The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

13 February 2008

A little DAB'll do ya

Suddenly I don't feel so bad about not spending any money on HD Radio. Look what's (not) happening in Britain:

The whispers of discontent began after Richard Wheatley, ceo of The Local Radio Company compared the DAB platform to Betamax the video format that lost out to VHS in the 80's.

This seems a curious analogy as itís not like there's a rival digital service or that DAB is especially superior in audio when compared to existing FM services quality (despite the hype, it's often not). Mr Wheatley is correct when he mixes metaphors and says that despite a rapid original adoption rate for DAB radio purchases and falling prices of DAB sets the platform has failed to build a greater adoption and has no 'killer application' by which he means no 'must listen' digital only radio station that would help drive current non DAB radio owners to rush out and buy a DAB set.

There's certainly nothing compelling on HD. (Aside: This is another case where we're using a "standard" that isn't really standard anywhere else; HD Radio has been adopted only in the US and Brazil.)

But there are other reasons to avoid buying a DAB set:

So restrictive was the technology that the DAB platform has already decided to slowly scrap the broadcast format currently employed and migrate to a new DAB+ format which would allow a higher quality broadcast signal to fit in a much smaller slice of the bandwidth pie. This would use the AAC+ audio format which I often use to post audio files on this blog for dial-up of bandwidth restricted users. This would mean that existing DAB radio owners would need to purchase new sets or own a rare upgradeable set already.

I guess the good thing is that so few people have bought DAB sets that the idea of changing the whole platform hasn't caused wailing and gnashing of teeth and threats of litigation.

Posted at 2:06 PM to Overmodulation