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DABlin – capital DAB experience

DABlin plays a DAB/DAB+ audio service – either from a received live transmission or from a stored ensemble recording (frame-aligned ETI-NI). Both DAB (MP2) and DAB+ (AAC-LC, HE-AAC, HE-AAC v2) services are supported.

The GTK GUI version in addition supports the data applications Dynamic Label and MOT Slideshow (if used by the selected service).


GTK GUI version

Screenshot of the GTK GUI version

Console version

Screenshot of the console version



Besides Git a C/C++ compiler (with C++11 support) and CMake are required to build DABlin.

On Debian or Ubuntu, the respective packages (with GCC as C/C++ compiler) can be installed using aptitude or apt-get, for example:

sudo apt-get install git gcc g++ cmake


The following libraries are required:

  • mpg123 (1.14.0 or higher)
  • FAAD2
  • SDL2

The GTK GUI version in addition requires:

  • gtkmm

Usually the glibc implementation of iconv is available. If this is not the case, in addition libiconv is required.

In rare cases, the target architecture does not support atomics. To address such a case, DABlin is also linked against GCC's libatomic if needed. This lib usually is an (indirect) dependency of GCC itself.

On Debian or Ubuntu, mpg123, FAAD2, SDL2 and gtkmm are packaged and installed with:

sudo apt-get install libmpg123-dev libfaad-dev libsdl2-dev libgtkmm-3.0-dev

On Fedora, mpg123, SDL2, and gtkmm are all packaged and can be installed thus:

sudo dnf install mpg123-devel SDL2-devel gtkmm30-devel

FAAD2 is not packaged in the main Fedora repository, but it is available in RPM Fusion repository. Once you have added RPM Fusion to the repositories, FAAD2 may be installed by:

sudo dnf install faad2-devel

If you do not wish to, or cannot, add the RPM Fusion repositories, you will have to download FAAD2, perhaps from here, and build and install manually.

Alternative DAB+ decoder

Instead of using FAAD2, DAB+ channels can be decoded with FDK-AAC. You can also use OpenDigitalradio's fork, if already installed.

On Debian and Ubuntu, you can install FDK-AAC with:

sudo apt-get install libfdk-aac-dev

On Fedora, RPM Fusion is again needed and, if used, you can:

sudo dnf install fdk-aac-devel

When the alternative AAC decoder is used, the FAAD2 library mentioned above is no longer required.

After installing the library, to use FDK-AAC instead of FAAD2, you have to have -DUSE_FDK-AAC=1 as part of the cmake command.

Audio output

The SDL2 library is used for audio output, but you can instead choose to output the decoded audio in plain PCM for further processing (e.g. for forwarding to a streaming server).

In case you only want PCM output, you can disable SDL output and therefore omit the SDL2 library prerequisite. You then also have to have -DDISABLE_SDL=1 as part of the cmake command.

Surround sound

Services with surround sound are only decoded from their Mono/Stereo core, as unfortunately there is no FOSS AAC decoder which supports the required Spatial Audio Coding (SAC) extension of MPEG Surround at the moment.

Precompiled packages and source-based Linux distributions

Official precompiled packages are available for the following Linux distributions (kindly maintained by Gürkan Myczko):

Some users kindly provide precompiled packages on their own:

For other distributions you may also want to check the Repology page.

Source-based Linux distributions:


If the gtkmm library is available both the console and GTK GUI executables will be built. If the gtkmm library is not available only the console executable will be built.

To fetch the DABlin source code, execute the following commmands:

git clone https://github.com/Opendigitalradio/dablin.git
cd dablin

Note that by default the master branch is cloned which contains the current stable version. The development takes place in the next branch which can instead be cloned by appending -b next to the end of the above git clone command line.

You can use, for example, the following command sequence in order to compile and install DABlin:

mkdir build
cd build
cmake ..
sudo make install


The console executable is called dablin, the GTK GUI executable dablin_gtk. Use -h to get an overview of all available options.

(Currently no desktop files are installed so it is not easy to start DABlin directly from GNOME Shell. For now, at least, start DABlin from a console.)

DABlin processes frame-aligned DAB ETI-NI recordings. If no filename is specified, stdin is used for input. You just should specify the service ID (SID) of the desired service using -s - otherwise initially no service is played. The GUI version of course does not necessarily need this.

You can replay an existing ETI-NI recording as follows:

dablin -s 0xd911 mux.eti

In this case a progress indicator and the current position is displayed.

With the console version, instead of the desired service it is also possible to directly request a specific sub-channel by using -r (for DAB) or -R (for DAB+).

In addition to the respective button, the GTK GUI version also allows the keyboard shortcut m to toggle muting the audio.

