At £80, you won't see the features of premium radios costing twice as much such as those from Ruark or Roberts, but for a device that’s easy to use and delivers a decent audio performance, the Pebble Radio should suffice.
- Big sound
- Easy to use
- Not great at high volumes
- Not the clearest presentation
- Review Price: £79.99
- FM/DAB+ Radio
- Weight: 1.7kg
- Optional wall mount
- 5 presets
- Headphone out
What is the Tangent Pebble Radio?
The Pebble Radio is a DAB effort from Danish brand Tangent. Sporting a modern design, the Pebble Radio can be connected to the mains or made portable with the use of batteries. Priced at £80, it sits at the affordable end of DAB radios.
As consumers veer towards digital devices, music streaming services and wireless speakers, the tried-and-trusted radio has found itself in a sticky situation: either adapts, or it faces the cliff edge.
Many brands have opted for the former, keeping up with Bluetooth speakers by adding music streaming services to their feature list, stepping up the design, and improving the sound in a market where people are comfortable playing radio stations from a smartphone.
But those options tend to cost a pretty penny. The Pebble Radio from Danish brand Tangent is priced at a more affordable level. That means it lacks many of the features you’d expect of a modern DAB radio. Nevertheless, if you’re looking a simple, easy-to-use device then the Pebble Radio ticks those boxes.
Tangent Pebble Radio build and design — The placement of the display is problematic
The Pebble Radio has a similar aesthetic to Tangent’s Pebble Splash wireless speaker. It isn’t a design that grabs the attention, with a look befitting of its price point. But like the Pebble Splash it’s a tidy, understated unit.
Available in white and black finishes (the former is the classier of the two), a grey acoustic fabric covers most of the radio’s front. Just above it sit five preset buttons for saving your favourite stations.
The display is a decent-sized screen that clearly shows station details, signal strength and programme info, as well as other details that you can cycle through with the Info button.
The placement of the display is problematic, however; you have to hover directly over the radio to see it. Glance at it from across the room and its angle, not to mention glare from natural sunlight, makes it difficult to read.
Made from moulded plastic the Pebble Radio easily attracts stains from sweaty palms, but a cloth is all that’s needed to wipe away any residue. The use of plastic means this radio isn’t going to trouble the likes of Como Audio, Roberts and Ruark in terms of construction – but at £80, you wouldn’t expect that to be the case.
On the back is a On/Off power slider, headphone jack and a USB connection for updating the unit. There’s also a telescopic antenna, useful in areas where finding a signal is tricky. Note, too, that you can wall-mount the Pebble Radio, although that option comes separately.
Related: Best DAB radios
Tangent Pebble Radio features – A limited feature set, but an easy radio to use
Operating the Pebble Radio is a fairly simple affair. On top of the unit are two control knobs that perform dual functions. Press down on the left dial and standby mode is engaged (or brings the radio out of it); turn the dial and the volume can be changed. With the dial on the right, turning will see the radio search for stations; a press down will select one. Easy-peasy.
Otherwise, there are buttons for setting the Alarm/Snooze functions; accessing modes (for FM and Bluetooth), flitting through the menus; or scanning for stations. All of them are clearly labelled.
Click on the Mode button and you can switch to FM or Bluetooth for connection to a portable device. If you fancy taking the radio around the house, there’s a compartment on the back for 4 x AA batteries, which turns the Pebble Radio into a portable unit.
Related: Best Bluetooth speakers
Tangent Pebble Radio performance – Decent sound but not particularly refined
In terms of performance, the Pebble Radio puts in a good effort – as long as you accept that it isn’t going to reach the quality of premium radio or a decent Bluetooth speaker.
Packing in 2 x 3in-wide range drivers and two rear-firing bass ports, it doesn’t offer the cleanest or crispest reception, coming across as quite thick with an audible hiss at higher volumes. The Pebble Radio is capable of a big and loud sound, though, with voices coming across as intelligible.
Its weakness at higher volumes is further exacerbated by the presence of distortion, with voices sounding a bit warbly. Keep it at mid-volume and most of these issues will be kept in check.
Bass performance is decent, although you may want to keep it closer to the wall to boost its delivery. The soundstage comes across as just slightly constrained, a factor especially noticeable when playing music via Bluetooth. There’s also a hint of sibilance in dialogue, which may grate on the ears if you’re sensitive to that kind of audio effect.
Should I buy the Tangent Pebble Radio?
If you’re after an inexpensive radio that can deliver decent sound, the Tangent Pebble Radio won’t let you down. Clarity isn’t its strong point, but it can sound fairly loud and is simple to use. For most people that’s job done.
For those who are after something more stylish, with added features and better sound, there are plenty of DAB radios that can fulfil such a specification – the Ruark R1 Mk3 or Roberts Stream 94i being just two examples. However, you’ll be paying well over £100; in the case of the Ruark, over £200, for that privilege.