Convert your car or caravan to DAB digital radio in under an hour
DAB digital radio conversion
Words & Photos Carl Golder
With FM and AM radio under threat of switch-off in the next few years, now's the time to consider upgrading to a state-of-the-art DAB radio in your towcar or tourer.
Here, we're testing a 'plug and play' Highway 400 kit from Pure. It delivers digital radio sound quality and consistency. Plus, it allows you to stream Spotify tunes, too.
Digital radios find all available stations in your area and allow you to select them by name. Highway 400 is also Digital Tick approved. It's been future-proofed for the FM-DAB switchover.
It links with your existing audio system using an aux-in cable or an unused FM frequency. And, if you hear something you love on digital radio, you can use the Go button on your Highway 400 to tag the track. You can add these can to your Spotify playlist.
You can also pair your phone or tablet with Highway. And, listen to your own music or your favourite music streaming service.
Changing stations, selecting tracks and making calls is simple with Highway's wireless controller. Small and light, it fits to the dash and uses two AAA batteries.
You can set reminders, check the weather or traffic information and much more without picking up your phone.
I love the fact that you can pair with my Spotify account. And consider downloading the Pure Go app on your smartphone. It maximises the capabilities of your Highway 400.
How we did it
This system took me about 45 minutes to install. And that includes reading through the instruction manual! Inside the box you'll find the wireless controller, two AAA batteries and mounting bracket. And, there is a receiver block, magnetic grounding tail, DAB film aerial, a USB power adapter, self-adhesive cable clips and a cleaning wipe.
- I started by wiping down the top inside corner of the windscreen with the cleaning wipe, to ensure good adhesion of the aerial. The time consuming aspect was trying to pull back the interior roof lining to insert the magnetic grounding tail. This must be in contact with the metal roof panel. Ensure the magnetic side of the tail is facing upwards, and leave the connector exposed. Connect the aerial to the receiver block, then connect the receiver to the magnetic grounding tail.
- Now peel off the plastic film on the back of the receiver. Then, press it onto the area of the windscreen you cleaned earlier. Next, peel the film off the back of the antenna and stick that to the windscreen.
- Now it's time to route the cables to the Aux socket and the 12v 'cigarette lighter'. The device has plenty of cable, which runs from the aerial to the aux input on the console.(Depending on the vehicle, you can hide the cable between the cavities on the dashboard. Or use the sticky clips provided). Many cars have an Aux input hidden away in the glovebox. You should be able to hide the cable behind the trim on the A-pillar. Ease it into the gap between the trim and the windscreen.
- Your cables should now be close to the dash. Work out the most discreet route to run the cable behind carpet or trim. Or in the glovebox, so that it ends up close to the 12v power feed and the aux signal input. Ease the joined aux and power cables apart enough so that the cable will reach both inputs.
- Put the batteries into the controller unit. Then mount it on its bracket somewhere on the dash that's convenient to reach and view. With the power turned on, the units should spring to life. And the receiver and controller will pair-up. Finally, follow the instructions on the controller to tune in your new device using aux-in (when using the aux cable). Or use the FM Transmit (if you don't have an aux input). Once turned on and tuned in (which took seconds) the sound quality is crystal clear.
I'm not super-techie, but fitting this device was simple. I reckon a seasoned DIYer could fit it in 10-15 minutes. The results are impressive, with improved sound quality and many extra features.