Radio: DAB+ in Sydney (25 Nov 2016) – Service Info & Slideshows

I was contacted a little while ago by the maintainer of FMLIST, an online database of worldwide FM radio, DAB and TV information. He appreciated my posting on Melbourne’s DAB radio stations that I made in my trip down there earlier this year as the information is easy to obtain, but rarely published. Most importantly, he gave me some hints about providing the most useful forms of data for maintaining the list, namely exporting .csv, .fic and AudioInfo.txt files.

Since I reside in Sydney, and my last analysis of DAB radio in Sydney was over a year ago based on a rather crude “Magic Radio” software, I decided to re-do it with DABPlayer as a practice run as next week, I will be down in Canberra for a conference (and hoping to collect some data there as well). Of interest was that attempting to get DABPlayer to work with R820T based RTL2832 dongles was fruitless, especially under Windows 10 where the “2009” version drivers will always be installed. I had to resort to manually overwriting the two .sys files in C:\Windows\System32\drivers with the “2012” version drivers to get the latest Realtek drivers installed, but still, the R820T faultered in scanning, so I resorted to my older and more trusty E4000 based tuner.

Scanning took place in the evening (local time) of 25th November 2016, with some reception through into the early morning hours of 26th November 2016.

Station Data

For those interested in the .csv, .txt, .fic files, the station data is all contained inside a single ZIP file – sydney-au-dab-2016-11-25.zip

sydmux1 sydmux1-bitalloc

As in most of Australia, DAB+ radio is carried in three multiplexes, at channel 9A, 9B and 9C. The first mux at 9A has an ensemble name of DAB+ Sydney 1, and has 6.3% of the mux unused, the rest carrying audio. Reception was strong with close to 20dB SNR.

sydmux2 sydmux2-bitalloc

The second mux at 9B has an ensemble name of DAB+ Sydney 2, and was received with 16dB SNR. This is slightly weaker than the first, but still a very good signal. This mux has 13% of the capacity free, with the rest carrying audio.

sydmux3 sydmux3-bitalloc

The final mux at 9C has an ensemble name of SY abc&SBS RADIO and was received with 17dB SNR. This mux has no free capacity, with 0.7% used for EPG data and the remaining used for audio.

dab-sydney-bigtable-nov16

A total of 61 services (60 audio, 1 data) were received. Interestingly, the Service Country data seems to point to ACT/Victoria even though I am in Sydney, which is a bit of a surprise. The vast majority of stations now carry the slideshow feature. Quite a few station names have changed, but there are also new seasonal stations such as “Christmas Hope” and “Elf Radio” and others such as “EON Sport Radio”, “OLDSKOOL”, “OMG!” and “Easy Radio”. Some stations seem to have been lost or renamed – “Stardust Radio”, “LoveLand-80s&90s”, “FBi Radio”, “Apna Digital” to name a few.

dab-sydney-bigtable-audioinfo-nov16

A vast majority of stations broadcast in 48khz with the exception of four stations, and the majority broadcast in stereo with the exception of six. Gross bitrates of between 32kbit/s to 128kbit/s are seen, although the majority of the stations seem to be below 96kbit/s. The majority of the stations use SBR (spectral band replication) which means their upper treble content (12-24khz in the case of a 48khz sample rate) is made from intensity-coded information, and thus is not as detailed as the information in the 0-12khz band. This is a inexpensive (bitrate-wise) way to make a station sound better at lower bitrates. Some stereo stations also use PS (parametric stereo) which encodes stereo information as parameters, resulting in potentially less detailed stereo imaging but again, enhancement in quality at lower bitrates as part of HE-AACv2. Most notably, it seems all of ABC’s channels refuse to use PS encoding.

Slideshow Data

This time around, I tried to be diligent in making an effort in saving the slideshow data. I waited at least five minutes on each station for a first image, and when an image was received, waited until the whole “reel” had looped around at least twice. This process took hours to complete, as the send rate for some stations was about 800bit/s effective, resulting in images every 10-15 minutes! For the stations where no image was initially received, I came back to them and left a tuner on them for an hour to see if there would be any image sent.

Stations claiming slideshow feature but not sending images

  • 2RPH Digital
  • 2UE Lifestyle
  • Fine Music
  • Koori Radio
  • 2MFM Muslim DR
  • CW Remix
  • Coles Radio
  • The Edge
  • The 90s
  • The 80s
  • smooth fm 95.3
  • Nova 969
  • SBS PopDesi
  • SBS Radio 4

What is surprising about this list is that some of these stations had prior been observed sending images in the last catalog of DAB+ broadcasts. This specifically applies to CW Remix, Koori Radio, Nova 969, smooth fm 95.3 and The Edge. I wonder if it’s due to equipment problems which may have caused them to (temporarily) stop broadcasting images.

