back to article Halfords invents radio signals that don't travel at the speed of light

Halfords is telling potential DAB radio buyers that the digital radio tech is "super-fast" compared to analogue AM radio, which might come as a surprise to the laws of physics. The car accessories retailer is trying, like all good businesses do, to drum up interest in its DAB digital radio sets. To this end it published a …

  1. Locky Silver badge

    Outdated?

    So they've updated the radio waves to increase their speed now?

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth
      FAIL

      Re: Outdated?

      More to the point, wavelength isn't specified in Hertz. Frequency is. And the conversation between the two depends on the real part of the complex dielectric constant of the medium the EM wave is propagating through.

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    If DAB is faster than FM

    Why are the time signal pips always late?

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: If DAB is faster than FM

      As I recall, there's always a noticeable lag between FM and DAB - with the audio arriving on FM before that of DAB - probably due to the processing chain in going from the analog broadcast world to the digital broadcast world. Not entirely sure what causes it beyond a few instants for A to D conversion

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: If DAB is faster than FM

        DAB delay is mostly due to the processing time required for the error correction coding at both ends (tx and rx).

      2. 's water music Silver badge

        Re: If DAB is faster than FM

        probably due to the processing chain in going from the analog broadcast world to the digital broadcast world

        I suspect that the delays are more likely to be caused by the acceleration and deceleration of the DAB radio waves as they leave the transmitter and enter the receiver. Either that or the FM radio wave supply chain has introduced efficiencies in an effort to stave off the mooted shutdown

        1. RockBurner

          Re: If DAB is faster than FM

          It's affected differently by different devices too.

          I have a VQ Christie in the lounge, and a Pure Bug (anyone remember them?? * ) in the kitchen (the rooms are abutting). The Pure Bug outputs it's audio about 3 or 4 seconds later than the Christie. NOt sure if it's purely because the Bug is > 10 years older, or it has more error processing. The sound quality appears to be comparable.

          * It was a gift, that's my defense, and I'm sticking to it.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: If DAB is faster than FM

            Rock Burner,

            I hate you! My Bug died this year, after nearly 20 years of long and happy service. It winked at me every night when I went to bed, and then opened it's eyes every morning (well every time I turned it on actually).

            I now have to pick up my stupid bedside radio to work out what the fuck is happening when I try to tune it. Why do all DAB radios have such pisspoor user interfaces? And such tiny screens. They only seem to give you 2 buttons, with each doing 20 different roles, depending on how they feel, or how hard you press them, or whether you're looking at the screen or not when you press it - and if not they'll sneakily come up with a 21st function, to do a complete re-scan of all stations and re-set.

            Whereas the Bug has that nice big screen on a flexible metal stand, that you can pull towards you in bed, and lots of buttons so it's not horrible to use. Admittedly I paid about £90 for mine, and the modern ones are more like £20-£30. But that and my Motorola RAZR (also from about 2003) are 2 of the best tech purchases I ever made.

            1. Symon Silver badge
              Go

              Re: If DAB is faster than FM

              If it's nearly 20 years old, you can probably take it apart and fix it. It was made around the start of the Capacitor Plague, so it might be easy to spot the burst electrolytic capacitors and replace them. Good luck.

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                Re: If DAB is faster than FM

                Symon,

                Sadly not a capacitor problem I don't think. It was suffering from random reboots - which sometimes needed a hard power cycle to fix. Not awful when listening to the radio, just mildly annoying, but made it a completely hopeless alarm clock.

                1. Symon Silver badge
                  Pint

                  Re: If DAB is faster than FM

                  @IaS, well, to me that sounds as if it might well be a capacitor problem. The electrolytic capacitors are used to filter the DC power supplies, including to the processor. If they've gone kaput, then the noise and ripple on the supplies will get worse which could well lead to the random reboots you mention. The processor is crashing, leading to random reboots, and sometimes lock up. It's worth a quick look, especially if you're attached to the thing! :-)

                  p.s. There are loads of second-hand ones for sale on the FleaBays! Cheers --->

                  1. Z80

                    Re: If DAB is faster than FM

                    I've got an original white Bug which I bought soon after they came out in (I think) 2004 and use it every day. The audio outputs at virtually the same time as my other DAB radios - it just sounds like there's a slight echo when you listen to two together.

                    The only problem I experience is that sometimes when you use the sleep timer it freezes when it turns off meaning the alarm won't come on in the morning. I've got a separate travel alarm clock to save me in case this happens.

                    I've updated mine with the v2.2 software (Menu > General Setup > Software version) which gives you the EPG function. The way it stops you turning on or off, changing volume or stations while saving EPG data to the SD card is a bit annoying but I found the smaller the SD card, the quicker it completes this so I bought an old 16MB one from eBay. BBC Sounds renders the recording function redundant for me so I haven't needed the SD card capacity for recordings for many years.

            2. KA1AXY
              FAIL

              Re: If DAB is faster than FM

              Why do all DAB radios have such pisspoor user interfaces?

              I hate to break it to you...but it seems to be a growing trend...and it's not restricted to DAB radios :-)

              Maybe because the UIs are designed by Chinese who don't give a sh*t as long as they make money?

              Sad, but true. The last good UI I saw was on a Nokia phone in the 90s.

              1. Ivan Headache

                And my oven!

                Technically it's the lovely Ivana's oven but...

                The old oven had two knobs and some push-buttons - easy as pie to use.

                The new one has two knobs and a baffling touchscreen that isn't wide enough to display its messages so they scroll by much worse than the messages on a London Overground train.

                It's taken her 3 months to get the hang of it and produce reasonably consistent results.

                And don't get me started on the controller for the underfloor-heating.

              2. Mike 137 Bronze badge

                Re: If DAB is faster than FM

                "Maybe because the UIs are designed by Chinese who don't give a sh*t "

                It's actually more likely due to at least one generation of UI "designers" (regardless of nationality) that never heard of ergonomics but are convinced they're the most brilliant artistic guys that ever lived.

                1. paulll Bronze badge

                  Re: If DAB is faster than FM

                  Mostly due to just one designer. Not an artistic decision either, physical buttons add hugely to the cost of electronics. Of course it's better to pass it off as artistry; "It's not,'cheap,' it's, 'elegant.'"

        2. NeilPost Bronze badge

          Re: If DAB is faster than FM

          “I suspect the delays ... acceleration and deceleration”

          Is it not when the data packet is decrypted/decompressed in the Flux Capacitor ???

      3. illuminatus

        Re: If DAB is faster than FM

        Even better, the lag from FM varies between Digital TV and Dab. So you can play the same snatch of audio with a beautiful double echo if they're all on the same station.

      4. paulll Bronze badge

        Re: If DAB is faster than FM

        Buffering?

    2. dajames Silver badge

      Re: If DAB is faster than FM

      Why are the time signal pips always late?

      Buffering, de-multiplexing, and decoding.

      You will get different delays from different models of DAB radio in the same room because of differences in processing speed between the two sets.

      1. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: If DAB is faster than FM

        Hmmm you sure? Either its capableb of processing at the speed the data arrives at or any buffer it tried to create before it started would soon be used up.

        Latency in audio equipment is not related to processing power.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If DAB is faster than FM

      because DAB travels faster than the speed of light thereby travelling through time to the past.

    4. Mike Richards

      Re: If DAB is faster than FM

      Are you sure they're late and not actually tomorrow's pips arriving early?

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: If DAB is faster than FM

        The pips are timed so they are accurately received on Long Wave up to 100 miles from Droitwich.

        Anything else, all bets are off.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: If DAB is faster than FM

          Seems reasonable. I bet a lot of things are better when you're at least a 100 miles from Droitwich.

    5. WallMeerkat

      Re: If DAB is faster than FM

      It's why they got rid of the pre-news clock.

      During the analogue to digital transition, they couldn't gaurantee that the signal would be received at that second, as evidenced if anyone ever ran an analogue and digital TV side by side.

    6. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      Re: If DAB is faster than FM

      My pips are not late. Perhaps the caesium atomic clock in your DAB is one of those cheap Chinese ones?

  3. Scott 53

    Speed of light

    299,750km/s

    299,792.4574 km/s is the figure I learned.

    1. Stumpy

      Re: Speed of light

      Ah, you're confusing the speed of light with the speed of a Spherical Sheep in a Vacuum

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Meh

        Re: Speed of light

        Surely, in a vacuum, the shape of the sheep is unimportant?

        I hate to be a drag, but...

