DAB Radio in Cars | A Guide

30th May 2023

By Kenny Longdon

What is DAB?

DAB is an abbreviation of 'Digital Audio Broadcasting', otherwise know as 'Digital Radio'.

DAB is essentially digitally transmitted sound, which delivers enhanced sound quality, as well as having a much wider scope than that of traditional FM, AM, MW and LW radio frequencies.

With the most popular way of listening to the radio being in a car, it's no wonder DAB has today found its way into many cars.

Read on below to learn more about DAB Radio in cars, such as when it was introduced and its evolution, along with the advantages and disadvantages.

Radio Popularity

BMW Infotainment

The radio itself is one of the oldest forms of technology that is still in regular use on a daily basis, with the most popular way of listening to it being in a car.

Just like FM and AM radio is the evolution of old-fashioned short, medium and long-wave radio, DAB continues radio's evolution.

Today, new cars very much have a digital ethos compared to that of older analogue cars. You'll notice new cars have digital instrument clusters and impressive infotainment set-ups, and a focus on staying connected, so the rise of DAB in cars has been a progressive and complementing addition to what people expect from new cars.

The birth of DAB radio in the car


DAB itself has been around since the 1990s, but only started getting popular in cars in the 2000s and 2010s. Around 2013 and 2014 manufacturers including BMW, Vauxhall and Volkswagen started fitting DAB as standard to all their models.

As we head towards a more digitally connected world, the car has become more digitally-focused, with many older cars being referred to as analogue. Naturally, cars need something to stand out to make them more appealing, especially if it's a new model.

DAB has gone hand-in-hand of what is expected in a car, along with Bluetooth and other technological advances such as cruise control and other safety features.

Advantages of DAB radio

Because DAB is the natural evolution of the radio, it complements technology by evolving what is possible from radio. Advantages include:

  • More choice - there are lots of DAB radio stations available, with some new additions
  • Safer - in a car, finding a DAB station is easier than having to shuffle through more tradition radio frequencies - you can also command your car to play a DAB station via voice command in many modern cars
  • Better information - DAB readouts often show the song name and artist your that is playing, along with things such as the radio host, show etc. which makes it easier to identify your favourite songs, shows and radio hosts
  • Better quality - natural evolution of the radio means DAB is better quality than previous LW, MW, SW FM and AM

Disadvantages of DAB radio

As radio has evolved, are there any disadvantages to DAB? Cons could come in the form of:

  • FM radio can be better quality when compared to early DAB devices in some cars
  • Some areas still can't pick up certain DAB stations
  • Signal can drop out when listening to some DAB stations depending on your location
  • Not all cars have DAB, older cars won't and will need money spending on them to upgrade to a DAB set-up if wanted, which could ruin the car if the car happens to be a classic, in terms of purity etc.

Alternatives to DAB

Apple CarPlay

Of course, as technology has evolved, more people are listening to other music and sounds whilst driving.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have meant drivers are now listening to all sorts of audio, with Spotify music streaming allowing you to listen to many top artists, albums and material as soon as it's released.

In recent times, podcasts, which are also available via apps like Spotify etc. have also become popular to listen to whilst driving.

All of these are battling it out in what people choose to listen to in their cars.

Discover your perfect car with DAB at Evans Halshaw

Discover your next car featuring DAB radio with Evans Halshaw.

We have a number of attractive new car deals which feature the lates DAB technology and connectivity, along with many quality used cars, also featuring DAB radio as standard.

If you enjoyed this article, why not check out our dedicated blog section, or if you want to find your local Evans Halshaw retailer, our associates are on hand to help with any queries you may have.