DAB live reception

If you want to play a live station, you can use dab2eti from dabtools (ODR maintained fork) and transfer the ETI live stream via pipe, e.g.:

dab2eti 216928000 | dablin_gtk

It is possible to let DABlin invoke dab2eti or any other DAB live source that outputs ETI-NI. The respective binary is then called with the necessary parameters, including the frequency and an optional gain value.

You therefore just have to specify the path to the dab2eti binary and the desired channel.

dablin -d ~/bin/dab2eti -c 11D -s 0xd911

Using dab2eti the E4000 tuner is recommended as auto gain is supported with it. If you want/have to use a gain value you can specify it using -g.

Instead of dab2eti the tool eti-cmdline by Jan van Katwijk can be used, as it has more sensitive reception (however the CPU load is higher compared to dab2eti) and does not require a E4000 tuner for auto gain. It is part of his eti-stuff.

In addition to specifying the path to the respective binary you also have to change the DAB live source type accordingly by using -D.

dablin -d ~/bin/eti-cmdline-rtlsdr -D eti-cmdline -c 11D -s 0xd911

In case of the GTK GUI version the desired channel may not be specified. To avoid the huge channel list containing all possible DAB channels, one can also state the desired channels (separated by comma) which shall be displayed within the channel list. Hereby the specified (default) gain value can also be overwritten for a channel by adding the desired value after a colon, e.g. 5C:-54.

dablin_gtk -d ~/bin/dab2eti -c 11D -C 5C,7B,11A,11C,11D -s 0xd911

Secondary component audio services

Some ensembles may contain audio services that consist of additional "sub services" called secondary components, in addition to the primary component. That secondary components can initially be selected by using -x in addition to -s.

In the GTK version in the service list such components are shown prefixed with » (e.g. » BBC R5LiveSportX). Meanwhile the related primary component is suffixed with » (e.g. BBC Radio 5 Live »).

Status output

While playback a number of status messages may appear. Some are quite common (enclosed with round brackets) e.g. due to bad reception, while others are rather unlikely to occur (enclosed with square brackets).


During (re-)synchronisation status messages are shown. Also dropped Superframes or AU are mentioned.

If the Reed Solomon FEC was used to correct bytes of a Superframe, this is mentioned by messages of the format (3+) in cyan color. This shorter format is used as those messages occure several times with borderline reception. The digit refers to the number of corrected bytes within the Superframe while a plus (if present) indicates that at least one byte was incorrectable.

When a FIB is discarded (due to failed CRC check), this is indicated by a (FIB) message in yellow color.

MP2 frames with invalid CRC (MP2's CRC only - not DAB's ScF-CRC) are discarded, which is indicated by a (CRC) message in red color.

Audio Units (AUs) with invalid CRC are mentioned with short format messages like (AU #2) in red color, indicating that the CRC check on AU No. 2 failed and hence the AU was dismissed.

When the decoding of an AU nevertheless fails, this is indicated by an (AAC) message in magenta color. However in that case the AAC decoder may output audio samples anyway.


If the announced X-PAD length of a DAB+ service does not match the available X-PAD length i.e. if it falls below, a red [X-PAD len] message is shown and the X-PAD is discarded. However not all X-PADs may be affected and hence it may happen that the Dynamic Label can be processed but the MOT Slideshow cannot.

To anyhow process affected X-PADs, a loose mode can be enabled by using the -L parameter.


DABlin implements (at least partly) the following DAB standards:


  • ETSI EN 300 401 (DAB system)
  • ETSI TS 101 756 (Registered tables)
  • ETSI TS 103 466 (DAB audio)
  • ETSI TS 102 563 (DAB+ audio)
  • ETSI ETS 300 799 (ETI)

Data applications

  • ETSI EN 301 234 (MOT)
  • ETSI TS 101 499 (MOT Slideshow)


At the moment, DABlin is kind of a rudimentary tool for the playback of DAB/DAB+ services. It is planned to add support for further Program Aided Data (PAD) features.


The GTK GUI version supports the MOT Slideshow. If Slideshow is enabled and the current service signals to transmit a Slideshow, the Slideshow window is displayed. It shows a slide after it has been received completely and without errors.

Currently the following limitations apply:

  • slideshows in a separate sub-channel are not supported (just X-PAD);
  • the TriggerTime field does not support values other than Now


This software is licensed under the GNU General Public License Version 3 (please see the file COPYING for further details). GPLv3 Image

Please note that the included FEC lib by KA9Q has a separate license!

DABlin - capital DAB experience Copyright (C) 2015-2018 Stefan Pöschel

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see http://www.gnu.org/licenses/.