        1. 9Rune5

          Re: Speed of light

          Hang on guys, is that an African sheep or an European one?

          1. OssianScotland Silver badge

            Re: Speed of light

            New Zealand, obviously

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Speed of light

              Welsh-er!

              1. Precordial thump

                Re: Speed of light

                To be served on an infinite frictionless flat plate, naturally...

          2. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

            Re: Speed of light

            Shorn or unshorn?

          3. Alistair Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: Speed of light

            Its a Romanian sheep, and slightly damp.

        2. spold Silver badge

          Re: Speed of light

          ...I assumed it meant in a Hoover

          1. Hubert Cumberdale

            Re: Speed of light

            Nah, it's sound that doesn't travel in a vacuum. That's why it's difficult to hear anything when the Hoover's running.

            1. squelch41

              Re: Speed of light

              That really made me laugh ;)

        3. Sodditall

          Re: Speed of light

          "...I hate to be a drag, but..."

          Cx, Cx, Cx, it's all anyone thinks about...

      2. macjules Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Speed of light

        Better use the rectangular lambs then in future.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Speed of light

          They're easier to carve as well.

          1. 0laf Silver badge

            Re: Speed of light

            I prefer a lenticular goat for my high speed ruminant of choice

            1. Sierpinski

              Re: Speed of light

              How about a torus taurus?

              1. TRT Silver badge

                Re: Speed of light

                Or just a fraction of one. Noah's arc.

                1. David 132 Silver badge

                  Re: Speed of light

                  Such an erudite and learned comment. I bet you have a degree.

                  1. TRT Silver badge

                    Re: Speed of light

                    Don't be obtuse. Thinking you're clever posting a cute comment like that. Or is it just a reflex?

    2. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Speed of light

      In a vacuum. Which is likely not the condition of the atmosphere (ok, there is an atmosphere, so it is no vacuum...) over the UK - despite you having a bunch of air thieves that wrote that drivel....

      Re: signal quality. Head over to youtube and search for Mat's channel (techmoan) and look up the video he did on DAB (tl;dw; low bitrate to cram more stations into fewer channels -> audio quality is shite).

      1. b0llchit
        Pint

        Re: Speed of light

        The speed of light is defined (!) to be exactly 299792458 m/s because the meter and the second are defined quantities.

        That said, the British are probably going to enjoy this increased speed in short time, in contrast to the usual slight speed reduction caused by air. The British isles are already known for low pressure coming from the west. Then at brexit time, the EU will turn off the flow of air too, reducing the air pressure considerably and speeding up any radio signals in the process.

        BTW, you know what happens, every time a politician creates a pocket of high pressure air? Well, the speed of light through that medium is reduced, which means time slows down! Therefore, politicians can never reach their full potential; the more they try, the slower they get.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Speed of light

          The second is defined in relation to a specifix caesium emission isn't it. Then the metre is defined as a number of wavelengths of one of the sodium lines?

          So the speed (in a vacuum) is absolutely fixed, because the speed defines the metre.

          And radio waves travel at that speed, not near as dammit - actually at.

          Of course that speed is modified by the transmission medium.

          1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Speed of light

            The metre is no longer defined as a number of wavelengths of emission lines (twas krypton, BTW). Since the 80's it's been defined as the distance travelled by light in a vacuum in 1/299792458 of a second, effectively fixing c.

            1. teknopaul Silver badge

              Re: Speed of light

              They should have made it 1/300000000 and changed the meter, just to anoy the French.

              1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

                Re: Speed of light

                That would certainly annoy a few more people than the French.

              2. swm Silver badge

                Re: Speed of light

                Or make it 1 foot per nanosecond by adjusting either the foot or nanosecond a little bit.

        2. Joe W Silver badge

          Re: Speed of light

          The speed of light in a vacuum is defined this way. Speed of light does depend on the medium it passes through, resulting in e.g. the refraction at interfaces between say glass and air.

        3. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

          Re: Speed of light

          I'd be glad to help them reach their full potential *charges cattle prod*

    3. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Speed of light

      My radio seldom goes further than 1500m - which is far enough for anyone - so the difference is probably negligible.

      1. herman Silver badge

        Re: Speed of light

        If you keep your radio closer than 1500 meters then it would be much easier to hear and would not have to turn the volume up to 11 all the time.

      2. M7S

        Re: Speed of light

        Didn't Captain Scarlet have an issue with radios being 1500m from source?

        (The only link I can find to anything related to the episode https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8RsdDEWAy8 , sorry its not the episode itself).

        There's probably a radio joke to be made here about Spectrum, but does that apply to DAB?

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: Speed of light

          @M7S - I think you're confusing DAB with FAB

        2. STOP_FORTH
          Boffin

          Re: Speed of light

          Yes, Captain Blue had been bashed on the noggin. He could hear the Big Ben whilst he was still groggy, but heard thirteen chimes. They worked out that he was hearing the chimes directly and via a radio and were able to calculate how far he was from the Houses of Parliament.

          Of course, that wouldn't work with DAB because of the delays associated with audio compression, interleaving, FEC and variable decoding times in different receivers. Another cherished childhood memory ruined by the relentless march of progress! When was the last time physics was used/referenced in a kids' TV show?

          Older viewers will recall the "O"-level Physics question about whether the chap on Westminster Bridge hears the chimes before or after someone in Australia listening to the World Service.

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Speed of light

            Big Ben strikes again.

    4. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Speed of light

      Hang on... are those decimal or binary kilometres?

      1. Mephistro Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Speed of light

        Let's not open that can of worms!

        1. Brian Miller

          Re: Speed of light

          But where does one buy canned worms?

          1. Mike 16 Silver badge

            Canned Worms?

            https://zoomed.com/can-o-worms/

            Apparently also available on Amazon (the site or the river, who knows?)

            1. spold Silver badge

              Re: Canned Worms?

              Thank-you. Just ordered two cans from Amazon for my home/work offices - obviously to be labelled "DO NOT OPEN!" :-)

    5. dl1

      Re: Speed of light

      For most* purposes it's easiest for the speed of light to be 1 (no units).

      * some

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Speed of light

        Speed SOL decimal 8.

        Predicted trajectory termination... southern England.

      2. Siberian Hamster

        Re: Speed of light

        In a similar vane also my answer too that age old questions of 'how long is a peace of string?'

        Unit length.

        (That was painful to type, never mind read!)

      3. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: Speed of light

        Only in the most finely structured systems of units :)

    6. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Boffin

      Re: Speed of light

      Surely radio waves travel at the speed of sound? Whereas the magical digital DAB stuff is doing light. But like the tortoise and the hare - it's showing off by running in circles round the chips. Plus it's got to go off to somewhere to find that weird underwater popping noise that only DAB makes - I reckon there are giant bubblewrap farms in the arctic - and it's going there that takes all the extra time and so is why analogue signals are quicker.

      The advantage of the DAB delay is that it often matches the TV delay - so you can have the radio commentary when watching sport. Not possible with analogue, as that tells you what happens beforehand.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Speed of light

        DAB might sometimes match TV delay but it's useless for listening to Test Match Special while watching the cricket live.

        1. FlossyThePig
          Pint

          Re: Speed of light

          I usually take a small Roberts Test Match Special radio when I go to a test match. TMS fills in gaps without any noticeable delay.

          One time I mistakenly took a small DAB radio instead of the trusty Roberts. An example to highlight the delay: the batsmen were just starting their return run when the radio had the sound of the ball on bat before they even started their first run.

          Icon - because that's what you have during a match.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Speed of light

            FlossyThePig,

            Beer is all very well during the match - but if you go to Lords you're still allowed to take in 4 cans, or one bottle of wine per person. No other Test grounds let you - due to ICC awfulness, but Lords told them to get stuffed.

            A buttered baguette, a bottle of bubbles a load of smoked salmon should sort you out for lunch. Then pork pies, various cakes and crisps will do for tea. And snacks during - sport can be very tiring... All of which goes nicely with some beer from the bar. Or, if you pack your picnic carefully - security don't tend to want to interfere with your sarnies - you can easily hide a flask of gin and some tonic in there. Which is perfect - you need lemon/lime to go with the salmon, and the rest can go in your teatime G&Ts.

            Add a radio for TMS and some waterproof clothing, and you're sorted.

      2. Andy The Hat Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Speed of light

        Radio waves do indeed travel at the speed of sound which is why "audiophiles" have been known to spend so much time balancing the lengths of their speaker cables ... or buying super expensive, pre-terminated, accurately length matched, oxygen free, silver coated cables ... doh!

