Sony XDR-S16 review

Cheerfully retro sound, hefty and attacking sound Tested at £80

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Could do with more outright clarity, but the Sony is an uncomplicatedly chunky listen


  • +

    Cheerfully retro looks and a nice finish

  • +

    sounds hefty and attacking


  • -

    Cramped display

  • -

    jagged top end and so-so frequency range integration

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.

The push towards a retro-radio aesthetic is helped along by Sony in the shape of the XDR-S16.

Just because the S16 packs DAB and DAB+ reception alongside FM, that doesn’t mean it can’t have the looks or the real-wood feel of a transistor radio from the ’50s.

It includes a headphone socket and, tiny two-line display aside, is simple to use. And, when supplied with a broadcast of acceptable quality (BBC Radio 3, for instance), the Sony serves up a solidly weighty stereo sound.

It’s a driving listen, loaded with momentum, and the more attacking and dynamic the source material the happier the XDR-S16 becomes. It’s punchy at the bottom end and agreeably detailed in the midrange.

Spiky treble frequencies are a trade-off, and the Sony doesn’t quite tie the frequency range together as smoothly as some rivals, but it’s an appealing device nonetheless.

See all our DAB/FM radio reviews

Follow on Twitter

Join on Facebook

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test