Threebobrocket

Non - DAB tuners; how long do we think there will be a F.M. signal?

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Serge - thanks I know I've got golden ears but could I detect the difference between 1% and 0.01%? Not sure!

Mark - yeah I get the hiss but as you say only when you lift the volume so not a problem. Funnily enough I get far more interference in the car but switching to DAB doesn't help as you lose the signal after a couple of miles. Smartphone might well be the answer but it would need to be a great improvement over 3G - very little 4g around here!

Indeed, the practical difference between 1% and 0.01% distortion is moot, but taken together, the limitations of FM are far greater than those of digital, provided the bit rate is sufficient. FM could well sound a lot better than low bit rate DAB.

Having said that, a BBC live broadcast on FM is still one of the best sources available, it just takes more effort to achieve that received quality compared to digital. Depending on one's location, it may never be as good. I'm some 40 miles from the Tacolneston transmitter and even with a 6 element antenna, noise on Radio 3 is noticeably worse than digital, albeit not particularly disturbing. With iPlayer, I just don't use FM except in the car.

S

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Thanks Serge - interesting thread running on the Naim forum at the moment commenting on the supremacy of the FM module on the Naim streamers.

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I'm some 40 miles from the Tacolneston transmitter and even with a 6 element antenna, noise on Radio 3 is noticeably worse than digital, albeit not particularly disturbing. With iPlayer, I just don't use FM except in the car.

S

You surprise me, Serge. I've just measured marginally less than 30 miles as the crow flies from Tacolneston to Bury, not 40. Even so, a 6 element antenna is pushing it a bit, even if you have a sensitive tuner. My 6 element (on 12' mast on chimney and above roof level) is fine from Thorpe to Tacolneston, but it's more like 9 miles direct. Mind you, my tuner is an 01, one of the least sensitive.

Always considered a Ron Smith to be de rigeur for serious radio listening at anything over 25 miles from a strong transmitter.

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You surprise me, Serge. I've just measured marginally less than 30 miles as the crow flies from Tacolneston to Bury, not 40. Even so, a 6 element antenna is pushing it a bit, even if you have a sensitive tuner. My 6 element (on 12' mast on chimney and above roof level) is fine from Thorpe to Tacolneston, but it's more like 9 miles direct. Mind you, my tuner is an 01, one of the least sensitive.

Always considered a Ron Smith to be de rigeur for serious radio listening at anything over 25 miles from a strong transmitter.

Yes, you're right at 30 miles, 40 by road! Didn't you know that radio waves take the A143, then the A140?

S

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In Cornwall DAB is very hit and miss, so I think FM will be around for a few years yet.

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Guest chris217
I use a battery powered tuner from america . the bel canto FM 1. Its rather special and very transparent and spacious sounding . when i connected it direct to the MFA mark 2 it was tremendous.

Take a great deal to beat it .

They are fairly reasonable sh

Hope it is set up for UK 50us de-emphasis, rather than USA 75us de-emphasis.

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Tell me about that Joly - drove down to Camborne earlier this year DAB was useless in the car west of Taunton!

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Hope it is set up for UK 50us de-emphasis, rather than USA 75us de-emphasis.

IIRC de-emphasis is done by DSP so it can be reset by the tuner's software pretty easily.

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FM will always be available if you want it to be. Technically it is simple to do and it means you could 're-create' the experience of using a tuner with a cheap modulator. In addition, some or all of the band will be available for community radio, either via the air or distribution by cable. It would put those interested squarely in the 'steam locomotive enthusiast' category but it would be very easy to do.

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Tell me about that Joly - drove down to Camborne earlier this year DAB was useless in the car west of Taunton!

I would suggest you either fit a proper DAB aerial on your car or get a new tuner, as for me (dependent on DAB as a 6 Music listener) DAB only starts to fail west of Penzance.

