A new portable DRM/DAB receiver by Starwaves GmbH

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mangosman, who notes:

There is a new digital receiver available. It can receive DRM in all bands from low, medium, high and band 1 & 2 VHF, as well as DAB+ and analog AM and FM.

It cannot receive HD radio because Xpedia charge licensing fees on every receiver and the market is restricted to USA and Mexico.


Thank you for the tip!  It appears this receiver is a product of  STARWAVES GmbH, Germany/Switzerland, although I assume it’s manufactured in China based on the bulk order costs.

I’ve reached out to the manufacturer for more details as there are few specifics and no specifications on the Alibaba page.

There are also no details about this radio on the Starwaves website.

If/when we receive more information about this radio, we’ll share it here on the SWLing Post. Stay tuned!

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32 thoughts on “A new portable DRM/DAB receiver by Starwaves GmbH

    1. RonF

      No, this website is part of a long-running multi-user ARG where we all pretend that people still listen to the radio and DRM is the raging success that saved broadcasting.

      We like to get together on the 30-year-old WWW carried on the 50-year-old Internet because it adds a sense of nostalgia to the whole thing…

      (oh, and yeah – “/s” 😉 )

  1. Manuel

    ¿El aparato de radio de la foto también tiene su pantalla y sus instrucciones de papel en castellano y en las lenguas regionales españolas?

  2. Keith Perron

    Since the creation of the DRM Consortium in the late 90s I have seen these radios come and go. Unless you had a major manufacture on board DRM was never going to take off. At the beginning a number of major manufactures were part of the consortium, but since than time many have dropped out. The reality is DRM will never take off as a format. Continuing with DRM would be like someone coming out with a new VHS deck.

    The DRM Consortium was created in 1997. 22 years later what have we seen happen? Nothing. DRM as a format is just kicking around on borrowed time.

    Now don’t get me wrong. I actually like DRM and 22 years ago I thought it could have had a chance. But since that time there have been a number of technology changes that made the format irrelevant.

    1. Mangosman

      You should catch up on what is really happening.
      DRM is not available except for the odd HF broadcast from New Zealand because of the NAB and the FCC insistence on the use of HD radio. HDRadio has not been a success either. It is plagued with interference because of its basic design. Check out retailers and manufacturers’ websites to see how many models are available They have never agreed to a side by side test comparison with DRM.
      DRM is the newest of the digital radio standards. DAB+ has now taken off in Australia and Europe. There are many models available.
      India is now mostly covered by high powered, medium frequency broadcasting (Medium frequency is also used by AM radio). India has 1300 million people, as does China (which also has some DRM broadcasts) , USA 320 million, Europe around 500 million.

      Last year 1 million new cars were manufactured containing DRM radios and now nearly all new Indian cars have DRM radio. The BES in India is showing off new receivers for the new broadcasts which have a pair of different language programs along with emergency warning system from a single transmitter.

      Now the EU requires all new radios to be digital capable. I should point out that other than the frequency band and the signal bandwidth used, DRM and DAB+ are very similar. It same modulation types, error correction systems, standards for images, text and vehicle traffic data.

  3. TomL

    The IBiquity–dts–Xperi IBOC sucks!!! It destroys medium and long distance listening with horrendous 20khz sidebands of digital HASH making anything within 50 khz unpleasant or impossible to listen to. The specs “say” this should not be a problem but in the real world you can hear it. With all the advances in electronics power for car and home audio, you would think they could come up with a better “standard” that does not take up so much bandwidth. I am all for going back to the drawing board and open up a gov’t led contest for best forward-looking digital standard and throw out this IBOC mess, with now on its third owner, seems like a hot potato that no one wants.

    Why cannot they come up with a narrowband digital that takes up no more than 5 khz, period? Certainly electronics are now powerful enough now to decode this! And why not use a separate band? There should be space at the low and high end of the current mediumwave band?? IF a new digital standard takes up less room, there should be enough space for both legacy and a better digital. Rant over.

    Someone needs to do something!

    1. Mangosman

      Remember that for AM broadcasting that in all but the Americas the broadcast frequencies increment in 9 kHz steps but the broadcasts occupy ±9 kHz = 18 kHz bandwidth, similarly in the Americas but substitute 9 for 10.

      Unfortunately Hybrid HD radio in the MF band uses both adjacent channels outside that range ie ±15 kHz or 30 kHz bandwidth causing the problems you experience. There is only one all digital HD radio station which is in WWWFD in Frederik Md, which uses ±10 kHz or 20 kHz bandeidth like AM.

      By contrast
      DRM30 is configurable by the broadcaster to have bandwidths of 4.5, 9, 18 kHz options for the whole world except the Americas for LF and MF bands. 5, 10 kHz, 20 kHz for the Americas in the MF bands and 5, 10 kHz for the whole world for the HF bands.

