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Old 22-01-2012, 10:25
chunkymagmonkey
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I understand that there are moves a foot to replace FM services with DAB, but how realistic is this in terms of providing equivalent coverage?

I have a Pure Highway, which I use on an occasional basis in the car. A couple of weeks ago I had to travel from Sunderland to the Cockermouth area of West Cumbria and experienced some interesting reception results listening to Smooth 70s on Digital 1 National. The reception was fine when travelling along the A1231 from Sunderland to the A1 near Gateshead, it then broke up a bit when travelling in the part of the Tyne Valley near the Metro Centre and then returned when travelling along the A69 from Newcastle to Hexham. Between Hexham and Greenhead, west of Haltwhistle, the signal disappeared only reappearing in patches. Once I had climbed the bank at Greenhead it was restored and was pretty robust until I got to Wigton on the A595. From then onto Cockermouth it was generally ok, but disappeared when the car went into some dips.

I did not tune to the BBC National DAB whilst making the journey so I am not sure if the coverage is better. Can anybody answer the question?

If DAB is to replace FM the coverage will need to improve to fill the reception gaps. I have checked the Digital 1 website and it seems that their programme of building new transmitters has ceased. Ontop of that there is the ticklish problem of BBC Local Radio. In the North, neither BBC Cumbria or York broadcast on DAB. If FM is switched off, you won't be able to hear either stations. I am sure this problem occurs with BBC Local Radio in other parts of the country

Any views or advice would be appreciated.
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Old 22-01-2012, 10:31
Ten_Ben
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I've had the same experience. I bought a Highway assuming that I'd be able to listen to Absolute whilst driving around the country but the trouble is you keep losing reception - with DAB it just goes and you get silence or some cutting in and out whereas with AM at least you had some reception even if it was fuzzy. DAB on the move just doesn't work.
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Old 22-01-2012, 10:37
SouthCity
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I've had the same experience. I bought a Highway assuming that I'd be able to listen to Absolute whilst driving around the country but the trouble is you keep losing reception - with DAB it just goes and you get silence or some cutting in and out whereas with AM at least you had some reception even if it was fuzzy. DAB on the move just doesn't work.
It does work if you have a DAB car radio properly fitted with an external Band III aerial, rather than a makeshift piece of string stuck to the inside of the windscreen. I have driven a car with a factory-fitted DAB and there are hardly any dropouts on the BBC national multiplex or on Digital 1.

The BBC's current coverage is 93.8% and they will extend this to 97.2% by 2015.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/spe..._digital.shtml

Local radio should be sorted after Ofcom have produced their final report on coverage (due Q1 2012).

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/con...ning/statement
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Old 22-01-2012, 12:16
Colin_London
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I understand that there are moves a foot to replace FM services with DAB, but how realistic is this in terms of providing equivalent coverage?

I have a Pure Highway, which I use on an occasional basis in the car. A couple of weeks ago I had to travel from Sunderland to the Cockermouth area of West Cumbria and experienced some interesting reception results listening to Smooth 70s on Digital 1 National. The reception was fine when travelling along the A1231 from Sunderland to the A1 near Gateshead, it then broke up a bit when travelling in the part of the Tyne Valley near the Metro Centre and then returned when travelling along the A69 from Newcastle to Hexham. Between Hexham and Greenhead, west of Haltwhistle, the signal disappeared only reappearing in patches. Once I had climbed the bank at Greenhead it was restored and was pretty robust until I got to Wigton on the A595. From then onto Cockermouth it was generally ok, but disappeared when the car went into some dips.

I did not tune to the BBC National DAB whilst making the journey so I am not sure if the coverage is better. Can anybody answer the question?

If DAB is to replace FM the coverage will need to improve to fill the reception gaps. I have checked the Digital 1 website and it seems that their programme of building new transmitters has ceased. Ontop of that there is the ticklish problem of BBC Local Radio. In the North, neither BBC Cumbria or York broadcast on DAB. If FM is switched off, you won't be able to hear either stations. I am sure this problem occurs with BBC Local Radio in other parts of the country

Any views or advice would be appreciated.
I'm afraid when you mentioned 'Pure Highway' that it became clear that you do not have a suitable radio installation in your car to be making comparisons of FM and DAB coverage.

You need to have a properly fitted, preferably factory fitted external aerial system to be able to directly compare the two.

Windscreen mounted wire antennas are certainly not adequate. Imagine running your FM radio off the same arrangement and you can probably appreciate better the disadvantage DAB has.

