Best Plug-and-Play 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 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.

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 arguably the best solution for quickly upgrading your FM car radio to DAB/DAB+.

2. FirstE Car DAB+ Radio Tuner Adaptor

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:

Features

  • 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

Pros

  • Reliable DAB reception in most places
  • Bright colour screen
  • Convenient small size
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Build quality could be higher
  • Wiring can be messy

Summary

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.

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.

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.

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
  • USB charging port
  • 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 another good choice. It’s quick and easy to install and should give you a strong DAB/DAB+ signal in your car.

5. Pure Highway 300Di

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.

Features

  • USB connectivity for listening to music on USB drives or MP3 players
  • Connects to Apple devices including the iPhone, iPad and iPod
  • Aux-in connection
  • 30 station presets
  • Comes in three parts: control unit, control circuitry, aerial (not included)

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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.

Summary

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.

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.

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