Which is the best digital radio on the market?
Looking for the best DAB radios? We’ve tested the the most popular sets on the market to help you find the perfect frequency-locking audio companion.
Radio isn’t dead, and these days you can get a pretty decent DAB set for less than the price of a small Bluetooth speaker.
There’s a good deal more than DAB to consider, too. Bluetooth streaming, NFC and Wi-Fi internet radio are no strangers to DAB sets, even ones that cost under £100.
So, which radio is right for you? We’ve tested sets from the biggest radio-makers out there, including legends of the radio scene Pure and Roberts, as well as luxury brands such as Ruark and Como.
From £50 radios to more expensive efforts, we’ve compared the lot. The following is a list of products we’ve reviewed separately (see the appropriate links for those) and products we’ve tested as part of this list. Scroll down to see the full list and reviews.
- Best for style: Ruark Audio R1 Mk 3
- Best for features: Pure Siesta Home
- Best for streaming: Roberts Stream 94i
- Great for sound: Roberts Revival iStream 2
- Best premium: Como Audio Solo
- Best for battery: Geneva Touring S
1. Ruark Audio R1 Mk3
A stylish DAB/FM radio that doubles as a Bluetooth speaker
- Superb build and styling
- Great sound quality
- Easy to set up and use
- Can be made portable using accessories
- No backlighting for controls
Looking for the ultimate small bedside radio? The Ruark Audio R1 Mk3 might be it. This classy model combines premium design with superb sound quality.
In addition to DAB and FM radio playback, the R1 Mk3 has Bluetooth for streaming from a mobile device. You can add an optional £60 battery pack to make it portable – and if you’re feeling particularly flush, you can splash out £40 on a sumptuous hand-stitched leather carrying case.
The OLED display is easy to read across the room, and there’s a USB socket around the back for charging your phone or tablet.
It’s not cheap and it’s only mono, but it does its job so very well, with unmatched build quality. It’s also available in a variety of finishes – real wood, or lacquer in white or black.
2. Pure Siesta Home
Part radio, part hi-fi, the Siesta Home is an unlikely but effective combination
- Big, bold sound
- Diverse features
- Very clear, big display
- Bass not as deep as some wireless speakers
- USB charge sockets are weak
The Pure Siesta Home looks like a bedside unit, but appearances can be deceiving.
The Siesta Home fuses a DAB radio and CD player into an all-in-one system. While it’s not as conventionally good-looking as, say, a Roberts Revival, this is a robustly designed effort with aluminium housing and large display, which should help those with iffy eyesight.
Bluetooth is on board, allowing you to stream music from Spotify or YouTube. There are playback and control buttons on top of the unit, with touch-sensitive buttons near the bottom of the fascia for the CD player. It comes with a remote control, and sound can be tailored to fit different rooms thanks to the Siesta’s EQ modes.
Bass is decently defined, with clear mid-range and treble producing a sound that’s more powerful than you might expect. Part DAB radio, part system, the Pure offers more bang for your buck.
3. Roberts Stream 94i
A great DAB radio and audio streamer for the modern user
- Loud and powerful for a DAB radio
- Much-improved visual design
- Wide set of wireless features
- Sound is slightly too treble-focused
- Battery add-on looks a little clunky
The Roberts Stream 94i builds on the fantastic Stream 93i. It’s similar to its predecessor but now features Bluetooth and a more attractive design.
The design isn’t as striking as that of the Roberts Revival series, but it’s a tasteful effort with a wood-laminated enclosure and a glossy fascia. Tuning and volume are controlled with two easy-to-use dials and below them you’ll find buttons for playback, presets and the on/off button.
As well as DAB and FM, the Stream 94i also brings Bluetooth, Spotify Connect and internet radio to the party, as well as DLNA streaming via the My Music feature. Files can be played off a USB stick if you choose. If you want portability, a battery is available – at extra cost.
Despite the £200 price, don’t expect Sonos One levels of audio performance here. Nonetheless, this is a loud and powerful performer, with lots of clarity and bass power. The Stream 94i is a great advert for what the modern radio can be.
4. Roberts Revival iStream 2
Classic Roberts styling with great sound to boot
- Internet radio
- USB playback
The Roberts Revival iStream 2 melds classic Roberts Revival design with features you wouldn’t associate with such a retro-looking radio.