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Happy

          Re: Speed of light

          Surely audophile sound travels at the Speed of Money...

        2. Archivist

          Re: Speed of light

          Repeat after me:

          Electric current does not travel at the speed of light...

          (But to my ears it might as well do)

      3. Dolvaran

        Re: Speed of light

        "Not possible with analogue, as that tells you what happens beforehand"

        Which of course is why the TARDIS is purely analogue.

    7. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Speed of light

      yeah, and obviously a physics constant.

      The quote in the article suggests that he should have said BANDWIDTH [for the modulation] and not "super-fast wavelength" implying "speed", but people who don't understand modulation won't get it, probably. [People in here probably WILL get it]

      Whenever you modulate a carrier, you generate frequencies that are equal to the modulation frequency[ies] plus or minus the carrier frequency. In the case of FM, FSK, QAM, and other modulation methods, you have to include harmonics as well, and in theory, the harmonic output goes out to 'infinity' in both directions around the carrier frequency. [in practice it's limited by filters]..

      16khz bandwidth (+/- 8khz) would be typical for an AM broadcast, up to ~8khz audio freq in the modulation. This gives you reasonable quality audio, good for voice [hence news/talk formats typical on AM].

      +/- 75Khz bandwidth is typical for a wide-band FM broadcast. A total bandwidth of 75khz would have too much harmonic distortion (think 'missing information'). In the USA, there is a 200khz 'in between' frequency range between stations to allow for sufficient bandwdth without side-channel interference.

      for QAM and FSK and spread spectrum and other digital modulation methods, you have a much higher bandwidth requirement, and 'frequency hopping', and things like that. Wifi, cell phones, digital radio and TV signals, all use something _like_ this. And of course, their bandwidth is in Mhz and not Khz, and can take up a pretty big chunk of the available spectrum. Hence, it's transmitted in the Ghz range where this kind of thing makes more sense.

      Anyway, what the quoted marketeer was apparently TRYING to say is that wider BANDWIDTH means you can transmit MORE DATA at a higher DATA RATE.

      but yeah he got it wrong in the details, concepts, and presentation.

      1. STOP_FORTH
        Boffin

        Go back to school

        It's a COFDM signal. It is not spread spectrum. I'm nominating this for your most incorrect post ever. Which is surprising, as most of your uppercase letters are being correctly used this time.

    8. Daniel von Asmuth
      Megaphone

      Speed of Light??

      How about digital radio that travels at the speed of sound?

  4. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    Does this mean the songs are played faster and the radio DJ's will sound like those chipmunks?

    1. dajames Silver badge

      Does this mean the songs are played faster and the radio DJ's will sound like those chipmunks?

      Chipmunks? In my day it was pigs.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      It means anything by Rick Astley sounds like Kylie Minogue.

      1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
        Facepalm

        All pop music already sounds the same

        thats why its pop music

  5. Phil W

    Definition

    While this clearly is marketing BS there is a certain truth to it. It depends how you define "fast". DAB has a higher bandwidth, so can transfer more data more quickly than a lower bandwidth analogue FM, transferring the same amount of data more quickly is arguably a reasonable definition of the word fast.

    Before you argue that this isn't the case, consider whether two broadband connections that can both get 1ms latency to a server, but one is 24Mbps and is 36Mbps can one be said to be "faster" than the other or not.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Definition

      It is not faster (in the physics sense). The signal (the ones and zeroes) travels at the same speed. There are just more of those ones and zeroes per second. The bit rate is higher...

      Speed is distance divided by time. The amount you carry does not factor in. Example: two cyclists, one solo, the other with panniers and a trailer with two kids in both riding along at an easy 25 km/h. It will take them an hour to cover the 25 km to the next playground (kids in the trailer, remember?) if there are no traffic lights and no steep climbs. Both arrive at the same time. You would argue that the one carrying the kids would be faster - which is clearly not the case. That one had to work harder than the other, but they had the same speed.

      1. Just Enough

        Re: Definition

        "It is not faster (in the physics sense). "

        But the description in question is not a physics lesson. It's trying to describe how digital radio works. It's not done very well, but I think suggestions that they are trying to claim some radio waves travel faster than others is missing the point.

        It's worth keeping in mind that when it comes to the quantum world of particles, just about any explanation we use about how things work is based on simplified models that we, in the macro world, can understand. All these models have limitations where they break-down and can be picked apart. Halford's attempt at an explanation is no different.

      2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: Definition

        If a frequency is defined as the number of oscillations, then DAB is "faster", in that it has more oscillations (if a shopping basket packing race, it would "win" and be faster at packing the shopping bags).

        While not completely detailed, their explanation was not "wrong", it just focused on the speed of data delivery in total, not the speed of the signal propagation or delivery of a single bit.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Definition

        > "It is not faster (in the physics sense)."

        Yes, but- to play devil's advocate- we use terms like "fast broadband" in that non-literal sense so often that no one even notices it, lets alone thinks to complain.

        "Fast" in that context does make sense in that you can download files faster, but it's still a synonym for bandwidth rather than literal speed.

        You could argue that such usage of "fast" doesn't make sense in terms of streaming (which is what digital radio effectively is) or that the comparison with analogue radio was meaningless and/or incorrect (given the quality issues). However, if one's going to argue against it on the basis that such usage is contrary to physics, we should at least acknowledge that we're (apparently) okay with that in other contexts.

    2. Saruman the White Bronze badge

      Re: Definition

      "DAB has a higher bandwidth"

      True, but then it needs it since they multiplex multiple stations through the same channel. Basically its the same technology as used in Digital TV.

    3. katrinab Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Definition

      64kbps mp2 doesn't carry anything like the same amout of detail as analogue fm.

      1. Suricou Raven Silver badge

        Re: Definition

        Not any more. The DAB+ version of the standard now in common use runs a codec called 'AAC+'. It's considerably more efficient, which allows the operators to turn the bitrate down even lower to cram in even more stations that no-one wants.

        1. paulf Silver badge

          Re: Definition

          True that DAB+ uses better AAC compression, but it's also not backward compatible with DAB only receivers. Fine if you're operating a commercial multiplex and want "more stations" over "sound quality" and don't care that it rules out a few older receivers from your TAM; but not much good for things like the BBC National Multiplex which sticks with DAB operation (and it's crappy MP2 compression) because if they switched to DAB+ there'd be a lot of older DAB receivers that would be immediately obsolete. This is the problem of being an early adopter on this tech. Other countries, like Norway, who adopted DAB later, have gone exclusively DAB+.

          1. Dave123

            Re: Definition

            No different to DVB. Like DAB, if you have an old receiver that doesn’t have the new codec, fear not as the channels you’re missing are no loss.

          2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Definition

            RadioX went to DAB+, so now I listen to Chris Moyles in Stereo.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: Definition

              When you consider limits and differentiation, an analogue signal can be measured as limits as it approaches a particular point in time and how close this approach comes is virtually infinite and there is no digital system that can transmit a signal with that much information.

              Even though the extra information is superfluous for any audio entertainment purpose, it's still more.

          3. Bilious

            Re: Definition

            Actually the Norwegians switched from DAB to DAB+, so plain first-generation DAB receivers are now useless in Norway.

            1. Mage Silver badge
              Alert

              Re: Norwegians switched

              Some sort of of politics to suit the national broadcaster was why they switched off FM.

              Other countries have switched off DAB, or will never start it.

              Ireland's National DAB only has RTE on it, and is 46% to 55% coverage depending who you believe, but useless for intercity travel. It is 128k or 64k (depending on station) mp2, too poor quality and coverage.

              RTE are going to turn DAB off shortly.

              DAB, especially SFN, also is ill-suited for local or community stations. FM serves better. Full national coverage needs AM! Hence R4 LW, RTE1 LW and Five Live on MW.

              It turns out that DAB needs about twice as many masts, though lower power, than was planned just to match FM coverage on portables. FM in UK still not as good coverage as the big MW and LW Transmitters on AM.

              Why are there no DAB pirates? The gear isn't actually very expensive. Use a PC based card / adapter sold for testing DAB receivers and a nice linear amp in the 200MHz band.

              Because almost all DAB sets have FM. Many phones have FM. An FM radio starts at £2 and decent one is easier to use than a DAB set, sounds better, more range and x5 to x20 battery life.

              Many DAB sets are used on FM. So called "Digital Radio" figures add DAB sets, DTT listening, Sat listening, Internet streaming.

