DAB+ digital radio retrofit in Discovery 3/4

DAB+ digital radio retrofit in Discovery 3/4

13. September 2020 Off By Kenny

DAB+ (Digital Audio Broadcasting) is the name for digital radio transmission in the frequency range between 30MHz and 3GHz. Since about 2010, digital radio has become more and more popular in Germany and since about 2015, newer radio sets have been relying almost exclusively on this format. In new cars, the installation of digital radios according to the DAB+ format is now even mandatory in Germany. Nevertheless, there is currently no fixed date for switching off conventional (analog) radio, so there is no reason to rush in Germany. However, a switch-off of the analog radio in Germany from around 2025 is under discussion.

In other countries this is however different. In Norway, for example, the DAB+ format was defined as standard as early as 2017, and since then analog stations have been gradually switched off – although there is some resistance there as well.



Retrofitting DAB+ in the car, what are the options?

DAB+ retrofitting is generally possible in all vehicles. However, there are different ways to realize this wish, of course with different advantages and disadvantages. The digital radio reception is completely different from the analog radio reception and a different radio module is needed as well as a different antenna.

  1. One possibility is to replace the original radio with a DAB capable original radio. The advantage of this is that the look and functionality of the original radio is preserved. Disadvantage is of course the high costs. Furthermore, the original Land Rover systems are only DAB and not DAB+. Therefore, this option is only rarely useful.
  2. Another option is to replace the original radio with a replacement radio. But of course this has the disadvantage that the look of the interior changes completely. We don’t really like this and therefore we don’t really deal with it. The best place to start is probably a car hifi specialist.

  3. The third option is to install separate DAB+ signal receivers in the car, which then feed the signal into the original radio via the inputs of the existing radio. There are several options available
    Direct feeding into the car system (MOST)
    Feeding the signal via USB
    Feeding the signal via Aux-In
    Feeding the signal via an FM frequency

The variants 3.1 and 3.2 are from our point of view the most sensible ones, so I will now go into this in more detail.

Variant 3.1

The most elegant solution is the integration of a DAB+ module which is compatible with the original Land Rover touch screens. Here we have a module from the manufacturer in2digi in our program, which provides this functionality for the Gen1 and Gen2.1 touch screen systems with MOST connection in Discovery 4 and Range Rover Sport.

A DAB+ module is then installed in the vehicle and connected directly to the MOST system. In addition, the module needs to be powered and requires a DAB+ antenna – this is simply glued to the screen. Afterwards, only the DAB function in the vehicle needs to be enabled and you have a fully integrated and very elegant and fast DAB+ solution.

Here a video of it in my own D4 (2011):

DAB+ fully integrated in Gen2.1 Land Rover system

I will write a separate article about this variant and show you exactly how to install the module. I will link the article here soon.

Variant 3.2

The second variant is to transmit the signal via USB. The Discovery 4 for example has a USB input for music. The DAB+ module is connected to this input. Now you can switch to the USB input in the vehicle and the various radio stations within range will be displayed as “titles”, as if they were MP3 songs on a USB stick with music. Personally I like this version as well, but it is not as fast in switching and not as elegant in handling as the full integration.

Here is a video of our DAB+ USB module in Discovery 4 with Gen1 audio system:

DAB+ USB Modul in Discovery 4 with Gen1 Audiosystem

Variant 3.3

The signal is routed to the Aux-In connector of the radio. This also means that you have to select the Aux-In as input in the car radio to listen to digital radio. The selection of the radio station is usually done by remote control or a special key combination. Some devices also come with their own small display, so that the radio station is then shown and changed on this (additional) display. I myself don’t like this solution that much, even though it can work.

Variante 3.4

Variant 4 is actually very similar to Variant 3, except that the DAB+ receiver is not connected to the radio via the Aux input, but has its own built-in FM transmitter. This means that the received DAB+ radio signal is immediately retransmitted by the unit on an analog radio frequency. The range of the transmitter is very small, so that the signal can only be received in the car it is installed in. To listen to this signal you only have to put the frequency of the transmitter on a memory location in the original radio. As soon as this station memory is selected, you will hear the digital radio signal and the song names will be displayed (if the transmitter supports this). Switching the digital station is done like in variant 1 either by remote control, by an additional display or partly by key combinations. Unfortunately this variant is relatively error-prone and therefore not my favorite at all.

Here is a video of the full integration (variant 3.1):


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