With all the talk of radio following Televisions footsteps and becoming a digital service, it can be quite confusing as to what this will mean for your car. In this short blog I will go through the available options on the market today and try to help you find the best solution for your needs.
Firstly, lets look at what DAB actually means for you. The government aim to swap to the digital radio service around 2015. When this happens all of your favourite radio stations will cease to broadcast on the FM wavelength. The only way to pick up these stations will be using a DAB system. If your vehicle does not have DAB already this means you will need to convert your existing set-up.
Integration – Many of the big names in car audio are currently producing kits that will connect to your existing factory spec radio and allow you to listen to DAB stations. These kits are already in the advanced stages or manufacture and we have even had the pleasure of testing a couple of them. Tucking neatly out of site behind the dashboard, the integrated kits offer the ability to hide the kit and simply operate your car stereo as normal. Expect the basic level integration kits to be around the £100-150 mark.
New Stereo – There are a selection of DAB Car Radio’s on the market already. These units have the digital receivers built in and offer an excellent all round solution. The downside is that you will have to replace your factory stereo which is not everyone’s cup of tea. You can find DAB Car Radio’s for around £120.
Separate Unit – Some companies have developed separate units which run along side your stereo and connect via Auxiliary. A good example of this is the Pure Highway. Separate tuners have the advantage of being able to move from vehicle to vehicle and they will also cost slightly less however they are not of the same quality solution as the two I have already ran through. You can find the separate tuners for around £40-80.
All of the solutions I have mentioned will require a DAB aerial to work to there full potential. Again there are many different types of aerial and it is a good idea to speak to the company you use to get advice as to which design will suit your needs best.
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For the majority of the UK, Digital media is slowly being implemented in the form of TV. The government are turning off the analogue broadcast in favour of digital services such as Freeview or Sky. The government have now drawn up plans to do exactly the same for radio, favouring DAB over the current FM wavelength.
DAB has been in the public eye for along time now. The first systems were being advertised as far back as the mid 90’s however the technology has progressed massively over the last 5years with more people taking the service up. A lot of homes now have DAB in one form or another, whether its a separate receiver or through a digital TV service. Now things are moving on the mobile front and Digital radio is becoming more and more present in the automotive industry.
I have a lot of people asking me when buying a new stereo whether they should look for DAB solutions. My response was always the same, ‘When manufacturers offer it as standard then we know that the change over will be immanent’. Well the time has come, manufacturers are lining up DAB solutions straight from the factory for release now. So what are the key things that you need to know about DAB?
The time-scale that the government has put in place predicts that the switch-over will happen sometime around 2015. This may seem like along way off right now but that is a rough time frame, if the uptake is better than predicted we may be forced to upgrade sooner. The switch-over will happen when 50% of vehicles in the UK are able to receive the signal and when the signal covers more than 98% of the country. These figures may seem high however they are well on track to being achieved.
DAB offers a huge range of stations which FM cannot cope with. It allows fantastic audio quality when compared to the analogue broadcast as well as a more consistent stream. No longer will you have to listen to the crackling and hissing as the station drops in and out.
There are going to be a range of choices when it comes to getting yourself ready for the digital switch-over. Which of the solutions you choose will depend on your vehicle and your budget. They range from simply swapping your factory head unit for a DAB car stereo to a fully integrated solution with the factory spec unit. Look out for my next blog when I will be running through each of the options.
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