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Is FM radio dead?

DAB radios have been on the market for quite some time and we've recently been asked if FM radio is on the way out and DAB radio is now the only option. The short answer is they're both still available and relevant, but which is the best way to listen to the radio these days, on DAB (digital audio broadcasting) or on the trusty FM (Frequency Modulation) stations?

It seems most people have seen or used a DAB radio, but don’t really know what DAB means in comparison to FM radio signal use, or which type of radio, FM or DAB, to buy next, so we thought we'd investigate.

What is FM radio?

‘Frequency Modulation’ is the analogue system that allows stations to broadcast via frequencies of between 88 to 108 MHz (megahertz), or 88.1FM to 107.9FM on the dial. The broadcasting frequencies need to be at least 200 MHz apart to stop them interfering with each other, so the number of radio stations that can transmit within the FM bandwidth is limited. FM signals are unable to be broadcast over long distance, hence when you travel further away from the station's transmitter your radio can no longer pick up the signal, unless you’ve got a special antenna.

What is DAB radio?

Digital audio broadcasting allows radio stations to transmit the signal digitally, a bit like the Freeview television stations. The advantage is that it doesn’t have the MHZ (megahertz) frequency limitations that the FM signals have to operate and compete within. We’ve seen many new stations popping up as DAB only stations, like BBC 6 Music and Talksport, resulting in much more choice and the list of stations is alphabetical, so you scroll down the list rather than remembering a station number.

Comparing the two

So, if we get more choice by using a DAB radio, is the end nigh for the FM broadcasting system and our favourite FM radio station settings? It seems not quite yet. Many of us still like to tune the radio and play around to find our favourite channel and FM broadcasts can still come in clearer than DAB signals, because DAB transmits on a smaller range of frequencies. Let’s not forget too that some people, still live in remote areas that at the moment may not have ready access to DAB transmitters. Or, if we live in a steel-framed or reinforced concrete building, a basement flat or in an area where we get poor FM or phone service, the DAB coverage could be affected.

What’s the answer?

Versatile digital radios that offer the choice of FM and DAB stations seem to be the way forward for a new radio purchase. They've traditionally been more expensive than one or the other, but we have just stocked a new range of great value versatile radios, that offer both FM and DAB functionalities and come in stylish, retro designs. They’re all DAB+ radios so can pick up stations on the new upgrade of the DAB system, which means they can carry even more stations than first generation DAB radios.

The Denver DAB-38 portable digital radio at £49.99 +P&P, in either a dark wood or dark grey vintage, allows you to switch between DAB and FM radio, scan for, select or preset your stations. It comes with a smart carry handle, DAB+, 4 watt RMS speakers, a 2.8” inch LED screen, dual alarm, snooze and sleep functions, stereo headphone jack and battery back-up.

 

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The Denver DAB-39 portable digital radio at £39.99 +P&P, in either a striking blue or stylish grey design, has all the same great features as the DAB-39 but is a lighter weight radio in a modern, rubberised matt finish.

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The Denver DAB-40 portable digital radio at £39.99 +P&P, comes in either a modern, monochrome black and white version or a light grey and white design and is slightly lighter still. Again, with all the benefits of the DAB-38 and DAB-39 versions, this versatile DAB+ and FM digital radio is another great option, depending on your individual style and favourite colour choice.

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Happy listening! Please do please here, or email us at 3wisemonkeys.co.uk

(Additional Sources: www.ukdigitalradio.com article 25th January 2017 and www.ebay.co.uk article 16th March 2016)

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