of minidiscs up in the loft, as well as a minidisc car stereo, HiFi unit and USB PC drive. I still think they are a very good media - mostly due to the protection they offer the actual media inside.

            Of course SD cards are hard to beat nowadays, although they are a bit fiddly...

            I can't recall why I didn't go in for DAB early - there was something about it that turned me off. My comments above are what I *now* see (with the benefit of hindsight).

            I also can't recall what my internet speeds were at the time - must go digging in history.

            Late 90's apparently - althopugh the tech was a bit older: I had always-on dialup (and had had for a while). Offices/universities had 10+Mb connections regularly. In 1998 the ADSL standard was ratified, and BT were offering the stingray in 2000 at the latest (ThinkBroadband were talking about it then).

            So very early adopters were inside the dial-up period, although some would have had ISDN for 128k ;)

            It's amazing how fast the world has changed...

      3. Vic

        Re: DAB...

        Why don't they turn off the Freeview multiplex which carries all the shopping channels

        Because that is the multiplex that makes the most money...

        Vic.

    2. cambsukguy

      Re: DAB...

      > Since there is no compelling reason to change from FM

      Er, what if the station you like isn't on FM?

      The sole reason I bought a DAB capable head unit for my car was to listen to Planet Rock.

      Planet Rock is not on FM, it is not even on Freeview.

      It is a compelling reason for some (many?) - even if you don't listen to it.

      I also notice that there are other stations available, also not on FM, which others may listen to and require DAB to do so.

      I bemoan the lack of stereo in particular but, TBH, it is harder to spot in a car most of the time.

      The thought of both paying for and hoping for the continuous connectivity required to use IP for the purpose leaves me cold.

      1. stucs201

        Re: Planet Rock is not on FM

        105.2 where I am. They took over the frequency from Kerrang.

        1. Dave Lawton

          Re: Planet Rock is not on FM

          Yes, but that is a quite recent development.

          I could be mistaken, but I think that was one of the things Bauer Media changed shortly after they took over Planet Rock.

      2. David Paul Morgan
        Happy

        Re: DAB...

        yep! Planet Rock, err, Rocks!

        as does BBC 6 Music.

        I actually have three DAB radios - A 'pure' upstairs, an Asda cheapy in the kitchen and a 'pure' portable for the car. (I used to tuck the 'speaker' cable along the edge of the windscreen before plugging it into the head unit. nowadays I have to use an FM transmitter!)

        In the house, I usually use the freesat version, or stream to chromecast or use PS3, depending on where the station is.

        Most often in the car, I 'send' from my Xperia using the RadioPlayer 'app'. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.co.radioplayer&hl=en_GB (yes, I have plenty of data!)

      3. Paul Shirley

        Re: " it is harder to spot in a car most of the time."

        That's a huge part of the problem, a substantial fraction of shipped DAB are in cars or used in cars and high quality is pointless in most of them, most of the time. That's a powerful disincentive to bother upping bitrates or risking DAB+, the users with least alternatives are the ones least likely to notice an improvement.

        Fixed locations are similarly affected, if your FM, DVB or IP is seriously bad there's no pressure for DAB to do much better. If it's not bad there's even less reason to use DAB at all.

        DAB service providers got away with a barely tolerable service when they had no competition and still have too little competition in key market niches to improve their offer. Alternatives have now shut them out of most niches and that can only get worse. It's a dead tech.

        1. Nifty

          Re: " it is harder to spot in a car most of the time."

          Due to married domesticity the car is the only place I listen to decent stereo sound on loudspeakers (when walking it's via high quality earbud type earphones).

          On my 6 speaker non-DAB car radio I really do appreciate the stereo image listening to downloads. Listening in mono would be an aberration, therefore investing in car DAB would be a waste of money - all rock stations on DAB are mono. Never do serious listening to Radio 4 extra on DAB - ironically R4 extra has an excellent back catalogue of stereo drama recordings best appreciated over internet radio.

        2. Robert E A Harvey

          Re: " it is harder to spot in a car most of the time."

          I have had three hire cars with DAB this year.

          A citroen which I used to drive from Lincolnshire to Cheshire via Derby and Stoke. I got DAB reception in Derby, for about 10 minutes.

          A Vauxhall Insignia in which the tuning was so baffling that I could not find radio 4 /at all/ on DAB. The software writer appeared to think that /any/ station was what I wanted to listen to.

          A VW Passat in which I drove up the A1. It worked for around 15 minutes, till I got to Grantham, then it never worked again. On the way home it did not start working either.

          1. Nigel Whitfield.

            Re: " it is harder to spot in a car most of the time."

            One of the Zipcars round here had DAB in it, and the tuning in that was equally baffling - it seemed to present everything by mux/ensemble, offering helpful choices like 11B, 12A, and so on, then listing the stations within that, as if it made any sense at all to someone who just wanted to get the frigging Archers.

            I don't know if it had a more sane tuning mode, with something radical like an alphabetical list of stations, because I decided to give up, rather than risk an accident dicking around with all that nonsense.

            Also - for another thrilling Reg article - I have to drive to Lincolnshire this weekend. You're making me worried.

            1. Robert E A Harvey

              Re: I have to drive to Lincolnshire this weekend

              I do hope your phone is not with O2

              (views: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4220964 )

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: " it is harder to spot in a car most of the time."

            "I have had three hire cars with DAB this year."

            Sounds like you've been very unlucky then. I have a Pure Highway in my car and have had DAB reception over most of the North of England and noticed and improvement in coverage. This is with a short stubby stick on aerial on the edge of the windscreen. It has also worked fine on the M1 down to Derby and Nottingham, on the A52 between them and on the A1 all the way down to Grantham.

            I've also had a few hire cars recently with built-in DAB and not had the problems you've had.

            Maybe it's just "doon sooth" where DAB is so poor? :-)

            1. Hairy Airey

              Re: " it is harder to spot in a car most of the time."

              Not to mention of course that the Highway can be fitted to almost any car even if it has a fitted radio. That's how it works in mine.

          3. Nick L

            Re: " it is harder to spot in a car most of the time."

