What is DAB+ and is it different to DAB?

DAB+ is relatively new to the UK and some of the UK’s national digital and local radio stations use this new technology. Although there are benefits to DAB+ some older radios don’t understand the new standard and you may not be able to receive DAB+ stations.

Some digital radios can be upgraded to receive DAB+ stations, but unfortunately many cannot and you may have to buy a replacement radio to receive Jazz FM, Fun Kids and Magic Chilled across the UK.

DAB Digital Radio launched in the UK in the 1990’s and most digital radio stations in the UK currently use this version of the DAB standard.

DAB+ (sometimes called DAB plus) is a newer version of DAB and has been used in some European countries for some time. DAB+ is more efficient than DAB, allowing more stations to be broadcast and in higher quality if desired by the broadcaster.

A radio which can only receive DAB will not be able to receive DAB+ stations. However, DAB+ sets are ‘backwards-compatible’ and will receive both DAB and DAB+ stations. The first services to use DAB+ have launched recently, both nationally and on small ‘trial’ multiplexes.

Although millions of digital radios have been sold the distinction between DAB and DAB+ has only been made clear recently on packaging and websites by some manufacturers. Many shops and online retailers continue to sell radios which cannot receive DAB+ stations.

As some radios won’t be able to receive DAB+ stations it’s unlikely that many services would switch to the newer DAB+ soon.

When purchasing a new radio it’s worth ensuring it supports FM, DAB and DAB+. The easiest way to check is to look for the Digital Radio Tick Mark. This logo only appears on radios which are ready for DAB+.

Radio stations using DAB+ in the UK

There are several radio stations using DAB+ instead of DAB which cover the whole of the UK.

During August and September 2019 some digital radio stations transitioned to DAB+.

Radio X

Alternative and indie music with the Chris Moyles Show. DAB+ from 25 October 2019.

Fun Kids UK

The only national digital radio station for children and families. Music, games, competitions and silliness!

Jazz FM Stereo

Jazz, blues and soul music from music legends and new artists. Specialist programmes are dedicated to funk and soul, live performances and interviews with jazz stars.


The Greatest Hits of all Time.

Virgin Radio Anthems

Virgin Radio Anthems plays rock, pop and indie songs from the 80s and 90s.

Smooth Extra

Smooth Breakfast with Gary King and a refreshing music mix during the day.

Heart dance

Non-stop club classics with Toby Anstis at breakfast.

Capital XTRA

Dance. Urban. UK. (Formerly DAB)

Capital XTRA Reloaded

Non-stop Old Skool

Forces Radio BFBS

BFBS broadcasts music, news and entertainment to service personnel and families in the UK and worldwide.

Union JACK

Playing the best British music from the last six decades. The station also plays music by new and emerging British bands and performers. Upcoming songs can be voted up and down on the website and in the smartphone app.

Virgin Radio Chilled

Virgin Radio Chilled offers "blissed out" songs from artists such as Radiohead, Amy Winehouse, George Ezra, The Lumineers, U2 and more.

JACK Radio

JACK Radio only plays music by female artists. Female comedians also feature, with established acts alongside new talent.

Heart extra

Non-stop music from Heart between 10am and 4pm on weekdays, plus Heart extra with JK and Kelly Brook from Monday to Friday.

Heart 70s

1970s music with Carlos at breakfast.

Heart 80s

Non-stop 80s feel good

Heart 90s

Non-stop 90s feel good

More DAB+ stations coming soon?

In ten areas of the UK trials of small scale DAB are taking place. Around 70 radio stations are participating in the trials to see how smaller radio stations can broadcast digitally. This means listeners in the trial areas can currently tune into brand new stations on DAB.

Seven of the ten trial areas have radio stations using DAB+ instead of DAB. In areas like Portsmouth and Manchester more radio stations are able to broadcast than would be the case with only DAB.

When the trials are completed and legislation is passed to allow permanent small scale DAB it's likely many more stations will use DAB+ in the UK.

Radio compatibility: Do I need to buy a new radio?

If you've bought a DAB digital radio in the last few years which carried the Digital Radio Tick Mark your radio already supports DAB, DAB+ and FM.

If your radio has a DAB+ logo it should also be fine.

Many digital radios have different DAB and Digital Radio logos, but these only indicate that DAB can be received.

DAB+ radios are 'backwards compatible' and receive DAB stations.

Some digital radios can be upgraded. Pure offers a website portal where owners can enter details of their radio to see if a free upgrade is available. The software update has to be performed at home by the owner, although some TV and radio retailers and repairers may be able to help for a fee.

Unfortunately for many radio owners their sets cannot be updated and it will be necessary to buy a new radio to receive DAB+ stations. As of early 2017 there are no plans to migrate existing digital radio stations to DAB+, so you will be able to enjoy your existing DAB stations for a few years yet.

DAB+ Compatible Radios

When purchasing a digital radio you should always ensure it has the Digital Radio Tick Mark. This shows that the radio is ready for the future and can receive DAB, DAB+ and FM stations.

Still have questions?