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What is Digital Radio

Scotland's newest digital radio station, Pure Radio Scotland, offers interruption free digital radio, but what is digital radio and how can you enjoy the sweet sounds of Pure Radio Scotland's Robin Galloway, Lynne Hoggan, Paul Harper and Amber Zoe presenters.

As the digitisation of the world continues to infiltrate all quarters of peoples lives and now the world of radio is not different as it fully embraces the frontier with digital radio (or DAB) taking over from traditional FM and AM radio.

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What is digital radio

what is digital radio

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Digital radio works by turning sound into digital signals for transmission, then decoding them at the other end by using digital radio receivers - the result being a digital only, crisp and clear sound quality.

AM and FM broadcasts can suffer from a variety of random interference issues caused by signals bouncing off walls, buildings, hills, digital radio does not. Digital has built-in technology which cleans and filters transmissions, making sure those interference issues experienced on FM and AM devices is almost impossible.

Digital radios also tend to be much friendlier when it comes to tuning in stations. Instead of fiddling with dials and intensely focusing to hear a semblance of sound through the white noise, digital radio listeners simply choose a station by name from a menu, the digital radio then automatically locks on to the appropriate frequency, making station ready to be enjoyed immediately.

The only downside is there isn't any middle ground when tuning a digital radio, you can either get the station you are looking for or you can't.


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What are the Pros of Digital Radio

what is digital radio


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A huge choice of stations, across a variety of genres.

The biggest advantage of DAB radio is the volume of stations available to listeners.

Unlike FM and AM stations, which offer just a handful of options, DAB opens listeners up to a world of choice from digital only stations.

Some of the UK's most popular radio stations are digital only, such as BBC 6 music, BBC Radio 4 and LBC -plus a host of others from around the world, all of which are available to access on DAB radios.

Automatically tunes to stations

Digital radio listeners will not need to remember those awkward frequency numbers. Digital radios offer a list of available stations from the touch of a button. They will even even show listeners what is currently playing on each station.

Bluetooth connections

Bluetooth connection allows listeners to take control of the music, playing radio stations from their mobile devices into their DAB radios. It allows listeners complete control of their stations and also a wireless ability to change stations or turn the radio off entirely.

WiFi connection

Connecting DAB radios to WiFi opens up a world of possibilities to listeners.

WiFi connection allows listeners to access over 30,000 internet radio stations, along with all of the digital radio stations.

Podcast linkup

If radio stations weren't enough, DAB radios can also be linked to your favourite podcasts.

Linking to podcasts helps during those periods when you are struggling to find something to listen to, or if you are in the mood for something more than just music.

DAB radios can connect with however listeners obtain their podcasts and can be controlled through a mobile device or through the radio itself.

Traditional FM radio is on the way out

In 2018, Digital radio listenership finally pulled ahead of FM and AM for the first time. With modern cars all being fitted for the new digital age, with digital radios coming standard, it seems a certainty that FM will be ditched entirely in the near future.


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What are the Cons of Digital Radio

what is digital radio


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Interference

DAB radio was intended to offer a solution to the problems of interference experienced with FM and AM radio stations, however, DAB is still affected by interference.

Instead of the annoying crackling and hissing experienced on FM and AM stations, DAB interference gives off a gurgling noise or even may cut out completely when the signal strength is too low.

Battery drainage

The digital makeup and extra features included with DAB comes at a cost of higher power consumption.

Typically this will not be an issue if your radio is in your car or a fixed location in the your home, but it can be a problem if you listen wirelessly.

DAB signal

Whilst DAB radio aims to serve the entire country with interruption-free sound, some parts of the UK DAB signal remains weak or completely nonexistent.

DAB signals, similar to AM and FM radio, are sent using a transmitter. These transmitters do cover fast stretches of the country, but there are still a number of black-spots. The Welsh mountains, the Pennies, and the Scottish Highlands and islands all suffer from poor or no DAB signals.

This means when driving into these areas whilst listing to a digital radio stations listeners will experience drop-off, interference or a complete loss of signal.

Complete Digital Radio switchover

In the same way the UK government mandated an analogue to digital television switchover in 2012, digital radio will follow the same course as well.

It is unclear when this digital switchover will eventually occur, but it will happen eventually. The switch will impact everything from cars with FM and AM radio's, portable radio devices and anything using FM and AM radio signals.

In 2017, Norway became the country in the EU to completely ditch analogue  in favour of digital.

With Digital radio now overtaking FM and AM for listenership, the digital changeover will happen in the near future.

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