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FM Radio as a Hi Fi Source

Discussion in 'audio' started by reilly.martin2, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. reilly.martin2

    reilly.martin2 Active Member

    I listen to a lot of radio and particularly relish any live performances on Radio 3 or Radio 2. I have recently had some work done on redirecting my FM aerial(to Holme Moss) and had a DAB aerial fitted for a UnitiQute located in a kitchen living room. The Uniti also has internet radio .

    While I have no major criticisms of DAB and internet radio can be very impressive, I still gravitate to listening on FM-maybe its just being used to the sound it produces though it seems to me less veiled and more open than the digital offerings. I also note on Radio 3 hi definition I have to crank up the volume to get a reasonable listening level not sure if this is quirk of the BBC or not.

    I am using an Audiolab 8000T in my main system and the as already stated I have the little Naim box which is very good-though again I think the FM offering on it is certainly superior to the DAB and I do listen to the internet stations and find sound quality good and of course there is access to such a variety of content.

    Any thoughts? Anyone got any particularly good internet stations that they would recommend for content? How long has FM got left-be a shame if it were switched off!
  2. Robert

    Robert Tapehead

    FM can still sound excellent but you are pretty much limited to Radio 3.
    For a time it was also a useful source of local radio and pirate stations but the increasing use of internet radio has seen this go legit and online.

    The volume difference with R3 on FM and HD might be due to dynamic compression.
    While R3 uses less compression than other stations, it's still used. Perhaps the online HD feed uses less dynamic compression (it could and should technically) and therefore you find yourself lifting the volume.

    Who knows how long FM will last.
    One factor is possibly the much higher power consumption of DAB radios. I haven't bought one for a good few years but the two I have (Panasonic and Sharp) eat batteries real fast on DAB - a few hours use from a set of C cells compared to several days constant use on FM. Perhaps new sets are better, but that would possibly mean we get FM left running a little longer.
  3. Mike-B

    Mike-B Self opinionated techie

    Its generally accepted around the radio industry, since the last 16 Dec statement by Vaisey, that switch off will probably not happen until around 2020.
    But that said, who knows what will happen if the other lot get in in 2015.

    Meanwhile my NAT-05 & its G-14 are treasured as the primary (most used) source
  4. david12

    david12 pfm Member

    The limiting factor seems to be car radios. At the moment, very few are DAB, but that could change over just a few years as cars last less well than domestic radios. The issue is, what are manufacturers fitting now and I don't really know.
  5. Mad Latvian

    Mad Latvian Member

    I would be very surprised if FM switch off is as early as 2020. The take up of DAB has been much slower than previously predicted, and I agree that the car situation has been a factor in that. Radio 3 continues to be a flag bearer for FM with quite a large and loyal following - the demographics are also significant, since this group of listeners are economically and politically powerful. Radio 4 has its supporters also.
  6. Mike-B

    Mike-B Self opinionated techie

    As of 2014 they are all supposed to be supplying cars with DAB
    Another reg is that DAB is supposed to be DAB+ & DRM enabled to give cars the ability to travel around all of European on digital radio services
    I've not checked both these reg requirements across all car makes, but those I have looked into when looking around for a new car are fully compliant. Problem with car DAB is it is woefully short of coverage when transiting cell to cell - my regular journey from south Oxford into the Bucks/Chilterns area is hopeless - hence I just don't use DAB even tho I have it.
  7. Barrymagrec

    Barrymagrec pfm Member

    That was also my finding when I had a DAB adaptor in my previous car. the current (2006) one doesn`t have DAB either but since the Long Wave reception works I can get most of the cricket anyway.
  8. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    Radio 3 does arrive at a much lower level (than Classic FM and most other stations), but I've always thought that was because of the much lower, or lack of, compression. Upping the vol. control benefits s.q. in this regard.