            Don't blame the implementation on the technology! My car (2014 bmw) holds dab perfectly from Leeds to Reading and back, and my wife's Golf is similarly perfect. On that experience I bought a 20 quid portable thing from PC world, which is fine until you move, and this rather negates the word "portable"...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DAB...

      "why do I want to spend silly money on a power hungry radio?"

      For me, this is the most compelling arguement against DAB. The only place I would use a portable DAB radio is in my kitchen, where a 30 year old non-digital tuning £5 FM radio currently suffices. Due to its entire lack of any digital electronics I only need to replace its 2xAA batteries perhaps twice a year.

      On a slightly off-topic point from the same article: "Designed like an award-winning glowing bowl..." Erm... I didn't realise that there had already been an award-winning glowing bowl... but then again, I'm not the sort of person who would feel the need to "experience the light that you want, wherever you want as you move around your house and garden." either.

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

        Re: DAB...

        In theory I have a DAB radio in my C-Max, however it only worked for a month before deciding "computer say no" and it is just not important enough to take it in to spend the next six months getting fixed (based on various reports on fora - apparently the head unit needs replacing and the manufacturer only does exchanges, can take up to 14 weeks once the garage admit defeat and put in the request for a replacement head).

        I do miss Planet Rock but a 16GB usb stick full of metal/industrial does the trick.

    4. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: DAB...

      DAB == Dead At Birth?

    5. Dexter

      Re: DAB...

      > Since there is no compelling reason to change from FM

      There is in our house. FM reception is bad and always has been. DAB is fine.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DAB...

      I suppose if I replace the car then one might appear as a result of that, as it has for my parents.

      We recently replaced the vehicle in our household with a new one due to a microcrack in a crank shaft pretty much writing off the previous one.

      The replacement was a Holden Colorado, bought in 2014. Guess what? We have FM and AM, we can stream from Bluetooth and play back media on a USB stick, but not receive DAB+.

      That said, the places that vehicle will go, we'll probably be more likely to hear something on one of the shortwave bands using the Icom IC-706Mk II G we have in there than anything on the in-car entertainment system. (Now if only there was a line-in jack that we could plug the '706's headphone jack in to.)

    7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: DAB...

      "I suppose if I replace the car then one might appear as a result of that, as it has for my parents."

      Yes, I too was wondering how many DAB radio sales might be inadvertent in that it just "came with the car" as opposed to the people who consciously went out with the intention of buying a DAB radio.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Look at the date!

    Oh you where being serious?! :|

  3. Deej

    DAB killed the radio star

    As a long-term fan of radio, and as somebody who set up a Community Radio station and took part in an temporary FM broadcast (RSL), I've been left constantly disappointed by DAB.

    When DAB launched, the promise was of superior sound, masses of choice and so on. And certainly, when DAB launched, there was - Life, Chill, Core - numerous great sounding stations which slowly but surely ceased to be, leaving behind the same stuff but with a different name - Heart and Capital really; even Real Radio has gone now.

    Those that remained slowly got worse to listen to with lower bitrates and a switch to mono (mono? REALLY?). The nail in the coffin for me as a listener was when Absolute Radio switched to mono recently.

    As a potential broadcaster, I was left constantly frustrated about the high cost to entry on DAB - thousands and thousands of pounds (unfortunately I'm not allowed to say how much because of NDAs I've had to sign), but just unnecessarily high, which effectively locks out potential new - potentially innovative - broadcasters from the technology and unable to reach an audience desperate for something different.

    And now a new MUX launches, probably with the same barriers to entry, and still everything in sodding mono! It's too little too late - I listen online now using Sonos and Pure Flow radios, and I suspect that more and more people will listen this way as well; particularly as online cars become more commonplace and TuneIn app becomes more prevalent. You can even listen in stereo - imagine that!

    So, *so* disappointing.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: DAB killed the radio star

      "a switch to mono"

      It seems that DAB really missed its mark. It needed to match or exceed existing standards such as FM or CD in quality in order to find a place in stereo rigs. It didn't so AFAICS most DAB kit sold is the little portable mono radio spec. It's not surprising if broadcast channels switch to match the bulk of receivers in use.

      1. Deej

        Re: DAB killed the radio star

        Yes agreed regarding the majority of units sold being of the 'portable' type - it's an absolutely fair point :)

      2. David Roberts Silver badge

        Re: DAB killed the radio star - portable radio

        Our one and only DAB radio has only one speaker - but the headphone socket outputs in stereo.

        So we can feed it through an amp to listen in stereo.

        [Or even use headphones!]

        Possibly many others do as well.

        Not used much, though, since streaming radio stations over the Internet became so easy.

    2. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: DAB killed the radio star

      One of the things Ofcom seems to be hoping is that thanks to Open Digital Radio it will be much cheaper in future to get online with DAB, and that may be aimed at things like community stations, RSL, and so on.

      I think that those might actually be able to provide the good reasons for people to want DAB+

  4. Aqua Marina

    I listen to the best music....

    For some reason, after reading this article, I got an overwhelming urge to google Atlantic 252!

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: I listen to the best music....

      While I was researching this, somewhere I came across a comment from a wag that finally, with DAB+, digital radio might finally be able to approach the stellar sound quality of the great 208

  5. BillDarblay
    Happy

    If you have an old DAB,

    Why not upgrade to the far superior sound quality of FM!

    It's got all the latest enhancements like stereo and quadrophonic hi-fi sound.

    It is ideal for driving as it doesn't drop out and has advanced interference suppression. It is also very efficient for portable battery use.

    You won't regret it! Spend less and get more!

    1. Aqua Marina

      Re: If you have an old DAB,

      You reminded me of https://youtu.be/__6-bfdTxWQ

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: If you have an old DAB,

        But, the sound of Vinyl IS SUPERIOR to CD's... I'd dare say even back when. Then again. It may just had been the "Content" that sounded better.... Todays Music just blows... In fact calling that Tripe Music is somewhat insulting...

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. boltar Silver badge

            Re: If you have an old DAB,

            "stereo separation is exactly one of the things that vinyl struggles with."

