Can I get DAB digital radio anywhere in the UK?
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FAQ's
Can I get DAB digital radio anywhere in the UK?

Digital radio coverage in the UK is 97.3% for BBC national stations; 91.5% (Digital One stations) and 77% (Sound Digital stations) for national commercial stations; and 91% for local DAB.

DAB coverage for national commercial stations now exceeds the coverage of national commercial radio on FM and local coverage on DAB matches FM.

You can check your DAB coverage and the stations you can receive by using the Postcode Checker on this site.

Why are we transitioning to digital radio?

FM is full and has reached the limit of its capabilities and like other media, radio needs to have a digital future to meet listeners’ expectations. Digital broadcasting is more efficient and we need to invest now in infrastructure for the future.

Digital radio gives you more of what you love: More content (the stations you have now, and digital-only stations); ease of use (find your favourite station at the touch of a button, track and artist information onscreen); and digital features (digital quality sound and internet radio).

When is digital switchover happening?

There is a proposal for all UK national and most regional/local radio stations to transition from analogue (FM/AM) to digital radio. Some smaller local stations and community stations will continue to broadcast via analogue on FM.

However, there is no definite date yet set for when this will happen. Government has said that certain criteria has to be met before a definite date can be set – including national DAB coverage matching that of current national FM coverage; local DAB coverage reaching 90% of the population and all major roads; and 50% of all radio listening being digital. Once these criteria have been met, Government has indicated it will review next steps and consider a timetable for a possible digital radio switchover.

What is DAB+?

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.  

DAB+ uses exactly the same transmitters and broadcast technology as DAB, it simply converts sound to digital in a different way and therefore requires sets capable of receiving DAB+.

Will DAB+ mean my DAB radio will become obsolete?

No. The majority of digital stations will continue to be broadcast on DAB for the forseeable future. DAB+ is compatible with DAB and can be introduced alongside existing DAB services and existing DAB radios will continue to receive all the DAB stations broadcasting.

Currently, the majority of DAB digital radios will receive only stations using DAB. However, many newer DAB digital radios can receive DAB+ channels and, over time, that number will grow organically. There are numerous radios available to buy in the UK which are DAB+ compatible, and all radios with the Digital Radio Tick Mark are future-ready and enable listeners to receive the available DAB, DAB+ and FM radio stations.

Some models are upgradeable to DAB+ via a firmware download and DAB+ capability can generally be checked with the manufacturer.

Are there stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK?

Yes. The UK’s first national DAB+ stations launched on 29 February 2016 on the second national DAB commercial multiplex, Sound Digital, as part of a line-up of 18 national DAB services.

There are now over 140 stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK, including 5 national stations – Fun Kids, Magic Chilled, JazzFM, Union Jack and Forces BFBS, a number of local commercial stations, plus around 100 ultra-local community and commercial stations on small-scale DAB.

COVERAGE

Can I get DAB digital radio anywhere in the UK?

Digital radio coverage in the UK is 97.3% for BBC national stations; 91.5% (Digital One stations) and 77% (Sound Digital stations) for national commercial stations; and 91% for local DAB.

DAB coverage for national commercial stations now exceeds the coverage of national commercial radio on FM and local coverage on DAB matches FM.

You can check your DAB coverage and the stations you can receive by using the Postcode Checker on this site.

Can I get local stations from other parts of the country?

As it is a terrestrial transmission system, you can only receive local stations within their transmitter range. So, for example, you can’t get BBC Radio Wales on DAB digital radio if you live in Scotland. However, you can access local radio from around the country via the internet or digital TV.

Is the reception the same all over the UK?

No, the reception you get depends on the coverage in your area. Stations also vary from region to region, so if you take your DAB radio from one part of the country to another, you’ll need to ‘auto-tune’ it to pick up the stations that are available locally.

There is no DAB coverage in my area, will this change?

Almost 400 new national and local DAB transmitters have been built since 2014 to expand digital radio to FM equivalence; DAB coverage for national commercial stations now exceeds the coverage of national commercial radio on FM and local coverage on DAB matches FM.

The BBC has completed build out of its national DAB coverage to reach 97.3% of the population and whilst there are currently no confirmed plans to further extend coverage, in the event of a decision to proceed with a future radio switchover, Government has stated it would expect the BBC to complete the final phase of its national DAB network so that its coverage is equivalent to FM coverage, subject to value for money considerations.

You can check your DAB coverage and the stations you can receive by using the Postcode Checker on this site. If DAB is not available at your postcode then you are advised to listen online or via DTV.

DAB+

What is DAB+?

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.

DAB+ uses exactly the same transmitters and broadcast technology as DAB, it simply converts sound to digital in a different way and therefore requires sets capable of receiving DAB+.

Will DAB+ mean my DAB radio will become obsolete?

No. The majority of digital stations will continue to be broadcast on DAB for the forseeable future. DAB+ is compatible with DAB and can be introduced alongside existing DAB services and existing DAB radios will continue to receive all the DAB stations broadcasting.

Currently, the majority of DAB digital radios will receive only stations using DAB. However, many newer DAB digital radios can receive DAB+ channels and, over time, that number will grow organically. There are numerous radios available to buy in the UK which are DAB+ compatible, and all radios with the Digital Radio Tick Mark are future-ready and enable listeners to receive the available DAB, DAB+ and FM radio stations.

Some models are upgradeable to DAB+ via a firmware download and DAB+ capability can generally be checked with the manufacturer.

Are there stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK?

Yes. The UK’s first national DAB+ stations launched on 29 February 2016 on the second national DAB commercial multiplex, Sound Digital, as part of a line-up of 18 national DAB services.

There are now over 140 stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK, including 5 national stations – Fun Kids, Magic Chilled, JazzFM, Union Jack and Forces BFBS, a number of local commercial stations, plus around 100 ultra-local community and commercial stations on small-scale DAB.

SATELLITE RADIO

What is the difference between DAB and satellite radio?

DAB digital radio is a terrestrial-based system, which means the services are broadcast on a number of multiplexes across the country with capacity for a certain number of services. These multiplexes are broadcast in different areas/regions via many transmitters across the UK. For DAB, the selection of stations you receive will depend on where you live. DAB radio is free to listen to.

Satellite radio is a digital radio signal that is broadcast by a communications satellite, which tends to cover a wider geographical range than terrestrial radio signals. However this service is often subscription based and consumers have to pay to listen to it. In areas with a relatively high population density, it is easier and less expensive to reach the bulk of the population with terrestrial broadcasts. Thus in the UK and elsewhere in the world, we have focused on DAB rather than satellite radio.

SOUND QUALITY

Is DAB sound quality better than analogue?

DAB provides a listening experience without the hiss, crackle, fading or station overlap that can be experienced with AM or even FM radio.

The quality of the listening experience on DAB and analogue radio can be influenced by a number of different factors including how the station is broadcast and on what capacity; the radio receiver; the speakers; the antenna; and, if the radio is fitted in-car, the quality of the fitting and the cables used.

Media regulator Ofcom regularly conducts research into consumer attitudes towards digital radio. The most recent research (The Communications Market: digital radio Report) published in November 2016, showed that ‘clear and high-quality sound’ is the key benefit associated with digital radio among DAB listeners (76%). This has been the case since Ofcom started the annual research in 2009.

What about DAB sound quality in-car?

Radio listening in-car is extremely popular accounting for around 24% of all listening.

Cars usually have a number of speakers creating a natural stereo listening experience. Broadcasters decide how to broadcast their stations based on a number of factors including cost, the type of content being broadcast, available broadcast space and the need to offer a wide choice of stations for listeners.

Local and national digital stations are broadcast in a range of different ways with differences in bit-rates and in choosing either mono or stereo. Please see table below.

Although a station being broadcast in mono may be more apparent in the car due to the presence of multiple speakers than in the home, the sound quality of DAB remains the most popular benefit of digital radio in the car.

Digital radio is continuing to grow in popularity across the UK and particularly in-car, where the additional choice of stations and availability of DAB either as standard or as a conversion option has helped to grow digital listening in-car from 1% to 20% in the last 5 years.

For further information please contact us here.

Table showing stereo and mono variations by station:

GenreStereo/MonoStation nameRegion
CultureStereoBBC Radio 3National
Easy ListeningStereoGold ManchesterManchester
StereoSmooth RadioManchester
MonoMagic UKNational
MonoSmooth ExtraNational
NewsMonoBBC Radio 5 LiveNational
Other MusicStereoBBC Radio 1XtraNational
MonoAsian SoundManchester
Pop MusicStereoBBC Radio 1National
StereoBBC Radio 2National
StereoCapitalManchester
StereoCapital XTRANational
StereoHeart North WestManchester
StereoKey 103Manchester
StereoKey 2Manchester
MonoAbsolute R 80sNational
MonoAbsolute Rad 90sManchester
MonoBFBS RadioNational
Monoheat radioManchester
MonoKey 3Manchester
MonoKISSNational
ReligionMonoUCB UK ChristianNational
Rock MusicStereoBBC Radio 6MusicNational
MonoAbsolute RadioNational
MonoPlanet RockNational
MonoRadio XNational
ClassicalStereoClassic FMNational
SportMonoBBC R5LiveSportXNational
MonotalkSPORTNational
Varied SpeechStereoBBC R.ManchesterManchester
MonoBBC AsianNetworkNational
MonoBBC Radio 4National
MonoBBC Radio 4ExtraNational
MonoLBCNational

MULTIPLEXES

What is a multiplex?

A multiplex is a block of frequencies containing radio and data services. Using digital technology, more services can be carried within these blocks than can fit into a similar FM spectrum. So, there’s more room for more stations.

Who owns the multiplexes?

You need a licence to own a multiplex. Ofcom advertises licences for which interested parties can bid. Once the multiplex licence has been awarded by Ofcom, the new owner will seek out services to broadcast on the multiplex.

There are two national commercial multiplex owners (Digital One and Sound Digital). The BBC has a separate national multiplex for its services. There are local multiplexes around the country, each broadcasting an average of seven services, plus the local BBC station.

SECONDARY SERVICES

What is a Secondary Service and how do I tune in?

