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Markymark6,869 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today
Much as I think DAB+ is the way forward, it is a shame that old DAB radios (which still make up a significant part of DAB listening) still show the stations as available but are then silent when you select them. It's quite a bad listener experience so I can see why they've been cautious. (for comparison, if your Freeview box doesn't do DVB-T2 channels, you're not even aware they exist).

DAB+ also seems to be heavily affected by the standard of the processing, more so than DAB to my ears. The Virgin DAB+ stations sound pretty metallic to me, like an old Real Player stream that hadn't got up to speed. Some others of the same bitrate aren't so bad. The new Global D1 stations (admittedly slightly higher bitrate) sound not bad at all. (and also it's a big relief to see Global so far using DAB+ to deliver stereo, rather than just cram in more stations)

While there is an issue with older DAB radios, of which there are still a few around, I would argue they no longer take up a significant part of listening. Thankfully Europe and Australia have been using DAB+ entirely much longer than we have, so radios have been compatible for quite some time now. Certainly all the car radios and adapters I've come across are DAB+ compatible, and I know some of the older Pure radios are software upgradable to enable DAB+.


The metallic sounding audio is entirely down to the ridiculously low bitrates being used as VMPhil suggested. You'll notice the stations using 24kbps (i.e. BFBS) sound particularly bad. The standard itself with the right bitrates can sound very good as it's just AAC audio, same as used for HD TV, downloaded music and online videos. Ideally they should be no lower than 48kbps for stereo broadcasting, but 64kbps would be best. Hopefully when we reach a point where all stations are DAB+ encoded they'll increase all the bitrates rather than trying to cram in another 10 stations, as overly compressed audio is the one thing really letting DAB in this country down.

The Global stations sound a bit better as they've made the sensible decision to use a 32khz sampling rate instead of the 44.1khz rate normally used, which means they're not trying to cram as much audio data in the limited bandwidth. The downside is you lose any audio frequencies above 16khz, but most people won't really notice that. The DAB+ stations on the SDL mux sadly haven't had the same idea.


The metallic sound on low bit rate DAB+ stations is also due to synthesised content, that ‘papers over the significant cracks’. It’s an extra 8kb/s layer. On some receivers it takes a second or so for this second layer to lock up, and you hear the raw unenhanced signal, that sounds like a bad phone line
noggin14,375 posts since 26 Jun 2001
Much as I think DAB+ is the way forward, it is a shame that old DAB radios (which still make up a significant part of DAB listening) still show the stations as available but are then silent when you select them. It's quite a bad listener experience so I can see why they've been cautious. (for comparison, if your Freeview box doesn't do DVB-T2 channels, you're not even aware they exist).

DAB+ also seems to be heavily affected by the standard of the processing, more so than DAB to my ears. The Virgin DAB+ stations sound pretty metallic to me, like an old Real Player stream that hadn't got up to speed. Some others of the same bitrate aren't so bad. The new Global D1 stations (admittedly slightly higher bitrate) sound not bad at all. (and also it's a big relief to see Global so far using DAB+ to deliver stereo, rather than just cram in more stations)

While there is an issue with older DAB radios, of which there are still a few around, I would argue they no longer take up a significant part of listening. Thankfully Europe and Australia have been using DAB+ entirely much longer than we have, so radios have been compatible for quite some time now. Certainly all the car radios and adapters I've come across are DAB+ compatible, and I know some of the older Pure radios are software upgradable to enable DAB+.


The metallic sounding audio is entirely down to the ridiculously low bitrates being used as VMPhil suggested. You'll notice the stations using 24kbps (i.e. BFBS) sound particularly bad. The standard itself with the right bitrates can sound very good as it's just AAC audio, same as used for HD TV, downloaded music and online videos. Ideally they should be no lower than 48kbps for stereo broadcasting, but 64kbps would be best. Hopefully when we reach a point where all stations are DAB+ encoded they'll increase all the bitrates rather than trying to cram in another 10 stations, as overly compressed audio is the one thing really letting DAB in this country down.

The Global stations sound a bit better as they've made the sensible decision to use a 32khz sampling rate instead of the 44.1khz rate normally used, which means they're not trying to cram as much audio data in the limited bandwidth. The downside is you lose any audio frequencies above 16khz, but most people won't really notice that. The DAB+ stations on the SDL mux sadly haven't had the same idea.


The metallic sound on low bit rate DAB+ stations is also due to synthesised content, that ‘papers over the significant cracks’. It’s an extra 8kb/s layer. On some receivers it takes a second or so for this second layer to lock up, and you hear the raw unenhanced signal, that sounds like a bad phone line


Yes - and there are a very few DAB+ receivers that don't use the additional layer/stream in SBR I believe?
all new Phil3,192 posts since 12 Feb 2005
Granada North West Today
So Heart’s breakfast show. Is Amanda Holden actually sat there presenting the show? I listened for the first time today and it was mostly Jamie Theakston with her inputting every now and then by the sound of it. It certainly didn’t seem like a show with 2 equal co-presenters.
I love lamp
Neil Jones5,325 posts since 23 Dec 2001
Central (West) Midlands Today
So Heart’s breakfast show. Is Amanda Holden actually sat there presenting the show? I listened for the first time today and it was mostly Jamie Theakston with her inputting every now and then by the sound of it. It certainly didn’t seem like a show with 2 equal co-presenters.


Well elsewhere in the show people were phoning in and talking to Amanda so presumably she's there but yes the entire operation sounds like its Jamie Theakston with guest Amanda Holden.
VMPhil9,705 posts since 31 Mar 2005
Granada North West Today
A DAB+ test service has appeared today, presumably to be replaced by Heart Dance on Friday but it's odd as they didn't have a test service before Heart/Smooth Extra changed to DAB+, nor before Gold UK launched. I wonder if there are further plans for stations to go DAB+.

It's quite a turnaround given a few years ago there were no DAB+ services in the UK at all and it looked unlikely there ever would be, before small‐scale DAB came into the picture.
London Lite10,457 posts since 4 Jan 2003
London London


It's quite a turnaround given a few years ago there were no DAB+ services in the UK at all and it looked unlikely there ever would be, before small‐scale DAB came into the picture.


The small scale DAB trials have changed everything regarding the use of distribution of DAB. It appears to have encouraged take up of DAB with the new DAB+ decoders in receivers, then with the SDL national mux also having DAB+ only stations, it makes sense for Global who haven't been DAB+ friendly until now to come on board with soon to be four stations using the format.

As for Heart Dance, it appears they'll be two live shows a day on weekdays, another on Saturday morning and a simulcast of Club Classics with Heart FM on Fri/Sat evenings. A considerable investment compared to Heart 80s and Gold which only have a single presenter per day.
1
VMPhil gave kudos
Jon7,871 posts since 11 Apr 2005
Central (West) Midlands Today

I would expect 300,000 would be seen as a solid start for them and with most of those listeners coming from Radio 2 and Classic FM but mysteriously with neither of those stations losing listeners.

Just below that 300,000 for Scala with 258,000.

Radio 2 oddly sees Ken Bruce’s show rating higher than Breakfast.