Whatever happened to DAB?

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Gaffer

Wammer
Wammer
Aug 22, 2005
433
59
0
South Blighty
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
So I have a lovely vintage tuner (well, lovely after I figured out how to use the thing - that smaller meter on the left tells you which "side" of the strongest signal you're on and the other one is the signal strength - can get a great sound most of the time on FM too  :^ ):

LwRUa0g.jpg


...but quite a few other retro tuners have started catching my eye on fleaBay. I have to restrain myself otherwise before long I'd have 4-5 extra tuners (all <£20) sitting in my room o_O , but then I thought "seeing as my actual FM Tuner works fine, why am I looking at the same thing, why not get a DAB+ tuner?"
My DAB experience up to now hasn't been stellar with my first DAB car (Pioneer stereo) often having horrible garbled rubbish and poor SQ and my alarm/radio in the house not faring much better (as a result if which I haven't switched it on for >1yr). However, my current car has built in DAB+ and sounds great - never a dropped signal and great reception making me think I'd give it another chance. 

So off I go to all the major manufacturers websites to see what Hi-Fi component DAB+ tuners I should be looking for:

Denon? Nope, nothing (although their pro/studio side does sell a rack mounted one)
Sony? Nope - nothing on their website too....

...in fact, here's a selection of what I found (or rather didn't find) on each site's CURRENT catalogue (looking for full-size standalone Tuners not Receivers or Streamers or Micro Boxes etc):

No DAB+ Hi-Fi separates component being sold:
Denon
Musical Fidelity
Sony
Arcam
Naim
Quad
Pure/VideoLogic
Chord
Meridian
Cyrus
Marantz
NAD
Krell
McIntosh

At least one DAB+ Hi-Fi separates component being sold:
Onkyo
Yamaha
Technics
Rotel (one of the few that sells 2 models)

Now with the govt still undecided as to what to do (AFAIK we will run a hybrid system of both FM and DAB+ for the foreseeable future) but with most major manufacturers apparently no longer supporting it, is DAB+ a bust?
Seeing as internet broadcast streams    http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/hifi.asp    have MUCH higher bitrates anyway, is that the final nail in DAB's coffin (why listen free-to-air at a poxy 64kbps mono when you can stream 256kbps AAC stereo online)?

I'm actually genuinely surprised that after the initial 2000's push for DAB (and things like the Pure 702 series) no one seems to care anymore? I would be unhappy if we did a Norway and switched off FM completely but on the other hand I would've thought there'd be at least SOME interest out there for DAB wouldn't there (and a resultant push to develop it further)?

 

sunbeamgls

Wammer
Wammer Plus
Mar 19, 2011
4,966
1,997
193
North Wales
HiFi Trade?
  1. Yes
My experience is that the vast majority of Internet stations (I think I saw 28,000+ the last time I looked) stream at 128kbps or less, so they're not good.

But that doesn't stop people using them, and is probably impacting on why hifi manufacturers aren't producing DAB very much - their streamers to the Internet thing instead. 

However, there are lots of "kitchen" radios, compact all-in-ones and car stereos that support DAB and they seem to have sold very well.  I don't see it evolving further, but I expect it will continue to build on existing sales and use.

I noted today that Naim are offering a DAB module for some of the current Uniti range, so someone's still interested :)

 
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plasticpenguin

Legend Wammer
Wammer
Aug 8, 2018
6,170
2,833
148
Bookham, Surrey
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
So I have a lovely vintage tuner (well, lovely after I figured out how to use the thing - that smaller meter on the left tells you which "side" of the strongest signal you're on and the other one is the signal strength - can get a great sound most of the time on FM too  :^ ):



...but quite a few other retro tuners have started catching my eye on fleaBay. I have to restrain myself otherwise before long I'd have 4-5 extra tuners (all <£20) sitting in my room o_O , but then I thought "seeing as my actual FM Tuner works fine, why am I looking at the same thing, why not get a DAB+ tuner?"
My DAB experience up to now hasn't been stellar with my first DAB car (Pioneer stereo) often having horrible garbled rubbish and poor SQ and my alarm/radio in the house not faring much better (as a result if which I haven't switched it on for >1yr). However, my current car has built in DAB+ and sounds great - never a dropped signal and great reception making me think I'd give it another chance. 

So off I go to all the major manufacturers websites to see what Hi-Fi component DAB+ tuners I should be looking for:

Denon? Nope, nothing (although their pro/studio side does sell a rack mounted one)
Sony? Nope - nothing on their website too....

