Do I Need a New Aerial for a DAB Car Radio?

Most existing AM/FM car radios fit into a standard DIN slot. If this is the case for your car, it should be possible to remove the current radio and install a DAB radio in its place.

The existing aerial is intended for AM and FM frequencies and may well filter out stations outside these bands. This will generally prevent reception of DAB stations, which have a 210-230 MHz range of frequencies. Even if it does pick up these stations, mean reception is likely to be relatively poor. Consequently, a separate or additional aerial is required.

DAB Aerial Choices and Challenges

Many DAB car radios come with an aerial that sticks to the inside of the windscreen. You can run the cable behind the dashboard and plug it into the rear of the DAB radio, which will also have a connection for the existing aerial so you can receive both digital and analogue broadcasts.

If the aerial does not work correctly, particularly in areas where the signal is relatively weak, you may need to fit an external aerial. These aerials are relatively inexpensive and come in the form of replacements for your existing aerial, and so can receive both analogue and digital signals, or as separate aerials that are mounted magnetically. A good choice is this Hama antenna that picks up DAB/DAB+ as well as AM and FM radio.

Replacing the existing aerial may not be possible if it also has other uses, such as for GSP reception or to connect other devices. In this case, you can mount an additional magnetic aerial on a flat surface and route the cable through an opening.

To replace an existing aerial, you’ll need to drop the headlining in the car, unfasten the old aerial and install the new one in its place. This should connect to the existing cable or you can fit a new one instead.

Installing or replacing an aerial can be a difficult job and is not for the novice. If you have any doubts, consult a car accessory or audio supplier, or your local dealer, who may also be able to handle the installation.

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