Category Archives: Digital Audio Broadcasting

Eton/Grundig Satellit: Michael seeks advice on enabling DAB reception

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Michael Meyer, who writes:

Hi Thomas.

I have a question regarding the Eton Grundig Satellit’s DAB function – or rather: It’s missing DAB function.

The Eton Grundig Satellit was reviewed in WRTH 2016 by John Nelson, demonstrating its capability of receiving DAB (Digital Audio Broadcast in Europe – some politicians want to shut down FM-band and replace it with DAB only). Since I live in Denmark, where DAB+ is widely implemented as a supplement of FM broadcasts, I do find this function unique, since it must be the only shortwave radio with DAB on the marked.

The SWLing Post have had some reviews as well as a link to Amazon.com, which tempted me to buy the “Executive Edition” at an attractive price. It arrived in early December 2018, and I am happy with most of the features of this radio. Good audio, sensitive and a nice size for a portable. I do agree with other reviewers regarding the mediocre sync-function, but I got truly surprised regarding the selectivity on shortwave, which on my model is poor! Strong broadcasters can easily be tuned 5 kHz away from their “true” frequency – even when putting bandwith to 3 kHz, there is not much difference in audio on VOA on 15580 kHz tuning to 15575 nor 15585 kHz. But when tuned, reception is stable and audio is good. Another very weird issue is the “double-click” feature, where first press on any button activates the light only – and the user has to press again to actually activate button function!

But now to the main reason for me writing this: How does the user activate DAB? I wrote to WRTH to get their opinion on this – I paste in my correspondence with them (I have got their permission to do so in writing you):

Dear Mr Meyer,

The version we were sent for review had a DAB+ function. Several readers
have since written to say they could not find the function despite the fact
that it is shown in the display. We have raised this matter with Eton but
have not received an answer. We may be wrong but our impression is that the
company did not apply for CE approval and as a result never implemented the
DAB function in the production models. The FCC approved versions of the
receiver of course would not require DAB.

It might be worth putting the question on the DX chat groups and see if
someone has found a solution.

Kind regards,

WRTHdx

Very good question, Michael. Frankly, I had forgotten that the EU version of the Satellit had a DAB function although I do recall the WRTH review.

Post Readers: Do you have any insight? Have you successfully used the EU version of the Satellit to listen to DAB broadcasts? Please comment!

Spread the radio love

Silicon Chip: Building a AM/FM DAB+ tuner

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

[The January 2019 issue of the Australian Silicon Chip magazine] commences a series of construction articles on building your own DAB+/AM/FM receiver. Australia was the first country to start permanent high powered DAB+ broadcasting which was in Aug 2009.

It is now extensively used in Europe but in the UK there are only 4 program streams in DAB+ the rest are in DAB which uses a less efficient audio compression and poorer error correction for noise and reflected signals.

Click here to check out a preview of this article at Silicon Chip Online.

Thanks for the tip! Readers, please note that Silicon Chip requires a subscription or you must purchase the issue in order to read the full article.

Spread the radio love

Norway: First country to end national broadcasts on FM

When listening to marginal FM signals, the AR1780 can be set to mono mode instead of default stereo mode.

(Source: The Guardian)

Digital switchover means that only the country’s local radio stations continue to use FM frequencies

Norway has completed its transition to digital radio, becoming the first country in the world to shut down national broadcasts of its FM network.

The country’s most northern regions and the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic switched to digital audio broadcasting (DAB) as scheduled on Wednesday, said Digitalradio Norge (DRN), an umbrella group for Norway’s public and commercial radio.

The transition, which began on 11 January, allows for better sound quality and more channels and functions at an eighth of the cost of FM radio, according to authorities.

The move has, however, been met with some criticism linked to technical incidents and claims that there is not enough DAB coverage across the country.

Radio users have also complained about the cost of having to buy new receivers or adapters, usually priced at between €100 and €200 (£88 and £176).

Only 49% of motorists are able to listen to DAB in their cars, according to DRN figures.[…]

Continue reading the full article at The Guardian.

