An article appeared in the Times on 22nd June 2009 by Libby Purves describing DAB as “energy guzzling”. Suddenly I had that feeling of ‘maybe I am not alone after all’ and various discussions down at the Mold & District Amateur Radio Club and with other amateurs on the air came flooding back.
In principle DAB should have been a method of delivering extremely high quality content in a narrow bandwidth, instead because of commercial greed and officialdom DAB is a lame duck using too much bandwidth with a lack of quality that is painful to anyone used to CD quality or better. Worse still is that it is totally useless when driving because of the ‘now I have a signals, now I don’t’ effect and if you ask most people they only listen to the radio when driving. Most of the stations available on DAB are also available via Freeview, Satellite and the Internet at much better bit rates than the DAB broadcasts which for most of us makes buying a DAB radio pointless. Very few people are buying into DAB because the receivers are expensive and they are expensive because the chips used in their production are expensive because they are not selling enough, the classic vicious circle.
As someone at M&DARC said they have traded low cost, energy efficient receivers and high power transmitting stations for high cost, energy inefficient receivers and low power transmitters. The problem comes from amount of power used in the DAB receiver to decode the digital signal. Computer processing comes at a price and for the consumer with a simple portable radio that equates to buying batteries every two weeks compared to every six months with an analog receiver.
Read the article 'Radio revolution will leave listeners in silence' (Times June 22) at
Practical Wireless editor Rob Mannion, G3XFD had something to say about it in the Daily Telegraph’s letters page but editing made it sound like he was in favour of DAB. Read the unedited version here… Rob's view