DAB and FM Tuners Buying Guide
AM and FM tuners are an essential part of any system for receiving local and national radio stations, most if not all Hi Fi Amplifiers will have a tuner input so adding a tuner is just a plug and play option. There are many products and major brands to choose from. First decide what features you require, such as DAB or just AM/FM or even just FM, try and match the quality of the tuner with the quality of your system.
FM has been historically a brilliant system for the transmission of radio stations, good quality, full bandwidth transmissions that are clean from the usual interference that is expected from AM transmissions. Because of the full bandwidth experienced by FM radios and the millions of consumers that have FM radio in the home as well as in the car, DAB has been hesitant in replacing FM. The Government was expected to set a date whereby all FM radio stations would close but in 2013 Ed Vaizey, the then communications minister, told the industry much more needed to be done to persuade listeners to convert to DAB before a date can be set, so for the future FM will continue to dominate.
Do I need an Aerial
Most AM/FM radios come with a built in aerial, but it's always wise to check before you buy. Dab digital radios are no different and usually feature either a standard telescopic aerial or built in. if you live within the coverage area then this is usually sufficient to pick up a signal. If you are receiving a clear signal then there's no need to install an external aerial. If you live on the fringes of your local radio area and your reception is poor then it may be beneficial to install an outside aerial.
History of DAB
Launched in 1995, DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting). It was initially conceived to improve upon the quality of FM broadcasting, but many radio stations have dropped back to MPEG2 for bandwidth reasons. In 2007, DAB+ was introduced with a view to improving DAB quality, but has yet to be accepted here in the UK, although many DAB products now available are also compatible with DAB+ should this format be accepted.
Features of DAB
DAB radio allows more stations to be broadcast as digital broadcasting is more efficient than analogue, giving you a wider choice of stations to choose from. For the stations that broadcast it, “radiotext” gives the listener information such as song titles, artist names, and traffic news, much like RDS. Most DAB radios will show the current time, which automatically updates for different time zones and daylight savings time. As DAB doesn’t rely on frequencies to tune to a station, it is easier to select stations – just scroll the list of stations and select – and all via remote control from your armchair.
Whilst DAB radio reduces background noise, many radio stations have dropped down to MPEG2 compression for bandwidth reasons, which means a good quality FM radio still sounds best. Like a Compact Disc Player, a DAB radio is a solid state product, so the main variance in sound quality is down to the quality of digital to analogue conversion performed inside the player. A digital output is sometimes provided in order to connect to a higher quality DAC for better sound quality.
Most stand-alone radios nowadays are DAB equipped, but more and more are becoming “network enabled” too, allowing access to internet radio stations worldwide as well as national analogue and digital ones, opening up your choice of stations and music further still. Network enabled DAB radios also allow the streaming of any music stored on your local network.
DAB+ is an upgraded version of the technology used to bring you DAB digital radio. It is more spectrum efficient than DAB, therefore enabling more radio stations to be broadcast within the same amount of capacity.
One of the good things about radio is that it is free! With over 20,000 radio stations worldwide, an internet radio is one of the most cost effective ways of gaining access to virtually every genre of music out there absolutely free of charge.