If you're of an age where radios were simply AM/FM and you were used to crinkly audio, the caramel-smooth tones of DAB and DAB+ must be like stepping from a tent into a five-star hotel. I remember my dad's Audi 80 blaring Abba out like the songs were recorded underwater while my mum's Ford Focus sounded so much sharper.
And while pretty much all cars come with DAB radios nowadays, older cars often don't and a DAB adapter can be a really effective way to upgrade a classic without needing to switch out the period radio. DAB adapters simply plug into your existing radio either via the AUX slot or on an FM frequency and can be removed when you're done.
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What you need to know about DAB aerials
What is DAB radio?
DAB means Digital Audio Broadcasting. Essentially it's digital radio and uses multiplexes radio stations onto single frequency networks. DAB also allows for more data to be transferred, including programme guides. It was made mandatory in new cars in 2013.
DAB+ is the next step up from DAB. It uses the same technology as DAB but refines it in order to fit in more space for radio stations in the same capacity. Be warned, however, while all DAB+ radios accept regular DAB, the same isn't true for DAB units. To futureproof yourself it's a good idea to invest in a DAB+ unit.
Do they work in any car?
If your car has speakers and somewhere to plug the device in (either USB or 12V socket) then these DAB adapters will allow you to enjoy clearer music. And if you're needing to update your speakers to keep up with this sound we've got an article on car speakers right here.
The best DAB radio aerials
Pure Highway 600 In-Car DAB+/DAB Digital Radio FM Adapter
The best DAB radio adapter
Our top choice for DAB radio adapters is this excellent little unit from Pure. Offering both DAB+ and DAB radio, it's a future-proof investment and will provide better quality audio too. It features voice control for Spotify, radio and Bluetooth control and can be used to make phone calls. Finally, you can connect your phone to it too and stream music. It's a great way to modernise your car and has good reviews too.
The DAB-389 is the easiest way to update the existing audio system in your car, van or truck without replacing it.
With it, you can enjoy the interference-free quality of DAB digital radio, letting you hear crystal clear music whenever you like. Bluetooth for wireless music streaming via Smart Phone and Tablet with a range of up to 10 meters with a display is easy to read both at night and in the day with a 2.4” LCD colour screen.
FirstE Car DAB/DAB+ Radio Portable Bluetooth FM Transmitter
The best DAB radio adapter on a budget
This simple DAB+/DAB radio adapter may lack voice control and Spotify connectivity of the others, but it's still good for listening to the radio and perfect for the more technologically illiterate. The SD card slot is a novel, if slightly outdated feature but it does at least offer hands-free calling.
Pioneer SPH-20DAB Smartphone Receiver DAB Car Stereo
The best DAB stereo
Instead of simply adding in DAB, why not upgrade your entire stereo. This flashy stereo offers DAB+ radio and can easily connect to your smartphone. We like that this stereo also doubles as a phone mount, offering charging, smartphone integration and Bluetooth too. While the styling may not be to everyone's taste, the build quality will be top-notch and Halfords will even install it for you for a fee.
DAB/DAB+ Digital & FM Radio
The best DAB radio for true portability
A bit of a leftfield option for listening to your music, a portable battery-powered radio may not plug into your car as easy and probably won't offer the same quality as offered by your car but it is truly portable and cheap. This one can be plugged into a USB port to charge and can store 40 radio stations so you can to your favourite stations instantly.