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All posts by Michael

Below are all of Michael's postings, with the most recent are at the bottom of the page.

Map of all DAB transmitters
Friday 15 March 2013 3:44PM

Hi, is there a problem with the website at the moment? The maps and lists don't seen to be loading.

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I'm a regular visitor to this site and have been reading these comments with interest. It does seem though, that some people need to start thinking a bit more pragmatically.

As a volunteer at my local community radio station I've always been a radio fan and of course worried about any talk of getting rid of FM.

However... I'm also a tech fan and earlier this year I took the plunge and got myself a Pure Sirocco 550 - a great piece of kit and perfect for comparing the merits of FM, DAB and Internet radio.

Living in BD10 I'm less than 1 km away from the Idle transmitter - which as well as occasionally broadcasting me on 106.6FM (when I'm volunteering at BCB), also carries quite a lot of other FM, as well as the BBC, Digital One and Yorkshire DAB mux's. I can also receive the Leeds mux from Beecroft Hill and even the Bradford mux makes it reliably over Baildon Moor from the Keighley transmitter - despite the pessimistic predictions of most coverage maps!

I've done a lot of listening and comparing and also been talking to people at work about their experiences of DAB, especially in their cars.

The result - shock horror - it's not all that bad! In fact, it's actually quite good.

Comparing FM broadcasts with the equivalent DAB streams (most of which are carried at 128Kbps) shows that the quality is comparable and in many cases, better - Classic FM (despite dropping to 128Kbps) and the BBC stations are worthy of particular praise - maybe there's an issue with their FM broadcasts from Idle, but DAB is definitely better.

The number and choice of stations is great too. Maybe I'm lucky living in West Yorkshire where coverage is good, but the thing is I CAN see the point of DAB. I'm not advocating we should turn of FM anytime soon - but it is progress.

People were predicting the end of the world as we know it when analogue TV was switched off - but guess what, it was a success.

I think ultimately the same will be true of radio. The process will take longer, but it will happen and it needs to happen.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that there are people who get so passionate about analogue and who can argue about the benefits and merits of different technical solutions - I spend may hours doing that myself. We need people like that.

But... for the vast majority, DAB works and just about everybody who I talk to about their "overall experience" is supportive. That is what matters.

Yes, DAB+ would be great, maybe DRM would've been a good idea... but we are where we are. Pragmatism is the order of the day.

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It's true that local DAB coverage can be an issue when travelling outside the area... hopefully this will improve as time goes on.

For example, in West Yorkshire, the Leeds mux was recently added to Emley Moor - massively boosting coverage to the point where it almost certainly beats FM for all of the stations carried, even BBC Radio Leeds. We can only hope that this process continues.

In the meantime, fallback to FM and MW will be required. I suppose that some people will tolerate the hiss and dropouts from distant local analogue transmissions as they travel away from their local area - something that just isn't possible with DAB.

Of course in some cases the coverage argument works the other way... I'm a regular listener to Real Radio Yorkshire that becomes too bad to listen to on FM much past York when heading East. However, it is carried on the Yorkshire DAB mux which has much better coverage. That said, I think the Yorkshire mux is being switched off next year!

One step forward.... :)

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Thanks for these series of articles Brian... very informative and a good read,

I'll not repeat my comments from "part 1" but it does amaze and, to an extent, amuse me how vocal some of the anti-DAB guys are.

Earlier this evening I did some of my own comparisons between FM and DAB on BBC Radio 3 using my Pure Sirocco 550. The difference is noticeable - but I have to say... I prefer the 192Kbps DAB.

It seems that what some people describe as "a warm" sound on FM, I hear as more muffled; an indistinctness.

Some of the more ranting comments remind me of a Telecoms Manager at my company back in the early 90's bemoaning the shutdown of the Vodafone analogue mobile network. He didn't want to lose his fitted car-phone because "the range is much better and I can shout through the crackling and interference!" Needless to say he eventually came to love the features on his GSM phone :-)

It also amuses me when people complain about mono on speech stations like Talk Sport. If the commentary is coming from a sports ground then it's probably via an ISDN line using a G.722 codec - at least their FM radios "warm it up" a bit! :-)

And as for anybody who is still saying analogue recordings are better than CD... well, I think we can safely disregard any of their comments!

As a volunteer at my local community radio station I love FM - it's so useful being able to do noisy outside broadcasts and use the broadcast signal as a monitor (assuming an ISDN backhaul) - much cheaper and more reliable than wireless monitor headsets!

But I also love DAB. I love the fact I have the choice of 50 stations and, if I'm honest, I admire the design work that went in to a system that's over 20 years old and still works so well.

FM isn't dead yet, but eventually it will need to shuffle off - along with, I suspect, most of the trolls who put so much effort in trying to suggest DAB has no future.

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As I mentioned in one of the other threads... DAB coverage here in West Yorkshire already beats the equivalent FM service, including BBC Radio Leeds.... and the rollout isn't complete.

"If the BBC stop transmitting on FM I will stop listening simple as that."
- this comment made me laugh out loud.
Has Ian hasn't watched any BBC TV since DSO was completed I wonder?

Either way, I don't think the BBC will be too worried. And why go on about not wanting to listen in mono? The only stations in mono on DAB are those that are not available on any analogue platform, are currently on MW, or are speech only, so don't need stereo!

Things can only get better, but somehow methinks some people just won't accept it. Oh well, at least the rest (majority) of us can enjoy the progress.

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nickwilcock: I can personally confirm that the community radio station I volunteer at - BCB 106.6FM in Bradford, is NOT rubbish!

Some of our output, particularly the sports coverage, is often better than that I hear from local commercial and, in some cases the local BBC stations.

The community radio sector provides a vital local service and you should be way of making sweeping generalisations about it.

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Trevor Harris:
"DAB is not fit for purpose and I am paying for it"

But the point people keep trying to make is that it all sort of depends on what that purpose is!

FM isn't "fit for purpose" if somebody wants to listen to BBC Radio 6 Music in their car, or listen to Real Radio in North Yorkshire, to give just two examples.

I am also paying for DAB. And I like it.
I'm also paying for lots of things I don't like, like EastEnders for example. It's called living in a democracy. We have choice. Celebrate that and be happy!

If you don't like / aren't happy with DAB - don't use it. Just like I don't watch EastEnders.

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