            Plus the dynamic range has to be compressed before the track is put on vinyl or the grooves would start overlapping and the max frequency is physically limited by the materials properties. Also the signal to noise of vinyl gets worse the closer into the centre of the record the needle gets.

            "I love music, and have some hearing ability above 22050 hz"

            I really doubt that to be honest. Oh ok , its April 1st...

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

              1. Trevor Gale

                Re: If you have an old DAB,

                Quite a few people can, I imagine. (See my other post nearby on this). Again, when I was a tad younger I could even tell you, whilst walking along the pavement, if someone was watching 405-line TV or watching 625-line TV by hearing the line-transformer drive, which was of course a somewhat distorted at 10,025 or 15,625 Hz respectively!

            2. Trevor Gale

              Re: If you have an old DAB,

              Okay, I'd maybe doubt 22,050Hz, but be careful - it could be a harmonic of 11,025. That is a frequency which, at 60 years old, I can still hear perfectly well: indeed I can still hear (just) the 15,625Hz *sinewave* of a locked line oscillator (not one in an old TV set, but one for use in other PAL electronics).

              When I was much younger, I could sure hear much hihger in frequency...

        2. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: Todays Music just blows

          Yeah, that's right Grandad. It's all just Thump Thump Thump these days. And those bloody teddy boys... I despair!

          Anyway, isn't it time for your nap?

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Todays Music just blows

            "Yeah, that's right Grandad. It's all just Thump Thump Thump these days. And those bloody teddy boys"

            Let's see, Teds in the mid 1950s, aged late teens to early 20s. How old are they now?

        3. M_W

          Re: If you have an old DAB,

          "But, the sound of Vinyl IS SUPERIOR to CD's..."

          Not superior, just more what you're used to. More what you 'expect'.

          From a master to copy point of view and dynamic range point of view, CD's dynamic range of 95dB is much higher than Vinyl's 55dB. The whole issue with Vinyl is that if you master a disc too aggressively you'll end up with the needle jumping out of the groove because it can't cope with the range.

          As for noise - Just put on a 'blank' vinyl record on your turntable and listen - you won't have silence out of the speakers - a very low rumble and a bit of white noise is what you'll actually hear, and more than likely some hiss from your phono stage.

          Vinyl has a preferable tone to most people - mainly because CD can be a little harsh - it's not superior - just different.

          FWIW - I like the sound on vinyl, but I also like certain albums on CD that have been well mastered.

        4. Toastan Buttar

          Re: vinyl vs CD

          Jesus, not this tripe again. All multi-track recordings are done in the digital domain these days. If you want to go crazy batshit insane, you can even do it in floating-point 32-bit 192kHz format.

          The mixdown to the stereo master is again done in the digital domain.

          If you want to hear the resultant sound at its most accurate, listen to the raw digital stereo master through a high quality DAC. The amplifier choice is pretty much inconsequential at the mid-to-top end of the range. Speakers have to be pretty good, though.

          Why then, would you take that 'perfect' product and scratch it onto the surface of a spinning plastic disc in analogue form? Even worse, why would you expect such distortions (EASILY reproduced digitally), combined with crap like dust and static electricity discharges, to sound 'better'?

          Bog standard 44.1kHz / 16-bit CD quality is as good as it gets, and it costs pennies to get it right.

          Even Ivor Tiefenbrun of Linn Products had to admit defeat:

          http://www.bostonaudiosociety.org/bas_speaker/abx_testing2.htm

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you have an old DAB,

      And what about the stations that are not on FM nor never will be?

      Please explain how I will listen to them?

      don't suggest streaming because there are many places in this green and pleasant land that dont' have a mobile signal let alone wired internet.

      Now if the DAB and AM/FM signals couild be sync'd life would be even better.

    3. Kristian Walsh

      Re: If you have an old DAB,

      The lack of dropouts on car FM is a testament to the receiver designers, not to any inherent suitability of the modulation scheme or frequency band to in-vehcile reception. DAB transmissions are less susceptible to doppler and multipath interference than FM.

      I got a new car last year with a DAB-capable radio on board, and I was surprised to discover that we have a parallel DAB+ service here in Ireland already (although the coverage of DAB in general is tiny here). Because most channels are broadcast on both DAB and DAB+ it's easy easy to compare the effect of the different encodings on sound quality.

      128k MP2 to 64k AAC is not an improvement in quality. The best I could say is that half-bitrate AAC is of "comparable" quality, but at the lower bit-rate I find the audio masking in AAC to be more noticeable than MP2's lack of dynamic range.

      However, if you replaced 128kbit of MP2 with 128kbit of AAC you'd have a service that exceeds the quality of FM radio, as the original BBC DAB service at 224 kbit/sec also did.

      1. boltar Silver badge

        Re: If you have an old DAB,

        "DAB transmissions are less susceptible to doppler and multipath interference than FM."

        Who told you that? The higher the frequency the more likely it is to suffer from multipath in an urban enviroment and DAB is 200mhz (roughly) compared to FMs 88-108. DAB only gets away with it due to digital error correction.

        1. Gerry 3

          Multipath on DAB is A Good Thing

          I'm no fan of DAB in its present '405-Line Radio' incarnation, but it's designed for multipath reception. Unlike FM, multipath actually improves DAB reception because the signals all add up and are usable.

          1. boltar Silver badge

            Re: Multipath on DAB is A Good Thing

            That may well be the case since its designed for an SFN and has guard periods which allow for that. But VHF band 3 is more susceptable to reflection than band 2 though, and all things being equal band 2 would be a better choice so long as the max useful data rate for compressed digital audio could still be accommodated. The fact that the yanks have done digital on Band 2 piggybacking on FM suggests it can.

        2. bonkers
          Boffin

          Re: If you have an old DAB,

          "DAB only gets away with it due to digital error correction."

          That would make it less susceptible then, wouldn't it?

          Actually it is a little more complicated than that, and more interesting...

          DAB runs at 1.6Mbps for the whole "ensemble", if it used a single high data rate carrier, the echoes or multipath signals would collide with unrelated signal, destroying the data.

