Radio 4's long wave goodbye

In reply to G3NYY:

As for DAB “only working in urban areas”, I would hardly
describe Tewkesbury as part of an urban sprawl. We do not even have
cable, and all our Internet has to come via BT’s copper pair.
However, as I have already mentioned, I can get reliable reception of
some 74 different UK radio stations via DAB, and some 20,000 worldwide
stations on my Internet radio. No contest!

Walt (G3NYY)

Reliability is dependant on the reliability of the internet connection. I am surrounded by urban sprawl, my internet comes via fibre, but such is the pressure on the ISP that I lose contact with the server several times a day, so if I was injudiciously using internet radio I would be losing my programs frequently. Anyway, digital radio masquerades as hi-fi but it actually sounds lousy to me!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

My internet access at the end of a 2km copper wire with junctions every hundred metres or so is pretty patchy too.

I quite agree with your comments about DAB quality. I have ClassicFM set up on FM and use DAB for Radio4 and 4extra where the rubbish quality doesn’t matter much. I think the whole system is already out of date. Isn’t the rest of Europe on DAB2? The waste involved if switchover goes ahead is unbelievable. We have at least nine radios here (not including the amateur ones). Only one does DAB. The power consumption is also much higher. The whole exercise seems daft to me, but I suppose that is what government is for.

BTW, what is DRM in this context. I thought it was something to do with copyright protection.



In reply to M0JLA:

what is DRM in this context

Digital Radio Mondiale. It’s a digital modulation method for LW/MW/SW broadcasting. There is another scheme for VHF, DRM+

DAB’s problem is that there is not enough RF spectrum avialable and the CODEC used is very old. The result is that too many stations are being squeezed into too little bandwidth and low bit rate signals are used and hence poorer quality signals than possible. Poorer than the analogue FM it is meant to replace. In audio quality terms it is a backwards step. However, being a hifi freak I’m not in DAB’s target market. (I’m looking at a cheap upgrade on my audio system and about to spend about £5k on amp and speakers) A one time promoter of DAB said (paraphrased) "people who complain about the quality are being stupid, it doesn’t matter that DAB doesn’t sound better, look at all the stations there are. It’s all about choice. "

The majority of DAB receivers sold have no way of having the software for the CODECs updated and so we are stuck with a 20 year old technology with no upgrade path other than buying new. You could say we have 80 year old technology with AM and you’re right. The problem is that the pace of improvement in technology is still advancing and so we should be using “soft” hardware. i.e. Hardware which can be updated in the field so that as and when new schemes come along we can update existing products. The only update path is to update by buying new hardware. If you have committed money already you wont be keen to scrap what you have.

I’d be happy with upgrading all my FM receivers if DAB sounded better than now. But it doesn’t and can’t unless the BBC reduce the number of stations transmitted. That would be admitting they were wrong and hell will freeze over first.


In reply to G8XYJ:
I read all the comments on the Guardian article because they were, on the whole, interesting and occasionally LOL funny. The most memorable was on page 2. It described what happened in the Netherlands when two transmitter sites failed - one was due to a fire. There was no means to tell a large part of the population what was going on. I recall that the Dutch government took the findings of the subsequent investigation on board and are building new long wave transmitter for use in emergencies. I imagine Britain will revert to town criers in such a situation - it’s the sort of fudged response for which we’re famous.

ps listen out for my special event station GB0WNS on 80/40/20 phone this Saturday taking part in JOTA.

In reply to M0YDH:

History tends to repeat itself.

I am old enough to remember the introduction of video-cassette recording systems for use at home in the 1970s. The two main competing systems were Betamax and VHS (there were others). It was always accepted that Betamax was a superior system … but what did we end up with as the standard?


And then there were 8-track audio cartridges a decade earlier. A similar story.

BTW, the high power MW Orfordness transmitter which was formerly used for the BBC World Service on 648 kHz has now been leased by a Dutch radio station to carry its domestic service.

Walt (G3NYY)

In reply to G3NYY:

BTW, the high power MW Orfordness transmitter which was formerly used
for the BBC World Service on 648 kHz has now been leased by a Dutch
radio station to carry its domestic service.

Walt (G3NYY)

Hi Walt,

Things have gone full circle then. When I was a kid I lived a few
miles from Orfordness, and the Dutch station Hilversum on 298 and
402 metres was stronger than most of the BBC stations!

Incidentally, I’m pretty sure that my Economy 7 electric meter is
switched from ‘night to day’ tariff by a signal from Droitwich. Lets hope
that if and when it does shut down, it’s while it is in the low
night time tariff. Not my luck though!

Kind regards