Spread the radio love

RadioWorld free eBook: Global Digital Radio

(Source: Radio World via Dennis Dura)

Digital radio continues to progress at a rapid pace worldwide. The latest Radio World International eBook, “Global Digital Radio,” takes a look at how each region is preparing for the transition, planned FM switchoff dates and requirements, ways in which digital radio can pave the way to the connected car, how digital radio’s emergency warning functionality can provide relief in times of disaster, and more.

Learn more in the latest free Radio World International eBook. Read it free
now — click here!

Produced by the editors of RADIO WORLD INTERNATIONAL.

Spread the radio love

A review of the Como Audio Solo

como-audio-solo-table

Regular SWLing Post readers might remember that this past summer, I made an impulse purchase–and in doing so, backed a Kickstarter campaign for the new Como Audio Solo.

But exactly why did I buy this small, self-contained digital music device–? Having just completed an in-depth review of several WiFi radios, I certainly didn’t need another.  But the good-looking Solo, with its clean design and walnut casing really caught my attention…I couldn’t resist checking it out.  Plus, in backing the radio via Kickstarter, I was able to purchase it for $100 less than the predicted future retail of $299 US.

The Kickstarter campaign funding Como Audio was prompt in communicating updates with backers and providing even more product options during the wait for production and delivery. Although several other snazzy finishes for the Solo were brandished before me, I stuck firmly by the walnut veneer I’d originally chosen.

Fast forward to the present. I finally received my Como Audio Solo a few weeks ago, and have had time to play with it. While I haven’t had time to explore every nuance of this radio, of course, I have had an opportunity to form some opinions.

Design

I don’t often comment on the design of radios I review, but in this case it’s worth noting.

The Como Audio Solo, in wood, is elegant and simple. Love it:

img_20161003_163200127

The only element of the design I’m not typically keen on?  I’m not the biggest fan of devices that sport colored backlit displays; to me they appear a bit flash and faddish, undermining a radio’s overall aesthetic.

But I must say, the Solo pulls it off.  The color display in this case is somehow not too distracting–it’s soft yet crisp, and easy to read even at a distance.

In short, the Solo is a stunning piece of kit, especially with that warm walnut casing, and looks right at home in any setting–office, living area, kitchen, or at the bedside.

I’ve only one gripe with the Solo’s ergonomics: the front control knobs are a little too close to the bottom of the recessed controls area. When I try to turn a knob–for example, attempt to tune the FM band–I find my fingertips won’t fit between the knob and lower edge of the recessed panel, making the knobs a little hard to turn in one fluid motion. (Of course,this is also due to the fact that I have big fingers; my wife doesn’t seem to have this problem).

But this isn’t a dealbreaker as I’m finding I don’t often need to reach for the front controls, anyway.  Why? Because the rig’s IR remote–or better yet, its smartphone app–control the radio effectively at any convenient distance from the radio.  Sweet.

Audio

como-audio-solo-speaker

I’m a sucker for quality audio fidelity, and I must admit that this was one of the biggest deciding factors in purchasing the Solo: it touted extraordinary audio in a modest package, being designed around an acoustic chamber/chassis containing a 3″ woofer and 3/4″ dome tweeter fueled by a 2 X 30 watt RMS amplifier. I was very curious whether it could live up to its initial claim.

After turning on the Solo for the first time, I immediately wanted to hear audio, so I put it in Bluetooth mode and played a few songs, ranging from Jazz to Electronica.

In a nutshell:  Wow.

The audio is strikingly reminiscent of my Tivoli Audio Model One…which is to say, it’s excellent. It packs more audio punch than any of the radios I reviewed in my WiFi radio comparison.

Out of the box, the audio is fairly well-balanced, too. But you can tweak the equalizer, and I did, drawing in a little more bass and treble.  My wife (also a bit of an audiophile) was impressed. And yes, the sound is all the more remarkable considering the radio’s relatively small form-factor:  little box, big voice.

