Digital Radios and Audio Quality: What to Look for When You Buy

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Digital Radios and Audio Quality: Features to Look for When You Buy

While manufacturers first introduced analogue radios for commercial use during the 1920s, it took nearly 60 years for digital radios to hit the open market. The British Broadcasting Corporation spearheaded the development of digital radio technology in England, and the company made its first digital broadcast in 1995. The broadcast medium has steadily risen in popularity since, topping 12 million digital radio receivers sold by the end of 2011. Aside from providing vastly superior sound quality than analogue radios, digital radios offer numerous other reasons for consumers to switch from analogue to digital.

Most big box electronic device retailers and smaller specialty shops that cater to the radio market offer digital radios. The shops employ electronics sales professionals who provide buying advice for consumers who may be a bit perplexed by digital technology. Consumers can also find digital radios online at the leading auction site, eBay. Before shopping for digital radios, consumers should learn more about the technology that drives digital radios, the advantage of owning a digital radio, and the features that enhance audio quality.

What is a Digital Radio?

Many electronics experts compare digital radio technology to the technology implemented to run compact disc players. A digital radio transmitter processes sounds into number patterns, or digits. Traditional analogue radios process sounds into varied electrical signal patterns that mimic sound waves. Some systems digitise, compress, and transmit analogue audio signals by using a digital modulation programme. The purpose of this digital transmission model is to increase the number of radio programmes available in the spectrum, eliminate fading issues commonly found in mobile devices, allow extra datacasting services, and decrease the number of transmitters required to service an area.

FM digital radio provides sound quality comparable to that found in compact discs. Digital receivers clearly project wider frequency ranges, which increase bandwidth and boosts power. AM digital radio provides sound quality on par with analogue FM radio, and sound quality that far suprasses analogue AM radio. Some broadcasters predict the high-quality of digital AM radio should prompt the return of music to AM radio. Since digital radio reception does a better job of resisting interference and eliminating transmission inconsistencies, it is just a matter of time before digital radio becomes the platform for transmitting and receiving both AM and FM radio signals.

Advantages of Using Digital Radios

The question remains, how do consumers benefit from using digital radios? Digital radios offer numerous consumer advantages over analogue radios that include, and goes beyond, better sound quality. However, sound quality is the most important digital radio advantage.

Better Sound Quality

Digital technology produces cleaner radio signals, which translates to better sound quality and stronger signal impulses. Recently introduced auxiliary services, such as multiple audio programming channels, audio-on-demand services, and myriad interactive features, enhance the sound quality of generic digital radios.


Digital radio bandwidth expansion allows broadcasters to transmit multiple radio stations simultaneously. The bandwidth expansion presents a wider variety of music that transmits with the same high-quality digital sound. On average, digital radio listeners have twice the amount of music stations from which to choose than conventional analogue radio listeners.

Radio Text

The rapid increase in the popularity of text messages as a form on electronic communication has led to the development of technology that allows text messages to broadcast within a digital radio signal transmission. Digital radio users receive text information about song titles, artists, and length. Users can also hear their favourite tunes while they scroll updated news and sport sources.

Programme Guide

Some digital radio receiver manufacturers include an electronic programme guide with a digital radio receiver.. This means users learn how to programme their favourite songs or create a playlist for everyday listening. Electronic programme guides are a growing trend that may someday reduce the influence that radio stations have on consumer listening habits.


Newer digital radio receiver models come equipped with technology that allows users to pause, rewind, and fast forward radio station playlists. The technology gives users the control to programme radio stations at a future time and date. Consumers can programme their digital radios to record a favourite radio show while they are at work, and then return home to listen to the show.

Ease of Use

Digital radios have earned a reputation of being difficult to programme and operate. However, recent interface improvements now make digital radios easier to operate than their analogue counterparts. Tuning only involves selecting a radio station name from a programmed list. Users no longer have to store frequency numbers to hear their favourite radio stations.