Flexibility within the DAB system means that secondary services can be brought onto the multiplex to allow broadcasters to create ‘part-time’ channels. Radio 4’s LW output is transmitted as a secondary service to Radio 4’s main output. Yesterday in Parliament and The Daily Service are broadcast on DAB in this way.

Similarly, 5 Live Sports Extra allows 5 Live to double its live sports coverage at certain times and is the digital radio home of Test Match Special.

To find out when 5 Live Sports Extra is next scheduled to broadcast, visit: www.bbc.co.uk/5livesportsextra/

To access a secondary service you need to tune in when the service is actually broadcasting. That way your DAB set will store the station in its memory. If you try tuning in when the station is not broadcasting the display screen will state: ‘Station Off Air’ or ‘Station Unavailable’.

Many DAB tuners (hi-fi separates) utilise an LED display, which will illuminate when a secondary service is about to commence a transmission, and some tuners are programmable so that the radio will automatically switch to the secondary service of your choice.

TEXT

What is Text?

All DAB digital radio receivers come with a small screen. This screen serves two purposes: first it lets you scroll through a list of stations to find the one you want, and then, once you’ve settled on a station, it displays a line of scrolling text generated by that radio station.

Most stations already use scrolling text to broadcast their name and music format. Some also identify the track and artist you’re listening to, tell you what songs are coming up next, deliver news headlines, sports results, contact web addresses and telephone numbers.

PRESETS

Why does my radio sometimes lose its pre-set stations?

Some DAB radios have a backup battery that powers a memory chip. When the radio is switched off or unplugged from the mains, this chip remembers the stations you have stored as pre-sets. If the battery runs down, the data is lost. In addition, if the radio is moved to a new location, or signal strength is very low, some radios will automatically erase existing pre-sets and scan for new stations.

DELAYED TRANSMISSION

Why is there a delay between analogue and DAB radio?

If you have the same station playing on two radios, one analogue and one DAB, you will notice there is a delay of a few seconds between the two. In fact, you will hear the DAB broadcast slightly after the analogue version.

There’s nothing wrong with your radio. If you have digital TV, you’ll find the same thing happens when you switch between analogue and digital transmissions of the same channel.

The techy answer is when the station originates as an analogue broadcast, the signal must be transformed into a digital transmission using MPEG2 encoding and COFDM modulation. This takes a couple of seconds, hence the delay when you hear it come out the other end.

MOBILE PHONE

Can I get DAB on my smartphone?

The world’s first smartphone with a DAB/DAB+ tuner built in was launched by LG in April 2016 – the LG Stylus 2. The ground-breaking device comes with the hybrid Radioplayer app built-in to seamlessly connect to radio stations through both DAB and internet streaming, to ensure listeners have the best radio listening experience whatever signal they’re connected to.

You can find more information on the LG Stylus here.

We hope to see further smartphone brands and models launch with DAB soon.

RETAILERS

Where can I buy a DAB radio?

DAB digital radio receivers are stocked by more than 8,500 retailers around the country.

They are available from most electrical retailers, department stores and large supermarkets, in store and online, including John Lewis, Currys PC World, Argos, Richer Sounds, Maplins, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Amazon, as well as from more than 1,600 independent audio dealers around the country.

ABROAD

Can I receive stations from America or other countries on my DAB receiver?

No. Unlike satellite radio or internet radio, DAB radio is land-based and operates only within its transmission range.

Can I take my DAB digital radio abroad and still listen to the same stations?

No. DAB digital radio is a terrestrial technology using land-based transmitters. You can only listen to stations when you are within their transmission range.

If I take my DAB digital radio abroad, will I be able to pick up foreign DAB services?

Yes. In the UK, DAB services are broadcast on a band of spectrum called Band III. Many European countries also use Band III, although some use a different band of spectrum called L Band. Some countries, such as Germany, use Band III in one part of the country and L Band in another.

If the receiver you are using is designed only to pick up Band III, then it will work in other countries using Band III and you will be able to listen to local DAB services. If it is a dual-band receiver (that is, designed to work on either Band III or L Band) then it will pick up any DAB stations being broadcast on either Band III or L Band abroad.

If you specifically want a receiver that will work both in the UK and Europe, then make sure before you buy that it is a dual band receiver.

Can I listen to my in-car DAB radio abroad?

Digital radio is growing across Europe and many European countries now have DAB or DAB+ services available. In the UK we have developed a minimum technical specification which includes FM, DAB and DAB+, to help ensure that we were aligned with other European countries where DAB+ is the standard most widely used.

All new cars with DAB now include DAB+ and if your car was bought within the last 5 years with DAB as standard it is likely to also include DAB+. If you have a DAB adaptor and the product meets the technical standard and carries the Digital Radio Tick Mark then it will also include DAB+.

To check if your in-car DAB radio can get DAB+ and pick up services in Europe you can also try tuning to one of the national DAB+ services available in the UK (Fun Kids, Magic Chilled, JazzFM, Union Jack). You will need to make sure you are in coverage and can get these stations by using the postcode checker on this page.

If you are unsure if you have DAB+ check with your car or adaptor manufacturer.

AERIALS

Do I need a new aerial for my car?

Yes. Many existing FM aerials are ‘helically wound’. A helically wound aerial is short and stubby, and is usually roof-mounted. It is most often fitted to newer models and is designed to amplify the FM signal, so it may not work effectively with a DAB radio.

You can either buy a combined FM/DAB roof mounted aerial for your car and replace your existing aerial with it, or you can buy a separate DAB aerial to sit alongside your existing FM aerial. There are two types of DAB aerials available for the car, either a magnetic mount for steel panels, or an active glass strip aerial, which is an adhesive amplified antenna for glass mount.

Will I need an additional aerial to listen at home?

Your digital radio hi-fi tuner will come with an indoor aerial, either a ‘ribbon dipole’ or a ‘monopole’ (‘half dipole’). Portable radios usually feature either a standard telescopic aerial, or with handheld models, the aerial is usually built in to the headphones.

The aerial supplied should work well if you’re within a DAB coverage area. However, if you’re listening in a basement, or your building is steel-framed or made of reinforced concrete, you might need an external aerial. As a rule of thumb, if you already have poor FM or mobile phone reception, chances are you’ll need an external aerial. If you want an outdoor aerial, we suggest you have it installed by a professional aerial installer registered with the Confederation of Aerial Industries, www.cai.org.uk. First, though, see if placing the radio near to a window improves reception.

The Yagi aerial must be pointed at the transmitters. All DAB aerials must be vertically polarised. The higher the aerial is mounted, the better reception you will receive.

To obtain the best results from an external aerial, either use a dipole (omnidirectional aerial – should work well for moderate to strong signal levels provided it is vertically polarised) or, in exceptional circumstances, a Yagi (which has a much higher gain than a dipole, but is directional – best suited where reception is poor and all transmitters are in the same direction).

Why are we transitioning to digital radio?
Read More
FAQ's
Can I get DAB digital radio anywhere in the UK?

Digital radio coverage in the UK is 97.3% for BBC national stations; 91.5% (Digital One stations) and 77% (Sound Digital stations) for national commercial stations; and 91% for local DAB.

DAB coverage for national commercial stations now exceeds the coverage of national commercial radio on FM and local coverage on DAB matches FM.

You can check your DAB coverage and the stations you can receive by using the Postcode Checker on this site.

Why are we transitioning to digital radio?

FM is full and has reached the limit of its capabilities and like other media, radio needs to have a digital future to meet listeners’ expectations. Digital broadcasting is more efficient and we need to invest now in infrastructure for the future.

Digital radio gives you more of what you love: More content (the stations you have now, and digital-only stations); ease of use (find your favourite station at the touch of a button, track and artist information onscreen); and digital features (digital quality sound and internet radio).

When is digital switchover happening?

There is a proposal for all UK national and most regional/local radio stations to transition from analogue (FM/AM) to digital radio. Some smaller local stations and community stations will continue to broadcast via analogue on FM.

However, there is no definite date yet set for when this will happen. Government has said that certain criteria has to be met before a definite date can be set – including national DAB coverage matching that of current national FM coverage; local DAB coverage reaching 90% of the population and all major roads; and 50% of all radio listening being digital. Once these criteria have been met, Government has indicated it will review next steps and consider a timetable for a possible digital radio switchover.

What is DAB+?

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.  

DAB+ uses exactly the same transmitters and broadcast technology as DAB, it simply converts sound to digital in a different way and therefore requires sets capable of receiving DAB+.

Will DAB+ mean my DAB radio will become obsolete?

No. The majority of digital stations will continue to be broadcast on DAB for the forseeable future. DAB+ is compatible with DAB and can be introduced alongside existing DAB services and existing DAB radios will continue to receive all the DAB stations broadcasting.

Currently, the majority of DAB digital radios will receive only stations using DAB. However, many newer DAB digital radios can receive DAB+ channels and, over time, that number will grow organically. There are numerous radios available to buy in the UK which are DAB+ compatible, and all radios with the Digital Radio Tick Mark are future-ready and enable listeners to receive the available DAB, DAB+ and FM radio stations.

Some models are upgradeable to DAB+ via a firmware download and DAB+ capability can generally be checked with the manufacturer.

Are there stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK?

Yes. The UK’s first national DAB+ stations launched on 29 February 2016 on the second national DAB commercial multiplex, Sound Digital, as part of a line-up of 18 national DAB services.

There are now over 140 stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK, including 5 national stations – Fun Kids, Magic Chilled, JazzFM, Union Jack and Forces BFBS, a number of local commercial stations, plus around 100 ultra-local community and commercial stations on small-scale DAB.

COVERAGE

Can I get DAB digital radio anywhere in the UK?

Digital radio coverage in the UK is 97.3% for BBC national stations; 91.5% (Digital One stations) and 77% (Sound Digital stations) for national commercial stations; and 91% for local DAB.

DAB coverage for national commercial stations now exceeds the coverage of national commercial radio on FM and local coverage on DAB matches FM.

You can check your DAB coverage and the stations you can receive by using the Postcode Checker on this site.

Can I get local stations from other parts of the country?

As it is a terrestrial transmission system, you can only receive local stations within their transmitter range. So, for example, you can’t get BBC Radio Wales on DAB digital radio if you live in Scotland. However, you can access local radio from around the country via the internet or digital TV.

Is the reception the same all over the UK?

