Oh, damn that gurgling DAB!…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully chosen adjectives are: noxious, surreind, kenspeckle, otic, ringent, theopneust, and gurgling. I think my favourite has to be theopneust because I can’t imagine how one would pronounce it.

Have we all heard of DAB radio?
The DAB stands for Digital Audio Broadcasting.
Digital things are remarkably reliable aren’t they? A boon to the whole of civilisation. Digital devices are very reliable, but when they go wrong they don’t go wrong a bit, they generally go wrong ‘big time’.
When old vinyl records got a bit dirty and scratched the sound might go a bit fluffy and be accompanied by the odd clicking noise or crackle, or on occasion the needle might even jump in and out of its groove, but the records were still listenable to – Listenable to, is that a proper phrase? Possibly not, but I’m sure you catch my drift dear reader.
CDs (compact discs) that, sort of, replaced vinyl, were small, handy, easy to play, it was easy to select tracks, and there was no background noise – great! Except of course that when the technology went wrong it was painful! Painful!… Relentless repeating quarter-second slices of sound which would go on and on, and on, until you jumped up from your chair and ran over to the machine to press the ‘For-god’s-sake-stop-it!’ button.’ It sounded like avant-garde ‘modern’ music – K Stockhausen would have loved that!…
It’s the same with the MP3s on your phone or Walkman player. When they are good they are very very good, which is most of the time, but when a file unaccountably, somehow, in the intricate depths of the workings becomes ‘corrupted’, they sound horrible – sometimes on mine, a favourite track decides to sound not like sweet singing and twanging guitars, but like someone sawing noisy logs in a distant resonant aircraft hangar.
Traditional radios were, in sound quality, pretty similar to vinyl records – ‘AM’ (amplitude modulation), ‘FM’ (frequency modulation), both suffered a bit from: hums, interference, fading, drifting out of tune, etc., but you learned to put up with it and they were still acceptable listening.
There now – I have set the scene! What follows will be, I hope, a lot less ‘anti-progress’ and grumpy, and will have a much more cheerful outcome:
A few years ago when DAB radio was introduced I bought a receiver; it was a medium-priced one, a Proline  model, black with nice rounded corners. It has behaved reasonably well, but it was always a little bit particular about which room it happened to be in – it always put up a fuss when taken into the kitchen… Anyway, the thing recently became much more annoying. It would play the set station for about ten minutes and then it would spontaneously decide to dive under water and make the music and voices sound like they were gargling in a tiled bathroom – as if the trumpets, violins, and singers were desperately trying to deal with a bit of stubborn phlegm, (sorry, but that is what it sounded like). I’d have to go over and retune it to get rid of the unpleasantness, but it would always come back again after a few minutes.
Enough was enough!… I unplugged the thing and threw it on my pile of junk waiting to go to the council tip for recycling – I decided that I needed to buy a replacement. However…
Yes, however… That evening whilst fiddling about on t’interweb, I thought that I’d just type in ‘DAB problems’ and straightway found that someone had a design for a very cheap, easy to make aerial to improve DAB reception. (Click here).
The next day I nipped out, bought three metres of coaxial TV aerial cable, only £1.20, and half-an-hour later, with the use of only a craft knife, some sticky tape, a piece of string, a nail and a hammer, I had a nice aerial to hang on the wall. I retrieved the now miserable-looking radio from the junk pile, introduced it to my new aerial, and…
Wonderful!… Full signal strength!… Oh joy!… All stations playing cleanly!…
Gosh! The world isn’t such a bad place after all…

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in adjectives, design, Grumpiness, information, instruction, learning, music, serendipity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Oh, damn that gurgling DAB!…

  1. Dana Doran says:

    So you made an antenna….remember when you could make an antenna using some aluminum foil and an old clothes hanger? Actually, until just this week I was toying with the idea of purchasing a good television antennae and cancelling cable – because the value isn’t there….the entertainment I pay for isn’t entertaining at all….however, it is a drug free sleep inducer….still may cause brain damage though. I’m waiting to see.

    • Dave Whatt says:

      We have a thing in the UK called ‘Freeview’ which comes over the aerial (antenna) where you get about 70 channels of TV and 30 of radio, but of course most of them are rubbish… It’s the way the world is – quantity over quality everywhere…

      • Dana Doran says:

        Which part of the world contains quality? Years ago the cable companies got our Congress to pass some law about having cable television in every home – like it was somehow better – well, what it did was offer “premium” channels that you had to pay for, along with a modest monthly fee to receive channels that were simultaneously being broadcast free with the use of antenna….cable became a “constitutional right.” Like television is SO important….they are now taking up the issue of “universal broadband” or free internet for everyone…..because, I guess, it’s a “right.” Meanwhile, all the information we get is, well, doubtful but, all the regular free broadcast stations are available with a good ol’ fashioned antenna….just the other day, I used a bit of foil and a clothes hanger and presto change-o! But yes, still rubbish, just like the content I pay for. I’m thinking of reading “1984” again. It’s been years.

      • Dave Whatt says:

        Yes, universal broadband – just recently some company (OneWeb/Airbus) announced that they were planning to launch 600 new satellites…
        Er, excuse me, I thought that there was a big problem with space junk up there?
        Space junk… Hm…

  2. Jheron Bash says:

    Well, that’s the kind of guy you are Dave! Me, I had similar problem & just bought a new DAB radio (Goodmans) from Amazon. Smaller & cheaper than the original but works well. Happy! Doesn’t sound like it would work in Wales though, according to that link you gave.
    Dana: in the UK we also have Freesat, which is similar to Freeview but much better HD reception as it comes from a satellite. I have intermittent problems with terrestrial reception due to all the trees where we live. No problem with DAB though. Weird. Why am I telling you all this? Wet day, loose end … new medication …..

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