The simple answer is that DAB radios need to be factory fitted to all new cars before switchover can be considered. This still hasn't happened, although the day is coming closer because Germany has just gotten national DAB+, which will certainly give impetus to the manufacturers who don't want to have to make specials for the UK alone.

Personally I find BBC National and D1 coverage solid everywhere I go normally in my VW Golf with factory fitted DAB. Even on long trips back to my parents BBC DAB is solid all the way from Essex to Pembrokeshire, although D1 does break up briefly at Membury services and is patch west of Carmarthen.
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Old 22-01-2012, 12:21
Colin_London
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I've had the same experience. I bought a Highway assuming that I'd be able to listen to Absolute whilst driving around the country but the trouble is you keep losing reception - with DAB it just goes and you get silence or some cutting in and out whereas with AM at least you had some reception even if it was fuzzy. DAB on the move just doesn't work.
DAB on the move does work, in fact it works very well indeed, and much better than FM for me*

Your problem is your Pure Highway

* (Because Pirates cause lots of problems with FM reception hereabouts, and my car radio also seems to reproduce DAB better than FM).
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Old 22-01-2012, 12:27
noise747
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FM will be replaced at some point, this country have a habit of replacing a decent system with rubbish, you only have to look at our T.v service.
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Old 22-01-2012, 12:51
lundavra
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I'm afraid when you mentioned 'Pure Highway' that it became clear that you do not have a suitable radio installation in your car to be making comparisons of FM and DAB coverage.

You need to have a properly fitted, preferably factory fitted external aerial system to be able to directly compare the two.

Windscreen mounted wire antennas are certainly not adequate. Imagine running your FM radio off the same arrangement and you can probably appreciate better the disadvantage DAB has.

The simple answer is that DAB radios need to be factory fitted to all new cars before switchover can be considered. This still hasn't happened, although the day is coming closer because Germany has just gotten national DAB+, which will certainly give impetus to the manufacturers who don't want to have to make specials for the UK alone.

Personally I find BBC National and D1 coverage solid everywhere I go normally in my VW Golf with factory fitted DAB. Even on long trips back to my parents BBC DAB is solid all the way from Essex to Pembrokeshire, although D1 does break up briefly at Membury services and is patch west of Carmarthen.
I use the magnetic mount roof antenna with my Highway. I would upgrade the standard radio if I could so it is the next best option.

I held DAB reception from half-way down Loch Lomond to Falmouth, only losing briefly on the M74 and Tebay on the M6 (where VHF FM is also rubbish).

But most of the time I leave the antenna lying on top of the dashboard behind the Highway as it works fine like there where is good coverage as around here - I don't think you could get away with that on VHF FM!
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Old 22-01-2012, 12:54
lundavra
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FM will be replaced at some point, this country have a habit of replacing a decent system with rubbish, you only have to look at our T.v service.
Was UHF System I rubbish compared with VHF System A ?
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Old 22-01-2012, 13:00
JELLIES0
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DAB seems a better system than FM to me. The fact that the same radio station can have transmitters at numerous locations on the same DAB frequency without them causing mutual interference means that much higher power can be used.
Our local DAB transmitters puts out 1KW on BBC radios One to Four, whereas the FM transmitter has a mere 50 watts. The reception here is much much better.
I am not at all bothered about the loss of the FM transmitters.
I am very concerned about losing both medium and long wave though. Radio Four long wave is just so convenient and easy to use. It can be heard on a portable receiver in the most difficult of locations.
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Old 22-01-2012, 13:05
ScotchMisst
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I did years ago. We went digital for TV but radio reception is rubbish, no mw at all, so I listen on DAB and Sky, it's great, I've only lost the signal once in several years, that was during a storm.

We were scheduled for a transmitter upgrade as we can only get the basic BBC package, but apparently the funding has been pulled. Shame.
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Old 22-01-2012, 13:16
bowland37
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If we had waited and gone for DAB+ on the existing 88-108 band with a set switchover date as with TV I think things would be a lot better.

