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Which time signal is correct, the analogue or digital?

I hear the signal from my analogue radio before that from my digital one; how do I know which one gives the time pips correctly, or is time only relative?
Barbara Tribe from Berkshire (Age 45-54)

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2 Responses

  1. The analgoue signal is the accurate one. Digital broadcast signals are buffered in the radio so the audio is slightly behing the analogue signal.

    The buffer in the digital radio needs to be filled up before you can hear anything and that slight delay is kept throughout making it slightly behind schedule.

  2. The analogue signal you hear is closer to the correct time, although will still be slightly out. There is an additional delay on digital radio (and television) due to the signal processing that is necessary both before broadcast and at the receiver to code & decode the signal into digital bits. This can also be seen on digital television being a couple of seconds delay on analogue.
    However the analogue time pips signal is still not quite the perfect time, due to the transmission delay of the radio signal, however for anywhere in the UK you will be less than 1000km from the radio signal base, so transmission delay should be less than 1/500th of a second. The most perfect time signal (used for accurate observations of time at widely spaced sites) can be derived from the signals from the GPS system; with sufficient processing these signals can give highly accurate time information.

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