      Unfortunately HD radio will not participate in side by side comparison performance of DRM and HDradio
      The only solution for the USA is to convince the National Association of Broadcasters and the Federal Communications Commission to convert to DRM particularly DRM+ which could use the vacant analog TV channels 2 – 6 which could accommodate all AM and FM broadcasters as a simulcast pending the closing of all AM, FM and HD broadcasts. I know that the USA converted from the terrible NTSC to ATSC digital TV. I am not holding my breath.

  4. Mangosman

    I am tired of the ” knockers”, which is what Australians call people who are negative particularly about new developments. The problem now is that people cannot distinguish fake news from the real news.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuWAdaSKReY was shot in 2007, so it is no fly by night company from Switzerland. The “Starwaves Truckbox” is a DRM receiver designed to be stored in a boot or trunk of a car, it has a remote control for tuning and the output is an FM signal to which the car radio is tuned.
    They also make other broadcast electronics for TV as well. They should be commended for having another go at consumer radios.

    DRM like DAB+ in the past was a chicken and the egg situation. Once there was enough programs and populated coverage area consumers start buying. Now, most of India, population 1,300 million (compared with the USA of a little more than 326 million) is mostly covered with high powered DRM in the medium frequency band (Used in the USA for AM) there is now a real market opportunity. It may also mean there are not many radios for export since their domestic market is huge.

    Compare digital TV with digital radio. Many countries set a changeover date, so the broadcasters had to replicate their analog networks digitally and the viewers had to buy receivers before the set cut off date. In some areas subsidies were given to viewers. The broadcasters benefitted by more programming options and lower power consumption. In addition governments profited by selling to the mobile phone industry the spectrum created by the fact the DTV transmission channels can be consecutive on the same site freeing up 2 TV channels in between. This is not possible for digital radio because the frequencies are too low for the small size of mobile phones.

    Australia was the first country to start permanent high powered DAB+ broadcasting in 2009 there was no DAB+ radios with consumers at that time. Considering that the signal processing in DAB+ and DRM is very similar and that , this receiver would be ideal because we can use the DAB+ in the cities and DRM to cover the huge area of low population density. It is also ideal in South Africa for the same reasons which is why it is now selected by the SA government for digital radio.

    1. RonF

      Alan, it’s not “knocking” to be very suspicious of yet another new device touted by the DRM Consortium at one of their regular presentations. Their announcements do not have the best track record for reliability…

      What is it by now – 60 devices claimed to have been be available, ready for market, or “real soon now”? Of which maybe 15 have actually made it to market in the last 15 years? And here’s yet another one – totally out of the blue, in little more than mock-up form with no-one having seen as much as a finished ready-to-market example, this time offered at a price far below what others have managed to achieve?

      Pardon us cynics who’ve been following DRM a lot longer than you have – I still remember your posts from nearly 2 decades ago pooh-poohing the whole concept, before you suddenly backflipped & decided you were gung-ho for it – but we’re going to remain cynical until they start appearing in people’s hands in real life…

      1. Mangosman

        I was part of the conversion of Australian TV’s conversion from monochrome to PAL colour TV. I have seen incoming NTSC news stories where the differential phase errors were so bad that forest fire flames were bright green with the reporter the correct hue. This is no possible in PAL TV.
        I have been monitoring conversion from analog to digital TV where the Australian Communications Laboratory put the ATSC used in the USA against DVB_T which uses the Australian invented COFDM modulation. This is why ATSC is only used in North America and South Korea. ATSC was rejected because it does not reject reflected signals like DVB-T. I am not surprised that cable TV was the major method of distribution where as cable/satellite TV in Australia has never attracted more than 30 % . I see the advertising of indoor antennas for use in the USA which is not believed here. Indoor antennas are rare, in blocks of units a master antenna on the roof is reticulated to all apartments Houses have their own external antenna.

        When Australia converted to digital TV they converted a remote rural area first. The media went there to make stories about how bad digital is, but went empty handed because there was no reception problems and every broadcaster had 2 more programs each and the picture and sound quality was drastically improved. The Australian Communications and Media Authority had used a 3d map of Australia combined with the formulae for signal propagation to predict signal strengths. They also made spot checks over most of the country using a telescopic mast on a 4 WD vehicle.

        The USA has HD radio which is a poor performing digital radio system because of interference issues which prevents the use of high digital power. Look in you retailers and websites. There are very few models. Ibiquity would not give real receiver sales numbers just things like the number of car models not the number of installed receivers.
        Australia is the first country to have full time high powered DAB+ in 2009 with a tiny number of models of receivers available. The availability of a much wider range of programs and much better sound quality than the simulcast AM has increased the range of brands and models.

        Now that there is a strong pure DRM signal in the biggest Indian cities and simulcasts with an hour of DRM only every week day and now with expanding FM coverage the white space between FM signals will get DRM+.