          Instead it uses COFDM, where the spectrum is split into 1536 separate carriers all modulated at a much lower rate, much like keying out morse on every note of a piano. The integration time for each channel then allows for long echoes, the delayed signal is still "on the same bit" as the direct signal - as long as the echo is less than 60km or so, and beyond that it is simply weak.

        3. Len

          Re: If you have an old DAB,

          In other words, "DAB transmissions are less susceptible to doppler and multipath interference than FM."

          1. boltar Silver badge

            Re: If you have an old DAB,

            "In other words, "DAB transmissions are less susceptible to doppler and multipath interference than FM.""

            Well to be really pendantic - no they're not. The laws of physics don't change just because its digital. Its just that the transmission system is clever enough to allow DAB to get away with it.

            1. Kristian Walsh

              @boltar

              I was very careful to use the word "transmissions", rather than 'frequencies'.

              You're entirely correct in what you say, but those inherent weaknesses regarding band choice are more than compensated for by the design of the signal coding and modulation.

              My point was simply that the DAB coding scheme was designed to compensate for multipath reflection, FM was not. Taken as a whole, the chain of coding, modulation, transmission, reception, demodulation and decoding for delivery of a DAB programme is therefore less susceptable to interference than that of FM.

        4. Nifty

          Re: If you have an old DAB,

          Prove that Doppler effect was ever relevant to consumer radio. Links please.

          DAB cleverly gets around multipath signal cancellation. Your receiver gets the signal simultaneously from multiple directions and selects the best bit stream and pieces it together with the best bit streams it can find at other frequencies possibly from a different transmitter. So much tech promise, so little culturally delivered however.

          RDS FM meanwhile, so long as you invest in a decent car radio, is proving highly effective. As soon as you enter a marginal signal area your receive silently and instantly seeks/switches to the signal from any better available transmitter. The *real* breakthrough - in the 1980s! - was RDS and it's this success that DAB is having trouble dislodging.

    4. Mage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: If you have an old DAB,

      Also VHF-FM sets may have RDS (most DAB sets with FM don't do RDS) and many have LW & MW, I've only ever seen one model DAB with AM, and it's out of production and was buggy.

      DRM idea seems to have died on AM, of course some broadcasters killing AM entirely simply to save money on theory that people that don't have FM can use Satellite or Internet! Hardly portable/Mobile.

      The VHF-FM radio in my Sony Android phone is better than any DAB set I've tested. It's very good, intuitive tuning simulating analogue scale, auto station naming from RDS and saving favourites. Very sensitive too.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Len

      Not for music, no

      I don't think many stations will be pushing stereo music over 32 kb/s AAC.

      However, I expect the 32 kb/s in the proposal will become a speech stream. For speech it would still be overkill but it would be more than enough for sport commentary, news, inane chatter like LBC etc.

  7. petur

    broadcasts?

    While I still have a tuner in my home hifi, it is actually not used at all... All radio listening is done via streaming.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: broadcasts?

      Until the broadcasters decide to switch codecs to one your streaming unit doesn't support and you're either left with nothing, or a sub-standard bitrate http://bbc.in/1IPmGZ5

      A few months ago I thought Internet streaming radio was the way to go and invested in a Marantz box, until it bit me in the bum after a couple of months' ownership.

      1. Andy Mc

        Re: broadcasts?

        Exactly what happened to me, current-spec Marantz now with sub-standard streams and the Beeb saying they're even going to stop those at some point in the relatively near future. Thanks chaps.

        And now Nigel wants a whole different set of receivers to be made obsolete. Not that I have any great love for the abomination that is DAB, but that's a lot of kit to be thrown in the bin and a very large number of grumpy people out of pocket after being forced to replace functioning boxes.

        1. Nigel Whitfield.

          Re: broadcasts?

          Well, if you want DAB to succeed - and I'd argue that those sales figures, with analogue radio still outselling digital, suggest it isn't really - then I think you do have to come up with some sort of plan to improve it dramatically.

          That means addressing the shortcomings of DAB, which can either be done by allocating more spectrum so people can broadcast with better quality, and not be priced out of the market when they wish to do so, or by switching to DAB+ to offer the improvements in the same spectrum.

          At some stage, in TV, we are going to need to do a switch to DVB-T2/H.264, even for SD channels, because of the squeeze on spectrum. That's why there's a temporary HD mux, to provide an incentive for people to get equipment that's compatible with that.

          Something bolder should be being done with DAB+ in my view. Not just one mono station, but a whole load of them, providing people with a real incentive to switch over. Not necessarily over night, but a clear statement of a phased timetable.

          So, for instance, if the new mux was all DAB+ with content you couldn't get anywhere, wouldn't that be a fairly compelling reason? People with older sets would continue to get the existing DAB stations. Over a few years, some of those would convert to DAB+, with the BBC channels probably being the last to go - possibly with a DAB+ Radio 3/6 Music to help things along.

          At least that would be a plan. Which, I think, would be a damn sight better than what we have now. Surely we can't just keep saying "think of the first generation sets" indefinitely? There were quite a lot of first gen Freeview boxes and TVs that fell by the wayside over things like the change to 8k; those generally cost a fair bit more than a DAB radio.

          If we just keep on as we are, a lot of people are never going to see the point of buying into digital radio.

          1. Andy Mc

            Re: broadcasts?

            While I'd agree that DAB hasn't taken off in the way that many would like it to have I'd still argue it's pretty popular. 20+ million sets is a significant number in a country of 60ish million people, and yes, I'm aware how that compares to the number of analogue sets.

            Adding a DAB+ mux is a lovely idea to encourage take-up, but what broadcaster in their right mind would accept a (perhaps) 50% discount on their transmission bill for the reduced number of bits required, in return for reaching less than 15% of the audience they'd get on a DAB service?

            Comparisons to Freeview aren't really like-for-like, since Freeview is a controlled service with mandated hardware standards so they have a stick (as well as the carrot of the the HD mux) to convince hardware manufacturers to introduce DVB-T2 support. DAB has no stick. Freeview also has a thriving market for cheap, functional STBs, so your telly's built-in receiver no longer supporting the latest standard just means you stick a new external box on. Not an option with a great many DAB receivers, which don't have any external inputs and will therefore become bin-fodder if you somehow manage to convince broadcasters to take up your DAB+ mux. A goodly number of these aren't 20 quid cheapies, but 100+ quid shiny things they were convinced to buy.