              Niche stations, especially national, are cheaper to do on the Internet and coverage on Mobile is better than DAB!

              1. ibmalone Silver badge

                Re: Norwegians switched

                My phone has no FM :( my last one did. The argument is you can just use internet radio, yes, the same internet radio that eats battery faster, uses chargeable data and wont work where you have poor cell coverage. Sigh.

                Partly I think it's the move to bluetooth, as portable receivers typically use the headphone cable as an antenna. And partly analogue tuning and searching for stations (even with auto-tuning) probably doesn't appeal to those who like clicking on an icon.

      2. Paul Shirley

        Re: Definition

        True but mp2 also doesn't waste bits coding all that hiss analogue throws in free ;)

    4. xeroks

      Re: Definition

      I came here to say this. I know - and takepart in the pedantry here at el reg - but it's obvious someone has tried to take the concept of "higher frequency radio allows data to be transferred at a higher rate" and translate it into non-technical language.

      it's like all science teaching: "lies for children" it gets the basic concept across. If someone's interested, they can can learn more later.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Definition

        it's like all science teaching: "lies for children"

        It always slightly infuriated me that at school our physics teacher would basically start each year by saying "Remember all that stuff I told you last year? Pretty much lying to you there". I mean I get it, but still...

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Definition

          "I mean I get it, but still..."

          But if we didn't do that we'd have to start by talking about quantum electrodynamics to eight-year olds. I will soon have the opportunity to test this out on a live subject; I will report back with the outcome.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Definition

            " I will soon have the opportunity to test this out on a live subject;"

            Just to get you into the spirit beforehand:-

            "Why?"

            1. DavCrav Silver badge

              Re: Definition

              "Just to get you into the spirit beforehand:-

              "Why?"

              "

              The perfect time to introduce the anthropic principle.

            2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: Definition

              Because!

              1. AndrueC Silver badge
                Boffin

                Re: Definition

                So there!

          2. A K Stiles Silver badge
            1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

              Re: Definition

              This. People don't have a problem with the truth, if starting from the start and young. It's only as we get older (even from a young age), that all the social "lies" get in the way (of the reality/functional/engineering/maths, the social side is fine and great and needed, but should not change facts or math!).

              Like most languages, it's harder to "unlearn" the errors and mistakes, than learn new and afresh to begin with. Or programming, if starting early, compared to having to learn it much much later on.

          3. 's water music Silver badge

            Re: Definition

            be prepared for arguments about relativistic effects on the question of bedtime if you live in a multi-storey house. You may wish to stick with the 'because I said so' model for a little longer in at least some domains

            1. STOP_FORTH
              Boffin

              Re: Definition

              Generally speaking, if they go upstairs to bed they won't live as long.

          4. defiler Silver badge

            Re: Definition

            I've waded in at the deep end with some topics for my kids.

            We've covered orbital mechanics with much success and kerballing. Covalent bonding was pretty good too, using Lego as an analogy. AC vs DC electricity, with voltage vs current was okay too.

            Of course, all these are superseded by discussions of Nintendo vs Sega, and why Nintendo were crazy (but ultimately justified) in making the N64 a cartridge console, 13 years before my kids were born. There's only so far you can go before their attention goes elsewhere...

            Edit - to be clear, my kids steer the conversation to old consoles, not me!

          5. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

            Re: Definition

            "...we'd have to start by talking about quantum electrodynamics to eight-year olds..."

            Most eight-year olds have mastered Lie algebra on their own.

            1. DavCrav Silver badge

              Re: Definition

              "Most eight-year olds have mastered Lie algebra on their own."

              Oh good, maybe they can explain it to me. I'm currently having some trouble constructing PSL(2,25)-invariant E7-Lie algebras in characteristic 5. I could use a helping hand...

              1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

                Re: Definition

                See now you're just making me jealous.

        2. A K Stiles Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Definition

          I think it applies to pretty much all teaching. I still get it with the dance lessons (oi! no sniggering at the back!), where the teacher explains how to do a particular step for the first time then, as we progress ,months or years later, you get "Well I said that was how to do it, but actually it should be done more like this, that's just the simpler explanation to start with" and now you have to not just learn how to do it correctly, but unlearn how to do it wrongly first! Gah!

      2. Mephistro Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: Definition

        ...it's like all science teaching: "lies for children" it gets the basic concept across...

        When I was ~14 I made the huge error of raising my hand when my physics teacher said something about spaceships heating on re-entry due to friction, and politely asking if it wasn't due to compression instead.

        I promise I won't do it again!

        8^)

      3. Mage Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Definition

        No, it doesn't even do that. It's worse nonsense than ST-TNG technobabble.

        Also DAB as implemented actually uses low bitrate per channel. Any VHF frequency from 42MHz to 275 MHz could do DECENT quality Digital Radio OR FM.

        Some FM / AM sets sold today for the world market actually do 64 to 108MHz to suit old East European, Japanese, Western Europe and USA. They don't usually do LW now because that wasn't used except in Europe, North Africa and Russian Asia. Some older ones do have LW and also 42 MHz to 275MHz in several bands, possibly for marine, ham, US Weather and also Analogue TV sound in USA (and parts of Europe till about 10 years ago) as well as Japan and Eastern Europe.

        DAB was too early and thinking behind it is now outdated with streaming for niche content. FM and AM are actually better for national mainstream radio and local/regional/community mass market radio. Far far more efficient for receivers, more robust, and FM in many phones (the WiFi & BT chip has it built in for free)

        1. ibmalone Silver badge

          Re: Definition

          It was SW that really fascinated me as a child, playing with the dial and discovering all kinds of weirdness (number stations for example).

    5. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Definition

      DAB might have higher bandwidth but a significant chunk of it is used for the FEC. More than 20KHz bandwidth is pointless and if you're over 30 then significantly lower than this due to hearing loss at high frequencies.

      In practise many DAB stations, including music stations, reduce the bandwidth significantly, or have it reduced for them in order to cram more channels into the available spectrum.

    6. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Definition

      While this clearly is marketing BS there is a certain truth to it. It depends how you define "fast". DAB has a higher bandwidth, so can transfer more data more quickly than a lower bandwidth analogue FM, transferring the same amount of data more quickly is arguably a reasonable definition of the word fast.

      No.

      It would be fair to say that DAB has a higher bitrate and can therefore receive better quality audio. This irrespective of the fact that most radios don't claim to be hifi's, and that most hifi's do not offer high fidelity reproduction of the signal input these days, and that a goodly number of DAB radios are in cars with such high ambient noise from the road that any sound improvement is drowned out and unnoticeable. That one can accept as normal marketing bullshit.

      But it's still not faster; both play a 3 minute bit of music in 3 minutes. Arguably, DAB is slower because it takes time to buffer etc from the start of a transmission.

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: Definition

        I believe the argument is more: it could push bits faster and more bits means higher quality. Which would be good if they actually used more bits on each channel instead of actually using less bits per channel across far too many of them!

        I'll stick to high bitrate internet radio on my av amp/Kodi boxes/pc. Never heard a dab channel that didn't hurt my ears.

    7. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: Definition

      DAB has lower bandwidth, bandwidth being literally the width of the band. It may make more efficient use of that bandwidth in achieving a given audio quality, but it's lower bandwidth. You cannot transmit a signal with a single frequency, you need a range of them, hence bands. At higher carrier frequencies there is obviously more space to pack the same bandwidth in, and DAB does that, but there's also strong competition in those ranges from other use.

      Analogue FM, 200kHz per channel.

      DAB multiplex, ~1,500kHz, about 10 channels per multiplex => 150kHz per channel.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Audio_Broadcasting#DAB_and_AM/FM_compared

      Bitrate and bandwidth are not the same thing except in colloquial use.

  6. imanidiot Silver badge

    Not happening

    They can try to pry my FM radio from my cold dead hands with a crowbar.

    I can put up with some crackle or hiss from imperfect FM reception. DAB radio (And DAB+ also) becomes completely unlistenable at even the merest hint of interference.

    1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: Not happening

      They will have a hard time finding all the FM radios I have. They are embedded in almost everything.

      And if they do nab them all, I'll just hide away my Sinclair X1 Button Radio. MWHAHAHAHA

      Also my single DAB radio (thats portable at least) has a hard time decoding anything if the antenna is not in the correct position and extended far enough. Its a nice radio, cheap from amazon, records to micro SD and runs of a 18650 lithium battery that is charges via micro USB.

