DAB+ is the most widely adopted digital radio standard across the world, and is on-air in more than 40 countries. The DAB+ Digital Radio rollout is well underway in Australia, with coverage in five metropolitan capital cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Trials are underway in Canberra and Darwin.
With DAB+ in Australia you have access to more stations in various niche formats, clearer reception, exceptional sound quality, song & artist information, and a whole lot more. Best of all, it’s all free-to-air.
Over 36 automotive brands are now supporting DAB+ radios as a standard across their range, as it quickly becomes “the norm” in radio consumption.
The question is though – can you retrofit DAB+ to your existing car stereo, without having to fork over a tonne of cash to replace the entire head unit? Of course you can.
Let’s look at your options.
Utilising an existing GROM/Dension adapter
If you an existing GROM or Dension adapter, then it’s a possibility you can add a DAB+ extension to it through the GROM DAB+ extension, or the Dension DAB+G.
The GROM DAB+ extension is still undergoing testing here in Australia, but once approved it will allow you to connect the DAB+ extension to one of the EXT ports on your existing USB3, BT3 or MST4. This GROM extension comes with a digital radio antenna as part of the kit, so it’s everything you need to get started listening to DAB+ radio.
The Dension DAB+G similarly uses the extension port found on an existing Dension Gateway Pro, 500s or 500S BT. This Dension extension does not come with a digital radio antenna, so you’ll need to purchase the DAB+ Antenna separately.
DAB+ over a factory USB port
If you’re lucky enough to have a factory equipped USB port with MP3 support, it’s likely you could make the most of Dension’s flagship DAB+ unit – the DAB+U.
By converting digital radio stations into virtual MP3 files, the DAB+U product has wide compatibility with a number of existing car stereos. A number of different software configurations profiles exist to try an optimise the integration with your car stereo, with performance measured in buffering time (i.e. the number of seconds between switching to a station, and it starting to play). Check your car compatibility using their online catalogue.
This Dension product does not come with a digital radio antenna, so you’ll need to purchase the DAB+ Antenna separately.
DAB+ over a AUX input or FM transmission
We also have a couple of universally compatible DAB+ units from Dension, which are the DAB+A and the DAB+M. Both of these units can transmit audio to your car stereo via a direct AUX (3.5mm) connection if your car has the input, otherwise it can transmitted via a tunable FM transmission. If your car stereo supports RDS text, the Dension unit will also display song text via FM.
The main disadvantage to a universally compatible product like this is that FM transmission technology can be prone to interference depending on the frequency you’ve chosen and the area you’re in. Some trial and error may be required to find the best FM frequency for you.
The only difference between the DAB+A and DAB+M is that the DAB+M also doubles as a bluetooth receiver. So not only do you get DAB+ digital radio, you also get a bluetooth connection for streaming your own music and taking handsfree calls (an external microphone is provided).