        Existing DRM30 receivers can also receive DRM+ signals with a firmware update which the listeners can load, there is now an android App to use the FM receiver in mobile phones to receive DRM+. Lastly now all new Indian cars have a DRM capable receiver fitted on the production line.

        We are now at the point where DAB+ is now being used by all major network listeners in Norway, more than 50 % for DAB in UK and the EU is now making digital reception mandatory in radios. DAB+ radios in Australia can be bought for 21USD including 10 % tax. They started at more than $100.

        It is likely that being the newest digital radio format it will follow DAB+ rollout except that DAB+ is designed for use in areas of high population density because they typically transmit around 20 programs from a single transmitter. DRM is aimed at covering low population densities particularly at high frequencies, and DRM+ is better for single broadcasters who can radiate 3 sound programs from a signal transmitter with a larger coverage area than DAB+.

        How the poorly performing HD radio will fair against the overcrowded FM band and the expensive satellite radio and against streaming which is the most expensive way of distributing sound to very large populations.

        I suppose the knockers will only stop when companies like Sony and JVCKenwood make receivers. They make their models for what technology is used in each market. A few HD radios in the USA, DAB+ in Europe/Australia and are yet to make DRM. India is building its electronics/software industries to ultimately compete with China so want to make their own receivers.

        1. RonF

          Yes, Alan, heard all of that before. You’ve made similar comments, packed with similar irrelevancies and opinionated … well, let’s say ‘stretches’ … many many times before, over the many years people have tried to discuss things with you on a factual basis.

          Did you have anything to say that actually addresses the points and concerns I raised, or is your kitchen-sink comment it?

          But back to the subect: this appears to be yet another radio announced by a group who’s track record with announcements becoming products is spotty at best, presented in prototype form but suposedly ready for market, allegedly produced by or for a Swiss company who’s website is still promoting products that haven’t been available in a decade, and advertised at unbelievable-if-true prices on a Chinese portal by a company that appears to have no sales history on the platform in the 14 years they’ve been on it.

          Given those facts, cynicism seems to be the most sensible response.

          1. Mangosman

            Have you considered why all those radios did not sell? It was because there was no strong MF broadcasts to listen to except for a 1 kW transmitter in Germany. HF broadcasting is a small market regardless of whether it is DRM or AM. There was for a short time HF DRM broadcasts from the USA and now there is no DRM broadcasts aimed at the USA. As you know the only HF broadcasts are aimed outside of the USA from the BBG and some religious broadcasts.

            I suggest that the reasons why the radios failed was not through poor quality products but because there was nothing much to listen to.

            In all of my examples on the previous post these transitions worked because high powered continuous programming was available. In the digital cases an increase in the number of program streams. India has been the only country so far to adopt widespread high power MF broadcasts over a large population. It has added a second language program channel to DRM broadcasts.

            Lastly receiver sales will not be aimed at the USA or even in English until there is high powered DRM transmissions in the target areas. So for the moment it will be in India where English is not the only language.

          2. Mangosman

            http://www.starwaves.de/contact.html shows that it is copyright 2006 when it was generated.
            http://www.starwaves.com/index_eng.html is the current website and it shows their current professional equipment and that the current CEO is still the same as in 2006. They have only made one other receiver called Truckbox.

            I repeat that you won’t get sales unless there is easily accessible broadcasts with other attractions to stimulate purchasers. This does not indicate poor quality receivers.
            These companies should be congratulated for taking a risk with their own money.

          3. RonF

            Re: “shows the same Starwaves and the Innot receivers a year earlier”

            You mean the same Starwaves shown at IBC in September? That’s 3~4 months ago, not “a year earlier”.

            I did actually make a few enquiries to the Consortium & elsewhere after seeing what appears to be the same prototype on display at IBC, but got a combination of silence & shrugs in reply. Since nobody else seemed to be talking about it I assumed it was another ancient “real soon now!” prototype they were shopping around, like they’d done for years with the Uniwave, MSWay, Sangean/Roberts, and others.

            I was a bit surprised when it everybody jumped on it at BES…

          4. RonF

            Alan, I was looking at the .de website – the one which features their consumer equipment like the Truckbox/Carbox (which was released in 2007, but last available in 2009) and the W37 (never actually released, though a were apparently offered for sale at one of the shows). Not the.com, which only mentions their broadcast equipment.

            And, as I have frequently asked of you, please respond to what I wrote – not whatever’s bouncing around in you head. I never “claim[ed]” anything, other than their “website is still promoting products that haven’t been available in a decade” – and I only pointed that out because several people, including yourself earlier, mentioned their Truckbox/Carbox from a decade ago as if it was a still-current product.

