Caravan-specific radio?

May 11, 2021
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Our 2014 Bailey has what is essentially a car stereo fitted. It's nice enough but it is of the era, in other words it is FM/AM, CD and AUX but no DAB, plus it's a bit.... bling! Also, when you switch if off the display remains lit up (as you would expect in a car) which is very bright at night positioned over the make-up double bed in the living area - I have to pop the front panel off to make it dark.

I am considering updating it - I have fitted countless single-DIN sized car radios into cars over the years but obviously not in a while since newer cars have built-in systems. Anyway, my question is whether there is such a thing as a caravan-specific stereo, or at least one that is better for use in a caravan. I'd be looking for the following minimum requirements:
  • FM, DAB, BlueTooth
  • 'Night mode' or similar, leaving minimal lighting, perhaps just a clock in a dim lighting
  • Remote control (nice-to-have, not essential).
I don't need traffic announcement capability or a million different equaliser settings (basic adjustment of bass/treble is fine). I might consider adding a woofer if I could think of a good place to put it that's easy to get wiring to, maybe under a seat. The current stereo is fed signal from a Status Vision Plus 550 amplifier, which has only a co-ax "Radio" outlet. The manual states that the Status handles DAB but I'm not sure how this gets to a DAB tuner as I thought they usually took a dedicated DAB antenna input?

What we really miss with the one we have is DAB, plus the easy capability to connect it to the TV (which is the other side of the living area, opposite the kitchen).

Any suggestions? Recommendations? Advice?
 
Jul 18, 2017
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I think if we have used our radio in the caravan more than once it is a lot and it is DAB with Bluetooth etc. Normally I pair the phone to a Bose Bluetooth speaker to listen to music. For TV in caravan we have Sony sound bar.
I have not tested it yet, but apparently if using Bluetooth to a speaker there is a slight lag with the sound. Not good if you have a hearing deficiency and sort of lip read. :D
 
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Jun 16, 2020
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There is no such thing as a caravan specific radio, at least I have never heard of one. They are all single din car radios. So there is a massive choice available.

Our van has a Pioneer radio fitted from new. It’s awful. There are speakers over the lounge and over the bed. But we have never used it. Every time we try we need to refer to the instructions.

What we use instead is a Bose bluetooth speaker. (other makes are available). It fills the van with quality sound, we can take it outside if we want. It links to the TV and sounds 10 times better than the TV without. For radio or music streaming we just link it to a smart phone. All thats needed in a small package.

John
 
Jun 16, 2020
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I think if we have used our radio in the caravan more than once it is a lot and it is DAB with Bluetooth etc. Normally I pair the phone to a Bose Bluetooth speaker to listen to music. For TV in caravan we have Sony sound bar.
I have not tested it yet, but apparently if using Bluetooth to a speaker there is a slight lag with the sound. Not good if you have a hearing deficiency and sort of lip read. :D
You may well be right about the sync problem. Out TV lacks BT so we link it to the Bose by a lead from the headphone jack.

John
 
Jul 18, 2017
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You may well be right about the sync problem. Out TV lacks BT so we link it to the Bose by a lead from the headphone jack.

John
Yep we also have the pioneer radio that requires a driver's licence to operate. What happened to the good old days where you could sele3ct a station by simply pressing a button. Now you have to scroll through endless menus of useless stuff to get where you want to be. Pity Bose do not do the Bose Soundlink anymore as it was a brilliant BT speaker. We can no longer use the headphone jack as the LG TV does not have one. Its HDMI or BT.
 
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May 11, 2021
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Hmmm... maybe I'm looking at this wrong; looking to update what's there rather than use a totally different solution. Thanks for the input - I actually have a couple of BlueTooth speakers somewhere, perhaps worth trying them in earnest. I don't think our TV has BT connectivity but I may be able to use a 3.5mm cable to the speaker.

We listen to the radio a fair bit when away - mostly just for background noise, but the radio we prefer is DAB only so we have to settle on whatever FM option is receivable. Using the radio rather than streaming for a phone means that a phone isn't 'tied up' - in the past at home I have streamed from my phone to a speaker and then gone outside or something, forgetting the signal will drop for those left behind.
 
May 11, 2021
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You may well be right about the sync problem. Out TV lacks BT so we link it to the Bose by a lead from the headphone jack.

John
Some TVs, soundbars and set-top boxes offer a sound delay adjustment to account for this sync issue. I hate out-of sync sound - it really irritates me and yet my family claim to not notice it.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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Some TVs, soundbars and set-top boxes offer a sound delay adjustment to account for this sync issue. I hate out-of sync sound - it really irritates me and yet my family claim to not notice it.
Our Sky box offered a sound delay, but surely that would be carried over to the Tv and then the sound bar?
About 2 years ago we purchased a top of the range Samsung TV and the out of sync sound was very noticeable to me, On going onto the Samsung forum a number of others had the same issue. Samsung where unable to resolve the issue and we were able to get a full refund. Bought a Panasonic and no more issues with out of sync sound except on dubbed movies.
 