...in fact, here's a selection of what I found (or rather didn't find) on each site's CURRENT catalogue (looking for full-size standalone Tuners not Receivers or Streamers or Micro Boxes etc):

No DAB+ Hi-Fi separates component being sold:
Denon
Musical Fidelity
Sony
Arcam
Naim
Quad
Pure/VideoLogic
Chord
Meridian
Cyrus
Marantz
NAD
Krell
McIntosh

At least one DAB+ Hi-Fi separates component being sold:
Onkyo
Yamaha
Technics
Rotel (one of the few that sells 2 models)

Now with the govt still undecided as to what to do (AFAIK we will run a hybrid system of both FM and DAB+ for the foreseeable future) but with most major manufacturers apparently no longer supporting it, is DAB+ a bust?
Seeing as internet broadcast streams    http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/hifi.asp    have MUCH higher bitrates anyway, is that the final nail in DAB's coffin (why listen free-to-air at a poxy 64kbps mono when you can stream 256kbps AAC stereo online)?

I'm actually genuinely surprised that after the initial 2000's push for DAB (and things like the Pure 702 series) no one seems to care anymore? I would be unhappy if we did a Norway and switched off FM completely but on the other hand I would've thought there'd be at least SOME interest out there for DAB wouldn't there (and a resultant push to develop it further)?
Biggest problem with DAB is FM, Freeview and streaming. Initially DAB was the future (or promoted as that) but soon people cottoned on: The signal isn't great, the sound quality is insipid. It seems only the majority of table top radios are now DAB.

 

dave

incurable tinkerer
Wammer
Mar 24, 2014
1,296
603
148
cambs
AKA
dave
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I picked up a Philips DAB752 on ebay a while ago, i did not get on with it to start with but glad I persisted, I must qualify i only listen to radio 3, but I really can't fault it, I am sure better could be had but it has no obvious annoyances,  (apart from totally manual tuning, i.e. entering the multiplex frequency on the key pad, and an annoying relay that keeps clicking, something to do with signal quality, and the power switch is on the back), with the sound

dab752.jpg

I have some nice FM tuners but there is too much noise in my house, even with a distributed loft mounted aerial. (damn you cheap LED lighting) I also use a free view tuner in my other setup.

 
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Sam Vimes

Wammer
Wammer
Nov 25, 2016
491
363
0
North Yorkshire
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Those that value hi-fi tend to complain that the SQ of DAB is not a match for FM. That explains well enough why you tend not to find separate DAB tuners in most hi-fi manufacturers line ups. What I find more of a surprise is that so many still bother with FM tuners. I'm more than happy to cut the box count and get radio broadcasts through Freeview or streamed. I see little future for DAB beyond the in car environment and small portable devices. The only reason that DAB isn't a dead duck already is that its main purpose was to be more bandwidth efficient than standard radio broadcasting.

 

uzzy

Grumpy Old Git
Wammer
Apr 16, 2006
7,848
3,615
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NN38TA Northampton
AKA
David
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I am not a "hifi" listener on the radio.  There is not dedicated Rock channel on FM so I cannot listen to the music I want to.  I use the radio to wake up, in the car and to listen to find new Rock Music to buy.  So my FM tuner bit the dust (I have two a Sony and a Sansui).   i love DAB in the car (loads of stations and no drop out and retuning all the time) .. as for hifi a number of tuners come with FM as well as DAB.   it will be a slow transition but just like TV t some point the analogue broadcasts will eventually be phased out.  

As my use of radio is to seek out new music to buy I guess my next step is to get into streaming internet radio.  If anyone can recommend a nice machine that hooks into the wifi but does not need to be linked to a computer or mobile phone to stream internet radio stations (and is cheap as chips) please send me a pm with the recommendation.

Not that it has owt to do with hifi but it did make me think, I was watching an old Clint Eastwood Movie the other night (not on HD) and the colours were crisp and vibrant and it was nice and bright and the speech was lovely and clear- yet most films these days seem to be in partial darkness (or at least dim by comparison) and the voices tend to be mumbling)  anyone got any ideas why?  It might just be that analogue film and sound was just better perhaps?   Please do not respond on this .. I just couldn't resist.

 

nomore landings

Newbie
Wammer
Aug 27, 2018
194
168
48
SE Dorset
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Look no further than New Labour. Minister  T Jowell decided, in her infinite wisdom, not to adapt the superior DAB+ in favour of retaining horrible low bit rate DAB in the UK. Not the only example of dumbed -down quantity over quality decisions with dire long term consequences.

Meanwhile Radio Paradise, which thankfully moved location prior to the tragic fire that destroyed the town of that name in northern California, is a trail blazer for high fidelity radio streaming. Launched 18 months ago, their app supports lossless FLAC and very good it is too, IMHO. No adverts or moronic DJs. You can also download 6 hours of content to play off line on the beach or in the car and 320AAC streams live via 4G.

Hi Uzzy,

I stream RP using my iPad into the Marantz SA14S1se's DAC. Cheap solution and excellent SQ. Also same method into Denon AVR6200x - much better SQ than inbuilt MP3 vtuner.

