When I tuned into my first DAB broadcast a few years ago and was treated to crackle-and-hiss-free CD quality digital audio, I must admit to being impressed. Now an enhanced version of the standard is being rolled out across Europe which uses a more efficient audio codec and offers listeners even more access to digital services, and Sony has launched two new products to greet it. Heading for UK bedrooms will be the XDR-C706DBP DAB+ radio alarm clock, while living rooms can enjoy the natural wood finish and retro-styling of the XDR-S16DBP.

Whereas the original Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) standard was based on the (at the time) cutting edge MPEG Audio Layer II codec, DAB+ was developed on the back of HE-AAC v2 (better known as MPEG-4). The new standard allows equivalent or better audio quality to be broadcast using lower bit rates, which, according to World DMB (the body which oversees all things DAB-related), translates to lower per-station transmission costs and offers listeners an even greater choice of services.

Sony says that the new micro radios are the first of its line to support the enhanced DAB+ standard, and that both models also offer both DAB and FM reception. Housed within the natural wood cabinet of the XDR-S16DBP portable radio are a pair of 2.59-inch (66-mm), 4 ohm stereo speakers, each having a rated output of 0.8W RMS. Between the power button and the tune/select and volume dials sits a two-line, 16 character-long LCD dot display, that gives program and station information.

The 10.62 x 5.51 x 4.4-inch (270 x 140 x 112-mm) unit benefits from a sleep timer with four preset time intervals, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and has a telescopic antenna at the rear. It is priced at GBP 79 (US$128).

Sony also hopes to tempt you to wake up in the morning to the DAB+ audio offered by its new XDR-C706DBP digital clock radio. This model has just the one 2.59-inch (66 mm), 4 ohm stereo speaker with a rated output of 0.4W RMS. As you might expect with a clock radio, all of the buttons are on top of the device, including a display brightness control. The clock display also includes a two-line station/program information box.

When in DAB radio mode, the 7.57 x 3.64 x 3.45-inch (192.5 x 92.6 x 87.7-mm) unit offers automatic summer time adjustment, and up to four different alarms can be set. This model costs GBP 59 (US$95).

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