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 BBC 6 Music on in the kitchen just can't be beaten.
With the advent of DAB/DAB+, internet radio and Bluetooth streaming, the humble radio has also come a long way since its bedside clock integration. However, digital DAB radios' popularity changes depending on which part of the world you're in: it's more prevalent and popular in the UK and various Europe cities like Norway, while it's non-existent if you live in the USA (which uses a different digital system).
How to choose the best DAB radio for you
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.
What follows is our pick of the best DAB radios to have graced our testing facilities (and homes) over the years, tried and tested by our team of expert reviewers. 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 the radio or if you're interested in wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity, DAB+ and streaming support, or even CD player functionality.
Our round-up includes budget and premium options, with standard DAB digital radio to various music streaming goodies. Perhaps you want something tiny 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 new five-star Revo SuperConnect Stereo might have stolen the old dog's thunder, but rest assured, the original 2014 mono model (which won a 2016 What Hi-Fi? Award) still knows plenty of tricks.
It's still a fair bit pricier than the standard DAB radio (but cheaper than the new SuperConnect Stereo). But it's jam-packed with extra features, including internet radio, Bluetooth, network streaming and Spotify Connect, not to mention the same physical connections (analogue and digital, 3.5mm headphone jack) as its Stereo sibling. 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 radio – and even act as your main sound system – this could well be the one for you.
Read the full review: Revo SuperConnect
How we test 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 its sound-per-pound value and settle on the right rating.
With DAB radios, we test not just the radio functionality itself (including the FM tuner) but every feature included in the product, from streaming to Bluetooth connectivity, to how easy it is to use and even setting the alarms and presets. It's important that we evaluate all aspects of a product in the context of its price, to ensure you're getting the best value product.
We choose only the best products from all of our 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.