No, the reception you get depends on the coverage in your area. Stations also vary from region to region, so if you take your DAB radio from one part of the country to another, you’ll need to ‘auto-tune’ it to pick up the stations that are available locally.

There is no DAB coverage in my area, will this change?

Almost 400 new national and local DAB transmitters have been built since 2014 to expand digital radio to FM equivalence; DAB coverage for national commercial stations now exceeds the coverage of national commercial radio on FM and local coverage on DAB matches FM.

The BBC has completed build out of its national DAB coverage to reach 97.3% of the population and whilst there are currently no confirmed plans to further extend coverage, in the event of a decision to proceed with a future radio switchover, Government has stated it would expect the BBC to complete the final phase of its national DAB network so that its coverage is equivalent to FM coverage, subject to value for money considerations.

You can check your DAB coverage and the stations you can receive by using the Postcode Checker on this site. If DAB is not available at your postcode then you are advised to listen online or via DTV.

DAB+

What is DAB+?

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.

DAB+ uses exactly the same transmitters and broadcast technology as DAB, it simply converts sound to digital in a different way and therefore requires sets capable of receiving DAB+.

Will DAB+ mean my DAB radio will become obsolete?

No. The majority of digital stations will continue to be broadcast on DAB for the forseeable future. DAB+ is compatible with DAB and can be introduced alongside existing DAB services and existing DAB radios will continue to receive all the DAB stations broadcasting.

Currently, the majority of DAB digital radios will receive only stations using DAB. However, many newer DAB digital radios can receive DAB+ channels and, over time, that number will grow organically. There are numerous radios available to buy in the UK which are DAB+ compatible, and all radios with the Digital Radio Tick Mark are future-ready and enable listeners to receive the available DAB, DAB+ and FM radio stations.

Some models are upgradeable to DAB+ via a firmware download and DAB+ capability can generally be checked with the manufacturer.

Are there stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK?

Yes. The UK’s first national DAB+ stations launched on 29 February 2016 on the second national DAB commercial multiplex, Sound Digital, as part of a line-up of 18 national DAB services.

There are now over 140 stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK, including 5 national stations – Fun Kids, Magic Chilled, JazzFM, Union Jack and Forces BFBS, a number of local commercial stations, plus around 100 ultra-local community and commercial stations on small-scale DAB.

SATELLITE RADIO

What is the difference between DAB and satellite radio?

DAB digital radio is a terrestrial-based system, which means the services are broadcast on a number of multiplexes across the country with capacity for a certain number of services. These multiplexes are broadcast in different areas/regions via many transmitters across the UK. For DAB, the selection of stations you receive will depend on where you live. DAB radio is free to listen to.

Satellite radio is a digital radio signal that is broadcast by a communications satellite, which tends to cover a wider geographical range than terrestrial radio signals. However this service is often subscription based and consumers have to pay to listen to it. In areas with a relatively high population density, it is easier and less expensive to reach the bulk of the population with terrestrial broadcasts. Thus in the UK and elsewhere in the world, we have focused on DAB rather than satellite radio.

SOUND QUALITY

Is DAB sound quality better than analogue?

DAB provides a listening experience without the hiss, crackle, fading or station overlap that can be experienced with AM or even FM radio.

The quality of the listening experience on DAB and analogue radio can be influenced by a number of different factors including how the station is broadcast and on what capacity; the radio receiver; the speakers; the antenna; and, if the radio is fitted in-car, the quality of the fitting and the cables used.

Media regulator Ofcom regularly conducts research into consumer attitudes towards digital radio. The most recent research (The Communications Market: digital radio Report) published in November 2016, showed that ‘clear and high-quality sound’ is the key benefit associated with digital radio among DAB listeners (76%). This has been the case since Ofcom started the annual research in 2009.

What about DAB sound quality in-car?

Radio listening in-car is extremely popular accounting for around 24% of all listening.

Cars usually have a number of speakers creating a natural stereo listening experience. Broadcasters decide how to broadcast their stations based on a number of factors including cost, the type of content being broadcast, available broadcast space and the need to offer a wide choice of stations for listeners.

Local and national digital stations are broadcast in a range of different ways with differences in bit-rates and in choosing either mono or stereo. Please see table below.

Although a station being broadcast in mono may be more apparent in the car due to the presence of multiple speakers than in the home, the sound quality of DAB remains the most popular benefit of digital radio in the car.

Digital radio is continuing to grow in popularity across the UK and particularly in-car, where the additional choice of stations and availability of DAB either as standard or as a conversion option has helped to grow digital listening in-car from 1% to 20% in the last 5 years.

For further information please contact us here.

Table showing stereo and mono variations by station:

GenreStereo/MonoStation nameRegion
CultureStereoBBC Radio 3National
Easy ListeningStereoGold ManchesterManchester
StereoSmooth RadioManchester
MonoMagic UKNational
MonoSmooth ExtraNational
NewsMonoBBC Radio 5 LiveNational
Other MusicStereoBBC Radio 1XtraNational
MonoAsian SoundManchester
Pop MusicStereoBBC Radio 1National
StereoBBC Radio 2National
StereoCapitalManchester
StereoCapital XTRANational
StereoHeart North WestManchester
StereoKey 103Manchester
StereoKey 2Manchester
MonoAbsolute R 80sNational
MonoAbsolute Rad 90sManchester
MonoBFBS RadioNational
Monoheat radioManchester
MonoKey 3Manchester
MonoKISSNational
ReligionMonoUCB UK ChristianNational
Rock MusicStereoBBC Radio 6MusicNational
MonoAbsolute RadioNational
MonoPlanet RockNational
MonoRadio XNational
ClassicalStereoClassic FMNational
SportMonoBBC R5LiveSportXNational
MonotalkSPORTNational
Varied SpeechStereoBBC R.ManchesterManchester
MonoBBC AsianNetworkNational
MonoBBC Radio 4National
MonoBBC Radio 4ExtraNational
MonoLBCNational

MULTIPLEXES

What is a multiplex?

A multiplex is a block of frequencies containing radio and data services. Using digital technology, more services can be carried within these blocks than can fit into a similar FM spectrum. So, there’s more room for more stations.

Who owns the multiplexes?

You need a licence to own a multiplex. Ofcom advertises licences for which interested parties can bid. Once the multiplex licence has been awarded by Ofcom, the new owner will seek out services to broadcast on the multiplex.

There are two national commercial multiplex owners (Digital One and Sound Digital). The BBC has a separate national multiplex for its services. There are local multiplexes around the country, each broadcasting an average of seven services, plus the local BBC station.

SECONDARY SERVICES

What is a Secondary Service and how do I tune in?

Flexibility within the DAB system means that secondary services can be brought onto the multiplex to allow broadcasters to create ‘part-time’ channels. Radio 4’s LW output is transmitted as a secondary service to Radio 4’s main output. Yesterday in Parliament and The Daily Service are broadcast on DAB in this way.

Similarly, 5 Live Sports Extra allows 5 Live to double its live sports coverage at certain times and is the digital radio home of Test Match Special.

To find out when 5 Live Sports Extra is next scheduled to broadcast, visit: www.bbc.co.uk/5livesportsextra/

To access a secondary service you need to tune in when the service is actually broadcasting. That way your DAB set will store the station in its memory. If you try tuning in when the station is not broadcasting the display screen will state: ‘Station Off Air’ or ‘Station Unavailable’.

Many DAB tuners (hi-fi separates) utilise an LED display, which will illuminate when a secondary service is about to commence a transmission, and some tuners are programmable so that the radio will automatically switch to the secondary service of your choice.

TEXT

What is Text?

All DAB digital radio receivers come with a small screen. This screen serves two purposes: first it lets you scroll through a list of stations to find the one you want, and then, once you’ve settled on a station, it displays a line of scrolling text generated by that radio station.

Most stations already use scrolling text to broadcast their name and music format. Some also identify the track and artist you’re listening to, tell you what songs are coming up next, deliver news headlines, sports results, contact web addresses and telephone numbers.

PRESETS

Why does my radio sometimes lose its pre-set stations?

Some DAB radios have a backup battery that powers a memory chip. When the radio is switched off or unplugged from the mains, this chip remembers the stations you have stored as pre-sets. If the battery runs down, the data is lost. In addition, if the radio is moved to a new location, or signal strength is very low, some radios will automatically erase existing pre-sets and scan for new stations.

DELAYED TRANSMISSION

Why is there a delay between analogue and DAB radio?

If you have the same station playing on two radios, one analogue and one DAB, you will notice there is a delay of a few seconds between the two. In fact, you will hear the DAB broadcast slightly after the analogue version.

There’s nothing wrong with your radio. If you have digital TV, you’ll find the same thing happens when you switch between analogue and digital transmissions of the same channel.

The techy answer is when the station originates as an analogue broadcast, the signal must be transformed into a digital transmission using MPEG2 encoding and COFDM modulation. This takes a couple of seconds, hence the delay when you hear it come out the other end.

MOBILE PHONE

Can I get DAB on my smartphone?

The world’s first smartphone with a DAB/DAB+ tuner built in was launched by LG in April 2016 – the LG Stylus 2. The ground-breaking device comes with the hybrid Radioplayer app built-in to seamlessly connect to radio stations through both DAB and internet streaming, to ensure listeners have the best radio listening experience whatever signal they’re connected to.

You can find more information on the LG Stylus here.

We hope to see further smartphone brands and models launch with DAB soon.

RETAILERS

Where can I buy a DAB radio?

DAB digital radio receivers are stocked by more than 8,500 retailers around the country.

They are available from most electrical retailers, department stores and large supermarkets, in store and online, including John Lewis, Currys PC World, Argos, Richer Sounds, Maplins, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Amazon, as well as from more than 1,600 independent audio dealers around the country.

ABROAD

Can I receive stations from America or other countries on my DAB receiver?

No. Unlike satellite radio or internet radio, DAB radio is land-based and operates only within its transmission range.

Can I take my DAB digital radio abroad and still listen to the same stations?

No. DAB digital radio is a terrestrial technology using land-based transmitters. You can only listen to stations when you are within their transmission range.

If I take my DAB digital radio abroad, will I be able to pick up foreign DAB services?

