With the increasing popularity of digital and internet radios, the days of manually tuning into radio stations are numbered. Everyone is familiar with the annoyance of having to precisely turn the dial on old analogue radios to find the right station. Even when the right station has been found, it is often accompanied by the delightful sound of static. So what makes these newer radio technologies so much better? Here is a breakdown of the differences between analogue, digital and internet radio.
Analogue radio transmission is simply a way of sending information via continuous radio waves. Multiple analogue signals can be transmitted simultaneously via a method called modulation. There are two popular forms of modulation that most people will be familiar with: FM (frequency modulation) and AM (amplitude modulation).
Through this use of modulation, people can ‘tune’ their radios to a specific frequency or amplitude to listen to a radio station. This type of radio transmission has been used widely and successfully since the early 20th century, but nowadays however, other forms of radio transmission such as digital are becoming more popular.
The main problem with analogue signals is their tendency to lose signal strength and quality. When radio stations begin to sound distorted or ‘fuzzy’, it is usually down to the fact that the signal has a lot of noise i.e. the original signal has degraded.
DAB or digital audio broadcasting is becoming more and more popular with radio listeners. Instead of the continuous radio waves used for analogue signals, digital signals are truncated or cut-off at specific points to indicate either 1’s or 0’s. These strings of 1’s and 0’s hold the information of the transmission. It may sound a little complicated, but digital transmissions have a much greater ability to resist background noise and other distortions, meaning better sound quality for the listener.
One of the great things about DAB radios is they tend to be much more user friendly than analogue radios.
Instead of having to fiddle with tuning dials and frequency indicators, most digital radios have great LCD displays that allow the user to clearly see and select channels.
Digital radios usually have a wide range of useful functions too. Some DAB radios allow the listener to pause, rewind and record live radio broadcasts to listen to them later. This can be great for people who don’t want to miss their favourite shows when busy with other things.
Instead of receiving analogue or digital radio transmissions, internet radios can be connected to the user’s own Wi-Fi network. One of the best things about internet radio is that it gives users the choice of many thousands of radio stations instead of the mere handful that conventional radio offers. Due to the vast number of stations available, listeners are bound to find something they like.
Another great feature of internet radios is that they allow the user to listen to podcasts and access pre-recorded shows when they like. Some internet radios also allow users to play their own music from their computers through the radio, so listeners aren’t just limited to the radio stations. It is worth remembering that a home internet connection is required to use internet radio.
With DAB and internet radios having so many great benefits and features, it’s easy to see why they are rapidly taking over from antiquated analogue radios. From greater usability to the massive range of stations available, it looks as though the next generation of radios have finally arrived.