The frequency used for DAB is too high meaning more transmitters are needed.
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Old 22-01-2012, 13:39
Richard_T
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Why should people change their radios from the current FM receivers to DAB?
With TV weve seen a few changes, both in theTvs themselves moving from big heavy CRT models, to flatter LCD/LED/plasma TVs that are capable of showing HD content with built in digital tuners this shift from standard definition CRT to high definition flatscreen TV has almost co-incided with the switch to digital TV.
whats the equivalant in radio?
why doesnt digital radio offer crystal clear "high definition" audio?
why cant i get a digital radio with batteries that last signifficantly longer than those on an old FM radio?
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Old 22-01-2012, 13:54
Inkblot
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why cant i get a digital radio with batteries that last signifficantly longer than those on an old FM radio?
It depends on what you mean by "an old FM radio". Cheap and cheerful old FM radios used mechanical analogue tuners which didn't use much power but were inaccurate and drifted off channel. More modern FM radios used digital displays which were more accurate and reliable, and often had presets, but were more power-hungry. Modern DAB radios can offer up to 150 hours battery life which is much better than many modern FM radios, but not in the same league as old-school FM portables.

By the way, I remember listening to Capital Radio in the 80s and they advised listeners to use FM for mains-powered radios but AM for portables because AM reception used less power!
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Old 22-01-2012, 14:04
Ten_Ben
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Why should people change their radios from the current FM receivers to DAB? With TV weve seen a few changes, both in theTvs themselves moving from big heavy CRT models, to flatter LCD/LED/plasma TVs that are capable of showing HD content with built in digital tuners this shift from standard definition CRT to high definition flatscreen TV has almost co-incided with the switch to digital TV.
whats the equivalant in radio?
why doesnt digital radio offer crystal clear "high definition" audio?why cant i get a digital radio with batteries that last signifficantly longer than those on an old FM radio?
Good point - how is moving from FM stereo to DAB mono ever going to be an improvement?
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Old 22-01-2012, 14:36
Bangers
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Anyone that has driven a car with a factory fitted DAB or even a retro fitted DAB head unit will appreciate what an amazing experience is.

The Pure Highway is good, but it ain't nothing on a proper unit.

Sadly a lot of people don't realise that their standard in car radio head unit can be swapped out for a proper unit from the likes of JVC and Kenwood. These units even are compatible with things like steering wheel controls.

My advice if you can is to spend 150 on a unit from JVC or Kenwood that will do DAB (and other features like MP3/Bluetooth etc) and another 50 on professional fitting from a local audio fitter and be prepared to be blown away buy an amazing in car experience.

For anyone with an in-built SatNav system or who really doesn't want to change their radio, consider the more expensive, new, Pure Highway 300Di, but get it installed by a proper ICE fitter and not Halfords!
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Old 22-01-2012, 15:39
Bundyman
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Good point - how is moving from FM stereo to DAB mono ever going to be an improvement?
It's not.

DAB is a radio industry thing & it's been driven by them & the advice they have given governments, rather than the consumer.

Most people i have spoken to both in & out of radio are more than happy with FM & don't want DAB, especially with it's poor sound levels.
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Old 22-01-2012, 15:58
SouthCity
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It's not.

DAB is a radio industry thing & it's been driven by them & the advice they have given governments, rather than the consumer.

Most people i have spoken to both in & out of radio are more than happy with FM & don't want DAB, especially with it's poor sound levels.
Those "most people " are obviously not listeners to 6 Music, 4 Extra, Jazz FM, Absolute 80s, Planet Rock etc.

For the past few days the Aussie Open tennis commentary was nowhere to be heard on analogue radio, just like the European Cup rugby, Super League, Championship football and NFL coverage.

Radio 5 Live (and Gold, talkSPORT & Absolute) at night on analogue are OK if you can put up with a high-pitched whistle in the background, and the BBC's Olympics Extra station will only be on digital, as will some of the Euro 2012 matches.

I wonder who the "most people" are that only need FM.
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Old 22-01-2012, 16:28
lundavra
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Good point - how is moving from FM stereo to DAB mono ever going to be an improvement?
Because VHF FM often gives poor reception in many locations, the proponents of it tend to be line of sight to a main station using a good quality tuner and fixed antenna. DAB will usually be much better mobile or on a portable receiver.
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Old 22-01-2012, 16:32
lundavra
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It's not.

DAB is a radio industry thing & it's been driven by them & the advice they have given governments, rather than the consumer.

Most people i have spoken to both in & out of radio are more than happy with FM & don't want DAB, especially with it's poor sound levels.
How do you think VHF FM happened, Armstrong made a lot of money from his patents i.e. industry. The BBC initially promoted VHF FM in the UK because that was the way things happened but the I think the change from Medium Wave to VHF FM came from the government.
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Old 22-01-2012, 16:38
SouthCity
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How do you think VHF FM happened, Armstrong made a lot of money from his patents i.e. industry. The BBC initially promoted VHF FM in the UK because that was the way things happened but the I think the change from Medium Wave to VHF FM came from the government.
FM only really took off when:

Radio 1 launched on FM, the commercial stations split their output on FM/AM, Radios 2 & 3 switched off their AM services, Classic FM launched.

