The Spectrum Solo is an affordable FM/DAB/DAB+ radio from British department store John Lewis. It can be plugged into the mains used with batteries so you can carry it around the house or into the garden. It comes in a choice of colours: Berry Red, Black, Slate Grey, Teal and White.
- FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
- LCD screen
- Save 5 preset stations and access them using dedicated buttons
- Mains or battery-powered with 4 x AA batteries
- Rubberised exterior for better grip
- 5 mm headphone/earphone socket
Weight: 350 g
Dimensions: 16.6 cm high x 9.6 cm wide x 9.6 cm deep
Performance and use
The John Lewis Spectrum Solo sounds surprisingly good for a budget DAB radio. It only has one speaker, so the sound output is mono, but for a small radio it sounds good and isn’t tinny like lots of other cheap radios are. It doesn’t go very loud, but should offer enough power for a kitchen or other medium-sized room.
The Spectrum Solo has a simple, minimalistic design. In my opinion it’s not an especially attractive radio, but it is subtle and functional. It also comes in a choice of colours so you should be able to find one to suit your taste.
The controls are laid out intuitively with rotary knobs for tuning and volume, and handy preset buttons on the front. It’s also nice and compact and should fit easily on a desk, bedside table or kitchen countertop.
Ease of use
This radio is very straightforward to set up and use, and you probably won’t need to read the user manual to figure it out. It’s easy to save your favourite radio stations and then access them later using the 5 buttons on the front of the radio.
The Spectrum Solo digital radio generally offers good reception on FM and DAB, though this varies a lot depending on where you live. It compares favourably to most other DAB radios in this price range, but DAB signal can still be unsatisfactory in some areas. You might need to fiddle with the aerial or reposition the radio to improve DAB signal.
- Compact, with a space-saving vertical design
- Low price
- Good sound quality
- Easy to set up and use
- Backed by a 2-year guarantee when you buy directly from John Lewis
- Instructions are written in very small font
- Display is bright even when turned down, so it might disturb you at night if you put it in your bedroom
If you’re looking for a dependable and affordable FM/DAB radio, the John Lewis Spectrum Solo is a good choice. It offers excellent value for money, and performs well in terms of reception, sound quality and ease of use.
One radio with similar features and a similar vertical design is the Pure Pop Mini. It can be mains-powered or used with batteries, and has some handy features such as a kitchen timer. If you’re looking specifically for a kitchen radio, check out some of our recommendations here.
For more affordable DAB radios to consider, we’ve reviewed some of the best portable DAB radios under £50 here.