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How does a radio work? Easily explained

Most people own and use a radio, but very few know how the device actually works. We'll show you what's going on inside a radio and how the music gets into your house or car.

This is how an analog radio works

Tones consist of invisible vibrations in the air, the so-called sound waves. If the moderator speaks into the microphone, the sound waves are recorded electronically.

  • These sound waves are now combined by the radio waves. This process is called modulation. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves that travel much faster and farther than sound waves.
  • The radio waves are broadcast through very high transmission masts. The range of a transmission mast can be several hundred kilometers. For example, you can still hear the radio station "Radio Hamburg" 100 km away.
  • Since humans cannot hear the radio waves, they are received and translated by the radio via an antenna. The recorded sound waves are again separated from the radio waves and played back via the loudspeakers.

This is how a digital radio works

  • Nowadays, digital radios are mainly used. The recorded sound waves are converted into a digital code. Digital radio waves represent sounds in the same way that computers represent all information: with zeros and ones.
  • If the moderator speaks only one word, the sound of the word consists of an individual mixture of high and low tones. This information is sent to your radio in zeros and ones (for illustration: 01100001011011) and there translated back into sound waves that can be heard by humans.
  • The digital technology of radios has a number of advantages. The analog signal can be disturbed by numerous influences, even rain. The digital signal is also always disturbed, but the sound remains clear as there are only zeros and ones to be received. A zero is recognized as a zero even if it is distorted. In addition, further information, such as the artist of a song, can be transmitted to the radio.

In the following practical tips, we will show you the best radio apps for iOS and the best radio apps for Android. We have made the new version of the popular tool for listeners of Internet radio stations, Radia.fx Basic, available for you to download.