If you love tuning in to your favourite radio station when out for a drive there’s never been a better time to go digital. Offering a wider range of stations and a signal strength that can make FM hang its aerial in shame, DAB radio will soon be the new standard for UK broadcasters.

Many new cars already have digital radios installed, but upgrading your car just to get a new stereo isn’t a sensible option for most of us. For those on a tighter budget there are still ways to get on the new wavelength. Just follow our guide and your car can drive towards the digital future.

The Knowhow

There are currently three main options for receiving in-car digital radio:

DAB car stereo:

  • There are many car stereos with built-in digital radios
  • Prices vary, but are currently more expensive than similar non-DAB models
  • Some ordinary car stereos have digital tuners. This is not the same as digital radio
  • DAB stereos can also play CDs, MP3s and connect to devices such as iPods; Exact capabilities and features will vary by model
  • You may need to purchase an additional digital aerial

In-car digital adapter:

  • Digital adapters attach to your windscreen
  • They receive the DAB signal then broadcast it via FM to your existing car stereo
  • These normally have an in-car aerial. You may need to purchase an additional digital aerial for optimal reception
  • Need a power source - this will vary according to model
  • Slightly cheaper than DAB car stereos

DAB hideaway units:

  • Installed out-of-sight in your car
  • Connect directly to your existing stereo
  • May need an additional digital aerial
  • Not all stereos can connect to hideaway units
  • Some hideaway units only work with certain brands of stereo
  • Can be as expensive as a DAB car stereo

All the above options may have elements, such as fitting new aerials, which require installation. Unless you are confident in doing this yourself, this will be an additional cost. DAB is still a relatively new technology, and the price of equipment is likely to fall over the next months and years. It’s likely that more in-car options will become available as digital radio becomes more popular. Whichever option you choose, happy listening!

Always refer to the manufacturer’s manual for specific details.

Updated On:

Oct 14, 2011

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