  7. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Whilst the higher frequency used by DAB may allow transmission of data faster than the lower frequency analogue FM, all the digital processing (both sender & receiver) has a speed impact. Hence why, as others have mentioned, the pips on DAB are later than on FM. It's the same reason why the BBC no longer has an analogue clock showing the second hand before the news: Analogue viewers see it before digital. (And on Freesat, HD is even slower than SD - by several seconds)

    1. cpage

      Are there still any analogue viewers of TV in the UK? I thought that all transmissions ended a few years ago.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Are there still any analogue viewers of TV in the UK?

        I still watch that blizzard show sometimes. It's amazing, there are no ad breaks and its more intelligent dialogue than most soaps.

    2. Lazlo Woodbine

      There's no analogue TV in the UK anymore, the reason the second hand was dropped is the time delay between Freeview SD, Freeview HD, Sky and cable, all 4 services would show a different time, and all 4 would be wrong by at least a couple of seconds, possibly more.

      FM is real time, as near as makes very little difference, DAB is out by at least a few seconds, and BBC Sounds App can be up to 30 seconds late, so if you miss an important wicket on TMS you just log into BBC Sounds and hear it again...

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Also, it takes longer from pushing the power button to getting sound on a DAB radio, so it's not even faster in that respect.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Likewise, changing channels, especially if it's a different multiplex. I generally use FM in the car unless it's a DAB only only channel I want to listen to.

    4. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      > Whilst the higher frequency used by DAB may allow transmission of data faster than the lower frequency analogue FM,

      No, you can do it with shortwave but I think you are referring to bandwidth which would be greater than the lower frequencies but that just lest you pack more stations in (if only they didnt do that, DAB might sound god and even be in stereo). The higher frequency was used because its very localised so that you can cover the nation and find it easier to avoid overlap. Also the spectrum was available.

  8. alain williams Silver badge

    There must be a few MPs ...

    moonlighting in the Halfords PR department - bringing their wool pulling over eyes skills.

    1. Shady

      Re: There must be a few MPs ...

      Get Brexit done! A hard Brexit will improve Digitalizational Analogousuously Broadspreading far beyond that of Europe!

  9. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Wavelength in kHz?

    That hertz.

    Apart from that particular bit of nonsense, they're mentioning 75kHz for FM *and* AM. That'd be even lower than the DCF77 signal. Even if they'd mean 75MHz (with DAB transmission frequencies being 200..230MHz that might make a little more sense) that frequency has no relation to either FM (88-108MHz, 10.7MHz IF) or AM (150kHz to 30MHz or so, 455kHz IF) broadcasts.

    Though it's wholly in line with the "technical expertise" I got to experience at Halfords.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Wavelength in kHz?

      AM to 30MHz? Just out of curiosity, are there many car radios that support analogue short-wave?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wavelength in kHz?

        In the last 10 years or so I've come across a couple of Mercedes car radios that support 49m shortwave. Presumably, normally fitted to their cars that go to Africa or somewhere. Both had very poor reception in the UK, presumably as the antenna fitted here does not match well at 6Mhz.

        I've no idea if all MB have SW, or just a small number of basic models.

      2. Mage Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Wavelength in kHz?

        Middle East, Africa, maybe Far East and Australia. Not sure about last two.

        When UK made radios, usually the export models for outside of Europe and North Africa had SW instead of LW.

        I've seen the odd German clock-radio with 49m SW band. Not sure why.

      3. Kernel Silver badge

        Re: Wavelength in kHz?

        "AM to 30MHz? Just out of curiosity, are there many car radios that support analogue short-wave?"

        The radio in my car supports 1.3MhZ to 438MHz, AM, FM, LSB, USB, CW (LSB and USB),and various digital modes on all wavelengths - doesn't yours?

    2. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

      Re: Wavelength in kHz?

      75Khz is the deviation of FM signals from their nominal carrier frequency when fully modulated.

      Lord knows why Halfords decided to put that into their spiel..... It has no relevance whatsoever, unless you are comparing the audio quality of broadcast FM with 2-way radio type FM, which has a deviation of around 5Khz.

      As everyone knows, the frequency of FM broadcast is 88-108 in most of the world, and Am broadcast around 530-1600Khz, except for the aforementioned 1500 metres in old money.

      DAB of course could be broadcast on pretty much any frequency - it's just that the Band 3 frequencies around 200Mhz are fairly well suited to this, plus, in the UK, there were pretty much available for use from the late 80's onwards.

      Audio quality better than AM or FM? Er, has the capability to be so, but in practice is not implemented. Arguably good AM sounds much better than 64kb/s MP2.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Wavelength in kHz?

      "they're mentioning 75kHz for FM *and* AM. "

      What's the modulation method got to do with the frequency used?

      (sorry, but you DID use the icon)

      1. Kernel Silver badge

        Re: Wavelength in kHz?

        "What's the modulation method got to do with the frequency used?"

        Quite a lot - I worked (until very recently) with systems that carried multiple wavelengths on a single fibre bearer - 10 years ago I was working with 10Gb/s systems using 100GhZ spacing of the carrier frequencies (Mach-Zender modulators, simple on/off keying of the carrier) - when I retired 3 weeks ago, I was working with DPQPSK (Dual Polarization Phase Shift Keying) systems that will do up to 520Gb/s at 50GHz spacing of the carrier frequencies - and the distance between regenerators (as opposed to amplifiers) has gone from 100s of Kms to 1000s of Km.

        The money now days is in developing better modulation and error correction protocols - demanding more bandwidth for higher bitrates very much labels you as an 'also ran'.

  10. dave 81

    Bitrates and broadcast media.

    The problem with DAB, at least from reviews like from TechMoan, is the appallingly low bitrate of most stations. Plus who actually listens to broadcast media in these days of on demand podcasts, Spotify and other streaming music, and audio books?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Bitrates and broadcast media.

      Yup, many of the stations are in mono FFS!

      It's also fscking useless in a moving vehicle. A bit of interference when passing through poor signal areas is tolerable. Repeatedly cutting out is not.

      1. Mooseman Silver badge

        Re: Bitrates and broadcast media.

        "It's also fscking useless in a moving vehicle."

        In the UK outside London, yes. I drove through Norway in the summer, with perfect DAB reception everywhere apart from in 2 of the longer tunnels (16 km and 25 km). Once you cross into Sweden the familiar DAB silences reappear.

        1. Pete B

          Re: Bitrates and broadcast media.

          I drive a wide variety of hire cars on a regular basis, mostly in the North West UK, so well outside London. What makes most difference to cutting out is the car manufacturer - Hyundai are about the worst, followed by Mercedes Benze & Vauxhall - on a regular trip I do VWs don't lose signal anywhere whereas Hyundai there are 4 "not spots" on the route.

          So maybe the finger needs pointing at the vehicle manufacturer as well as the broadcaster mechanism.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Bitrates and broadcast media.

            "So maybe the finger needs pointing at the vehicle manufacturer as well as the broadcaster mechanism."

            I drive around most of the NE and NW and listen to Radio4Extra much of the time, pretty much without issue. My additional data point for your survey is that I drive a Kia. I don't get hire cars often enough to offer any additional data points.

        2. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Norway in the summer, with perfect DAB reception everywhere

          Because they spent a fortune on DAB masts. More than anywhere else. And turned off FM.

          It's almost certainly political to benefit NRK.

          DAB most benefits National stations with multiple channels. Also car and table top radios, bad for portables.

          It certainly wasn't done to give higher quality or save money. You also need a power hungry DAB+ receiver, so not great for portables. Phones with DAB+ rather than FM are rare or non-existent.

    2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Bitrates and broadcast media.

      According to the station I listen to, we're finally switching to DAB+ and joining the 2000's. We're even getting stereo sound.

    3. Just Enough
      Boffin

      Re: Bitrates and broadcast media.

      "who actually listens"

      Millions and millions of people. 7.1 million people in the UK listen to any podcast. That's less than the listening figures BBC Radio 1 alone. 88% of the UK listen to live radio.

      It's always amusing when someone, keen to impress everyone with their uptake of newer technologies, feign ignorance that everyone isn't the same as them.

      1. dajames Silver badge

        Re: Bitrates and broadcast media.

        It's always amusing when someone, keen to impress everyone with their uptake of newer technologies, feign ignorance that everyone isn't the same as them.

        ... and horrifying when they really are that ignorant!

      2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Bitrates and broadcast media.

