What’s the best DAB radio on the market in the UK in 2018? That’s a tough question to answer, as there’s no single best radio for everyone. However, after reviewing hundreds of digital radios we’ve picked out our favourites in different categories to help you choose one that won’t disappoint.
The first step in choosing a DAB radio is to answer these questions:
- What size radio do you want? Do you want a pocket radio, a small portable radio, or something substantial?
- Where will you use the radio? Do you want something for the shower, the kitchen, the garden or the office? Maybe you want a car radio or something you can listen to while jogging or commuting.
- How much is your budget? Do you want a cheap radio for less than £30, a mid-priced radio for around £100, or a more high-end model?
- What features do you need? Do you just want to be able to listen to the radio, or do you also want Bluetooth, a CD player or an iPod dock?
We’ve broken up our recommendations into different categories as there’s no such thing as a single ‘best’ DAB radio for everyone. However, if we had to pick just one DAB radio to recommend to most people it would be the Pure Evoke H3. It’s made by a respected and reliable British manufacturer, is reasonably priced, has good sound quality and offers the features most people want in a DAB radio (FM/DAB/DAB+, Bluetooth and a dual alarm clock). It also has a very stylish design and features a colour TFT display.
Best DAB Radio Alarm Clock
AZATOM Horizon DAB Radio Alarm Clock
Our favourite DAB radio alarm clock in 2018 is the AZATOM Horizon. The Horizon is a very popular clock radio that’s generally very highly rated by users.
The Horizon isn’t the most stylish radio but it offers a good list of features, is inexpensive and works well as a clock radio. You can set two separate alarms and choose between either a 12 or 24-hour clock display. There’s also a snooze and sleep timer.
This radio also has Bluetooth, so you can stream audio from your phone or tablet through its speakers. There’s also a USB port so you can charge your phone overnight.
The AZATOM Horizon is one of the cheapest DAB clock radios with Bluetooth, but it still has decent sound quality. It’s ideal as a bedside radio.
Best DAB Radio with Bluetooth
Ruark R1 Mk3
The Ruark R1 Mk3 is a beautifully designed radio with excellent sound quality. It’s solidly built radio with a wood veneer finish and an elegant vertical design.
This radio has a Bluetooth receiver so you can use it as a Bluetooth speaker. It’s important to note that it doesn’t have a Bluetooth transmitter (no DAB radio does), so you can’t use it without Bluetooth headphones unless you attach a transmitter. It’s easy to pair the radio with a Bluetooth device, and you can save up to seven Bluetooth devices.
The R1 Mk3 is one of the best-sounding DAB radios on the market, with a good amount of bass and a detailed sound. Ruark are a British brand known for creating high-end products with excellent sound quality.
The R1 Mk3 would make a good bedside radio as it has a dual alarm clock, a sleep timer and a USB port for charging a phone. It doesn’t have a remote control, but the volume can be controlled via a smartphone using Bluetooth.
You can also use the R1 Mk3 as a portable radio with the optional BackPack II battery pack, which costs extra. The Ruark R1 Mk3 is expensive, but it’s very well made and has impressive sound quality.
Best DAB Radio CD Player
Pure Evoke C-D4
The Pure Evoke C-D4 is one of the most highly rated and reliable DAB radio CD players on the market. It’s quite expensive, but it’s made by a respected brand and is backed by a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Like all Pure Evoke radios, the C-D4 is very stylish with an attractive wood veneer finish. The Evoke C-D4 is a versatile product with lots of useful features including Bluetooth, a remote control, an alarm clock, a sleep timer and a headphone jack.
The CD player can play CD-Rs and CD-RWs in addition to regular CDs. A few buyers have had issues with the CD player, but in general this product is much more reliable than cheaper DAB CD players on the market.
Best DAB Radio for the Kitchen
Pure Evoke H3
The Pure Evoke H3 is a very stylish radio that would look great in the kitchen. It has a vertical design so it won’t take up much space on a kitchen countertop.
The Evoke H3 has a lot of great features that make it ideal as a kitchen radio. These include Bluetooth, a kitchen timer and a colour display that makes it easy to see what you’re listening to.