            But I can see this is becoming the same spiralling discussion packed full of irrelevancies that those who’ve know you are more than familiar with, so on that note I’ll leave Thomas and the rest of this blog’s readers in peace for now…

          5. Mangosman

            I meant a year earlier at the same event, the BES at a similar time in 2018. Not September’s IBC which is in a different event in a different continent.

            Quote current websites for now, not ones 13 years old. There was nothing wrong with their products just not enough market due to a lack of DRM broadcasts producing few buyers.

            This is demonstrated by https://youtu.be/kkD01FuXOsg . The Newstar was panned in forums but the above example was over a 20,000 km path.

            To get a new broadcasting system up you need regulators to allocate frequencies, broadcasters to transmit programs which people are attracted to for sufficient time and in sufficient strength, receiver manufacturers willing to take a risk and manufacture radios a sufficiently low price and marketing to let the audience know of the existence of these broadcasts and how to get them.

            Radio manufacturers took the risk but the broadcasters did not, so it failed. Now All India Radio has taken on the challenge and covered most of the 1300 million population. Now it is up to the receiver manufacturers to make radios which they are doing. You make no mention of the million DRM receivers in Indian cars and now virtually all new Indian cars have DRM/AM/FM radios. The manufacturers are not making DRM an option its in every car.

  5. Dan...VR2HF

    BEWARE of VAPORWARE! Looks like another example of radio vaporware to me. If you look carefully, the logos have been pasted on and there is white tape holding the display onto the case. And the case looks generic or borrowed from another radio. Not only is this one of the ugliest radios (if it really is a radio) I’ve ever seen, it is poorest looking prototype I’ve ever seen.

    The Alibaba post is also suspicious. Notice they say they’ve been around since 1995 and they sell 100% to the Middle-East! And since 1995 they have no record of sales on Alibaba.

    Not only do we have to deal with fake news these days, we also have to beware of fake radios. This is clearly one of them.

    1. Tom Reitzel

      Starwaves and its digital radio DESIGNS have been around for quite some time. As far as this particular radio on exhibit, it’s clearly a prototype whose production will depend on significant buyers. Without sufficient buyers, one certainly should consider this radio “vaporware” as most companies developing new technologies don’t have sufficient capital to produce massive quantities without first securing sufficient orders. Regardless, the asking price is quite reasonable for a limited production digital radio. I’m fairly certain the cosmetic blemishes will be reserved for the prototypes. 😉

    2. Thomas Post author

      Interesting, too, that the website has only one product and looks like it’s from 1992. I agree it must be a prototype and the manufacturer simply hopes there will be a buyer.

  6. Mangosman

    I would like to point out to any UK readers, that they do not say that this radio will receive the legacy DAB. Legacy DAB is used for all but 8 programs in the UK and some programs in Sweden.

  7. Mangosman

    Xperi now owns the HD Radio technology only shows on their website https://hdradio.com/ only stations in USA, Canada and Mexico. As far as I am aware, the Canadian stations are a trial because the Government has not selected any digital radio standard for national adoption. They make no mention of Bangladesh.

    http://www.dhakafm904.com/overview.html was written in 2015.Did this HD transmitter start transmitting digital signals and have they bought more transmitters for other cities as they suggest? Their program makes no mention of HD2, HD3 or HD4 programming. If you listen for a while on-line they don’t mention HD radio at all. This was only one network. Perhaps they did not want to keep paying licence fees to xperi??

    https://radio.net.bd/ show no promotion of HD radio and it is not mentioned in https://www.asiawaves.net/bangladesh-radio.htm which was last updated in 2017
    I would also like to suggest that All India Radio is transmitting DRM from Kolkata which is right next to the border at 200 kW and another transmitter at 100 kW the whole country will be covered by DRM. Even if the programs are not designed for Bangladesh. The most powerful transmitters in the USA are 50 kW.

    1. Tom Reitzel

      My comment was based on a report in the news about a year ago. If the report (don’t want to even try wasting time looking for it) was correct, I’m pretty sure the government of Bangladesh approved HD as their official digital standard. If someone has the time to prove otherwise, I wouldn’t mind at all being corrected. Until then, I’ll just stand by my recollection (normally pretty good) of that article. Thanks for taking some time to look into this issue. Hopefully, we can get a definitive answer eventually.

  8. Tom Reitzel

    I’m pretty sure the market for an HD radio is NOT restricted to the USA and Mexico, but I understand the sentiment for not including the capability of decoding iBiquity’s HDC codec. I’m pretty sure Bangladesh has adopted HD. I do appreciate any information on this new DRM receiver as I WANT one. However, the minimal lot for production is 1000 or $50,000. A cost of $50,000 is quite reasonable for the quantity and I’m hopeful some entrepreneur will do it so I can buy one. Keep your readers posted on any developments regarding Starwaves’ new DRM receiver.


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