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Absolute 80's going mono on DAB


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Old 18-04-2013, 11:53
londonman
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And this sums up what I've said before - there are too many costs and not enough benefits with DAB's implementation in the UK.
And look at the 'excuse' pumped out by the apparatchiks at Galactic HQ for Digital Radio for Absolute dropping its bit-rate

http://onegoldensquare.com/category/dab/
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Old 18-04-2013, 13:32
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You don't need to unless you really do want to listen to channels that are not currently available nationally on FM. But the truth of the matter is that, as survey after survey has shown, 90% of the radio listening population are perfectly happy with the available choice on FM of Radios 1-4 and Classic FM. So why change it?
I really do want to listen to channels that are not currently available nationally on FM. Actually, I really do want to listen to channels that are not currently available, full stop, like Jazz FM when it was still a jazz station. But for the sake of argument, let's stick to real stations. The British licensing system doesn't encourage diversity of programming on FM, so if you don't want to listen to mainstream music you have to look elsewhere.

DAB has made a huge difference to the choice of stations available but at the expense of audio quality. I doubt that this was ever the intention when DAB was first proposed but it's how it has turned out. You can no longer simply walk into a shop, buy a hi-fi system and take it home and get all the stations you want to listen to in high quality audio. And that's not a good situation, either for listeners or for broadcasters.
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Old 18-04-2013, 14:40
hanssolo
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Does the Pure Jongo stream internet radio? The Pure web site appears to say that it streams audio from an iOS or Android device, but not directly from the internet.
http://www.pure.com/product/jongo-a140b-vl-62148/
Does also say it streams from a compatable Pure device but not say which.
But we are going away from conventional hifi in homes where a tablet will be the internet radio tuner running apps, with all stations in stereo, linking to multi room hifi speakers via Sonos or Jongo type systems.
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Old 18-04-2013, 14:45
londonman
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I really do want to listen to channels that are not currently available nationally on FM. Actually, I really do want to listen to channels that are not currently available, full stop, like Jazz FM when it was still a jazz station. But for the sake of argument, let's stick to real stations. The British licensing system doesn't encourage diversity of programming on FM, so if you don't want to listen to mainstream music you have to look elsewhere.

DAB has made a huge difference to the choice of stations available but at the expense of audio quality. I doubt that this was ever the intention when DAB was first proposed but it's how it has turned out. You can no longer simply walk into a shop, buy a hi-fi system and take it home and get all the stations you want to listen to in high quality audio. And that's not a good situation, either for listeners or for broadcasters.
Surely you'd buy a DAB tuner instead of an FM one?
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Old 18-04-2013, 14:50
Inkblot
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http://www.pure.com/product/jongo-a140b-vl-62148/
Does also say it streams from a compatable Pure device but not say which.
But we are going away from conventional hifi in homes where a tablet will be the internet radio tuner running apps, with all stations in stereo, linking to multi room hifi speakers via Sonos or Jongo type systems.
I see what you mean, but we can already do that by various means, from iPhone/iPad docks with phono outputs to AirPlay-enabled speaker systems. But they are all compromises. I can listen to internet radio via my TV, but that's much worse audio quality than FM radio on my hi-fi system. And if I connect my iPhone or iPad to my hi-fi, the music will be interrupted by phone calls, texts or email alerts, all in high quality over my speakers. It's just not an elegant solution.

londonman: I'm not sure what you're saying. In the past, if you wanted better quality you bought a better hi-fi. But if you buy a better hi-fi now, you still get DAB stations at the same bit rate as before. Upgrading the hardware cannot overcome the limitations of the source.
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Old 18-04-2013, 16:02
londonman
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But we are going away from conventional hifi in homes where a tablet will be the internet radio tuner running apps, with all stations in stereo, linking to multi room hifi speakers via Sonos or Jongo type systems.
Maybe the readers of this forum but I would bet that it at the moment it is only a tiny percentage. I agree that it will increase by simple demographics but it isn't as if it is a 'must-have' option for many (most?) people.
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Old 18-04-2013, 16:02
londonman
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londonman: I'm not sure what you're saying. In the past, if you wanted better quality you bought a better hi-fi. But if you buy a better hi-fi now, you still get DAB stations at the same bit rate as before. Upgrading the hardware cannot overcome the limitations of the source.
Ah..see where you're coming from. Agree 100%.
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Old 18-04-2013, 16:13
omnidirectional
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That's great if you can afford an iPhone, but not everyone can.
No need for an iPhone; TuneIn works on Android powered phones which start at £40 for the most basic model. Data is becoming less expensive too, with 3 now offering unlimited data on PAYG when you top up £15 a month (although most people could probably manage with one of the cheaper deals with a limit)
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Old 18-04-2013, 17:19
Nick_G
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And look at the 'excuse' pumped out by the apparatchiks at Galactic HQ for Digital Radio for Absolute dropping its bit-rate

