DAB digital radios have been on sale in Britain for years now, but many people have yet to make the switch over.
As someone who has done so, I have to say that the extra stations available on the platform, the better sound quality and the ease of use, which all come with DAB, makes switching from plain old FM well worth it.
Having these extra channels to choose from – usually double the number of what’s available on FM/AM – is obviously a key selling point of DAB. The increased choice means more space for more niche and genre-specific stations, so whether it’s classical, metal or 1980’s cheese, you will find it on DAB.
DAB sounds a lot better too. The digital signal means that the crackling and feedback you associate with regular radio is minimised and it will never cut out because there’s heavy rain outside.
All DAB radios come with a digital display and let you tune into your favourites by name rather than frequency, simply selecting Radio 1 rather than having to run a dial between 97 and 99 FM in order to find it. Having this display also allows stations to send out information, so they can show what song is currently playing or update you on the latest Premier League results or news headlines.
Many DAB devices also allow you to record directly from the radio onto a memory card, for playback later, or to pause live shows while you nip to the loo or put the kettle on. You can then start again from where you left off.
DAB covers 90% of the UK but not every channel will necessarily have a strong signal in your area. To find out more about DAB, check coverage in your area or see what stations are on the dial, see http://www.getdigitalradio.com
Whether you’re a long-time lover of digital radio, or discovering it for the first time, I’ve put together a handy guide to the best systems to suit your needs and budget.
BEST FOR VALUE – Sony XDR-S55DAB
The main thing that puts people off upgrading to DAB is the perceived cost. Better sound quality, more stations and cool features shouldn’t come cheap. Yet there are lots of affordable radios out there, including many from top brands. This mains or battery operated device from Sony caught my eye as it looks like a traditional kitchen top radio, but is packed with the latest technology. Coming in at under £45, it’s the perfect starting point for a DAB adventure.
BEST FOR FEATURES – Pure AVANTI Flow
Of course, there are systems at the other end of the price spectrum too – but in the case of this top ranged product from Pure you really do get what you pay for. This isn’t just any old DAB radio, but what the company calls a “complete connected table-top digital audio system”. What that means, in regular English, is that as well as DAB and FM stations, it also streams music from the internet and tracks stored on your home computer, opening up thousands of new channels, podcasts and the family library for your listening pleasure. And if that’s not enough music for you, you can even dock an iPod or plug in an MP3 player.
BEST FOR MUSIC ON THE MOVE – Pure PocketDAB 1500
Once you discover DAB radio, the likelihood is you won’t want to be without it. But there are plenty of places where taking your home system just isn’t practical or appropriate. From a football match to an aeroplane, this portable stereo gives you access to your favourite DAB and FM stations – with all the standard features you’d expect from bigger machines. You can listen for 24 hours solid before the player needs to be recharged and it even comes with a pair of sleek Sennheiser MX 300 in-ear headphones so you can keep all that sound to yourself.
BEST ALL ROUNDER – Pure Evoke 3
Rated as a ‘Best Buy’ by Which? Magazine, this is jam-packed with features, including the ability to record up to 30 hours of programming onto a memory card, pause and rewind live broadcasts and a seven-day programme guide.
With so much technology available on DAB, just remember one basic but important tip. Always extend the aerial. It might just help!