Radio is having a golden age. Exclusive digital stations such as Radio 6 have steadily been building up a loyal audience and setting the background music in clued up houses across Britain. Personally, I can no longer imagine making dinner without a classic sitcom from Radio 4 Extra filling the kitchen. A digital radio simply transforms the atmosphere of a house and once you make the jump you’ll wonder why it took you so long.
However, it can be a mission knowing which one to buy – so we’ve done all the research for you. Below is our list of the best DAB radio on the market in 2019 to suit each budget.
Best Premium DAB Radio – Ruark R2 Mk3
Ruark may not be a household name, but they are a master in the craft of making excellent DAB radios. This model goes much further than that though, being more of an all-in-one music station for a modern home. It can connect to your WiFi so that you can access thousands of internet radio stations. It also has Bluetooth and Spotify Connect, so you can play audio from your phone through its speakers.
The sound quality is sublime. It has an expansive soundstage that works perfectly with big rooms.
We love the shape and the minimalist, unfussy design which is facilitated by the RotoDial that sits on top of the unit and intuitively packs in a lot of functions. Basically, you turn and push the dial to navigate through menus – sounds a bit tricky but once you twig how it works, setup and use are really easy. They’ve also kindly added in a USB charger port, so if you use it next to your bed you’ll have a handy phone charger socket.
Obviously, £400 is a lot to spend but if you are after the very best, this is it.
Best Under £200 – Ruark R1 Mk3
You might think that £200 is a lot to ask for a radio – but the sound is fantastic and rivals bookshelf speakers that themselves are in a similar price range. One top of that you’re getting DAB, DAB+, FM and Bluetooth.
It features the same dial as its £400 cousin and also has the convenient USB port.
If you are looking to really treat someone, this would make a perfect Xmas gift.
Best Under £150 – Pure Evoke H4
We simply love the design of the Evoke H4. The walnut and oak finishes add a touch of class to the bedside or kitchen. Its look has become a standard for DAB radios, with many cheaper models imitating its aesthetic. (Note: we prefer the leather effect colourful trims, but were only able to find them for over £150).
Like others in our list, it has a turn and push dial system that is really easy to use.
It comes complete with DAB, DAB+, FM and Bluetooth. It doesn’t have internet radio that some more expensive models have (but being brutally honest we did find that internet radio can leave you scrolling through endless low-quality channels and it came as a bit of a relief to easily find the wheat from the chaff). Instead, it has helpful functions such as a snooze and kitchen timer that make it a no fuss, useful addition to the house.
The only slight niggle is the sound. While it is way above the quality of a budget stereo we did find it to be a little bassy and lacking in clarity compared to some others in the Evoke range.
Best Under £100 – Pure Evoke H2
It has DAB, DAB+, FM and you can get models that include Blutooth for £15 more (which still comes in at under £100). Like its more expensive stablemate, it includes handy kitchen and sleep timer functions.
If we were being super critical, we would point out the display is a bit small. However, this is no doubt the best bargain on our list.
Best Under £60 – John Lewis Spectrum
It may look like a bit like a giant lego block, but this offering from John Lewis manages to pack in DAB, FM and Bluetooth, plus if your phone is NFC enabled you can quickly pair it up to the Spectrum by waving it close to it.
The sound is very clear and having two speakers means it is powerful enough to overcome most kitchen sounds – we were easily able to hear The Archers over a rather noisy dishwasher during testing.
On the downside, it does lack a little on bass and the controls are a little fiddly.
Best Under £30 – Bush DAB Radio
An absolute steal at this price. It has the great build quality and in real ,life it looks as good as the pics – its retro looks really draw the eye. The sound quality is good, but can be a little muffled when you turn it up to a high volume. A fantastic workaday DAB radio.
Best For Bedside – Pure Siesta
Pure have updated the classic alarm clock radio for the 21st century. The large LED clock face automatically dims to suit its environment and comes with three alarms that can be set to FM, DAB or buzzer. It also has the obligatory USB socket, so you can charge your phone overnight from your bedside table.
Best Premium Style – Roberts Revival
This award has to go to the Ruark R2 Mk2, but if you’re looking for something in the midrange then the Roberts Revival has incredibly sleek retro looks while keeping a fine sound. However, it doesn’t have Bluetooth. We can’t get past that for a model of this price, but if you can and want a piece of art as well as a digital radio, this is your pick.
Best Style on a Budget – Goodman’s Oxford
OK – so it might be taking a bit of inspiration from the Roberts Revival radio, but it’s still a beautiful 60s box in its own right and unlike its more expensive rival, it doesn’t lack in the connectivity department (it even includes NFC so you can tap and pair it to your phone really quickly). If you are an audiophile you might find the bass a bit lacking, but its sound will satisfy most people.
Best For Bass Heads – Roberts Stream 93i
The Robert Stream 93i excels on its sound quality. It has a subwoofer round the back so you get exceptionally deep bass. It also racks up a lot of features – DAB, DAB+, FM and Spotify Connect and you can also play your music over your LAN (local area network) through the built-in WiFi. However, there is a slight snag – to connect to Bluetooth (which is much usually a bit easier than via LAN) you will have to buy a separate adapter which you would not expect in a model of this price. The design doesn’t excite us either.
If you are dance music fan this is still the best radio in this price range, but if you are more into spoken word then maybe look elsewhere.
Best For Travel – Roberts Play M2
Another entry on our list from the respected British manufacturer. It’s a great small radio that fits comfortably in your hand (the soft plastic being a nice extra touch). It has a mains adapter so you can use it at home, but frankly we found the compromises we were prepared to make on sound quality for portability (e.g. the speakers are a little bit tinny) are not ones we’re ready to make in the home.