Best DAB radio 2023: the finest digital radios to buy today
Here's our roundup of the best DAB radio options available today
DAB radios can seem like legacy tech in a world of low-cost smart speakers, and phones that can act as wake-up alarms. But this gets to the root of why we use a DAB radio every single day, even now. Here’s our roundup of the best DAB radio options available today.
A DAB radio lets you steer clear of Alexa and Google Assistant, and can provide some entertainment even when you’re looking to get away from your phone. A DAB radio is one of the few forms of tech that feels compatible with a tech detox.
Below you’ll find some of our most beloved DAB radios available today, from pocket picks to budget bedside units and ones with high-quality sound.
Our pick of the best DAB radio choices to buy today
Ruark radios have been a connoisseur’s choice ever since this series began, back when these boxes were called Vita Audio radios. And they have only become more charming and stylish each year.
The Ruark Audio R1 might be the most stylish DAB radio of them all. There are hints of retro style without firmly planting a flag in the 1950s, and the latest generation has Bluetooth for greater flexibility.
Ruark uses a single high-quality driver in these radios, so you don’t get stereo or the super-deep sound of a smaller multi-room speaker like the Sonos One SL. However, its warm and inviting sound hits the bullseye for the top use cases of a smaller radio like this. Our favourite is the bedside, where the Ruark R1’s auto-dimming OLED screen is also super-handy.
Roberts Stream 94L
Like the sound of a Roberts but aren’t fussed about it looking like it has been ripped from 1956? Check out the Stream 94L. This radio offers a fantastic balance of retro-affected style, features and sound quality.
Unlike some other Roberts models, it has a multi-speaker setup. Two on the front for the high stuff. A bigger one on the back for the bassy stuff. This trio makes the Stream 94L great for music, and for playing the radio super-loud. Sure, it can be polite too.
This big-on-features DAB radio has a colour screen, Wi-Fi for streaming from Spotify, Amazon Music or Deezer, Bluetooth and Internet radio.
Pure Siesta Charge
The Pure Siesta Charge is one of the very best bedside alarm clocks for a couple of important reasons. First, its ClearVue LCD screen is great, and dims right down at night so you’re not kept awake by its glow.
The radio also has a Qi wireless charging spot on its top, so you don’t have to worry about plugging your phone in. No wireless charging? There’s a USB charging point on the back too.
Sound quality is decent for its size. It’s no music monster like the discontinued Siesta Home or one to Pure’s biggies, but is still ideal for bedside use.
Roberts Rambler Mini
The Roberts Rambler series features radios with 70s-inspired designs, a couple of decades ahead of its best-known modes. There’s the standard Rambler and the Rambler Mini, and we tend to favour the Mini. While it isn’t quite as striking as the full-size version, it does have a built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery.
It’s called “rambler”, let’s go rambling with the thing, right? The Rambler Mini has DAB/FM radio channels plus Bluetooth, so can stream audio from your phone.
Just 18cm long and under 6cm thick, this is the kind of radio you could take on holiday or shove in a bag for casual travel use. If you want a small radio for mostly at-home use, also consider the Revival Petite. It has a passive radiator for better bass.
Roberts Revival iStream 3
The Roberts Revival has to be the longest-standing design in radios, and one of the longest in tech in general. Roberts has made these things since 1956, and the look is apparently inspired by a handbag of the wife of company founder Harry Roberts.
While the appearance remains similar, the Roberts Revival iStream 3 adds stacks of modern tech including Internet Radio, Spotify support and, of course, DAB+. Roberts still uses real wood cabinets and a classic moderately large diameter speaker driver, for this size of box, anyway, leading to a warm and rich sound.
Unlike the old Revivals, the back no longer swings open, likely because of one too many complaints about hinge failures. But you can still pop open the bottom to add 6 AA batteries for portable use. Yep, in some ways, the Roberts Revival tech is still quite old-school.
Pure Evoke Play
Veteran Pure radio fans may not recognise the brand from this new design style. It’s a lot less retro-inspired than the Pure Evoke designs of old. While we think fewer are going to fall in love with this look, there are some real benefits to the new order of Evoke.
Despite being a fairly chunky unit, the Pure Evoke Home supports a battery pack that lasts up to 12 hours. This isn’t included as standard, but bumps up versatility a lot. Once you’re setup with presets you can hide the screen if you like, as it is hinged, and folds back into the body.
The Pure Evoke Play goes loud and sounds powerful, but we do find it too bassy a lot of the time compared to the best. Thankfully you can tame the bass to an extent with onboard EQ.
Ruark totally revamped the style of the R2 for this Mk4 version. Where it used to be a deep, low-rise block, looking like a stylish all-in-one Hi-Fi, the newer model sticks much closer to the style of larger DAB radios. It’s more upright and way more practical as it shaves 5cm off the depth — 15cm should fit on most shelves, right?
Fantastic styling and excellent sound quality come to define this speaker. Well, that and a rather high price, but Ruark radios aways feel like the kind of thing you could use for at least a decade.
As well as DAB, the Ruark R2 offers Bluetooth and multi-room streaming via the Undok platform.
Roberts Sports DAB 5
There are portable DAB radios, and then there’s this: the pocket DAB radio. The Roberts Sports DAB 5 makes us nostalgic for the days of iPods and MP3 players. It’s a single-purpose pocket radio, just 10.5cm tall.
Great for getting out and away from your phone, when you also want a bit of entertainment to keep your brain stimulated. It doesn’t have Bluetooth, and for best results you’re not going to want to use the bundled buds, so have a hunt for your cabled headphones if you’ve long since “gone wireless”.
One stumbling point — the Sports DAB 5 takes AA batteries so we’d recommend buying some rechargeables and a charger if you don’t have a set already. 10 hours of use a pair, you’ll otherwise chew through a load of cells.
JBL Tuner 2
This might be the perfect picnic DAB radio. It looks like a Bluetooth speaker and, well, it is a Bluetooth speaker — just one with an antenna and DAB radio receiver squeezed inside.
The battery lasts up to 12 hours and it’s IPX7 water resistant, making it primed for poolside tunes. Unlike the average wireless speaker, there’s a display on the front that, just like other DAB radios, shows the tuned station.
It could definitely do with a passive radiator, though. With just a single 1.75-inch driver to produce the sound, the JBL Tuner 2 is no bass monster. However, that’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, particularly if you mostly listen to speech-heavy stations.
John Lewis Anyday Spectrum Solo
You might know John Lewis makes washing machines and other big appliances. But did you know it makes DAB radios too? Has done for years and years. Radios like the Anyway Spectrum Solo are here to save you from buying the random budget dreck you might stumble upon online.
It’s an upright speaker like the Ruark R1, so only offers mono sound. But it’s just a fraction of the price and uses a fairly large driver to avoid the thin and tinny sound you want to avoid in a DAB radio.
The Spectrum Solo is cute too, which is why we think it might appeal more than the larger, stereo Spectrum Duo II. It comes in a bunch of bold colours, and is a perfect no-nonsense design for the kitchen or bedside.