Radio Ga Ga?

A Guide to tuning in to the word of radios…

Pure Evoke Flow DAB Internet Radio

Radio is just so much more than music and light-hearted entertainment. It is a way of communication. The police, coastguards and many, many more emergency services have used the radio wave system for transmitting and receiving; of course, they’re all operated on varying frequencies. However, to bring this guide more into focus we shall be looking at radio for music in close detail. Also, due to the ever-evolving world of technology we shall explore the alternatives that are now rapidly replacing some of the traditional radio services on radio bands and frequencies. In fact, we shall be looking into modern-day portable radios.

Music on the radio dates back for generations. But, more significantly, radio’s strength grew in the late 1950s with invention of the transistor radio. A generation of teenagers were now able to access MW/LW frequencies, filled with the pop and   rock ‘n’ roll. If anything, portable radios have allowed music to be heard anywhere, anytime for almost any topic or genre. Back in the 1960s, it seemed as if the portable radio was an essential for those who took regular picnics, enjoying the sun and air, whilst listening to pirate-ship Radio Caroline and then travelling home in the Triumph Herald or MG B at the end of the day with the sun gently setting.


Since the birth of affordable, reliable transistor radios, generations of people have grown with music and famous radio characters. RDS (Radio Data System) allows the listeners to receive radio programme information on their radio’s digital display as they listen to their favourite station. On top of this, car radio systems mostly feature systems to receive emergency traffic information by special transmissions being sent out to be recognised by the receiving radio unit. This is the advancements of FM over the years, but still nowhere near as advanced as that of both DAB and Internet Radio. With access to music becoming more flexible and the birth of the portable Walkmans and iPods, where does the portable radio stand in today’s world? Well, that’s what we’re going to find out.

DAB radio logo

At Hifi Gear we stock modern portable radios which are available from our website. However, the portable radio is still a keen favourite due to the invention of both DAB (Digital Audio Broadcast) and the latest invention; Internet Radio. DAB radio was originally intended to replace the traditional FM waveband. DAB offers a digital alternative to FM by providing a hiss-free listening experience in full, accurate stereo. FM radio these days also carries more than just audio transmissions. However, within Hi-Fi set-ups, critics often complain that DAB was not as good as providing some essential sound quality, unlike the traditional FM could. DAB involves compressing the audio output from the radio station into a smaller size for transmitting by converting the audio into a series of codes. Once the codes have been made, they are then transmitted by broadcasting them all over the UK. As a user of DAB radio, your unit will then receive the coded DAB transmissions and then would continue to decode them for audible listening. Although this system offers the height of flexibility in terms of transmission reliability, the quality is often not as soulful as the original FM bandwidth. However, with rumours of FM to be replaced in the near future with DAB, many modern portable radios now offer both radio frequencies and DAB too. Yet, with portable radios the audible quality is often the same, purely as the size of the speakers aren’t able to re-produce the same soundstage as that of a full Hi-Fi system. So, for a portable approach to radio, the DAB format is very much an ideal candidate.  DAB radio manufacturers, Pure, have focuses on providing a great range DAB radios for varying situations. Their entry level Elan II is ideal for those who want to be woken-up by a DAB alarm clock with either FM or DAB broadcasts. It is an ideal candidate purely because it delivers a great stereo sound-stage at exceptional value. As well as all these great features, it even features the latest DAB system: DAB +

DAB + is a very interesting way of taking advantage of the DAB radio service. The system allows the user to pause, rewind broadcasted programmes for extra listening pleasure. DAB radio is becoming a rapidly evolving radio medium. Yet, with the internet providing so much information and services, the radio is now available from countless stations on a global scale – most of which are free for listening to. This is where both DAB (once the successor to offering more variety) has started to become under attack.

Internet radio has opened up a world of endless variety and choice for listening to music and radio. It is not only free, in many cases, but it allows you to extend your choice and accessibility to various shows. Also, like DAB, you can receive varying rates of quality. Often enough you’ll find that radio stations who broadcast on the MW/LW bandwidths also choose to broadcast via the internet, offering an unrivalled quality over the traditional AM bandwidths. Pure offers a fantastic FM/DAB/Wi-Fi radio called Evoke Flow which connects to your Wi-Fi network to allow for reception of internet radio, and amazingly, connection to your computer (on the same Wi-Fi network) to access your stored music from your computer’s hard-drive. Monitor Audio also offers an alternative, named as the Airstream 10. This is a very enjoyable piece to look at, as well as to listen to.

monitor-audio-airstream 10 dab radio

Portable radios have adapted in tremendous levels to meet the needs of those who require choice and flexibility. At Hifi Gear we still love the radio and what it has to offer in terms of quality and now flexibility. We still feel that radio had the power, but it’s yet have its finest hour.