This radio is relatively expensive given its features, but it has good sound quality, is easy to use and is well made. Like all Pure radios, it’s backed by a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty, giving you peace of mind.
Best Pocket DAB Radio
AZATOM Pro Sports S1
The AZATOM Pro Sports S1 is a very compact and affordable pocket DAB radio that you can listen to using earphones or through the built-in speaker. The Pro Sports S1 measures 9 x 5 x 2 cm and weighs 104 g, so it’s very small and light. It’s also about half the price of pocket radios from better-known brands.
The Pro Sports S1 charges via USB cable and unlike some pocket DAB radios, it has good battery life (up to 15 hours on a full charge). Having the option to listen through the speaker is a nice feature too—many pocket DAB radios can only be listened to through earphones/headphones.
The AZATOM Pro Sports S1 comes with earphones included, though you might want to use a higher quality pair instead. When listening through earphones, the earphones function as the aerial. There’s also an extendable aerial which is used when listening through the speaker.
Best Portable DAB Radio
The Roberts Play is an affordable and straightforward portable FM/DAB/DAB+ radio. One of the nice things about this radio is that it has a built-in battery charger, so you don’t need to rely on a separate battery charger. The Roberts Play takes 4 x AA batteries, which give 10-15 hours of playback time. It can also be powered from the mains.
The Play has a simple yet functional and intuitive design. There are 5 dedicated preset buttons on the front so you can quickly access you favourite stations without needing to manually tune to them or scroll through a menu.
As you’d expect from a portable radio, the Play is compact and light. It measures 16 x 10.5 3.5 cm and weighs 386 g, so it’s easy to carry around.
The Play has a headphone jack for private listening. It doesn’t have many additional features: there’s no alarm clock or Bluetooth, for example. However, if you want something small and easy to use that works well, it’s a great choice.
Best DAB Radio Under £50
Roberts Play 10
The Roberts Play 10 is one of the most popular DAB radios in the UK as it offers great value for money. The Play 10 is a small, light and portable FM/DAB/DAB+ radio that measures 18 x 10.5 x 5.5 cm and weighs just 350 g.
The Play 10 doesn’t have any fancy features such as Bluetooth or an alarm clock. It’s a simple and straightforward radio that’s easy to use. You can save 6 preset stations (3 on FM and 3 on DAB/DAB+) and access them quickly using the dedicated buttons on top of the radio.
The Play 10 can be powered by the mains or with 4 x AA batteries. It has good sound quality for the price, and is one of the cheapest Roberts radios on the market.
Best DAB Radio Under £100
If you’re on a budget but looking to get as many features as possible, the Majority Huntingdon could be a good choice. Despite costing less than £100, it offers an impressive list of features including a CD player, Bluetooth, a remote control, two USB ports for charging devices and an alarm clock.
The Huntingdon is a budget product, so you can’t expect it to last forever, but it offers great value for money. The sound quality is decent with a nice amount of bass, and the volume can be turned up quite loud.
This radio is relatively large, so it’s probably a better choice for the living room than the bedroom, though it does feature an alarm and a sleep timer as well as a headphone jack for private listening.
Best DAB Radio Under £200
Pure Evoke H6
The Pure Evoke H6 is a stereo DAB radio with Bluetooth, a dual alarm clock and a headphone jack. Like the other radios in the Evoke H range, it has an attractive wood-effect finish and features a large colour display which shows album artwork as well as information about the radio station you’re listening to.
The Evoke H6 would be a good choice for the bedroom or kitchen as it has lots of useful alarm features. You can set two separate alarms so you can wake up at different times on weekdays and weekends. One nice feature is the snooze handle, which lets you activate the snooze just by touching the radio’s handle. This is much easier than having to find a small snooze button on the radio when you’ve just woken up. There’s also a kitchen timer to help you time your dishes, and a sleep timer that will switch the radio off after a set period of time.
You can plug this radio into the mains or use it with an optional battery pack, the ChargePAK F1, which costs extra and offers up to 50 hours of playback time.