Yes. In the UK, DAB services are broadcast on a band of spectrum called Band III. Many European countries also use Band III, although some use a different band of spectrum called L Band. Some countries, such as Germany, use Band III in one part of the country and L Band in another.

If the receiver you are using is designed only to pick up Band III, then it will work in other countries using Band III and you will be able to listen to local DAB services. If it is a dual-band receiver (that is, designed to work on either Band III or L Band) then it will pick up any DAB stations being broadcast on either Band III or L Band abroad.

If you specifically want a receiver that will work both in the UK and Europe, then make sure before you buy that it is a dual band receiver.

Can I listen to my in-car DAB radio abroad?

Digital radio is growing across Europe and many European countries now have DAB or DAB+ services available. In the UK we have developed a minimum technical specification which includes FM, DAB and DAB+, to help ensure that we were aligned with other European countries where DAB+ is the standard most widely used.

All new cars with DAB now include DAB+ and if your car was bought within the last 5 years with DAB as standard it is likely to also include DAB+. If you have a DAB adaptor and the product meets the technical standard and carries the Digital Radio Tick Mark then it will also include DAB+.

To check if your in-car DAB radio can get DAB+ and pick up services in Europe you can also try tuning to one of the national DAB+ services available in the UK (Fun Kids, Magic Chilled, JazzFM, Union Jack). You will need to make sure you are in coverage and can get these stations by using the postcode checker on this page.

If you are unsure if you have DAB+ check with your car or adaptor manufacturer.

AERIALS

Do I need a new aerial for my car?

Yes. Many existing FM aerials are ‘helically wound’. A helically wound aerial is short and stubby, and is usually roof-mounted. It is most often fitted to newer models and is designed to amplify the FM signal, so it may not work effectively with a DAB radio.

You can either buy a combined FM/DAB roof mounted aerial for your car and replace your existing aerial with it, or you can buy a separate DAB aerial to sit alongside your existing FM aerial. There are two types of DAB aerials available for the car, either a magnetic mount for steel panels, or an active glass strip aerial, which is an adhesive amplified antenna for glass mount.

Will I need an additional aerial to listen at home?

Your digital radio hi-fi tuner will come with an indoor aerial, either a ‘ribbon dipole’ or a ‘monopole’ (‘half dipole’). Portable radios usually feature either a standard telescopic aerial, or with handheld models, the aerial is usually built in to the headphones.

The aerial supplied should work well if you’re within a DAB coverage area. However, if you’re listening in a basement, or your building is steel-framed or made of reinforced concrete, you might need an external aerial. As a rule of thumb, if you already have poor FM or mobile phone reception, chances are you’ll need an external aerial. If you want an outdoor aerial, we suggest you have it installed by a professional aerial installer registered with the Confederation of Aerial Industries, www.cai.org.uk. First, though, see if placing the radio near to a window improves reception.

The Yagi aerial must be pointed at the transmitters. All DAB aerials must be vertically polarised. The higher the aerial is mounted, the better reception you will receive.

To obtain the best results from an external aerial, either use a dipole (omnidirectional aerial – should work well for moderate to strong signal levels provided it is vertically polarised) or, in exceptional circumstances, a Yagi (which has a much higher gain than a dipole, but is directional – best suited where reception is poor and all transmitters are in the same direction).

When is digital switchover happening?
Read More
FAQ's
Can I get DAB digital radio anywhere in the UK?

Digital radio coverage in the UK is 97.3% for BBC national stations; 91.5% (Digital One stations) and 77% (Sound Digital stations) for national commercial stations; and 91% for local DAB.

DAB coverage for national commercial stations now exceeds the coverage of national commercial radio on FM and local coverage on DAB matches FM.

You can check your DAB coverage and the stations you can receive by using the Postcode Checker on this site.

Why are we transitioning to digital radio?

FM is full and has reached the limit of its capabilities and like other media, radio needs to have a digital future to meet listeners’ expectations. Digital broadcasting is more efficient and we need to invest now in infrastructure for the future.

Digital radio gives you more of what you love: More content (the stations you have now, and digital-only stations); ease of use (find your favourite station at the touch of a button, track and artist information onscreen); and digital features (digital quality sound and internet radio).

When is digital switchover happening?

There is a proposal for all UK national and most regional/local radio stations to transition from analogue (FM/AM) to digital radio. Some smaller local stations and community stations will continue to broadcast via analogue on FM.

However, there is no definite date yet set for when this will happen. Government has said that certain criteria has to be met before a definite date can be set – including national DAB coverage matching that of current national FM coverage; local DAB coverage reaching 90% of the population and all major roads; and 50% of all radio listening being digital. Once these criteria have been met, Government has indicated it will review next steps and consider a timetable for a possible digital radio switchover.

What is DAB+?

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.  

DAB+ uses exactly the same transmitters and broadcast technology as DAB, it simply converts sound to digital in a different way and therefore requires sets capable of receiving DAB+.

Will DAB+ mean my DAB radio will become obsolete?

No. The majority of digital stations will continue to be broadcast on DAB for the forseeable future. DAB+ is compatible with DAB and can be introduced alongside existing DAB services and existing DAB radios will continue to receive all the DAB stations broadcasting.

Currently, the majority of DAB digital radios will receive only stations using DAB. However, many newer DAB digital radios can receive DAB+ channels and, over time, that number will grow organically. There are numerous radios available to buy in the UK which are DAB+ compatible, and all radios with the Digital Radio Tick Mark are future-ready and enable listeners to receive the available DAB, DAB+ and FM radio stations.

Some models are upgradeable to DAB+ via a firmware download and DAB+ capability can generally be checked with the manufacturer.

Are there stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK?

Yes. The UK’s first national DAB+ stations launched on 29 February 2016 on the second national DAB commercial multiplex, Sound Digital, as part of a line-up of 18 national DAB services.

There are now over 140 stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK, including 5 national stations – Fun Kids, Magic Chilled, JazzFM, Union Jack and Forces BFBS, a number of local commercial stations, plus around 100 ultra-local community and commercial stations on small-scale DAB.

COVERAGE

Can I get DAB digital radio anywhere in the UK?

Digital radio coverage in the UK is 97.3% for BBC national stations; 91.5% (Digital One stations) and 77% (Sound Digital stations) for national commercial stations; and 91% for local DAB.

DAB coverage for national commercial stations now exceeds the coverage of national commercial radio on FM and local coverage on DAB matches FM.

You can check your DAB coverage and the stations you can receive by using the Postcode Checker on this site.

Can I get local stations from other parts of the country?

As it is a terrestrial transmission system, you can only receive local stations within their transmitter range. So, for example, you can’t get BBC Radio Wales on DAB digital radio if you live in Scotland. However, you can access local radio from around the country via the internet or digital TV.

Is the reception the same all over the UK?

No, the reception you get depends on the coverage in your area. Stations also vary from region to region, so if you take your DAB radio from one part of the country to another, you’ll need to ‘auto-tune’ it to pick up the stations that are available locally.

There is no DAB coverage in my area, will this change?

Almost 400 new national and local DAB transmitters have been built since 2014 to expand digital radio to FM equivalence; DAB coverage for national commercial stations now exceeds the coverage of national commercial radio on FM and local coverage on DAB matches FM.

The BBC has completed build out of its national DAB coverage to reach 97.3% of the population and whilst there are currently no confirmed plans to further extend coverage, in the event of a decision to proceed with a future radio switchover, Government has stated it would expect the BBC to complete the final phase of its national DAB network so that its coverage is equivalent to FM coverage, subject to value for money considerations.

You can check your DAB coverage and the stations you can receive by using the Postcode Checker on this site. If DAB is not available at your postcode then you are advised to listen online or via DTV.

DAB+

What is DAB+?

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.

DAB+ uses exactly the same transmitters and broadcast technology as DAB, it simply converts sound to digital in a different way and therefore requires sets capable of receiving DAB+.

Will DAB+ mean my DAB radio will become obsolete?

No. The majority of digital stations will continue to be broadcast on DAB for the forseeable future. DAB+ is compatible with DAB and can be introduced alongside existing DAB services and existing DAB radios will continue to receive all the DAB stations broadcasting.

Currently, the majority of DAB digital radios will receive only stations using DAB. However, many newer DAB digital radios can receive DAB+ channels and, over time, that number will grow organically. There are numerous radios available to buy in the UK which are DAB+ compatible, and all radios with the Digital Radio Tick Mark are future-ready and enable listeners to receive the available DAB, DAB+ and FM radio stations.

Some models are upgradeable to DAB+ via a firmware download and DAB+ capability can generally be checked with the manufacturer.

Are there stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK?

Yes. The UK’s first national DAB+ stations launched on 29 February 2016 on the second national DAB commercial multiplex, Sound Digital, as part of a line-up of 18 national DAB services.

There are now over 140 stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK, including 5 national stations – Fun Kids, Magic Chilled, JazzFM, Union Jack and Forces BFBS, a number of local commercial stations, plus around 100 ultra-local community and commercial stations on small-scale DAB.

SATELLITE RADIO

What is the difference between DAB and satellite radio?

DAB digital radio is a terrestrial-based system, which means the services are broadcast on a number of multiplexes across the country with capacity for a certain number of services. These multiplexes are broadcast in different areas/regions via many transmitters across the UK. For DAB, the selection of stations you receive will depend on where you live. DAB radio is free to listen to.

Satellite radio is a digital radio signal that is broadcast by a communications satellite, which tends to cover a wider geographical range than terrestrial radio signals. However this service is often subscription based and consumers have to pay to listen to it. In areas with a relatively high population density, it is easier and less expensive to reach the bulk of the population with terrestrial broadcasts. Thus in the UK and elsewhere in the world, we have focused on DAB rather than satellite radio.

SOUND QUALITY

Is DAB sound quality better than analogue?

DAB provides a listening experience without the hiss, crackle, fading or station overlap that can be experienced with AM or even FM radio.

The quality of the listening experience on DAB and analogue radio can be influenced by a number of different factors including how the station is broadcast and on what capacity; the radio receiver; the speakers; the antenna; and, if the radio is fitted in-car, the quality of the fitting and the cables used.

Media regulator Ofcom regularly conducts research into consumer attitudes towards digital radio. The most recent research (The Communications Market: digital radio Report) published in November 2016, showed that ‘clear and high-quality sound’ is the key benefit associated with digital radio among DAB listeners (76%). This has been the case since Ofcom started the annual research in 2009.

