Digital Radios: Sorting Out the Specifications Before Buying

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Digital Radios: Sorting Out the Specifications Before Buying

As more and more radio stations move to a digital format, digital radios have become more prominent. With so many choices emerging in the market, it is difficult to tell which specifications are important to digital radio and which are not. Like any electronics, the specifications for a digital radio are important for sound quality and reception. There are many places to purchase digital radios, such as an electronics shop or an online resource, such as eBay.

Many people do not read the specifications when purchasing a digital radio. They simply purchase the most popular brand or the one that is recommended to them by a friend. Although personal recommendations are usually accurate, it is important to know exactly what is being purchased. When the specifications of different digital radios are understood, a person can make an informed decision. Before purchasing a digital radio, it is important to know what exactly a digital radio is and the features that are available for various digital radios.

What Is a Digital Radio?

Digital radio is a compressed form of radio waves that are broadcast and carried through the air to an HD radio or a digital radio. Although they are not the same, HD radio is a brand of digital radio, and they are both used interchangeably. Digital radio is said to have clearer sound and carry more content than the traditional analogue radio. The digital signal can be encoded with album covers, artwork, and other extras that can be viewed with a computer or an advanced MP3 player,, such as an iPod.

Because the digital radio signal is compressed, and then expanded by the digital radio on the other end, it is said to have a clear CD-like sound quality and better audio levels. The range of digital radio is considerably less than analogue, but the quality of FM bands is extremely superior, and AM bands contain an FM quality.

Differences in Digital Broadcast Signals

HD digital radio, or high-definition digital radio,, is not to be confused with the brand HD radio, which is a format that is primarily used in the United States. In Europe and other countries, the format is DAB, or Digital Audio Broadcasting. The different formats are not cross-compatible. If a person is located in the United States, then they need a high-definition digital radio, and if they are in Europe, they require a digital audio broadcasting digital radio.

Different stations can carry both the digital and analogue signals piggybacked onto each other. They are broadcast at the same time so that they can be picked up by both types of radios. Digital signal allows radio stations to use more radio bands without overlapping them, as analogue does. Digital radio signal, since it is computer generated, can also broadcast different information on the same radio bands. They are capable of doing this because the digital signal is compressed and can be programmed for more than just radio data.

Reasons to Purchase a Digital Radio

When purchasing a digital radio, make sure that it contains the same format that is allowed in the country in which it is used. This problem is similar to the problem with DVD players and area formats; unlike the problems with DVD formats, the format of digital radios cannot be changed as of yet.

Digital vs. Analogue Radios

Although digital radios are more expensive than analogue radios, the sound quality is much better than the traditional forms of radio. Each form of radio has its pros and cons, but digital radios win out when factoring in the quality of sound. Many digital radios are reasonably priced and have some features that analogue radios do not.

When purchasing a digital radio, make sure that the stations in the area support digital broadcast. Many radios have the ability to read both digital and analogue signals, so the analogue signals may not be missed. Most radio stations broadcast in both digital and analogue format.

While using a digital radio, a person can pick up information and signals that are not available with analogue signals. This does not mean that people should rush out and pick up the latest in digital radios. There are converters and antennas available that hook onto a radio that can pick up and convert digital signals.

World Radio

Most of the high-end digital radios can accept signals from all over the world when a broadcast is through a satellite. In order to do this, the radio has to be able to accept all bands of digital format. The bands are also called modes: Mode I is for Band III, which is Earth; Mode II is for L-band, which is Earth and a satellite; Mode III is for frequencies 3 GHz and below, Earth, and satellite; and finally, there is the similar Mode IV L-Band for Earth and satellite.


Band Use

Mode I Band III

Earthbound transmissions


Mode II L-Band

Earthbound transmissions

Satellite transmission

Mode III

Below 3 GHz

Earthbound transmissions

Satellite transmissions

Mode IV L-Band

Earthbound transmissions

Satellite transmissions

A radio has to have each of these bands to receive all of the digital types of transmissions. Each of these are country-based transmissions. To be able to receive all of these types of transmissions from every country, the radio should have all four DAB bands, but this does not work with the high-definition radios used in the United States.

Features of Digital Radios

The features that a digital radio contain are an important part of the decision to purchase a digital radio. Many people want more features than just a receiver for digital radio. Digital radios come with many of the same features for which people purchase analogue radios.

CD Players

A feature that most people want in both a car digital radio and a home digital radio is a standard CD player. The CD player expands the use of the receiver. Most people like specific songs or specific CDs that they cannot find, or are not played often over digital or analogue radio. A CD player allows them to listen to such songs and CDs.

MP3 CD and Hard Drive Player

Another feature that many people desire is the ability to play MP3s either from a CD or from a hard drive, which can be either a plug-in USB drive or an onboard hard drive. Although digital signal is very close to CD and MP3 quality, many people still want to listen to their favourite music on demand rather than waiting for it to be played on the radio. This feature provides the option to listen to music on demand, and MP3 CD players often double as CD players.

Tape Deck

Although considered older technology, some people still like the option presented by the tape player. Cassette tapes are easier and less expensive to record voice. Many people use tape recorders to take notes for a class or a presentation.

Error Correction Coding

Error correction coding, or ECC, is important because it boosts the signal and fills in the spaces when a signal drops. This is important so that the radio does not present a weaker signal when almost out of range of a radio tower.

Buying Digital Radios on eBay

A user can easily purchase a digital radio on eBay.. They can do this by going to any page of the eBay website and typing in the search terms for the radio that they want. For instance, if you want one of the top brands you could type in “Evoke digital radio”. This brings up a list of Evoke digital radios, and then, all you need to do is scroll through the results until you find the one in which you are interested. If you do not find one that interests you, you can change the search terms slightly to populate a new set of listings. Once you have found one that interests you, click on it.

By clicking on a listing, you should be able to view a description of the item. The description should contain all of the features and specifications of the digital radio. There is also a link to ask the seller a question if you want to know more about the radio before bidding or purchasing it. While you are there, check out the seller’s feedback. The feedback is a valuable resource for learning about a seller.


As more and more radio and television stations move towards a digital signal, purchasing a digital radio or digital radio tuner becomes more important. The digital radio should be the type of radio that works with stations in the area or country in which it is being used. With many stations broadcasting on a single frequency, the stations have a wider reach for their consumers. Finding out which type of digital radio to purchase does not have to be confusing. All that needs to be done is to find out the digital radio stations in a local area and find out which mode they use. If there is more than one signal being broadcast or the radio is to be used in a car stereo, then a DAB with all of the modes is needed. Any of these radios can be purchased from electronics shops, shops where radios are sold, and at the popular online auction house, eBay.

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