The Evoke H6 has clear sound quality with a decent amount of bass. It’s well made, and is available with a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Choosing a DAB Radio
DAB radio offers greater choice than FM radio, and is gradually becoming the most popular way to listen to the radio in the UK. It’s likely that there will be a digital radio switchover in the UK at some point in the near future, so it’s a good idea to make sure your next radio has a DAB receiver if you want it to be ‘futureproof’.
If you’re new to DAB radio, you probably have some questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about DAB radio. If you have more questions, you can read more about what DAB is here.
Does DAB use the internet?
No, DAB radio does not use the internet. It’s completely free to listen to DAB radio, and you don’t need any extra equipment other than a DAB radio.
Does DAB work abroad?
DAB radios only pick up national stations. This means that if you use your DAB radio in France, for example, you will only pick up French stations. If you’d like to be able to pick up stations from another country, you should consider an internet radio.
Understanding the different kinds of DAB radios
Radios come in all shapes and sizes, and are made with different uses in mind. It wouldn’t make sense to pick out just one ‘best’ DAB radio, as it wouldn’t be right for everyone. Here are some different categories DAB radios fall into:
- Pocket radios: These radios are small enough to fit in your pocket and either have a built-in rechargeable battery or take regular batteries. Pocket DAB radios have a headphone jack and usually don’t have a built-in speaker, though a few do have a small speaker.
- Portable radios: These are usually too big to fit in your pocket, but are powered by batteries or a built-in battery pack. Most portable radios can also be mains-powered. Portable radios are good if you want something small you can carry around the house or use in the garden or while camping. You can see some of the best portable DAB radios here.
- Mains-only radios: This broad category includes any radio that doesn’t take batteries. These radios are fine if you’re going to use the radio in a fixed location. If you want the best sound quality, you usually need to choose a mains-only radio, as bulkier, heavier non-portable radios tend to sound better.
- Internet radios: Internet radios are a pretty new phenomenon, and you might not have encountered on before. They connect to the internet via WiFi, and let you listen to the thousands of radio stations available online. This includes national stations like the BBC, but also stations from all over the globe. Internet radios make a great choice if you’re interested in exploring a whole new world of radio. Most internet radios also have FM and/or DAB, so you won’t need to rely on your internet connection all the time if you don’t want to.
- High-end radios: These radios are for the true audiophiles. If you want to experience music in all its glory, you should go for a high-end radio that will offer excellent sound quality.
Features to look for in a DAB radio
Bluetooth allows you to connect two devices wirelessly, and transfer audio from one to the other. For example, you could connect your smartphone to your radio and play a podcast through the radio’s speakers via Bluetooth.
Bluetooth is now quite a common feature in radios, though radios with Bluetooth tend to be more expensive than those without.
If you want to be able to listen to the radio privately, you should make sure the radio you choose has a headphone jack. This will usually be a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
DAB+ is the more modern version of DAB radio. If you want a radio that is truly ‘futureproof’, you should choose a radio that can pick up both DAB and DAB+ stations.
Many DAB radios have an alarm clock feature and allow you to wake up to either a regular alarm sound or the radio. Some also have dual alarms, so you can set separate alarms for weekdays and weekends or set alarms at different times if you and your partner have different schedules.
Other things to consider
Where will you use it?
What do you want to listen to?
DAB radio lets you listen to regular stations like Radio 2 and Radio 5, but also additional stations like 6 Music and Radio 4 Extra. If you want an even greater choice of stations, you should consider getting an internet radio.
You should also think about whether you will be mainly listening to music or speech programmes. If you will be listening to music, you will appreciate a radio with better sound quality, whereas for speech you might not mind if the radio doesn’t have a lot of bass or detail to the sound.
How much is your budget?
DAB radios vary greatly in price. A budget pocket or portable radio could cost £20 or £30, while a really high-end radio could cost over £400. A mid-sized radio for the kitchen or living room will normally cost £50-£100.
Of course, you get what you pay for, so it’s worth paying more if you want better sound and build quality, and more features. Some radios are overpriced, however, while some budget radios over-deliver for the price. Try to read several reviews before purchasing a radio and look out for deals and discounts.