DAB Car Aerial

Explained: Choosing a DAB radio aerial for your car

5th September 2018 Off By

Working out the best DAB car radio aerial can seem overwhelming, as the right choice depends on your circumstances and your vehicle. If you’ve fitted an aftermarket DAB radio or adaptor, you’ll need to choose a car DAB aerial to go with it.

External aerials will always give much better results than an internal window aerial. The antenna’s reception will always be constrained when inside a big metal box such as your car, no matter where on your vehicle’s glass you position it.

Magnetic aerials can be left in place permanently and avoid the need to drill holes in your car roof. Hardwired aerials offer a more professional finish, but require installation work such as drilling.

That said, a good internal aerial can still offer a great DAB radio experience. In strong signal areas, an internal aerial will be sufficient for uninterrupted in-car DAB radio.

What connector do you need?

Check what type of connection your DAB radio requires. Most aftermarket DAB radios or DAB radio adaptor devices require an SMA, SMB, or MCX connector.

Fortunately, most of the aerials listed here are available with your choice of connector on the retailers website. 

The three connectors are electronically similar enough that adaptors can be used if the aerial doesn’t match the radio. They look pretty similar too, but they’re incompatible without adaptors as they’re all different sizes.

SMA are the largest, and SMB connectors are slightly smaller. MCX connections are much smaller, and are pretty tiny!

Magnetic Rooftop Aerials

Last update on 2018-09-20 / As an Amazon Associate Fuseboxed earns from qualifying purchases / Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.co.uk, Inc. or its affiliates / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is my choice that I use myself. A magnetic DAB aerial clasps firmly to your car roof, and won’t budge an inch no matter how fast you’re going.

External aerials offer by far the best reception, and this is the only way to add one without drilling holes in your car roof.

These are really easy to install. Just run the cable through the top of your boot, then down behind the parcel shelf through the back seats.

The magnetic base allows the aerial and cable to be easily removed when you need to go through a car wash. The only downside is the cable running back across your roof into the top of your boot.

I don’t notice the cable, but I’ve got a black car. It might stand out a bit too much on a brand new bright white car. If you’re planning on keeping your vehicle for a while, it might be worth investing in a professionally fitted external aerial instead.

Mounted Rooftop Aerials

Last update on 2018-09-20 / As an Amazon Associate Fuseboxed earns from qualifying purchases / Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.co.uk, Inc. or its affiliates / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

A professionally mounted DAB aerial will always offer the best results, both in terms of signal performance and aesthetically. If you’ve got a nice car and you’re not planning on switching anytime soon, it’s the way to go.

Installation requires drilling holes in your car’s roof, which probably means you’ll want to pay to have it done professionally.

Some mounted rooftop aerials even include a GPS receiver.

Fin-type aerials offer a professional look and don’t need to be removed when going through a car wash, though they sometimes don’t give quite as good reception as a traditional aerial.

Internal Glass Mount Aerials

Last update on 2018-09-20 / As an Amazon Associate Fuseboxed earns from qualifying purchases / Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.co.uk, Inc. or its affiliates / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Glass mount aerials are by far the easiest to install. They simply stick onto the inside of one of your car’s windows.

This means no cables running through the car from outside, and no holes drilled into the roof. There’s also no external components that can be stolen or vandalised.

If you live in a strong signal area, these might be good enough to save you the hassle of an external area. Though be advised, internal aerials will never be as good as external ones, so where the signal is weak it’ll cut out much sooner with an internal aerial.

TheFestivals Editor ● The Tab Contributor ● University of Manchester Politics Postgrad ● Bangor University School of Computer Science graduate ●  Blog ● One of 1500+ Chester FC owners

sam@thefestivals.uk