An affordable radio that’s portable and easy to use, the Groov-e Venice is better at tackling voices than it is music in general, but if you use the radio for casual, background listening then this is a decent performer.
- Clear voice quality
- Compact design
- Easy to use
- Muddled, boxed in sound with music
- Best suited for casual, background listening
- UKRRP: £31.99
- Presets10 for DAB and 10 for FM stations
- PowerCan be powered by mains of battery operated
- ConnectivitySupports Bluetooth and features 3.5mm headphone output
The Groov-e Venice is a cheap, portable DAB radio, the kind this website has been neglecting in recent years.
But that’s more an oversight on our part, and not because radio is unpopular. If anything, radio is an extremely popular business these days, with almost 50 million adults tuning in for an average of 20 hours a week. The old ‘wireless’ hasn’t been replaced by the new wireless just yet.
And so the Venice is an affordable option to capitalise on the radio’s newfound (or should that be everlasting?) popularity, small enough that you can cart it round the house or take into the office. Its price will inherently throw up a few compromises, but let’s see if the Venice gets round them.
- Compact, lightweight design
- Supports batteries
- Backlit LCD display
- Headphone output
While not small enough to be a pocket-sized radio, the Groov-e Venice is easily transportable in its compact, lightweight form constructed mostly from plastic. For a cheap radio it looks sleek enough, its glossy appearance and rounded curves allied with decent build quality.
Though the Venice feels lightweight, its build quality is substantial enough that it survived an accidental fall on to a wood floor, but it’s not something I’d want to repeat too many times.
On the front are six buttons and rotary control. The buttons cover Power/Mode, Scan, Preset, Menu, Previous and Next, while the dial can be used to scroll through volume levels with a press selecting stations and menu items. The buttons provide ‘clicky’ feedback, though there were times where the Power button would get stuck, so it pays to be a little delicate rather than rough in how you handle the Groov-e.
It’s easy to understand the controls, a long press on the Menu button goes into the menu options, the Prev. and Next buttons there to flick through the options presented. Mode switches through DAB, FM and Bluetooth modes, while if you set up an alarm then the control knob can be used to set it to snooze on those days you want to lie in.
The backlit LCD display is bright and clear enough to read, though it’s easier to discern if the display is at eye level rather than looking down. Default info covers the current station and scrolling text information supplied by the broadcaster. Click on the Menu button and that flicks through time, signal strength, volume level, signal error and metadata such as bit-rate, frequency and program type.
Around the rear is the telescoping aerial for tuning, a 3.5mm aux output for connecting a pair of wired headphones and a compartment for batteries. To free the Venice from the mains, it needs four AA batteries that you’ll have to source on your own since none are included.
- DAB, FM and Bluetooth support
- Alarm/Sleep timers
- Dynamic range control for boosting quiet sounds
Features are few for the Venice. Alongside DAB and FM support, there’s Bluetooth (no mention of which standard) for pairing to a smartphone or other device, turning the Venice into a Bluetooth speaker. Doing so is a relatively easy feat achieved through the menus.
Frequency range for DAB extends from 174Mhz to 240 MHz; FM from 87.5MHz to 198MHz (FM searches in 0.05MHz increments); and you’ve got 20 presets – 10 for DAB and 10 for FM – to save your favourite stations for quick access.
If you use your radio as a bedside alarm, then wake-up calls feature with a choice of the radio springing into life or an ascending buzzing noise; with the snooze button putting it to bed for 10 minutes. The Sleep timer sets the radio to switch to standby automatically, and you can choose when it does so through the timer in the menu.
Within the menu options there is Dynamic range control (DRC). This refers to the difference between the loudest and quietest sounds heard during a programme, and Groov-e says is useful in environments where you might need to hear more due to surrounding noise.
You can choose between three levels of compression – off, low and high – the maximum setting boosts quiet sounds while keeping the loudest sounds at their original level. Playing around with this on a few stations, I can’t say I could hear much, if any difference between the various settings.
- Lean, bright sound
- Better with voices than it is with music
- Decent headphone output
There’s certainly a ceiling to the Venice’s performance and it’s not a particularly high one, but let me start with what’s good, and what’s good is the bread and butter for any radio: spoken word content.
With commentaries the Venice offers clear, intelligible voice quality across a range of stations, whether I was listening to the golf on BBC Radio 5 Live to Absolute Radio 00s on DAB or BBC R3 on FM. Sound quality depends on the channel itself, there were some stations that sounded more detailed, rounded and defined on FM than their DAB counterparts.
The decent clarity makes for an easy enough listen, and there’s good range to the volume level, turning it up to the max when listening to Bloomberg, 6 Music and TalkSport didn’t incur any distortion. There was some slight sibilance but little that would cause an issue.
It’s with music where you can hear the Venice’s limitations come to the fore. Over a Bluetooth connection it displays decent vocal clarity but there’s not what I would call a forensic level of detail or insight in its performance. It sounds cloudy and lacking in definition compared to the Tribit Stormbox Micro speaker, with not much dynamism or spaciousness, sounding boxed in.
Tonally the Venice produces a lean, bright and slightly harsh presentation, and though bass lacks a considerable amount of size and weight, there’s some decent kick to the beat in OutKast’s Ms. Jackson. The Venice’s focus is a consistent one, which is very much on bringing voices to the fore. The headphone output is surprisingly decent, lean and crisp in tone, and certainly useful for some bedtime listening if you have a good pair of wired headphones to use.
Should you buy it?
If you’re after a cheap, portable radio Small and light enough to carry around in your bag, and a performance that offers solid vocal quality.
If you listen to lots of music The Venice isn’t as great with music as it is with the spoken word, you’d be better off looking for a Bluetooth speaker for that use.
There Groov-e Venice is a decent DAB radio for the price. It’s much better with the voices than it is describing the intricacies of Tune Yards’ latest song, but what would you expect for the £31.99 asking price?
It’s easy to use and portable enough to carry around the home or into work. If you want to listen to music, you’re better of purchasing a Bluetooth speaker, but if you’re interested in keeping up with cricket scores or want to listen rock from the 70s, this offers decent quality at an affordable entry point
How we test
We test every radio we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Tested for a month
Tested with real world use
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The Venice can be plugged into the mains or used as a portable radio, for the latter you need 4 x AA batteries, which are not included with the radio.
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