Best DAB Digital Radio 2019 – Buyer’s Guide

Radio has seen a large surge of popularity over the last few years. No longer is it the crackly local channel on in the background as you cook your dinner, but it is the ability to tune into a station hundreds of miles away, or even halfway around the world, and listen to your favourite genre.

There are even dramas, talk shows, football matches, political discussions and club nights broadcast on the airwaves these days. But to get access to them all, you’ll likely need a DAB radio. On a serious note, it is a necessary way to futureproof your listening – the government’s digital switchover is well and truly in motion.

You will want something which sounds good and is a great size. You may even want one which you can transport when off on holiday, play your Spotify playlist through, set a morning alarm or use when walking to work/on the bus. Most have a permanent clock display, but we have also reviewed some standalone digital clocks without the radio if you want one of each for different areas of the home.

There are so many DAB Digital Radios to choose from and so many features to look out for, so here are the ones worth considering.

The Best DAB Digital Radios – Our Top Picks

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
ROBERTS Revival RD70 Portable Retro Bluetooth Radio
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Screen: LCD
  • Presets: 10 DAB/10 FM
  • Power: Mains/Battery
  • Dimensions: 16 x 25.5 x 11cm
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PURE Chronos CD Series II DAB/FM Radio
  • Bluetooth: No
  • Screen: LCD
  • Presets: 30
  • Power: Mains
  • Dimensions: 12.5 x 19.5 x 18.5cm
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John Lewis & Partners Spectrum Clock DAB/DAB+/FM Digital Radio
  • Bluetooth: No
  • Screen: High-Res LCD
  • Presets: 4
  • Power: USB/Mains
  • Dimensions: 8.9 x 15.7 x 11.3cm
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Best Portable DAB Digital Radios

SONY XDRV1BTDW Portable DAB+/FM Radio

This radio caught our eye as it doesn’t look overly like anything else available. Shape-wise, it isn’t unique. But the large speaker design is certainly a stand out which we love.

There is Bluetooth, and an aux-in and aux-out. Great for playing music from a chosen device, or for connecting up a separate more powerful speaker to play through. Not that you will necessarily need it though; the sound quality is strong and clear enough as a standalone by far. NFC compatibility makes the connection very easy too. Just tap with your phone.

If you want a radio which is portable, then the thought of having to keep on top of replacing batteries may be a little tiresome. Well, this radio features a rechargeable battery which will very much appeal. It will last for a huge 25 hours on one full charge, which is plenty if you’re going on a weekend away and want some background music while you’re cooking breakfast.

It is lightweight too, so carrying it is no bother. An alarm function is present, and it will play the latest or favourite radio station on waking. There is no buzzer function though, so it may not be a specification suited to those who tend to sleep through anything less than a deafening shrill.

Available in black and white, there is an option to suit everybody. There are only ten presets whereas some others have around 30, but the rechargeable battery ability, design and simple to use clean interface will make you forget about this, and justifies the cost.

Specifications

  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Screen: LCD
  • Presets: 10
  • Power: Mains/Battery
  • Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.6 x 11.7cm

+ Downloads

SONY XDRV1BTDW Portable DAB+/FM Radio User Manual

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We like

  • Good choice of stations
  • Quality sound
  • Easy to use buttons

We dislike

  • Lack of traditional alarm sound

Final Verdict

Perfectly portable and a lovely fresh, sleek design makes it a great addition to any home

ROBERTS Revival RD70 Portable Retro Bluetooth Radio

Everybody knows this Roberts radio. It has been a favourite amongst retro fans, radio connoisseurs and those fussy about aesthetics for years, and we are pleased to say it does live up to the hype.

Firstly, it is available in a huge eight colours and prints – including the favourites black, blue, cream, red, leaf green and dove grey – so whether you’re fussy about sticking to a particular colour palette or want an accessory to add a pop of a something different, there should be an option to catch your eye.

