Sony XDR-S40 DAB Radio Review

Summary:
A durable, compact and affordable radio let down by relatively weak DAB reception.

Buy it online:
£39.99 on Amazon.co.uk

The Sony XDR-S40 is a stylish FM/DAB/DAB+ radio from established brand Sony. It’s small and has a simple, familiar design with a choice of three colours: black, red or white. Let’s see what it can do…

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • LCD screen
  • 20 preset stations (10 for FM and 10 for DAB/DAB+)
  • Headphone jack
  • Choice of power options: AC or batteries
  • Sleep function

Dimensions: 18 cm wide x 9.5 cm high x 3.6 cm deep
Weight: 445 g
Batteries: 4 x AA (not included)

Performance and use

Using this radio is fairly easy, though it lacks dedicated buttons for preset stations which would have been a convenient addition. The volume control offers a great range from very quiet to fairly loud. The Sony XDR-S40’s sound quality leaves something to be desired, as it lacks bass and sounds quite tinny. However, it sounds clear and can go quite loud.

One of the most convenient things about this radio is that it takes AA batteries, unlike some other radios that are only portable if you buy a special battery pack for £20+. Batteries only work about 8 hours on DAB radio, but should last considerably longer on FM radio. This is to be expected, as DAB radio eats through batteries much quicker than FM radio.

The reception on the Sony XDR-S40 is relatively poor, though you can adjust the aerial to improve the signal.

Unfortunately this radio doesn’t have an alarm clock, though there is a sleep function that can be adjusted from 15 to 60 minutes.

One nice thing about the Sony XDR-S40 is that it’s very small (18 x 9.5 cm). This is about the size of a novel, so it’s easy to carry from room to room.

Pros

  • Can be used at very low volumes, which is good if you listen to it at night
  • Takes regular AA batteries rather than an expensive bespoke battery pack
  • DAB+ makes it ‘future-proof’
  • Feels reassuringly heavy and durable despite its small size. The materials used feel high-quality.
  • Goes quite loud for the size
  • Good size for using in the bathroom or around the house
  • Compact and light

Cons

  • Speaker lacks bass, which isn’t surprising given its size. It also doesn’t have an adjustable EQ.
  • No dedicated buttons for the preset stations, so you have to push several buttons to access your presets.
  • Sounds quite thin and tinny.
  • Reception is relatively poor
  • No alarm

Verdict

The Sony XDR-S40 Radio feels well made compared to other radios in this price range, and has decent sound quality with a good amount of volume for a small radio.

The sound quality lets this radio down a bit, as it lacks any depth and doesn’t sound much better than a good smartphone. Reception is also relatively poor, so it’s not recommended if you live in an area with a weak signal.

The smaller Sony XDR-P1DBP offers better sound, but is more expensive (at the time of writing).

Similar radios

If you don’t mind taking a punt on a less well known brand, you can get a similar DAB radios for £10 or £20 less. Some budget-priced portable DAB radios include the Akai A61016 and the Majority Arbury DAB.

If you want a radio with better sound quality and don’t mind spending a bit more money, you should consider the Ted Baker London Finisterre. Despite being made by a fashion brand, it’s one of the best rated DAB radios for sound quality currently available in the UK.

For some more radios to consider, see this review of some of the best portable DAB radios under £50.

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