You can get the Revival as a basic DAB model, but the Revival iStream 2 offers Wi-Fi internet radio, plus a USB socket through which you can play digital files. There’s no Bluetooth, though the iStream 2 does support Spotify Connect. The radio takes 4x D batteries for portable use, although we think the rechargeable ChargePak is neater.
If you like the vintage look, the Roberts Revival is still the best you can get. It’s covered in convincing synthetic leather and has a classic-style metal speaker grille. This is one good-looking radio.
As well as getting the style right, the iStream 2 also offers great sound, with much better mid-range clarity and integrity than most of its rivals. It has a slightly soft, rather than sharp, sound that works well with the limited quality on offer in the DAB signal. It also has a decent amount of bass weight, often missing from cheaper radios. There’s a 3.5mm output if you want high-quality sound from an external set-up.
All that really holds the Roberts Revival iStream 2 back is the price. In terms of sound quality, it’s a great option.
Related: Best Bluetooth speakers
5. Como Audio Solo
Stylish DAB radio that comes with plenty of useful features
- Spotify Connect support
- Remote control
- Multiroom capability
- Very pricey
The beautiful Solo was designed by Tom DeVesto, the man behind many of Tivoli’s legendary radios, and has that same retro-chic ’70s charm about it. Features-wise, though, it’s been brought right up to date.
In addition to DAB and FM radio, you get internet radio over Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth aptX streaming, NFC and Spotify Connect. The Solo can – ironically, considering the name – be used as part of a multiroom system controlled via an Android/iOS app.
The interface is a joy, with a 2.8-inch colour display that shows a graphical analogue clock when the radio’s turned off. There are two alarms, and six presets that can be assigned to switch not just stations but also sources – of which there are plenty, including optical and USB. The USB port can also be used to charge mobile devices.
The Solo is a sumptuously built effort, with a choice of four finishes: white, black, walnut or hickory. It even comes with a remote control, which is a rare treat.
However, at £349 you’re paying a considerable price, and sonically it isn’t as impressive as the R1 Mk3. It does maintain composure at high volumes, though, and sounds great.
6. Geneva Touring S
Old-school radio meets Bluetooth speaker in this gorgeous little set
- Appealing retro design
- Built-in radio
- Good battery life
- Removable rechargeable battery
- Relatively compact
- Thin sound
- Harsh at high volume
The retro styling of the Geneva Touring S is a cross between the look of portable radios of yesteryear and the style of a rangefinder camera. The top plate, with its large combined on/off switch and volume knob, is very camera-esque, as is the faux leather – available in black, tan or red – that wraps around the body. The telescopic antenna, cross-slotted grille and red LED display are all vintage radio, though. It’s very nicely done.
Thanks to a rechargeable battery you get up to 20 hrs of on-the-go use. The battery can be removed so you can have a spare in readiness for those weekend festivals or glamping trips.
Sound quality is not too bad considering the Geneva’s size, but it’s more akin to a Bluetooth speaker than the sound of the other radios on this list. Don’t expect much bass, but the treble is clean and clear. Radio reception is excellent, and you get six presets each for DAB and FM.
7. Goodmans Oxford
Affordable retro-styled unit with decent sound for the money
- Very affordable
- Nice design
- Build feels cheap
- Small screen
- Poor bass power
Retro radios often come at a significant price premium, but the Goodmans Oxford bucks that trend.
At this price you’re not going to see high-end materials. There is some metal, but the main part of the body is moulded plastic and has none of the heft of more expensive sets. It even feels cheaper than some of the lower-end plastic sets.
There’s more to this radio than its superficial looks, though. The Oxford uses old-fashioned control wheels rather than knobs. These give the radio a rather different feel to other budget DAB sets. Controls are simple, too, with three preset buttons on the top plate. The Oxford is not well-suited to those with sight issues, as the screen is fairly tiny.
Clarity is unusually good. There’s a bit more treble/upper-mid presence here than most radios offer. For music, we’d appreciate more power – bass response is flat-out poor.
The Oxford works best as a low-cost, light-use radio where its lighter sound won’t seem like such a compromise.