The LCD screen may be on the smaller side, but it is colourful and still clear to see. You can choose custom themes to suit your style and preferences, with six on offer. Colour and clock style is different with each.

You have DAB+/DAB/FM radio to choose from as well, so whether it be a local station yet to make the transition to digital or your favourite broadcaster from hundreds of miles away. There is also Bluetooth and aux-in so you can use it as a speaker for music or audiobooks, and it is battery operated for transportability. Hosting a barbecue in the garden will no longer be soundtracked by a tinny smartphone speaker.

A telescopic antenna adds to the vintage retro look. The buttons are nice and clear, there is a light to tell you when the battery is running low, and an alarm will wake you up to a buzzer or your favourite radio station.

It may be at the higher end of the price scale, but it is incredibly well built with lovely control options. Plus, the name is pretty unbeatable when it comes to radio. Roberts has been in the business for over 85 years, and they are Royal Warrant Holders. If it is good enough for the Queen…

Specifications

  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Screen: LCD
  • Presets: 10 DAB/10 FM
  • Power: Mains/Battery
  • Dimensions: 16 x 25.5 x 11cm

+ Downloads

Roberts Revival RD70DE FM/DAB/DAB+ Digital Radio with Bluetooth User Manual

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We like

  • Well built
  • Brilliant colour options
  • Sound is rich and deep
  • Bluetooth connection is outstanding

We dislike

  • Screen is on the top - may become a little difficult to see with some positions

Final Verdict

There is a reason they have stood the test of time. You really are paying for quality - it is an item which will last you for life

VQ Retro Mini Portable DAB+/FM Bluetooth Radio

If you want the retro look, then this little radio is ideal and will bring a real pop of colour to your space.

It is a nice size to fit comfortably anywhere, whether it be the corner of the kitchen or on your bedside table. You don’t have to keep it in this spot all the time, though – thanks to the size and carry handle, it couldn’t be much more portable. Pop some batteries in and you have up to 15 hours of listening.

You can also use the battery power to position it somewhere without access to a plug or take it with you to listen to while you shower. The button designs are all very self-explanatory, and they are very receptive to your action so you won’t have to press multiple times for it to register what you want it to do.

There is Bluetooth built-in, so you can also use it to stream music from your phone or tablet. An aux-in port will allow you to connect up any non-Bluetooth devices, or maybe even a smart speaker for a bit of a loudness boost.

It is available in three colours, red, blue and black. The screen could be a little brighter, but it is a really great size, and the text is large on display. An alarm and snooze function makes it a fab addition for a bedroom, and it sits on any surface securely thanks to the large rubber feet.

The price makes it a brilliant mid-level option, and it is DAB+ compatible as well so should stand the test of time and modernisation.

Specifications

  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Screen: 2.4
  • Presets: 30
  • Power: Mains/Battery (15 hrs)
  • Dimensions: 22.4 x 14.7 x 10.5cm

+ Downloads

VQ Retro Mini Portable DAB+/FM Bluetooth Radio User Manual

Download

We like

  • Colourful
  • Lovely clear sound
  • Clean design

We dislike

  • Screen goes very dark after a while of being on idle

Final Verdict

A breeze to set up, it looks great and pushes out great sound for the size

ROBERTS PLAY10 Portable DAB+/FM Radio

Roberts doesn’t just make their best-known Revival model. They have a little range going on, and this one is for those who want to spend under £50 but still get the top-notch sound quality they are loved for.

DAB opens up the number of stations available to you, and it will tune in all the available stations immediately on the first turn on so you are free to then scroll through them and pick your favourites. Much easier than waiting for your chosen frequency to come up.

Text scrolling on the screen will let you know which station is playing. If your favourite is there, you can use one of the six preset storage gaps to keep it closer to hand. It can be plugged into the mains, or use four AA batteries to make it on-the-go. Or, use this power ability to place it anywhere in the home – no need for that long power extension trailing to your bedside table anymore.

