DAB: A customer's view
last year our local TV relay mast was, without any fanfare, upgraded to supply BBC DAB. As I was looking to buy a clock radio at the time I decided to go DAB, as the price difference was not massive.
Now, I live in a stone built house (60cm/2ft walls), and while our local FM transmitter is a high power job and not overly far away (Llangollen VHF, 15-20 miles away), reliable and non-hissing reception required either sticking the radio in the window or using a carefully aimed amplified VHF aerial (in the case of an old HiFi).
Having had the thing for almost a year, here's a quick run down of the good and bad bits of my DAB experience.
The good points:
While the DAB radio is a Mono/single speaker receiver, the sound quality is good and, more importantly, is consistently good. The lack of annoying hissing is very good, and the channel selection style of tuning works well if you occasionally want to listen to another station (you daren't retune an FM radio here, otherwise it takes you an age to get it "right" again).
At the moment (and for the foreseeable future) we only get the BBC DAB multiplex, which does carry a decent range of stations and programmes. In our area BBC 5 live was always a hit and miss affair, as the MW signal did not take kindly to the mountains of North Wales.
There are of course a few downsides however:
The one that most annoys me is that due to the BBC DAB mux being UK wide, our "national" BBC stations (BBC Radio Cymru and BBC Radio Wales) aren't carried on it. To get those, you have to swap back to FM (or in the case of Radio Wales, AM). That then entails adjusting the antenna to get as little hiss as possible (and as the transmitters aren't in the same place, adjusting it back for DAB). It seems that due to the unique way that DAB works, the BBC "national" multiplex has to be the same everywhere, with the BBC taking space on the local commercial multiplex for local services. The problem is of course that as I've mentioned above, we don't have (and probably will not have for some time) a commercial DAB multiplex.
The other main issue is probably more of a software issue with the radio, but is still a mark against DAB. The problem is that the BBC loves setting up "pop up" DAB services such as Radio 2 country and also they like to shift radio 4 output such as "today in parliament" and morning worship to their own DAB services. What this means is that while these services aren't transmitting, they still appear in the station list, causing clutter. A factory reset kills them for a while, but the buggers always come back.