Sunday, August 19, 2012

DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) in Asia - possibilities and facts

After being around for 10 years or more as a new technology DRM still remains a technology not viable for mass with many restrictions and failure over years. And most DRM promoter broadcasters are ether closing down or leaving Shortwave. Now we see DRM Consortium and their promoters trying hard to come back with support from some broadcasters in developing countries.

People think Digital short-wave broadcasts would be clearer and could carry bits of text too. The technology (known as DRM) has existed for years. But listeners will not buy pricey new radios without content, and broadcasters will not go digital without listeners.

Regarding the TWR Asia DRM test broadcast to Asia recently I wrote this letter to TWR Asia via their contact page - sadly since then they haven't replied my any further communication

Below is what I wrote to TWR when they tested DRM to Asia from Guam in May 2012, since then they havn't replied any of my mail!!! Did I offended them by my comments? never knew!

posted this via contact us page...


Broadcasting via DRM is useless, yes its just useless, when there is only 2-3 people has DRM receiver or DRM receiving capability in entire South Asia - yes about 1.5 Billion people and 3 Listeners - can't believe it right? Just check out how many (or how many people) reception reports you receive on DRM broadcasts from South Asia! And other listeners just listen nasty noise on the same frequency. DRM receiver - there is scarcity of DRM receiver in the market - now the cheapest one Chengdu Electronics DR111 costs about 120 USD plus freight (48 USD) + import duty - and in South Asia people normally buy a receiver within 25 USD. So no one is going to buy one DRM receiver in that price. And DRM listening via exsisting receivers modified or kits? forget it... those are no portable + hectic.

Sadly we here don't have any DRM capable receiver, and I haven't heard anyone has a DRM radio or setup within 1000 kilometers of my place. So sorry I can't listen on DRM, in my receiver its only noise I receive - nothing to hear.

As per an expert DRM only seems to be of use in Europe where there seems to be a plethora of broadcasts. And what is there has to be perfect or it is not decoded...sort of the shortwave version of digital TV which is a conspiracy amongst cable and satellite TV operators to get those of us in the hinterland to sign up with them.

Another expert quotes - I can't think of another technical project, that has been implemented as badly as DRM. It was tried to push along by force, totally forgetting that radio transmissions need LISTENERS and they need receivers for that and they were not available at the same time. Oh, now I remember another: DAB FM digitalisation in Northern Europe. Fortunately it was only a few transmitters.

And some Radio hobbiest also opines as DRM on SW was a retirement project by the few engineers!! And it haven't successful even after more than a decade!

Finally in the DRM we can not hear or decode a signal below S4 or S3, in Analogue we can even listen to more worse signals. So it is up to you that what you chose - a medium that is up to date but do not reach mass or an old reliable method to reach more people.


Reading my letter an experienced SWL & DXer commented as follows

When television first came out it was experimental with only a few sets capable of receiving the signals but the networks and industry ensured there would be a demand and they filled that need. Every other advance in entertainment has a similar track record from FM radio through CD players to Ipods. DRM took the opposite route of the cart before the horse and it failed miserably. If TWR was offended it's too bad they took your criticisms the wrong way as you did not attack them, or their programming, but a technology that was badly implemented.

In reply I also explained as "Yes I always mean that even with single frequency or lowest power station's first priority should be to reach the mass, but DRM offends the basic requirement, but even my statement may sound that I am against DRM - but that's because no sub-band implementation and causing interruptions to analogue broadcasts"

and then a longtime broadcaster and media analyst opined as follows - "Do not assume that the lack of a personal reply means that they have not read your letter. At RNW, every letter and email was read, but there simply wasn't time to reply to them individually. During times of financial restraint, cuts have to me made in areas that are least harmful to programming. One of these is dealing with listener mail. No broadcaster is going to be offended by negative comments about DRM. Some broadcasters still have DRM tests for the purpose of training engineers how to use it. Then, if it ever does become viable - which I admit is extremely unlikely - they will be ready for it."

I replied - Yes, I am sure they read it, actually I saw after that they issued few QSL/e-QSLs where the listener sent reports via there reception report form. Unlike hardliners I am happy with e-confirmations or merely an email, so when others get some for of reply I expected my other 2 reports and a communication may get some email reply, But I agree to your point, & should add your reply is informative too. And regarding RNW,  RCI and NHK the experience was exemplary always - I was always confident that my letter was read and somehow taken into consideration.

To be continued: In future posts we will see review of Stand Alone DRM receiver(s) and DRM as a technology and implementation with facts and figures...

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