Thursday 21st October 2021

DAB + Retrofit radio in the car - useful?

Reading time approx. 7 Minutes
42901 © Free Photos CCO Public Domain Retrofitting DAB + radio in the car makes sense? © Free-Photos CCO Public Domain

For audiophile-minded people and passionate music listeners, a good car is also defined by the sound quality of the music. Here DAB + radios open up new scope.

Driving in the car becomes a real experience through clear and high-quality music. That's why more and more owners are upgrading their music systems in their cars. They expand the number of speakers, install bass boxes or make other changes. But for all those who do not want to put in too much effort, there is a much easier change: the Switch to the DAB + radio in your own vehicle, Already this change brings one higher sound qualityt and also offers one greater choice of channels, But does retrofitting make sense for everyone?

What is DAB +?

DAB + means the so-called Digital Audio Broadcasting. It replaces the analog FM and opens up completely new possibilities and qualities when used:

  • Clear digital sound
  • Additional services
  • Uninterrupted and extensive reception of broadcast programs

The FM is also included in a DAB +. But the FM cannot keep up with the wide range of DAB + frequencies. In particular, people who like to listen to stations that go beyond their own region benefit from using DAB +: If national radio stations were not or only hard to reach on FM, this is now different with DAB +. In the meantime, more and more private stations are taking advantage of the DAB + and broadcasting via it. So it comes through one Combination of the public broadcaster with the private broadcaster to the one already mentioned range of programs.

DAB + possible at all?

42901 © Retrofitting 3D Maennchen CCO Public Domain DAB + radio in the car makes sense? © 3D_Maennchen CCO Public Domain

DAB + radios are available for the DIN slot and the double DIN slot. In addition, the radios require an upgrade of the antenna.

Before the prices for the new DAB + radio are compared on portals, the question of the possibility of upgrading arises. Are radios for example integrated into whole multimedia systems in chip form, the vehicle manufacturer is the best place to go, Under certain circumstances, it may not even have to be converted, it is sufficient that System to update.

Otherwise DAB + radios for a DIN slot and for the double DIN slot are available on the market. Therefore, before making a purchase decision, it is important to check whether one of the two slots is present in the dashboard. In addition, DAB + radios are available for a variety of different vehicle types, such as even campers and caravans, which is why Type of vehicle should not be an obstacle.

Remove old radio and install new DAB +

The expansion of the old radio and the installation of the new follow simple mechanisms. A step-by-step guide:

  • Remove the FM radio from the clips and remove the cables.
  • Insert new radio and connect with the remaining plugs.
  • If necessary - usually always necessary, since DAB + works with higher frequencies than FM - connect an additional antenna via an adapter so that DAB + runs properly.

If this process of upgrading is not too expensive for vehicle owners, then a DAB + radio makes sense from this point of view. But in addition to the effort of dismantling and installing, other factors are included in a retrofit ...

Critical voices to change: What speaks against the new radio standard?

The disadvantages or counter-arguments with which the DAB + radio is faced stem mainly from the past years and hardly take into account that things have changed. In 2016, for example, the opinion was still circulating that DAB + would lose out in competition with the Internet. This would not be a bad thing if it were not used as an argument today. The misconception turns out to be wrong, however, if you consider how much popularity the DAB + is experiencing. It may be at home that the Internet has the upper hand and music services such as Spotify, the content of which is even available offline to a certain extent, are proving to be more popular than DAB +. But the Internet access, available at home, rarely exists on highways and generally in the car. Another important point: the internet connection always takes up costs, which is painfully noticeable in your own car when your own data volume is used by the cell phone for music streaming and other services.

For these reasons it turns out Most of the critical voices today are no longer up to date. Instead, it should be noted that Norway is already abolishing FM and Switzerland intends to do so by 2021 at the earliest, but by 2025 at the latest. Accordingly show the progress of digitization in a direction that speaks for DAB +.