http://onegoldensquare.com/category/dab/
So, as expected, most comments on the Absolute Radio blog are negative regarding the drop in bit rate and downgrade to mono with some respondents saying they will cease listening from May 1st. As I said before, with Planet Rock suffering a similar fate, it seems that the money in the commercial sector is running out. It's now reaching the point where stations are going to lose listeners because the sound quality is so poor. It is damaging an already compromised platform, and this loss of money has IMO been a factor in cost-cutting in commercial radio with automation and networking becoming the norm. The main reason commercial radio has been sinking money into DAB for so long is because of the carrot of automatic FM license renewal, which is telling in itself. As I keep saying, the costs outweigh the benefits.

So, with the situation as it is, it is unthinkable to even consider any switchover. Before this can happen there needs to be an alternative platform to FM that is cost-effective, robust and delivers quality, both technically, and in content. Until that is ready, FM should continue. The information being supplied to the public on DAB is hardly neutral and unbiased, as it comes from companies who have a vested interest in the switchover happening. This must change.

I apologise if I am coming across as repetitive but it seems that there are some here who will doggedly defend the idea of a switchover, citing without question the usual statistics supplied by those keen to push a radio DSO. I really do question their motives because they are basically defending the indefensible.
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Old 18-04-2013, 17:20
hanssolo
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I see what you mean, but we can already do that by various means, from iPhone/iPad docks with phono outputs to AirPlay-enabled speaker systems. But they are all compromises. I can listen to internet radio via my TV, but that's much worse audio quality than FM radio on my hi-fi system. And if I connect my iPhone or iPad to my hi-fi, the music will be interrupted by phone calls, texts or email alerts, all in high quality over my speakers. It's just not an elegant solution.
But internet radio at higher rates over wifi at home from a good ISP broadband to an ipad or android tablet, linked to speakers, should give a very good audio quality,
Plus with a decent radio app from the station or Radioplayer should have extra station info on the tablet display. Email alerts can be silenced making an elegant solution.
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Old 18-04-2013, 17:48
David (2)
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With things as they stand at the moment and knowing in most areas they will get much worse later in the year, no switch over can even be considered at this point, in fact as they stand dab doesn't have any future past the next Couple of years, if there's not a lot of extra Choice over FM & medium wave (yes MW should now be considered in the future of radio as in many cases the sound is the same or better then dab and the signal at least in the day travels further) and radio groups are pushing people to go online for more choice and better sound of there stations, at this point what's the real need for DAB? Most stations are available on FM & MW and the rest online..
You can't really argue that if dab can't replace FM then it should coexist with it without the FM simulcasts and just offer extra content, as transmission costs are too high vs the amount of listeners much of the specialist content stations would have.. Which takes you back to the original fundamental problem with the DAB model that's been there since its conception, not enough overall radio listeners to meet the financial costs of running a station of limited or even widespread appeal and also to provide an exceptable replacement to FM in terms of sound.
Put simply: the DAB transmission cost pie per multiplex cannot be split up enough transmitting in stereo (already well below FM) between stations to make them financially viable,
For dab to have a future, the model needs to change to enable an exceptable level of sound of stereo sound for the listener at a cost that the station owners can operate at successfully, in others words DAB+

problem is with AM, we don't get any stations here on it. The car radio manages to tune a couple of AM stations but as soon as you drive round a bend, they are lost. A lot of modern radios don't even have AM. The ironic thing is, we get good DAB reception here with around 19 stations.

As it stands, online radio cant be considered as a mainstream radio platform due to...

Not enough broadband coverage (yes, there are places without it).

Some locations only have slow broadband speeds (too far away from local exchange).

Some people cant afford broadband (the so called digital divide).

Some people have no need for broadband (the don't have a PC etc) so have no way to get radio online. I know more people that are offline than are online. Even Facebook is limited for keeping in contact for me as around half my family are not online, and have no desire to be.

