Car Radios


One thing I lament with today’s car radios is that very few of them have a “stereo” pilot indicator. Even my 2008 Commodore didn’t have this.

I’m guessing that manufacturers assume that FM radio is becoming somewhat secondary to streaming for in car entertainment OR that every FM station now transmits in stereo.


More or less, the exception would really only be smaller stations in smaller areas.
Plus, the listener doesn’t really really care if the signal is stereo or not these days, compared to the 80s and 90s when the stereo signal was a major draw card of FM.


Plus ABC RN and News Radio.


The radio in my Toyota Yaris has a stereo indicator,it’s the original factory fitted unit.When I can afford to I’ll upgrade to a touch screen unit


What year model is yours?


2009 ,it has the digital speedometer in the middle of dashboard.The current model Toyota Yaris doesn’t have this anymore


The stereo pilot indicator (light), is not really needed for the listener, the 19KHz pilot is only to tell the radio there’s a stereo (L-R) signal in the baseband MPX & to decode it.

You may however still have a 19KHz pilot signal/indicator, but the reception strength is too weak to decode stereo reliably, so the radio will automatically & unawares to the listener switch to mono.

Last year before SeaFM Gosford started TX’ing RDS their 19KHz stereo pilot injection was at about 19-22 % of the total MPX power, it’s supposed to be at roughly maximum 10% level. This would’ve meant your radio would’ve had a stereo indicator probably to the end of the receivable reception area, but the signal would’ve been too weak to decode stereo long before that, so your radio would only be in mono mode.


So far my review of the Mazda car radio.

The good.

The dab sound is better for Fun , 1sm and generally the lower bit radio stations sound better. Fun use to distort a little in my old car. Even though my speakers are better in the Hyundai as I replaced them.

I like the manual tune like an old fashioned dial on am and fm.

The reception am/fm is better than my old car for dxing.

The not so good.

Dab breaks up more than the Hyundai which is disappointing. However I am hoping a firmware update will fix that. I am not convinced it’s reception, I think it’s buggy. It says ensemble lost when reception goes but in a lot of cases there does seem to be a lost in signal. It’s not just 1sm , it’s also magic and others.

Dab text does not work.

I wish they had a reception metre for dab. My old radio did not have this as well. First world problem :grinning:.

Hard to lock in the dab stations. As mentioned before took a lot of scans to get stations. Hope this improves with new firmware.

No am frequencies above 1602.


Good review!

I wish my Focus had a rotary dial for manual tuning… much better than buttons, particularly in my case where AM goes up and down in 1khz increments! :worried:

On the flip side I can tell it the actual freqneucy via voice, which works well, particularly when you want to go to a random frequency reasonably quickly.

Not so useful for DXing though,


I’m not wanting to start a whole big thing :slight_smile: and it could be just my particular car radio but I honestly find the sound of the DAB stations far superior to the sound on FM stations. I really do. I haven’t adjusted any settings so they’re still on factory settings but the digital stations sound deeper and just clearer generally than even the local FMs. I’ve got the Sony system in the Focus. Anyone else find DAB better than FM?


I haven’t noticed any real difference in sound quality between FM and DAB in my Focus.

I have the Sony system as well, but with Sync 3, but this shouldn’t make any difference.

However, on my Sangean portable and my Panasonic mini Hi-Fi, I reckon FM still sounds considerably better.

Perhaps the Sony units in our cars are processing FM and DAB differently compared to other radios?
Or the noisy environments in cars are levelling the playing field somewhat?


Theoretically DAB could be better in a mobile environment to FM as it would not suffer from multipath reflections, interference and degraded sound with poorer reception. Many tuners will modify the FM playback sound as the signal strength reduces by reducing high frequency response and gradually reducing the stereo separation so in areas with sub-optimum reception the sound is poorer.


