Dab reception in the oldtimer.

Dab reception in the oldtimer.

DAB reception in a vintage car? No problem!

Soon the analogue FM will be switched off in Switzerland and replaced by digital DAB+. Does the radio in the oldtimer then remain mute? No, because there are beautiful and veteran solutions, as the experts Hans Gfeller (photos) and Luigi Brenca show us.

Even if the engine of the oldtimer has a still so beautiful sound, one would not like to do without the favorite station, the news or important traffic announcements. But in 2024, the analog ultra-shortwave (VHF) signal will finally be switched off in Switzerland. Then there is only Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB+). What to do if you do not have a DAB-capable radio? We have asked the specialists Hans Gfeller (www.Gfellerhuber.Ch) and Luigi Brenca (www.Brenca.Ch) in demand.

The motto is: Nothing beats original optics

The most elegant solution is the "hollowing out" of the original radio. This means that the outward appearance remains unchanged, but the technology is upgraded with DAB+, USB, AUX-in connection, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free phone calls. That costs about 1200 to 1500 francs. If the car is equipped with a 6-volt system or the positive instead of the negative pole serves as ground contact, additional conversion costs come together. Also the effort for a-. Dismantling must be calculated at the respective object.

It is more favorable if a device already has an AUX-In connection. Then a DAB receiver can be connected for 200 to 300 francs. The operation is then carried out using the existing controllers. Here are also different installation costs depending on the model.

The installation of a modern radio in the existing DIN slot would also be theoretically possible. For the oldtimer lover this is however a sacrilege. Such a solution should not even be brought into play …

Bad reception: Series antenna often does not work

An important point is the antenna. DAB reception needs a different antenna than VHF. There are retrofit solutions that are visibly glued to the windshield. This is not only ugly, it could also cause problems with the oldtimer registration. Better is the conversion of the original antenna or the replacement by an optically suitable combination antenna, which can receive FM and DAB+.

Ideally, the original loudspeakers are also reused. To get the best out of it, the expert will of course also help here. In general, the conversion should not be done by yourself, but by an experienced specialist who is prepared for all eventualities. Tinkering with the electrics can be a nasty eye sore. The specialized company also gives a guarantee for his work.

Alternative solution: do not touch car at all

If you don't want to touch your classic car at all and want to preserve the antique original technology for posterity, use a portable, DAB-capable radio, which can be stored in a safe place somewhere in the car and taken along from oldie to oldie. There are such devices with newest technology in old optics, or one can convert an old device – as described before. However, there may be reception interference in closed cars because the car body acts as a faraday cage.

Another option, of course, is to use a smartphone with the appropriate app. On special interest stations such as www.Vintageradio.Ch runs exclusively music from the past. Even if the on-board radio is not playing, the illusion is nearly perfect.

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