Digital vs Analog voice

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CaptDan

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A quick question and I hope it's allowed here.

Will, or should there be a difference in performance, as in effective range, of a radio transmitting in a digital mode vs transmitting in an analog mode ?

In a nutshell my question is will one mode have a better range than the other ?

Thanks in Advance
 

robertmac

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Generally from reports on various web sites including Radioreference, digital will have a greater distance. The one problem with digital is when it is near the end of its range, the intelligence is dropped, that is will become unreadable [not decoded properly]. Analog on the other hand, some words can still be understandable which may or may not be able to make a message totally understandable.
 

alcahuete

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The usable range is likely to be slightly better with digital. The reason is that where the fringe of the coverage area is likely to be mostly static with analog, it will still be perfectly readable, no static in digital...until it just drops off and is gone.
 

mmckenna

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Will, or should there be a difference in performance, as in effective range, of a radio transmitting in a digital mode vs transmitting in an analog mode ?
Yes, but you'll likely start a fight here with a question like that. It's complex, and some of it is up to personal interpretation.
Analog radios are usually tested at 12dB SINAD.
Digital radios are usually tested at a certain bit error rate.
Since the two don't match up, it's hard to compare, so it usually comes to an opinion. Often the Mean Opinion Score (MOS) is used.

Some will tell you that Analog is -always- better. Some will tell you that digital is always better.

As alcahuete said above, analog gets really scratchy out on the fringes. It's hard to listen to, but our brains/ears can often do a pretty good job of extracting useable info from a garbled message. Usually, but not always.
Digital, on the other hand, will usually decode just fine out to the edges, then there's a brief time where the bit error rate gets high and the audio gets lousy. Then it's just gone.
When the analog gets scratchy and hard to listen to, digital will often come through nice and clear.

In a nutshell my question is will one mode have a better range than the other ?
My experience has been that digital outperforms a bit. Your milage may vary, and as for everyone else, their opinions will vary.
 

kayn1n32008

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The one problem with digital is when it is near the end of its range, the intelligence is dropped, that is will become unreadable [not decoded properly]. Analog on the other hand, some words can still be understandable which may or may not be able to make a message totally understandable.
In testing, I have found that DMR and NXDN-VN will decode, with full voice recovery, at signal strengths that analogue will be completely unreadable. Yes there is a ‘cliff’. I have found the ‘cliff’ is at a greater distance than analogue is readable.
 

CaptDan

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Thank you everyone for your responses!

I appologize for asking questions in here, but to be honest, you folks are the most honest & knowledgeable about radio that don't have an agenda of their own that they are trying to push.

So one more related question, should or will encryption have any effect on the range of a radio ?
 

alcahuete

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The only people with an agenda are usually the dealers, looking to sell the latest and greatest.

Since this is the amateur radio forum, just keep in mind that encryption is illegal on the amateur bands here in the states. But no, there is no significant effect on range...not that I've seen anyway, with a good radio.

I'm an analog fan personally, and have been forever. The voice clarity is awesome. I don't really care for the digital sound. But what annoys me immensely and what sold me on digital is the static and signal fading and everything else that goes with analog. If I could show you what 2 bars (out of 4) sounds like on my radios in analog vs. 2 bars on digital, you would immediately go digital and never look back. If you could use the radio for 10 minutes and never hear an ounce of static, or hissing, or background noise, you would be sold.

On a linked ham system down here in Southern California, I can use roaming and audio leveling and quite literally drive from Mexico to Ventura (north of Los Angeles) and to the California/Nevada stateline without ever changing channels or adjusting the volume. It is FANTASTIC. Sometimes I have to rotate my volume knob just so it doesn't get locked up. :p :p
 

kayn1n32008

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Thank you everyone for your responses!

I appologize for asking questions in here, but to be honest, you folks are the most honest & knowledgeable about radio that don't have an agenda of their own that they are trying to push.

So one more related question, should or will encryption have any effect on the range of a radio ?
Encryption of digital voice has absolutely zero effect on range.
 

kayn1n32008

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I'm an analog fan personally, and have been forever. The voice clarity is awesome. I don't really care for the digital sound. But what annoys me immensely and what sold me on digital is the static and signal fading and everything else that goes with analog. If I could show you what 2 bars (out of 4) sounds like on my radios in analog vs. 2 bars on digital, you would immediately go digital and never look back. If you could use the radio for 10 minutes and never hear an ounce of static, or hissing, or background noise, you would be sold.
I actually prefer digital voice, over analogue. Modern DSP and active noise cancelling make it easy to listen to. Not having hiss or static is an added bonus.
A client I use to do work for transitioned from VHF analogue to UHF Connect Plus.

