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Analog Angle

Is the End in Sight for Analog FM Radio?

Bill Schweber
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sanjjay
sanjjay
5/23/2015 3:47:57 AM
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Newbie
Re: What about the upcoming alien invasion?
may be

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TomC123123
TomC123123
5/21/2015 10:41:05 AM
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Teacher
FM in the USA
FM in North America will be around for a very long time.

Some facts to keep in mind.

1.  Europe (including Norway of course) has a very different Broadcast Structure than we have in North America. 

2.  The DAB infrastructure in Europe has been defined and well established for well over a decade.

3.  The quality of FM here far exceeds (in audio dynamic range and audio frequency response) the performance of our current digital music satellite broadcast systems.  With the ongoing mentality of fitting more channels per RF band, it does not appear that this will turn around.

TomC

Detroit, Michigan, USA

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pswiatki2
pswiatki2
5/20/2015 6:00:59 PM
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DAB in Europe
I develop software for DAB receivers (for automotive industry) and have gathered some experience in the field over the years. Also on the broadcasting side (must interact with broadcasters to solve issues with the receiver when something unexpected happans - then the question becomes: whose fault it was). I can tell you - DAB has all those nifty features but I don't really think the listeners care that much. My favourite; Journaline - a hypertext service where one can read text and follow simple links embedded in it. Think of as a browser for text-only "Internet", but the content must be received in full first to be usable. Not sure if that's true, but have been told one car company came up with the brilliant idea of embedding a speech synthesizer so that those "pages" can be read to the driver (voice recognition, in turn, takes care of navigating the links, I guess). 

Then, they say the capacity (well, spectrum efficiency) is much bigger than FM.
I wouldn't be so sure. They packed 10 services or so in my country and the audio quality
isn't that high. One can surely pack much more than 10 - making audio quality definitely bad for most of those services crammed into the channel (single multiplex).

So, that's what's going on in DAB. Some of the "insiders" play with it, but I am pretty sure the general public care less. Yeah, sure - DAB is said to become the only radio medium in Norway. Well, perhaps people there actually care, or they simply have no say (but can easily afford to change their radios). [much] Cheaper for the broadcaster to maintain DAB infrastructure there compared to current FM network - that's probably the major factor that drives this change. 

Just my 2 cents.

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vbiancomano
vbiancomano
5/20/2015 3:29:27 PM
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Re: Same argument Cable tries to make
AMEN!

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MWagner_MA
MWagner_MA
5/20/2015 12:39:17 PM
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Teacher
Same argument Cable tries to make
It seems the same arguments keep poping up in different areas.  Cable tries to tell us that its better to receive another 20channels when I might find only 5 of interest now.  In my car I listen to maybe 3 frequencies, and at times I shut it off because there is nothing worth listening to.  We don't need 20 digital broadcast stations as we don't have enough good content to fill it.  Analog FM is also very good in emergencies as it requires simple equipment (to receive) and is robust in handling some EMI, and its FREE (insuring anyone that wants to get the signal can).

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monle
monle
5/20/2015 11:36:34 AM
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Probably not so a big advantage
Despite the fact that FM is over 50 years old, it sounds great on my Hi-Fi at home and in my car. It provides stereo quality and can carry traffic/music information data (RDS) as well.

Immunity to environmental interference is more than adequate. I would even say that it is surprisingly good.

AM is another story: much inferior sound quality, more interference and no stereo (at least in Europe).

When we compare DAB with FM we will probably come to a similar conclusion as comparing MP3 against vinil records, that is: no real progress in terms of sound quality.

And DAB receivers must rely on software that can be buggy and requires updates. I've seen this problem, but the device manufacturer was unwilling to fix it. We will have to get used to this.

I'm also wondering if the digital radio protocol as we know it today will still exist in 20 years. Today's FM is backwards compatible with 50 year old radio receivers, because it's analog (no protocols!). I bet that the lifetime of DAB radios will not even come close to that of our FM counterparts, even if they are (at least in teory) software-upgradeable. But which manufacturer will take care of updating a radio that is anything more than 2 years old?

In general, I'm in favor of progress; but in this particular case I'm somewhat reluctant.

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Les Hammer
Les Hammer
5/20/2015 11:31:28 AM
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AM/FM Car radio
Unlike the switch to digital TV, which could be done with a cheap converter box installed by anybody, shutting off AM/FM radio would be expensive to replace in the car.  The hardware may be cheap, but getting it installed in your dashboard would not.  This would have to be done over a long period of time - with dual mode radios available and installed in every car now, and the phase out in 20 years when most of last years cars are not running any more.  Any "obsolete your car" in 5 years legislation will get a politician unelected fast.

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Jean Luc.Suchail
Jean Luc.Suchail
5/20/2015 10:16:59 AM
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Artist
Re: What about the upcoming alien invasion?
Analogue transmitters and receivers are simple and they can work in very poor propagation transmissions and at very long distances, not relying on any provider other than the transmitter. In digital, when propagations gets bad, you loose everything, in AM you can still get your favourite programme, with some loss in SNR or distortion.

Luckily we, Ham Radions we will maintain AM (or rather SSB) and FM as we currently maintain CW...

F1GFK

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yannig_#1
yannig_#1
5/20/2015 8:38:36 AM
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Newbie
I would be sad
I would be sad if FM will be replaced by DAB.



several reasons :


At present, FM quality satisfies me completely (for home listening). Different quality from CD, but very well suited for a "comfortable" listening (music or talking).

If analog FM ends, I would have bought a new device. Device that will be necessarily very different from my tube tuner.

And I'm probably not the only one in this case.

 

A nice website : fmtunerinfo 

 

Yannig

 

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eafpres1
eafpres1
5/19/2015 9:49:46 PM
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Blogger
Re: What about the upcoming alien invasion?
Hi Keith--the only time I use AM radio is in the car and then mainly on long trips where I may not get FM stations.  I had XM Radio in the car but dropped the subscription; I don't spend that much time in the car so it wasn't worth it.

Here in the US things are moving to digital TV  In Colorado that happend over the last few years.  Some ruckus over people needing to get converter boxes but they were cheap and readily available so you don't even hear about it now.  Of course, I suspect cable has a much bigger market share than OTA TV now anyway.

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