The Future of Digital Radio: DAB Not Quite Dibs


I once owned what is now commonly termed a vintage radio. Back then of course it wasn’t vintage, just state of the art and I was very proud of it. It was a Roberts portable, and then just like now, it stood for robust quality; a rich lineage of portable radios since Harry Roberts and Leslie Bidmead started the company in Britain back in 1932.

Roberts has never shunned the old school look, and as retro is trending well these days, that gambit seems to have paid off; but as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover, particularly when it comes to technology. Fortunately for Roberts, it has always stayed one step ahead of the game using reliable and quality electronics and the advent of Digital Audio broadcasting or DAB as it is more commonly known, giving Roberts an opportunity to get a real stranglehold on the DAB market.

The future for DAB looked very rosy initially and we were promised an array of goodies from eclipsing FM with higher quality, to a far greater choice of stations and music.


The reality hasn’t fulfilled the promise yet. Yes, there are benefits; there is a bigger choice of music, stations get auto tuned, I can read information about the station, the artist and the song, and there is no annoying interference or hiss when the signal is weak. However, the sound quality can actually be worse than FM in some areas (all about bad error correction) and there is generally a delay in delivering the music, particularly annoying if you are watching a live TV concert and listening to it in DAB. There are also rumours about broadcasters, including the BBC, squeezing bandwidth to cram as many stations as they can another factor in reducing sound quality.

The fact of the matter is, until there is a wholesale overhaul of digital broadcasting, it pays to have a decent DAB receiver to ensure you get the maximum benefit from a system still in its relative infancy.

Roberts continues to produce consistent products and has just released a DAB/ FM RDS digital all weather, water resistant radio called Splash!. This all white model features a swivel handle and a wall mounting plate, 8 station presets, auto scan tuning, a handy LED torch, alarm and a carrying strap for £100.

Sports DAB3 is another new release for sports enthusiasts on the go who want to keep up to date with all the latest scores. This pocket sized DAB has a built in speaker as well as earphone mode, 20 presets and RDS station name display. Yours for £90.