Radio FAQs

This page answers some of the most common questions people have when they’re buying a radio. You can use the table of contents below to skip to the questions that interest you.

Do digital radios need wifi?

No, digital DAB radios do not need wifi or internet to work. You can get internet radios that require wifi, normal DAB/DAB+ radios do not require wifi.


What’s the difference between MW and AM?

Actually, for radio users, MW and AM are the same. MW is the frequency band 526.5 kHz to 1606.5 kHz in Europe (it’s different in the US). AM is the process of broadcasting radio using amplitude modulation. This is done within the MW frequency band, so if a radio is advertised as having AM this is essentially the same as having MW and vice versa. The AM broadcasting page on Wikipedia explains this in more detail.


What does it mean when an FM radio has RDS?

RDS stands for “Radio Data System”. It lets FM broadcasters send extra information over the transmission. This could include data about the time, and station or programme. What this means in practice is that FM radios with RDS display the station name and often the programme name on the radio’s LCD display. This can be very useful in places such as London where there are so many radio stations that you won’t be able to guess which station you’re listening to.


What is a radio firmware update?

Firmware is essentially the way the radio is programmed. Sometimes radio manufactures improve this programming and let radio owners take advantage of this by updating their firmware rather than having to buy a new machine.

Radio firmware updates often fix bugs and common problems that affect radios, so installing them is a good idea if you want to get the most out of your radio.


Where’s the best place to position my DAB radio for a good signal?

If you want to improve your DAB signal, consider positioning it near a window or upstairs. Avoid putting it in the cellar or behind a thick wall. Also, you should try extending the aerial fully and changing its angle. Read this article for more advice on improving your DAB radio signal.


Can I get foreign stations on my DAB radio?

No, DAB radio in the UK only picks up British channels. If you’d like to receive international stations, consider getting and internet radio that connects to international stations via WiFi.


Is DAB radio broadcast in stereo?

Yes, DAB radio is broadcast in stereo. However, not all radios offer stereo sound. For a DAB radio with stereo speakers, consider the Roberts Blutune200.


Will my DAB radio work abroad?

Yes, but you will only receive digital radio stations from that country. This means you can’t take your DAB radio to France and listen to BBC Radio 4, for example. Again, if you want to receive stations from different countries you should consider getting an internet radio that connects to WiFi.


Will my FM or TV aerial work for a DAB radio?

An FM or TV aerial should be able to pick up some DAB stations when connected to a DAB radio, but a specially designed DAB aerial will usually work better.


Can I get DAB radio in my part of the UK?

DAB is available for 97% of the UK population. If you live in a remote rural area you may have trouble picking up digital radio channels. Use the postcode search here. to see which stations you should be able to receive in your area.

If you take your DAB radio on a trip or when moving house you may need to retune it.


What is DAB+?

DAB+ is a more efficient and advanced version of DAB technology. Eventually regular stations may be replaced by DAB+ stations, though this isn’t expected to happen soon.


Why is DAB delayed when compared to analogue radio?

If you try listening to the same station on a DAB and an analogue radio, the DAB radio will be slightly delayed. This is because the analogue broadcast is transformed to a digital signal for DAB radio, which takes around two seconds.


Why is the UK switching to digital radio?

There is no more capacity for radio stations within FM, whereas digital radio can support unlimited radio stations. Digital broadcasting is also more efficient so it makes long-term economic sense to switch to digital.


When will the digital radio switchover happen in the UK?

A date hasn’t yet been set for the country switching to digital radio. It’s expected to happen after 50% of all radio listening is digital. It’s a good idea to make sure the next radio you buy is digital just in case.


Does DAB radio offer better sound quality than FM?

In theory yes, but in practice this is not always the case. Digital radio doesn’t have the hiss or crackle of a poorly tuned FM radio, but sometimes the sound can be choppy if the signal isn’t very good. If you have a good signal, however, you should be able to enjoy a superior sound quality.


How many more stations will I get with DAB radio?

Usually, getting a DAB radio doubles the number of stations you can receive. To check which stations are available in your area, use the postcode search here.


What is the Digital Tick?

If a radio has been “Digital Tick approved”, this means it is future-proof and will still be able to receive radio stations after any future digital switchover.


What’s the Difference Between DAB+ and DAB?

DAB+ is a more modern way of transmitting digital radio than DAB. DAB is still the standard used in the UK, though other countries such as Norway and Switzerland have moved to DAB+, and this is will probably happen in the UK at some point, though there are no plans for a switchover yet.

In technical terms, the difference between DAB and DAB+ is that DAB uses MP2 encoding, while DAB+ uses aacPlus He v2 encoding. What that means in practical terms is that DAB+ can offer a better sound and is make transmitting radio more efficient. It also features better error correction, which means it suffers less from the gurgling or squelching sound that can plague regular DAB radios.

It’s important to note that DAB+ stations won’t necessarily sound better, though getting a DAB+ radio should mean you get a bigger choice of stations than you would with a regular DAB radio. DAB+ also future-proofs your radio against any possible switchover in the future.

At the moment there are only a handful of DAB+ transmissions in the UK, so you won’t have a very big choice of stations.


What does it mean when a radio has Bluetooth?

If a radio has Bluetooth, it means you can use it as a wireless speaker to listen to music or audio from another device that has Bluetooth. For example, if you have some music on your phone and both your phone and radio have Bluetooth functionality, you could play that music through your radio’s speakers. You could also use it to stream music or radio from the internet if your phone or other Bluetooth device is connected to the internet.


What is DLNA?

DLNA stands for Digital Living Network Alliance. The Digital Living Network is group of organisations responsible for creating an industry-wide standard for sharing data across a home network. It was founded in 2003 with the objective of making it easier to do things like watch video files and view pictures on different devices by connecting them to another device over a home network.

DLNA lets you share data such as music and video over your home network on different devices. This means you could play music from your laptop through your radio speakers if it is compatible with DLNA. This can be done through a wired or wireless network.

DLNA can only be used to share data between two devices if they both support it. DLNA devices are classed as either servers or clients. Servers store data, while clients simply play the data back. If you have a Windows PC it will have DLNA built in and you should be able to use Windows Media Player as a media server.