Radios have come a long way since the days of your grandad's wireless. The digital revolution means that listeners around the world can enjoy a far greater choice of stations, clearer reception and a host of other benefits thanks to digital radio.
If you're thinking of buying a digital radio, there's a wide range of home and portable models available, with prices ranging anywhere from $100 up to $1,000. Our guide will help you understand how to compare digital radios, the important features to look for and how much to spend to find the best digital radio for your needs.
Compare some of the best digital radios
What is a digital radio?
Digital radio is the latest generation of radio broadcast technology. Sound is turned into digital signals and transmitted. This digital signal is then picked up and decoded at the other end by a digital radio receiver. This results in enhanced sound quality close to what you'd expect from a CD without the interference that can plague AM and FM stations.
However, while a set-top box allows you to convert an analog TV to digital, you'll need to get a new radio if you want to listen to digital transmissions. Digital radios in Australia feature chips that allow them to receive DAB+ (the upgraded and most widely accepted version of the Digital Audio Broadcasting standard) transmissions.
Why should I consider a digital radio?
Compare the quality of digital TV with what your old analog TV used to produce and you'll get an instant idea of why digital radio is a big deal. There are plenty of reasons why you might want to upgrade your AM/FM model to a digital radio:
Why shouldn't I consider a digital radio?
There are a couple of reasons why buying a digital radio could be a waste of money. First, if you don't listen to the radio all that much and prefer to access your media content through other formats, a digital radio will be little more than unnecessary clutter. If you're looking for another home audio solution, you might like to check out our home audio price analysis.
The second issue relates to digital radio reception in Australia. Digital radio is currently available in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, with permanent services set to be rolled out in Canberra, Hobart and Darwin in 2019. So if you live in regional Australia, you may not be able to get digital radio reception and buying one of these units would, therefore, be a waste of money.
To find out whether digital radio reception is available in your area, head to Digital Radio Plus and enter your postcode.
What types are available?
There are two main types of digital radio to choose from:
- Desktop digital radios. These household digital radios plug into your wall socket and include features like a display screen, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. This category can be divided even further into units for use in the kitchen or living room (these are generally larger and more powerful) and those for use in the bedroom (these are more compact and include features such as an alarm clock).
- Portable digital radios. Lightweight and compact in design, you can take these units with you wherever you go. They offer the convenience of battery power and many are also water resistant, but they tend to have fewer features than desktop models. However, they're usually cheaper than desktop radios.
Though nowhere near as widely available, there's also a third type of digital radio to choose from: in-car models. If you've got a new car, then you'll likely have digital radio already, but drivers of older vehicles will need adaptor radios that allow you to play digital content through your car's stereo.
How to compare digital radios
When shopping for a digital radio, you'll need to consider your budget, whether you want a portable or home unit, the design of your radio and the type of listening you want to do. To find the perfect digital radio for your needs, remember to take the following factors into account:
Which digital radio is best for me?
The best digital radio for you depends on the type of listening you want to do – for example, the right model for someone who wants to listen to music on their morning walk will be different to the top pick for someone searching for a powerful radio for the family living room. There are even some smartphones that support digital radio, as our review of the LG Stylus DAB+ reveals.
To help make your choice easier, we've compared five popular digital radios in the table below:
|The good||The bad|
|Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System IV|
|Tivoli Music System Three+|
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