Last updated: February 12th, 2017
What’s the best DAB radio in 2017? 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 an ultra 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?
Pocket and portable radios
Best pocket DAB radio: VQ Blighty
Made by British brand VQ, the Blighty is a very reliable and well made pocket DAB radio. It has a stylish design which is more attractive and interesting than most other pocket DAB radios on the market. This radio gives you FM, DAB and DAB+ radio, and lets you save up to 10 preset stations so you can access your favourite radio stations quickly.
The VQ Blighty feels durable, and should hold up well if you want to use it while jogging, walking or travelling. An added plus is that the radio comes with a free pair of earphones.
Best portable DAB radio: Roberts Radio Play
The Roberts Radio Play is one of our favourite portable radios in 2017. It has the very useful feature of being able to recharge batteries while it’s plugged in, so you don’t need to use a separate battery recharger. The Roberts brand is synonymous with quality, and this radio offers better digital radio reception and better build quality than most other portable radios on the market. The sound is crisp and clear, and the LCD display shows information such as the station and song name on both FM and DAB/DAB+.
Radios at different price points
Best DAB radio for under £30: Goodmans Canvas
This radio is much cheaper than it looks. The Goodmans Canvas has a minimalistic design and can be bought with a copper, slate grey or steel-coloured finish. It can be plugged into the mains or used with AA batteries, which are cheap to replace and easy to get hold of.
The Goodmans Canvas is small and light, but sounds impressively crisp and clear, though it does lack bass. This radio is limited in its features and volume, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better DAB radio for the price.
Best DAB radio for under £50: Roberts Radio Play10
The Roberts Radio Play10 is one of the most popular digital radios in the UK. It’s a small portable DAB radio that can also be used with mains power, making it a versatile radio for listening to around the house. It has three dedicated preset station buttons so you can easily access your favourite radio stations.
This radio is light, neutrally-designed and has good DAB reception. Like most Roberts radios, it’s reliable and should last for years.
Best DAB radio for under £100: Roberts ECO4BT
The Roberts ECO4BT is one of the best-sounding DAB radios for less than £100. It’s also quite a versatile radio as you can use it as a portable radio with 6 x D batteries. It has an impressive battery life at up to 150 hours.
In addition to FM/DAB radio, the ECO4BT also has Bluetooth, so you can stream music wirelessly from a smartphone or other Bluetooth device.
Best DAB radio under £200
The best DAB radio under £200 is probably the Ted Baker London Finisterre. You might be surprised to see the name ‘Ted Baker’ in this guide to DAB radios. While the brand is best known for fashion, this radio is one of the best DAB radios for less than £200. It has superb sound quality, a beautiful design, and also comes with Bluetooth for wireless streaming. Read the full review here.
Best high-end DAB radio: Ruark Audio R4 MK3 Home Audio System
The best DAB radios for sound quality in 2017 are probably those made by Ruark Audio. The Ruark R4 combines the exceptional sound quality Ruark Audio are known for with a great bundle of features. In addition to FM/DAB/DAB+ radio, this home audio system also offers a CD player, Bluetooth and USB playback.
As well as the R4, Ruark also produce several other high-end DAB radios including the R1 MkIII, which is more affordable than the R4 but only has one speaker, or the ultra high-end R7 Home Audio System, which costs over a thousand pounds.
Radios for different places
Best DAB radio for the bathroom: Roberts Splash
The Roberts Splash is one of the few FM/DAB radios designed specifically for listening to in the bathroom or shower. It has a very good battery life at up to 60 hours and comes with a plate for mounting it to a shower or bathroom wall. The sound quality isn’t that great, but it sounds much better than cheap shower radios.
Best DAB radio for the garden/outdoors: Roberts Digital Solar Radio (SolarDAB 2)
This innovative FM/DAB radio combines the quality sound and strong digital radio reception you’d expect from Roberts with a solar panel for recharging the radio’s battery. You’re unlikely to be able to power the radio solely from the solar panel, but it will prolong the battery life significantly when exposed to direct sunlight—perfect for long summer days in the garden.
