In the UK, digital radio is not always well-received

DABMany thanks to my buddy, Dan, who shares this article from the Daily Mail:

“It was supposed to be the technology that would transform the way we listen to the radio.

But audiences condemned DAB – or Digital Audio Broadcasting – as a disaster yesterday because of the poor quality of the signal.

They complained that it cuts out in the middle of broadcasts, while others claim the technology is already out of date.

One even joked on Twitter that while we can now receive close-up photos of Pluto taken billions of miles away, he ‘still can’t get a good signal on DAB’.

DAB had been heralded as less prone to interference than AM or FM, but household appliances including microwave ovens, laptops, mobile phones and TVs have all been found to affect reception. Power lines and the weather can knock out digital signals, while signal strength can be reduced in built-up areas, in basements and inside buildings with thick stone or reinforced concrete walls.”

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9 thoughts on “In the UK, digital radio is not always well-received

  1. padraig

    I’m not sorry for Dab technology. I would also like to add, I enjoy analog broadcasting. always have! I like listening to stations freely anywhere in the world. let it be F.M. M.W. L.W. H.F. S.S.B. V.H.F AIR C.W. It’s reliable, extremely Interesting, through out all the communication frequencies. I would like to finish on this note! Some couple of years ago. Around 2008, a friend of mine had been in hospital for a short stay, there was on t.v. in room for different reasons. This was a state of the art hospital!! one of four in the country. I was able to at the time to bring in an Analog Roadstar, 5” LCD colour T.V. which worked perfectly with it’s radio style type antenna and all.
    That person was saved many day’s of sheer boredom at the time. Sadly this is now gone digital since 2012, and anolog T.V. broadcasting has since long gone. If digital radio ever came in, like had, digital Television Broadcasting. we would be at a loss forever! globally and nationally, as my example of the above story. This is only a small example. Being able to access radio anywhere, anyplace. Let it be on top of mount Everest, inside on a hospital bed, at home or outside working in the garden, or out in the north sea, and so on and on!! If Analog radio ever go’s, which I doubt it will. It would be gone forever. Digital Radio should never be supported it’s not good for the world. It would cut off communication broadcasting completely at a global level. If more people read this, they just might! realize that analog radio is the best that they will ever have, and that is a good thing to keep. not like my Roadstar t.v. in a box and most probably heading for recycling bin.

  2. rcxb

    There’s a lot of ignorance and anecdotes spread on the subject, unfortunately. Those who shout the loudest always understand the least. DAB is actually a good technology, the trouble is the economics which cause broadcasters to opt for unacceptably low quality. Obviously with analog there was no choice in the matter. And the need to broadcast on both is an expensive burden as well. Once analog is eliminated, expect most of DAB’s problems to get fixed in short order.

    1. padraig

      Not likely, if you know anything, Dab itself! This failed. And really not much likely to succeed! not cost effective. just like the DRM chips, Robert had been installing in their receivers. This of course stopped!! when they realised it wasn’t even viable in the short term, or in the long term.
      I’m afraid Dab’s future, is well sold, down the river. But look it! sonny, you keep having your pipe dreams!!! there’s no harm in that.

    2. paul

      Yes, there is a lot of ignorance on the subject, mostly spready by Aunty and manufacturers with a vested interest in flogging a far more expensive and power hungry technology compared to FM receivers, which can be made small enough to fit on a keyring or in a lightweight headset for a few pounds.

      When first announced (before I saw the first products – huge almost non-pocketable boxes at high cost) I was interested. This was in days of slow dial-up modems, no broadband, I thought it could be used as an enhanced Teletext device and other digital uses beyond mere duplication of traditional radio service. However the BBC did not leverage the chance to broadcast pure digital files, seeming to limit the medium to existing radio service – a well respected technology site, had articles describing the poor technology used in DAB many years ago. Searching their archives just now, I cannot find the article I recall, but remember they wrote BBC research labs chose a very inefficient and outdated digital encoding. Remember how long MP3 has been around ? The BBC chose its predecessor, MP2 ! As a result of that major shortcoming, they are changing the encoding, so obsoleting all early adopters. A 2nd disadvantage is DAB standards have been developed differently in different countries, meaning your radio will not work abroad, unlike FM & AM radio which works globally. 3rd: FM technology is so cheap (not in quality) compact, and energy efficient, it can, and is often included in the chipsets of smartphones at neglible additional cost. I doubt that will be possible with DAB for many years to come.

      I quote from this article “blasts the radio industry and government for “scaring” consumers into an unrealistic timetable for digital switchover, and recommends both an urgent and impartial examination of DAB costs and benefits, and new criteria for a digital switchover. … It’s quite damning stuff. …A full cost-benefit analysis needs to be undertaken, the report recommends. The public has not been given “accurate and impartial” advice. … Consumer benefits need to be clear and demonstrable” – that was 5 years ago and I have still seen anything approaching a cost-benefit analysis or demonstrable consumer benefits, only killings for the radio lobby and politicians selling spectrum.

      The nearest article what I recall re. inefficient DAB technology is here:

  3. Richard

    DAB here in Wales (UK) is a poor technology. In my experience the sound quality is worse than FM and signal loss is common.

    The only advantages of DAB is availability of some stations that are not on FM and text information. In any case those are available, in better quality, via internet streaming. So DAB is truly pointless.

    I’m also concerned about the tight control DAB gives to the authorities and lack of international standards. My wonderful local community station is unavailable on DAB.

    I won’t be buying another DAB radio if I can help it.

  4. padraig

    Yes of course ! digital “dab radio” has failed across Europe, and that was about 7 years ago. It had been tried and tested and waste of money .
    But it dose make you wonder? who was pushing this useless technology, out there?
    I also think, software companies were large players behind dab. its sad that they failed in their mission, but you can only go so far with radio broadcasting. Be as it may, for dab! but it was far unreliable! to have ever succeeded.

  5. Erica Cole

    Give me the FM dial any day. Compression is apparently used on DAB which makes the audio bad, compounding any issues with dodgy reception

  6. Moshe Ze'ev Zaharia

    Well… how about that! was I surprised? No!
    While Analog broadcast can be heard even with heavy interference, Digital broadcast needs at least 90% clean line and at least 80% signal level to be properly decoded, and when listening to radio, A bad data packet is another cut out.
    The next stage will be to “upgrade” the digital transmitters to analog…
    Best Regards,


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