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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Wednesday, 23 November 2005

technopodcasts and digital radio rants...

/podcast blog
Sub $100 laptopI've started regularly to download the BBC World Service's Go Digital podcast, which offers a digest of all the groovy technological advances across the world; it's kind-of like Radio 4's The Leading Edge, but (fairly obviously) it has more of a global development view - like the very cool sub-$100 laptop that the MIT have developed in co-operation with the UN.

/radio blog
On the subject of emerging technology, I've just heard that a new type of radio technology, able to receive 'international' standards of digital radio(including something called "DAB-2" which is being rolled out in Australia)

What this basically means is that, in the same way there are different standards for television pictures, the current run of DAB radios are capable only of receiving the current set of UK signals. In fact, they might not be able to tune into some of the newer group of frequencies that may become available (the so-called "L" band).

The thing is, DAB-2 is AAC+ compatible (as I've drivelled on about before, it provides a much better sound at lower bit-rates, so you can effectively get many more - and better sounding - stations in the same space), so it could be that, with the take up of DAB in the UK, a fairly substantial trick could be missed.

The main issue I (and many other - often a lot more vociferous - digital audio afficionados!) have with DAB, y'see, is that many radio stations are a bit too low quality - BBC7, for example, runs at 64kbps in mono, whereas it comes out of a digital television box at 192kbps in stereo (trust me - it sounds a lot better!). With digital radios up to now, the MPEG decoder is 'hardwired', which is why the new "versatile" ones are so exciting, since as technology improves, so can the radios (as long as the encoders and transmitters can be upgraded too!)

I understand, incidentally, that the name "DRM" (Digital Radio Mondial) is soon to be reduced just to "DR", since it could easily be confused with Digital Rights Management.

Still, it'll all shake down eventually, I'm sure - although I expect the imminent introduction of HDTV will capture the media's attention a lot more, since people seem to be more interested in telly...

Posted by james at November 23, 2005 11:38 AM

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