        2. David Roberts Silver badge

          Re: broadcasts?

          With respect, anyone who buys dedicated kit with built in software to deal with Internet based material is unlikely to see long term support.

          This is particularly obvious for "smart" TVs but also apples to set top boxes which used to support iPlayer.

          For this kind of thing get something where you can update the software via third parties.

          For example a raspberry pi and a DAC.

  8. Dan 55 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Wrong way round

    Ofcom should have said the hardware was to be DAB+ only years ago before allowing DAB+ radio stations. The economies of scale for manufacturers would have been there as several European countries use DAB+ too. Either current manufacturers get firmware updates out for existing DAB kit (not that they have much incentive as they want to sell more kit) and advertise it well enough that the average person will understand or the DAB+ stations will wither and die.

    1. Len

      Re: Wrong way round

      Considering the rest of Europe went DAB+ some time ago most DAB hardware on sale has been DAB+ compatible for some time. Many radios sold as DAB in the UK actually support DAB+ too but the manufacturers don't include it in the specs. The only nuisance is that some manufacturers disable DAB+ in software for the UK market.

      I expect that they will stop that practice now and companies like PURE will probably offer firmware upgrades to enable DAB+. They already offered that for people who bought their PURE set in the UK and then moved to the continent or Australia.

      Besides, all the new cars that come with DAB radios (an estimated 2 million this year) actually also support DAB+.

      Now there will finally be a DAB+ station in the air there is no excuse for manufacturers to not support or advertise it.

      1. Enrico Vanni

        Re: Wrong way round

        There's a reason equipment sold into the UK DAB only market had the DAB+ ability crippled - whereas DAB's MP1 codec is patent expired and can be used freely, DAB+'s AAC requires licence fees to be paid for each unit sold. No point in paying for a feature that cannot be used, but on the other hand this is the big elephant in the room that has stalled DAB+ implementation.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The one in my bedroom, admittedly, is turned on every night, because FM reception is awful in there."

    Reception is very unpredictable on either of my two DAB house radios - yet they both receive Wrotham FM with no problem. They are all connected to the same wideband distribution system plus masthead preamp. I only switch momentarily to the DAB channel for Classic FM when I want to know the title of a piece of music. If they used the data subchannel on FM to do that then DAB could be ignored completely.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Magic eye?

    What's the small circular "window" at the top centre of that Pilot radio dial? Looks too small to be a "magic eye" tuning indicator that fascinated us so many years ago.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Magic eye?

      It's just an ordinary bulb and comes on when it's running on the mains. If connected to a DC mains and the light doesn't come on, you have the connections the wrong way round.

      The Twin Miracle is a bit of an odd set; I think it was the first (or certainly one of the first) British battery/mains sets. As with many sets of that vintage, it worked on AC or DC mains.

      Battery power needs a 90v battery for the high tension, which is pretty hard to find these days. Low tension was 1.5v battery with all the filaments in parallel.

      Since you couldn't have a transformer, one leg of the mains lead was asbestos insulated resistance wire. When the mains is connected, power runs through the rectifier valve as it warms up. When there's enough, a relay triggers and rearranges the filament circuit into series with the HT supply.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Magic eye?

        Cunning design. We had a Vidor MW/LW portable that worked on mains or battery. Never thought about whether it could handle DC mains. Used the DF, DK, DL series miniature valves. There was a loop aerial in the lid which had to keep being re-aligned if you were travelling on a bus to the seaside. It was a source of some wonder to other travellers or people on the caravan site.

        http://www.radiomuseum.org/r/vidor_attach_cn396a_cn_396a.html

        It was replaced in the 1960s by a transistor MW/LW radio that needed two big 9 volt batteries (PP9?) for its OC72 push-pull output stage - and the ferrite rod aerial was still quite directional.

        In the 1950s some shops still offered a service to recharge a lead acid accumulator for a household radio's low tension. You would see people walking down the street carrying the distinctive glass container by its handle. A house in our street was reputed to have no mains electricity in the 1960s - still relying on gas for lighting.

  11. 27escape

    unlimited 3/4G

    So why do I need a limited broadcast service. I get audio from around the world where ever I am.

    If I cannot get 3G there may be a good chance that I cannot get DAB either

  12. Steve Graham

    Freeview Radio

    I have a couple of DAB radios, at least one claiming DAB+ support, but I actually only listen to digital radio via a TV box attached analog-ly to my amp. (The cheapo box does have a digital-out, but I has no digital-in.)

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Freeview Radio

      I sometimes do the same; when the 'new' series of Hitckhikers was on Radio 4 several years ago, the FM tuner was suffering from a lot of hiss in stereo, and the DAB set was doing its usual gargling. The only way I could get a hiss free decent quality stereo recording was from the Freeview box. Which I promptly recorded onto tape using a Revox A77.

  13. Joe Harrison

    Satellite

    In the UK an ordinary Sky dish and a cheap receiver gets a huge number of radio stations with proper sound quality. Even more if you use a 60cm dish pointed at say Hotbird 13.0E. I can't believe anyone would bother with DAB apart from portability.

    1. Owain 1

      Re: Satellite

      Maybe they want to listen to radio in the room which doesn't have a satellite cable running to it... a sky dish isn't very portable. Personally I would love to be able to get our satellite signal to other rooms in the house (over IP?) but I haven't found anything to help. Anybody got any suggestions?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. John H Woods

        Re: Satellite

        "Personally I would love to be able to get our satellite signal to other rooms in the house (over IP?) but I haven't found anything to help. Anybody got any suggestions?" -- Owain 1

        Sky Gnome will do it over radio, there's a few knocking about on fleabay. You could probably use a Pi to take in an audio stream from the Sky box and stream it over IP, but there's several devices you can buy ready made to do this, e.g. http://www.amazon.co.uk/WiFi-Audio-Music-Receiver-Adapter/dp/B00IHGMGNI

      3. David Paul Morgan

        Re: Satellite

        slingbox solo?

        http://uk.slingbox.com/go/slingbox

        would be one way.

