One of the most common problems with DAB radios is a poor and inconsistent signal. This is ironic given that digital radio is intended to solve the problem of poor quality FM signals. Let’s look at the causes of poor DAB reception and explore how you can improve your DAB radio signal.
Causes of a Poor Signal
Location in the country
The key determining factor in DAB radio signal is where you live in the country. If the nearest transmitter is very far away, you will probably have a poor DAB radio signal. You can see where your nearest transmitter is here.
In the UK, DAB signals are likely to be particularly poor in the following areas:
- The Scottish Highlands and islands
- The Pennines
- Mid Wales
If you’re unable to receive DAB stations in your area, a good alternative is to buy an internet radio, which picks up stations via the internet.
Location in the home
The radio’s location within your home also makes a difference. Reception is likely to be poor in cellars or inside buildings with thick walls or reinforced concrete.
If this is the case, the first thing to try is repositioning your radio. Move it near a window or away from a thick concrete wall. Your radio’s LCD display might have a signal strength indicator that will help you find the best location.
Obviously this solution isn’t ideal if you want to listen to the radio in a particular room. You should also try varying the aerial length, angle and direction. DAB radio aerials usually work best when positioned vertically unlike FM aerials, which work better horizontally. Once you have moved the radio and adjusted the aerial, try retuning the radio to see if it picks up more stations and has better reception.
Interference can occur when maintenance work is being carried out at radio transmitters. If this is the case, your DAB radio signal should be back to normal once the work is complete.
Interference can also be caused by electrical devices including mobile phones, LCD TVs, laptops and LED lights. This is more likely to be a problem if you live in an area with a weak signal. Sometimes just moving the radio can solve this problem.
You can identify the source of the interference by switching off electrical devices one by one until the interference stops. If the device causing the interference is something you can’t move or leave turned off, you could try using a mains filter plug like the Tacima 6 Way Mains Conditioner and Radio Frequency Interference Filter for your DAB radio.
Lack of headphones (for pocket radios)
Most pocket dab radios use headphones as an aerial. This means that the radio often won’t find many stations or have a signal unless you have some headphones plugged in. If your pocket radio doesn’t pick up many stations or says something like “Service not available”, try retuning it with headphones plugged in.
Using a different aerial
Some DAB radios allow you to use an external aerial. This can greatly improve your DAB signal. One highly-regarded external aerial is the Philex 27741 Indoor DAB Aerial.
Another option is to try using a TV aerial. A TV aerial generally won’t work better than the radio’s original aerial, but some people have had success by using a TV aerial.
Still having problems?
If none of the advice here works and you live in an area that is supposed to have a good signal, there is probably a fault with your DAB radio. Try contacting the manufacturer for troubleshooting advice or to get a refund or replacement for your DAB radio.