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FM Switch off

kitkat

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Jun 18, 2007
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With the news from the goverment this week that fm will be switched off in 6yrs time what will happen to all these very local indepentant stations that can't afford to move to dab, I listern to all the radio on fm because its so much better why can't they just leave it alone
 

chebby

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Jun 2, 2008
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The quality of the best Freeview radio (or cable/Sky) stations is 95 percent as good as the equivalent on FM if you connect using optical to a decent DAC (and assuming you have a good FM tuner and a professionally installed roof aerial and live in a decent FM reception area).

Typically the choice of radio stations is far less on FM than Freeview and given that many local FM stations have lots of different transmitters, you need a pretty big investment in a directional aerial to make the best of them all. (Unless you compromise with an omni-directional antenna which is only effective where signal strength is pretty robust.)

I have not heard DAB2 (DAB is bad enough for me to leave it well alone for now) but maybe that will be nationally rolled out by 2015 and maybe it will sound good enough. (Yeah right!)

In the meantime the answer would seem to be with internet radio (thousands of stations) and the progress we can expect from that in the next 6 years.

Small independent operators can run an internet radio station with very little capital.

The best internet radio is already pretty good (192kbps AAC sounds extremely respectable) so we will have to remain optimistic that internet bandwidth and reliability will be significantly better for everyone in 6 years time. (I have cable which is reliable and fast but lots of people still struggle to get anything worthy of being called 'broadband' and the BT infrastructure is a sick national joke and a disgrace.)

Portable internet radios (like our Pure Evoke Flow kitchen radio) and even new hifi components like the naimuniti handle internet radio without needing the computer switched on.

In the best possible case FM has superb quality but sadly most people will never hear the difference (or want to) and most people don't even know you can get an FM roof aerial installed and would think the cost insane anyway! They will throw away their paint and food spattered, cracked, 20 year old, cheap plastic portable - with a couple of holes poked in the 2" speaker - and buy a new DAB one for £7.99 with their shopping at Tesco and use that for the next 20 years and be happy!

We should not look to DAB for FM equivalent quality. Freeview radio, iPlayer and internet radio will fill those 'boots' if anything does over the next 6 years.
 

kitkat

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Jun 18, 2007
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What is wrong with keeping fm and have dab as well, the only reason I brough a dab radio is because I like the plays etc on Radio 7 but for music I always choose fm, never ever get reception problems, WHY DO THEY NEED TO CLOSE FM DOWN!!!
 

chebby

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Jun 2, 2008
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Stop wailing and gnashing your teeth.
There is absolutely nothing you or I can do about it, regrettable as it all might be.

I promise you that if you buy a good DAC and connect the optical digital audio output from your Humax then play Radio 4 or 7 or 3 or even local stations (lots of our local stations are on Freeview, far more than on FM in this region at least) you will be be pleasantly suprised at the quality.

BBC iPlayer will enable you to listen to stuff when it is convenient to you (through the same DAC) and is also pretty good now it is AAC.

I think the only losers will be Classic FM listeners who will have to move to DAB.
 

kitkat

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Jun 18, 2007
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chebby:
Stop wailing and gnashing your teeth. There is absolutely nothing you or I can do about it, regrettable as it all might be.

I promise you that if you buy a good DAC and connect the optical digital audio output from your Humax then play Radio 4 or 7 or 3 or even local stations (lots of our local stations are on Freeview, far more than on FM in this region at least) you will be be pleasantly suprised at the quality.

BBC iPlayer will enable you to listen to stuff when it is convenient to you (through the same DAC) and is also pretty good now it is AAC.

I think the only losers will be Classic FM listeners who will have to move to DAB.

Yea thats fine Chebby and I already use freeview for some radio but what about all the fm only radio's in cars etc, even today if you buy a new car/van 9 times out of 10 it will only have a fm/am radio?
 

chebby

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Jun 2, 2008
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kitkat:
Yea thats fine Chebby and I already use freeview for some radio but what about all the fm only radio's in cars etc, even today if you buy a new car/van 9 times out of 10 it will only have a fm/am radio?

Are you using Freeview as I described (optically connected to a DAC) or with the RCA phono connection? It jumps into another league in quality with a good DAC. The analogue output stage in the Freeview box is probably about 15p worth of components! (Or less).
 

kitkat

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Jun 18, 2007
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chebby:
kitkat:
Yea thats fine Chebby and I already use freeview for some radio but what about all the fm only radio's in cars etc, even today if you buy a new car/van 9 times out of 10 it will only have a fm/am radio?

Are you using Freeview as I described (optically connected to a DAC) or with the RCA phono connection? It jumps into another league in quality with a good DAC. The analogue output stage in the Freeview box is probably about 15p worth of components! (Or less).

