DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting), or digital radio, offers many advantages over the old analogue broadcasts. In areas with a good signal, there's no hiss or interference, just crisp sound quality. Finding stations is quick and automatic - with no manual tuning needed.
There's greater choice of listening too, and more text information available with each broadcast. Since its launch in 1995, signal coverage has improved, cost has come down and there's more variety than ever.
Use this guide to help you choose your perfect DAB radio.
|Why change to DAB radio?|
DAB has five key advantages over analogue broadcasting.
Automatic tuning: this picks up a perfectly tuned station, at the touch of a button.
No hiss: in areas with a good signal there’s no noisy interference at all.
More stations, more choice: analogue stations that have gone digital have been joined by many more digital-only ones covering everything from news and chat to music and sport.
More information: the Info/Display button gives you scrolling text information about what you're listening to. Different displays show details like competition/contact details, news headlines or what’s on next.
Accurate time: the time is automatically updated.
|Will I be able to receive a DAB signal?|
Most of the UK is covered by DAB radio reception and coverage is still rising. Just click on this link and type in your postcode for full details of your local DAB digital radio stations:
|What kinds of DAB radios are available?|
DAB radios come in all shapes and sizes, offering a wide variety of features. They include mains only, combined battery and mains powered (perfect in power cuts), handheld, clock radios or more sophisticated DAB hi-fi. Our DAB radios fall into four distinct categories:
Portable DAB: the most popular format, a power lead is provided in addition to the batteries, which may be rechargeable.
Stereo DAB radios: these have two speakers to give a full stereo sound.
DAB Hi-fi: these offer more features like a CD player or memory card recording.
DAB alarm clocks: include radios with DAB tuners. They will be mains, rather than battery operated, and may include a CD player or iPod dock.
|What features should I look for?|
FM tuner: it’s common for DAB radios to be able to pick up analogue FM signals as well. This could be useful if you live in an area that’s not covered by the DAB network.
Preset stations: DAB presets are more like a list of favourite stations. To listen to a wide range of radio shows, presetting allows you to tune in at the touch of a button.
Clock/timer: it’s quite common to find an integrated clock and timer.
Automatic time updates: great to change between GMT and BST, or after a power cut. Unfortunately, you can't fast-set a DAB radio clock to stop you being late in the morning!
Electronic Program Guide (EPG): like Freeview TV, DAB radio has an EPG and some radios let you view it by scrolling forward from the currently displayed station. Currently, only the BBC has electronic guides.
Stereo sound: stereo DAB radios have two speakers. However, mono DAB radios can usually output stereo sound through their headphone sockets.
iPod dock: so you can connect an MP3 player. The mini-jack socket, called an 'audio/aux in', looks like a small headphone socket. Some radios have a dedicated dock with a cradle, to easily connect any type of iPod or MP3.
Sleep timer: automatic power-down means you can fall asleep to your favourite radio station.
|How can I get a better signal?|
Most digital radio listeners have no trouble picking up a signal. If you live on the edge of a coverage area, in a forest or valley, or have a radio with poor sensitivity, you may have a weak DAB digital radio signal. For better reception try the following:
• Fully extend the aerial, to a true vertical position
• Raise the position of the radio
• Stand the radio on a windowsill, closer to the radio waves outside
• Move the radio to a different room and rescan/auto-tune
• Consider an external aerial. Some digital radios have a removable aerial, so you can connect a more powerful loft- or roof-mounted aerial.
DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting): the digital transmission of radio signals.
PAD (Programme Associated Data): data provided as supplementary information to a radio programme.
RDS (Radio Data System): additional station information transmitted via FM radio broadcasts.
TMC (Traffic Message Channel): get the latest traffic information.
Audio/aux in: the input socket in the back of the radio that allows you to connect an MP3 player like an iPod and play it through the radio.
Audio power output: measured in Watts, the larger it is, the more powerful the sound.
DAB+: this is a superior digital broadcasting system. It will sound a little better than the existing broadcasts, and will ultimately replace them. No timetable has been announced for DAB+ yet. When it is introduced, it will run alongside the existing broadcast network.