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 FAQ #90
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Get DAB (digital) Reception on a radio in a C4?
I've been experimenting with getting DAB digital radio working in my C4, and have succeeded

You need a very good aerial and despite what anyone else may say, you need a dedicated DAB-specific aerial for best performance.

I've been pretty successful with an external window aerial, but the best is a roof mounted one, as high as you can get it.

National DAB reception is good (85+% of the UK, no problem on motorways), the signal rarely being lost, being multipath. Local DAB signals, usually from a single transmitter, are prone to shadows from large buildings or when the car is in a cutting, and depending on the cut-off signal level on your receiver, can go quiet for long periods, though many car receivers have an FM link, finding and switching to the same station station on FM, and going back when the DAB signal strength returns.

For stations which do not transmit on FM (like Radio 5), the receiver goes silent with an error message, like "weak signal" or "no reception".

I can confirm that internal stick-on windscreen aerials don't work well on the C4's athermic screen. I tried two, and both gave outputs that gave rise to error messages such "Weak signal", "No reception" and "Not found".

I can also confirm that powered DAB/FM splitters do not work either. The FM signal strength was less than not using the splitter, and the DAB signal was marginally stronger than the internal aerial. Maybe the splitter I used was poor, but it's more likely that an optimised FM aerial is just that, and poor when it comes to DAB.

I have now fitted a JVC HAL4 to the rear screen. It's located towards the top off-side corner, to avoid the sweep of the wiper blade, and carefully positioned to minimise possible interference from the HRW and avoid jets of water from the washer nozzle.

Running the cable from the rear screen to under the dash was easier than I had expected.

After leaving a loop of slack to accommodate opening the hatch, I've neatly tucked it under the edge of the roof lining after easing off the black edging and finishing strip. It then tuns down the off-side front A pillar and under the dash, where's there a very convenient aperture (big enough to get my hand in) to the rear of the radio.

This original plan was retain the RD4, and by using a REVO DAB in-car receiver, I could then cycle though Source: Radio - CD - CD4/iPod - Aux1/ DAB.

I had to spend a lot of time installing wiring up the REVO. There was nowhere readily available to put it. Its cradle did have an adhesive base with a swivel, but it never seemed 100% secure. I tried attaching the cradle without its base to the blades of the off-side vent with a pair of cable ties, but it didn't look quite right. While I was pretty sure the signal strength was generally OK, it didn't seem to be strong enough for the REVO.

The test was last weekend, driving the 180 miles or so to the FCS. The REVO kept cutting out - low signal strength.

While I was Rockingham, I removed the REVO and installed the Sony DAB HU. On the way home, the Sony lost the signal once in a cutting on the M6 Toll but immediately auto-switched to FM - I was listening to Radio 4 of course! The REVO is now on Ebay.

Since then there's been no problem with DAB reception.

I've not lost the iPod link in swapping HUs. The iPod connects via the Sony's AUX input, but it's like the 9706.AG on the RD4 - just the sound signal; no remote control or charging. However, unlike the 9706.AG, there's no problem with the signal level if the iPod is fully turned up; the Sony must have a suitable pre-amp for the AUX input.

The steering wheel controls are linked via a Connects2 box but work a bit differently from expected. The ">>" scrolls/cycles through each MUX (i.e. for BBC National, that's Radio1, Radio2, Radio3, Radio4, Radio5Live, Radio5SportsExtra, Radio1Extra, BBC6, BBC7, BBC Asian, BBC World Service)

If I've got pre-sets correctly sorted, the scroll wheel moves the radio onto the next/previous MUX. There's 18 pre-sets in 3 sets, and 4 MUXs - EMAP Liverpool; Digital One; MXR NW; and the BBC.

Sound quality? Well Radio3 seems very good, others sometimes a bit clinical, but clear and interference free. I'm still revelling in Radio5 which when compared to the old MW, is superb!

The CDs and iPod are fine, and despite the naff name, Sony's XPLOD is OK.

The fit's a bit untidy, and I must get a better trim. There's loads out there, but I really need to try before I buy.

I just need to find out now about DAB in France, and if my receiver is compatible.

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FAQ Posted by BigJohnD
Info Created: 27 June 2008
Last Updated: 29 January 2014