No just the phono leads (good ones) what would I need and how much for your way? Thanks
 

D.J.KRIME

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Jun 28, 2007
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What about all the people who listen to the radio in their cars as you dont see that many car systems equiped to recieve DAB
 

hammill

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Mar 20, 2008
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kitkat:What is wrong with keeping fm and have dab as well, the only reason I brough a dab radio is because I like the plays etc on Radio 7 but for music I always choose fm, never ever get reception problems, WHY DO THEY NEED TO CLOSE FM DOWN!!!Instead of SHOUTING, try reading the report (it will only take a few minutes) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/16_06_09digitalbritain.pdf. The arguments are quite reasonable to me. Also note that 2015 is a target - if usage criteria are not met, it won't happen.
 

kitkat

New member
Jun 18, 2007
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hammill:kitkat:What is wrong with keeping fm and have dab as well, the only reason I brough a dab radio is because I like the plays etc on Radio 7 but for music I always choose fm, never ever get reception problems, WHY DO THEY NEED TO CLOSE FM DOWN!!!Instead of SHOUTING, try reading the report (it will only take a few minutes) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/16_06_09digitalbritain.pdf. The arguments are quite reasonable to me. Also note that 2015 is a target - if usage criteria are not met, it won't happen.

Yea I fell for that :)
 

chebby

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Jun 2, 2008
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kitkat:chebby:
kitkat:
Yea thats fine Chebby and I already use freeview for some radio but what about all the fm only radio's in cars etc, even today if you buy a new car/van 9 times out of 10 it will only have a fm/am radio?

Are you using Freeview as I described (optically connected to a DAC) or with the RCA phono connection? It jumps into another league in quality with a good DAC. The analogue output stage in the Freeview box is probably about 15p worth of components! (Or less).

No just the phono leads (good ones) what would I need and how much for your way? Thanks

Anywhere from about £125 upwards for a good budget DAC with optical connections. (Beresford TC-7510 £125, Beresford TC-7520 £185, Cambridge Audio DacMagic £230)
 
T

the record spot

Guest
nads:i think they may run into EU problems. as not all EU countries have adopted DAB.

No, they've gone for a better version apparently, one which makes what the UK is doing look pretty shabby.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I know many people in the United Kingdom are partial to all things analogue, but how good is FM radio?

Like every other carrier of audio or video via the airwaves, it has it's weaknesses, whether you have a super roof aerial or not! I'd got as far as saying, FM isn't exactly the highest of fi, so I won't miss it too much. For all the technological advancements, we still have some national stations, e.g. Absolute (Virgin) Radio still broadcasting only on horrible AM! If you think DAB is bad, then you forget about AM! It's not that long ago, the BBC Radio One was only broadcast on AM, excepting the Top 40 charts on a Sunday!

Maybe we have gone for quantity over quality in terms of DAB stations, but is there really a market for so many stations?

I agree with some, that at least every station should broadcast at least 160kbps, ideally 192kbps.

Mind you, I can't see how any broadcast system can make dance/trance/garage or whatever it's called sound any good! :)

However, it could also be argued that if you listen to something on the radio and you like it enough, you'll probably buy it anyway, on a better quality medium, where you as the consumer have more of a say over the quality (better amplifier and CD player or turntable).
 

chebby

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Jun 2, 2008
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niftynigel:....It's not that long ago, the BBC Radio One was only broadcast on AM, excepting the Top 40 charts on a Sunday!

It took over the old Police frequencies on FM/VHF in 1988.

21 years ago can hardly be described as... "not that long ago".

niftynigel:Mind you, I can't see how any broadcast system
can make dance/trance/garage or whatever it's called sound any good!
:)

Showing your age again! (Actually probably our age.) Much 'dance' and 'trance' can sound marvellous on a good system and you are increasingly likely to hear some examples of those genres on BBC radio 2 nowadays.

Here is something to help you cope
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
If I may be brave enough to add to this discussion...

I think things will be far better than you imagine. First of all, I doubt everything will be switched off by 2015.

2nd, I imagine by 2015, the quality will have grown.

I would say, but for a few diehard audiophiles, the quality of DAB is better than with analogue, and the price of cheap DAB radios is not really an issue, even for the old folk.

I have always enjoyed FM, and have a nice Sony tuner, which way back when I thought was quite expensive, but it hasn't been listened to in 2 or 3 years, and I mostly tune in to radio through the TV, or more frequently through internet radio, and LastFM.

Yes, the current quality is not audiophile grade, but I can't see it being too long before they up it. Most people could stream full quality MP3 or similar, or even higher quality through their broadband connections. Personally I haven't heard a tuner that can compete with a full quality MP3, played through a decent system.

So ultimately I doubt most people will actually care. And analogue is certainly a massive waste of bandwidth in the todays world.