What about DAB sound quality in-car?

Radio listening in-car is extremely popular accounting for around 24% of all listening.

Cars usually have a number of speakers creating a natural stereo listening experience. Broadcasters decide how to broadcast their stations based on a number of factors including cost, the type of content being broadcast, available broadcast space and the need to offer a wide choice of stations for listeners.

Local and national digital stations are broadcast in a range of different ways with differences in bit-rates and in choosing either mono or stereo. Please see table below.

Although a station being broadcast in mono may be more apparent in the car due to the presence of multiple speakers than in the home, the sound quality of DAB remains the most popular benefit of digital radio in the car.

Digital radio is continuing to grow in popularity across the UK and particularly in-car, where the additional choice of stations and availability of DAB either as standard or as a conversion option has helped to grow digital listening in-car from 1% to 20% in the last 5 years.

For further information please contact us here.

Table showing stereo and mono variations by station:

GenreStereo/MonoStation nameRegion
CultureStereoBBC Radio 3National
Easy ListeningStereoGold ManchesterManchester
StereoSmooth RadioManchester
MonoMagic UKNational
MonoSmooth ExtraNational
NewsMonoBBC Radio 5 LiveNational
Other MusicStereoBBC Radio 1XtraNational
MonoAsian SoundManchester
Pop MusicStereoBBC Radio 1National
StereoBBC Radio 2National
StereoCapitalManchester
StereoCapital XTRANational
StereoHeart North WestManchester
StereoKey 103Manchester
StereoKey 2Manchester
MonoAbsolute R 80sNational
MonoAbsolute Rad 90sManchester
MonoBFBS RadioNational
Monoheat radioManchester
MonoKey 3Manchester
MonoKISSNational
ReligionMonoUCB UK ChristianNational
Rock MusicStereoBBC Radio 6MusicNational
MonoAbsolute RadioNational
MonoPlanet RockNational
MonoRadio XNational
ClassicalStereoClassic FMNational
SportMonoBBC R5LiveSportXNational
MonotalkSPORTNational
Varied SpeechStereoBBC R.ManchesterManchester
MonoBBC AsianNetworkNational
MonoBBC Radio 4National
MonoBBC Radio 4ExtraNational
MonoLBCNational

MULTIPLEXES

What is a multiplex?

A multiplex is a block of frequencies containing radio and data services. Using digital technology, more services can be carried within these blocks than can fit into a similar FM spectrum. So, there’s more room for more stations.

Who owns the multiplexes?

You need a licence to own a multiplex. Ofcom advertises licences for which interested parties can bid. Once the multiplex licence has been awarded by Ofcom, the new owner will seek out services to broadcast on the multiplex.

There are two national commercial multiplex owners (Digital One and Sound Digital). The BBC has a separate national multiplex for its services. There are local multiplexes around the country, each broadcasting an average of seven services, plus the local BBC station.

SECONDARY SERVICES

What is a Secondary Service and how do I tune in?

Flexibility within the DAB system means that secondary services can be brought onto the multiplex to allow broadcasters to create ‘part-time’ channels. Radio 4’s LW output is transmitted as a secondary service to Radio 4’s main output. Yesterday in Parliament and The Daily Service are broadcast on DAB in this way.

Similarly, 5 Live Sports Extra allows 5 Live to double its live sports coverage at certain times and is the digital radio home of Test Match Special.

To find out when 5 Live Sports Extra is next scheduled to broadcast, visit: www.bbc.co.uk/5livesportsextra/

To access a secondary service you need to tune in when the service is actually broadcasting. That way your DAB set will store the station in its memory. If you try tuning in when the station is not broadcasting the display screen will state: ‘Station Off Air’ or ‘Station Unavailable’.

Many DAB tuners (hi-fi separates) utilise an LED display, which will illuminate when a secondary service is about to commence a transmission, and some tuners are programmable so that the radio will automatically switch to the secondary service of your choice.

TEXT

What is Text?

All DAB digital radio receivers come with a small screen. This screen serves two purposes: first it lets you scroll through a list of stations to find the one you want, and then, once you’ve settled on a station, it displays a line of scrolling text generated by that radio station.

Most stations already use scrolling text to broadcast their name and music format. Some also identify the track and artist you’re listening to, tell you what songs are coming up next, deliver news headlines, sports results, contact web addresses and telephone numbers.

PRESETS

Why does my radio sometimes lose its pre-set stations?

Some DAB radios have a backup battery that powers a memory chip. When the radio is switched off or unplugged from the mains, this chip remembers the stations you have stored as pre-sets. If the battery runs down, the data is lost. In addition, if the radio is moved to a new location, or signal strength is very low, some radios will automatically erase existing pre-sets and scan for new stations.

DELAYED TRANSMISSION

Why is there a delay between analogue and DAB radio?

If you have the same station playing on two radios, one analogue and one DAB, you will notice there is a delay of a few seconds between the two. In fact, you will hear the DAB broadcast slightly after the analogue version.

There’s nothing wrong with your radio. If you have digital TV, you’ll find the same thing happens when you switch between analogue and digital transmissions of the same channel.

The techy answer is when the station originates as an analogue broadcast, the signal must be transformed into a digital transmission using MPEG2 encoding and COFDM modulation. This takes a couple of seconds, hence the delay when you hear it come out the other end.

MOBILE PHONE

Can I get DAB on my smartphone?

The world’s first smartphone with a DAB/DAB+ tuner built in was launched by LG in April 2016 – the LG Stylus 2. The ground-breaking device comes with the hybrid Radioplayer app built-in to seamlessly connect to radio stations through both DAB and internet streaming, to ensure listeners have the best radio listening experience whatever signal they’re connected to.

You can find more information on the LG Stylus here.

We hope to see further smartphone brands and models launch with DAB soon.

RETAILERS

Where can I buy a DAB radio?

DAB digital radio receivers are stocked by more than 8,500 retailers around the country.

They are available from most electrical retailers, department stores and large supermarkets, in store and online, including John Lewis, Currys PC World, Argos, Richer Sounds, Maplins, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Amazon, as well as from more than 1,600 independent audio dealers around the country.

ABROAD

Can I receive stations from America or other countries on my DAB receiver?

No. Unlike satellite radio or internet radio, DAB radio is land-based and operates only within its transmission range.

Can I take my DAB digital radio abroad and still listen to the same stations?

No. DAB digital radio is a terrestrial technology using land-based transmitters. You can only listen to stations when you are within their transmission range.

If I take my DAB digital radio abroad, will I be able to pick up foreign DAB services?

Yes. In the UK, DAB services are broadcast on a band of spectrum called Band III. Many European countries also use Band III, although some use a different band of spectrum called L Band. Some countries, such as Germany, use Band III in one part of the country and L Band in another.

If the receiver you are using is designed only to pick up Band III, then it will work in other countries using Band III and you will be able to listen to local DAB services. If it is a dual-band receiver (that is, designed to work on either Band III or L Band) then it will pick up any DAB stations being broadcast on either Band III or L Band abroad.

If you specifically want a receiver that will work both in the UK and Europe, then make sure before you buy that it is a dual band receiver.

Can I listen to my in-car DAB radio abroad?

Digital radio is growing across Europe and many European countries now have DAB or DAB+ services available. In the UK we have developed a minimum technical specification which includes FM, DAB and DAB+, to help ensure that we were aligned with other European countries where DAB+ is the standard most widely used.

All new cars with DAB now include DAB+ and if your car was bought within the last 5 years with DAB as standard it is likely to also include DAB+. If you have a DAB adaptor and the product meets the technical standard and carries the Digital Radio Tick Mark then it will also include DAB+.

To check if your in-car DAB radio can get DAB+ and pick up services in Europe you can also try tuning to one of the national DAB+ services available in the UK (Fun Kids, Magic Chilled, JazzFM, Union Jack). You will need to make sure you are in coverage and can get these stations by using the postcode checker on this page.

If you are unsure if you have DAB+ check with your car or adaptor manufacturer.

AERIALS

Do I need a new aerial for my car?

Yes. Many existing FM aerials are ‘helically wound’. A helically wound aerial is short and stubby, and is usually roof-mounted. It is most often fitted to newer models and is designed to amplify the FM signal, so it may not work effectively with a DAB radio.

You can either buy a combined FM/DAB roof mounted aerial for your car and replace your existing aerial with it, or you can buy a separate DAB aerial to sit alongside your existing FM aerial. There are two types of DAB aerials available for the car, either a magnetic mount for steel panels, or an active glass strip aerial, which is an adhesive amplified antenna for glass mount.

Will I need an additional aerial to listen at home?

Your digital radio hi-fi tuner will come with an indoor aerial, either a ‘ribbon dipole’ or a ‘monopole’ (‘half dipole’). Portable radios usually feature either a standard telescopic aerial, or with handheld models, the aerial is usually built in to the headphones.

The aerial supplied should work well if you’re within a DAB coverage area. However, if you’re listening in a basement, or your building is steel-framed or made of reinforced concrete, you might need an external aerial. As a rule of thumb, if you already have poor FM or mobile phone reception, chances are you’ll need an external aerial. If you want an outdoor aerial, we suggest you have it installed by a professional aerial installer registered with the Confederation of Aerial Industries, www.cai.org.uk. First, though, see if placing the radio near to a window improves reception.

The Yagi aerial must be pointed at the transmitters. All DAB aerials must be vertically polarised. The higher the aerial is mounted, the better reception you will receive.

To obtain the best results from an external aerial, either use a dipole (omnidirectional aerial – should work well for moderate to strong signal levels provided it is vertically polarised) or, in exceptional circumstances, a Yagi (which has a much higher gain than a dipole, but is directional – best suited where reception is poor and all transmitters are in the same direction).

What is DAB+?
Read More
FAQ's
Can I get DAB digital radio anywhere in the UK?

Digital radio coverage in the UK is 97.3% for BBC national stations; 91.5% (Digital One stations) and 77% (Sound Digital stations) for national commercial stations; and 91% for local DAB.

DAB coverage for national commercial stations now exceeds the coverage of national commercial radio on FM and local coverage on DAB matches FM.

