With a move to Digital Radio in the pipeline for 2015, what are your options for digital radio?
Many people think that “going digital” means getting a “DAB radio”. DAB is certainly digital, and probably the most common way to listen to digital radio, but there are others. Here we look at each of the options:
DAB Digital Radio
For around £30, you can buy a DAB radio. Provided your in a DAB radio coverage area, you’ll be able to receive local and national DAB radio stations. At the moment, the DAB signal is generally more ptachy than the FM signal, and you’ll need an aerial to get DAB – Portable DAB radios normally have telescopic aerials, which are fine if you’re in range of a DAB transmitter.
Pictured to the right is a DAB radio from Pure, called the Pure One. A common DAB model, and one we’re happy to recommend.
Internet Radio Set
With DAB, you can expect to get up to a couple of dozen stations. With an Internet Radio receiver, you can get thousands of digital radio stations from all around the world – a mix of professional national stations, to bedroom broadcasters offering highly specialist content.
An Internet radio set can cost around £60, and as the name suggests, it requires an Internet connection. If you have a home wireless (wi-fi) connector, a portable Internet Radio, such as the View Quest 200 pictured here, will give you access to thousands of radio stations. More on Internet Radio
If you have a computer with an Internet connection, that may be all you need. Many radio stations offer a “Listen Now” feature on their website. Visit your favourite station’s website to see if they offer a live “streaming radio” service.
Radio on your TV
If you have Freeview, Sky, Freesat, Virgin, TalkTalk or BT Vision, you’ll find those digital TV services also carry radio stations. Listening to radio via your digital TV service counts as “digital listening”, and can be a very hadny way of listening to stations that you can’t get on FM, often in decent quality through your TV or home cinema setup.
Radio on your mobile phone
Although some mobile phones have built-in FM radio, very few have DAB digital radio built-in. In July 2010, the Government expressed a desire to work with mobile phone manufacturers to get more digital radios built into mobile phones by 2013. Portable DAB radio chips can be expensive, and portable DAB raios do require a decent aerial, making it tricky to get a decent DAB radio into a mobile.
A few years back, a Virgin Phone, the oddly-named Lobster, offered DAB and was briefly vaguely popular, but there’s been nothing like it in recent years. This may change in the future of course.
In the meantime, many Smartphones, such as the iPhone and Android phones, do offer digital radio applications, which essentially stream online Internet radio stations. If using these services over a mobile phone network, be careful of the data costs involved!
Digital Radio Mondiale
No, we’re not surprised you haven’t heard of DRM – it’s a pretty niche service that uses AM radio to broadcast a higher quality stereo service. Very few people have heard of it, and it’s not exactly mainstream. But it still counts!