Some people on broadband may have a data cap, limiting them to how much they can use it.

Mobile broadband is even worse, as again some people cant get a 3g signal, some people have no desire for a smart phone (or any mobile phone in a few cases), and people are limited by data caps. Roughly speaking I can only use my smart phone online via 3g connection for approx 2hrs per week to stay within my data limit. If I go over it costs a fortune.

Broadband is not ideal for radio in places like work, as the company you work for may not like you using their service to stream radio.
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Old 18-04-2013, 17:57
Bollard
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As it stands, online radio cant be considered as a mainstream radio platform due to...
Personally I really haven't got time to be messing around with my phone when I get into the car so I can listen to internet radio on the 15 min drive to work!
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Old 18-04-2013, 18:23
SouthCity
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So, as expected, most comments on the Absolute Radio blog are negative regarding the drop in bit rate and downgrade to mono with some respondents saying they will cease listening from May 1st. As I said before, with Planet Rock suffering a similar fate, it seems that the money in the commercial sector is running out. It's now reaching the point where stations are going to lose listeners because the sound quality is so poor. It is damaging an already compromised platform, and this loss of money has IMO been a factor in cost-cutting in commercial radio with automation and networking becoming the norm. .
There is plenty of money in commercial radio, just not digital-only stations. Global & Bauer both made healthy profits from their radio activities last year.

The stations that are automating, networking and cost-cutting would have done that anyway, they are about maximising profits available to shareholders. TFM was profitable but Bauer decided to close it anyway because they could.

There is also the issue that Absolute, talkSPORT & Classic FM all had an automatic rollover on their FM/AM licences with the licence payments being reduced to £Nil per annum by Ofcom. If they hadn't been rolled over in 2011 and had been auctioned off (under the provisions of the Broadcasting Act 1990) the licence payments would probably have run into millions each year. The 100-102FM licence could easily fetch £10m per year at auction. That's a saving of £10m per year for Global, so who said there are no benefits in DAB?
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Old 18-04-2013, 18:31
jaffboy151
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But internet radio at higher rates over wifi at home from a good ISP broadband to an ipad or android tablet, linked to speakers, should give a very good audio quality,
Plus with a decent radio app from the station or Radioplayer should have extra station info on the tablet display. Email alerts can be silenced making an elegant solution.
Personally I really haven't got time to be messing around with my phone when I get into the car so I can listen to internet radio on the 15 min drive to work!
Totally agree, I can plug all manner of devices into my car and in my kitchen but Can i really be bothered when im just off down the road or doing the washing up???
No..
but i do want to listen to music that sounds something better then 1990's Dial up internet rate...
its DAB+ or DAB Dead for me..start the phasing in now!
it s the only digital format that can work for truly mobile digital music, and the only one which makes financial sense
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Old 19-04-2013, 07:41
Nick_G
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There is plenty of money in commercial radio, just not digital-only stations. Global & Bauer both made healthy profits from their radio activities last year.

The stations that are automating, networking and cost-cutting would have done that anyway, they are about maximising profits available to shareholders. TFM was profitable but Bauer decided to close it anyway because they could.

There is also the issue that Absolute, talkSPORT & Classic FM all had an automatic rollover on their FM/AM licences with the licence payments being reduced to £Nil per annum by Ofcom. If they hadn't been rolled over in 2011 and had been auctioned off (under the provisions of the Broadcasting Act 1990) the licence payments would probably have run into millions each year. The 100-102FM licence could easily fetch £10m per year at auction. That's a saving of £10m per year for Global, so who said there are no benefits in DAB?
Like I said, that's some carrot and I'm sure it helped Global's profits!

If there's no money in digital-only stations in the commercial sector, then logic dictates that they will eventually disappear, which will reduce choice further (what's the point of commercial radio investing in DAB if the only stations making a profit are already on analogue?) and harm the platform further. It would also give the BBC an advantage, which I'm sure would not go down well. As I said this is hardly a state of affairs that is conducive to a switchover any time soon, if at all. The current system is not fit for purpose.
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Old 19-04-2013, 08:26
ex pirat
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The only reson most stations are even on DAB is so to get automatic licence renual on FM . No digital only station is making money . The only station that benafits from dab is the likes of ucb & they are listener suported . There needs a total rethink on DAB ?.
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Old 19-04-2013, 09:13
hanssolo
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As I said this is hardly a state of affairs that is conducive to a switchover any time soon, if at all. The current system is not fit for purpose.
The DCMS and Ofcom are currently gathering reports ready for a recommendation in October about a switchover.
The BBC, Global, Absolute and Bauer seem positive and have DAB stereo on the stations which will be affected, making some digital only stations mono on DAB will not matter to the DSO recommendation.