You can check your DAB coverage and the stations you can receive by using the Postcode Checker on this site.

Why are we transitioning to digital radio?

FM is full and has reached the limit of its capabilities and like other media, radio needs to have a digital future to meet listeners’ expectations. Digital broadcasting is more efficient and we need to invest now in infrastructure for the future.

Digital radio gives you more of what you love: More content (the stations you have now, and digital-only stations); ease of use (find your favourite station at the touch of a button, track and artist information onscreen); and digital features (digital quality sound and internet radio).

When is digital switchover happening?

There is a proposal for all UK national and most regional/local radio stations to transition from analogue (FM/AM) to digital radio. Some smaller local stations and community stations will continue to broadcast via analogue on FM.

However, there is no definite date yet set for when this will happen. Government has said that certain criteria has to be met before a definite date can be set – including national DAB coverage matching that of current national FM coverage; local DAB coverage reaching 90% of the population and all major roads; and 50% of all radio listening being digital. Once these criteria have been met, Government has indicated it will review next steps and consider a timetable for a possible digital radio switchover.

What is DAB+?

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.  

DAB+ uses exactly the same transmitters and broadcast technology as DAB, it simply converts sound to digital in a different way and therefore requires sets capable of receiving DAB+.

Will DAB+ mean my DAB radio will become obsolete?

No. The majority of digital stations will continue to be broadcast on DAB for the forseeable future. DAB+ is compatible with DAB and can be introduced alongside existing DAB services and existing DAB radios will continue to receive all the DAB stations broadcasting.

Currently, the majority of DAB digital radios will receive only stations using DAB. However, many newer DAB digital radios can receive DAB+ channels and, over time, that number will grow organically. There are numerous radios available to buy in the UK which are DAB+ compatible, and all radios with the Digital Radio Tick Mark are future-ready and enable listeners to receive the available DAB, DAB+ and FM radio stations.

Some models are upgradeable to DAB+ via a firmware download and DAB+ capability can generally be checked with the manufacturer.

Are there stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK?

Yes. The UK’s first national DAB+ stations launched on 29 February 2016 on the second national DAB commercial multiplex, Sound Digital, as part of a line-up of 18 national DAB services.

There are now over 140 stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK, including 5 national stations – Fun Kids, Magic Chilled, JazzFM, Union Jack and Forces BFBS, a number of local commercial stations, plus around 100 ultra-local community and commercial stations on small-scale DAB.

COVERAGE

Can I get DAB digital radio anywhere in the UK?

Digital radio coverage in the UK is 97.3% for BBC national stations; 91.5% (Digital One stations) and 77% (Sound Digital stations) for national commercial stations; and 91% for local DAB.

DAB coverage for national commercial stations now exceeds the coverage of national commercial radio on FM and local coverage on DAB matches FM.

You can check your DAB coverage and the stations you can receive by using the Postcode Checker on this site.

Can I get local stations from other parts of the country?

As it is a terrestrial transmission system, you can only receive local stations within their transmitter range. So, for example, you can’t get BBC Radio Wales on DAB digital radio if you live in Scotland. However, you can access local radio from around the country via the internet or digital TV.

Is the reception the same all over the UK?

No, the reception you get depends on the coverage in your area. Stations also vary from region to region, so if you take your DAB radio from one part of the country to another, you’ll need to ‘auto-tune’ it to pick up the stations that are available locally.

There is no DAB coverage in my area, will this change?

Almost 400 new national and local DAB transmitters have been built since 2014 to expand digital radio to FM equivalence; DAB coverage for national commercial stations now exceeds the coverage of national commercial radio on FM and local coverage on DAB matches FM.

The BBC has completed build out of its national DAB coverage to reach 97.3% of the population and whilst there are currently no confirmed plans to further extend coverage, in the event of a decision to proceed with a future radio switchover, Government has stated it would expect the BBC to complete the final phase of its national DAB network so that its coverage is equivalent to FM coverage, subject to value for money considerations.

You can check your DAB coverage and the stations you can receive by using the Postcode Checker on this site. If DAB is not available at your postcode then you are advised to listen online or via DTV.

DAB+

What is DAB+?

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.

DAB+ uses exactly the same transmitters and broadcast technology as DAB, it simply converts sound to digital in a different way and therefore requires sets capable of receiving DAB+.

Will DAB+ mean my DAB radio will become obsolete?

No. The majority of digital stations will continue to be broadcast on DAB for the forseeable future. DAB+ is compatible with DAB and can be introduced alongside existing DAB services and existing DAB radios will continue to receive all the DAB stations broadcasting.

Currently, the majority of DAB digital radios will receive only stations using DAB. However, many newer DAB digital radios can receive DAB+ channels and, over time, that number will grow organically. There are numerous radios available to buy in the UK which are DAB+ compatible, and all radios with the Digital Radio Tick Mark are future-ready and enable listeners to receive the available DAB, DAB+ and FM radio stations.

Some models are upgradeable to DAB+ via a firmware download and DAB+ capability can generally be checked with the manufacturer.

Are there stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK?

Yes. The UK’s first national DAB+ stations launched on 29 February 2016 on the second national DAB commercial multiplex, Sound Digital, as part of a line-up of 18 national DAB services.

There are now over 140 stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK, including 5 national stations – Fun Kids, Magic Chilled, JazzFM, Union Jack and Forces BFBS, a number of local commercial stations, plus around 100 ultra-local community and commercial stations on small-scale DAB.

SATELLITE RADIO

What is the difference between DAB and satellite radio?

DAB digital radio is a terrestrial-based system, which means the services are broadcast on a number of multiplexes across the country with capacity for a certain number of services. These multiplexes are broadcast in different areas/regions via many transmitters across the UK. For DAB, the selection of stations you receive will depend on where you live. DAB radio is free to listen to.

Satellite radio is a digital radio signal that is broadcast by a communications satellite, which tends to cover a wider geographical range than terrestrial radio signals. However this service is often subscription based and consumers have to pay to listen to it. In areas with a relatively high population density, it is easier and less expensive to reach the bulk of the population with terrestrial broadcasts. Thus in the UK and elsewhere in the world, we have focused on DAB rather than satellite radio.

SOUND QUALITY

Is DAB sound quality better than analogue?

DAB provides a listening experience without the hiss, crackle, fading or station overlap that can be experienced with AM or even FM radio.

The quality of the listening experience on DAB and analogue radio can be influenced by a number of different factors including how the station is broadcast and on what capacity; the radio receiver; the speakers; the antenna; and, if the radio is fitted in-car, the quality of the fitting and the cables used.

Media regulator Ofcom regularly conducts research into consumer attitudes towards digital radio. The most recent research (The Communications Market: digital radio Report) published in November 2016, showed that ‘clear and high-quality sound’ is the key benefit associated with digital radio among DAB listeners (76%). This has been the case since Ofcom started the annual research in 2009.

What about DAB sound quality in-car?

Radio listening in-car is extremely popular accounting for around 24% of all listening.

Cars usually have a number of speakers creating a natural stereo listening experience. Broadcasters decide how to broadcast their stations based on a number of factors including cost, the type of content being broadcast, available broadcast space and the need to offer a wide choice of stations for listeners.

Local and national digital stations are broadcast in a range of different ways with differences in bit-rates and in choosing either mono or stereo. Please see table below.

Although a station being broadcast in mono may be more apparent in the car due to the presence of multiple speakers than in the home, the sound quality of DAB remains the most popular benefit of digital radio in the car.

Digital radio is continuing to grow in popularity across the UK and particularly in-car, where the additional choice of stations and availability of DAB either as standard or as a conversion option has helped to grow digital listening in-car from 1% to 20% in the last 5 years.

For further information please contact us here.

Table showing stereo and mono variations by station:

GenreStereo/MonoStation nameRegion
CultureStereoBBC Radio 3National
Easy ListeningStereoGold ManchesterManchester
StereoSmooth RadioManchester
MonoMagic UKNational
MonoSmooth ExtraNational
NewsMonoBBC Radio 5 LiveNational
Other MusicStereoBBC Radio 1XtraNational
MonoAsian SoundManchester
Pop MusicStereoBBC Radio 1National
StereoBBC Radio 2National
StereoCapitalManchester
StereoCapital XTRANational
StereoHeart North WestManchester
StereoKey 103Manchester
StereoKey 2Manchester
MonoAbsolute R 80sNational
MonoAbsolute Rad 90sManchester
MonoBFBS RadioNational
Monoheat radioManchester
MonoKey 3Manchester
MonoKISSNational
ReligionMonoUCB UK ChristianNational
Rock MusicStereoBBC Radio 6MusicNational
MonoAbsolute RadioNational
MonoPlanet RockNational
MonoRadio XNational
ClassicalStereoClassic FMNational
SportMonoBBC R5LiveSportXNational
MonotalkSPORTNational
Varied SpeechStereoBBC R.ManchesterManchester
MonoBBC AsianNetworkNational
MonoBBC Radio 4National
MonoBBC Radio 4ExtraNational
MonoLBCNational

MULTIPLEXES

What is a multiplex?

A multiplex is a block of frequencies containing radio and data services. Using digital technology, more services can be carried within these blocks than can fit into a similar FM spectrum. So, there’s more room for more stations.

Who owns the multiplexes?

You need a licence to own a multiplex. Ofcom advertises licences for which interested parties can bid. Once the multiplex licence has been awarded by Ofcom, the new owner will seek out services to broadcast on the multiplex.

There are two national commercial multiplex owners (Digital One and Sound Digital). The BBC has a separate national multiplex for its services. There are local multiplexes around the country, each broadcasting an average of seven services, plus the local BBC station.

SECONDARY SERVICES

What is a Secondary Service and how do I tune in?

Flexibility within the DAB system means that secondary services can be brought onto the multiplex to allow broadcasters to create ‘part-time’ channels. Radio 4’s LW output is transmitted as a secondary service to Radio 4’s main output. Yesterday in Parliament and The Daily Service are broadcast on DAB in this way.

Similarly, 5 Live Sports Extra allows 5 Live to double its live sports coverage at certain times and is the digital radio home of Test Match Special.

