Everything to Know About Digital Radio - DAB Faq Guide
DAB radios are fantastic because they have so much more to offer than a standard FM or AM radio. The channels are more diverse, the sound quality improved, and there are loads more stations than you would normally get.
There are many parts of the world that don’t actually support DAB yet, and the UK is quite lucky to have such a good series of transmitters for it across the country.
However, there are times when the signal is lacking, and you just need an extra boost. What causes this poor reception, and how can you boost the signal of your DAB radio? In this article, we take you through it all.
What Causes Poor Signal?
There are a number of different factors that can cause a poor signal on your DAB radio, one of which is your location.
While DAB is widespread in the UK, there are areas that receive poorer connection than others, such as the Scottish Highlands (and islands), Mid-Wales, and the Pennines.
You can check online to find out where your nearest transmitter is, which should give you a good idea of how much reception to expect. The location of your radio in your house is also a potential cause of bad signal.
If you have thick walls, this can weaken the signal, and so placing your radio near a window or a door is often the best way to get the signal back – or even just to a room that has thinner walls.
If you don’t want to move it to a different room, you can also see if adjusting the aerial helps.
Similarly, if you are using a DAB radio in your car, the signal can be lost when you are driving through poor areas or under trees, because the aerial cannot reach a transmitter clearly (or at all).
Just as with a regular budget DAB radio, your location in the country (or world) can impact the amount of signal that you receive.
Interference can also cause poor signal, and it can be caused by a number of different things – one of which is work being carried out on local transmitters, therefore weakening the signal.
Other electrical devices in your home (or on your person) could also be intercepting the signal and causing it to become fuzzy and weak.
Of course, you may just live in an area with generally poor reception area, in which case there isn’t much you can do aside from aerial adjustments.
Solution: Using a Different Aerial
The most common solution for improving your DAB radio signal is using a different aerial. There are a good number of models that will allow you to use an external area in order to achieve a better level of connection.
There is a whole range of aerials out there for you to try, and some even use TV aerials to really boost the signal.
The same applies if you are using a DAB radio in your car, as sometimes the connection is poor due to the aerial on your car not being good enough to reach the signal.
While most car DAB radios that you purchase come with an aerial for you to install, you also have the option to pick one up that is more powerful so that you don’t lose the signal on your travels.
Solution: Keep Wires Untangled (Handheld)
For handheld portable DAB radios, there is one thing that you should always remember – the aerial is usually inside the headphones. As a result, you should always make sure that the wires stay straight and that they don’t get tangled at any point.
This way, you keep the signal clear, but you also ensure the longevity of the aerial by helping to prevent damage over time.
Does DAB Radio Work in your Car
Before we even get into the details, I can tell you that the answer to the question of whether or not a DAB radio will work in your car is yes.
However, there are some things you need to take into consideration before you decide to pick one up – each of which we explore in more detail in this nifty little guide.
So, take a moment to relax, read below, and see what you make of the concept of a DAB radio in your car.
Built-in or Portable?
Some cars have a DAB radio built into them, which can be really handy as it means that you don’t need to bring your own along when you are travelling. As long as you are in a country that has DAB access (like the UK), your car radio will work perfectly.
The best portable DAB radio models are also a great choice if you don’t have one built in, and they will still receive great signal from inside your car. If your car radio has a port, you can even use an AUX cable to plug the portable DAB radio in for better sound.
The only thing you may find, however, is that they don’t change stations nearly as effectively as the built-in forms, so you might have to do the tuning yourself.
This can be tricky because some areas will have better coverage than others, and there isn’t much we can really do about that. At the moment, 9/10 people are being reached by DAB radio, which is fantastic, and the number should be set to increase as the signal strength is improved.
So, if you currently live in a poor coverage area, you might be in luck within the next couple of years. If you live in a populated area, you are more likely to receive a signal. Remote locations are the ones that are currently impacted by poor coverage, and if you have obstructions like forests, then you are
even less likely to get it.
It is possible to install external aerials on the roof of your home to boost the signal and improve your reception, and these are actually very inexpensive as well as effective.
Taking your DAB radio abroad is pretty much pointless. Due to the fact that the UK operates on Band 3 while Europe is on the L frequency, you have very little chance to actually access your stations.
There are some radios that can access both bands, but they are hard to come by and not always accurately labelled. On top of that, you will not be able to receive UK stations even with a signal.
Additionally, every country has its own laws regarding DAB, which is why listening to it outside of the UK can prove to be such an issue. If you need your stations while you are away, your best bet is to use a smart device to stream them from the internet until you get back. If all else fails, internet radios have both the online stations and those offered by DAB and DAB+.
Retuning your DAB Radio
If you need to return your DAB radio in order to access new channels or regain old ones, the main thing to remember is that every radio is different. Therefore, referring to the instruction manual is the first thing you should do.
However, I will also give you a quick rundown of some of the basics you should know about the process. Auto tuning is the best, because it allows you to scan for your stations without you doing any of the work.
There is less margin for error, and the process is a lot faster than if you did it manually. If the automatic tuning fails, there is the option to take advanced measures, but you will need to follow the manufacturers instructions for this.
If none of that works, the only thing left for you to do is actually contact the manufacturer and ask them for assistance. You can call them up or drop them an email, but their support details should be listed in the instruction manual as well as on their website.
How to Get a DAB Radio in Your Car
If you don’t have a built-in DAB radio and want to make the most of your listening experience, here are some of the ways you can get one into your car.
Plug and Play: These are really popular because you don’t need any fancy tech, you just plug it in and get started.
They can be mounted on your windscreen or dashboard for easy viewing and access, or you can get those that plug directly into the lighter/socket of your car. Both types do have an antenna that needs to be placed accordingly.
Digital Conversion: These use the same tech as the above form, but they look way better and keep the aesthetics of your car looking as good as possible.
The fully integrated models mean that the only new addition to your car is an antenna, as you use the existing dash controls it is not suitable for every type of car.
The semi-integrated models come with a wireless remote so that they can be installed in every car, giving you more flexibility.
New Radio: For cars older than ten, this is a good option as you can buy a new radio and get it installed professionally for a reasonable price. The reason it is unlikely to work for newer cars is that the dash design tends to vary considerably.
Smartphone: If all else fails, there are plenty of apps on your smartphone that allows you to connect to the radio via an AUX cable (or USB) that is connected to your phone.
You can even use Bluetooth if both devices are compatible, and it is a great solution for modern cars with no DAB radio installed.
Also Read: Best DAB Bluetooth Radio
Retuning your DAB Radio
FAQ'S (Frequently Asked Questions)
Why do I have to retune my DAB radio?
Which new stations might I receive if I retune my DAB radio?
Do you need a special aerial for DAB radio?
Do you need WiFi for DAB radio?
Can my DAB radio be used anywhere in the UK?
Can I use my DAB radio abroad?
Do I need a new radio to listen to digital?
Will analog radio be phased out?
What's the difference between DAB and DAB+?
With our little guide of FAQ's, you are sure to find the perfect solution to your problem – as well as discover the reason it is faltering in the first place.
Let us know what you thought of our tips and advice in the comments section below; we love hearing from you.