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DAB car radio signal

Posts: 1,320
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Registered: ‎01-08-2007

DAB car radio signal

We’ve recently bought a car with a DAB radio which as it happens I’ve got it booked in (under warranty) as it has specific issues and only gives me the choice of the BBC DAB stations despite retuning / rescanning and my favourite station, BBC 6Music, spends most of the time ‘Station Unavailable’. Despite all of that, I’m wondering what the DAB signal and reception is like over the country?   

I’ve heard that it’s not great which probably explains why FM radio is still popular

Seasoned Hero
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Registered: ‎30-06-2016

Re: DAB car radio signal

Aspiring Legend
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Registered: ‎04-11-2014

Re: DAB car radio signal

Pretty bad I'd say.

Not a car obviously, but bought a DAB radio for our house here in Wales about three years back only to find there is no coverage in our area.  


...and the link supplied by @Baldrick1  confirms this is still the case. 


I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
Thomas A. Edison
Community Veteran
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Registered: ‎23-09-2010

Re: DAB car radio signal

Despite being in a city my DAB signal indoors is dire even with an aerial.

I'd hate to have one in my car.

I guess it would be fine if the station was in the middle of a roundabout and all I did was drive around and around it.Smiley

Seasoned Hero
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Registered: ‎30-06-2016

Re: DAB car radio signal

I guess it’s the luck of the draw. I have three in the house and they all work faultlessly.

I also have a dual band DAB/FM radio in my Toyota. Whilst it is tuned to the DAB band and it works fine in this mode I also have the same stations programmed into the FM band. I noticed that without doing this I was not picking up local travel news so I don’t really know which it uses a lot of the time.

It seems that we are a long way from when it would be acceptable to switch off FM.

Seasoned Pro
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Registered: ‎22-11-2014

Re: DAB car radio signal

I have DAB in my work van as my station is only available digital to me. Unlike FM, when the signal is bad, it drops out completely. There are vast swathes of the countryside where there is no signal. Around the Shrewsbury area yesterday were plenty of not spots. Wales can be patchy, especially around Snowdonia. Even on the A1 at Stevenage it can drop out occasionally. I hav a DAB on my personal car, but had to have an amplified splitter fitted as it had an old aerial. Reception is worse on the aftermarket than on the factory fitted.


Seasoned Champion
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Registered: ‎21-11-2018

Re: DAB car radio signal

We have two 'portable' ( LOL ) DAB radios in the house - but they eat batteries like a hungry dog eats PAL.   I should have seen the signs when one had 6 x 'C' size cells required,  and the other one had 6 x AA cells.   Well the batteries in both give you a massive 4 hours of use,  so guess what - they are plugged in when used and the worrying thing is that the power supply runs very hot.  My wife has a Sony FM / AM with 3x AA batteries that get used about an hour a day and the batteries last months. 

By the way they are dual band BAB / FM and I still listen to FM, why - because the quality is much better.  Seems we adopted the worst system ( being first is not always a good thing ) and various others came along later,  and limiting the bandwidth to cram too many stations in did not do anything for the quality.  There is a built in 'signal processing delay' in the digital circuitry which varies between makers, so you don't get instant sound like FM ( where you can have time signal pips ) - you get a delay like the old badly dubbed films where the lips move but the sound arrives a bit later.


DAB was sold as better quality,  but it is a 'Lossy' format like MP3 / 4 - where they chop bits out to make files smaller and hope you don't notice - but you do.   It was more an exercise in cramming in more stations than improving quality.


Because the bits are broadcast one after the other ( like transferring computer data ) if the system misses one bit it puts the following ones out of synch and will stutter until the system can catch up ( on digital TV you see this as that annoying pixelation sometimes).