Roberts makes a breathtaking array of sets, but the odd thing about this 20+ line-up is its inconsistency. You'll find poor-quality two-star performers rubbing shoulders with five-star class-leaders. In a real sense this is one brand where you never really know what you'll get. Fortunately the stereo MP-23 table radio is one of the good ones.
This is a large, heavy product, and that shines through in the sound quality - at least when listening to radio. Few rivals can better its scale, or its ability to differentiate low--frequency information.
Ace of bassListen to an outside broadcast – say, a news report – and the Roberts has distinct enough bass to reveal the traffic rumbling by. And almost regardless of the source you listen to – this unit has a choice of DAB/FM/AM and CD, along with an SD card slot and USB and 3.5mm analogue inputs – you'll find the results balanced tonally and full of detail. That means you won't be using the DAB pause/rewind function too often to fathom out something you misheard.
However, all isn't quite perfect: having gone to all the trouble of including CD replay, it's a shame Roberts didn't make it sound particularly good. Play the silver disc, and you'll find the results lack vitality and the ability to pull you into the music, thanks to subdued dynamics and a lack of rhythmic drive. It's a shame, because the unit performs extremely well as a radio and even with a line-level source (such as an iPod).
We also understand the appeal of a clean, uncluttered front panel – just compare this Roberts to some rivals and you'll understand what we mean – but that does mean the MP-23 user is totally reliant on the poorly designed remote handset. Lose that, and you can't operate the unit. Frustrating!
More after the break
Despite its price, the Roberts deserves the full five-star rating – but only as a radio. Its mediocre CD performance loses it a star – other DAB micro systems offer more – but it remains rather appealing.