 
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uzzy

Grumpy Old Git
Wammer
Apr 16, 2006
7,848
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NN38TA Northampton
AKA
David
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I stream RP using my iPad
That would mean having to buy an Ipad lol .. I use a Moto G mobile (cost me less than £80 new - battery lasts for yonks and no way would I buy an Iphone.  Perhaps I will have to succumb one day but i will resist for as long as possible :D  

 

MartinC

Wammer
Wammer
Jul 29, 2005
8,784
4,972
158
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
DAB could have been good, but rather than prioritising sound quality (as the people who created it hoped),  being able to offer more channels won out.

BBC DAB is lower quality than their Freeview, Freesat and streaming services:

https://www.astra2sat.com/radio/uk-digital-radio-bitrates/

Edit: consequently I've never owned a DAB radio, switching from FM to Freeview and now streaming.

 
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Gaffer

Wammer
Wammer
Aug 22, 2005
433
59
0
South Blighty
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I agree, SQ is generally poor. The problem is the Govt has already identified a minimum of 256kbps (or perhaps 192 in some instances), but then didn't specify that as a minimum by denying licenses to broadcasters who try to give us less. Unfortunately money talks, so the broadcasters simply try to cram as many 64kbps mono channels as they can in to the bandwidth  :doh: .

I would've hoped by trying to increase interest in DAB, that would drive the tech forward - but we appear to be stuck 15yrs in the past....

Talking of internet radio, having a closer look at the Rotel T14 and it is also an internet radio streamer.....but they're charging £700 for it  :shock: ......flock me, is it made of gold?

I have a raspberry pi upstairs gathering dust, I'm sure I could try and cobble an internet radio together from that to go into my Hi-Fi's DAC for under £50  :grrr:

 

Bazzer

🐺
Staff member
Oct 22, 2009
30,003
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173
West Cheshire
AKA
Barry
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Talking of internet radio, having a closer look at the Rotel T14 and it is also an internet radio streamer.....but they're charging £700 for it  :shock: ......flock me, is it made of gold?
Doesn't even have an Ethernet input , Wi Fi only.

 

Bolosun

Wammer
Wammer
Oct 26, 2013
591
201
63
I listen to DAB every day around the house and in the car. I don’t consider it hi-fi in any way, just a convenient way of listening to the radio, mainly Planet Rock. 

 

mr neds

Wammer
Wammer
May 6, 2008
1,503
570
158
SE London, , Uk
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I pretty much only listen to BBC 6, as it plays a good cross section of the kind of things I like. I had a Videologic 601 tuner, but they had that memory loss problem if you didn’t run them every day. Last year I bought a used Cambridge audio 640 T for about £30, which sounds cleaner and looks nicer. However, I don’t expect audio miracles from it. Currently listening to Spotify on my new Chromecast audio, via the analogue output, which sounds indecently good. The modern world, eh?

 

Bodgit

Wammer
Wammer
Feb 27, 2019
919
432
83
Woking
AKA
David
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I have a DAB separates tuner in the man cave, signal is pretty poor which means most of the time the sound is noisy or garbled...no doubt not helped by the pathetic bit-of-wire-aerial.

 

StingRay

Legend Wammer
Wammer
Apr 27, 2016
8,814
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Suffolk, UK
AKA
Ray
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Cars still use analogue and new cars can use internet radio. Demand for DAB does not seem strong so I guess not much money will be spent on developing it. I have far more problems with digital TV reception than I ever did with analogue. I think internet radio is the way to go, stations such as Radio Paradise have far better sound quality than you will ever get with DAB. UK radio I find very poor music choice anyway. 

 

Beobloke

Wammer
Wammer
Jul 29, 2005
6,864
2,246
158
AKA
Adam
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Ignoring for a moment the tranmsission quality and the program material, I am still dubious over the alleged technological advantages of DAB. I still have a marginal DAB signal in my house, although FM is fine, and I was pondering the issues recently as my new car has been without a radio aerial for the last week. As a result FM was very patchy and hissy, and would drop out briefly on occasions, but it was just about listenable. However, DAB would have been completely silent in these conditions, in the same way that digital TV in our old house completely vanished if it rained, whereas the old analogue signal was always there, just a bit 'snowy'.

DAB to me is not an example of technical progress and, as an engineer, this irritates me. The word "digital" is not a synonym for "better", but too many people automatically think it is.

 
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MartinC

Wammer
Wammer
Jul 29, 2005
8,784
4,972
158
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Cars still use analogue and new cars can use internet radio. Demand for DAB does not seem strong so I guess not much money will be spent on developing it. I have far more problems with digital TV reception than I ever did with analogue. I think internet radio is the way to go, stations such as Radio Paradise have far better sound quality than you will ever get with DAB. UK radio I find very poor music choice anyway. 
I have a relatively old car and it still has an FM radio. I'd have thought whatever data network a car could used for streamed radio would have coverage that was too patchy though?