Questions and Answers – November 2020

This month we have received questions about DAB radios which can be battery powered, listening to talkSPORT 2 on personal radios, radio stations on digital TV and finding ensembles with Gold among others.

Thanks to everyone who has sent a question during November.

Radio recommendations for stations in Yorkshire

Which DAB radio should I buy to receive all the digital stations in West Yorkshire? This includes the radio station called Smooth. Ideally the radio should be able to run from the mains and on batteries.
– David

Whichever radio you purchase you should check that it has the digital radio tick mark. This lets you know that the radio will receive FM, DAB and DAB+ radio stations. Even if stations like Smooth currently use DAB rather than the newer DAB+ format you will be ready if this changes in the future.

The Sony XDR-S41D is a good all-rounder for £60, although it can often be found for less. The radio can be powered from four AA batteries or mains with the included AC adapter. The large display and up/down toggle button makes browsing digital stations easier.

If you tend only to listen to Smooth the Roberts Play 10 would be a good option. The display doesn’t make browsing for stations as quick and the volume is controlled with up and down buttons, but it can be bought for around £35 to £40. It also takes four AA batteries or an adapter.

If you routinely listen on battery power you could look at a Pure Evoke model which is compatible with Pure’s rechargeable battery. The ChargePAK F1 provides up to 50 hours of listening, according to the company.

Ministry of Sound radios

I have a Ministry of Sound M bass MOSDR011 Personal DAB Tuner. Should I be able to listen to DAB+, specifically talkSport 2 or do I need to upgrade to a new radio?
– John

Unfortunately it appears that it’s not possible to receive DAB+ radio stations with the MOSDR011. The manual doesn’t mention DAB+ or the ability to upgrade the radio. An Amazon listing for the radio shows it was first available in 2002 which predates DAB+ by a few years. The page for Ministry of Sound’s audio devices returns ‘Page Not Found’.

A suitable replacement could be the Roberts SportsDAB5 – you can see our review of it here. Other personal radios worth considering would be the Pure Move R3. The Roberts radio takes two AA batteries while the Pure has a built-in rechargeable battery.

Finding DAB radio stations by ensemble

How do I find Gold Radio using ensembles please? I have a DAB+ radio but can only search using things like 5A…
– Anne

Gold UK is part of the Digital One multiplex which uses ensemble (or block) 11D in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland the station can be found on block 12A.

Gold can also be found on other blocks in parts of the UK. According to information from Ofcom it is also available in Cambridgeshire on block 11C, in Derbyshire on block 10B, in Leicestershire on 11B, in London and Nottinghamshire on 12C, in Northampton on 10C and in Peterborough and Plymouth on 12D.

Gold UK is broadcast on DAB+ rather than DAB and a compatible radio is required to receive it. You can read more about DAB and DAB+ here.

Why is Classic FM not playing on a DAB radio?

My digital radio doesn’t seem to play Classic FM every day for the last 2 days. Other radio stations are working, it says Classic FM is off line. I have tried repositioning the radio – it worked perfectly one day but not another.
– Janice

A sudden loss of reception for a station that can normally be received could be down to engineering work, interference or a problem with the radio.

Occasionally radio transmitters and towers undergo maintenance or engineering work and you may find that stations are not available. Any problems are normally resolved within a few days. The radio might receive other stations because they come from a different transmitter or another location.

Interference could also be responsible. We have received several questions this year about radios losing stations suddenly and often at a particular time. This could be due to something coming on with a timer or lights always being switched on at a specific time, for example when someone wakes up or comes home.

If Classic FM is still ‘offline’ after repositioning the radio it could be worth performing a rescan or retune. If this doesn’t help you could try using the factory reset function in the menu. This will clear all settings, presets and stations. The radio will normally restart and scan for stations again. A factory reset may also delete alarms so it’s worth remembering to set those again.

Finally the radio could be faulty. If the radio is within the warranty period you could look into returning it. Manufacturers often offer technical support and you could try contacting them for specific advice about your model of radio.

Will a DAB+ radio receive London stations in Kent?

I live in Sittingbourne in Kent and have a clock radio which is DAB/FM only. I have tried to receive BBC Radio London with no luck. The station name is shown but no sound, also a few other London stations likewise. I do also have a good HiFi system with a DAB+ tuner and that is fine with a roof aerial. If I buy a DAB+ clock radio will it receive London stations?
– Derek

It sounds like the issue with the clock radio is that it doesn’t have a strong enough signal for the London stations. Stations like BBC Radio London, Mi-Soul and Smooth Country are broadcast in the original DAB format which your clock radio should be able to receive. A DAB+ compatible clock radio would provide access to many more national and London stations, subject to coverage.

You may be able to access a signal strength meter through the display or menu options on the radio. Some clock radios from Pure and Roberts have a signal strength meter in the top right corner of the screen. You could try tuning to BBC Radio London and moving the aerial or position of the radio to see if it becomes available.

Using a postcode coverage checker (with the postcode of Sittingbourne railway station) it appears that reception of stations from London is not predicted. The roof aerial may be allowing the tuner to find those stations.

Some radios can be better at picking up radio stations than others. You may find that a newer radio is able to pick up the London stations. If you have access to another DAB radio or can borrow one you could see if it receives BBC Radio London where you normally have your clock radio.

It’s worth mentioning that if you rely on DAB radio for the alarm the signal will need to be strong enough for the station to be heard reliably. Unlike with FM, where the sound will be degraded by a poor signal, there could be no sound at all from a DAB station.

Will more radio stations be added to digital TV?

Will the DAB+ stations be added to the TV radio format?
– David

Digital television platforms Freeview, Sky, Freesat and Virgin Media each have their own line-ups of radio stations.

Some digital radio stations which broadcast on DAB+, such as LBC News, Jazz FM and Heart 90s, are available to listen to on Sky. Kerrang! is available on Freeview but not Sky or Freesat, nor DAB in most of the UK.

Each radio station will decide themselves whether to join digital television, subject to available space.

Recent additions to digital TV include Greatest Hits Radio and Virgin Radio, but unfortunately it’s not possible to say if more stations will choose to join Sky or another platform.