A plug-and-play DAB car radio adapter lets you listen to DAB and DAB+ radio stations in your car using its existing FM radio. These adapters are generally cheap and easy to use, and work by plugging into your car or van’s cigarette lighter socket.
Using a plug-and-play adapter is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your car radio to DAB.
Here’s a roundup of the best plug-and-play DAB car radio adapters available in the UK in 2018.
1. Pure Highway 400 In-Car DAB Adapter
Unlike most of the DAB adapters on the market, the Highway 400 is made by a well known digital radio brand, Pure. While it’s more expensive than the average adapter, the Highway 400 is made to a high standard and has a great range of features including Bluetooth and the ability to stream music from Spotify.
Picks up DAB and DAB+ radio
Bluetooth for streaming audio from your phone
Integrates with Spotify and lets you save your favourite tracks
Smart, attractive design
Easy to install
Pairs quickly with Bluetooth
Antenna can be difficult to attach
Reception isn’t always perfect
While it doesn’t always offer the same performance as an manufacturer-fitted DAB car radio, the Pure Highway 400 is arguably the best solution for quickly upgrading your FM car radio to DAB/DAB+.
The FirstE Car DAB+ Radio Tuner Adaptor is a cheaper alternative to the Pure Highway 400. It connects to the aux-in port on your car stereo using a cable and comes with everything you need to get it up and running, including an aerial that you attach to the windscreen.
Here’s a video demonstrating how this adapter works:
Receives DAB and DAB+
Saves up to 60 preset stations
4-inch colour TFT display
Bluetooth 4.2 for streaming audio from your phone or tablet
Micro SD card reader
Hands-free calling via Bluetooth
External aerial included
Suction holder to attach the adapter to the dashboard
Aux-in port for connecting an MP3 player
1-metre USB charging cable
Reliable DAB reception in most places
Bright colour screen
Convenient small size
Easy to install
Build quality could be higher
Wiring can be messy
This adapter works reliably with strong reception that is unlikely to cut out as you drive around. It’s also straightforward to install and has a good number of features. You might expect the build quality to be higher given the price, but overall this adapter is a great option.
3. FirstE 5 in 1 Car DAB/DAB+ Radio Portable FM Transmitter
Another product from FirstE, this 5-in-1 adapter is very similar to the one reviewed above and offers a lot of features at a reasonable price. It plugs into the aux-in port on your existing car radio and can be powered by either a 12V or 24V system. It comes with an aerial that works well for most people, so it should offer you reliable DAB and DAB+ reception in your car.
Receives DAB and DAB+
Bluetooth for wireless streaming and hands-free calls
Micro SD/TF card reader
Saves up to 20 preset stations
External antenna included
Instructions are easy to follow
Installing the aerial is quick and easy
Strong DAB signal
Bluetooth works well
Screen can be hard to read
Interface could be more user friendly
Lots of wires, which can be untidy
The DAB signal compares very well with pre-installed DAB car radios, so it’s a great way to get digital radio in your car without having to completely replace your radio (or your car!) Installation is quick and shouldn’t take more than an hour.
4. Blufree In Car DAB+ Radio Adapter FM Transmitter
This DAB car radio adapter from Blufree is another affordable choice. It’s very similar in both design and features to the two FirstE products reviewed above, and it wouldn’t be surprising if these three adapters were made in the same factory. This adapter plugs into the cigarette lighter socket and connects to your car radio via an aux cable (included). It will work with either a 12 or 24 volt car.
Receives DAB and DAB+ radio
3-metre external antenna included
Bluetooth for taking hands-free calls and streaming music
Stores up to 60 preset stations
SD/TF card reader
USB charging port
3-inch LCD display
Quick and easy to install – takes 30-40 minutes
Strong DAB reception
Bluetooth works well
Instructions manual could be clearer
USB power cable is short
This adapter is another good choice. It’s quick and easy to install and should give you a strong DAB/DAB+ signal in your car.
This plug-and-play adapter from Pure comes with lots of great features such as the ability to pause and rewind digital radio. Pure, who are best known for their Evoke series of digital radios, are one of the most respected DAB radio manufacturers.
USB connectivity for listening to music on USB drives or MP3 players
Connects to Apple devices including the iPhone, iPad and iPod
30 station presets
Comes in three parts: control unit, control circuitry, aerial (not included)
Display is easy to read in any light
Very easy to use – the interface only has a few buttons and is designed very intuitively
Automatically scans for new stations as you drive around
Not compatible with every car – be sure to check compatibility before ordering
Fitting this DAB radio adapter could be difficult unless you have previous experience with car audio systems. Getting it installed could be expensive.
This adapter has a nice, intuitive interface and is easy to use once you’ve got it installed. However, it’s a bit dated now and is quite expensive, so in general we’d suggest choosing one of the other models reviewed in this article.
A DAB adapter isn’t the only cheap way to get DAB radio in your car. You could use a pocket DAB radio and attach it to your car stereo. Another alternative is to stream online radio, MP3s or podcasts from your smartphone by plugging a Bluetooth receiver like the TaoTronics Receiver into your car stereo.