It could be that digital is ruled out, but the likely outcome a date for closing national and regional FM and AM will be set about 2018, although Absolute may close AM before 2018.
It could also be staggered, like TV was, with London first?

The future for radio will most likely be multiplatform, DRM+ has been ruled out, but DAB+ has not, but there is no definite plan for DAB+. However if there is a positive recommendation on DAB, more DAB+ enabled sets will be sold making DAB+ stereo more viable in the UK.
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Old 19-04-2013, 11:15
londonman
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The DCMS and Ofcom are currently gathering reports ready for a recommendation in October about a switchover.
The BBC, Global, Absolute and Bauer seem positive and have DAB stereo on the stations which will be affected, making some digital only stations mono on DAB will not matter to the DSO recommendation.

It could be that digital is ruled out, but the likely outcome a date for closing national and regional FM and AM will be set about 2018, although Absolute may close AM before 2018.
It could also be staggered, like TV was, with London first?

The future for radio will most likely be multiplatform, DRM+ has been ruled out, but DAB+ has not, but there is no definite plan for DAB+. However if there is a positive recommendation on DAB, more DAB+ enabled sets will be sold making DAB+ stereo more viable in the UK.
Why bother. Keep things as they are. Don't add any more unwanted digital channels. Keep FM.
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Old 19-04-2013, 11:22
SouthCity
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Why bother. Keep things as they are. Don't add any more unwanted digital channels. Keep FM.
Unwanted digital channels? BBC 6 Music has a larger audience than Radio 3 these days.
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Old 19-04-2013, 11:24
londonman
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Unwanted digital channels? BBC 6 Music has a larger audience than Radio 3 these days.
Your point?

I was thinking about the COMMERCIAL digital channels that struggle to maintain an audience.
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Old 19-04-2013, 11:26
londonman
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......
It could be that digital is ruled out, but the likely outcome a date for closing national and regional FM and AM will be set about 2018, although Absolute may close AM before 2018.
It could also be staggered, like TV was, with London first?
......
You can rest assured that if that is the recommendation then a judicial review will follow damn quick.
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Old 19-04-2013, 11:33
SouthCity
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Your point?

I was thinking about the COMMERCIAL digital channels that struggle to maintain an audience.
The only way to guarantee free and unlimited access to 6 Music on the move is via DAB. 6 Music is clearly a wanted service by licence fee payers as it has now overtaken Radio 3 in listener numbers - the audiences for most of the BBC's digital stations are rising.

The BBC cannot afford to keep both FM & DAB going indefinitely, so dropping FM is the only way to please all of their listeners and minimise transmission costs, rather than pleasing those that only listen to Radios 1,2,3 & 4 and have a clear FM signal.
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Old 19-04-2013, 11:38
londonman
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.....

The BBC cannot afford to keep both FM & DAB going indefinitely, so dropping FM is the only way to please all of their listeners and minimise transmission costs, rather than pleasing those that only listen to Radios 1,2,3 & 4 and have a clear FM signal.
Rubbish. It's a question of priorities. Just move the money from somewhere else.
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Old 19-04-2013, 12:17
londonman
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I would also ask this question. If FM were to be switched off then there WILL be some parts of the UK that will NOT get a DAB signal. So what are they going to do for radio?

Please don't say use a mobile because chances are that mobile coverage is poor for the same people let alone that they might not be able to afford it.

Please don't say Internet Radio because 1 in 4 adults have never used the internet, a third of the households in the UK do NOT have the internet. 49% without access are in the lowest socio-economic group...the ones least able to afford to replace their FM radios.
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Old 19-04-2013, 13:23
hanssolo
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I would also ask this question. If FM were to be switched off then there WILL be some parts of the UK that will NOT get a DAB signal. So what are they going to do for radio?
https://www.gov.uk/government/upload..._Version_7.pdf
4. ACCESSIBILITY
• To services: ensuring that DAB coverage matches FM before a date for a Digital
Radio Switchover is set, ensuring that those who can receive FM services can
also receive national and local DAB services.
Which is why it may not be till 2018 or later and any rollout is complete?
Assuming the DCMS keeps it's word!!
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