DAB growth slowing across the UK


pure-evoke-1.jpgThe humble DAB radio has been a fixture in middle-class households across the UK for several years now. However, it’s growth appears to be slowing. Although more than half a million sets were sold in December, that’s down nearly 10% on the previous year, and down 20% on the Digital Radio Development Bureau’s forecast for the year.

At the same time, there’s no date been set for analogue radio switchoff and the growth of internet radio and compatible devices directly threatens DAB’s position as the future of radio, in the same way that Blu-ray is being threatened by digital delivery of video content.

DAB either needs a strong injection of support, or to be cut free to sink or swim on its own. Its current middle-ground situation isn’t really helping anyone. Much will depend on what happens in 2009, I suspect. Do you use DAB? Could you live without it? Tell us your story in the comments.

(via the Guardian)

Related posts: Arcam shows off the FMJ T32 Hi-Fi DAB tuner | Pure launches its EVOKE Mio DAB & FM radio, a coloured-in update of the EVOKE-1S

Duncan Geere
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  • DAB is brilliant. It is a shame that there are not more stations and that The Jazz died but depending on where you are you can get many great stations. Both internet and computers are too unreliable to replace DAB. I don’t want to be left with no music because one of my house mates is downloading a movie or the broadband has slowed down or stopped due to high usage or a fault. DAB is convenient and easy to use, although I do often listen to internet radio it is the DAB that is on most of the time.

  • Does anyone have a contact address for Sony’s ‘Playstation Dept.’?

    For all this IPTV malarkey they should get an IPRadio on the interfaces Music reel during this firmware cycle. That would actually be bloody useful, having a big ol’ database of Internet Radio stations to tune into.

    Not least when the last update was entirely underwhelming. Ooh, slideshows… Yawn.

  • DAB radio is like these low energy light bulbs; expensive, under-performing and useless. I have two, a portable in the kitchen and a DAB/FM tuner in my Sony hifi sytem. Although DAB reception is fine [in my area] I always use the the FM band in the tuner as sound quality is so much better. Frankly the best channel now available on DAB is the Birdsong one.

  • You can get 6Music via Internet Radio. This is the thing, you can get what DAB offers at the same or better quality via IP, but with the added benefit of listening to an awful lot more.

    I’m hooked on the new ‘NME Radio’ at the moment, as well as a Lo-Fi specialist station labelled ‘Deeper Sounds’. It’s great to just kick back and chill-out to. Back to back ambient.

    If you own a Nokia, I also recommend scouting for the free app available from Nokia Labs known as the ‘Nokia Internet Radio’. The main BBC channels are absent however due to the UK TV License. Check it out.

  • The main attraction for me is being able to listen to BBC 6Music, which is the only music-related BBC station I can listen to for more than half an hour (or 5 minutes in the case of Radio 1).

    But now that I can tune in on my PC, and my netbook’s speakers are just about as good as most DAB radios (unless I spent a fortune) there’s really no need for me to own one.

  • Sounds like you’ve got a bad radio, frankly. Don’t own one myself but I have two friends who swear by it. They both own models similar to the wee picture in the article. Then again they only really use it to listen to BBC7 so they could probably live without it. Actually I’ve just remembered a third friend who is probably the only person to own a portable DAB radio who has never had any problems with reception so maybe there’ just an issue of bad coverage in certain areas of the country.

    Of course the main reason all those commercial stations failed was the lack of incentive for customers to make the switch. Pay extra to listen to something you can already hear with your existing radio? Sign me up! Or, indeed, not.

  • DRDB always get their forcasts wrong. Basically most people don’t want DAB. The technical problems with DAB are well documented. The audio quality is very poor due to the low bit rates and the use of a very old codec. The reception is very susceptable to interference because not enough error correction was included. DAB uses a higher frequency than FM and so does not penetrate the walls of houses so well. Broadcasters don’t like it either mainly because it is too expensive to run. Channel 4 recently was awarded a new DAB multiplex but had to abandon it because no one wanted to broadcast from it. Many Dab stations were bribed by Ofcom into taking a DAB channel by guarenteing them an FM frequency for 12 years. Many regret that decision.

    The UK DAB system is easily the worst radio system in the world. Most other countries are switching to DAB+ or other technologies. FM is king. It has very good coverage and very high quality STEREO sound and RDS.

    One very promising technology is Digital radio Mondial which can be used in the long, mediam, short and VHF bands.

    DRDB have ignored DRM, internet and DAB+ in thier latest report. I think Internet radio could become the main source of radio in the home. Car radios with internet radio are available now. There are thousands of stations and is capable of very high quality sound and could be built into mobile phones.

    DAB is dead. FM rules the waves (at the moment).

  • The only DAB radio I have ever used can only tune into two stations, cuts out and has no noticable sound quality over fm. Dab seems like a stop gap solution to me, it reminds me of WAP!

  • My father was going to buy a DAB radio for the kitchen before I expressly advised him against it.

    I had read that DAB’s days were already numbered due to the European DAB+ taking over in the not too distant future. That, and internet radio just offers SO much more. Several continents worth infact, and all searchable by genre.

    The addition of a Wi-Fi antenna also meant he could stream content from his phone (Nokia N82) or computer straight to the new kitchen radio from anywhere in the house. He absolutely loves both it and radio again, becase he can listen to whatever he wants… whenever he wants, and not just eight or nine mainstream broadcast channels from the UK.

    The eventual purchase was the ‘PURE Evoke Flow’, incase anyone was interested. It also supports Podcasts like the BBC’s ‘Listen Again’ feature and has an AUX in for your miscellaneous other devices. It’s a smart, yet simple bit of kit.

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