OT digital radio

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Sorry for the OT but I'm sure someone here will know. I'd like to buy a digital radio for someone as a Christmas present. I am clueless about the options on these new-fangled beasties. The person concerned would, I know, like to take off-air recordings (:-)) - but do all these types of radios provide such an output? (similar to the way ordinary radios have an earpiece output socket). What features should I check for? I'd like to avoid the "ah if only it had a ????" thing. I see Argos have several models - anyone have a recomendation for any of them - or maybe somewhere else I should look? Thank you
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I have the Richer-Sounds cheapie tuner, the Acoustic Solutions SP110, which in the summer was 80 squids. Being a "Hi-Fi Separates"-style tuner, it has a stereo analogue output on two phono sockets, just right for taping from; a headphone socket with its own level control; and an optical digital-out (Toslink) also. The built-in digital-to-analogue on this cheapie is a bit naff (some distortion on speech, sometimes, which is what I listen to most of all); I know it's the D-to-A because feeding the digital-out into the 'puters TosLink digital-in clears up said distortion on the spot. Here in Bristol I use just the supplied-in-the-box wet-string indoor aerial, and the signal-quality and strength reported is very high; for a more rural location you might need a Real aerial.
It's not a medium for the ultimate Hi-Fi enthusiast, as in order to squeeze lots of stations into the available bands, they push the encoding down or indeed beneath the quality of typical MP3s (with the alleged exception of Radio 3 live concerts, AIUI). But for me, the instant tuning to a wider variety of stations than FM, and the lack of fading in/out, makes it worthwhile. A colleague with a portable DAB radio, on the northern fringe of Bristol, reports it's very senstive to location in his house - full-on error-free reception in one position in a given room, no or very poor reception a few feet away. As with all matters radio, your (more relevantly, your benefactee's) mileage may vary, objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear, the value of your investment may go down as well as up, errors and omissions excepted, etc. etc. etc. (Which suggests it may be worth buying from a shop with a real refund policy and giving your happy gift-receiver the receipt, even though it reduces the romance factor!)
Hope that helps some - Stefek
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An excellent summation - but two comments stand out and cannot be ignored.
Firstly, the signal strength is vitally important. Portables will only work successfully and reliably within a few miles of a transmitter with a clear signal path. Unlike analogue FM radio which degrades gracefully, digital is on or off with no halfway house. The hi-fi tuner or a separate aerial option (yes even the portables (as distinct from personals) have an external aerial socket in addition to the telescopic) require a new (and thus likely still expensive) aerial as (a) digital is transmitted around 220MHz which is 'out of band' for both existing TV and radio aerials and often for masthead amps as well and (b) they are vertically polarised where many existing external aerials (particularly FM) will be horizontal. Also be aware that not all transmitters radiate all stations: we have a Tx site about nine miles from here but it only transmits the Leeds EMAP multiplex that carries a few local independent and one BBC local station but none of the BBC or independent nationals. For those I would need a significant directional aerial to point at sites 30+ miles away.
Secondly the quality. The broadcasters seem to have taken the opportunity to make digital a quantity rather than a quality medium and as such it suffers badly. MP3 is usually at a data rate of 128Kb; you need 256Kb to get anything remotely near a good FM receiver. It is alledged that BBC R3 uses 192Kb at certain times of day, but 160Kb is more common. ClassicFM uses 160Kb all the time, as does (did?) BBC R2. But - and this probably gives more indication of how the broadcasters view it - BBC R4 is in mono - yes mono - most of the time, news, plays, or whatever.
If your friend already has any form of half decent FM receiver then he/she will probably be disappointed with the quality of DAB, unless that is it is receiver on a card in the PC and plays through PC speakers where quality is expected to be poor!
--
Woody

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This is rubbish.
--
*Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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On Mon, 13 Oct 2003 09:46:02 +0100, Dave Plowman wrote:

Is it harrogate's statement that is rubbish, or is it rubbish of the broadcasters to be transmitting mono? I think you mean the statement but could be read both ways.
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That R4 is changed to mono by DAB. It isn't.
--
*Never put off until tomorrow what you can avoid altogether *

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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London SW 12

Excuse me, may I interuppt please? Where does my original comment say that Radio 4 is changed to mono by DAB? My statement was - and as far as I can see does still say - that Radio 4 being broadcast in mono on DAB (whilst in stereo on FM etc) shows the standpoint of the controlling organisation - 'never mind the quality feel the width' - pack as much in as you can and ignore the feelings or interests of your customers.
I wonder how long they would last in the real world with that view?
--
Woody

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In my DAB listening, I certainly hear some transmissions on R4 in stereo - quite distractingly so given the particular layout of the speakers I listen on (some drama soundFX recreate the glorious days of Steam Radio as they pass unctiously from panned-hard-right to panned-hard-left. Always in that direction, too: clearly the BBC's ideological bias showing again. The Torygraph ought to point out that dastardly plot...). And the Archers gives me Ruth spatially separated from David. So, at least *some* R4 programs reach *my* DAB set in glorious stereo.

market are common as muck and cheap as chips. You want a premium product, expect to pay a *hefty* price premium. The market driver for DAB seems indeed to be variety rather than broadcast quality: sorry, but the hi-fi quiet-room listening audience seems to be a (small) minority. The Beeb caters to that minority in some cases - Radio 3 concerts are allegedly broadcast in a higher bitrate than most - but seems to exercise at least defensible "real world" judgment in its use of the spectrum it gets; at least to this licence-payer's cloth ears!
Stefek
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I don't know where the myth that R4 DAB is mono came from, but I've read it before many times.
Of course, not all programmes on R4 are made in stereo, so they'd be mono on DAB. And FM, come to that. Oh - and LW. ;-)
--
*If God dropped acid, would he see people?

