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March 2, 2022

Tech Rap: Going Global

DAB+ on a Como Audio Musica. Photo by Paolo Cavadini.

Several months ago, we began selling Global Editions of some of our models. Como Audio customers asked us why we were doing this and what the difference was between a Global Edition and a standard model. This month’s Tech Rap explains the hub bub behind the Global Edition. 

Four Models, Four Finishes, Two Regions

Except for Amico which is only offered in teak, our Solo, Duetto, and Musica models come in four different finishes (walnut, hickory, piano black, and piano white). On top of that, our models come in two different versions…US & EU. These finish and region variations for each model create a production and logistics nightmare. We wanted to streamline things but avoid reducing the finish options available to our customers, so we reduced the regional options by creating Global Editions. A Global Edition is essentially a universal model that will work anywhere in the world and comes with some extra features not found in a standard edition.

The Similarities

What exactly are those features? Allow me to first explain what is the same between the Global and standard models. A Global Edition has all the same features a non-Global model has…Internet radio with tens of thousands of free stations, FM, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth, Aux and Optical inputs, USB thumb drive playback, dual alarms, tone controls, free software updates, included remote control, two-year warranty, free tech support, etc. In the case of Musica, Global Editions still include Deezer, Napster, etc., along with the integrated CD player, just like the regular Musica. All Global Editions will work with the free Como Control app for iOS and Android and in a multi-room configuration with standard editions and with other Global versions. 

The Differences

Listening mode on a Global Edition Musica. Photo by Peter Skiera.

There are, however, five main differences between Global Editions and standard editions. First, the Global Edition comes with both US & CE power cords (in the case of Amico, US, CE, and UK snap-in plugs) so the unit can be used in the USA or Europe without having to buy another cord or an adapter. Second, the FM band works like a standard edition but includes a finer tuning step allowing for more precise manual tuning since the FM tuning step in Europe is different from the USA. Third, Global Editions are certified to higher European safety and emissions standards. Fourth, there is an energy saving and safety feature in the System settings menu required by the EU called “Listening Mode” which automatically switches the unit off after twenty minutes if there is no sound and none of the controls have been used. Switching Listening Mode on disables the feature in Auxiliary mode only. Lastly, Global Editions include a DAB/DAB+ tuner and are DRUK-certified. 

What is DAB/DAB+?

An Italian DAB+ station playing on a Como Audio Musica. Photo by Paolo Cavadini.

Digital Audio Broadcasting is basically Europe’s version of HD Radio here in the US except with many more stations and sub-stations. Its signal is kind of like a call on your cell phone, you either receive it or you don’t. It doesn’t fade in and out or get noisy like an AM of FM station. A DAB/DAB+ station might broadcast the same exact station on AM or FM and/or Internet radio as well as DAB/DAB+. DAB/DAB+ stations transmit meta data showing song title, artist, etc., as well as station logos and even images like photos of the announcers and weather and traffic graphics. The best part is DAB/DAB+ is free. 

DAB+ is a newer standard that uses a higher quality audio codec (AAC+) for better sound and improved error correction vs. the older DAB standard. Britain’s Digital Radio & Audio Review recommended the UK Government consider legislation to mandate DAB+ in all DAB radios by the end of 2023. Our Global Editions support both DAB & DAB+. 

The “Tick Mark” logo on the box means the unit has passed the DRUK standard. Photo by Peter Skiera.

DRUK (known as the Digital Radio Tick Mark Standard) is an optional certification performed in the UK that lets consumers know a DRUK-certified product includes both FM and DAB tuners and meets UK & European minimum reception standards. Como Audio worked closely with the authorized lab in the UK to make sure all of our Global Editions were DRUK-certified. I personally went to the UK lab to witness the testing process. 

Down With FM?

An Italian DAB+ station playing on a Musica. Photo by Paolo Cavadini.

DAB/DAB+ has grown in popularity since its inception back in 1995. According to Wikipedia, 40+ countries now support DAB/DAB+, with 420 million listeners worldwide and over 2,200 stations. Some countries are moving to adopt DAB/DAB+ as their broadcast standard. Norway made headlines in 2017 when they became the first country to switch off its national FM network in favor of DAB. Switzerland and the UK are expected to follow suit in the years to come. 

Como Audio’s EU Sales Manager based in Italy, Paolo Cavadini, listens to DAB+ station Radio 24 regularly and tells me it’s “quite popular in Italy and it’s primarily news…They made lots of publicity for people to listen from DAB+ and it works well. Among the different shows they have one which is called ‘2024’ [that] makes a nice weekly review about Technology (every Friday night and on podcast). They also have a daily edition called ‘Digital news’, only in Italian.”

DAB+ station Classic Hits from Australia playing on Internet radio. Photo by Peter Skiera.

DAB In The USA

According to Wikipedia, “The United States’ FCC argues that stations on such a national DAB Band would be more difficult to control from signal interference than AM/FM/TV because of the continent’s large land mass; and corporations who sell DAB radio in North America could find it more expensive to market these types of radio to consumers”. By the way, DAB was tested in Canada and Mexico but abandoned. If you’re in the USA and try to tune a DAB station on a Global Edition you will not get anything. But should you ever bring your Global version music system overseas, you will have the cords, FM tuning step, and DAB/DAB+ tuner necessary to continue enjoying your music system. If you are in the US and are curious to hear a DAB or DAB+ station, in Internet radio mode, go into the Station list menu > Stations > Search stations > Type in “DAB”. You’ll hear the same station a European listener hears from a DAB tuner.

“Norway made headlines in 2017 when they became the first country to switch off its national FM network in favor of DAB.”



Have You Gone Global Yet? 

Make a date: The Date Format option in System settings. Photo by Peter Skiera.

Perhaps you already own a Global Edition and do not even know it. If your unit also came with a CE power cord, or there are CE and DAB logos on the back panel of your music system- Congratulations, it is a Global Edition! For your information, you will find a Date Format option in the System settings menu under Time/Date allowing the date to be represented as MM/DD/YY or DD/MM/YY, as you prefer. We enabled this feature to both the Global Editions and standard versions of all models in the last free software update. 

The ”G” (circled in red) means it’s a Global Edition.

Throughout 2022, Como Audio will continue transitioning to Global Editions for all of its models. When you’re on a product page on our website, on the right side, if you see a finish with the letter “G” over it, that means it’s a Global Edition. If you’ve not already done so, get ready to go Global in 2022.

Trivia: In May of 2018, DAB Radio listenership in England surpassed that of AM & FM listeners. In a Q4 2021 RAJAR report, it was found that DAB/DAB+ radio accounted for 64.4% of listening in the UK.



Como Audio General Manager Peter Skiera lives in southern MA, worked in radio broadcasting throughout New England, and also worked for Cambridge SoundWorks, B&W Loudspeakers, and Tivoli Audio for 15 years before joining Como Audio as V.P. of Product Development. In addition to Tech Rap, Peter also writes for his own blog, www.RecommendedStations.com. He can be reached directly at pskiera@comoaudio.com.

MARCH BIRTHDAYS

Justin Bieber
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