To find out when 5 Live Sports Extra is next scheduled to broadcast, visit: www.bbc.co.uk/5livesportsextra/

To access a secondary service you need to tune in when the service is actually broadcasting. That way your DAB set will store the station in its memory. If you try tuning in when the station is not broadcasting the display screen will state: ‘Station Off Air’ or ‘Station Unavailable’.

Many DAB tuners (hi-fi separates) utilise an LED display, which will illuminate when a secondary service is about to commence a transmission, and some tuners are programmable so that the radio will automatically switch to the secondary service of your choice.

TEXT

What is Text?

All DAB digital radio receivers come with a small screen. This screen serves two purposes: first it lets you scroll through a list of stations to find the one you want, and then, once you’ve settled on a station, it displays a line of scrolling text generated by that radio station.

Most stations already use scrolling text to broadcast their name and music format. Some also identify the track and artist you’re listening to, tell you what songs are coming up next, deliver news headlines, sports results, contact web addresses and telephone numbers.

PRESETS

Why does my radio sometimes lose its pre-set stations?

Some DAB radios have a backup battery that powers a memory chip. When the radio is switched off or unplugged from the mains, this chip remembers the stations you have stored as pre-sets. If the battery runs down, the data is lost. In addition, if the radio is moved to a new location, or signal strength is very low, some radios will automatically erase existing pre-sets and scan for new stations.

DELAYED TRANSMISSION

Why is there a delay between analogue and DAB radio?

If you have the same station playing on two radios, one analogue and one DAB, you will notice there is a delay of a few seconds between the two. In fact, you will hear the DAB broadcast slightly after the analogue version.

There’s nothing wrong with your radio. If you have digital TV, you’ll find the same thing happens when you switch between analogue and digital transmissions of the same channel.

The techy answer is when the station originates as an analogue broadcast, the signal must be transformed into a digital transmission using MPEG2 encoding and COFDM modulation. This takes a couple of seconds, hence the delay when you hear it come out the other end.

MOBILE PHONE

Can I get DAB on my smartphone?

The world’s first smartphone with a DAB/DAB+ tuner built in was launched by LG in April 2016 – the LG Stylus 2. The ground-breaking device comes with the hybrid Radioplayer app built-in to seamlessly connect to radio stations through both DAB and internet streaming, to ensure listeners have the best radio listening experience whatever signal they’re connected to.

You can find more information on the LG Stylus here.

We hope to see further smartphone brands and models launch with DAB soon.

RETAILERS

Where can I buy a DAB radio?

DAB digital radio receivers are stocked by more than 8,500 retailers around the country.

They are available from most electrical retailers, department stores and large supermarkets, in store and online, including John Lewis, Currys PC World, Argos, Richer Sounds, Maplins, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Amazon, as well as from more than 1,600 independent audio dealers around the country.

ABROAD

Can I receive stations from America or other countries on my DAB receiver?

No. Unlike satellite radio or internet radio, DAB radio is land-based and operates only within its transmission range.

Can I take my DAB digital radio abroad and still listen to the same stations?

No. DAB digital radio is a terrestrial technology using land-based transmitters. You can only listen to stations when you are within their transmission range.

If I take my DAB digital radio abroad, will I be able to pick up foreign DAB services?

Yes. In the UK, DAB services are broadcast on a band of spectrum called Band III. Many European countries also use Band III, although some use a different band of spectrum called L Band. Some countries, such as Germany, use Band III in one part of the country and L Band in another.

If the receiver you are using is designed only to pick up Band III, then it will work in other countries using Band III and you will be able to listen to local DAB services. If it is a dual-band receiver (that is, designed to work on either Band III or L Band) then it will pick up any DAB stations being broadcast on either Band III or L Band abroad.

If you specifically want a receiver that will work both in the UK and Europe, then make sure before you buy that it is a dual band receiver.

Can I listen to my in-car DAB radio abroad?

Digital radio is growing across Europe and many European countries now have DAB or DAB+ services available. In the UK we have developed a minimum technical specification which includes FM, DAB and DAB+, to help ensure that we were aligned with other European countries where DAB+ is the standard most widely used.

All new cars with DAB now include DAB+ and if your car was bought within the last 5 years with DAB as standard it is likely to also include DAB+. If you have a DAB adaptor and the product meets the technical standard and carries the Digital Radio Tick Mark then it will also include DAB+.

To check if your in-car DAB radio can get DAB+ and pick up services in Europe you can also try tuning to one of the national DAB+ services available in the UK (Fun Kids, Magic Chilled, JazzFM, Union Jack). You will need to make sure you are in coverage and can get these stations by using the postcode checker on this page.

If you are unsure if you have DAB+ check with your car or adaptor manufacturer.

AERIALS

Do I need a new aerial for my car?

Yes. Many existing FM aerials are ‘helically wound’. A helically wound aerial is short and stubby, and is usually roof-mounted. It is most often fitted to newer models and is designed to amplify the FM signal, so it may not work effectively with a DAB radio.

You can either buy a combined FM/DAB roof mounted aerial for your car and replace your existing aerial with it, or you can buy a separate DAB aerial to sit alongside your existing FM aerial. There are two types of DAB aerials available for the car, either a magnetic mount for steel panels, or an active glass strip aerial, which is an adhesive amplified antenna for glass mount.

Will I need an additional aerial to listen at home?

Your digital radio hi-fi tuner will come with an indoor aerial, either a ‘ribbon dipole’ or a ‘monopole’ (‘half dipole’). Portable radios usually feature either a standard telescopic aerial, or with handheld models, the aerial is usually built in to the headphones.

The aerial supplied should work well if you’re within a DAB coverage area. However, if you’re listening in a basement, or your building is steel-framed or made of reinforced concrete, you might need an external aerial. As a rule of thumb, if you already have poor FM or mobile phone reception, chances are you’ll need an external aerial. If you want an outdoor aerial, we suggest you have it installed by a professional aerial installer registered with the Confederation of Aerial Industries, www.cai.org.uk. First, though, see if placing the radio near to a window improves reception.

The Yagi aerial must be pointed at the transmitters. All DAB aerials must be vertically polarised. The higher the aerial is mounted, the better reception you will receive.

To obtain the best results from an external aerial, either use a dipole (omnidirectional aerial – should work well for moderate to strong signal levels provided it is vertically polarised) or, in exceptional circumstances, a Yagi (which has a much higher gain than a dipole, but is directional – best suited where reception is poor and all transmitters are in the same direction).

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Anything Else

COVERAGE

Can I get DAB digital radio anywhere in the UK?

Digital radio coverage in the UK is 97.3% for BBC national stations; 91.5% (Digital One stations) and 77% (Sound Digital stations) for national commercial stations; and 91% for local DAB.

DAB coverage for national commercial stations now exceeds the coverage of national commercial radio on FM and local coverage on DAB matches FM.

You can check your DAB coverage and the stations you can receive by using the Postcode Checker on this site.

Can I get local stations from other parts of the country?

As it is a terrestrial transmission system, you can only receive local stations within their transmitter range. So, for example, you can’t get BBC Radio Wales on DAB digital radio if you live in Scotland. However, you can access local radio from around the country via the internet or digital TV.

Is the reception the same all over the UK?

No, the reception you get depends on the coverage in your area. Stations also vary from region to region, so if you take your DAB radio from one part of the country to another, you’ll need to ‘auto-tune’ it to pick up the stations that are available locally.

There is no DAB coverage in my area, will this change?

Almost 400 new national and local DAB transmitters have been built since 2014 to expand digital radio to FM equivalence; DAB coverage for national commercial stations now exceeds the coverage of national commercial radio on FM and local coverage on DAB matches FM.

The BBC has completed build out of its national DAB coverage to reach 97.3% of the population and whilst there are currently no confirmed plans to further extend coverage, in the event of a decision to proceed with a future radio switchover, Government has stated it would expect the BBC to complete the final phase of its national DAB network so that its coverage is equivalent to FM coverage, subject to value for money considerations.

You can check your DAB coverage and the stations you can receive by using the Postcode Checker on this site. If DAB is not available at your postcode then you are advised to listen online or via DTV.

DAB+

What is DAB+?

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.

DAB+ uses exactly the same transmitters and broadcast technology as DAB, it simply converts sound to digital in a different way and therefore requires sets capable of receiving DAB+.

Will DAB+ mean my DAB radio will become obsolete?

No. The majority of digital stations will continue to be broadcast on DAB for the forseeable future. DAB+ is compatible with DAB and can be introduced alongside existing DAB services and existing DAB radios will continue to receive all the DAB stations broadcasting.

Currently, the majority of DAB digital radios will receive only stations using DAB. However, many newer DAB digital radios can receive DAB+ channels and, over time, that number will grow organically. There are numerous radios available to buy in the UK which are DAB+ compatible, and all radios with the Digital Radio Tick Mark are future-ready and enable listeners to receive the available DAB, DAB+ and FM radio stations.

Some models are upgradeable to DAB+ via a firmware download and DAB+ capability can generally be checked with the manufacturer.

Are there stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK?

Yes. The UK’s first national DAB+ stations launched on 29 February 2016 on the second national DAB commercial multiplex, Sound Digital, as part of a line-up of 18 national DAB services.

There are now over 140 stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK, including 5 national stations – Fun Kids, Magic Chilled, JazzFM, Union Jack and Forces BFBS, a number of local commercial stations, plus around 100 ultra-local community and commercial stations on small-scale DAB.

SATELLITE RADIO

What is the difference between DAB and satellite radio?

DAB digital radio is a terrestrial-based system, which means the services are broadcast on a number of multiplexes across the country with capacity for a certain number of services. These multiplexes are broadcast in different areas/regions via many transmitters across the UK. For DAB, the selection of stations you receive will depend on where you live. DAB radio is free to listen to.

Satellite radio is a digital radio signal that is broadcast by a communications satellite, which tends to cover a wider geographical range than terrestrial radio signals. However this service is often subscription based and consumers have to pay to listen to it. In areas with a relatively high population density, it is easier and less expensive to reach the bulk of the population with terrestrial broadcasts. Thus in the UK and elsewhere in the world, we have focused on DAB rather than satellite radio.

SOUND QUALITY

Is DAB sound quality better than analogue?

DAB provides a listening experience without the hiss, crackle, fading or station overlap that can be experienced with AM or even FM radio.

