Best DAB Radio (UK 2018)

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, we have also picked one radio that we think is the best for most people.

Best DAB Radio in 2018

Pure Evoke H3 – The best DAB radio for most people


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.

The Evoke H3 is 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 With…

Alarm Clock – AZATOM Horizon

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.

Key features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Bluetooth
  • Dual alarm clock
  • USB port
  • Headphone jack

Dimensions: 14.5 x 14.5 x 4.5 cm

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Has Bluetooth
  • Easy to use
  • Generally strong radio reception

Cons

  • Display is small
  • Sound quality isn’t great for music

Summary

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.

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 with 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 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.

Key features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Bluetooth
  • USB port

Dimensions: 17 x 13.5 x 13 cm

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Good build quality
  • Stylish design

Cons

  • Battery pack costs extra
  • Relatively expensive

Summary

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.

CD Player – John Lewis & Partners Cello

John Lewis Cello Radio

John Lewis & Partners’ own range of digital radios includes some great products, including this DAB radio CD player. One thing that sets the Cello apart from most other radio CD players is that it’s also an internet radio, so you can stream thousands of radio stations via the internet using either WiFi or an ethernet cable.

Key features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Internet radio
  • CD player
  • Bluetooth
  • Dual alarm clock
  • Remote control

Dimensions: 35 x 21.5 x 12.4 cm

Pros

  • Lots of features
  • Attractive design with wood-effect finish
  • Clear and warm sound
  • Easy to use
  • Good value when compared to Roberts and Pure products

Cons

  • DAB reception is worse than some other radios
  • Sometimes loses internet connection

Summary

The John Lewis & Partners Cello is not only one of the best DAB radio CD players on the market but also one of the best internet radios in its price range. Choosing an internet radio is a great idea as it means you will have a lot more choice of stations to listen to. Another nice thing about this product is that it comes with a 2-year guarantee when bought new from John Lewis.

Price: The Cello is reasonably priced given its features. See price on John Lewis.

Best DAB Radio Under…

Please note, prices can fluctuate so some of these radios may be more expensive when you read this article.

£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. 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.

Key features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Headphone jack
  • Carrying strap

Dimensions: 18 x 10.5 x 5.5 cm

Pros

  • Compact and portable
  • Value for money
  • Easy to use
  • Good sound quality for a small radio

Cons

  • Batteries don’t last very long
  • Not very loud

Summary

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, has good sound quality and is one of the cheapest Roberts radios on the market.

£100 – Majority Oakington

The Majority Oakington offers a very impressive list of features for the price. It’s more of a complete sound system rather than just a DAB radio, as it has a CD player and Bluetooth as well as radio. This radio also has stereo sound, with two 15-watt speakers. The Oakington is made by Majority, a relatively new British brand based in Cambridge who offer lots of very affordable digital radios.

Key features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Bluetooth
  • CD player
  • USB and aux playback
  • Stereo speakers
  • Remote control

Dimensions: 40 x 30 x 20 cm

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Good sound quality
  • Classy-looking wood-effect finish
  • Useful features including Bluetooth and a remote control

Cons

  • Display is quite dim and can be hard to read
  • Can’t scroll through tracks quickly on a USB stick

Summary

This radio CD player offers great value for money and looks more expensive than it is. If you want something with a lot of features and a low price, it’s a very good choice.

Price: Since prices fluctuate, it’s possible this radio won’t be available for under £100 when you read this. See the latest price on Amazon here.

£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. 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.

Key features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Bluetooth
  • Dual alarm clock
  • Headphone jack
  • Stereo sound

Dimensions: 30.5 x 18 x 12.8 cm

Pros

  • Good sound quality
  • Can be turned up loud
  • Battery pack lasts a long time (but isn’t included by default)
  • Solidly built

Cons

  • Battery pack costs extra

Summary

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.

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.

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.

Key features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Bluetooth
  • Colour screen
  • Dual alarm clock

Dimensions: 18 x 11.5 x 11 cm

Pros

  • Attractive wood-effect finish
  • Good sound quality for its size
  • Display is dim enough to sleep when on standby

Cons

  • Rechargeable battery costs extra

Summary

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.

The Pocket – Majority Petersfield-Go

The Petersfield-Go is a compact, light and affordable pocket FM/DAB radio from budget British brand Majority. It comes with earphones included though you can use your own if you prefer. The Petersfield-Go has a built-in rechargeable battery which you charge using a USB cable.

This radio could be a good choice for listening to while exercising, commuting, walking or just relaxing around the house. It fits easily in a pocket and has a key lock function so you won’t accidentally change the station while it’s in your pocket. Bear in mind that it doesn’t have a speaker, so you can only listen through headphones.

Key features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Earphones included
  • Pocket clasp
  • Key lock function

Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.4 x 2.2 cm

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Small and light—ideal for a pocket
  • Decent battery life—10 hours+
  • Useful clip for attaching to pocket

Cons

  • Earphones included are mediocre
  • No built-in speaker
  • Buttons feel cheaply made

Summary

This radio performs well and offers everything you would want in a pocket radio: It’s compact, light and picks up DAB stations well even when it’s in your pocket.

