We still have a lot of love for the original 'wireless' – the radio. OK, we now have myriad options for listening to music and accessing news headlines, but there are still times when sticking the radio on in the kitchen just can't be beaten.
With the advent of DAB, internet radio and Bluetooth streaming, the humble radio has come a long way since its bedside clock integration, too. However, digital DAB radios' popularity changes depending on which part of the world you're in: still popular in the UK for instance, while if you live in the US, you may have more of a struggle finding a DAB radio and less use for one.
How to choose the best DAB radio for you
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What follows is our pick of the best DAB radios to have graced our testing facilities. While all of them give you access to hundreds of digital radio stations, some models include a number of useful features to boot, such as Bluetooth streaming and integration of your favourite music streaming service.
Most importantly, when deciding what digital radio is right for you, you need to figure out whether you want something small and portable or larger and mains-powered, or if maybe you want a radio you can install in your car. Then, you'll have to decide if you just want to listen to radio or if you're interested in wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity, streaming support, or even CD player functionality.
Our round-up includes budget and premium options, from dependable brands such as Roberts, Pure and Revo. Perhaps you want something small and ridiculously cute; perhaps it needs to fill a larger room – we have the best digital radio options across all shapes and sizes here.
The Roberts Revival Petite is an item that, without a scale of reference, appears roughly the size of a shoebox, but it's actually the size of a Greggs custard slice and is so beautifully styled – in such mouth-watering retro colourways – you may experience what psychologists call 'cute aggression' and want to try to break it. Once this illogical urge subsides however, this newest, smallest and most affordable radio in Roberts' retro Revival range reveals itself to be a serious, stone-cold winner.
At £99 and boasting 20 presets (10 DAB and 10 FM), Bluetooth connectivity and a 20-hour portable battery, the Petite boasts an abundance of features for the money, but its sound is the star. Considering its tiny dimensions, the Revival Petite sounds as big and detailed as you could ever hope – a credit to Roberts’ know-how when it comes to gleaning the best possible sound from a portable design. For anyone yet to invite the joys of the original wireless into their lives, the Revival Petite is an ideal gateway radio.
Read the full review: Roberts Revival Petite
The Roberts Stream 94L is the latest iteration of an Award-winning radio (Stream 94i and 93i before it has won multiple times) and its updates are simply a new logo, a faster processor, and built-in Amazon Music and Deezer support alongside Spotify. Its considerable talents as an FM, DAB and internet radio remain the standard to beat too.
It’s a smart-looking unit, with excellent build quality throughout. The full-colour display is large and readable at a distance, and it's easy to use with the unit's buttons and the smartphone app.
This digital radio is such an enjoyable performer. Voices come through crystal clear, it times well, is punchy and detailed, and dynamically so expressive too.
The Stream 94L’s smooth, unfussy nature masks just how talented a performer it is, especially in its ability to sound so fluid and capable with anything you play through it. At an unchanged price of £200, it remains the best sound-per-pound radio we've tested.
Read the full review: Roberts Stream 94L
The Model One Digital Generation 2 looks for all the world like a normal radio, complete with fabric grille, antenna and real-wood finish, but don't be fooled. At its core, the Tivoli is an internet radio, with DAB+/FM taking the reins and now, Chromecast, AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth connectivity its valuable passengers.
This little gem scored five stars across the board in our testing, not just overall but for build, features and a clean, engaging sound – a fact which left us with little choice but to hand it a What Hi-Fi? Award. Its footprint is roughly that of a paperback (rather than a bigger shoe-box, say), it is thoroughly likeable and it could have come straight from a cover shoot with Livingetc.
It's pricey, but if that doesn't bother you, the Tivoli Model One Digital Generation 2 is a splendid and fully-featured digital radio.
Read the full review: Tivoli Model One Digital Generation 2
It’s been more than 60 years since Harry Roberts took a look at his wife’s handbag and decided to design a radio in its image, and it's an aesthetic that is still going strong today.
Integrated music streaming apps sets it apart but it still has FM, DAB, internet radio and Bluetooth, too. There's a full-colour screen, a 3.5mm headphone output and aux line in, USB input and buttons for presets, playback and alarm. It can even be voice-controlled when partnered with an Amazon Alexa device. Add six AA batteries and it's a portable radio, too.
The combination of connectivity, classic design and fine build quality feels good value for money (we tested it at £200). It’s Roberts’ sonic presentation that makes the Revival iStream 3 an obvious option at this level, thanks to a warm, welcoming sonic character that's great with music and speech.
The newer Roberts Stream 94L is arguably better value and sounds a touch fuller, but some may prefer the retro looks of the Revival iStream 3.
Read the full review: Roberts Revival iStream 3
The Evoke H2 continues the fine work of a multiple Award-winning range – and indeed, this particular product version won our What Hi-Fi? Award in 2020 for the best radio priced under £100. This budget model is an excellent affordable option if you just want a simple and great-sounding digital radio.
As well as FM and DAB radio, there's a 3.5mm input for connecting other music sources, and a headphone socket if you need to listen in silence. Ideal for a bedroom or kitchen, there's a clock, sleep timer and kitchen timer.
It's not a portable radio out of the box, but you can buy an optional Pure battery pack if you want that functionality. Altogether, it's a real bargain.
Read the full review: Pure Evoke H2
Note: This model has been replaced by a new "H3" version.
At this price, the Revo SuperConnect is head and shoulders ahead of other DAB radios. It's jam-packed with extra features, including Bluetooth, DLNA streaming and Spotify Connect, so you should be able to play music from just about any source.
We like the retro-modern design. It's easy to use and the audio quality is impressive, too, with a weighty, grippy sound. You have to pay more for those extra features (and the room-filling sound) but if you want a premium radio with a whole lot more on offer than just DAB, this could well be the one for you.
Read the full review: Revo SuperConnect
Note: There is a new stereo version of this model, the Revo SuperConnect Stereo, which will be put through the review process very soon.
Most new cars now come with DAB radio fitted as standard, but if you have an older model you may be stuck with FM/AM. So here's a simple solution from Pure. As aftermarket in-car DAB solutions go, this is a fine option, and it's simple enough for almost anyone to use. There are aux and USB inputs, too, so you can connect an iPod or smartphone.
And how does it all sound? Well, that will depend massively on the quality of the amplifier and speakers already built into your car, but having experimented with three different models we can say that the Highway 300Di delivers clear, crisp and neutrally balanced sound. A good in-car DAB option.
Read the full review: Pure Highway 300Di
How we choose the best DAB radios
We independently review hundreds of products each year, always as a team. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency and of course, impartiality. To this end, we have state-of-the-art testing facilities located in London, Reading and Bath where we do most of our reviews.
All products are tested against rivals in the same price category and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping to ensure consistency and avoid any personal preference. We make sure to compare products against similarly-priced class leaders to ensure we get a good sense of something's value and settle on the right rating.
With DAB radios, we test not just the radio functionality itself but every feature included in a product from streaming to Bluetooth connectivity to a speaker's audio quality to ease of use and everything in between. It's important that in a review we evaluate all aspects of a product in the context of its price.
We choose only the best products from all of these reviews to feature in our Best Buys. There's no input from PR companies or sales teams, either. At What Hi-Fi? we are proud to have been delivering honest, unbiased reviews for decades. Our goal? To help you to find a product you'll be over the moon with.
You can read more about how we test and review products on What Hi-Fi? here.