        It doesn't even make sense. If I jump in the car and drive to the shop, I don't want to fanny about with my phone finding a podcast to listen to a few minutes of.

        I stick the radio on and listen to one of about four stations (unless England are playing and I'll stick TMS on ).

        The vast majority of people do that.

        ( Although if anybody can recommend a decent Rugby Union podcast, it would be appreciated )

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Bitrates and broadcast media.

          Although if anybody can recommend a decent Rugby Union podcast, it would be appreciated

          Brian Moore does one (sponsored by the Torygraph). It's a bit short, given how much there is to cover - and it's got Brian Moore in it - and I get the impression some people don't like him. Whereas I do. And it mostly covers international, European level and English Premier rugby. But it's worth a listen - and he often has good guests.

    4. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: Bitrates and broadcast media.

      > Plus who actually listens to broadcast media in these days of on demand podcasts, Spotify and other streaming music, and audio books?

      People who want to listen to stuff thats happening live and if it is a pre-recorded show, those who want to avoid binging episode after episode as they get fatter and fatter eating mince pies and lebkuchen from Lidl. Also its better quality, at least when compared to iplayer that cant even give you the surround sound version of Dr Who that was broadcast on BBC 1 HD. And if I'm not there, I just record it.

      Spotify: Cant stand the service. Its annoying and couldn't play me more than 2 songs from the same artist. I replaced it with a MP3 player which funnily enough doesn't charge me to use it and plays what I tell it too, when I tell it to and when I have no signal as I enjoy a walk along the beach. Funny, my MP3 player also has a FM radio built in and can record from it too and it works fin on the beach when spotify and DAB choke. Also funny, my smartphone has the same features, FM radio with recording which works when spotify chokes. However being on the beach the MP3 player gets the risky job of being accidentally dropped onto wet sand, not the smart phone

      Audiobooks: I'm not going blind yet ;)

  11. Phil Dalbeck

    Slow news day then?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Of course. It always arrives a little later with DAB.

  12. Duckey

    super-fast wavelength of 220MHz

    I would say it's more their choice of the word wavelength instead of frequency that is at fault here.

    A high frequency could be considered fast compared to a low frequency because it is oscillating faster.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: super-fast wavelength of 220MHz

      Oh. Good catch. That is the error!

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: super-fast wavelength of 220MHz

      Oscillating wavelengths are a feature of the old analogue signals. That's what causes the interference. Digital wavelengths don't oscillate at all. They're rock solid and stick to a single frequency wavelength. (Or possibly two, and switch between them. I've just got to check that with Derek out back.)

      1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: super-fast wavelength of 220MHz

        > Digital wavelengths don't oscillate at all

        You are thinking of the wrong oscillations and in fact they do, because they are still radio waves which are analogue waveforms subject to the same interference as always.

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          Re: super-fast wavelength of 220MHz

          *chuckles evilly*

          I appear to have produced too good a spoof. I thought you lot are clever and that if the "frequency wavelength" didn't tip people off then the shout out to "Derek out back" would.

  13. Chris 125

    Radio, not just FM, is outdated

    My understanding is that the ability (not costs, just the licence etc) to run a 64Kb DAB station is circa £1m per year.

    That means they're loaded down with adverts every 10-12 minutes. The only station I've known to try ad-free was Team Rock which died a financial death - I'm aware some religious stations don't run adverts but instead sponsor shows and have regular fundraisers though. Just as annoying.

    Radio is dead. FM offered better quality and reach, and in trying to extend the choice from the narrow FM band they created DAB that is just endless low quality pop, religion and more pop. Very few specialist music stations apart from the decades-themed ad-laden Absolute group.

    As mobile networks provide more and more data, and Android Auto / Carplay become more standard, it is just as easy to hit a podcast or a curated playlist as it is turn the radio on. I've had my car for 6 months and never tuned in any of the radio presets.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Radio is Dead

      @Chiris

      Mark Riley and Gideon Coe on R6.

      Cerys on R2 and R6

      Pick of the Pops on R2

      Mayo and Kermode this afternoon on R5

      Lots of comedy on R4X - the new series of Start/Stop is great

      Odds and sods on R4

      All listened to by me in the past week - some of the analogue ones on my Ferguson model 3189B which I've had since 1979.

      If you like any music from the past 40 years I suggest you try Mark Riley or Gideon Coe.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Radio is Dead

        And actual music on R3.

    2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Radio, not just FM, is outdated

      I don't know about radio, but I know that a decade ago Arqiva used to charge ~ £30k/month to push one SD TV channel to satellite.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Radio, not just FM, is outdated

      As I understand it, radio listening in the UK is still going up. Which suggests that it ain't dead - even with podcasting listening also zooming up.

      Although saying that, podcasting gets lots of media attention, but I only know about 4 people who listen to them. Whenever I recommend a good one to someone, I'm still sort of surprised by the fact that they say they don't bother.

      Given that almost everyone has a phone that can handle a podcast app, so it's as easy as tapping your finger about 4 times - then they just magically turn up when you've got WiFi.

      1. No Yb

        Re: Radio, not just FM, is outdated

        I'm guessing the people you recommend podcasts to would rather just read.

      2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Radio, not just FM, is outdated

        @Spartacus -"Given that almost everyone has a phone that can handle a podcast app...."

        I assume you've not got an iPhone

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Radio, not just FM, is outdated

      Here we go again.

      Radio is outdated. Ok, where do you get your news from? Let me guess. You get it from twitter, several hours late.

      Maybe you dont care about the news.

      You do know that operating a smartphone in a car with an engine running is going to be illegal soon? I hope your playlist lasts long enough.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Radio, not just FM, is outdated

        Nah, he got it from The Buggles.

        1. ibmalone Silver badge

          Re: Radio, not just FM, is outdated

          Video is still wanted for questioning.

          1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

            Re: Radio, not just FM, is outdated

            And someone still loves Radio.

            1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
              Paris Hilton

              Re: Radio, not just FM, is outdated

              That's the spirit - Don't go all GaGa on it.

              Icon - Shes no Lady.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DAB is shit

    I really feel sorry if people end up lumbered with it.

    No amount of BBC propaganda can change it's shitness.

    Hopefully FM will zombify and never die, and future generations it's DAB that will be retired.

    In the 60s a pocket radio would go all day on a 9V battery.

    In the 2010s, a DAB radio will go nine minutes on a battery that needs it's own postcode.

    How shit is that.

    Imagine if they'd invented DAB *before* AM/FM ?

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: DAB is shit

      To be fair. DAB is not... it's companies use of it that is.

      Either because it's expensive (I never said it was CHEAP and good).

      But you can give the best F1 car in the world to the worst driver, and they will crash it and never get to the finish line.

      That's kinda what happened with DAB... everyone involved crashed the tech into a wall.

      The one thing is does have against it compared to FM is processing requirements, which adds the noted above "lag/latency", but also a LOT more power use for most cases on that processing (though I guess we are getting really efficient chips nowadays). Though nothing beats the old battery less/passive radio receivers!

    2. dajames Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: DAB is shit

      Upvoted for "a battery that needs it's own postcode".

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: DAB is shit

      In the 60s a pocket radio would go all day on a 9V battery.

      In the 2010s, a DAB radio will go nine minutes on a battery that needs it's own postcode.

      How shit is that.

      Imagine if they'd invented DAB *before* AM/FM ?

      Prior to transistors and tiny batteries, you needed a couple of huge, heavy, glass bodied lead acid accumulators to run your radio. And if you didn't have mains power, you had to cart them down to the Chemist shop to get the charged up.

      The Edwardian style one and don't forget the top hat with the goggles, thanks/

      1. Kernel Silver badge

        Re: DAB is shit

        "Prior to transistors and tiny batteries, you needed a couple of huge, heavy, glass bodied lead acid accumulators to run your radio."

        I remember from my early teens that my parents used to sell in their electrical shop very big, low voltage dry cells for the filament circuit (B battery, 6 volts?) and a very small (about the size of a modern 9 volt) 90 and 45 volt dry cells for use in the portable radios of the day - mid to late 1960s I think, but starting to become less common then.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: DAB is shit

          I think it was the other way around. I had, when I was quite young, a portable valve radio that I was given "for bits". ISTR it had a large space for a 60V battery and smaller one for a 6V battery. I could be wrong :-)

        2. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: DAB is shit

          >sell in their electrical shop very big, low voltage dry cells...

