Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) gave us hum-free radio. A good DAB signal is clearer than a weak FM one and DAB offers more stations than FM. Last month, DAB+, an upgrade to DAB that helps even weaker signals sound good, started broadcasting, though it’s so far restricted to three DAB+-only stations (Jazz FM, Fun Kids and Magic Chilled).
All the radios here have DAB+ alongside DAB, making them future-proofed. There’s no plan to phase out DAB broadcasting which will be the lion’s share of the spectrum for a long while yet.
DAB radios are more expensive than FM only but often have other features, such as Bluetooth connectivity, so you can wirelessly play music from a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or tablet. Or internet radio, which delivers millions of stations from around the world via wi-fi.
We switched on and tuned in a range to bring you the models that combine sound-quality with functionality and looks. Remember to check DAB availability in your area before you buy as coverage is still not universal.
1. Revo SuperConnect: £300, John Lewis
The SuperConnect is feature-packed, with internet radio as well as DAB, DAB+, FM and Bluetooth. It also has Spotify Connect, which means that if you have a premium Spotify subscription you can play tracks on the radio direct from your account, controlled by your smartphone. It has a large remote control, is simple to use and you get a big, punchy sound. It also looks very handsome – the wood and aluminium design combines contemporary and vintage style. Choose from walnut and silver, matte white and silver and piano black or matte black and silver. The walnut version also has the option for a black fascia.
2. Roberts Stream93i: £135, Amazon
The versatile Stream93i has DAB, DAB+, FM, internet radio and Spotify Connect – and it’s easy to set all this up. A subwoofer on the back means the radio has powerful bass as well as clear higher frequencies. There’s no Bluetooth on board but from later this month a Bluetooth adaptor will be available that clips onto the back. It’s now available in white as well as black.
3. Ruark R2 Mk3: £420, John Lewis
British audio manufacturer Ruark is a master at making radio sound its best and this model has big, effortlessly rich sound. This DAB, DAB+ and FM model also has internet radio connectivity, Bluetooth and Spotify Connect. The machine is beautifully designed and looks classy, not least thanks to the company’s trademark rotary dial for volume. Multi-room functionality means you can stream to more R2s around the house. Choose from walnut, black or white finishes.
4. Sony Portable clock radio with Bluetooth: £130, Amazon
This new Sony model is portable and has a rechargeable battery built in. As well as DAB and DAB+ radio, a Bluetooth connection means you can stream music from your mobile devices. The audio is wide and has plenty of power. The battery lasts up to 25 hours between charges. Choose from black, white or brown versions.
5. Pure Siesta Rise: £74, Amazon
This is the ultimate alarm clock radio from Pure, the company that made DAB radio popular. It has DAB, DAB+ and FM tuners. It has a huge clock screen which automatically dims to suit the light around it. There are three alarms (so you really have no excuse for oversleeping). All three alarms can be set to DAB, FM or buzzer and to sound daily, once, weekends or weekdays. It has a USB socket will charge your mobile overnight.
6. Roberts Splash: £87, Amazon
The water-resistant DAB/DAB+/FM Splash is ideal for listening by the pool, in the bath or while camping, say. In fact, it’s especially useful outdoors thanks to the fact that it also includes an LED torch. It’s not stereo and the sound is no match for the pricier models here but this is a fun, practical radio that’s great for listening on the move. It has a cool handle that swivels into the back of the radio when you don’t need it. Battery-powered only - it uses two D-size batteries which should keep the radio playing for 60 hours before you replace them.
7. John Lewis Astro: £60, John Lewis
John Lewis’s own-brand DAB, DAB+ and FM radios are great value. This model has an unmissably big LCD screen that shows the time – it makes a good bedroom clock because the screen can be dimmed across nine brightness levels. It has two alarms, one for radio and one using a buzzer. While the sound quality can’t match some of the pricier models on the list, the audio is still decent.
8. Revo SuperSignal: £180, Amazon
Another handsome machine from Scottish audio company Revo, the SuperSignal has great sound as well. It has DAB, DAB+, FM and Bluetooth. It’s built from anodised aluminium and walnut so it’s solid and pleasingly heavy. The joystick control is efficient, though different from other radios. And it comes in walnut, black or white finishes.
9. Pure Pop Maxi with Bluetooth by Mini Moderns: £100, John Lewis
The Maxi isn’t huge but sounds bigger than it looks. The stereo sound is wide and impressive. And this special Mini Moderns edition is particularly attractive in its nautical-themed design. As well as DAB, DAB+ and FM, Bluetooth means you can play music from a mobile phone through the Maxi. If this one is too big, there’s also a Midi and a Mini available, though the Mini doesn’t have the Mini Moderns finish.
10. Pure Evoke D4: £190, Currys
When Pure launched its first radios, the distinctive wooden-cased models promised a natural sound. The Evoke is the latest iteration of the design and looks great on a bedside table or kitchen counter. You can choose from walnut or oak finishes. The Evoke D4 has DAB, DAB+ and FM tuners, and an optional rechargeable battery pack makes it completely portable.
The range of DAB radios now available is impressive and varied. If you want a radio that’s light enough to be movable from room to room, but stuffed with every kind of connectivity, the Revo SuperConnect is hard to beat. Ruark stands out for styling, and sounds brilliant, too. And the Pure range is especially wide, including a great alarm clock (Siesta Rise) and designs such as the Pop Maxi with Mini Moderns that look beautiful.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing
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