Do you remember the crinkly AM/FM radios fitted in older cars? The semi-understandable dialogue, warbled tunes, and that horrific static noise now and again. All that is now a thing of the past with DAB radios. Now industry-standard, DAB offer clearer quality. Back in 2010 however, only 4% of new cars featured DAB and it's only in the last year that it became the standard as required by law.
This means that if you own an older car, chances are it doesn't have DAB and you won't be enjoying your favourite station in the best quality. Sure you can spend £200 and buy a new stereo system, but this is an extreme option and cheaper alternatives are available. We've found some excellent DAB adapters for your car that will have you enjoying your music more in no time.
The best DAB radio adapters
Pure Highway 600 In-Car DAB+/DAB Digital Radio FM Adapter
The best DAB radio adapter
Our pick for upgrading to DAB is this nifty gadget that simply plugs into your existing stereos aux slot or works by transmitting over an unused FM frequency. Offering both DAB and DAB+ it's a quality piece that should be future proof. It also doubles as a hands-free device and can be used to stream music from your phone (with voice control too).
In Car DAB Radio Adapter
The best DAB radio adapter for tech lovers
Similar to the Pure device above, this adapter offers both DAB and DAB+ using the same aux or FM frequency. What makes this one different is the voice command can be used much like Siri or Alexa to set reminders, check the weather and more. It also works for hands-free calling and streaming from Spotify.
Pioneer SPH-20DAB Smartphone Receiver DAB Car Stereo
The best DAB stereo
It is an option to upgrade your entire car stereo to one that accepts DAB radio if you want. This Pioneer supports DAB radio but also doubles as a phone mount too, offering charging, Bluetooth and smartphone integration with ease. There are obvious size limitations so make sure you know this unit fits before buying and if you're not the handiest with wire Halfords will even install this unit for you (for an extra fee obviously).
DAB/DAB+ Digital & FM Radio
The best DAB radio for portability
Wait a minute, that's not a DAB adapter. In fact, it's a portable radio that can be plugged into your car's USB port and used to enjoy digital radio. While it may not pair with your car's speaker system, it's the most portable way to enjoy DAB radio and can store 40 of your favourite radio stations.
What you need to know about DAB radio adapters
What is DAB?
DAB is digital radio. It stands for Digital Audio Broadcasting and basically means more stations can be squeezed onto a single frequency, called multiplexing. These stations offer better sound quality and can even be transmitted with extra data, like electronic programme guides.
What about DAB+?
The next step up from DAB is DAB+. It refines the DAB technology to allow even more stations onto one frequency. Be careful however, while DAB+ can accept regular DAB, this isn't true the other way round. Look for DAB+ to futureproof yourself.
Will it fit my car?
All new cars fitted with a radio now come with DAB as standard, even the cheapest new car on sale features DAB radio (the Dacia Sandero if you're interested) and any car that doesn't feature DAB can be adapted with one of these products.
What this means is that as long as your car has a radio and working speakers, these adapters will work. So unless you're driving a Caterham Seven or a similar track-ready car it'll simply be a case of plugging the adapter into the 12V socket or USB port.