Looking to buy a DAB radio but not sure what features to look for? Most DAB radios now feature Bluetooth for the convenience of wireless streaming, but live radio fans will want easy-to-use preset buttons for instant access to favorite stations on DAB, FM and even the Internet if Wi-Fi is on. -Fi is enabled. A digital display for time, date and program information can also be useful.
What is DAB+?
DAB+ is essentially an upgrade from DAB, three times more efficient, so it can carry many more stations and with much higher audio quality. It uses the same transmitters and most broadcast on both, but there are now over 180 stations broadcasting on DAB+ in the UK, including 19 national stations.
Here we review three of the best DAB radios
Best DAB Radios
Best Compact DAB Radio
Pure Evocation Spot
British brand Pure’s Evoke range has been completely revamped (there’s also the more powerful Play (£250) and Home (£400), which includes a CD player). All have a 2.4-inch flip-out color screen and are available in Coffee Black or Cotton White with a recycled wool grid. The Spot has a 3-inch full-range speaker, 20 watts of power, DAB/DAB+/FM, internet radio, Bluetooth 4.2 and Spotify Connect built-in (for subscribers) for smooth streaming via WiFi. Fi. It’s more of a streaming speaker than just a radio, but its ease of use and preset buttons will appeal to techies and traditionalists alike.
Best Portable DAB Radio
Roberts Revival Petite
This radio is positively Lilliputian – just 12.4 x 7.6 cm. It not only looks great, with six stylish colors and a classic transistor feel, but also manages to sound great and has Bluetooth, DAB, DAB+ FM and Aux-in plus a 20 hour battery life. It’s a great travel option and it feels more accomplished than it’s entitled to. Quality suffers when you crank the volume all the way up, but that’s hardly surprising given the tiny proportions.
Best all-rounder DAB Radio
Ruark R1 Mk4
One of the most impressive aspects of Ruark Audio is their ability to satisfy both audiophiles and designophiles, regularly winning awards for their performance as their products appear in the world’s finest hotel rooms. Now in its fourth generation, the R1 remains one of the finest DAB radios available. Gone are the solid wood casings of yesteryear in favor of a vibration-resistant polymer – in cream, espresso or blue – but they’ve retained the organic aesthetic with a gorgeous wooden grille.
But what about features and performance? The R1 has a DAB/DAB+ and FM tuner (with eight presets), you can plug in a media player via a 3.5mm jack or USB-C (which can also charge your gadgets), and there’s streaming Bluetooth 4.2 which, although not the latest version, is perfectly adequate. The display might not be as sophisticated as the Pure’s (see left), but it has large text and finding stations takes seconds.
It’s a premium radio with wireless streaming – rather than an all-purpose smart speaker – and while it lacks features like voice control, it sounds splendid, with spoken words, effortless, fluid, articulate and engaging vocals and instruments.
As well as the office/kitchen styles shown here, there’s also a good range of battery-powered options – try £70 XDR-P1DBP from Sony – and bedside designs, with radios such as the Robert Ortus also having wireless charging from just £89.