2SM Talk & Sport

2smslidepng46039_69

GorillaDanceHits

gdrslide-png46047_c3Looks like these guys were having some trouble with their slideshow – their text is out of sync with the song being played, and the coming up/spinning now fields always contain the same data.

 

 

 

ZOO MusicVariety

zsdslide-png46046_f5Same thing for Zoo, but at least the text seems to be in sync with what was being played. Lots of compression artifacts due to size minimization, and their send rate is really slow.

 

 

 

2DayFM hit 1041

119e70066 119e70213 119e70123 119e70093

Triple M

119f58749_20 119f58749_28 119f58749_26 119f58749_24 119f58749_22

Looks like Triple M is having issues with its next song text as well.

 

 

 

 

OMG!

10e138962_08 10e138962_10

Easy Radio

10e238961_b0 10e238961_e3 10e238961_d4 10e238961_ba

Buddha – Chill

10e338992_9e 10e338992_94 10e338992_91

TheRange-Country

11a455307_0d 11a455307_f8

OLDSKOOL

10e038993_c6 10e038993_e9 10e038993_e4 10e038993_cb

Kinderling Kids

11a635853_8a 11a635853_8c

SkySportsRadio1

sky1-aimslide_95 sky1-aimslide_9b

Sky Tbred Cent

skytb-aimslide_7a skytb-aimslide_86

Of note is that it seems both Sky stations send the same graphics, but due to the time difference in surveying the two stations, I wasn’t able to catch the same images.

2OOO Languages

2ooo-101 2ooo-102 2ooo-103 2ooo-104 2ooo-105

WSFM 1017

While I did capture slideshow files on the night, they never got saved because they have the name prefixed with a path “Nexgen_XML_Export\#Digital Output\WSFM\”. As a result, I had to “create” the path by making those directories so that the images would save, so the capture of images was from the following evening.

slot_1_40 slot_2_3e

KIIS 1065

Same reason as above, except for the path was “Nexgen_XML_Export\#Digital Output\kiis1065\”.

slot_1_24 slot_2_26 slot_3_27 slot_4_29 slot_5_2b

Koffee

koffeemot50901_c8

2GB 873

2gbslide25162_c5

Magic 2CH

2chslide25137_c4

Inspire Digital

insp-101 insp-103 insp-102

2SER 107.3

2ser-101 2ser-105 2ser-102

FBi Click

fbic-101

Hope 1032

hope-101 hope-103 hope-102

ABCNewsRadio

generated

Double J

slide2445

ABC Jazz

slide1827

ABC Country

slide1591

ABC Extra

slide1605

702 ABC Sydney

slide1145

ABCRadioNational

slide1133

ABC Classic FM

slide1425

ABC Grandstand

slide1549

triple j

slide4947

triplejUnearthed

slide5029

SBS Radio 1

english_1 indonesian_1 italian_1 vietnamese_1

SBS Radio 2

english_2 indonesian_2 italian_2 vietnamese_2

SBS Chill

slide9850

SBS PopAsia

slide9950 slide9960

SBS Arabic24

dab_arabic24_logo

SBS Radio 3

r3-sbs_logored_320x240

Conclusion

It seems everything is working fine, and that DAB+ Radio in Sydney is still mostly the same stations just with a few seasonal tweaks. While almost all stations now claim to be sending slideshow data, some of them do not, and the slideshow data seems to take longer to download as less spare data capacity is available to carry the slideshow images. There are also the occasional blips with a few services where the slideshow information isn’t being properly dynamically updated, but I suppose this isn’t a major issue given that most people won’t be receiving the slideshow anyway. With the free mux capacity, it’s a shame that the quality of the stations haven’t been upgraded – this appears to be mainly a governmental decision in terms of allocation of fixed amounts of channel units to broadcasters which then all want to “subdivide” and conquer by offering a larger variety of stations rather than higher quality.

I hope you enjoyed the slideshow images. I guess I’ll soon see what DAB+ is like in Canberra when I go down there for my conference …

About lui_gough

I'm a bit of a nut for electronics, computing, photography, radio, satellite and other technical hobbies. Click for more about me!
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3 Responses to Radio: DAB+ in Sydney (25 Nov 2016) – Service Info & Slideshows

  1. Anthony Eden says:

    Hey! Love reading your broadcast articles! Have you considered doing some DAB+ field measurements or perhaps unpacking some of the error correction data a bit more?

    • lui_gough says:

      Unfortunately, my understanding at this stage of the low-level physical layer transport and protocols/error correction is relatively limited, and I don’t quite have the time to experiment with flow-graphs or programming. As a (sort-of) student without access to professional gear, travelling and making field strength measurements accurately isn’t really something I can do easily. It’s an interesting idea – I’ve always wondered about coverage maps and actually compiling such maps for various services (broadcast, and non-broadcast), but without specialist tools, it’s not quite as easy to do.

      – Gough

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