Further information
SDL National - how to listen
retune your DAB radio
Sound Digital website

DAB digital radio logo

DAB plus unofficial logo

DAB retune information
Hold the Autotune button down for 3 seconds to make sure your DAB radio scans for all new stations, or look for 'scan' in the radio's menu and push in the select button/dial for 3 seconds

Monday, 7th March 2016
Why can't I hear some DAB stations on my radio when I tune to them?

This is because they may be broadcasting in a newer standard called DAB+ (pronounced DABplus). DAB+ is simply a more efficient way of broadcasting radio stations using less room than ordinary DAB. Ordinary DAB uses mp2 technology, whereas DAB+ uses a highly efficient MPEG-4 AAC v2 profile (HE-AAC v2), which gives better sound at much lower bitrates than is required of the mp2 codec for a similar quality of sound.

In short, DAB+ stations take up less room, and they have the potential to sound 'better' than DAB as there's room to broadcast in stereo, when the station uses the same space as a DAB station broadcasting in good quality mono. Because of this, you'll need a digital radio that can recognise DAB and DAB+ stations.

Stations have chosen DAB+ because they pay less to broadcast using less bandwidth or 'room' as part of a block of stations. This makes it possible for them to broadcast on digital radio at a price they can justify.

The bad news is that some older radios, and ones at the cheaper end of the range, can't decode (or 'decipher') the DAB+ signal into sound that you can hear through your radio's speaker.

I've read on the web articles that say the UK will only be using the DAB standard and not the DAB+ standard

The articles you have seen are archived articles and are now out-of-date. Plans for DAB+ to start in the UK were only finalised in 2015, and only because some stations have taken the decision to broadcast in DAB+.

Up until the advertisement of the UK's second, national commercial bundle of stations the plan was to stick with DAB in the United Kingdom. It was therefore more cost effective to include only a DAB chip in radios intended to be sold and used in the UK.

As digital radio technology started to appear in other places like Australia and Germany, these countries soon adopted the more efficient and newer DAB+ standard. Since UK manufacturers of radios wanted to sell their products in other countries, combined DAB and DAB+ chips started to appear. In the UK, the manufacturers had to pay a licence fee to allow the chip to receive DAB+ stations. As manufacturers had not predicted that DAB+ would ever be used in the UK, many disabled the DAB+ bit of the chip so they didn't have to pay a fee, but obviously kept the DAB+ capability unlocked for their receivers sold overseas.

Some receivers have the DAB+ part of the chip disabled or turned off, but this can be turned on for a small payment. If you own a DAB radio and you can see Magic Chilled, Jazz FM or Fun Kids radio when tuned to the DAB bundle on which they are carried, but can't hear anything from your speaker, your DAB receiver may not be equipped to receive DAB+ stations. If you can hear Mellow Magic and Share Radio, you know you're getting the second, national commercial bundle of stations and you're in the coverage area. Magic Chilled, Jazz FM Stereo and Fun Kids are broadcast as part of the same bundle.

If you have a Pure branded DAB radio, visit the Pure Upgrade website to see if you can download a software update that will unlock or turn on the DAB+ capability in your radio. This will allow you to hear DAB+ stations.

Otherwise, look out for the DAB+ logo and digital radio 'tick' marque on the radio's box and on product information online. Our DAB digital radio Buyer's Guide suggests good quality receivers capable of tuning in to stations broadcasting in DAB and DAB+ formats, should you wish to listen to DAB+ stations.

radionow.co.uk DAB radio retune information
Hold the Autotune button down for 3 seconds to make sure your DAB radio scans for all stations like these

Which other stations are broadcasting using DAB+?

At the time of writing, some stations on the Portsmouth DAB mini bundle of stations are broadcasting in DAB+. Awaaz FM Community Radio, Radio Caroline, Indulgence and Mango Vibe have all chosen to broadcast in DAB+ (in the case of Mango Vibe, it's also available on regular DAB in the coverage area). This bundle can be heard only in the Portsmouth area.

What if I don't have a DAB radio but I want to listen to these stations?

Visit our DAB Buyers' Guide and make sure the radio you choose has a 'digital tick' and/or the DAB and DAB+ logos on the box or in the description. Buying online? If a DAB receiver also receives DAB+ stations, this will be stated in the online description, or the digital radio 'tick' logo will be shown alongside or below the pictures of the receiver, on the product's webpage.

There are other ways to listen to radio stations; check out the links below to discover other ways.

Related links:
England, NI, Scotland & Wales national radio services, on this website
Freeview DTT radio services, on this website
Sky digital satellite radio services, on this website

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