DAB stands for Digital Audio Broadcasting (the name of the system). To listen, you need a DAB digital radio - you can't receive digital stations on a traditional FM/AM radio.
Currently, around 93% of the UK can receive DAB digital radio. To find out if your area is covered, use this postcode checker (results from Get Digital Radio).
BBC local radio services are broadcast on DAB by commercial operators, because the BBC only has the capacity to broadcast its national services. For advice about specific local radio reception problems, you should contact the local operator. See BBC local radio DAB transmitters for more information.
Listeners with older DAB radios in North Devon and Oxfordshire who find they are not receiving local digital stations should try the following. (This is because local services in these areas are on channels which were not originally assigned for UK DAB).
If available from the menu on the radio, select “Full Scan” rather than “Local Scan or Auto Scan”. It may be necessary to refer to the manufacturers operating instructions to perform this function.
It is possible that some radios will not find new local radio services, with a normal auto scan and may need to perform a "Full Scan" to identify these new services.
Here are some examples of how to perform a Full Scan:
With DAB, you may sometimes get 'bubbly' or 'underwater' noises, or the sound may break up or cut out altogether, but you will not experience the hiss, crackling, fading or station overlap that you get with FM or AM radio.
The noises or break-up are usually caused by a weak signal. Try the following to strengthen the signal that your radio receives.
If you still can't get good reception, you may need an external aerial.
Most DAB radios can take an external aerial - unscrew the fixed aerial and attach the cable from an external aerial in its place.
DAB aerials are different from FM/AM or TV aerials, so make sure you have the right type. An indoor aerial may be enough, but for the best reception you can install an outdoor aerial. This should ideally be on the roof or high up on the outside of the building, though it may also give good results in the loft.
If you want an outdoor aerial, we suggest you have it installed by a professional aerial installer, either one registered with the CAI (Confederation of Aerial Industries) or a Registered Digital Installer.
To listen to DAB radio in your car, you need a DAB aerial - an FM/AM aerial will not work.
DAB is less affected by interference than FM/AM radio. However, sudden interruptions, especially in regular bursts, may be caused by an electrical appliance or a faulty central heating or fridge thermostat.
Transmitter faults are rare, but if you experience a sudden problem with reception, you can use our reception problems tool to see if your local transmitter is currently being affected by maintenance work.
The BBC's national digital radio stations use one set of transmitters, but its local radio services use different ones, so problems affecting some stations may not affect others.
When buying a DAB radio, look for the DAB logo. Some analogue radios are advertised as "digital", but this only means that they have a digital display rather than a tuning dial or bar.
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