Review: Capital Dance

I make no secret that I’m not a fan of the two big groups that now operate almost all commercial radio stations. Neither of their national or so called local stations are attractive, for various reasons too numerous to detail here.

However, with both the BBC and Global Radio announcing new dance stations within quick succession, I decided to give Capital Dance a listen, to see what all the hype was about. In total, I listened for about 1.5 hours at various times over a couple of weekends, using two DAB+ radios.

What was immediately apparent is the poor sound quality. 40 kbps is the bit rate, higher compared to other DAB+ stations, and although bubbling was minimal, there was no clarity or depth to the sound. Both radios gave similar results, ruling out equipment issues, suggesting either a poor technical set up or that DAB+ is unsuitable for the station.

In terms of music, most music played by the station can be found on other stations, albeit in lesser quantities. There was nothing immediately new or distinctive about the service. I’m not really convinced by the need for a 24/7 dance music station, with the existing Capital and Hits Radio stations already serving the market on Friday and Saturday nights.

I was also left disappointed by the fact that the existing Capital Weekender Friday and Saturday night shows are being simulcast on Capital Dance. These now have “All New Capital Weekender” jingles, despite sounding largely unchanged, perhaps with fewer remixes. These shows run through most of the overnight period, and suggest there is little new content available to fill Capital Dance with.

Although not a show I listened to, the MistaJam drive show is not enough to attract me to the station. Although a highly skilled presenter and dance music specialist, the name alone is not enough to draw me to the station.

Overall, Capital Dance appears to be a knee-jerk reaction by the commercial radio industry to the new BBC Radio 1 Dance online stream, having been announced after Radio 1 Dance and launched just a week ahead. I remain unconvinced by the need for either station and find the content on Capital Dance poor, although I am pleased that Capital Dance is more presenter led than other digital offshoots.

Global Radio Fill DAB Capacity

The dominant monopoly that is Global Radio has expanded its presence on DAB. National duplicates of Capital, Heart and Smooth have been added to the Lincolnshire DAB multiplex and the Hereford and Worcester DAB multiplex.

These services are already available on the D1 national multiplex. Capital UK has a national 80 kbps mono slot, as does Smooth (labelled as Smooth Extra), and Heart has a 32kbps low quality stereo DAB+ slot (labelled as Heart Extra).

The new versions are all in stereo ‘original version’ DAB, with a bit rate of 112kbps, offering slightly better sound quality. These services are exactly the same as the national versions, and do not widen the choice of services available.