It is nice and compact, and the presets and tuning functions are all easily accessible on the top of the panel. The buttons are clear and responsive, too. The sound is more than adequate for a medium-sized room, even if you are in an open-plan kitchen or busy office. Bass response is a little poor, but we’d take a guess and say this isn’t at the top of your wishlist anyway from a non-Bluetooth option.

Specifications

  • Bluetooth: No
  • Screen: LCD
  • Presets: 3 DAB/3 FM
  • Power: Mains/Battery
  • Dimensions: 10.5 x 17.5 x 5.5cm

+ Downloads

ROBERTS PLAY10 Portable DAB+/FM Radio User Manual

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We like

  • Handy size
  • Little handle on side for carrying
  • Clear interface

We dislike

  • Bass is a little weak - best for ordinary listening or talk shows

Final Verdict

Great lower-end price, nice and simple to navigate and the sound is sharp. Will deliver background music and essential listening with ease

LOGIK LHDR15 Portable DAB/FM Radio

Sometimes, all you want is a bit of background music when you’re cooking, reading the morning paper or doing a bit of weekend cleaning.

You have decided on a radio for the job – easy listening, yet a bit of talking and fun in between songs. You don’t want to spend a ridiculous amount on it. But you still want something which is nice and clear, easy to use and gets you your favourite stations.

This Logik model is under £30, which is fab for those on a budget. Don’t think that you’ll be missing out on a lot of features, though. There are 20 presets, a choice of DAB and FM, and a really lovely white/light wood design.

An alarm function will bring you into the day, and you can choose from a buzz or radio wake up call. The LCD display lets you know the time throughout the day, as well as details of what you’re listening to. No over-confusing info or everything crammed into the small space, just the basics.

Replaceable batteries allow you to take it away, or give you more flexibility over placement. A 3.5mm headphone jack will keep you listening privately if required. The display is quite bright, which is a good point as well as a bad point depending on your circumstances. It may be a little annoying if you’re trying to get asleep, for instance. It is also on the smaller size.

Brightness can be adjusted a little though, and you can always position it to get it a little less obtrusive.

But for the price, we are being picky with these points. It still delivers great sound and is nice and basic for anyone who doesn’t want a fuss.

Specifications

  • Bluetooth: No
  • Screen: LCD
  • Presets: 20
  • Power: Mains/Battery
  • Dimensions: 12 x 19 x 12.5cm

+ Downloads

LOGIK LHDR15 Portable DAB/FM Radio User Manual

Download

We like

  • Clear sound
  • Sits stable on table/desk
  • Price

We dislike

  • Bright white and blue screen can be hard to view
  • Presetting the stations can be a bit faffy

Final Verdict

Once all the stations are set it is easy to use and looks smart. Great usability for the price

John Lewis & Partners Aston MK2 DAB/FM Radio

You can’t get much more traditional and retro than this radio. It is just at the right side of the dated look, and available in some stunning colours too.

These are coffee, walnut and duck egg, again staying in theme with the throwback vibes. It is perfect for making a statement, with chrome accents added as well. You have 10 preset slots to fill, which makes flicking through your favourites a lot easier and quicker, plus the telescopic aerial will give you a crisp reception.

You can pop four AA batteries in to take it on a picnic or in the caravan for a weekend away or use the mains for unlimited listening. Battery ability also makes it great for putting somewhere a little more unconventional, such as the bathroom or in the garage. Why not take it out to the garden when having a barbecue?

Worth mentioning that battery life is only around 5 hours on DAB, so definitely have more to hand or stick to FM. Tuning in and presetting is pretty pain-free, although not the easiest of those we reviewed. Thankfully, the instructions are very clear and in-depth.

Sound is clear with no hint of crackling or tinniness. Even when on the highest volume, it is still perfect quality and doesn’t seem strained. For under £40, it doesn’t have some standout features of those hovering around the £100 mark, but the design and build quality are exceptional.

