Buying the best DAB digital radio can transform your radio listening, with great audio quality, a wider choice of stations and innovative features.
There are lots of advantages to buying a digital radio. DAB (digital audio broadcast) radio gives access to more stations than FM, with many dedicated to particular music genres such as jazz, classical or rock.
Digital radios have LCD screens that show the names of the stations available. To listen to a station, simply pick its name from the list. Some digital radios let you listen to internet radio, include iPhone docks, and can pause, rewind and record radio programmes.
You’ll need to buy a digital radio if you want to continue listening to radio in the future. Digital is scheduled to replace analogue radio, although a date for the switchover hasn’t been set.
DAB don’t suffer from interference that plagues FM radio. There’s no hiss, crackle, or fading, meaning digital radio sounds crystal clear most of the time. However, a strong FM signal produces superior sound compared to digital as broadcasters compress the digital signal which can reduce the sound quality.
For a full list of essential DAB radio features read DAB radio features explained.
What to consider when buying a DAB radio
DAB radios come in all shapes and sizes – from small handheld models to large, heavy dual-speaker models. Choosing the right radio for your home depends on which room you intend to listen to it in.
Kitchen Look for a DAB radio that’s easy to use. Ignore models with touchscreens that are fiddly to operate with wet hands. Instead choose a radio with easy-to-operate knobs and dials. If space is limited, consider a front or top-facing speaker model, which can slot in next to other kitchen gadgets without muffling the sound. A built-in timer for cooking is useful.
Bedroom For use here, DAB radios need at least one alarm – and the ability to set different weekend and weekday alarms is useful. The best DAB radios have plenty of alarm options such as a buzzer, radio alarm, ambient noises or using your own music. Make sure that the snooze button is easy to use – a simple task that some of the worst radios make surprisingly difficult. A large, dimmable display is preferably too as overly bright ones can be annoying when you’re trying to get to sleep.
Sitting room Here you can go bigger on sound, so look for a DAB radio that offers top-quality audio wherever it’s positioned. Internet radio features are good if you’d like to listen to a wider range of stations, including podcasts and catch-up services. If you own an iPhone, a radio with a dock connector is a good idea. Space is usually less of an issue when choosing a radio for the sitting room. A tabletop model with large speakers is a good bet, as is a remote control so you don’t have to get up off the sofa to change stations or adjust the volume.
Out and about A small, portable DAB radio is a must for sports fans or simply listening to the radio while travelling or caravanning. Choose a DAB radio with a carry handle, and ideally a rechargeable battery – although the ability to use replaceable D or AA batteries is handy if you’re away from a power source. Other features to look for include Bluetooth connectivity so you can play music from a smartphone using the portable DAB radio as a speaker.
Ready to choose the perfect DAB radio for you, read our guide to the Four Best DAB radios.