If you’ve yet to experience the phenomenon psychologists call ‘cute aggression', wherein the sight of a tiny pedigree puppy (possibly in a teacup, maybe wearing a bonnet) inexplicably makes you want to squeeze the poor creature a bit too hard for its own good, Roberts’ newest Revival Petite offering could easily be the catalyst for your first time.
The Petite is an item that, without a scale reference, appears roughly the size of a shoebox. It’s actually the size of a Gregg’s custard slice and is so beautifully styled – in such mouth-watering retro colourways – you may want to take a conflicted bite out of it or try to break it. Once this illogical urge subsides, however, we need to work out how viable the Roberts Revival Petite is as a portable Bluetooth DAB radio, sonically speaking. So let’s acknowledge the feeling, let it pass, and get going.
The £99 Roberts Revival Petite is the smallest and most affordable radio in the British firm’s retro Revival range; cheaper and even more compact than the Revival Mini. The range takes design cues from the inaugural 1956 Roberts Revival, which was itself based on Harry Roberts’ wife’s handbag – and unusually for the Revival range, the Petite does not feature a strap across the top. Honestly, it’s too small for one, in the same way that a wallet is too small for a shoulder strap but a handbag isn’t. At this price and boasting 20 presets (10 DAB and 10 FM), Bluetooth connectivity and a 20-hour portable battery, the Petite boasts plenty of features for the money.
The Revival Petite is available in no fewer than six gloriously retro shades, of which our ‘pop orange’ sample is probably our favourite. You also get Roberts’ classic leather-feel casework, gold-tone metal accents and branding plate over the speaker grille. Looking at this pint-sized Bluetooth DAB radio face on, the right side of the unit is where you’ll see the multi-function knob, which is surrounded by four buttons for volume up/down, power and listening source – either FM, DAB, Bluetooth or aux-in. This multi-function knob clicks pleasingly and serves various purposes, but turning it for volume alteration is not one of them, which initially feels a little counter-intuitive.
Battery life 20 hours
Dimensions 7.6 x 12.4 x 7.3cm
Auxiliary input Yes
However, when it's in Bluetooth mode, you can now play and pause music by pressing this knob or skip forward and back by turning it. A long press brings up a menu that includes the option to scan for DAB stations, add a preset, set a sleep timer and alter the brightness of the digital screen. Said screen displays battery life, music source, station and track playing but, at roughly the size of a postage stamp, the text displayed could be a bit small to be easily legible for some.
Around the back of the unit is a 3.5mm aux-in for wired listening, an external antenna input (antenna supplied) and a microUSB port for charging. It’s slightly disappointing to see a microUSB connection rather than the newer USB-C one, but given the 3.5mm aux input (to attach it to a portable music player for a neat portable music system, say), it’s a minor issue.
Under the cute exterior, there’s also a bass radiator alongside the Petite’s bijou driver to add some bass clout to the audio output, plus a lithium-ion battery to provide up to 20 hours of portable listening – impressive in a model of such dinky proportions.
As well as DAB, DAB+, FM radio and aux-in options, Bluetooth is onboard for easy wireless connectivity to your device. It pairs easily with our phone, issuing a reassuring beep, and the connection never falters across the course of our listening. That’s it for the feature set – there’s no wi-fi support or integration of voice assistants or streaming services such as Spotify Connect or AirPlay 2 – but at this price point and boasting such eyebrow-raising stamina, it is still a decently featured little radio.
For a truly tiny product, the Revival Petite sounds as big as you could reasonably hope to achieve; a credit to Roberts’ know-how when it comes to gleaning the best possible sound from a portable design. We listen to it outdoors hooked up to our old iPod. We listen to Capital FM radio in the kitchen, then talkSPORT DAB at our desk. We send a playlist to it via Bluetooth from our phone. Every source the Roberts relays is delivered with agility, textured vocals, pleasing depth and clarity. In Macy Gray’s I Try, Gray’s vocal is central, crisp and emotive alongside a regimented bassline in a cohesive, surprisingly detailed and musical mix. Listen to Debussy’s Clair de Lune and the keys feel three dimensional, with a generous sense of rise and fall through the dynamics.
Our only issue is when listening to it at its top volume increment, number 20. Here, things do start to distort slightly through the treble (which hardens) and the bass (which begins to bloat). But take a moment to remember, this thing is the size of a modest 1970s battenberg cake – it is not intended to become an alternative to your hi-fi system. At more sensible listening levels, you’ll hear it display rare talent for its level.
At the park (where listening to its radio will save on data eaten by pinging DAB stations from your phone to your Bluetooth speaker), in the kitchen, by your bed or beside your desk, the Revival Petite is a joy to use and sounds very good indeed.
Occasionally, a product ventures through our testing facility that not only surprises us sonically but makes its way into our everyday lives, to the point that we miss it when the time inevitably comes that we have to return it. The Revival Petite is one such device.
For anyone looking for a reliable Bluetooth speaker with DAB and FM radio that you can throw into a bag and know that it’ll last throughout the afternoon and long into the evening, this little Roberts should be on your list. Any individual yet to invite the joys of the original wireless into their lives will find this device a compelling gateway product. It’s also a decent Bluetooth speaker, it offers wired listening, and it sounds every bit as good as anyone can ask for the price.
- Sound 5
- Build 4
- Features 5
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