The Roberts 105 Wave doesn’t quite have the feature set of its Pure and Squeezebox rivals, but it’s in sound quality where a radio either succeeds or fails in our book. Like most small radios, it relies on a single driver responsible for the entire frequency spectrum. One notable exception from this is the Stream 105’s big brother, the Roberts Stream 205, which offers dual drivers and an additional DAB tuner for around £50 extra.
The Roberts conservatism we saw in its approach to music streaming – doing the basic well rather than over-extending itself – bleeds through in its approach to sound. The Stream 105 doesn’t go extremely loud, but as such can withstand its own maximum volume without sounding strained or harsh. This volume level should suffice for most uses, but if you’re going to be doing DIY with the radio piping away in the background, you may find it doesn’t quite cut through enough.
The sound signature is also somewhat unambitious. It sticks to the rather boxy sound characteristic of small radios, lacking much bass warmth or presence, as well as intricate top-end detail. Pure in particular tends to try harder to pack more bass into its radios. It’s a good sound for spoken-word broadcasts, but other radios relay music with more excitement and dynamism. If you want to listen to a spot of Radio 4 while chopping some carrots in the kitchen, the Stream 105 is good choice.
Weighing-up the radio’s price against its feature set, the wheels do start to fall off the Stream 105 bandwagon. The Pure Evoke Flow offers a more stylish design for as little as £15 more, the Squeezebox Radio has bags more online features and the tiddly Pure One Flow retails at the same price but packs-in both DAB and FM tuners.
The Roberts Stream 105 is by no means a bad radio. It sounds reasonably good, offers an intuitive menu system and a portable form factor. However, unless you’re a die-hard Roberts fan (in which case you may love it for its retro radios anyway), we can’t help but recommend you seriously consider one of its rivals.
A portable radio with built-in Wi-Fi is a powerful tool. It can connect to hundreds and hundreds of radio stations and their associated podcasts, as well as streaming a music library from your computer or NAS setup. The Roberts Stream 105’s problem is that rivals offer DAB and FM tuners on top, and older models from Pure, Logitech and even Roberts itself that do more and offer better sound quality are available for the price of a round of drinks more. We’d recommend you lay off the Martini for 12 hours and opt for one of those.