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i think internet radio is the way all broadcast radio will eventually go. Even in cars, many have 'phone apps like Tune In Radio which accesses the full range of BBC and other stations, from anywhere in the world, and plays them through the car's audio system. No need for DAB or FM once there's decent mobile coverage and low cost data plans on mobile telephone contracts.

BBC Radio 3 online is already better than FM, and commercial stations are no worse, and one gets iPlayer and access to stations anywhere in the world. Add streaming services like Spotify etc, and as a broadcast engineer (retired) it makes me wonder about the whole concept of one-to-many broadcasting.

S

Why the either/or between DAB and FM? You can get perfectly good tuners that get both. My S/H Pure 702 does a first class job on both but to get a clean FM signal where I live you need a proper roof mounted aerial - and not the circular ones the average installer fits nowadays.

Interesting note on the online output from Radio 3, I was recording a concert on line which crashed and froze a few minutes from the end. Did a quick switch to DAB, and it sounded more natural and lifelike than the on line, then went on to R3 FM where it sounded even better. Put me off of relying on the internet.

Get a decent DAB/FM tuner with internet capabilities and you've got the lot. Just listen and compare the options on both bands first. Too many drama queens who heard a bad commercial DAB station once, and flounced off saying the whole concept was flawed. For me content is king (or queen), and you choose the best radio, CD player, turntable, cartridge and speakers that you can afford - and by ear!

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There are two issues here. Firstly, when there is sufficient DAB coverage and secondly, when listing on all digital platforms is sufficiently high that there is justification for switching off the FM transmitters. The first could be complete by 2017, the second is far less clear, given how much FM is still used in cars, and in all the thousands of portable radios round the home.

It was suggested some time ago that even if the national networks went digital-only, local radio could still be on FM.

Considering how cheaply one can buy a very good FM tuner for, even adding in the cost of a decent antenna, I wouldn't worry about FM closing down. On the other hand, when a lot of radio is available on-line at better than FM quality, I question the need for a tuner if one didn't already have one.

S

If all FM had to offer was local and community radio then it would be pointless. Because of the acoustic demands of Radio 3 I think we should be trying to influence the powers that be to maintain Radio 3 and at least one of the other national BBC music stations on FM well beyond any planned closing down of the national FM network. The gradual introduction of a DAB+ stream (at a decent bitrate) of the BBC music stations, whilst maintaining the standard DAB streams for some considerable time, would be a good strategy. Commercial radio (well most of it) will continue to give you the least they can get away with to save money.

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Yes, you're right at 30 miles, 40 by road! Didn't you know that radio waves take the A143, then the A140?

S

That's Norfolk for you....!

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If all FM had to offer was local and community radio then it would be pointless. Because of the acoustic demands of Radio 3 I think we should be trying to influence the powers that be to maintain Radio 3 and at least one of the other national BBC music stations on FM well beyond any planned closing down of the national FM network. The gradual introduction of a DAB+ stream (at a decent bitrate) of the BBC music stations, whilst maintaining the standard DAB streams for some considerable time, would be a good strategy. Commercial radio (well most of it) will continue to give you the least they can get away with to save money.

I think what you ask is least likely to happen. Radio 3 has a tiny audience, relatively, although Radio 2 is rather better served. It would seem unlikely that a national network of FM transmitters would be maintained once the rest of FM has closed given that before any decision to close FM is predicated on the majority of listeners possibly as high as 80% having gone digital.

My guess is that FM will continue until all cars are fitted with DAB as standard, and radio listening is very heavily digital, perhaps as much as 80%. There would also need to be a long period of warning, perhaps 5 years. The model for the analogue TV switch-off is likely to be followed. There is some doubt as to whether local and community stations would stay on FM if they wanted to. At the moment, transmission costs for a community station on FM are tiny compared with DAB, but recently there have been moves to make DAB much more affordable for community radio, and if sufficient local radio goes to DAB or other digital platforms, then FM may go the way of analogue TV.

S

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