I liken it to digital cameras. Only 10 years ago I had friends hating them, but now, the quality has far improved, and a film SLR cannot compete in quality with even a fairly medium quality digital. I have a Canon 40D, and compared to the last film camera I had, it is like a whole new world of detail.

Some people mistakenly see analogue as giving you ALL the information, and rightly say digital always removes some of that information, but then you are at the mercy of recording media... An LP can only give you what a piece of fairly soft plastic open to the elements will give you... It isn't EVERYTHING. A CD at it's best is as good as or better as LP at its best IMO, and a well ripped bit perfect CD, played losslessly through a good system, goes even better. And now we are even getting some fantastic quality downloads from the likes of Linn (who were once making waves when they dared actually make a CD player! I remember the WHF review!)

The same thing will happen with DAB/FM, given that there is at least 5 years left for DAB to improve.

I for one won't be mourning it.
 

chebby

Well-known member
Jun 2, 2008
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al?

Anyway, DAB will only improve once it has been freed from it's (very) lo-fi MP2 shackles.

DAB+ will (ultimately) be the future for quality broadcast radio (AAC+) but it looks like that is going to be many, many years away yet in the UK. (Already being introduced in some other countries of course!)

Right now Freeview Radio has higher bitrates and better quality than DAB and is sitting in most people's living rooms already.

Internet radio will improve but a lot of people's connection bandwidth won't.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
al? ? ah no, not al. But I did read some of the other thread.

But I am not sure what the connection bandwidth problem is? A standard 8Mbit connection is enough for HD TV, never mind high quality audio. I already get a solid 1.2 Meg /second when downloading from decent servers.

And as you say... Freeview Radio is excellent, and what I listen to if I am not using the PC. The analogue tuner, although it served me well, needs dusting...

And in 5 and a half years...

I think people need to get on with it, accept change and be done with. The playback quality of music available has never been higher, in spite of the itunes generation, so a few luddites sweating over the loss of Radio 3 on FM within the next 10 years is not really a major concern IMO.
 

basshead

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Mar 4, 2009
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for me, i dont really care about the 'audiophile' implications for this digital changeover. as andrew pointed out in his blog the practical implications of this are huge! i did a count earlyer and there are 12 devices in my house that have fm radio - from portable radio's to alarm clocks. (i didnt even look in the attick or shed).. will my household be relplacing all of these? nope. they will have to go on the land-fills along with the millions of others. the amount of wastage this will cause is beond beleif! i cant beleive that with the current climate issues and the uk governments push to be a world-leader in climate change, that they are happy to see so many (possibly 100's of millions?) of electrical devices to be thrown away. i may buy one DAB radio eventualy, probably a small one for my kitchen, but that will be it. The best thing about radio is its portability. whether it be in a kitchen, a building site or as a holiday-rep i always listen to radio in work, and most of the time on very cheap radios costing £20 or less. The switch off of FM will be the start of the death of uk radio.
 

chebby

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Jun 2, 2008
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Gfel:I think people need to get on with it, accept change and be done with. The playback quality of music available has never been higher, in spite of the itunes generation, so a few luddites sweating over the loss of Radio 3 on FM within the next 10 years is not really a major concern IMO.

Not sure i would want to label classical music radio fans - who enjoy high quality broadcasts - as "luddites". That is just insulting a minority audience on the grounds of their musical choice, and is (mostly) incorrect anyway.

Those BBC R3 "luddites" are far more likely to be people who have traditionally been prepared to spend the most money on FM tuners and roof aerials and are the most likely to already have the best/most expensive FM + DAB tuners and DAB aerials. (Remember it was the classical crowd who were the earliest and most comprehensive adopters of CD technology when it emerged in the early 1980s.) They may be disappointed that DAB has lower quality but they certainly won't be 'sweating it' over exactly what to do to maximise what is available and probably got their solution in place long before you or I (and spent far more money doing so).

Who do you think buys all those Arcam T32 DAB/DAB+/FM tuners? Certainly not Radio 5 listeners
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Well I certainly wasn't attacking ALL R3 Classical listeners as luddites. Only ones who won't move on. I have been know to do a spot of R3 / Classic FM myself... :) - And I am perfectly happy with it through freeview. In fact even with my fairly good budget tuner (Sony stb920) and an FM aerial, freeview through my Beresford DAC is better.

The current bitrate is 192 I believe, which although admittedly as good as a very good FM tuner with a top-notch aerial , is pretty decent. By the time they switch off, I expect it will be far better.

As for the waste... Yes, that is to be regretted, but I imagine there will be many radio stations left for years to come anyway.

Ultimately, going digital benefits more people than it compromises. And there simply isn't room for both.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
So, will we get a special allowance for trading in a car which has only an FM radio? I can see the auto industry benefits right there...
 

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