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; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk
Mark Dampier: 'Headlines scream panic but don't start ripping up your investments'
Buying property overseas? Check out these hotspots
Bargain Hunter: Exclusive discount on a SmartGlider - a self-balancing electric scooter
Questions of Cash: I've been chased for a phantom debt. What can I do to stop it haunting my credit status?
Offset mortgages: How to save thousands of pounds and reduce the term of your home loan
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 3 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
iJobs Money & Business
£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...
£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...
Day In a Page
This five-bedroom home in Sutton Coldfield is arranged over three floors, with a detached garage to the rear and a driveway at the front of the property.
In an elevated position above the bay, this four-bedroom home offers sea and headland views. There is a decked balcony and sun terrace - plus coastal walks on the doorstep.
With four bedrooms, this spacious maisonette in a mid-terrace period-style house in Holland Road is well-maintained and offers high ceilings and period features.
The terraces of this two-bedroom penthouse apartment offer panoramic views that stretch over fifty miles from the cliffs of Beachy Head.
In the heart of the coastal village of Mumbles and moments from the pier, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is set over three floors and retains many original features.
In a sandbanks location, moments from the beach, this three-bedroom apartment has a large open-plan living area and a south-west facing balcony.
This four-bedroom home has an annexe accessed from the side of the house, with potential for improvement and conversion subject to the necessary permissions.
In the heart of the hamlet of Wardley, this five-bedroom period home offers countryside views and a stylish interior, with original features and open fireplaces.
Offering countryside views and landscaped gardens, this three-bedroom Grade II-listed lodge has a spacious conservatory and a large cellar that could serve as a workshop.
Set in approximately 1.5 acres, this four-bedroom home comes with a second, detached property that's currently used as an annexe.
In the hamlet of Newchurch, this former parish church is now a four-bedroom home complete with clock tower and eyrie.
Offering scenic views from a large balcony and sun terrace, this four-bedroom home has a wraparound garden and a heated swimming pool.
Offering views across the Humber and East Yorkshire Wolds from a glass panelled balcony, this four-bedroom barn-style home befits a life of leisure.
This four-bedroom home offers versatile accommodation with annexe potential; features include a hot tub, sauna and Norwegian BBQ hut.
Well-located for schools, colleges and the town centre, this contemporary thatched cottage offers flexible living space with six bedrooms.
Built in 1907, this four-bedroom Edwardian period home has been refurbished by the current owners, retaining many original period features.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this five-bedroom home offers living space across three floors.
This lovely country home in Burnham Market is currently run as a popular holiday cottage, with five en suite bedrooms and colourful gardens.
This three-bedroom 17th-century former village bakery is just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
Set on a landscaped plot, this light and airy four-bedroom home comes with a log burner in the lounge, a fitted kitchen and an open-plan ground-floor layout.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.