DAB car radios – recomendations please

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  • DAB car radios – recomendations please
  • andrewh
    Member

    Hello,

    Looking to put a DAB radio in my van.
    It needs to have:
    DAB as well as FM and a CD player.
    A remote control. It will be in my camper van and I would like to be able to operate it without getting out of bed
    A button for left/right balance. Current standard Ford radio does this, rewired the one in the previous van to front/rear balance and would like to do the same again.
    If it works off the current aerial then so much the better. If not then looking for the easiest install of a new one.
    I can get a trim panel to fit a standard size double-DIN so doesn’t have to be Ford-specific.
    .
    Because of where I live and the places I drive to signal can be an issue, hence wanting FM too. Is this going to be more aerial-related than radio-related and how can I improve it?
    .
    What have people got in their own cars and would you recomend it? Any I should avoid?
    .
    Cheers

    Aye, me too, I’d love one for my old civic.

    steve_b77
    Member

    Kenwood do some pretty awesome double din units that are very popular in the VW conversion world

    Premier Icon BigJohn
    Subscriber

    The biggest essential is a proper roof mounted, powered DAB antenna. I invested £56 on a Kinetic from Dab On Wheels for my Vivaro and haven’t regretted it. I started with a stick-on windscreen job which was rubbish. I’ve hardly had a drop-off since – even going past pylons.

    +1 for Kenwood.

    Got a DMX7017DABS in the pickup and it’s brilliant. DAB+, AM/FM, Bluetooth, Android Auto, Apple Carplay. It’s significantly cheaper than any of the competition’s offerings for the same specification. Only thing is no CD player, so if that’s a deal-breaker then no good.

    Rockhopper
    Member

    My experience with my OEM DAB radio in my Focus is that they are great if you listen to the BBC but almost all the other stations regularly drop out which is intensely annoying! If the DAB station has an FM equivalent then my radio automatically reverts to FM if DAB drops out. I don’t know if that’s a standard feature on DAB radios? There is a Techmoan video on YouTube which explains the DAB issues in the UK.

    Premier Icon oikeith
    Subscriber

    I have a near 10 year old Sonichi one which was the Halfords own brand at the time, fitted the windscreen aerial and works fine locally with very few exceptions.

    When I drive up the M5 and get to a certain point away from home I’ll lose the signal from the local mast and lose nearly all stations even the BBC ones. A retune then finds them but is annoying. I think some of the newer radios self tune so stations arent lost, my friends OEM DAB in his VW does.

    andrewh
    Member

    Thanks. Will mainly be BBC stations, 4 Extra and World Service when the Archers or Front Row are on 4.
    BigJohn, was your aerial a pain to fit or a fairly simply DIY job? I assume it just goes where the old one was, or do you now have one for FM and one for DAB? How does the powered bit work, does it take it’s power from the head unit somehow or does that need wired separately?
    And yes, CD player is a deal breaker, as is remote control. CDs are required for audio books driving on the continent (unless there’s a way to get British radio, either FM/LW or DAB?) My other technology isn’t sophisticated enough to do podcasts through my telephone or anything like that. Remote control, yes, just idleness, but why have one without when there are plenty with?
    .
    Also, if the engine isn’t is the thingy which Ford have which turns it off after an hour pretty common? USefull feature when nodding off to it.
    .
    Cheers

    Premier Icon hot_fiat
    Subscriber

    Got a kenwood DNX8180DABS in my caravelle. It is stunning. Far better than previous generation kenwood stuff which was laggy and buggy. Very well thought out piece of kit and properly integrates with the VW MFD and MFSW via a connects plus canbus device.

    It has: Nav (by garmin) DAB+, FM, Apple CarPlay (& droid auto), DVD player, tiltable screen, twin SD card slots, HDMI out, twin USB ports, input for reversing and forward camera, integration with kenwood dash cams. Remote control (Optional extra). Got it from absolut5. I also bought an antennensystem combined dab/FM aerial as the VW one in the mirror is crap. The only problem with the whole setup was the price.

    Following this as we want one in the Panda. No CD player required. 6 music and Google maps would be ideal. Occasional podcasts from the app on my phone.

    For navigation do they need a data connection? Can they do this wireless or do you need to bury a usb cable somewhere?

    Just googled that Kenwood above and it’s nearly a grand! Anything worth having for 2-300 quid or are the cheap ones crap?

    Premier Icon pondo
    Subscriber

    As a natural born cheapskate, i spent seventeen quid on a phone mount and a bluetooth-to-FM converter thingy – phone connects to bluetooth thing, bluetooth thing broadcasts on an unused FM frequency, tune stereo into that frequency, hey presto. Cheap – not classy, but cheap. 😉

    The DMX7017DABS is about £300 on eBay. Uses a usb cable to connect to phone and that gives you various apps (maps, Spotify, tunein radio, etc.) through Android Auto/Apple Carplay. Comes with a seperate GPS antenna to assist with navigation.

    There are cheaper ones that have phone connectivity & apps but no DAB. I’d stay with one of the “known” brands though.

    Lawmanmx
    Member

    watching this with interest 🙂

    Premier Icon BigJohn
    Subscriber

    The antenna can go in the same place as a previous roof antenna if you have one. And you can have an adapter that does DAB, FM & AM all from the same one. My Sony receiver has an option to power the antenna but if yours doesn’t you can plumb it in to the mains.
    Regarding oikeith’s problem – that’s an age problem. Newer units are far far better for tuning and reception.

    Premier Icon hot_fiat
    Subscriber

    The 7017 is a great bit of kit. Think it does 80% of what mine does at 30% of the cost. Lots of the T5 scene have them.

    stevemuzzy
    Member

    I just bought a pioneer avh3200dab

    Has everything you need plus 3x 4v pre outs, in case you fancy adding amps/sub.

    Sq is better than the same priced kenwoods but they seem to have better connectivity for phones etc, bluetooth is great but can’t get google maps on the screen (waze yes) but i think most kennys come with android auto.

    CountZero
    Member

    I have a near 10 year old Sonichi one which was the Halfords own brand at the time, fitted the windscreen aerial and works fine locally with very few exceptions.

    That’s your problem, right there; when I had my Kenwood unit fitted seven or eight years ago, I had the screen antenna fitted, which was fine. Sorta. Worked pretty well locally, except if I went down towards Salisbury, the signal vanished past Devizes.
    After a while I had a small magnetic antenna fitted onto the rear roof, cost about £45-50.
    Made a huge difference, I just never get significant loss of signal anymore, just the very occasional brief drop-out of a second or so. Absolutely no need for a powered antenna. I still have the OEM FM antenna, but as I never listen to Shite FM, or any FM stations I’m not sure how well it still works.
    Gave up on FM long ago, and more recent experience of FM in a wide variety of cars without DAB has only reinforced my opinion of FM as being completely crap. In most instances I couldn’t get anything on Radio 2, the only thing I could bring myself to listen to, for longer than a few minutes! A couple of times I drove back from Cornwall for nearly three hours in silence because the FM didn’t hold a signal long enough to listen to a whole song, and I couldn’t feed my phone into the audio system.
    That was in a Mercedes, IIRC.
    Oddly enough, the Mercedes I drove with DAB were just as bad…
    Anyway, my Kenwood cost around £120, with the £50 on top for the antenna, and it’s been brilliant on DAB all the time I’ve had it, at a guess, new ones would be at least as good.
    One point, mine’s a single DIN size, not the bigger double-DIN – I’m not entirely sure I’d bother even if I had the space, or money, TBH, all I need is 6Music on DAB and my phone playing music via USB if there’s nothing on the radio or if I’m using my phone for satnav.

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