    Radio 2 used to be very good and R4 ditto. Since R3 has been airing a greater variety of music I've been listening more (on Nat 01). Despite its compression, Classic FM has improved a lot over the last five or more years, and providing you don't try to head-bang, sounds very entertaining and dynamic. Even the ad's are not quite so nauseatingly repetitive as before (or maybe it's just a phase.....:))
  9. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    I have invested a a fair amount of cash in a bel canto fm1 and a very good ron smith aeriel . the quality is absolutely superb and well worth the effort
  10. Whaleblue

    Whaleblue The Mighty Deoxitiser

    As I understand it BBC Radio transmission goes through an ADC/DAC process (which allows the signal to reach across the UK). I've just spent 10 mins looking for the article linked here a few months ago, but can't see it.

    Anyway, I thought that was interesting given the "ooooh, listen to the analogue loveliness of Radio 3" we often hear. Of course I think nowadays it's at least redbook quality digitisation, whereas a number of years ago it was 13 or 14 bit. Its loveliness, as with a lot of analogue, seems to stem from the lack of nasty dynamic compression it receives compared to DAB.
  11. LPSpinner

    LPSpinner pfm Member

    Hi GUYS;

    The “up-link” from the studio to the transmitter (and usually some sort of national network) will be digital. It will also have undergoing some sort of data compression to minimize bandwidth usage on the national distribution network.

    Having said that in my country FM can still sound very good on live to air broadcasts or well recorded material.

    I use a good quality mid-priced tuner with a decent “twig” and this gets me quite good results. Considering the losses brought about by any digital uplink and national distribution network it seem pointless spending a large amounts money on a high an exotic tuner.
  12. Mike-B

    Mike-B Self opinionated techie

    The argument is not that analogue is better than digital or visa versa, it matters not that BBC transmit in apparent low bitrate to the TX or that radio studio & most all studio recording is digital. I would argue that some aspects of BBC R3 320 web radio is better than that on FM.

    The concern with terrestrial broadcasting is that DAB as a medium together with its artificially restricted MUX bandwidth is audibly inferior to FM - even with the highly compressed FM stations. The concern is why switch off something that is better than the proposed replacement unnecessarily.
    Once a digital radio system/method can be found that is same/better than FM, I am all for it.
  13. Julf

    Julf Evil brother of Mark V Shaney

    Seems the BBC backbone for the FM transmitters has been digital for pretty much as long as we can remember. Here is a good history. So 13 bit 32 kHz PCM from the late 70's, then NICAM 3 (14 bit 32 kHz) since 1991.
  14. Julf

    Julf Evil brother of Mark V Shaney

    I thought it was still NICAM 3 (14 bit 32 kHz), but they might have switched to use the same infrastructure as for the DVB-T.
  15. Whaleblue

    Whaleblue The Mighty Deoxitiser

    That's the trouble with relying on memory. I think 14-bit, is in fact, the case. The article you linked was the one I was looking for, thanks.
  16. Julf

    Julf Evil brother of Mark V Shaney

    I know - I am becoming increasingly aware that the first sign of Alzheimer's is... er... hold on... uh...
  17. madmike

    madmike I feel much better now, I really do...

    If you like classical then Minnesota Public Radio is a good internet station.
    I listen to Stellar Attraction all the time...it wall to wall prog.
  18. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    DAB can sound superficially impressive if you have bad FM reception, then after about 10 min, that bleached out, flat sound starts to grate. Reminds me of early iPods with Shure IEMs- I never want to hear that sound again.
    Going back go the OP, the 8000T is a beautiful device- a cut above the pack in both SQ and functionality. It, along with the Hitachi, has an accurate signal strength meter compared with most of the cosmetic items.
  19. reilly.martin2

    reilly.martin2 Active Member

    Thanks for the range of replies and information provide will keep me busy for a while.Will try the internet station suggested by madmike.

    I hadn't appreciated that compression on DAB was the culprit for its poor sound I had been aware of he issue of compression on FM-and must agree that the current offering doesn't offer better than FM so why waste money on providing an inferior service. My daughter listens to radio 1 and that is really poor. I don't find radio 2 too bad and as referred to by others Classic FM better if you are prepared to put up with the ads.

    There are some bargain tuners out there currently so no need to spend too much to enjoy radio at its best and I guess if its a source you use a lot theres still an argument for buying something exotic.
  20. Zombie

    Zombie pfm Member

    Neumann cutting heads were also digital early on, 14 bit. There goes the analogue sound of vinyl...

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