You can also plug this radio into the mains, so it can double up as a kitchen radio when the weather’s bad outside. You can get this radio in a range of colours (white, black, red or green).
Best DAB radio for the kitchen: Pure Evoke H2
Since they were first released in 2002, Pure Evoke DAB radios have become something of a design icon. The Pure Evoke H2 is one of the latest models in this well-respected range of digital radios, and features the classic Evoke design with a choice of either an oak or a walnut finish.
This radio looks great in the kitchen, and features a kitchen timer to help you cook and bake with perfect timing. With a FM/DAB/DAB+ tuner, this radio is futureproof and will let you listen to your favourite stations on either analogue or digital radio.
Radios with particular features
Best DAB radio with Bluetooth: Ted Baker London Finisterre
You probably didn’t expect to see the name Ted Baker in a list of the best DAB radios, but this model from the Ted Baker Audio range offers exceptional sound quality to rival any of the more traditional radio brands.
This stylish mid-sized radio would look good in the kitchen or bedroom. It has a quality feel and with the attractive styling and attention to detail you’d expect from a fashion brand.
Best DAB radio with a CD player: Roberts Blutune200
The Roberts Blutune200 is a very versatile DAB radio with a CD player. In addition to the CD player with WMA/MP3 playback, you can also play music from a USB drive or stream music using Bluetooth. The Blutune200 has an alarm clock that lets you choose from waking up to an alarm sound, the radio or your own music on a CD or USB flash drive.
This radio offers excellent sound quality when compared to most other DAB radios thanks to its acoustically tuned wooden cabinet and its stereo speakers. This radio isn’t cheap, but it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Best DAB radio with an iPod dock: Roberts Blutune 65
Our favourite DAB radio with an iPod dock is another radio in the Roberts Blutune range, this time the Blutune 65. There are lots of cheaper DAB Lightning docks available (see this article), but the Blutune 65 combines iPod docking with top-of-the-range sound quality. Some of this radio’s other features include Bluetooth, a headphone socket, a dual alarm and a remote control.
Like the other radios in the Roberts Blutune range, this product is very well made and built to last. It has an acoustically tuned cabinet for superior sound quality, which looks great too.
Best DAB internet radio: Revo SuperConnect
The best DAB internet radio in 2017 is probably the Revo SuperConnect. The Revo SuperConnect combines excellent sound quality with a great range of features including FM, DAB/DAB+ and internet radio. It also has Bluetooth and can be used with Spotify Connect, giving you a huge choice of things to listen to.
If you’re looking for a cheaper internet radio, a good choice is the Roberts Stream93i, which is one of the most popular models in the UK in 2017.
Best plug-and-play DAB car radio adapter: Veyron V-DAB+
If you want a quick, easy and affordable way to get DAB radio in your car, the Veyron V-DAB+ is a good choice. It’s easy to install and plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter socket, and you can use it safely without having to navigate a complex menu that might distract you while driving.
As well as offering DAB radio, the Veyron V-DAB+ can also be used to charge a mobile phone or connect your phone or MP3 player to your car stereo.
Best DAB car radio: Pure Highway H270sb
This great-looking car radio offers a huge amount of choice when it comes to listening to the radio or your own music collection. As well as AM/FM and DAB/DAB+ radio tuners, this product also has a CD player and lets you stream music from a phone via Bluetooth. The CD player can play MP3 files, so you can store hundreds of songs on one disc.
Radios for the elderly
Best DAB radio for the elderly: Roberts Elise
The Roberts Elise is very easy to use and straightforward, making it perfect for the elderly and people who are less confident with new technology. It has 4 large buttons for accessing preset stations, so you can quickly change the station without having to use a menu.
The tactile volume knob is good for the visually impaired, and the most important buttons are all large and easy to find. As well as being easy to use, the Roberts Elise sounds crisp and clear, so it offers a good combination of sound quality and ease of use.
More tips for buying a DAB radio
DAB radio offers greater choice than FM radio, and is generally considered the future of radio. 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:
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.
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 good portable DAB radios for under £50 here.
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 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.
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.
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.