Radio comes of age

Digital audio technology will enable listeners to make their own compact disc-like recordings.

Published: Monday 31 August 1992

-- (Credit: Rustam Vania)THE GOOD old radio is getting set to replace an entire record library. Using digital audio broadcasting, as against the present analog system of transmission, listeners will be able to tune in from a very large number of programmes and make their own high quality digital recordings from the hi-tech radio.

The radio will have a small attached screen, giving information about the chosen music and correct station. Using digital technology, a new high density television (HDTV) system is also likely to hit world markets by end-1993.

Broadcast over a short range of frequencies, digital audio broadcasting (DAB) will be practically free from interference, offering excellent reception even with a mobile receiver. It will counter all the drawbacks of frequency modulated (FM) broadcasts, which provide high quality sounds, but are flawed by poor reception, fading and distortions. Also, no retuning will be required for car radios as they move from one transmitter range to another.

Digital radio has been given added impetus by the allocation of frequencies for satellite broadcasting by the World Administrative Radio Conference (WARC), an international body that allocates radio bands and frequencies to broadcasters globally. However, it will take some time before all these frequencies actually become available for DAB. Meantime, DAB will run parallel to FM broadcasts, borrowing "parking" bands from television broadcasters.

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