Features of High-Quality Digital Radio Audio

The reasons why digital radio sound quality exceeds the sound quality of traditional analogue radio sets has been set forth here. Nonetheless, digital radio users have a number of ways to further enhance digital radio sound quality, without having to reach deep into their pockets.


When digital radios first hit the market, consumer most likely purchased the DAB model that was used during the trial period. Recent technological advances have led consumers to the DAB+ digital radio,, which is a more efficient delivery platform for digital signals. DAB+ digital radios operate on the AAC code that Apple iPods use to receive high-quality digital signals. Consumers should consider buying a DAB+ digital radio for improved sound quality.

Stereo Sound

Nothing beats the quality of digital surround sound. Most digital radios offer connection points for stereo speakers.. Most connectors are not long enough to spread the speakers far apart within a room, although manufacturers are now developing longer cables. Consumers should snap up the longer cabled speakers when they hit the market, but for now, they should enhance the sound quality of their digital radios by plugging in a pair of speakers.


If some consumers cannot wait for longer cabled speakers, they should consider buying headphones to augment the power and refine the quality of their digital radio audio. Look for headphones that possess connector tips that fit within the smaller digital radio receptors. Moreover, digital radio headphones that have sealed earpieces do a better job of eliminating external noise.


The old business adage, “Location, location, location”, applies to digital radios as well. Not only do consumers need to ensure that they live in an area that can receive digital radio transmissions, they also must place their digital radio receivers in open, flat terrain that is not surrounded by obstacles, such as trees and buildings, which impede signal transmission and reception. Large bodies of water can reflect digital radio signals, and thus, produce lower-quality transmissions. Consumers who live in windy climates may experience service disruptions, since digital transmitters are sensitive to vibrations.


Audio receiver delay can frustrate the listening experiences of users who own the most technologically advanced digital radio. Digital radio signal delay averages between three and four seconds on virtually every digital radio model. Delays are part of owning a digital radio, although manufacturers plan to unveil digital radios that possess little, if any, delay during DAB+ broadcasts.

How to Buy a Digital Radio on eBay

eBay offers consumers a wide selection of digital radio receivers and digital radio accessories that improve the listening experience. Use eBay’s search engine to type keywords into a search bar that helps you to navigate through search results of sellers who offer digital radios. Type specific keywords into the search engine to reduce the number of search results. For instance, type "Panasonic digital radios&" or "digital radio speakers&" to reduce the amount of time that you spend on a digital radio search. Once you find the right seller, navigate to the seller’s product page to review accepted payment methods, delivery terms, and return policies.

You should look for eBay’s Top-Rated Sellers. These sellers have established reputations for selling high-quality products and running fair auctions. Look for eBay’s electronic ribbon icon that is placed next to qualified seller product photographs. You can also review customer feedback on seller product pages. Consider sellers who have earned positive feedback for the past year and have received positive feedback for selling electronic devices. Once you form a business relationship with an eBay seller, ask the seller if he or she runs an eBay Store where you can buy products directly. Shopping at a seller’s eBay Store eliminates the auction process.


Digital radios receive digital signals, which are signals that transmitters process into a series of number patterns. The result has been the proliferation of digital radios and analogue radios that can digitise analogue signals through a digital modulation system. Once considered a luxury for the upper class, mass production now allows most consumers to afford digital radios, and the cost of producing digital radios should decline even further in the coming years.

The greatest advantage of owning a digital radio is its vastly superior sound quality. A wider bandwidth and higher signal compression creates a crisp, powerful signal that digital radios convert into high-quality audio. Digital radios also provide users with more programming options, text messages during radio broadcasts, and the capability to receive signals from more than one radio station at a time. Despite the proven superior sound quality, users can take steps to further enhance audio transmission and reception. Digital radios perform much better in open spaces that are not near bodies of water. Users can also improve sound quality by investing in high-fidelity digital radio accessories, such as speakers and headphones. Most importantly, consumers should buy DAB+ radio models to ensure high performance levels.

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