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DAB Digital Radio Explored

In our third show, we took a look at DAB - Digital Audio Broadcasting, and revisited DAB and Internet radio in Show 24. Here's a page of information for you:


DAB Digital RadioWhat's so special about DAB?

  • More choice - Compared with FM radio, DAB offers a range of extra digital radio channels including BBC Radio 7, BBC 5 Live Extra, Classic FM, Absolute Radio, talkSPORT and Planet Rock.
  • Digital quality - signals that are less prone to interference and hiss
  • Extras - Such as detailed radio text information. Some radios offer an electronic programme guide, live pause, live rewind, and MP3 support

Extra Stations?

Stations available on DAB are broadcast on something called a Multiplex - on our podcast, we described this as a large pipe full of lots of little pipes (representing the fact that lots of stations are compressed together and broadcast on one frequency). Where you live in the UK governs which multiplex you'll receive. Here are a few of the stations that are available nationwide:

BBC DAB Stations
Commercial Radio DAB Stations

National Digital Stations include:

  • BBC Radios 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 5 Live
  • BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra
  • BBC Radio 6 (Album tracks, classic sessions and concerts)
  • BBC 1Xtra (Contemporary black music for a young audience)
  • BBC Radio 4 Extra (Our favourite - for speech, classic comedy and children's shows)
  • Classic FM
  • Absolute Radio (formerly Virgin Radio)
  • talkSPORT
  • Planet Rock
  • Amazing Radio
  • Fun Kids
  • Premier Christian Radio

As well as the national stations, a number of local and regional stations are available.

Take a listen to our review of DAB Digital Radio, taken from Show 24:

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Getting DAB

To get access to the extra channels available on DAB, you'll need to buy a DAB radio. These are becoming more and more common, and come in a good range of colours and styles. You can now get handheld, tabletop, clock radio, hi-fi and in-car DAB radios, at fairly reasonable prices. There's also now a mobile phone, the Lobster 700, that can get DAB. Digital radio sets are generally a little more pricey than standard FM radios, but you're paying for the newer technology and to get the extra channels and improved reception on offer to DAB listeners.

DAB radios can be bought from high street stores, but you can quite often get a bargain price from the Internet. We recommend you try: Tesco or Currys for online deals.

If you're looking for a PC USB DAB radio - try Maplin

Featured radio: The Pure One:

Pure One DABThis portable DAB radio from Pure, the respected name in DAB, is a combined DAB/FM radio with 20 presets, scrolling display with enhanced radio text features. It's powered by battery, mains, or a special rechargeable powerpack, and is highly recommended.

It sounds good, pulls in a good signal via its long telescopic aerial, and it's available in black, white or pink from Argos

FrequencyCast with the Pure One
Our team and the Pure One... recording our third show

Your DAB Questions:

DAB reception on the move: Keith asks: "I ride a bike using a portable philips DAB reception not as good as FM, whilst I appreciate I'm using headphones as an aerial, there are several signal fault codes - too numerous to mention. Where can I find these codes?"

A. In general, portable DAB receivers do sometimes struggle to get good signal. They do need a decent aerial, and aerials using headphone leads aren't great. We suspect the error codes you're seeing are due to the signal dropping out, and the onboard processor not being able to cope. As for the error messages you're referring to, perhaps check your manual or the Philips website

What about Dab+? Listener John Chambers wants to know when can we expect DAB+ digital radio receivers in the UK...

Pure SiestaA. DAB+ is a little way off yet. DAB radio Manufacturer Pure seem to be ahead of the bunch. By the end of 2007, they'd released two DAB+ upgradeable radios already, the Siesta and Chronos II.

There's also the Revo Blik RadioStation which is the first commercially-available DAB+ radio that doesn't require a software upgrade to get DAB+, and also supports wi-fi Internet radio. 10% off Revo Radios if you use the code affrevo at AdvancedMP3players while stocks last!.

Pictured here is the Pure Siesta, available for under £50 from

DAB nationwide: Does DAB tune the same channels around the uk? Or does it makes different according to location? (G Jimee)

A. DAB uses two national services (the BBC national stations, plus the national commercial radio stations). Then, there are local services. National stations can be received across the UK, but local stations have a limited range.


In 2010, we interviewed Revo Technologies about their range of DAB and Internet radios. Here is the full interview

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Got a question on DAB that we can answer in our next podcast?
Call 020 8133 4567 or send us a message

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