It’s fair to say that Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), has not caught the public imagination in the UK in the same way as Digital TV. Even so, it is slowly creeping into the mainstream, with digital radios accounting for over 60 per cent of the total radio sales by value in the UK market over the past 12 months.
Pure Digital, has been one of the pioneers of DAB, releasing numerous products, but seemed to be furrowing a lone path. Now the market has received a shot in the arm with the announcement from Sony that it’s to release a DAB radio in the UK this September.
The XDR-S1 will support both Band III (UK) and the L Band, enabling it to be used throughout Europe. In addition, it will pick up standard FM and AM signals so it's still useful even if a DAB signal can’t be obtained.
The radio offers an Auto Tune function and the ability to list stations alphabetically. There are a total of 40 presets - ten per band - and you can program the alarm to wake you up to your favourite station.
A line-in input enables you to play music from external sources through the 2.3W speakers, with music being shapeable thanks to four built-in sound modes and a Mega Bass function. The radio also features an optical out, so you can record the radio’s output digitally.
A neat feature is being able to store up to 128 lines of broadcast information, such as Web pages or telephone numbers, just by pressing the Memo button on the supplied remote control.
The XDR-S1 would make an ideal kitchen radio, which may explain the breadbin like design. However, the silver finish and white-backlit LCD are all typically Sony.
While DAB’s potential for superior sound quality over FM has been discarded by UK broadcasters in favour of more stations, it’s still far less prone to hiss, fading and atmospheric interference than analogue signals. It would certainly be a positive move to see Sony introduce DAB tuners into its car radio head units as standard .
Hopefully, the arrival of Sony in this market will be seen as a sign that digital radio has matured, encouraging others to follow suit, helping to make DAB equipment even more affordable.
You can read more about Sony's products at www.sony.co.uk