There’s no doubt that the Roberts Stream 65i is eager to please. Sitting at the top of the company’s digital radio line up, it boasts an impressive spec list that combines the best of streaming, physical media and radio playback in a single box.
It’s such a shame that it falls so far short of its potential.
Build and features
On a physical level, it’s not the most stylish all-in-one system we’ve seen.
Pure’s C-D6 offers a cleaner, more refined design compared with the Roberts’ more matter-of-fact approach, but the Stream 65i does have a large colour display going in its favour, for displaying cover art.
MORE: Pure C-D6 review
Alongside FM, DAB and internet radio, the Stream 65i is capable of streaming music via Bluetooth, DLNA and Spotify Connect, and playing directly from the likes of CD, USB, aux in and SD card.
It can also rip CDs and radio shows to USB or SD card too, in case you’re in the market for making a modern-day mixtape.
Getting the Stream 65i on to our network is easy enough, as we’re prompted to start the set-up wizard when we first turn on the radio.
After entering our password and connecting successfully, the 65i is able to automatically update its time and date via the internet, and we’re ready to go.
Once the 65i is online, you can unlock the world of internet radio stations, all of which load quickly and play stably (as do DAB and FM stations too), as well as opening up the various streaming options the 65i has to offer.
We find scrolling through menus and selecting sources with the included remote works just fine once you know where everything is, but there’s also a third party app called Undok that you can use on your phone or tablet instead.
MORE: Best DAB Radios 2016
The app works fine for the most part, giving you all the playback controls you’ll need, but we do have a few issues with it struggling to see the Stream 65i on occasion, despite both devices being on the same network.
It’s hard to know whether this is an isolated issue, but the remote is always there as a back up. If that isn’t working either, check the batteries – we found there was enough space in the battery compartment for them to wiggle free at will.
There are 30 radio presets available to load up with your favourite stations for quick access, and the option to pick any one of these – or the music from a CD, USB or SD card – to wake you up in the morning.
We choose a few tracks from Spotify Connect to start. First up is The Bucket by Kings of Leon, and while it’s clear the Stream 65i has the power and ability to go decently loud, it lacks the scale and size that makes the volume really worthwhile.
The busy rock track is quick to highlight another of the Stream 65i’s weaknesses too – it sounds congested when too many elements of a song come together at once, and lacks the clarity needed to be able to pick out individual instruments.
Roberts hasn’t managed to deliver the superb balance of the Award-winning Stream 93i here either, and the result is a rather coarse sound that really struggles to show much in the way of detail or dynamics.
The bass is overdone to the point that it sounds bloated and cumbersome, while the drum beat that punctuates the track lacks any real sense of punch or impact.
MORE: Roberts Stream 93i review
The coarseness that robs the midrange of much of its detail stretches up into the treble too, and while it’s not necessarily an overly bright sound, the higher register isn’t good enough quality to make it an easy listen.
Voices sit forward in the mix, and in a simpler, stripped-back track like Beyoncé’s piano ballad Sandcastles (or indeed, talk radio for that matter), it’s a touch more convincing.
There’s still not much insight here though, and we want more expression from vocals to really hold our interest.
Load up a CD and the results aren’t much better. There’s a touch more solidity and a slightly cleaner, more open midrange, but it really needs to perform a lot better than this across the board to justify its £400 price tag.
The Stream 65i costs £250 more than the excellent Stream 93i, which is by far the better buy if you can do without a CD player.
If you must have a CD player, but can give up streaming, the Denon M40DAB CD/radio is night and day in sound quality compared to this.
Yes, the Stream 65i offers all of this under one lid, and that’s bound to be attractive to some. But if performance is what you really care about, this will leave you wanting for much, much more.
See all our Roberts reviews