#HybridFeatures: radio noise is so yesterday

FM, DAB+ and web: the hybrid radio in the new Audi A8

Imagine you’re listening to your favorite on the radio and all of a sudden, the reception is gone – all of this becomes a thing of the past in the Audi A8. Audi blog author Andreas Wittke asked how the triumvirate consisting of FM, DAB+ and web exactly works.

Auswahl Radiosender Audi Hybridradio
Listening to what you want whenever you want – with the hybrid radio in the new Audi A8.

Everyday, it takes me about one and a half hour to drive to work. Since I’m not a morning person, I want to drive in a calm atmosphere, but also enjoy listening to the radio a bit. I like to choose radio stations that don’t have this insincere happy mood, annoying jingles or stressful music that claim too much power from my sleep-ridden brain. The problem with that? I drive through rural areas in which those particular radio stations don’t have any reception. That’s not only annoying, but stressful too.

Christian Winter, development engineer radio at Audi, promised me that the hybrid radio in the new Audi A8 will take this worry away.

His infotainment system is able to automatically switch between the analogue FM, digital DAB+ and online radio – a so-called hybrid feature. He personally showed me in the new A8 how this functions and what advantages the hybrid feature offers.

Listening to your favorite sender without interruption sounds wonderful. Can the hybrid radio by Audi guarantee this?

Christian Winter: Yes. Thanks to several antennas, the A8 has the best radio reception. If that’s not enough, possibly due to the reception area, we extend it with the online stream. Through the automatic switch from FM or DAB+ to online radio, you get continuous radio reception – whether you’re driving through rural areas, borders of federal provinces or countries.

And how do you ensure that?

Christian Winter: First, the radio checks which options are available and then chooses the best one. This means: If I want to listen to Bayern 3 while being abroad, the system realizes that this radio station is not available via FM or DAB+ and automatically switches to online radio. If, for example, the reception strength lessens when using FM or DAB+, the station will be played on through the online radio, but automatically and unrecognizable for the hearer. The hybrid radio thus always finds the best solution and I can benefit from the best of both worlds – the analogue and digital one.

Christian Winter und Andreas Wittke im Gespräch

Audi development engineer Christian Winter explains the hybrid radio's functionality and the resulting advantages for the hearer to Audi blog author Andreas Wittke.

But how does the radio find the corresponding online stream to the radio reception of my choosing?

Christian Winter: We are the first automobile company to use Radio DNS, an open technical standard that is perpetually being developed. RadioDNS is the connection between radio broadcasting world and online world. Additionally, we fetch further transmitted data from our partner radioplayer.

Especially when I’m listening to radio shows, it is all the more annoying if I miss several seconds, because there is a switch. How are you taking care of this problem?

Christian Winter: It’s our goal to enable a smooth switch between the two worlds. The biggest challenge was the existence of an offset between the classic radio and the online stream. Simple switching would mean missing transmission parts or the program repeating itself for a couple of seconds. To prevent this, we have developed a specific algorithm in cooperation with the Fraunhofer IIs. This balances the difference between the offset and the volume difference, resulting in the customer’s not realizing a switch in most of the cases.

Are there further radio innovations in the A8?

Hinweis Hybridradio Sender nicht mehr empfangbar
A location-independent, seamless tracing of radio shows? The hybrid radio makes this possible.

Christian Winter: We use three FM and two DAB+ receivers that are connected to several antennas. This enables the best radio broadcast reception possible for the customer and makes features such as a constantly updated unified station list, slideshow or program guide accessible.

Additionally, the first ever integrated web radio gives access to more than 20.000 internet stations and podcasts worldwide. For this, the fast LTE advanced internet connection is used with the Audi connect SIM.

More than 20.000 radio stations – how do I find my way around the sheer mass of radio stations?

Christian Winter: We help you with a selection of genres, top 100 lists and a sorting by countries and languages. Additionally, we’ve implemented a special truffle hunt that not only finds the exact sender name but also live suggestions while typing, similar to the Google autocomplete. This can also be operated by the new, natural language voice control in the A8.

For me, it’s important to know which song is on play or what the running radio show is called. Is this retrievable?

Songinformationen Hybridradio
Always know what song is on: Via DAB+ and FM and from the model year 2019 onwards, by using the radio song identification, the hybrid radio displays information the currently running radio show.

Christian Winter: Already today, the users see the artist’s and the song’s title via DAB+ and FM in many models, but only if the radio sender offers this information. For many broadcasters this is not the case and the display stays empty.

To solve this, we will integrate the so-called radio song identification from the model year 2019 onwards. This functions similar to Shazam™ – a song is automatically recognized by its specific frequency response. Thus, we can practically always display artist, song title, album title and album cover.

Where can I find the hybrid radio in the new Audi A8?

Christian Winter: On the two touch screens with haptic feedback, you can navigate to the right radio sender. You can see the menu and the sender selection on the above screen. On the screen below, you can find the quickly accessible favorites. With just one finger tap, you can listen to your favorite senders unlimitedly. In the back seat, the radio can comfortably be handled by the rear seat remote control unit.

Bedienung Hybridradio Frontsitze Touchscreen-Displays

Driver and passenger operate the hybrid radio on two touchscreen displays. But the passengers in the rear can control the radio as well – they can use the rear seat remote control.

Do you count on the hybrid radio in your personal life?

Christian Winter: I started engaging myself with the topic of hybrid radio five years ago, when I wrote my master thesis. Since then, a lot has been happening, but the DAB+/FM/online radios that are available for the private market separate the functions rigorously and thus do not offer a positive user experience; they are no hybrid radios. Because hybrid means that something new is created from a crossbreeding – with the best of both worlds. That’s exactly the case for the hybrid radio in the Audi. Therefore, I am looking forward to the rollout of more Audi models, since I’m not an A8 driver myself ;).

FM + DAB+ + online radio = the hybrid radio in the new Audi A8

Christian Winter and Andreas Wittke take a seat in the rear in order to test the radio handling from there.
In the settings, the user can choose for himself in which scope he wants to use the hybrid radio's features.
Finding the right radio station by spinning the wheel: Christian Winter demonstrates the search for the right music at the FM radio.
News or the latest hits? WEB or DAB+? The hybrid radio's display gives the hearer a first insight into the program, even before the hearer actively selects a station.
The customer can manually select the radio source.
In the radio text, the hearer can retrieve information such as the studio hotline, song titles or artists.

Christian Winter and Andreas Wittke take a seat in the rear in order to test the radio handling from there.

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In the settings, the user can choose for himself in which scope he wants to use the hybrid radio's features.

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Finding the right radio station by spinning the wheel: Christian Winter demonstrates the search for the right music at the FM radio.

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News or the latest hits? WEB or DAB+? The hybrid radio's display gives the hearer a first insight into the program, even before the hearer actively selects a station.

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The customer can manually select the radio source.

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In the radio text, the hearer can retrieve information such as the studio hotline, song titles or artists.

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José Rey

1. February 2018 um 19:44
Awesome feature! Keep the good work!!

Consumption and emission figures of vehicles on this page:

Audi A8: Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 8,0 – 5,6; Combined CO2-emissions in g/km: 182 – 145. Figures on the fuel consumption and the CO2-emissions vary in case of given ranges depending on the used combination of wheels/tires. // www.audi.de/DAT-Hinweis

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