Several DAB radios come with a record function that lets you record live radio onto a USB flash drive or SD card. This lets you record your favourite programmes so you can enjoy them later, or make modern-day mix tapes by recording your favourite songs.
Here’s a roundup of the best DAB radios with a recording facility on the market in the UK in 2020.
Best DAB Radios with a Record Function (UK 2020)
1. Roberts Blutune 200
The Roberts Blutune 200 is a relatively high-end product, but it’s substantially more affordable than the Roberts Stream 65i reviewed below,
Like the Stream 65i, it’s more of a complete sound system than just a radio and offers an impressive list of features including Bluetooth, a CD player and the ability to record on to a USB drive or SD card. Unlike the Stream 65i though, it doesn’t have internet radio.
The Blutune 200 is essentially the same as the cheaper Blutune 100, only with the addition of USB and SD recording and playback functions.
The Blutune has an acoustically tuned wooden cabinet and offers great sound quality, with 6 EQ settings and adjustable bass and treble.
Additional features include remote control, an alarm clock, a sleep timer and a headphone jack.
How recording works
This radio lets you record on SD cards or USB memory sticks. It records in MP3 format at 128 kbps. The SD card or USB drive needs to be formatted using the FAT or FAT32 file system.
You can record onto a USB stick or SD card that already contains other files. It won’t overwrite them. If you have both a USB stick and an SD card connected it will ask you to select which one to record onto.
As well as recording from the radio, the Blutune 200 also lets you record from a CD, an SD card or a USB stick.
One annoying thing about the record facility on this radio it that it doesn’t have a timer. Instead, you have to manually start and stop it. This is inconvenient if you want to leave the radio to record while you’re doing something else.
You also can’t program it to start recording at a particular time.
Read our full review of the Blutune 200 here.
2. Roberts Stream 65i
The Roberts Stream 65i is a high-end internet DAB radio that lets you record onto a USB or SD card.
It’s one of the most expensive radios in Roberts’s range but offers a lot of features including a CD player and Bluetooth. This radio can be used as part of a multi-room audio system by connecting it to Roberts wireless speakers.
As well as recording, you can also play MP3 and WMA files from a USB or SD card. Other useful features include a dual alarm clock and a headphone jack.
The Stream 65i only received 2 stars from What Hi-Fi?, mainly due to its sound quality. However, most reviews online are positive. The price is quite steep though, and there are much cheaper radios with recording facilities available.
How recording works
This radio lets you record onto a USB drive or SD card. Recordings are in MP3 format with a bitrate of 128 kbps.
USB drives and SD cards need to use either the FAT16 or FAT32 file system to be used with this radio.
Like on the Roberts Blutune 200, you can’t program the radio to start or stop recording at a particular time. This means you have to manually start and stop the recording yourself, which isn’t always convenient.
3. Yaakin WalkRadio K1
This pocket FM/DAB radio from Yaakin (we hadn’t heard of them either!) lets you record the radio onto a micro SD card.
It records and plays MP3s from micro SD cards with capacities up to 128 GB. It’s easy to use as an MP3 player, as you can easily navigate through your files.
You get a pair of earphones included with the radio, which is useful as it doesn’t have a built-in speaker, so the only way to listen to it is through headphones/earphones.
The earphones function as the aerial, so you won’t have an awkward extendable aerial sticking out of your pocket.
The WalkRadio K1 has a built-in rechargeable battery which lasts for up to 12 hours and can be recharged using the USB cable included or with a compatible phone charger.
Besides the SD card reader/recorder, the WalkRadio K1 doesn’t have any fancy features. It doesn’t have a sleep timer, which would be useful as it would save battery life when listening in bed. It does offer the ability to save 60 preset stations (30 on FM and 30 on DAB).
Discontinued Models with a Record Function
There don’t seem to be as many DAB radios that record as there used to be. Several radios with this facility have been discontinued, though you may be able to pick up a second-hand model somewhere like eBay.
The Roberts Stream 65i is a high-end internet DAB radio that lets you record onto a USB or SD card. Sadly this isn’t available anymore, but you could keep your eye out on eBay or other resale sites if you like the sound of this DAB radio.
The discontinued Pure One Elite Series 2 had a Listen Later function that allowed you to record up to 90 minutes of radio to the radio’s built-in memory. This radio worked differently to most radios with a recording facility as it didn’t require an SD card or USB drive, using internal memory instead.
It had quite a limited recording capacity compared to what is possible with a large SD card or flash drive. You could also pause live radio and rewind it for up to 15 minutes.
Alternative Ways to Record Radio
Since the choice of radios with a record function is limited, you might want to look into other ways of recording the radio. Here’s an overview of the options:
- On your computer: You can record the radio on your computer by streaming it and using a program such as Audacity to record computer playback.
- On a digital TV recorder: You can use a digital TV recorder to record radio broadcasting on a digital TV channel.
- On your phone: Several apps let you record the radio. TuneIn Pro has a record feature, though this was disabled for UK users in May 2017 for copyright reasons. One alternative is Audials, who offer desktop programs as well as smartphone apps for recording and listening to the radio.
Things to Be Aware of When Buying a Radio with a Record Function
Here are some things to be aware of:
- Sometimes you can only record from a CD: Some radio CD such as the Sony ZS-RS70BTB players let you record from CD to USB, but not from radio to USB.
- You can’t always record onto an external hard drive: Radios that let you record onto a USB drive usually only support flash drives rather than external hard drives.
- A radio with a USB port usually won’t’ let you record: Lots of radios have a USB port or SD card reader that lets you play MP3s, but not record them, so just because a radio has a USB port or SD card reader, you can’t assume you will be able to record the radio.
If you want to listen to a radio programme again after it has been broadcast, you can use services such as BBC iPlayer or the BBC Sounds app. Unfortunately, these only available online, and standalone internet radios can’t be used to play listen-again programmes.
You could connect your phone or tablet to a Bluetooth radio and use its speaker to listen to listen-again programmes via the internet.
If we had to pick just one of these radios to recommend, it would be the Roberts Blutune 200. It’s quite expensive but is more affordable than the Roberts Stream 65i, and is a great-sounding radio with lots of useful features.
The Blutune 200 lets you can record onto either a USB drive or an SD card, so it’s quite versatile.