Best DAB Car Radio Adapters (UK 2018)

Car stereo

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 an adapter is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your car radio to DAB, and you should be able to install the adapters reviewed here in less than 30 minutes.

Buying a car radio adapter and installing it yourself usually works out much cheaper than buying a new car radio and paying to have someone else install it.

Here’s a roundup of the best plug-and-play DAB car radio adapters available in the UK in 2018.

Best Plug-and-Play DAB Car Radio Adapters (UK 2018)

1. Blufree In Car DAB+ Radio Adapter FM Transmitter

This DAB car radio adapter from Blufree offers great value for money. This adapter plugs into the cigarette lighter socket and connects to your car radio via an aux cable (included). If you don’t have an aux-in port, you can just tune your car radio to the adapter’s frequency instead as it features an FM transmitter. It comes with a windscreen aerial for picking up DAB signals.

As well as picking up digital radio stations, this adapter also features Bluetooth so you can take hands-free calls or play music from your phone through the car stereo speakers. This device will work with either a 12 or 24 volt car.

Features

  • 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 for playing MP3s
  • USB charging port
  • 2.3-inch LCD display

Pros

  • Quick and easy to install – takes 30-40 minutes
  • Strong DAB reception
  • Bluetooth works well

Cons

  • Instructions manual could be clearer
  • USB power cable is short

Summary

This adapter is an affordable choice that offers a quick and easy way to get digital radio in your car. It’s quite a versatile device that offers Bluetooth streaming, USB charging and MP3 playback as well as just digital radio.

2. Esuper Car Radio Adapter

This DAB car radio adapter from Esuper is very similar to the one reviewed above from Blufree. It’s powered by the car’s cigarette lighter and can be connected to your stereo in two ways: via aux or by tuning your car stereo to certain frequency and using the adapter as an FM transmitter. This adapter also lets you take hands-free calls and stream audio via Bluetooth. It will work with both 12V and 24V cigarette lighter sockets.

Features

  • Picks up FM, DAB and DAB+ radio
  • Saves 60 preset stations
  • Micro SD card reader
  • 3-metre antenna included
  • Bluetooth for hands-free calls and audio streaming
  • 2 USB ports: one for charging a phone and one for playing MP3s

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to connect to Bluetooth
  • Good sound quality
  • Handsfree calling works well

Cons

  • Feels quite cheaply made
  • Occasional interference when using FM transmitter
  • Small display
  • Quiet – you need to turn the volume up when using it

Summary

This mid-priced product offers good value for money and packs a lot of features into one unit including Bluetooth, a Micro SD card reader and two USB ports.

3. Majority Journey A10 Digital Radio Adapter

This popular and affordable DAB car radio adapter from budget brand Majority connects to your car stereo by connecting a cable to the aux-in port or wirelessly using a Bluetooth FM transmitter. It comes with everything you need to set it up including an active antenna, cables and a window screen mount for the adapter itself.

As well as listening to digital radio, you can also use this adapter to take hands-free calls and stream music from your phone using Bluetooth. This adapter uses a wire antenna that goes inside the door frame rather than on the roof of the car.

Features

  • Receives DAB and DAB+ radio
  • Bluetooth for hands-free calls and audio streaming
  • Access phone contacts using Bluetooth
  • Active antenna included
  • Saves 10 preset stations
  • Connects to your car stereo via aux or an FM transmitter
  • Window screen mount

Pros

  • Easy to install and use
  • Good call quality when taking hands-free calls
  • Good value for money
  • Made by a British brand

Cons

  • No USB phone charger
  • Sensitive to interference from devices such as dashcams
  • Reception can be unreliable

Summary

This adapter is significantly cheaper than some of the alternatives such as the Pure adapter reviewed below, and offers great value for money. It’s well designed, easy to install and generally functions very well, though some people have found the signal to be unreliable.

4. FirstE 5 in 1 Car DAB/DAB+ Radio Portable FM Transmitter

This 5-in-1 adapter from FirstE 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.

Features

  • 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

Pros

  • Instructions are easy to follow
  • Installing the aerial is quick and easy
  • Strong DAB signal
  • Bluetooth works well
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Screen can be hard to read
  • Interface could be more user friendly
  • Lots of wires, which can be untidy

Summary

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.

5. 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.

Features

  • Picks up DAB and DAB+ radio
  • Antenna included
  • Bluetooth for streaming audio from your phone
  • Integrates with Spotify and lets you save your favourite tracks

Pros

  • Clear sound
  • Smart, attractive design
  • Easy to install
  • Pairs quickly with Bluetooth

Cons

  • Relatively expensive
  • Antenna can be difficult to attach
  • Reception isn’t always perfect

Summary

While it doesn’t always offer the same performance as an manufacturer-fitted DAB car radio, the Pure Highway 400 is one of the best solutions for quickly upgrading your FM car radio to DAB/DAB+. It’s quite pricey when compared to the other adapters reviewed here, but is made by an established brand and comes with a 3-year warranty.

 

How DAB Car Radio Adapters Work

DAB car radio adapters allow you to receive DAB radio stations without replacing your car stereo. They are usually powered from the cigarette lighter rather than having an internal battery. They connect to the existing car stereo in one of two ways:

  • Via an aux cable which connects the adapter to the car stereo’s aux-in port
  • If the adapter has an FM transmitter function, you can connect it to the stereo wirelessly by tuning the car stereo to the same FM frequency as the adapter (usually an empty frequency such as 87.5 MHz). The adapter acts like a mini radio transmitter that only broadcasts a few metres, so your car FM radio can pick it up. This doesn’t require Bluetooth, as it uses FM transmitting rather than Bluetooth.

Some adapters have an antenna which you attach on the roof of the car, whereas others have a wire antenna that you attach to the inside of the car. The adapter usually goes on the dashboard or the window screen.

 

DAB Adapter FAQs

Can I use a DAB car radio adapter if my stereo doesn’t have an aux-in port?

Yes, if the adapter has an FM transmitter function. This will allow you to connect the adapter without needing to plug a cable into the car radio.

Where does the aerial go?

Depending on the adapter, the aerial will either go on the roof of the car or be attached to the door frame or inside of the front window. Most adapters come with a magnetic ground which attaches to the car’s metalwork, thereby grounding the aerial.

Do plug-and-play adapters remember the station you were listening to when you switch them on and off again?

This depends on the adapter, but adapters usually remember the radio station you were listening to. Many adapters also let you save your favourite radio stations as presets so you can find them again quickly.

 

How to Choose an Adapter

Here are some things to consider when choosing an adapter:

  • Price – The price of DAB car radio adapters ranges from about £40 to over £150. A higher price doesn’t always equal better performance, but more expensive products often have better warranties and look more stylish.
  • Brand – Many DAB adapters are made by obscure Chinese manufacturers that you probably won’t have heard of before. These products are often affordable and work well. Pure and Majority, both British brands, also make some popular adapters.
  • Features – Some features to look for in a car radio adapter include Bluetooth for streaming music from your phone and taking hands-free calls, USB ports for charging devices and playing MP3s and the ability to save and easily access preset stations.

 

Alternative solutions

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.

 

Conclusion

If we had to pick just one of these adapters to recommend it would be the Blufree In Car DAB+ Radio Adapter FM Transmitter as it’s very afforable, easy to install and generally offers good DAB radio reception.

Here are some related articles on getting digital radio in your car:

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