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+.
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.
Whilst many older DAB digital radios will only receive DAB stations, the majority of newer devices can receive DAB+ stations as well as DAB, and there are lots of DAB/DAB+ radios available which will give you access to DAB and DAB+ stations, including from leading manufacturers Pure, Roberts, Ruark and VQ. If you are buying a new digital radio, look for the Digital Radio Tick Mark as this means the radio is DAB+ enabled and will receive the available DAB, DAB+ and FM radio stations. If the product does not have the Tick Mark, then read the product description carefully and check that it specifies DAB+.
Some DAB-only models are upgradeable to DAB+ via a firmware download and DAB+ capability can generally be checked with the manufacturer.
The UK’s first national DAB+ stations launched on 29 February 2016 on the second national DAB commercial multiplex, Sound Digital, and in June 2019, Smooth Extra and Heart Extra switched to DAB+ from DAB to became the first stations to broadcast in DAB+ on the national commercial Digital One multiplex.
There are now over 180 stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK, including 19 national stations – Fun Kids, JazzFM, Union Jack, JACK Radio, Forces BFBS, Love Sport Radio, Virgin Radio Anthems, Chilled and Groove, Smooth Extra, Heart Extra, Heart Dance, Heart 90s, Heart 80s, Heart 70s, Capital XTRA, Capital XTRA Reloaded, LBC News and Gold, and a number of local commercial stations, plus around 150 ultra-local community and commercial stations on small-scale DAB. (Updated 8 January 2020)