          Early valves ran with 2 volt filaments so they used a single cell accumulator to power them. The first valves were little more than light bulbs with electrodes in them, they were known as 'bright emitters' and used quite a lot of filament power so an accumulator was the logical choice for power. By the mid-1920s manufacturers had learned to coat their filaments with an oxide coating to promote emission, allowing the filaments to run with a lot less power. Once the valves became miniature (after WW2) the standard filament voltage for a battery radio was 1.5v supplied by a large dry cell. Irrespective of the filament voltage this low voltage supply is known as the "B' in the USA. The higher voltage anode (plate - US) supply is typically 45 or 90volts for a battery radio (a lot higher for mains kit -- I have an audio amplifier that runs 415v on the output stage). This supply is known as the 'A'.

          (You may see in very old kit a need for a third battery, the 'C' battery; its typically 9v and provides a bias supply for the valves.)

          OK -- a lot of non-computing information but its fun to know this stuff. I'm not that interested in modern radio like DAB because its not a very good solution to a problem that really doesn't exist. I swapped out my table radios years ago for Internet models and even these are now redundant thanks to voice assistants.

  15. Chronos Silver badge

    Hoop?

    Sounds more like woo-woo to me. If I could remember the last time I listened to broadcast radio of any stripe in the car, I'm sure I'd care. Considering the number of Nissans on the road, the last thing I need is the interior of my car filled with the sound of inane fatuousness, mindless drivel and people with an overabundance of cheerfulness and nobody to inflict it upon.

  16. 0laf Silver badge
    Flame

    Good and bad

    I like the choice of stations I get from DAB but the signal quality is fucking awful where I live

  17. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Does the advertising industry have annual awards for outstanding bollocks in advertising? If so this must be a strong contender.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      They probably don't call it "outstanding bollocks" but I'm pretty sure they have annual awards for it.

  18. Chris Miller

    thanks to the super-fast wavelength of around 220MHz

    Apart from all the other idiocies, if you don't understand the difference between frequency and wavelength, you won't get far with the more technical stuff. I realise the press release was written my a marketing droid, but don't Halfords employ anyone with a GCSE in a STEM subject who could point out these flaws?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      don't Halfords employ anyone with a GCSE in a STEM subject

      Have you ever been to Halfords?

      At a time when politicians of every hue are competing to spend more money on education, there does seem to be a fundamental question as to why the money we already spend seems to have so little effect. No-one, regardless of their GCSE subjects, should be so proudly ignorant.

  19. trolleybus

    What's DAB for?

    I understand why the broadcasters want DAB. They control all the masts and can cram more channels in the spectrum. But what's in it for me?

    I can use FM, which sounds better than DAB and which degrades gracefully, or I can use the Internet, with a hugh choice of channels (including small players who can't afford a slot on a DAB multiplex) and sound quality comparable to DAB.

    What's the use case for DAB?

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: What's the use case for DAB?

      Errr. How about NOT being connected to the Internet. Perhaps you might like to try it for a while.

      It is Broadcast which to me is far superior than streaming especially if all the people on the train/bus are listening to the same thing.

      And you aren't tracked which for some of us counts for an awful lot.

      And there is no subscription fees to pay (No TV license needed for Radio in the UK) which is an added bonus.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: What's the use case for DAB?

        FM

    2. Chloe Cresswell

      Re: What's DAB for?

      It's not so much the broadcasters want DAB - iirc the government won't let you have an FM licence now unless you have DAB, and the more that are on DAB, the greater the chance of flogging off some more spectrum...

      1. 0laf Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: What's DAB for?

        I think you have a point. The use case is going away on the assumption that everyone will have radio apps on a device and stream from them to your output device (speaker, in car stuff etc).

        If you don't have a smartphone with a large data allowance you're not like the decision makers so things will no go your way. Decision makers all have large flagship phones with unlimited data paid for by their businesses and live in well expensive connected metropolitan areas.

        I imagine their solution to your problem of poor reception etc is to get a large smartphone with unlimited data paid by your business and move to an expensive well connected metropolitan area. Because...why wouldn't you?

  20. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    So I guess that means that the BBC will be broadcasting The Light Programme on FM and the Faster Than Light Programme on DAB

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Thumb Up

      That is the quote of the day, week or even month! I salute you!

      Although all the good programmes were on the Home Service... Picture of Queen Victoria?

  21. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Holmes

    Obviously...

    The copy was written by the same person who decided that "Superfast" when applied to BT Broadband meant 24 Mbits/sec...

  22. AstroNutter
    Facepalm

    I just bought an AM/FM Radio

    I recently spent a week in Kielder forest where I wasn't able to receive and digital signals. No phone, no TV and no DAB. The latter was unfortunate as I wasn't able to listen to the little DAB radio that I had in my caravan. So, I've just purchased an AM/FM radio in the hope that on the next trip I'll be able to listen to that. I don't see why it won't work as I had reception in my car.

  23. Lotaresco

    Oopsie

    Given that El Reg confounds “quality” and “coverage” with the comment about the difference between DAB in London and the sticks it’s a bit rich whining about Halfrauds.

  24. David Hall 1

    Speed is actually fair

    Speed is actually a fair description. Sorry haters.

    In the context of a radio network - speed is afforded by wavelength just as they describe.

    Bandwidth is speed modulated by the real world.

    Higher bandwidth afforded by greater speed enables better sound.

    QED. Halfords were right.

    1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: Speed is actually fair

      No totally wrong

  25. Paul A. Walker

    DAB

    I quite like DAB for the rock stations etc. I have an older car with a non-powered antenna and a small powered amplifier / splitter I got on eBay for about a tenner connects both the DAB and analogue ports on the header unit, providing a much better signal than the adhesive antenna that came with it. It works well all around the north east, and I've travelled up and down the country with reasonable success with it, although you don't half notice how crap the sound quality is even at its best when you pop a CD in!

    1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: DAB

      I listen to DAB quite a bit simply because the two radio stations I listen to most are not on FM or AM (I wish they were). LBC and Talkradio are the only stations I tend to listen to. LBC does have FM in london.

  26. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Boffin

    Pfft, everyone knows that you can't change the speed of light between EM signal types...

    I on the other hand regularly advertise that devices I am trying to market have defeated the gravitational constant. This makes them quite handy, because they float around your home/office, not taking up valuable floor and tabletop space, and they don't get underfoot.

  27. brizo2478

    Is Dominic Cummins moonlighting at Halfords?

    That sounds like something from "Factcheckuk"

  28. DuncanLarge Silver badge

    OMG this is school kids stuff

    Seriously, when I was in year 8 (approx 12 I think) I knew that radio waves traveled at the speed of light. Simply from school.

    I also knew that wavelength IS NOT measured in MHz, which is a measurement of the frequency or number of cycles per second. Again, we did this at school, in fact I remember in year 10 looking at the way an antenna worked and how to calculate the length of the antenna depending on the wavelength desired. We also took turns to use a length of string to try and create an example of a standing wave.

    We knew the difference between frequency, wavelength (and that older radios preferred to show it on their tuning dials). This was back in the 90's, when expensive FM tuners had RDS, there were 4 TV channels (5 if you were lucky lol) or many more if you pointed a dish to the sky, soda stream was 80's retro and the megadrive was the best (wanna sort that in the playground mate?).

    Ok, I admit I may have paid more attention as I had a big interest in that sort of stuff since I was a kid. I quite liked my electronics set but in just over 20 years or so have we really dumbed down so much that nobody can even look up the basics of radio on wikipedia?

    Hang on a sec.... I bet I can find something that exists elsewhere in the internet than just wikipedia. I'm using a thing called a search engine, its what we use to look things up on the web, just in case they are reading this and forgot that...

    Here you go:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z32f4qt/revision/1

    https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/radio8.htm

    Also:

    > Digital transmissions contain more information than conventional FM / AM

    No they dont, the audio is compressed thus it HAS LESS information in it, which is the WHOLE POINT as you can now fit more stations into the same bandwidth. Also dont try and say that you need the higher frequency in order to send digital audio, you dont. Look up Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Radio_Mondiale

    > compared to the 75KHz or so wavelength of analogue FM / AM radio broadcasts.

    What? Trust me if you are being upsold to a DAB radio from an AM / FM one you may know / have an idea through decades of the existence of these radios what frequency ranges tend to be used. Heck my 2015 Samsung smart phone has an FM radio built in and its shows the frequency with the RDS station name to the side. Also MY car radio isnt a DAB one, so I may know that my MW wave band does not go below 530KHz or so and the LW band does not bow below 153KHz so what kind of radio are they referring to when they say that AM / FM is around 75 KHz?