Why upgrading to DAB + makes sense

42901 © Tama66 CCO Public Domain Retrofitting radio in the car makes sense? © Tama66 CCO Public Domain

In addition to the great sounds, the DAB + radio provides many helpful additional functions.

If the Internet and the use of the streaming services are associated with fees and access is not always available, the situation with a DAB + radio is different: one now very good availability on motorways and roads makes for a consistently excellent sound experience to reality. In addition, DAB + radios - provided they are equipped accordingly - can display additional information for the respective radio station:

  • sender name
  • Just played titles
  • artists
  • album Cover

In addition to these functionalities, DAB + radios also score points advanced services that reflect, for example, the weather report and traffic information. The traffic radio is conveyed in a scope and reliability that conventional car radios cannot manage for reasons of capacity alone.

Nevertheless, if the Internet is considered indispensable, there is DAB + radios that have an additional internet radio integrated in addition to the FM.

Conclusion: DAB + radio makes sense? A matter of priorities!

Despite all the existing advantages and the outdated criticism, the question of the meaning of retrofitting to the DAB + radio is not simply dealt with. Because there is one A number of useful tuning options, which may include a Windbreak or High-tech temperature displays fall. As a result, tuning is never really over, and whether a DAB + radio should be at the top of the list is up to everyone to decide for themselves. Pioneers of good sound and persons who listen to national radio stations as well as Radio reception abroad retrofitting is recommended. On the other hand, people who enjoy the practical use and ease of use of a car may position the DAB + radio further down in the retrofit list. But irgendwann, the trend shows, the Switch to DAB + radio necessary or even inevitable .

1 DIN device Jaguar Land Rover Radio Bluetooth Navi Tuning 2 Retrofitting DAB + radio in the car makes sense?


  • DAB + stands for "Digital Audio Broadcasting Plus" (new radio standard)
  • Compared to conventional radio reception (VHF), DAB + has a much wider range of programs
  • Not only regional, but also national channels can be received
  • Digital radio signal is less prone to interference
  • The digital radio signal sounds better than FM
  • The digital radio signal can also be received using a DAB + adapter (glue in the antenna, attach the control panel in the cockpit, let's go)
    - DAB + adapter should bring along a hands-free kit for the phone
    - The DAB + adapter should allow access to the mobile phone via a voice assistant
    - DAB + adapter should have music streaming services such as Spotify implemented
    - DAB + adapter can be powered by batteries, the on-board network, or both
    - DAB + adapter should have SD memory card slot (but not a must)
    - DAB + adapter should bring standards such as BT and DAB + music transmission via aux or FM transmitter
    - If possible, the DAB + adapter should bring its own app for Spotify playlists & Co.
    - there are DAB + adapters that can access the Google Assistant or Siri (Voice control can be used comfortably while driving)
    - The DAB + adapter should have a display that automatically adjusts the brightness to the lighting conditions
  • DAB + adapters are usually easy to install
  • A good DAB + adapter enables perfect transmission via FM transmitter or by using the aux cable

Retrofitting dabRadio Car Retrofitting DAB + radio in the car makes sense?

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  1. Jean-Pierre Wüthrich

    I find this post super.

    I'm a fan of DAB + car radio and DAB + retrofit box, etc. and I like that

    • I can only agree with that. I am also a DAB + supporter and have converted my car. You will be rewarded with a good sound and much more variety without having to laboriously plug in any cell phone and burn up volume. In addition, you have to say that some stations still have some catching up to do with digital sound optimization, as they simply take and modulate the FM or MP3 signal, which is not optimal. A DAB + stream needs its own sound processing tailored to AAC +.
      Only DAB + creates a secure digital radio future. The so-called “Internet is everything” fans (unfortunately) do not understand the urgent need for their own radio network. The article is very balanced and ultimately comes to the right conclusion. There will never be 5G radio either, as it will be far too expensive in the final stage. It seems that more and more private radio stations now understand this and are now using DAB + (except of course those in NDS).

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