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May 11, 2021
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Although it doesn’t answer all the questions could you access the 12v feed and insert a switch to be easy to access to kill it at night?
I could, but this would mean killing the permanent live feed, which would reset the whole radio (clock, station settings etc). Popping the panel off is slightly annoying (especially as I always realise it needs doing when I am already tucked up in bed) but not a real problem.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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I could, but this would mean killing the permanent live feed, which would reset the whole radio (clock, station settings etc). Popping the panel off is slightly annoying (especially as I always realise it needs doing when I am already tucked up in bed) but not a real problem.
Our radio is in a box within a locker, but you probably cannot do that as it will leave a big hole in a cabinet wall? We miss the small round clocks that use to fit into locker wall.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Like Buckman our radio lived in an overhead locker, but we didn’t use it a great deal preferring to use Bluetooth to my Sonos portable speaker. Prior buying to that just a Sony cube rechargeable speaker.
 
May 11, 2021
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Our radio is in a box within a locker, but you probably cannot do that as it will leave a big hole in a cabinet wall? We miss the small round clocks that use to fit into locker wall.
The current radio is in a fascia next to a locker, so on permanent display. On the same fascia opposite there is a round analogue clock.
 
Oct 8, 2006
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Have a look at eBay item 384901240440 (just type it into the search box). It is the same radio fitted as standard in our 2017 Bailey U4 Seville. It has DAB/DAB+ and FM, Bluetooth to answer the phone, a 3.5mm jack input, and a USB input both on the pop-off front panel, and a CD player. It does however need two aerial connections, one for FM and the other for DAB. It works very well in our experience from our (red/orange lettered*) Vision 500 series directional aerial and VP3 aerial amp. It can (theoretically at least) be remote controlled from a smartphone app. The seller of this item is the British Heart Foundation, and you have 30 days to return it for a refund if it is unsuitable. Ignore their comment about being unable to test it - that is stated on many electrical items that they sell. If it is faulty/doesn't work you can return it anyway. If it is as standard wiring there will be a dual ISO connector behind the existing radio which will make this item a straight plug-in. The handbook is readily available on line if it is not with the sale item.

To all readers be aware that caravan manufacturers do not fit a switched and an unswitched (memory support) supply as will be found in cars, they are both fed from one permanent supply through the caravan main power switch. Ergo the radios fitted in most caravans have non-volatile memory which means they don't forget the station memory programming but may forget the volume/tone/display settings. If the OP's van is fitted with a JVC radio (which was Bailey's standard around that time) this will likely be the case. All Philips radios of years ago were non-volatile, and of late apart from JVC it seems Pioneer and some Sony models fit the bill.

To the OP, if you should get this item come back on here and I'll explain how to split the single aerial feed for FM and DAB - which is not difficult or expensive - but it has to be done properly (as Bailey's DON'T!)

* Earlier Vision aerials had blue or violet writing on the aerial case irrespective of whether it was a flying saucer type or a directional. These aerials had the amp inside the aerial case and it would only cover FM and TV but not DAB, the box inside the van was just an interface to supply power to the amp up the cable.
The later version (i.e. current) has red/orange writing on the aerial case and the amp is in the box inside the van. As the aerial in this situation is entirely passive, whether or not DAB can be received is totally dependent upon the amp design. My van has a VP3 amp which does work with DAB but the VP1 and VP2 do not (indeed they don't work with FM either.) The VP3 works well, the VP5 does the same job but has a signal strength indicator LED on it which helps when aligning the aerial.
 
May 11, 2021
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Have a look at eBay item 384901240440 (just type it into the search box). It is the same radio fitted as standard in our 2017 Bailey U4 Seville. It has DAB/DAB+ and FM, Bluetooth to answer the phone, a 3.5mm jack input, and a USB input both on the pop-off front panel, and a CD player. It does however need two aerial connections, one for FM and the other for DAB. It works very well in our experience from our (red/orange lettered*) Vision 500 series directional aerial and VP3 aerial amp. It can (theoretically at least) be remote controlled from a smartphone app. The seller of this item is the British Heart Foundation, and you have 30 days to return it for a refund if it is unsuitable. Ignore their comment about being unable to test it - that is stated on many electrical items that they sell. If it is faulty/doesn't work you can return it anyway. If it is as standard wiring there will be a dual ISO connector behind the existing radio which will make this item a straight plug-in. The handbook is readily available on line if it is not with the sale item.

To all readers be aware that caravan manufacturers do not fit a switched and an unswitched (memory support) supply as will be found in cars, they are both fed from one permanent supply through the caravan main power switch. Ergo the radios fitted in most caravans have non-volatile memory which means they don't forget the station memory programming but may forget the volume/tone/display settings. If the OP's van is fitted with a JVC radio (which was Bailey's standard around that time) this will likely be the case. All Philips radios of years ago were non-volatile, and of late apart from JVC it seems Pioneer and some Sony models fit the bill.

