Best DAB Radios 2018: Which digital radio should you buy?

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 a small Bluetooth speaker.

There’s a good deal more than just 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.

Related: Best Bluetooth speakers


Best DAB Radio: Ruark Audio R1 Mk3

1. Ruark Audio R1 Mk3

A stylish DAB/FM radio that doubles as a Bluetooth speaker

Pros:

  • Superb build and styling
  • Great sound quality
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Can be made portable via accessories

Cons:

  • No backlighting for controls
  • Pricey

Looking for the ultimate small bedside radio? The Ruark Audio R1 Mk3 might be it. Classy premium design is combined 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 even add an optional £60 battery pack to make it portable – and if you’re feeling particularly flush, splash £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, white lacquer or black lacquer.

Buy now: Ruark Audio R1 Mk3 for £219 at Amazon

2. Pure Siesta Home

Part radio, part hi-fi, the Siesta Home is an unlikely combination

Pros:

  • Big, bold sound
  • Diverse features
  • Very clear, big display

Cons:

  • 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 not as conventionally good looking as, say a Roberts Revival, it’s a robustly designed effort thanks to its aluminium housing and large display, which should help those with iffy eyesight.

Bluetooth is onboard, allowing you to stream music from Spotify or YouTube. On top of the unit are playback and control buttons, with touch-sensitive buttons near the bottom of the fascia for the CD player. It also comes with a remote control if you’re further away. Sound can be tailored to fit different rooms thanks to the Siesta’s EQ modes.

Bass is decently defined, with clear midrange and treble producing a sound that’s more powerful than you’d expect. Part DAB radio, part system, the Pure offers more bang for your buck.

Buy now: Pure Siesta Home for £199.99 at Amazon

Roberts Stream 94i

3. Roberts Stream 94i

A great DAB radio and audio streamer for the modern user

Pros:

  • Loud and powerful for a DAB radio
  • Much-improved visual design
  • Wide set of wireless features

Cons:

  • Sound is slightly too treble-focused
  • Battery add-on is a little clunky-looking

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 the Roberts Revival series, but it’s a tasteful effort with a wood-laminated enclosure and a glossy fascia. The two easy-to-use dials are there for tuning and volume control and below them you’ll find buttons for playback, presets and the on/off button.

For features there’s of course DAB and FM, but 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, but it’s an extra cost.

Despite a £200 price, don’t expect Sonos One levels of audio performance here. Nonetheless, it’s 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.

Buy now: Roberts Stream 94i for £159 at Amazon (Prime members only)

Best DAB Radio: Roberts Revival iStream 2

4. Roberts Revival iStream 2

Classic Roberts styling with great sound to boot

Pros:

  • Internet radio
  • DAB/FM
  • USB playback

Cons:

  • Pricey

The Roberts Revival iStream 2 melds classic Roberts’ Revival design with features you wouldn’t normally 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 also takes 4x D batteries for portable use, although we think the rechargeable ChargePaks 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. Words don’t really do justice to how good it looks.

As well as getting the style right, the iStream 2 offers great sound, with much better mid-range clarity and integrity than most. 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 the cheaper radios. There’s a 3.5mm output if you want high-quality sound from an external setup.

All that really holds the Roberts Revival iStream 2 back is the price. Nevertheless, in terms of sound quality, it’s a great option.

Buy now: Roberts Revival iStream 2 for £175 at Amazon

Best DAB Radios: Como Audio Solo

5. Como Audio Solo

Stylish DAB radio that comes with plenty of useful features

Pros:

  • Spotify Connect support
  • Remote control
  • Multiroom-capable

Cons:

  • Very pricey

The beautiful Solo was designed by the man behind many of Tivoli’s legendary radios. It 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 not just to switch stations but 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 not-inconsiderable price, and sonically it isn’t as impressive as the R1 Mk3. It does maintain composure at high volumes, though, and sounds great.

Buy now: Como Audio Solo for £349 at Amazon

Best DAB Radios: Geneva Touring S

6. Geneva Touring S

Old-school radio meets Bluetooth speaker in this gorgeous little set

Pros:

  • Nice retro design
  • Built-in radio
  • Good battery life
  • Removable rechargeable battery
  • Relatively compact

Cons:

  • Thin sound
  • Harsh at high volume

The retro styling of the Geneva Touring S is a cross between portable radios of yesteryear and 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 hours 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 little Bluetooth speaker than 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.

Buy now: Geneva Touring S for £143.20 at Amazon

Best DAB Radios: Goodmans Oxford

7. Goodmans Oxford

Affordable retro-styled unit with decent sound for the money

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Nice design
  • DAB/FM

Cons:

  • Cheap-feeling build
  • 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 feels a good deal cheaper than more expensive sets. It even feels cheaper than some of the lower-end plastic sets.

There’s more to the radio than surface level looks. The Oxford uses old-fashioned control wheels rather than knobs. They 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. For music, we’d appreciate more power — bass response is flat-out poor here.

The Oxford works best as a low-cost, light-use radio where its lighter sound won’t seem like such a compromise.

Buy now: Goodmans Oxford for £50 at Amazon