The quality of the listening experience on DAB and analogue radio can be influenced by a number of different factors including how the station is broadcast and on what capacity; the radio receiver; the speakers; the antenna; and, if the radio is fitted in-car, the quality of the fitting and the cables used.

Media regulator Ofcom regularly conducts research into consumer attitudes towards digital radio. The most recent research (The Communications Market: digital radio Report) published in November 2016, showed that ‘clear and high-quality sound’ is the key benefit associated with digital radio among DAB listeners (76%). This has been the case since Ofcom started the annual research in 2009.

What about DAB sound quality in-car?

Radio listening in-car is extremely popular accounting for around 24% of all listening.

Cars usually have a number of speakers creating a natural stereo listening experience. Broadcasters decide how to broadcast their stations based on a number of factors including cost, the type of content being broadcast, available broadcast space and the need to offer a wide choice of stations for listeners.

Local and national digital stations are broadcast in a range of different ways with differences in bit-rates and in choosing either mono or stereo. Please see table below.

Although a station being broadcast in mono may be more apparent in the car due to the presence of multiple speakers than in the home, the sound quality of DAB remains the most popular benefit of digital radio in the car.

Digital radio is continuing to grow in popularity across the UK and particularly in-car, where the additional choice of stations and availability of DAB either as standard or as a conversion option has helped to grow digital listening in-car from 1% to 20% in the last 5 years.

For further information please contact us here.

Table showing stereo and mono variations by station:

GenreStereo/MonoStation nameRegion
CultureStereoBBC Radio 3National
Easy ListeningStereoGold ManchesterManchester
StereoSmooth RadioManchester
MonoMagic UKNational
MonoSmooth ExtraNational
NewsMonoBBC Radio 5 LiveNational
Other MusicStereoBBC Radio 1XtraNational
MonoAsian SoundManchester
Pop MusicStereoBBC Radio 1National
StereoBBC Radio 2National
StereoCapitalManchester
StereoCapital XTRANational
StereoHeart North WestManchester
StereoKey 103Manchester
StereoKey 2Manchester
MonoAbsolute R 80sNational
MonoAbsolute Rad 90sManchester
MonoBFBS RadioNational
Monoheat radioManchester
MonoKey 3Manchester
MonoKISSNational
ReligionMonoUCB UK ChristianNational
Rock MusicStereoBBC Radio 6MusicNational
MonoAbsolute RadioNational
MonoPlanet RockNational
MonoRadio XNational
ClassicalStereoClassic FMNational
SportMonoBBC R5LiveSportXNational
MonotalkSPORTNational
Varied SpeechStereoBBC R.ManchesterManchester
MonoBBC AsianNetworkNational
MonoBBC Radio 4National
MonoBBC Radio 4ExtraNational
MonoLBCNational

MULTIPLEXES

What is a multiplex?

A multiplex is a block of frequencies containing radio and data services. Using digital technology, more services can be carried within these blocks than can fit into a similar FM spectrum. So, there’s more room for more stations.

Who owns the multiplexes?

You need a licence to own a multiplex. Ofcom advertises licences for which interested parties can bid. Once the multiplex licence has been awarded by Ofcom, the new owner will seek out services to broadcast on the multiplex.

There are two national commercial multiplex owners (Digital One and Sound Digital). The BBC has a separate national multiplex for its services. There are local multiplexes around the country, each broadcasting an average of seven services, plus the local BBC station.

SECONDARY SERVICES

What is a Secondary Service and how do I tune in?

Flexibility within the DAB system means that secondary services can be brought onto the multiplex to allow broadcasters to create ‘part-time’ channels. Radio 4’s LW output is transmitted as a secondary service to Radio 4’s main output. Yesterday in Parliament and The Daily Service are broadcast on DAB in this way.

Similarly, 5 Live Sports Extra allows 5 Live to double its live sports coverage at certain times and is the digital radio home of Test Match Special.

To find out when 5 Live Sports Extra is next scheduled to broadcast, visit: www.bbc.co.uk/5livesportsextra/

To access a secondary service you need to tune in when the service is actually broadcasting. That way your DAB set will store the station in its memory. If you try tuning in when the station is not broadcasting the display screen will state: ‘Station Off Air’ or ‘Station Unavailable’.

Many DAB tuners (hi-fi separates) utilise an LED display, which will illuminate when a secondary service is about to commence a transmission, and some tuners are programmable so that the radio will automatically switch to the secondary service of your choice.

TEXT

What is Text?

All DAB digital radio receivers come with a small screen. This screen serves two purposes: first it lets you scroll through a list of stations to find the one you want, and then, once you’ve settled on a station, it displays a line of scrolling text generated by that radio station.

Most stations already use scrolling text to broadcast their name and music format. Some also identify the track and artist you’re listening to, tell you what songs are coming up next, deliver news headlines, sports results, contact web addresses and telephone numbers.

PRESETS

Why does my radio sometimes lose its pre-set stations?

Some DAB radios have a backup battery that powers a memory chip. When the radio is switched off or unplugged from the mains, this chip remembers the stations you have stored as pre-sets. If the battery runs down, the data is lost. In addition, if the radio is moved to a new location, or signal strength is very low, some radios will automatically erase existing pre-sets and scan for new stations.

DELAYED TRANSMISSION

Why is there a delay between analogue and DAB radio?

If you have the same station playing on two radios, one analogue and one DAB, you will notice there is a delay of a few seconds between the two. In fact, you will hear the DAB broadcast slightly after the analogue version.

There’s nothing wrong with your radio. If you have digital TV, you’ll find the same thing happens when you switch between analogue and digital transmissions of the same channel.

The techy answer is when the station originates as an analogue broadcast, the signal must be transformed into a digital transmission using MPEG2 encoding and COFDM modulation. This takes a couple of seconds, hence the delay when you hear it come out the other end.

MOBILE PHONE

Can I get DAB on my smartphone?

The world’s first smartphone with a DAB/DAB+ tuner built in was launched by LG in April 2016 – the LG Stylus 2. The ground-breaking device comes with the hybrid Radioplayer app built-in to seamlessly connect to radio stations through both DAB and internet streaming, to ensure listeners have the best radio listening experience whatever signal they’re connected to.

You can find more information on the LG Stylus here.

We hope to see further smartphone brands and models launch with DAB soon.

RETAILERS

Where can I buy a DAB radio?

DAB digital radio receivers are stocked by more than 8,500 retailers around the country.

They are available from most electrical retailers, department stores and large supermarkets, in store and online, including John Lewis, Currys PC World, Argos, Richer Sounds, Maplins, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Amazon, as well as from more than 1,600 independent audio dealers around the country.

ABROAD

Can I receive stations from America or other countries on my DAB receiver?

No. Unlike satellite radio or internet radio, DAB radio is land-based and operates only within its transmission range.

Can I take my DAB digital radio abroad and still listen to the same stations?

No. DAB digital radio is a terrestrial technology using land-based transmitters. You can only listen to stations when you are within their transmission range.

If I take my DAB digital radio abroad, will I be able to pick up foreign DAB services?

Yes. In the UK, DAB services are broadcast on a band of spectrum called Band III. Many European countries also use Band III, although some use a different band of spectrum called L Band. Some countries, such as Germany, use Band III in one part of the country and L Band in another.

If the receiver you are using is designed only to pick up Band III, then it will work in other countries using Band III and you will be able to listen to local DAB services. If it is a dual-band receiver (that is, designed to work on either Band III or L Band) then it will pick up any DAB stations being broadcast on either Band III or L Band abroad.

If you specifically want a receiver that will work both in the UK and Europe, then make sure before you buy that it is a dual band receiver.

Can I listen to my in-car DAB radio abroad?

Digital radio is growing across Europe and many European countries now have DAB or DAB+ services available. In the UK we have developed a minimum technical specification which includes FM, DAB and DAB+, to help ensure that we were aligned with other European countries where DAB+ is the standard most widely used.

All new cars with DAB now include DAB+ and if your car was bought within the last 5 years with DAB as standard it is likely to also include DAB+. If you have a DAB adaptor and the product meets the technical standard and carries the Digital Radio Tick Mark then it will also include DAB+.

To check if your in-car DAB radio can get DAB+ and pick up services in Europe you can also try tuning to one of the national DAB+ services available in the UK (Fun Kids, Magic Chilled, JazzFM, Union Jack). You will need to make sure you are in coverage and can get these stations by using the postcode checker on this page.

If you are unsure if you have DAB+ check with your car or adaptor manufacturer.

AERIALS

Do I need a new aerial for my car?

Yes. Many existing FM aerials are ‘helically wound’. A helically wound aerial is short and stubby, and is usually roof-mounted. It is most often fitted to newer models and is designed to amplify the FM signal, so it may not work effectively with a DAB radio.

You can either buy a combined FM/DAB roof mounted aerial for your car and replace your existing aerial with it, or you can buy a separate DAB aerial to sit alongside your existing FM aerial. There are two types of DAB aerials available for the car, either a magnetic mount for steel panels, or an active glass strip aerial, which is an adhesive amplified antenna for glass mount.

Will I need an additional aerial to listen at home?

Your digital radio hi-fi tuner will come with an indoor aerial, either a ‘ribbon dipole’ or a ‘monopole’ (‘half dipole’). Portable radios usually feature either a standard telescopic aerial, or with handheld models, the aerial is usually built in to the headphones.

The aerial supplied should work well if you’re within a DAB coverage area. However, if you’re listening in a basement, or your building is steel-framed or made of reinforced concrete, you might need an external aerial. As a rule of thumb, if you already have poor FM or mobile phone reception, chances are you’ll need an external aerial. If you want an outdoor aerial, we suggest you have it installed by a professional aerial installer registered with the Confederation of Aerial Industries, www.cai.org.uk. First, though, see if placing the radio near to a window improves reception.

The Yagi aerial must be pointed at the transmitters. All DAB aerials must be vertically polarised. The higher the aerial is mounted, the better reception you will receive.

To obtain the best results from an external aerial, either use a dipole (omnidirectional aerial – should work well for moderate to strong signal levels provided it is vertically polarised) or, in exceptional circumstances, a Yagi (which has a much higher gain than a dipole, but is directional – best suited where reception is poor and all transmitters are in the same direction).