    Next I bet someone will describe processor clock speed as the distance bits must travel to get to the USB port.

    Ok, not everyone is going to remember this stuff from school if they were not that interested but failing to even look up this information and do some very basic research using tools that 5 years olds today see as the status quo is simply depressing.

  29. Martin Fry

    Errm - the speed of light in a medium is dependent on wavelength - as any Pink Floyd fan would know.

    Does no-one know how rainbows work? Red sky at night, harvest moons and all that?

    Ok - so there's probably not much difference - I think higher frequencies are faster.

    1. ibmalone Silver badge

      I'm having trouble actually checking what the dispersion properties of radio waves in the atmosphere are. Visible light in solids tends to have lower group velocity at higher frequency (normal dispersion), which is the speed the signal reaches you at. However this can be the other way around depending on the medium and wavelength.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Speaking of the wisdom of Floyd...

      Also as Chapter 24 tells us.... - A movement is accomplished in six stages......And the seventh brings return.

      So we know many movements to rip an often "failing to receive" DAB unit out of the dashboard and fit an FM unit that just £*<&!ng works

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Speaking of the wisdom of Floyd...

        And the eighth is probably a large glass of red, (followed by another).

      2. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: Speaking of the wisdom of Floyd...

        Maybe everybody knows, but thought I'd share this as I was ignorant of it for years until someone on 6 Music pointed it out, Chapter 24 from Piper at the Gates of Dawn is based on the I-Ching. Makes a lot more sense once you know...

  30. g4ugm

    Updated but still wrong

    It still says "better quality" when we are not on DAB+ and the bitrates on most channels are scrunched down as far as possible...

  31. martinusher Silver badge

    Oh dear, the educational system appears to be in freefall

    I'd guess this just another small canary in the coal mine suggesting that maybe there's something not quite right in the education system -- this crap should have been caught by any number of people before it got published. It wasn't so the reputation of the company takes a nose dive. (You're allowed to do the pseudo scientific thing if you're business is crystals, vibrations and quantum resonance -- or maybe just selling clean power for overpriced record players -- but not if you're in the actual business of selling technology.)

    I thought that one of the issues with DAB is that it didn't work as well as the legacy technologies it was intended to replace**. Its also a redundant technology -- it so slow in gestation that the whole world of mobile data and the ability to steam whatever you wanted whenever you wanted it just swept past it.

    (**AM radio might have crap sound quality but you can make a receiver out of 'common household objects', handy for post-apocalypse broadcast reception. FM has quite nice sound quality, you'll need actual electronics to receive it but its been around for ever and the technologies are not exotic -- and they don't require proprietary chipsets)(Both technologies can be decoded with computer programs if you want to go digital.)

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Oh dear, the educational system appears to be in freefall

      "but not if you're in the actual business of selling technology"

      Ah, that's your mistake. No large retailer is in the business of selling any material object. They are in the business of selling an idea. You, the victim, aspire to being X and their job is to convince you that what's in their box will deliver X-ness.

      Obviously this is easier if you know very little about X and so a large retailer is probably someone who has picked up on this and focusses their attention on that "easy" fraction of the population. (Darwin, as applied to shopping.) It follows that the retailer no longer has to know much about X either and so they probably don't. If they know about anything at all, it is how to sell ideas and aspirations. X doesn't come into it.

      1. STOP_FORTH
        Headmaster

        Re: Oh dear, the educational system appears to be in freefall

        Some years ago I was sitting in a room full of engineers listening to a marketing guy describing a novel and technically advanced product that we were about to launch. He claimed that "Some people say that it breaks the Laws of Physics." We were shocked, some of us went as far as to mutter into our beards.

        A charitable explanation is that an engineer was paraphrasing Scottie, as a joke, when explaining the technical bits to him.

        But I think we are all doomed.

  32. David 45

    Rubbish sound nowadays

    DAB was in a VW car I borrowed whilst mine was being serviced recently. Bearing in mind that I hardly ever listen to the dross most radio stations put out these days, when I tried it, out of interest, it seemed to work well enough for car quality but also bear in mind that Bluebell Hill transmitter (puts out local TV as well - why they didn't use Wrotham is probably another story) is only just up the road from me, so nice strong signal. They all "burble" if the signal drops. Haven't got my early Technics DAB tuner up and running indoors after a house move, simply for the aforementioned dross reason and the fact that (I've probably mentioned this elsewhere - many times) when I first had it, there was no doubt it was superior. Noise floor so low, it was practically non-existent, decent dynamic range, etc; because, presumably, a half-decent bit-rate was used but, as time wore on, withe more and more stations shoe-horned in with ever-decreasing bit-rates, PLUS the dreaded Optimod processing seemingly being screwed up several notches, sound quality now is absolute rubbish. Might just as well be FM, for all the butchering that goes on before it actually hits the ether. (Younger readers please look it up!)

  33. John Savard Silver badge

    Perfectly Accurate in a Scientific Sense

    They say that their broadcasts contain "more information" due to using a "super-fast short wavelength". It is true that higher-frequency radio signals tend to also have a wider bandwidth, so there's nothing here about the speed of light. Compare FM radio to AM radio (or MW, Medium Wave, as I believe you call it).

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Perfectly Accurate in a Scientific Sense

      The act of putting information on a carrier causes it to occupy spectrum, the amount needed being directly related to how much information you're adding. So the more information, the more bandwidth. Higher frequencies only allow more bandwidth - in conventional radios - because the frequency filter used to separate channels can only work with channel spacing that's percentage of the band frequency.......so "higher frequency, higher bandwidth" is really a "trick of the light" (!).

      In modern (digital) radio you may find that the spectrum used by a 'channel' may be conceptually broken up into 64 sub-channels or more, with each channel carrying digitally coded data, anything from one to 64 bits or more. The bit stream that's making this up is usually coded to suppress errors, then its framed, the frames have coding........and it goes on.........

      Fascinating, if a bit heavy, stuff. Makes you pine for the days where all you needed to listen to the wireless was an antenna, a tuning coil, cat's whisker and crystal plus a pair of high impedance headphones.

  34. Dixx

    Just goes to show the creative thinking and lies people will tell to sell something. Some people are gullible enough to accept it. A principle which politicians know all too well.

  35. 2Fat2Bald

    Depends what you mean by "Fast". I guess you could argue;

    A) DAB has more bandwidth than FM, so it is capable of getting more information to the user...

    B) The frequency is higher, meaning you get more waves per second, ie it's a faster way to get 1 million "waves"...........

    But I think this was written by some marketing drone with no idea how it all actually works & probably imagines it's like broadband & speed is actually a major thing for the consumer when listening to what is, effectively, an unbuffered media stream with no reliability built in.

    DAB is now pretty good in the parts of the UK I frequent. There are occasional black spots, but I can get to Scala Radio, Jazz FM, Planet Rock and so on just fine for most of the UK. Trouble is. I can get FM basically anywhere.

  36. flayman

    The higher frequency, lower wavelength carrier signal is super-fast in the sense that its cycle is much shorter. I geddit.

  37. EricWiltsher

    I love the way marketing departments re-write the laws of physics.

    However, be a tad careful, on the coastline of northern France some do receive UK DAB. Some ex-Pats have installed specialist external antenna.

    Many well known antenna companies offer hi-gain DAB roof antenna. Maybe Halfords are suggesting put roof antenna on cars ha ha ha

    1. Andy3

      oops, double post.

  38. TomG

    Can't anyone find a way to blame Microsoft?

  39. Greywolf40

    Anyone who writes "... superior than..." can't be trusted to get anything right.

  40. Gerry 3
    Facepalm

    El Reg using dial up to catch up?

    I spotted this way back in July ! Here's the original in all its glory.

    Meanwhile, I'm still wondering who makes a DAB radio without 'set channels that are a bit like the channels on your TV'.

  41. This post has been deleted by its author

  42. Andy3

    All you have to do to embarrass the salesman is to put a DAB radio and an FM radio side by side receiving the same station. Then ask him why the DAB is lagging about 2 seconds behind the FM. Superfast eh, Hmmm? There's also LESS information in a DAB broadcast (as the situation currently stands) as a lot of the sound is thrown away before transmission in order to keep the bandwidth low. ALL the information picked up by the microphone is present in an FM signal (up to 15 kHz). AND they've managed to confuse the transmission frequency with the deviation. Halfords should stick to go-faster stripes and smelly Christmas trees.

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