        I also use a scart --> UHF transmitter plugged into the TV aerial socket (don't use the aerial) to 'pipe' the TV tuner signal to the rest of the house TV's.

  14. Nigel 11

    Music?

    I have yet to experience DAB+ so I don't know whether it will provide an incentive for me to buy a new radio or not. The one I have is always set to FM, except when I use DAB to get BBC World Service. My current plan is that if they ever phase out FM I'll completely abandon listening to music on radio.

    Why? Music (classical / acoustic music) on DAB is transformed into ghastly noise, even on a low-fi portable "transistor" radio in a bathroom. It astounds me that so many people cannot hear the difference. Yes, I get occasional interference on analog, but it's transient.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. TheProf
    Happy

    DAB Fan

    I've used several DAB radios, some poor some not so poor Or perhaps that should be cheap, not so cheap. My main requirement is the ability to record radio programmes for later listening.

    I started by using a PSION DAB that connected to a PC via USB. When that died I bought a similar German (?) device. That too died. After looking around for a radio that could record onto SD cards I finally bought a PURE 'refurb' set for under £100. (List price was £200!) And I'm happy with what it does. It does everything I had on my wish list. Record; multiple alarms; the ability to go to sleep with one station and volume and wake with a different station at a different volume.

    As for the quality of sound, where I live in Liverpool, Radio 3 FM is a total mess. At least with DAB I don't have a hiss and pop background noise. And there are certain roads I can drive down that cause the RDS radio in my car to switch channel several times.

    1. Dabooka Silver badge
      Go

      Re: DAB Fan

      Reading this lot, I was starting to think I was the only one who likes using his DAB sets!

      One in the kitchen, used most days. One in wife's car, used daily although she'd be happy with FM. One in my shed, used every time I'm outside. Only place I stream is office (as I am now) or living room, where my Denon is connected to the interweb for IP radio and NAS based CD rips.

      The thing is for me, although yes I'd use 'normal' radio in DAB's absence, I listen to lot of MW stuff. Five Live, Talk Sport etc. DAB is a million miles better for these channels, plus I get Planet Rock and a few others too. Talk of IP and satellite is overkill for kitchen and shed / garden use. Oh, and mono is fine here too.

      I do get why people dislike DAB and I agree it’s not fulfilled what I was buying into all those years ago, but a lot of the problems can be attributed to other radio tech too. For instance I appreciate some collectors gear still works after a bazillion years, but I have had my Pure receiver (with FM and Aux in) for about 10 years now and frankly it owes me nothing, so talk of wasted gear when DAB goes away is moot; people upgrade naturally anyway. I can't even recall what I did with my £250+ Technics radio receiver separate I bought back in the 90s (PLL TUNING FTW!).

      As for ‘Hugo’ what a crock of shit. £80?! I’d rather buy another DAB….

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. roblightbody

    DAB just didn't have the same advantages as other digital technologies. In a moving car, or in an area with poor reception, it was actually worse than FM and even with a perfect signal, the low-bit rate again could mean the quality was worse than a good FM signal. The huge increase in power consumption over an analogue radio was the final straw. I'm addicted to radio, but after experimenting with it, I gave up on DAB long ago.

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      Maybe times have moved on.

      The DAB in out '14 plate gives uninterrupted listening on the way from the North East to Nottinghamshire and Lancashire, although I've heard many comments from friends bemoaning dropped signals in older (and granted more expensive) cars. Maybe a case Early Adopter Syndrome? I don;t know.

  17. James Pickett

    "still no DAB sets here..."

    Likewise. We have 8 radios in our household, including a £10 Lloytron 'tranny' that runs on D-cells. These last 2-3 years in a set that is used daily. Given that most DAB sets also have FM tuners, are there stats for their usage in that mode? I suspect not.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If 6music was on FM

    I'd abandon my 2 DAB sets straight away. Me and (maybe?) a few hundred thousand others.

    Get rid of some of the identikit "independent local radio" stations that are neither independent nor local, and which therefore have broken the conditions under which their licences were granted (the licences weren't issed to Capital Cumbria or Heart Balamory).

    Use the resulting FM slots for 6music, which is at least a bit different from most of the alternatives.

    Then see what happens to DAB radio sales. Can't imagine it would be pretty.

    When's DAB going to get the equivalent of RDS traffic news?

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: If 6music was on FM

      You had me until RDS, the technology that makes me mash the stereo to get back to what I was listening too whilst swearing.

      "The A1 at the MetroCentre is backed up". No shit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RTF R M

        "RDS, the technology that makes me mash the stereo to get back to what I was listening too whilst swearing."

        Isn't there usually a button to press so that RDS mode is disabled till you press it again? TP? TA?

        Read the fine radio manual?

        1. Nigel Whitfield.

          Re: RTF R M

          You can usually turn it off completely. But sometimes it's actually handy - driving in London, it can be very useful to get the bulletins every 20 minutes, just in case something's going to mess things up.

          The problem is the stations that turn it on too early, or turn if off too late, so you're stuck with half a news bulletin. Even worse when you get the impression someone just sat on the button at random and your current station is hijacked.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: If 6music was on FM

        "You had me until RDS, the technology that makes me mash the stereo to get back to what I was listening too whilst swearing."

        The TLA you're looking for isn't RDS, it's EON. Turn it off if you don't want it.

    2. Gerry 3

      Re: When's DAB going to get the equivalent of RDS traffic news?

      It's called TPEG. Broadcast by INRIX on Digital 1, been around for quite a while.

      http://www.wohnort.org/DAB/uknat.html#D1

      Works a treat on my satnav.

  19. Gerry 3

    Ever seen a Digital Tick?

    Has anyone ever seen a radio boasting the fabled Digital Tick?

    This scheme dates back several years, but it already seems to be Dead And Buried...

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Ever seen a Digital Tick?

      The digital radio tick is, apparently, pretty new, unlike the one for TV.

      1. Len

        Re: Ever seen a Digital Tick?

        Correct, I'm not sure if it's even officially launched yet. The application process for radio manufacturers opened just a few months ago. I hadn't expected the actual Digital Tick in stores until later this year to be honest.