[quote=“Brianc68, post:150, topic:645”]
Anyone else find DAB better than FM?
[/quote]I find it depends on the tuner, speakers and reception.
If all the above and good quality, then the sound of FM will be far superior.
However on my bedside clock radio, it’s only an average quality unit, and where it is located gets better DAB+ reception than FM. This makes the quality of sound via FM almost unlistenable, but digital is still very clear. Realistically with this unit, the limitations of a low nitrate on DAB+ are matched by the limitations of the unit itself, so even the higher bitrate stations suffer just as much as the lower bitrate stations.


For me depends what stations . The ARN do not sound as good as FM nor do the southern cross ones etc.


It does vary by station. In Brisbane I find The 80s, The 90s, OMG, Easy and 4KQ Digital sound the best to me. Really full sound. Smooth Digital and Magic Digital sound a bit weaker and soft.


It might be my head unit, but I have to totally disagree.

I drive a newish Mitsubishi Lancer with the link system head unit in it, which decodes DAB+. I find on most if not all DAB+ stations that the digital compression is way too evident, to the point that I find it unpleasant to listen to.

Without being across the exact bitrates etc, I find I much prefer listening to 4MMM, JJJ or 97.3 on FM than DAB+ for that exact reason. Again it could be the radio, but that’s just this humble egg’s experience/opinion


If ACMA return after the consultation with better ERP for the planned DAB+ services on the Gold Coast, I expect the driving experience will surpass FM which suffers from all of the above in that location.

I may have mentioned this earlier, Audi brought a Q2 with the best specs for display in late 2016 ahead of a launch in 2017. The commercial FMs sounded better than their DAB+ simulcast. I explained why to their staff, they were not aware of how many stations are on DAB+ for bandwidth on FM that only covers the band between say 4ZZZ and Nova.


For those interested I have found some hidden menus in the Mazda. I prove to myself the software is buggy you can see on the normal interface you cannot see DAB Sydney 2 yet but in the secret menu you can see & hear 9B. I got a bad feeling I have to prove I have an issue with DAB with Mazda :). Worried they will just say you in bad reception area. Easy way out, for non radio people :).

I am not an expert of reception how is my DAB reception on my picture? I put ABC 97.3 and for Glenn 96.3 FM at my location in the Hornsby shire.

Think its pretty cool these hidden stats. I’ll write some more later. Maybe post some more pics.

4 new photos added to shared album New photo by Laoma 41 New photo by Laoma 41 New photo by Laoma 41


Not sure how accurate those measurements would be, & there’s some strange things with the DAB+ readings.

DAB signal strength shouldn’t be -48dBuV, if it’s -48 it should be dBm. If it’s dBm, -48 is a very strong signal.
0dBuV is no signal, it’s as low as you can go.

If it’s supposed to be +48dBuV then that’s ok, but it’s very close to the minimum signal strength/cliff edge where you’d be able to tune or listen to anything without it dropping out.

Ideally you’d probably want that figure up over +54dBuV or somewhere around 60dBuV for a solid signal.

The BER of 36? I don’t know what that means, BER is measured with an equation type reading like E-04, which means 4 errors for every 10,000 bits of data.

MER which is Modulation Error Ratio is measured in dB & if that’s what it is then 36 dB MER is excellent signal quality, (MER is similar to signal to noise ratio).

The FM, 97.3 strength of 26dBuV is low, too low to pick it up on a home or portable receiver, but car radios are much more sensitive, so not surprising you picked it up, but it wouldn’t be very good reception. Not sure why the 4KHz offset is there though?

96.3 at 16dBuV is extremely low strength, it’s not surprising you couldn’t get anything there.

Generally for FM radio, 40dBuV & above is stereo car radio reception, 30-40dBuV is mono car radio reception, below 30dBuV is pushing the limits for any radio reception, unless you have a good quality sensitive car radio tuner.
For a home or portable radio generally, 66dBuV & above is protected (from interference) stereo reception, 54-66dBuV is mono reception, & anything below that can’t be guaranteed protected from interference nor guaranteed any sort of quality reception.


Here is a reading from my indoor radio (not far from the car). This one is dB. This is MER? The signal is reasonable.

Thanks RFBurns I learn a lot from your post!