10 best DAB radios
Get ready for the radio revolution
Earlier this year there was a landmark event in radio. For the first time in the UK, more than half of Brits listened to radio digitally, which was the benchmark set by the government for putting the UK’s digital switchover in motion. So, if you’re a discerning audiophile now is the time to futureproof your listening with a DAB set that will let you tune into your favourite stations, as well as effortlessly discover new ones through features like wi-fi Internet radio, which allows you to dial into stations all around the world.
Sound quality is key to make the most of these features and you’ll need a radio that will be able to deliver the best audio experience, whether you’re listening to political interviews, sports commentary or streaming a playlist over a Bluetooth connection.
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VQ Susie-Q: £299.99, MyVQ.com
If you never turned this DAB/DAB+ internet radio on you’d still be close to getting your money’s worth because it looks so good. The eye-catching blend of enamel, chrome, real wood and 50s-era styling works well in any room, but assuming you don’t want it to be just ornamental you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s one of the best sounding radios on test.
Good usability means that you can pick up and preset radio stations quickly and you won’t experience dropouts or interference. When using Bluetooth or Spotify Connect for music, you’ll find a real warmth to the sound you get from the powerful speaker but it can be easily tweaked according to your audio preferences with a bass and treble equalizer.
Even when we turned the powerful speaker right up the sound wasn’t compromised and because Susie-Q is also part of the UNDOK multi-room system, it will group with a range of other brands, like Ruark, Roberts and Revo. So if you have any other models you can set up a multi room speaker system for whole home audio.
Geneva Touring S+: £170, eu.genevalab.com
With great styling, this is one of our pick of the portables. The speakers inside bark out some good bass and manage to minimise distortion when the volume goes up. With 20 hours of battery life, you shouldn’t be short of a soundtrack – but there’s an option to replace one battery with another fully charged one if you need more porta-power. DAB and DAB+ reception was reliable and clear and streaming from Bluetooth was continuous without any drops in frequency, even on the move.
Revo SuperCD: £599.95, revo.co.uk
A real statement radio and speaker that will provide DAB/DAB+ and internet radio through an incredibly powerful speaker system. Its audio fills even the largest room with rich, detailed sound and big, rumbling bass. The unit is one for the purists as it supports a hi-res audio streaming system, called Qualcomm aptX HD, which allows music to be transferred from a compatible device at CD-like sound quality. And speaking of CDs. Remember them? If you do have a large collection languishing in the spare room, the SuperCD will let you play them all, thanks to a vertical slot in the top of the cabinet.
PURE Highway 600: £119, pure.com
Just because you’re behind the wheel doesn’t mean that you should miss out on your favourite digital radio show. If you own a new car then you’ve probably already got DAB as standard, however, older vehicles are usually limited to FM. This clever adaptor radio piggy-backs the FM frequency on your car stereo to play DAB content. Most importantly, the sound was crackle-free and the straightforward set up meant that we were streaming tunes from Spotify in no time.
Ruark R2 Mk3: £419, ruarkaudio.com
The first thing that strikes you about this DAB/DAB+ and Internet radio is how it looks. Finished in either walnut, white or black, it hasn’t caught button rash and instead has a RotoDial on top of the unit which acts as a controller for everything, from station search and selection to playback settings and alarms.
With the 3D sound mode turned on it transforms itself into a peerless music speaker and comes with Spotify Connect, so dropouts when you’re listening to your favourite tunes should be a thing of the past. You can connect via Bluetooth and the built-in wifi connection, with the added ability to pick up any music that’s already stored on networked devices, PCs or Macs. If you’re lucky enough to have two, then you can even link them using a third party app for multi room listening.
Roberts iStream 3 Revival: £199.99, robertsradio.com
This retains all the leather clad retro design, well-balanced sound and functionality of the iStream 2 (DAB, DAB+ and Internet Radio). But it has been updated to work with Alexa, so that you can ask your Echo to start playing Greg James on the iStream when you’ve got your hands full getting ready for work in the morning. Hooking up with the virtual assistant was hassle free and there’s also built-in access to streaming services including Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Prime Music, and TIDAL.
Pure Move T4: £99.99, pure.com
As the name suggests, if you’re out and about but want to tune in to your favourite show (without eating up mobile data) you’ll still be able to do so with this back pocket radio that punches well above its weight. Presetting to any one of the 20 digital stations is a synch, as is linking up to a Bluetooth connection, but it’s as a radio that the T4 excels, with 15 hours of playback time and clear sound with bass and treble adjustments. A handy hidden kickstand adds to the functionality so that the speaker is ready for hands-free listening.
VQ Lark: £90, MyVQ.com
Wrapped in fabric and with a wide, sloped, auto-dimming screen means that you’ll never struggle to see when you’re late for work in the morning. Not that it should be a problem with a dual alarm that will rouse you with your favourite DAB/DAB+ stations. Stereo sound is unusual in bedside units but the Lark’s dual speakers bring breakfast shows to life or will do any playlist justice. We also really liked the dual USB charging points that allowed us to charge both our phone and tablet overnight.
Pure Evoke H6 Prestige: £189.99, pure.com
The updated H6 takes all the good things about its predecessor, like 20 digital presets, Bluetooth connectivity, two-alarm function and excellent ease-of-use and bundles it inside a sleek lacquered chasis that looks great on display in your front room. Sound is clear at all volume levels, whether you’re listening to music or chat, and the clear colour screen means there’s no difficulty reading programme and track info in any light conditions.
Como Musica: £661.79, comoaudio.eu
Encased in a wooden cabinet, this is a centrepiece radio that delivers a wow factor in any room, as well as concert quality sound that will have no problem filling a large space. The radio is equally able to provide awesome acoustics if it’s placed somewhere more intimate, like a bedroom.
There are lots of connectivity options including Spotify, Deezer, Tidal and Bluetooth and the Musica can be linked up to any other Como devices you might already own for all over audio. This includes a CD player so that you can get music from your collection playing throughout the house. A serious investment for those who are serious about their sounds.
Verdict: 10 best DAB radios
Quality British build meets quality sound with the VQ Susie-Q. It does everything that you need a DAB radio to do in terms of sound and functionality and does it all while looking very good indeed. The Pure Highway 600 is also a must buy for anyone who needs to update their older car’s stereo capability with a DAB makeover.
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