All of that happened in a 4-year period between 1988-92. Three of those were Government-led, the Radio 1 FM rollout was initiated by the BBC.
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Old 22-01-2012, 16:42
chunkymagmonkey
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I'm afraid when you mentioned 'Pure Highway' that it became clear that you do not have a suitable radio installation in your car to be making comparisons of FM and DAB coverage.

You need to have a properly fitted, preferably factory fitted external aerial system to be able to directly compare the two.

Windscreen mounted wire antennas are certainly not adequate. Imagine running your FM radio off the same arrangement and you can probably appreciate better the disadvantage DAB has.

The simple answer is that DAB radios need to be factory fitted to all new cars before switchover can be considered. This still hasn't happened, although the day is coming closer because Germany has just gotten national DAB+, which will certainly give impetus to the manufacturers who don't want to have to make specials for the UK alone.

Personally I find BBC National and D1 coverage solid everywhere I go normally in my VW Golf with factory fitted DAB. Even on long trips back to my parents BBC DAB is solid all the way from Essex to Pembrokeshire, although D1 does break up briefly at Membury services and is patch west of Carmarthen.
I accept that a roof mounted aerial would give better results that the window mounted aerial but I wonder if Digital 1 or the multiplex operators will have the cash to install additional transmitters to fill the gaps in areas, which are sparsely populated. Going back to my example, the 20 mile stretch of the A69 between Hexham and Greenhead. This area lies in a valley which is currently served by a series of UHF TV relay stations. Reception from the main transmitters at Pontop Pike in County Durham and Caldbeck in Cumbria is very poor due to the intervening topography, so I do not think that even with a roof mounted aerial reception of Digital 1 would ok. (I stand to be corrected by anyone who has travelled along the A69 with a decent DAB aerial).

Whilst I could foresee the BBC being prepared to pay for the upgrading of the relay stations in the Tyne Valley, I do not see Digital 1 doing likewise. We could end up with a dual system which is emerging with the Freeview switch over where people who receive channels from the main transmitters receive a full range of stations whereas those living in rural areas receive a more limited number.

Widening out the discussion to the use of DAB radios in the house (we have three at home!), reception is less reliable than the conventional FM radios. I find that the signal varies alot across the room and can be badly afftected by other electrical equipment like laptops!
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Old 22-01-2012, 16:51
SouthCity
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Haydon Bridge & Newton are both on the BBC's list of future transmitters for their national multiplex. Both of these and Haltwhistle are on the plan for the Tyne & Wear multiplex.

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/bin...Northumbe1.pdf

Sunderland Hendon is on the Digital 1 expansion list (BBC national is already on at this site).

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/bin...es/annex-d.pdf
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Old 22-01-2012, 17:13
chunkymagmonkey
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Haydon Bridge & Newton are both on the BBC's list of future transmitters for their national multiplex. Both of these and Haltwhistle are on the plan for the Tyne & Wear multiplex.

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/bin...Northumbe1.pdf

Sunderland Hendon is on the Digital 1 expansion list (BBC national is already on at this site).

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/bin...es/annex-d.pdf
Thanks for this:- very interesting!

I see that Digital 1 do not have any proposals for the A69 corridor, whereas the Tyne & Wear multiplex does! Do you have a copy of the propsals for Teesside multiplex?
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Old 22-01-2012, 17:22
James Martin 2
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I'm afraid I have to agree on the inferior sound argument.

64k Mono is never going to be an improvement! Here, for example, Touch FM is 64k Mono. It sounds awful. Just bloody awful.

Infact, whilst the chart is on, find one station with a good FM signal, then find a DAB station that's at least 128k Stereo. Start on DAB, and switch to FM. It just cleans up.
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Old 22-01-2012, 17:52
lundavra
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FM only really took off when:

Radio 1 launched on FM, the commercial stations split their output on FM/AM, Radios 2 & 3 switched off their AM services, Classic FM launched.

All of that happened in a 4-year period between 1988-92. Three of those were Government-led, the Radio 1 FM rollout was initiated by the BBC.
Apart from the North and West of Scotland which only had VHF FM coverage. There was a lot of amusement about the letters in the papers from people in Englandshire saying how difficult it was to tune in to VHF FM!
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