Thursday, April 15, 2021

New Android App for decoding DRM digital radio broadcasts


On the 13th of April 2021, a company named StarWaves announced the release of a new Android app called DRM SoftRadio. The app allows a user of a Software Defined Radio (SDR) to listen to any DRM digital broadcasts on an Android smartphone or tablet.

DRM or Digital Radio Mondiale is the global digital radio standard used for digital transmissions on medium wave and short wave in several countries. 

Some of the features...

Languages: English, German, Simplified Chinese

Convenient frequency tuning and DRM Service selection

Journaline, DRM’s advanced text application, allows to interactively browse through latest news, sports and weather updates, programme background information and schedules, distance learning/RadioSchooling text books, travel information, and much more

Free tuning to any DRM broadcast frequency

Supports all DRM frequency bands – from the former AM bands (LW/MW/SW) to the VHF bands (including the FM band), depending only on RF dongle functionality

Graphical spectrum view to check the signal on the tuned frequency

For live reception, an SDR RF dongle must be connected to the device’s USB port (with USB host functionality). The following SDR RF dongle families are currently supported, along with a range of specifically tested models:

Supported SDR receivers...

Airspy HF+ family: Airspy HF Discovery, Airspy HF+ (Dual Port). (Note: Airspy Mini and R2 are NOT supported.)

SDRplay family: SDRPlay RSP1A, SDRPlay RSPdx, SDRPlay RSPduo, SDRPlay RSP1, SDRPlay RSP2, SDRPlay RSP2pro, MSI.SDR Panadapter (Note: SDRPlay family support on Android is currently limited to the 32-bit version of this app.)

RTL-SDR family: The experimental support for RTL-SDR based RF dongles requires that you manually start the following separate tool before opening this app (on standard port ‘14423’): The app ‘SDR driver’ can be installed from the Google Play Store and other Android app stores.

Analysis... While DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) has been around as a digital radio standard since 2003, it has proved difficult to get accepted by broadcasters and the general public. Broadcasters were unwilling to use DRM due to a lack of suitable receivers and the public weren't interested because there were a lack of DRM transmissions.

That has changed of late with the introduction of DRM transmissions in the medium wave band in India. Considering its population, it is assumed that this will kick off the development of cheaper DRM receivers.

While SDR receivers are probably used more by those interested in technology and radio rather than the general public, this new app does open up DRM transmissions to a whole new audience.

The app costs in the region of €5/$5 which is very modest for most SDR users.

It is my understanding that a Windows version is being developed by the company and this should be of interest to an even wider audience.


1) StarWave news release - 13th April 2021

2) Google Play Store

3) Official DRM website

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