To the OP, if you should get this item come back on here and I'll explain how to split the single aerial feed for FM and DAB - which is not difficult or expensive - but it has to be done properly (as Bailey's DON'T!)

* Earlier Vision aerials had blue or violet writing on the aerial case irrespective of whether it was a flying saucer type or a directional. These aerials had the amp inside the aerial case and it would only cover FM and TV but not DAB, the box inside the van was just an interface to supply power to the amp up the cable.
The later version (i.e. current) has red/orange writing on the aerial case and the amp is in the box inside the van. As the aerial in this situation is entirely passive, whether or not DAB can be received is totally dependent upon the amp design. My van has a VP3 amp which does work with DAB but the VP1 and VP2 do not (indeed they don't work with FM either.) The VP3 works well, the VP5 does the same job but has a signal strength indicator LED on it which helps when aligning the aerial.
Great reply, thanks! Just one thing - the eBay item mentioned does not have DAB or Bluetooth, but no matter, the rest of the info is very useful and that’s a useful eBay user to follow. We have a Pioneer unit fitted in the Bailey - I had assumed it must have a permanent 12v in order to retain settings when the master is off, but maybe not if it uses non-volatile memory.
 
Oct 8, 2006
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I stand corrected - as I have just found out!

Item 255544834217 on eBay is what I thought it was - it is visually the same. It is now discontinued but JVC kit is pretty reliable so used should not be an issue. The seller will accept a 30-day return.

Otherwise its just a dig around the web. As already said you have a choice of JVC, Pioneer, and possibly Sony. Alpine are expensive but have long been regarded as being at the upper end of the market. Whatever you do stay with a good, well-known brand and you won't go far wrong.
 
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JTQ

May 7, 2005
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Possibly of no relevance to the OP, but my experience of "car" radios in caravans is they can be awfully power hungry; if an off-grid camper that can prove quite an issue.
We get round this when off grid by using our old SONY portable radio, which uses AA batteries.
 
Nov 6, 2005
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Some TVs, soundbars and set-top boxes offer a sound delay adjustment to account for this sync issue. I hate out-of sync sound - it really irritates me and yet my family claim to not notice it.
One of the issues with adjusting the sound delay is that the difference isn't constant - different channels can vary, even differences between items in news reports - we recently switched to a smart tv and noticed the delay, tried various adjustments but reverted to zero adjustment as the best compromise.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Before radios were installed as standard, we always managed very well with ordinary portable transistor radio cassette player we used daily in our kitchen. There's no reason why some of the more moderns DAB/DAB+ portables would not be just as effective, and cheaper.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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lutzschelisch.wix.com
A little bit off track, but can someone fill me in with what the advantage of DAB is? When I ordered my car, the dealer asked whether I wanted a DAB radio, but not knowing what benefit I would await me if I did I said "No".
I have a feeling it's like HD or OLED TV, which to me are just another novelty designed to create a new market.
 
May 11, 2021
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A little bit off track, but can someone fill me in with what the advantage of DAB is? When I ordered my car, the dealer asked whether I wanted a DAB radio, but not knowing what benefit I would await me if I did I said "No".
I have a feeling it's like HD or OLED TV, which to me are just another novelty designed to create a new market.
DAB is "digital audio broadcasting", so it is like the radio version of when TV went from analogue to digital. It means that many more channels can be broadcast within the allowed frequencies and they can broadcast more than just sounds, for example enhanced visual information about the station and music being played etc, as well as imagery to be displayed on compatible devices. There are many more channels to choose from and some broadcasters only use DAB, not having an FM option.

Ultimately it will be the only way of receiving radio as FM/AM is planned to be switched off, but not for quite a few years yet.
 
Oct 8, 2006
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The main issue with DAB is that it does not have the near universal coverage attained by FM and it costs lots of moolah to install even a small booster station.
Add to this that DAB in the UK (in the main) runs as the lowest data rate that OfCom will permit, so audio quality can be quite poor. DAB+ tends to be rather better as it uses a different coding method which will give good quality at lower data rates.
In Europe, where DAB has been reintroduced such as Germany (?) they run at much higher data rates that can always exceeds the quality of the rubbish we get over here, indeed in some cases it can match CD quality.
Having said that, DAB/DAB+ in the car is surprisingly good for coverage as signal overlap between transmitter sites is additive and does not suffer the co-channel interference to which FM often succumbs. Add to this that the road/traffic/etc noise in a moving car tends to mask the indifferent quality of the programme audio and DAB in the car is very worthwhile.
(And I speak as a retired broadcast TV and radio (and DAB!) transmitter engineer.)
 

Sam Vimes

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Sep 7, 2020
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I think radio will eventually go the same ways as TV in that over the air services will be taken over by streaming.

With many people having smart phones and good or unlimited data plans you can stream radio stations via the internet.

You can get cheap Bluetooth/Usb power amplifiers which you can then link your phone to.

Although our van has a radio I only use it to play my phone through.
 

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