FM Reception

como-audio-solo

The Como Audio Solo is one of the few Wifi radios on the market that has a built-in analog FM and DAB receiver (save the $120 Sangean WFR-28, which has analog FM reviewed here).

Since I live in the US, I can’t comment on DAB reception.  I have, however, had an opportunity to test the FM analog reception.  Keep in mind, I live in a rural area and require a decent FM receiver with telescopic antenna fully extended just to listen to my favorite regional programming.

When I tune the Solo to my benchmark FM stations, it can receive them–but not as effectively as many of my other radios, including the WFR-28. Even when forced to use the Mono setting only, the stations it receives carry too much static for good listening.  So obviously the Solo isn’t as sensitive as some of my other radios, at least in this setting. Indeed, few stations it receives in this area are able to lock in to the point that there’s no static in the received audio. For out-of-towners, this is a bit of a disappointment.

With this said, I imagine if you live in an urban area, the FM receiver should more than please you. I’ve no doubt it can faithfully reproduce beautiful audio from local FM outlets.

I should add that, while FM reception isn’t stellar for distant stations, the RDS information does convey even when the audio isn’t full fidelity.

WiFi radio

comoaudiosolo-internetradio

Of course, the main reason I purchased the Como Audio Solo was to use and review it as a WiFi radio…nothing at all to do with that sharp walnut chassis, or audio power.

As I outlined in my WiFi Radio primer, WiFi radios rely on station aggregators–extensive curated databases of radio stations–to surf and serve up the tens of thousands of streaming stations around the globe.

Based on feedback from Como Audio shortly after the Kickstarter launch, I was under the impression that the station aggregator of choice was vTuner. This concerned me, as vTuner’s reputation as an aggregator is somewhat maligned due to a series of documented faults and weaknesses.  Fortunately, this turned out not to be the case: after the initial confusion, I soon discovered Como had adopted the more robust Frontier Silicon aggregator, instead–a better choice.

Click here to read our primer on setting up your Como Audio product on the Frontier Silicon radio portal.

Since I’m a pretty big fan of Frontier Silicon and since I’ve already been using their service with my Sangean WFR-28, once I connected my radio to my user account, the WiFi portion of the radio felt identical to that of my WFR-28. Simply brilliant, as the Frontier Silicon radio portal gives the user flexibility to create station lists and folders with ease–all of which readily convey to the radio itself.

The Solo also features six dedicated memory buttons on the front panel for quick access to favorites.

Turns out, there’s also a comprehensive manual available online for download (click here).

Summary

 

como-audio-solo-bluetooth

And am I please with the Solo so far?

I’ll reply with a resounding “Yes!”

I love the Solo’s design–this certainly is a handsome product. Moreover, I love the audio, and am pleased that it delivers the fidelity promised by its Kickstarter campaign. The Solo and Duet are loaded with features, connections, Aux In and Aux Out audio and digital ports–more, in fact, than any similar device with which I’m familiar. I regret that the rig’s FM isn’t suited for country life, but the audio coupled with its stylish exterior do make up for this somewhat.

como-audio-solo-back

I do wish the Solo had an internal rechargeable battery option. Being able to move the receiver to different locations within a home or building could be a major plus for rural FM reception. As my friend John pointed out, however, the audio amplifier is robust enough, it might have been a challenge to implement an affordable-but-effective internal battery without compromising the audio amplifier’s needs.

In truth, I favor audio fidelity over portability for a tabletop radio.

 

In conclusion…do I have any backer’s remorse?  Absolutely not–!

In short, the Como Audio Solo is a keeper.  I’m still marvelling at this classy and dynamic radio that fills our home with rich beautiful audio. A few weeks in, the Solo has already become a permanent feature in our abode. It’s one of the few radios I have that meets my artist wife’s approval in terms of both design and audio.comoaudiosolo-fm

Great job, Como Audio!  If the Solo is any indication of radios to come, I’ll certainly be looking for your future innovations.

Click here to order the Como Audio Solo and Como Audio Duetto.

Spread the radio love