Specifications

  • Bluetooth: No
  • Screen: LCD
  • Presets: 10
  • Power: Mains/Battery
  • Dimensions: 18.5 x 22 x 7cm

+ Downloads

John Lewis & Partners Aston MK2 Radio User Manual

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We like

  • Design and appearance
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Retains info every time it is turned on and off

We dislike

  • Screen info isn’t the clearest

Final Verdict

We love John Lewis’ own name range for the quality and trustworthiness, and this radio is ideal for people who put this first

Best Indoor DAB Digital Radios

PURE Chronos CD Series II DAB/FM Radio

We will say it before you think it – it is not the prettiest by quite a margin. It looks nicer in white than black, and the shape is quite bulky. But this is all for good reason, and it does sell itself.

First of all, a function which sets it apart from a lot of the others on the market. There is a CD player included, so if you have been looking at a hi-fi because you want to rediscover your perfect collection, but you wanted something a little smaller and able to sit on your bedside table, then this could be a fabulous alternative.

A radio alarm, CD alarm or tone alarm can wake you up every morning, and a snooze function will let you have a few extra minutes of shut-eye before you have to face the day. 50Hz of sound is enough for a blast, but it can also be a lot more calming when turned down if you prefer to be eased in gently.

An aux-in function will also let you hook up your MP3 player or iPod if this is where you keep most of your tunes. Maybe you don’t want to be restricted to headphone listening or have a particular getting-ready playlist.

TextScan technology will display the radio station and further information in a scrolling motion, but you can also pause this if you want a little more time to read the data. Overall control is nice and easy thanks to the panel at the front of the radio, but you also get a remote control included if you don’t want to have to go to the radio to change the station or volume.

The shape doesn’t make it the easiest for positioning – there will be no pushing it up against the wall. The price may also be something which puts some people off, and while we do agree it is a little on the high side for what you get (no Bluetooth or rechargeable battery, for instance) the CD function will make it an appliance which stands the test of time for some. They are getting rarer, after all.

Specifications

  • Bluetooth: No
  • Screen: LCD
  • Presets: 30
  • Power: Mains
  • Dimensions: 12.5 x 19.5 x 18.5cm

+ Downloads

PURE Chronos CD Series II DAB/FM Radio User Manual

Download

We like

  • Remote control handset
  • AM/FM/DAB choice
  • CD player

We dislike

  • Price

Final Verdict

A few niggles in terms of modernity, but fab for those who want older functions. It will fit nicely in the corner, and the quality of the radio station is high

John Lewis & Partners Spectrum Clock DAB/DAB+/FM Digital Radio

An alarm clock radio is what you are after, and you’d rather the ‘alarm’ part was as strong as the ‘radio’ part as opposed to just an added extra.

Well, this model does both brilliantly. Designed to look like a traditional alarm clock, with a large screen and small enough to fit by your bed, it will bring you into the day with ease.

It is available in four colours to suit every decor – we particularly love the teal for something different. The high-resolution screen won’t have you squinting to see the time if you wake up in the middle of the night and want to know whether you can turn back around and fall fast asleep again. This is dimmable too, in case you’re sensitive to light disruption during the night.

The clock is self-setting, so you won’t ever have to rush out of the door because you set it 20 minutes off the correct time. Snooze function will also give you some extra minutes in bed, and you can be woken up by a traditional alarm sound or your radio. You can also adjust the volume of the alarm depending on the level you need to make an impact in the morning.

Sound is delivered well, and the aerial gives a great clear signal too. Instructions are a little off or unclear in places, especially when it comes to setting the alarm and presets. Other reviewers have said the same thing, but once you are aware of the changes and know what to do, then it is a breeze.

A few issues which could be improved on. The snooze and off buttons are not distinguishable from the others, so you do have to look at it to see what you’re doing. And when the brightness is turned right down for nighttime sleeping, this can then make it hard to see in the day as there is no auto-adjust. To say it is under £40 and very functional, however, these are little issues which aren’t too bothersome in the end.