The VHF analogue system was horrible to listen to. Some radios were quiet, some were loud, and static from noisy electronics and other sources of broadband VHF noise made it a chore to listen to.

Even though it was Gen1 subscribers, once I started to use the Connect Plus system I was adjusting the volume way less, and people were easier to listen to. A plus was getting full audio recovery with only the RX LED lit, and no bars on the RSSI display.

This was my introduction to LMR digital voice, and I was sold on day one. Even on amateur radio, I now much prefer digital over analogue.
 

kayn1n32008

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Encryption of digital voice has absolutely zero effect on range.
I will add, due to DMRA’s half assed inclusion of encryption in the DMR standard, encrypted voice using RC4 or AES does suffer some audio degradation due to stealing some voice bits to transmit the KID, algorithm and IV data.

On NXDN and P25, there is no loss of audio quality when encrypting comms using AES encryption.
 

alcahuete

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I actually prefer digital voice, over analogue. Modern DSP and active noise cancelling make it easy to listen to. Not having hiss or static is an added bonus.
A client I use to do work for transitioned from VHF analogue to UHF Connect Plus.

The VHF analogue system was horrible to listen to. Some radios were quiet, some were loud, and static from noisy electronics and other sources of broadband VHF noise made it a chore to listen to.

Even though it was Gen1 subscribers, once I started to use the Connect Plus system I was adjusting the volume way less, and people were easier to listen to. A plus was getting full audio recovery with only the RX LED lit, and no bars on the RSSI display.

This was my introduction to LMR digital voice, and I was sold on day one. Even on amateur radio, I now much prefer digital over analogue.
Well I don't disagree. It's a tradeoff, and even coming from this analog guy, the tradeoff is well worth it. Everything you said is absolutely spot on. The static is something that you will never miss on digital. I pretty much have gotten to the point that I can't stand listening to analog anymore for exactly that reason. Tired of the static and fluctuations in signal and audio and everything else.
 

alcahuete

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All things being said, when the network (digital network) hiccups, analog will fill the void. NEVER put all your eggs in either basket.
You do know that digital can be used standalone just like analog right? No network involved. I run plenty of standalone Motorbo repeaters. No network to hiccup. I'm confused.
 

N4KVE

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Funny. I love digital, & the lack of bacon frying. But when I’m at the end of coverage of a repeater in analog, I can still make out what the guy is saying, but my wife can’t. As radio users, we have learned to pull voices out of the static. But with digital, when you’re gone, you’re gone.
 

N8FNR

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This graph shows audio quality of FM vs digital.

I am thinking about operating in the ARRL VHF June contest using FM, D-star and DMR. There is a park north near me in EN82lq (20 miles north of Detroit) and it is 200 feet above the surrounding area and has a clear view to the horizon from about the ESE to the WSW. Would be using an Arrow II satellite 3 element 2 meter yagi mounted to a camera tripod. The antenna also can operate on 440 using 7 elements so I can work 2M and 70CM. The radios are a Kenwood TH-D72a HT, an Icom ID-51A Plus2 D-star HT and an Anytone AT-D878UV DMR HT. All of these have a maximum output of 5 watts and I would be able to use FM, D-Star and DMR simplex. It will be interesting to see what results I get.

Zack N8FNR
 

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I actually prefer digital voice, over analogue. Modern DSP and active noise cancelling make it easy to listen to. Not having hiss or static is an added bonus.
A client I use to do work for transitioned from VHF analogue to UHF Connect Plus.

The VHF analogue system was horrible to listen to. Some radios were quiet, some were loud, and static from noisy electronics and other sources of broadband VHF noise made it a chore to listen to.

Even though it was Gen1 subscribers, once I started to use the Connect Plus system I was adjusting the volume way less, and people were easier to listen to. A plus was getting full audio recovery with only the RX LED lit, and no bars on the RSSI display.

This was my introduction to LMR digital voice, and I was sold on day one. Even on amateur radio, I now much prefer digital over analogue.
Around here I notice the opposite. The analog repeaters do a great job of leveling the repeat audio levels, whereas I am constantly adjusting the volume on my DMR portable. I mean, the variation from one user to another on the digital is the main drawback. The second biggest drawback here on East Coast is lost packets and dropped connections. I want to like the noise free Digital, but a completed QSO is rare. (networked) Local standalone works fine.
 
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