    2. Enrico Vanni

      Re: Ever seen a Digital Tick?

      Yup. Got one sitting on my desk right now - a Dension DAB+U which is an amazing little device. Plugs into any USB port and then emulates stations as audio files in a FAT32 filing system. Search is done through executing files too.

  20. Simon B

    "It is, in theory, around three times as efficient as the DAB that we're used to"

    Does that mean it's 3 times worse or 3 times less worse? I bought a portable DAB radio some years back. I gave up on it because unlike a portable radio that i can listen to on the move, i cold only listen to DAB if i sat still and didn't move, otherwise the signal kept dropping out. Bit pointless when it was designed to fit in your pocket for portable listening!

    As for Hugo, I have had a portable light taht take batteries for years, It's called a torch, and I have a bigger one that uases LED's too, it's called a battery powered lantern. Neither cost £69.99 !!

  21. Zog The Undeniable
    Thumb Down

    This is what happens when you let the market run things

    My DAB radio lives on FM because the same stations (Radio 4 and Classic FM) just sound better on FM than on DAB. In the living room there's a 20 year old Sony tuner with a proper roof aerial. 70dB SNR on Classic FM, no hiss. Yeah, I know FM (apart from tedious Radio 3, which must be the most expensive radio station per live human listener, anywhere) is subject to dynamic compression by the broadcaster so isn't actually hi-fi, but it still kicks DAB into touch.

    I bet DAB+ will just be used as an excuse to cram in more bland or duplicate mono stations and drop the bitrate even further. As Bobbi Flekman says in "This Is Spinal Tap", money talks and bullshit walks.

    To add insult to injury, many Pure radios are DAB+ capable only if you pay Pure an unspecified fee for a firmware "upgrade", or rather a "reversal of deliberate crippling". It's like the old Intel 486SX processor, which was a lobotomised 486DX.

  22. John H Woods

    My portable radio of choice ...

    It's hard to beat a landfill android or an ancient iPhone in a decent speaker dock.

    Use your home WiFi in and around the house, or use 3G elsewhere; in fact my 3G service is better than my landline internet even in the house.

    I should think one could make something quite nice with a Pi, a touch screen and a USB freeview dongle. DAB, on the other hand, seems to be a solution in search of a problem.

  23. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Statistics and lies?

    While everyone talks about the key figures, like around half of adults owning a digital radio, and almost 40% of listening now being done via digital, that obscures some of the key things. Like, how many of those digital radios are actually used?

    I suppose it depends on what you mean by "owning"? Posessing a family car that happens to have DAB on it (never used) and an utterly useless DAB radio in the kitchen I guess that applies... but as for using? Never. The DAB on the car seems to be missing the desired channels, frequently drops into radio black holes and is generally crap - there appear to be lots of stations that I don't care for though. As for the kitchen radio? Poor to no-signal and very limited stations again puts that into the useless category.

    If they're lumping Internet listening into the statistics then that just makes a total mockery of the numbers and means that DAB uptake is in reality very, very low.

    The one thing that I have noticed about discrete DAB sets is that they are finally no longer all ugly-as-shit with as few uselessly multi-functional buttons as possible. No idea what the designers were thinking but making all the sets as ugly and unusable as possible really wouldn't have helped the cause.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. batfastad

    The same kbps as a potato

    Every single time I have tried DAB it has ended up sounding no better than a potato. Underwater.

    The only time I ever listen to radio is TMS on LW, or 5 live MW in the car, which are both equally as capable of sounding like a potato underwater at times. But I accept potato sound quality because it's old tech that's universal, and my portable radio easily fits in a pocket and can do an entire winter test match series on a single pair of AAAs.

    I expect much much better from DAB radios that are typically larger, heavier, more expensive and either require mains power or a daily feed of batteries/charging.

    Happy to be proven wrong though if anyone can find me a DAB radio that has a mass equal to or less than 150g, dimensions equal to or less than 7cm x 10cm x 3cm, and can run for a week non-stop on a pair of AAAs. Or that works when not driving in perfect concentric circles around the nearest transmitter.

    Digital TV works because its consumption happens through a stationary receiver/aerial. Radio on the other hand, less so, alot less.

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Frikkin' MONO!

      Apropos number of speakers: Have they ever heard of this thing called "headphones"? I've heard they are getting quite popular nowadays.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fooled?

    An article about DAB, a pretty lame April 1st joke I think.

  27. jason 7 Silver badge

    How does DAB survive?

    I've been following its progress for nearly 25 years and it's just constantly disappointed.

    Any other tech or service that came out the same time would have been dumped at least 15+ years ago.

    Who keeps this crap going?

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: How does DAB survive?

      The license payers' money keeps it going, that's who.

  28. peterkin

    Pure want money for the DAB+ upgrade.

  29. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Quality?

    (Disclaimer, I'm in the US so this is 2nd hand.)

    The thing that I think has held back DAB is... well, it'd be mighty disappointing to hear FM, hear this shiny new FM-replacement, and find that none of the stations even equal the audio quality of FM, which is apparently the case.

    DAB was spec'ed out long ago, perhaps good codecs weren't available yet then; but they were available well before significant amounts (if any) DAB services and devices actually shipped. They should have essentially switched to a "DAB+" like 20 years ago.

  30. David 45

    Con trick

    I have said this elsewhere and on many occasions. DAB was the biggest con trick ever foisted on to the great UK wireless-listening public, with their empty promises of "near-CD" quality and user-switchable compression (or did I dream that last bit?). I was an early adopter with a Technics tuner and what, eventually, did I get? Unreliable burbling signals (even in a supposedly good area with a half-decent external aerial; more and more stations squeezed in at ever-decreasing bit-rates plus MONO thrown into the mix, for goodness' sake on Radio 4 Extra (previously 7)! All this, together with the obvious butchering of the audio by compression and processing makes the output (for me, at any rate) almost painful to try and listen to. I have some old reel-to-reel tapes from ancient FM music broadcasts and the sound quality (even on pop from the era) knocks spots off current day offerings. If I load them into an audio editor like Audacity, the dynamics are there, plain to see. Try doing that with modern broadcasts (or even some CD's) and the waveform almost flat-lines - such is the complete lack of dynamic range. I despair with what's happening to both broadcast and recorded audio these days.