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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wrote:

Hey, why is there a fashion to knock LW all of a sudden?
I am in Northern Holland and can happily receive R4 all the time, even listen in on my car radio. I even get uninterrupted test match special, without SWMBO trying to change channel! Hands off LW!!!!
Don't knock it just because you have bought the sales pitch for the fancy technology. I'mm keeping a look out for a good 2nd hand radio with LW for the garage so I don't have to carry a portable in the garage.
I suspect is all a plot to prepare the public for stopping transmission on LW.
BTW I recently looked at digital for my house in the UK. However my area has effectively no reception at present, and will not do so in the forseeable future.
What has actually annoyed me is the official statements that DAB will be introduced, and existing systems withdrawn, with the expectation that there will be cheap conversion kits available. Actually I have quite a lot of radios dotted about (don't forget the car), so I aked what the story was on conversion. The answer was of course that conversion is unlikely to be available. So at some point, I am expected to buy new kit?
In my kitchen I have a Grundig radio that works fine, as it has for the past 20 years. I am sure it will do so for another 20, so what is in it for me to support a change?
Unless of course the manufacturers don't like the fact that radios last! How can they generate obsolecence in the market ? Simple, persuade the Government to muck about with the fundamentals of the system. Very eco friendly I don't think.
Ooops my short comment on DAB has got a bit out of hand! Apologies...
I am in my forties, and grew up having the radio on rather than the TV, and enjoy the fact that you can listen while doing other things rather than be sitting passive in front of the haunted fishtank. Hence the LW radio for the garage. I regret that the the kids of today don't seem to do this, including my own. I used to work late nights in a garage changing gearboxes etc, and we always had R4 on. Perhaps strange but true...
Eric
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"Dave Plowman" wrote in message

I think when they first started messing about with the bitrates, R4 did go into mono at times. I remember hearing Jenny Abramsky (on Feedback, probably) admitting it had been a terrible mistake and promising that they wouldn't do it again, honest. Since then the notion's been perpetuated be a certain one-man anti-DAB campaign.

Like me, you probably remember when they turned the pilot tone off durng mono programmes...
--
Andy



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Seems they got lots of complaints so now leave it on - after all if the light says stereo then it must be so...
--
*No radio - Already stolen.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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And the fact that it still happens.
http://www.wohnort.demon.co.uk/DAB/uknat.html shows how it's all packed into the BBC mux, and how things have to be squeezed when BBC 5LIVE SportX is added. (Scroll down to the BBC National Mux).
Cheers, David.
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Err, if it's in stereo on FM but mono on DAB, isn't that a fair enough way of putting it?

Your statement is still wrong. If R4 is broadcasting a stereo programme on FM, it will also be broadcast in stereo on DAB. Of course, not all programmes on R4 are made in stereo.
--
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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wrote:

There we shall have to agree to differ - I have heard R4 progs on DAB in mono that are in stereo on FM - and it's more common than you would think.
--
Woody

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Could you give me some concrete examples and I'll check out why.
Since I use this computer for audio related work, I've got both level and phase meters attached, and can instantly switch from R4 DAB to FM (or indeed LW);-)
--
*I just got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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wrote:

Come over here and laugh at Long Wave! Go on, I dare you! See what I'll do with these tulips!!
Eric, (Happy to listen to Long Wave in Holland!)
:-)
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That's not always the case. The bitrate of Radio 4 and/or Radio 3 (gasp - no - surely not!) is reduced to make way for 5 live sports extra.
Quite simply, if there's some sport on 5 live sports Xtra (and all other channels are on-air), Radio 4 on DAB will be in mono, even if the programme was made in stereo, and is stereo on FM.
What's more, BBC7 is always in mono on DAB, whereas its many stereo programmes can be heard in stereo via FreeView and Sky.
If the option is available to you, Digital Satelite (a free package - no contact with Murdoch is necesary!) or FreeView will bring you _all_ BBC radio stations at higher sound quality than DAB. Digital satelite also gives you more (and in some cases better quality) commercial stations too.
The only use for a DAB "Hi-Fi" component is for folks who have no other option. Portable radios are a different matter, but for a fixed Hi-Fi, DAB loses to digital satelite on all counts (and to FreeView on some, including quality and value!).
Cheers, David.
P.S. your question about digital radio wouldn't have been off topic in alt.radio.digital which (despite the alt. name) is a UK dominated newsgroup.
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Others have answered your specific query. Just a thought, but when I've looked for digital clocks in the recent past a fairly high "must have" feature for me is the ability for the clock to sync to the Rugby time signal. I've got a cheapo (sub 10 pounds) sitting on my desk next to the monitor and I know I can depend upon it being accurate.
This sort of sync would be particularly useful for a clock radio if the mains fails and you have forgotten to replace the battery in the recent past. If you have to get up for work the next morning it would be nice if the clock figured out what the time was and remembered to give you a nudge at the appropriate time.
PoP
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(but I agree with you about clocks)
--
Tim Mitchell

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