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DAB or FM ?

I much prefer to listen to broadcast music [mostly 70's] but am limited to DAB until I can get a decent outdoor FM dipole sorted.

Going back to a previous comment by Roseval that "sound should be true to the recording", would anyone have any thoughts on what is better at achieving this:-

a) Broadcast FM played back through a quality tuner + stereo system ?
b) Broadcast DAB played back through the same system as above  ?

Would I also be right in assuming that the broadcast source will most likely be digital for BBC R2 e.g. Johnny Walker - Sounds Of The 70's  but what about Classic FM ?

Re: DAB or FM ?

Reply #1
with regards to the BBC transmissions, if you have a third option to use the BBC Sounds service then I would avail of it. It is transmitted in 320kbps AAC and the quality is fantastic.

FM has a frequency cutoff of ~15.5kHz in the UK and DAB I think is at about 17kHz using mp2 iirc.
Not that frequency range is the only aspect that affects quality of course.

Re: DAB or FM ?

Reply #2
Thanks for the info Jaybee....

To enable timeshift, I have listened to Johnny Walker on the BBC Sounds App & it sounded good albeit  via the macbook speakers. Problem being that it an old Macbook & does not have a line out to input a decent amp. Out of interest, my old Roberts Gemini DAB displays 128bps which seems very low compared to 320kbps you mention below ?

Very good point you make about the 15 / 17KHz cut off for radio broadcasts. Coincidentally I have raised a previous thread because my hearing stops at around 11kHz but others have kindly replied that most musical notes are well within that limit so that issue won't impact for me.

Re: DAB or FM ?

Reply #3
old Macbook

Might it be that the headphone out doubles as a Toslink (spdif over optical) out?
Allows you to drive any DAC with Toslink input.

Re: DAB or FM ?

Reply #4
I was an early DAB adopter, mainly for Test Match Special, but reception problems where I live meant I often got that horrible bubbling noise when the signal wasn't getting through well enough.
To replace the DAB unit, I bought a cheap FreeView TV box and plugged the audio output into the hi-fi as my "radio" tuner. This suits me fine, as I don't need to have the laptop or a screen switched on to listen (easy to memorise the channel numbers for BBC stations). Reception is fine, as it is attached to the rooftop TV aerial.
Any stations I can't get on FreeView, I use the laptop to stream. Plus BBC Sounds is always available for catch-up purposes.

Re: DAB or FM ?

Reply #5
Thanks Roseval, the old macbook just has a 3.5mm stereo headphone socket so I am ruling this out. my wife has an ipad but and it seams there are several ways of extracting audio.

Hi Jabba - yes I have used freeview box phono o/p in the past. Fortunately  DAB reception is now quite good where I live, even on an indoor aerial.

What this boils down to is will I get better quality music from DAB or IP Sounds App i.e. if DAB steams at 128bps and Sounds App at 320kbps [as per Jaybee] then can I assume the Sounds App is better ?

Re: DAB or FM ?

Reply #6
What this boils down to is will I get better quality music from DAB or IP Sounds App i.e. if DAB steams at 128bps and Sounds App at 320kbps [as per Jaybee] then can I assume the Sounds App is better ?
BBC Sounds is superior for sure. aac is also a far newer codec than mp2 than DAB uses, so the resulting lossy compressed file will be created having used a more efficient encoder to produce the audio file.

320kbps is only available in the UK.

This might be of interest: BBC Radio Tech spec

Re: DAB or FM ?

Reply #7
I'd also say that going the Sounds route also brings BBC local stations, catch-up services and BBC podcasts into the bargain. So as well as using a more modern codec, you've got more options at your fingertips and a better user interface.
Add an app like TuneIn for other stations from across the globe and bookmark your favourites there, then DAB falls even further behind when it comes to pros and cons.


Re: DAB or FM ?

Reply #8
Thanks Jaybee & Jabba.

I am now reassured that DAB is not an option & come to think of it, I recall flicking between BBCR2 FM then DAB on my car radio....... DAB was crystal clear but did not have no where near the "warmth", of the FM reception.

On balance, I am going to stick with FM and BBC Sounds App. I just need to decide if a Roberts 94i or standard Tuner / Amp / Speakers is better for me. Either way I will need to get my ladders out & to put up a FM Dipole.

The Roberts is 1st choice given that my other half does not like the stereo effect of having speakers either side of the chimney breast. Admittedly the Roberts has two stereo speakers but these are in same cabinet which may be sufficient to to "kid", her ?

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