    1. TheProf
      Devil

      Re: Con trick

      Although to be fair to Radio 4 Extra, The Clitheroe Kid was recorded in mono.

      1. David 45

        Re: Con trick

        Yup - very good.......if you like that sort of thing! Loads of stuff being put out that was originally stereo though! Satellite is the way to go for the best quality, for what it's worth with the hideous compression still being applied. I once asked the now defunct Radio Authority why this technology (Optimod, I believe it was called), originally designed for AM, medium wave and brought in from America by the sixties off-shore pirate stations, had been allowed on FM. The reply was a joke, stating something like that there are many situations (such as in a car and noisy areas) where the majority of people would be listening (huh?) and the transmissions were adjusted for this so-called majority. You certainly wouldn't be listening to a satellite transmission in a moving vehicle, so why use compression on that medium? It's only to try and make the audio sound louder than anybody else's, the consequence being that most transmissions ALL sound as rough and as hideous as each other!

        1. Deej

          Re: Con trick

          I can't tell if you're joking about the consequence of compression on Satellite being that most transmissions ALL sound as rough and as hideous as each other, but I suspect it's just 'easier' to take the post-Optimod audio and spit it out to AM, FM, DAB, Satellite etc. Just lazy I reckon.

      2. Expectingtheworst

        Re: Con trick

        "Although to be fair to Radio 4 Extra, The Clitheroe Kid was recorded in mono."

        But who ever listened ?

  31. Jan 0

    Freeview

    > Just as the extra HD channels on Freeview are intended to encourage take-up of kit that has T2 and H.264, eventually allowing the DVB-T and MPEG2 muxes to be converted or switched off in the name of efficiency.

    C'mon Elgato, how long are we going to wait before you bring out a DVB-T2 tuner??? JFDI!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DAB+ v streaming

    I've a Pure Highway that I bought in the UK to use here in Australia (there's a firmware upgrade to enable DAB+). It works very well and I've had none of the "burble" I've heard on DAB in the UK. That said, I don't use it any more. The sound quality may be great, but it's still relatively poor content (have you heard Australian radio?). In the end I gave up and now stream Radio 4 or 4 Extra over my mobile phone. A month's worth of streaming whilst commuting barely touches my 4 GB data limit on my phone contract.

    To me, that data limit is probably the only thing that stops internet streaming over a mobile device from beating plain old DAB as the coverage seems to be fairly similar.

  33. Hubert Thrunge Jr.
    FAIL

    powerrrrrrr

    Only one of you has hit the key reason for the population not embracing DAB.

    The ability to operate your FM receiver on a pair of AA batteries for about 6 months. The DAB will require 4, almost every other day!

    They're too power hungry.

    Sort that out and regardless of sound quality, people will switch.

  34. martinusher Silver badge

    Digital Radio is probably redundant

    DAB is, like our local brew of digital radio, HD, a proprietary technology that's designed to fill a need that just doesn't exist any more. We switched to digital radio using WiFi devices, things like Squeezeboxes, and they out perform anything that's pure off air (not to mention that one of the units, the hifi tuner, also receives FM). The selection of audio isn't just things like BBC Radio 3 and KUSC but there's services like Pandora, podcasts and music streams from our in house NAS unit.

    Since its also possible to stream audio away from home using the cellphone it really does beg the question as to why we'd bother with new types of pure radios. The older radios still have a role -- if nothing else, you can make an AM radio from 'common household items' post-apocalypse and the quality of FM is still hard to beat -- but keeping the old broadcast model with newer technologies is just pointless.

    (Incidentally, I use a small internet radio to provide an appropriate signal feed for vintage audio kit. You want the vinyl look and feel -- and sound -- but its a hassle dragging out phonograph/gramaphone and disks.)

  35. Andy3

    Does anyone really think DAB+ will lead to any betterness? The broadcasters will simply look at the new technology and say 'hey, we can squeeze our station into even less bandwidth, get the same quality and save money!' In the end, the consumer gets a new radio (more money down the drain) but everything else stays the same. More waste, more money, more landfill.

  36. bpfh Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Pilot of the airwaves...

    ... Here is my request. You don't have to play it, but I hope you'll do your best. I've been listening to your show on the radio, and you seem like a friend to me....

    Cant get rid of the earworm since last night. Thanks El Reg!

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Angel

    Dagang DABit

    As long as the DAB / DAB+ kit remain expensive and power guzzling compared to FM/AM/LW sets and require a manual to tune why should anyone bother given all the alternatives there are

  38. Mage Silver badge
    FAIL

    in theory, around three times as efficient as the DAB that we're used to.

    No, about x2.

    and only if you were using 128K on DAB.

    DAB+ is PURELY to double number of stations, by using 64K instead of 128K for same poor quality.

    FM / CD quality needs 192K to 256K on DAB. The savings are very much less. 128K AAC has much more artefacts and loss of quality than 256K MP2.

    Add issues of radio power consumption, not enough relays, much more expensive for Local Radio (ironically too much coverage), poor design of sets (ergonomics and speaker size and cabinet).

  39. Dieter Haussmann

    I have DAB in the car because it came with it.

    The subjective sound quality when reception is good is better than FM.

    It would be better if OFCOM mandated a the maximum bitrate and stereo as a license pre-requisite. I like the extra information such as TEXT traffic news, song name, programme info. There is also a slideshow picture capability but have never seen it work in the UK, only in Germany.

  40. the-it-slayer

    Why bother when online radio can be better quality?

    I know not many commercial stations can be bothered with a high quality web stream because they would crush their RAJAR stats, but seriously, DAB/DAB+ has just got surpassed now we have decent broadband and 4G available.

    I've got a Revo Superconnect which sounds superb and gives me amazing choice on all the formats (Spotify Connect/Internet/DAB/FM). Shame DAB sucks as it's really good speakers really show it up as really poor. I tend to listen to a lot of European/US radio that seem to be putting more investment in online radio with 192kbps MP3/AAC streams.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019