Price: The Petersfield-Go offers great value for money, and is cheaper than alternatives from more established brands. See price on Amazon.

Portability – Majority Little Shelford

The Majority Little Shelford is a cute and stylish portable DAB radio with a great list of features for the price. One of the best things about this radio is that it comes with Bluetooth, unlike most other products in its price range. Bluetooth lets you use the radio as a wireless speaker for playing music from your phone or laptop.

Key features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Bluetooth
  • Takes 4 x AA batteries or mains power
  • Dual alarm clock

Dimensions: 17 x 13 x 10 cm

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Cute retro design
  • Has Bluetooth
  • Good sound quality for the price
  • Can be powered with a USB cable—good for travelling

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • Handle can’t be folded behind aerial

Summary

The Little Shelford is a great portable radio for listening to around the house or taking away on a campervan or boat. The ability to power it from a USB cable is especially useful while travelling. It’s also nice to have Bluetooth, as most portable radios in this price range don’t have this feature.

Price: The Majority Little Shelford is one of the cheapest DAB radios with Bluetooth. See prices on Amazon.

The Car – Blufree In Car DAB+ Radio Adapter

This gadget is a lifesaver if you want to get DAB radio in your car without having to replace your existing AM/FM radio. This adapter is easy to install and cheaper than replacing your car radio.

This DAB car radio adapter is powered from the cigarette lighter and connects to your car stereo using an aux cable or the built-in FM transmitter. As well as picking up DAB stations, it also has Bluetooth so you can play music from your phone through your car’s speakers or take hands-free calls.

Key features

  • FM transmitter (lets you listen to DAB radio through an FM radio)
  • Bluetooth for wireless streaming and hands-free calls
  • SD/TF card reader for playing MP3 files
  • USB charging

Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.2 x 2.54 cm

Pros

  • Quick and easy to install
  • Clear instructions
  • Cheap way to get DAB in the car

Cons

  • Short USB power cable

Summary

If you want to listen to digital radio in the car but only have an old AM/FM radio, installing this product is a cheap and convenient alternative to replacing your car stereo.

Price: This product is very affordable, and cheaper than buying a new DAB car radio. See prices here on Amazon.

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’.

DAB FAQs

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.

Types of DAB Radio

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

Here are some of the most useful features to look for in a DAB radio:

  • Bluetooth: 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.
  • Headphone jack: 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+: 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.
  • Alarm clock: 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

Here are some more things to think about:

  • Where will you use it?
    The best radio for the kitchen probably won’t be the best radio for the bedroom, bathroom or garden. Before looking for a radio, consider where you want to 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.

Should You Buy a DAB Radio in 2018?

DAB radio has never been particularly well loved in the UK. Despite promises that DAB would offer better sound quality than FM, reception has always been patchy across parts of the country. It’s harder to listen to a DAB radio with weak reception than an FM one as instead of just getting a bit of interference the radio cuts out entirely or produces an unpleasant gurgling sound.

The good news is that you don’t need to give up FM altogether. Almost all DAB radios on the market also feature and FM tuner, so you can always switch to FM if you find the reception is better on FM.

Despite rumours that the UK government will switch off FM radio, this doesn’t look likely to happen in the next 10 years, so if you don’t want to switch to DAB there’s no rush.

Choosing a DAB radio will ‘futureproof’ you to an extent should the UK ever switch off FM, but it’s quite possible that DAB itself will become obsolete at some point. Most European countries that use digital radio use the newer DAB+ standard, which the UK may adopt at some point. For this reason, it’s a good idea to make sure whichever digital radio you choose can also pick up DAB+ stations (most digital radios on the market today can).

A greater threat to DAB radio is the internet—it’s quite likely that online listening will overtake both FM and DAB in the next few decades. Listening online doesn’t necessarily mean listening through tinny computer speakers or headphones, as you can now buy standalone internet radios that have excellent sound quality.

While DAB radio isn’t perfect and probably won’t be around forever, we’d still recommend choosing a DAB radio in 2018 unless you live in a very remote area where the signal won’t be strong enough. If you live in a very remote area, an internet radio is your best bet as long as you have a good internet connection. Unless you want to listen to AM-only stations, we’d recommend getting an FM/DAB radio or a radio with FM, DAB and WiFi.

Conclusion

We hope this article has helped you decide which DAB radio is right for you. To recap, we’d recommend the Pure Evoke H3 to most people, but if it doesn’t fit your needs or budget, take a look at the other recommendations above.

2 thoughts on “Best DAB Radio (UK 2018)

  1. I want to listen to the BBC World Service when I’m wandering about in Britain in my Motor Caravan which is no longer available otherwise than on DAB.
    I’ve read all sorts of adverse comments about DAB and the requirement to have a special antenna so what DAB radio should I look at and do I need a specialist antenna?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.