Digital Radio explained

By Anna Kantilaftas, 23 Jun 2016 Car Advice

Digital Radio

First they took away our mixed tapes, then our CD players, and now the talk is all around digital radio.

Some of you reading this might be surprised to know that once upon a time, when Pterodactyl ruled the skies, cars didn’t have a radio. It was just the driver, the engine and the wind. Today, digital radios are starting to replace analogue systems.

Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) is a form of transmitting radio signals via a digital modulation scheme (DM). Unlike analogue radio – which converts sound waves by amplitude modulation (AM) or frequency modulation (FM) and then sends those sound waves to your radio from a transmission tower – digital radio goes through a DM, which compresses the sound waves to create space and then transmits to a radio.

Basically, it’s a more resourceful way of transmitting sound waves to the airwaves.

Because the waves are compressed, it overcomes the limitation of AM and FM channels, and creates a new frequency that gives us more stations.

DAB+ may be replacing analogue (although there are no plans to phase this out in Australia), but even before this new format has gained wide-spread take up, we’re already seeing a new alternative hit the market in the form of data-sucking music streaming services. Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music and Google Play Music mean less ads, no talk back and greater flexibility in user sing-a-long choices. As long as you have access to internet and a connection from your phone to the car’s multimedia system, you have an endless supply of musical choices.

So what are the benefits of DAB+?

DAB+ automatically tunes your stations for you, so there’s no more fiddling with a seek button.

The demise of Shazam. Gone are the days of trying to find out what song is playing on the radio – DAB+ transmits more than just soundwaves, giving you access to the song’s information.

Don’t like talkback? Sick of the same old pop-music? Well, DAB+ offers more radio stations than your generalized FM and AM options. You’ll be able to drive along to Classical music for as long as you can stay awake (note: we don’t recommend classical music while driving if it puts you to sleep).

If you’re heading on a long road trip, don’t expect DAB+ to work everywhere. Without the satellite tower infrastructure in place in all parts of Australia, leaving major cities can leave your radio rendered useless. In which case, we hope you’ve stacked your iPod.