101.7 FM IN GENEVA DAB+, CABLE & SATELLITE ACROSS SWITZERLAND
Thanks to a technology called DAB (digital audio broadcasting), radio is entering a new era in Switzerland and many other European countries. Compared to traditional analog radio, which transmits its signal in waves, DAB transfers its audio signal digitally, resulting in very pure sound.
WRS on DAB+
WRS’s Pete Forster speaks with Josef Trappel, a lecturer at Zurich University and expert on digital audio broadcasting, about the switch:
The newest version is DAB+, which allows up to 18 programs to be broadcast on one frequency, instead of 12. The latest digital radios all use the DAB+ standard while remaining compatible with the original DAB format. Some of the new receivers pick up traditional FM stations as well.
Clear and immediate sound
The advantages of DAB radio over its analog ancestor can be heard right away: Gone is the static or weak sound that can be caused by a misplaced antenna.
“The principle of DAB is that there is no in-between,” explains Philippe Rod, owner of the Geneva store Présence Audio. “Once it picks up the signal, the quality of reception is perfect.” You can also forget about the hassle of finding the best frequency: Simply select the desired station from the ones shown on-screen. The name of the artist and song are displayed automatically as well. DAB is especially effective when listening to radio in the car, where loss of signal or poor reception is common.
WRS available throughout Switzerland
“With DAB+ radio, you can now listen to our station throughout Switzerland, including in the German-speaking areas,” says Philippe Mottaz, director of World Radio Switzerland, whose studios are located in Geneva. “It’s a big improvement because the reception of WRS on 88.4 FM, which covers part of the Lake Geneva region, deteriorates rapidly after Morges.”
Now, whether WRS listeners are out walking in the country or snuggled up in a mountain chalet, they can still hear their favorite station. “Currently, 92 percent of the country has DAB coverage,” says Christoph Steg, spokesman for the state-owned network SRG SSR idée suisse.
A wider range of programs
With DAB+, there’s also a broader choice of programs. “Listeners from all over Switzerland can enjoy commercial-free music stations such as Swiss Pop, Swiss Classic or Swiss Jazz,” says Steg. Gradually, privately-owned radio stations are also becoming available on DAB+. The list of areas with DAB service and the available stations can be found at www.broadcast.ch.
Equipment prices getting lower
According to Steg, more than 400,000 DAB and DAB+ receivers have already been sold in Switzerland, 80 percent of them in German-speaking areas. You can now buy a portable device for less than 100 CHF; Migros offers a model for as low as 69.90 CHF. In the higher-priced segment, many brands have developed elegantly designed models that blend in with the chicest decor. No matter the price, most digital receivers offer practical features such as a pause function, which allows you to interrupt the program and continue listening to it later, or to rewind a recorded program.
Where and how to shop
Most major retailers and specialty stores sell digital radios. Make sure you buy a DAB+ model, since it’s the latest standard and will enable you to listen to all existing programs. Also, consider buying one that can pick up FM as well as DAB+ stations, especially if you’ll be using it in the car.
Total comments: 3 | Add to the discussion.
Were radio listeners asked if DAB is relevant? All existing radios, at home and in cars(hundreds of millons) will become useless. This will cause an extra expense, on top of the redevance, to be able to listen. STEG et al will certainly benefit from mega-sales revenues. But the customer, me what do I get besides scrap radios and extra expense and INCONVENIENCE?!?! Dictating DAB to customers is not good customer service… Since I will not buy a DAB, the day you transmit only with DAB, I will stop paying the radio redevance. Yours respectively.
Just tried a few in MediaMarkt. CHF 200-350 for tinny boxes, with monophonic, tinny sound. Most with retro styling to subconsciously express how far back in true value radio has regressed. You only need a couple of chips to make a receiver - why aren’t they available for $20?