Simon Biagi with his DAB Radio

My listening goes digital

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Everything is going digital, as I’m sure you’ve noticed! I have had DAB radio for a few years, but mine is tethered to the mains power and I really notice the difference when I’m outdoors and have only FM stations to choose from. That’s why I was so interested in the VQ Hepburn II Portable DAB Radio that is going to be our Today’s Special Value on Thursday 16th June. This radio can run from mains power but it also comes with a battery pack, which means you are independent, and can go where the mood takes you – and take your sounds with you!

 So, what is DAB? Is it better than FM, and can anyone really tell the difference?

Well, Digital Audio Broadcasting is the technology that allows stations to broadcast radio digitally, in the same way that Freeview broadcasts digital television. One advantage is that a lot more stations can broadcast and they take up smaller frequency space.

With DAB, you never need to remember a station’s frequency, as the display on the radio shows the station names alphabetically and will often display lots of information on what’s happening on that channel at that moment. There are lots of extra digital-only stations, which an old-style analogue radio can’t receive, such as BBC6 Music, Talksport and some extra local and niche music stations. 

The signal will either be brilliantly crisp and clear, or it won’t be there at all. Only rarely do you hear anything in between: a rough DAB signal sounds like a Dalek gargling.

Simon enjoying the sunshine with his DAB radio

Some new models include a new standard, called DAB+, but there are no UK transmissions yet, so it’s not something you need worry about. Eccept, as far as I understand things, it gives you the ability to use it abroad and of course ‘future proofs’ you. A DAB+ audio signal also includes slightly better error correction, which might mean a reduction in ‘bubbling mud’ or other problems in poor reception areas. Apart from that, there are no real differences. DAB+ and DAB use the same transmitters, same multiplexing equipment, and so on, and DAB and DAB+ signals can happily live on the same DAB multiplex.

A DAB+ radio will also happily decode DAB signals as well (although a DAB radio won’t decode DAB+). Many DAB radios on sale today will cope with DAB+ automatically, or will prompt you with instructions on how to upgrade (which could be as easy as typing a code in or downloading some new firmware). Any radio with a Digital Radio tick-mark will cope with DAB+.

DAB+ is now the standard way to launch new DAB services, and is in use in, among other places, Australia, Norway, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, and many more countries. The main benefit is that you can get many more channels onto a typical DAB multiplex. Our Today’s Special Value has DAB+ so that’s good news.

VQ Hepburn II Portable DAB FM Radio

OK, techy bit over! Now about the style. It feels and looks great, with a clear nod to the retro look, but with all of the ease of use of the new technology – it’s the perfect marriage! The DAB radio comes in a variety of colours so there is bound to be one that suits your style and tastes. If you have never heard of DAB, then you will be blown away by how crisp it sounds and also how many channels there are that you couldn’t get on your FM radio.

Of course, because of the extra battery pack ( which normally costs quite a bit on top of the radio), you are free to take your radio outside to enjoy in the fabulous summer we will have! Join me on Thursday to hear all about it and the brilliant VQ Hepburn II Portable DAB FM Radio!

Simon X

Follow me on Twitter @simonbiagi

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