Specifications

  • Bluetooth: No
  • Screen: High-Res LCD
  • Presets: 4
  • Power: USB/Mains
  • Dimensions: 8.9 x 15.7 x 11.3cm

+ Downloads

John Lewis & Partners Spectrum Radio User Manual

Download

We like

  • Soft touch finish
  • Great display
  • DAB+ ability

We dislike

  • Poor instructions in places

Final Verdict

Fabulous at both jobs, and a lovely little addition to any bedroom

Best Personal Digital Radios

Help and Resources

Digital Radio Buying Guide

Types Of Digital Radio

  • Indoor: A device which must be plugged into the mains to work, with no battery ability. Great for keeping in a fixed, reliable position
  • Portable: One which can both be used as a plug-in device and as a battery-powered device. Good if you need something which largely sits in one position, but you’d like to be able to take out into the garden/to the bathroom where there is no mains power
  • Pocket: An on-the-go model, which fits comfortably in a pocket or held by hand. Designed primarily for use with headphones but some can also play out loud without headphones in

Price

The price of a standard digital radio can vary from around £30 to almost £200. Those at the higher end of the scale don’t necessarily give you a better sound or reception than those at the bottom, as other issues can affect this too.

Those at the higher end will usually be better built, have more preset slots and functions (such as Bluetooth) and will be a nicer style, too. There are some items which buck this trend though, and it all also depends on what you’re after.

Pre-Sets

With most DAB radios, scanning will be done automatically, and you can then save your favourites to a separate menu which is easier to access.

How many you can save depends on the model, but usually ranges from around 5 to 30. When the radio is switched off or turned off at the plug, it can remember these slots thanks to the memory chip. If it runs out of battery however, the data is often lost.

Pre-sets may also disappear if the radio is moved to another location where signal strength is different, as it will re-scan for the strongest stations.

Bluetooth

This will turn your radio into a speaker so you can play your own music through it. Connection is usually pretty easy and strong, and some may even have NFC for easier pairing.

FAQs

What Is DAB?

It stands for Digital Audio Broadcasting. Surprisingly, it has actually been around since 1995 but is still only really coming into the prime of its existence.

Just like with your television, it uses digital waves as opposed to analogue. Most of the top radio stations in the UK still use both to broadcast, but there are hundreds available exclusively on DAB as opposed to FM/AM.

What Is DAB+?

Simply put, it is an updated version of DAB. It is relatively new to the UK, and while the benefits mean that it is likely futureproof, an ordinary DAB radio will not accept channels only broadcast using DAB+. However, if you own a DAB+ radio, you will still be able to receive the standard broadcasts.

Some can be upgraded, but the alternative will be buying a new appliance. If you are a regular listener of Jazz FM, Fun Kids, Forces Radio BFBS, Union JACK and Magic Chilled (amongst others), then you will have to buy a DAB+ compatible device.

Don’t panic just yet though – as seeing there are hundreds of radios, car stereos and hi-fi systems out there which can’t accept DAB+, we doubt that many more channels will be jumping ship for the next few years at the very least, especially the big names.

How Do I Scan My DAB Radio?

Many will do all of this automatically. Much better than the days of turning a dial slowly and listening out for faint voices when only using FM (you will likely have to do this still with AM/FM stations, however).

These will be saved, and then you can scroll through this saved list to find your favourites. You will likely be able to preset them to narrow down the list and only pick the ones you listen to.

Can I Get DAB Radio Where I Live?

Coverage in the UK is 98% for BBC national stations, 91.5% for digital one commercial stations, 83% for sound digital national commercial stations, and 91% for local DAB. So, chances are you’re good to go.

Commercial coverage is better than with FM and matches local coverage. There are postcode checkers available online, such as at GetDigitalRadio.