The Insider: The digital revolution that's music to your ears
Saturday 20 June 2009
Digital radio offers a wide choice of stations and now almost all of the population is covered by BBC or commercial transmitters. Music fans will be in their element with a digital radio, as you can tune in to a much wider range of stations than FM models and, in a good reception area, the sound is crystal clear because digital radios suffer less from atmospheric and electrical interference.
As regular radio listeners know, it's crucial to have good sound quality for happy listening. "The price difference between some digital radios may seem quite a lot, but when you hear the difference in sound quality with top of the range models, you'll be glad you made the investment," says Martyn Hocking, editor of Which?
Although the best digital radios can be expensive, superior sound quality, smart design and extra features often justify the higher price tag. Most digital radios can pick up FM radio as well as digital stations, but some allow you to pause and rewind live radio, set reminders for future shows or record programmes to an internal –or external – memory.
Two of the leading brands are Pure and Roberts, both of which finished top in Which?'s latest test. The Pure Evoke-S (£165) was given a test score of 87 per cent and had superb sound quality, which testers described as clear and detailed. It looks smart and has plenty of features, including bass and treble controls. It also lets you pause and rewind live radio and program in 100 of your favourite stations. Its bold, bright LED display and intuitive controls make this radio suitable for most listeners.
The Logik LOGR118D may seem like a bargain at £40, but its sound quality is very poor. The first model Which? tested had a prominent buzz. Thinking it might be faulty, testers bought a second sample – it had the same problem. The Logik's minimum volume setting was too loud and the display was difficult to read unless the radio was tilted at an angle.
Where to buy
Ideally you should listen to a digital radio before you buy it. Try listening to the type of programmes you normally listen to – if you like Radio 4 at home then ask the shop to tune the digital radio to this station, but also try out some different speech stations to hear how the digital radio reproduces different types of voices.
Searching online will often find the cheapest prices, but you can also get good prices from independent retailers. You can check stockists and compare the latest prices using Which?'s price comparison service www.whichcompare.co.uk.
What to ask...
Can I receive digital radio in my area?
Not everywhere in the country can receive digital radio broadcasts, and some places have to put up with patchy quality. Go to digitalradionow.com to do a postcode check, and if reception is patchy you could try installing a rooftop DAB aerial (from £15).
What is the sound quality like?
The sound of your radio should be clear and crisp, with no background noise – try listening before you buy. Some models allow you to control the treble and bass.
Mono or stereo?
Mono digital radios score well in Which?'s tests, but might not be suitable if you plan to position your radio in a large room. Check before you buy, as many mono digital radios can be connected to external speakers or added to a hi-fi system to convert the sound to stereo.
How clear is its display?
Ensure the display is clear and bright, and it uses large, easy-to-read letters. If you're partially-sighted, also check that the display is a good size.
What features does it have?
Some models let you pause live radio, record programmes or store preset stations, so you can easily flick between your favourites. Clock displays with alarms and timers are also useful.
How heavy is it?
You'll want a light model if you're someone who likes to move around the house with your radio, or if you want to listen in the garden. For outside listeners, it's also worth checking whether the radio can run on batteries too.
The Insider is written by Which?, the independent consumer champion. For more information go to www.which.co.uk/digitalradio. To get three issues of Which? magazine for a special price of £3, call 01992 822800 and quote INADVICE.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
£1,430,000,000,000 (that's £1.43 trillion): Britain's personal debt timebomb
Simon Read: There may be trouble ahead for cohabiting couples who don’t make a will
Money Insider: Would £150 make you switch banks?
Bargain Hunter: Find the deals that have real value beneath the Black Friday hype
Gold-plated pensions – the key to retirement freedom?
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track
iJobs Money & Business
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...
£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...
Day In a Page
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens