Home Home & Garden Best Budget DAB Radio

Best Budget DAB Radio

by BestBudgetAdmin
best budget dab radio

DAB radios used to be very expensive, with a basic digital radio costing over £100. Prices have fallen a lot in the past few years, and these days you can buy a new DAB radio for £40 or less.

Obviously, the cheapest radios typically have lower build and sound quality. Nevertheless, there are some decent radios out there for very low prices. You can’t expect these radios to last for ever, but they could be good options if price is your main priority.

We’ve gone out and found 10 of the best DAB radios available to buy online so you don’t have to.

All of these radios were available for under £40 when this article was last updated, though prices can fluctuate so we can’t guarantee they’ll still be so cheap when you read this.

1. I-Star – Portable Mains and Battery Powered DAB Radio

Check for Deals & Reviews on Amazon →
(don't worry, button opens a new tab)

This cheap DAB radio from i-Star has a useful built-in rechargeable battery that charges via a USB cable and offers up to four hours of listening. You can also plug it into the mains.

With its stylish and compact design, you can take your I-Star Radio anywhere you go. You can also enjoy up to 4 hours of playback from a single charge without the need to connect to mains.

The I-Star Portable mains and battery powered DAB Radio lets you Tune in to DAB/DAB+ and FM stations in no time and store up to 20 favourites.

Key Features
  • Mains or battery powered
  • Store up to 20 pre-set stations
  • Sleep timer
  • Integrated headphone jack

Verdict

This radio has a sleek design and the rechargeable battery is a handy feature. However, it’s not ideal for listening to at night or in quiet places as the lowest volume setting is quite loud.

2. Majority Histon II DAB/DAB+ Digital & FM Portable Radio

Check for Deals & Reviews on Amazon →
(don't worry, button opens a new tab)

The Histon II is an affordable digital radio from budget radio brand Majority. It was released

in April 2018 as an update to the original Histon model, with updated software and extra alarm functions.

At the time of writing, the Histon II is one of the cheapest DAB radios on the market and appears to offer a lot of features for the price.

The radio reception on both FM and DAB is relatively good on this radio, and there is minimal interference and crackling. This is thanks to the Histon’s large telescopic aerial which is longer than most small radios’ aerials.

Design-wise the Histon II is modern and minimalistic. It’s very thin and elegant and looks more expensive than it is. It looks very similar to the Goomans Canvas radio, though with a black or rose finish rather than grey, silver or copper. The Histon II’s slim design means it will fit easily on a shelf or windowsill.

Like most portable DAB radios, the battery life is quite poor, so it’s best to plug it into the mains if you can. The radio comes with both a mains lead and a USB cable that lets you power the radio from a computer.

Key Features
  • 20 pre-set stations
  • Alarm clock
  • Mains or USB powered
  • Sleep function
  • LCD Display
  • Auto-scan tuning
  • Earphone socket

Verdict

The Majority Histon II is one of the cheapest DAB radios in the UK at the moment, and it offers great value for money. If you’re expecting hi-fi quality sound, you’ll be disappointed, but if you want a functional and cheap DAB radio it’s a good choice.

3. Smith-Style Metal DAB/DAB+ FM Digital Radio

Check for Deals & Reviews on Amazon →
(don't worry, button opens a new tab)

The Smith-Style Metal digital radio is much more than just a portable radio with lots of useful features including sleep timer and alarm, 40 DAB+ pre-sets and 40 FM pre-sets, headphone output and analogue clock in standby.

This office radio can be powered by mains or batteries, making it perfect for use in the kitchen, office and many other places. It is a compact radio with high quality sound for all your favourite DAB radio or FM radio stations on the go.

Key Features
  • 8” LCD color display
  • Over 40 DAB radio stations
  • Mains or battery powered
  • Compact size
  • Product dimensions: 215mm x 135mm 50mm
  • 3 years warranty

Verdict

Great radio, so easy to set up with crystal clear reception. Would recommend to anyone wanting a portable dab radio. Great price and comes with a three-year warranty.

4. Smith-Style Play DAB/DAB+ FM Digital Radio

Check for Deals & Reviews on Amazon →
(don't worry, button opens a new tab)

This office radio can be powered by mains or batteries, making it perfect for use in the kitchen, office and many other places.

The Smith-Style Play digital radio is a Compact radio with high quality sound for all your favourite DAB radio or FM radio stations on the go.

Much more than just a portable radio the Smith Style PLAY has lots of useful features including sleep timer and alarm, 40 DAB+ pre-sets and 40 FM pre-sets, headphone output and automatic clock.

This digital radio also has a 2.4″ Colour display screen with DAB/FM station and real time current playing track information.

Key Features
  • 4” LCD color display
  • Over 50 DAB radio stations
  • Over 40 DAB+ Stations
  • Mains or battery powered
  • Compact size
  • Product dimensions: 155mm x 108mm 48mm
  • 3 years warranty

Verdict

The Smith-Style PLAY is a great DAB radio for the price. Its compact and mobile abilities make it ideal to take with you when you go away or even to use around the house.

5. Smith-Style Retro H1 FM/DAB Digital Radio

Check for Deals & Reviews on Amazon →
(don't worry, button opens a new tab)

This office radio can be powered by mains or batteries, with a carry handle making it perfect for use in the kitchen, office and many other places

Much more than just a portable radio with lots of useful features including bedside alarm clock with snooze option. Set up to 10 DAB pre-sets and 10 FM pre-sets so you can find your favourite stations at the touch of a button.

Connect your chosen device via wireless Bluetooth connection to begin streaming and playing your favourite media. Connect any supported audio device via the 3.5mm AUX input or plug your favourite headphones in to listen in private

Key Features
  • Mains powered and portable
  • Bluetooth compatible
  • Store 20 pre-set channels
  • Headphone jack
  • Alarm clock and Snooze function
  • Compact size – (22 x 17 x 9cm)
  • 3 years warranty

Verdict

The Smith-Style Retro H1 Digital radio is another contender for best on the market. Its compact, stylish and provides good sound quality. You’ll be sure to be dancing away in no time.

6. Roberts Radio M3 DAB/DAB+/FM Radio

Check for Deals & Reviews on Amazon →
(don't worry, button opens a new tab)

The Roberts Play M3 is a small portable digital radio that only offers the most essential features.

It’s one of the cheapest radios in Roberts’ product range, so it could be a good choice if you want something straightforward and affordable from a leading brand.

The Roberts Play M3 is very easy to start using—just plug it in, switch it on and let it find the stations available in your area. It’s generally a very easy to use, and the instructions are clearly written. The telescopic aerial helps give the Play M3 a relatively good DAB signal.

You can save three pre-sets on DAB/DAB+ and three on FM. They can easily be set and recalled using the dedicated pre-set buttons on the top of radio. While lots of other radios let you save more pre-sets, you often have to scroll through a menu which makes them fiddly and time-consuming to use. With the Play M3, using pre-sets is very simple, and since most people only listen to a handful of stations anyway, three pre-sets should be enough.

You can plug the Play M3 into the mains or use it with four AA batteries. It gets through AA batteries quite quickly and doesn’t have a built-in battery charger, unlike the more expensive Roberts Play. Some people like to use replaceable batteries, but others would find a built-in rechargeable battery more convenient.

Key Features
  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Saves 6 pre-set stations, with 3 dedicated pre-set buttons
  • Mains or battery powered with 4 x AA batteries
  • Headphone jack
  • Telescopic aerial
  • Dimensions:14 cm x 9.5 cm x 4.5 cm

Verdict

The Roberts Play M3 is a small budget radio that’s designed for minimal fuss. There aren’t any fancy features but if this radio can offer you clear sound, it could be something of a bargain.

7. Smith-Style Urban DAB/DAB+ FM Digital Radio

Check for Deals & Reviews on Amazon →
(don't worry, button opens a new tab)

This Bluetooth radio can be powered by mains or batteries, making it perfect for use in the kitchen, office and many other places.

Much more than just a portable radio with lots of useful features, the Smith -Style URBAN includes an automatic clock and dual alarms with sleep and snooze, 10 DAB+ pre-sets and 10 FM pre-sets, headphone output and Bluetooth.

The Smyth-Style URBAN comes with a handy 2.4″ Colour display screen with DAB/FM station and real time current playing track information. You can connect your chosen device via wireless Bluetooth connection to begin streaming and playing your favourite media from anywhere.

Key Features
  • 4” LCD color display
  • Over 50 DAB radio stations
  • Over 40 DAB+ Stations
  • Mains or battery powered
  • Compact size
  • Product dimensions: 163mm x 110mm 45mm
  • 3 years warranty

Verdict

The Smith-Style URBAN is a great DAB radio for the price. Its compact and mobile abilities make it ideal to take with you when you go away or even to use around the house.

8. Majority Girton II – DAB+ DAB Digital & FM Portable Radio

Check for Deals & Reviews on Amazon →
(don't worry, button opens a new tab)

The Girton is a retro-style digital radio from budget British electronics brand Majority. It offers both FM and DAB radio as well as an alarm and can be battery powered or used with mains power.

The Girton is named after a village near Cambridge where this radio was designed (though it is manufactured in China).

Like most DAB radios, the Majority Girton is quick and easy to set up. It automatically sets the right time on the LCD screen using the DAB radio signal. DAB radio reception is generally strong on this unit. The sound quality is also decent for a radio at this price point, though inevitably there isn’t much bass.

You can plug this radio into the mains or power it with 4 C-size batteries, making it quite versatile. The carrying handle is useful if you want to use it as a portable radio.

Key Features
  • Saves 20 pre-set stations (10 on FM and 10 on DAB)
  • Alarm clock
  • Sleep function
  • Headphone jack
  • LCD display
  • Powered by the mains or 4 C batteries
  • Carrying handle
  • Telescopic aerial
  • Dimensions: 26 cm wide x 14 cm high x 9 cm deep

Verdict

Like most Majority radios, the Girton offers great value for money but has a few quirks. It’s a good choice if you want something affordable for listening to around the house and don’t need any advanced features.

9. Majority Histon II DAB/DAB+ Digital & FM Portable Radio

Check for Deals & Reviews on Amazon →
(don't worry, button opens a new tab)

The Histon II is an affordable digital radio from budget radio brand Majority. It was released in April 2018 as an update to the original Histon model, with updated software and extra alarm functions.

The Majority Histon II automatically sets the correct time and date when you first turn it on, making it very easy to set up. It lets you save 10 pre-set stations on both FM and DAB, and you can also set an alarm or a sleep timer.

The radio reception on both FM and DAB is relatively good on this radio, and there is minimal interference and crackling. This is thanks to the Histon’s large telescopic aerial which is longer than most small radios’ aerials.

Design-wise the Histon II is modern and minimalistic. It’s very thin and elegant and looks more expensive than it is. It looks very similar to the Goomans Canvas radio, though with a black or rose finish rather than grey, silver or copper. The Histon II’s slim design means it will fit easily on a shelf or windowsill.

Like most portable DAB radios, the battery life is quite poor, so it’s best to plug it into the mains if you can. The radio comes with both a mains lead and a USB cable that lets you power the radio from a computer.

Key Features
  • Saves 20 pre-set stations (10 on FM and 10 on DAB/DAB+)
  • Mains or battery powered (4 x AA)
  • Dual alarm clock
  • Sleep timer
  • Headphone jack
  • Telescopic aerial
  • Can be powered by USB cable
  • Dimensions: 18 cm x 11 cm x 5 cm

Verdict

The Majority Histon II is one of the cheapest DAB radios in the UK at the moment, and it offers great value for money. If you’re expecting hi-fi quality sound you’ll be disappointed, but if you want a functional and cheap DAB radio it’s a good choice.

10. Goodmans Portable Digital/DAB & FM RDS Radio

Check for Deals & Reviews on Amazon →
(don't worry, button opens a new tab)

The Goodmans portable radio is one of the most popular and cheapest portable radios currently available in the UK. It has a minimalistic design and comes in a choice of colours (Copper, Slate Grey, and Steel).

This radio is very compact and should fit easily on a bedside cabinet or in your kitchen. It’s easy to set up and will find available DAB stations within a few seconds.

You have a choice of using either 4 AA batteries or mains power, which makes it very flexible if you want to move it around the house. Like all radios, the Goodmans Canvas eats through batteries quicker when listening to DAB radio than when listening to FM.

Key Features
  • 5 mm headphone jack
  • LCD screen that displays the station and track name
  • Uses either mains power of 4 AA batteries
  • Auto tune feature that finds DAB stations quickly

Verdict

The Goodmans Canvas is one of the more attractive budget digital radios, and has decent sound quality. Battery life is fairly good at around 8 hours, and the radio is small and lightweight making it truly portable. The radio’s design is elegant and attractive, and the choice of colours means you should be able to find one to match your decor and taste.

What to look for when buying a DAB Radio

Whether you want a DAB radio for the kitchen or a portable one to listen to in the garden, our DAB radio buying guide will help you choose the radio that suits you and your lifestyle. Here are the top 10 things to look out for when choosing your DAB Radio:

Alarms – Essential to get you out of bed in the morning, alarms cover a range of settings – including buzzer, radio, ambient sounds or, if connected to an iPhone, the ability to play stored songs instead.

EPG – A electronic programme guide will show you what’s coming up next or what’s currently playing.

DAB and FM – Want the best of both worlds? Most DAB radios will include the ability to listen to the existing FM wavelength and FM stations, as well as their updated digital DAB counterparts.

Timers – If you’re looking for a DAB radio for the kitchen, consider a model with handy timers, so you can set an alarm countdown when cooking food.

Bluetooth – Enables you to wirelessly connect to a nearby Bluetooth device, including Bluetooth headphones and smartphones. This lets you listen to music without a tangle of wires, or play music from a Bluetooth smartphone using your DAB radio as a wireless speaker.

Wi-Fi – DAB radios with built-in Wi-Fi can be wirelessly connected to your home network and then access the internet so you can listen to catch-up radio services, a range of internet radio stations and download podcasts.

Touchscreen – Rare on DAB radios but some models have a touchscreen that controls audio, stations and other settings.

Snooze button – Essential for a bedside DAB radio, this allows you to snooze an alarm. Typically, snooze is set for nine minutes, with increasing shorter intervals between button presses. Look for one that’s easy to use – a simple task that some of DAB radios make surprisingly difficult.

Remote control – Some DAB radios come with a remote control for adjusting volume, station and basic settings.

USB – A port for connecting devices such as a tablet or computer, or plug in a USB memory stick and play songs that are stored on it.

FAQ’s

What does DAB Radio stand for?

Digital audio broadcasting (DAB), also known as digital radio and high-definition radio, is audio broadcasting in which analog audio is converted into a digital signal and transmitted on an assigned channel in the AM or (more usually) FM frequency range.

DAB is said to offer compact disc (CD)- quality audio on the FM (frequency modulation) broadcast band and to offer FM-quality audio on the AM (amplitude modulation) broadcast band.

What Is a DAB + Radio?

You might think that digital radio is a fairly new phenomenon, but it’s actually been around for quite a while. Test transmissions began back in 1990, before digital radio as we know it was launched to the public in 1995.

Since then, though, the technology behind digital broadcasting has improved massively. DAB+ is being launched across many parts of the world to give listeners better sound quality. Currently, it hasn’t taken off in the UK just yet. Only a handful of stations broadcast this way, with the vast majority using standard DAB.

However, it’s likely that more and more broadcasters will make the switch to DAB+ in the next few years. To make sure your new purchase is futureproof, keep an eye out for DAB+ functionality when choosing a DAB radio. Luckily, all the models that we stock come with this handy feature.

Is DAB better than FM?

FM radio has been around for almost a century now. Even people who have never used one should have a basic understanding of how they work.

So, you might think that DAB is just the same old thing in a new package. In fact, it’s more than that. It’s the future. There are actually some key differences between the two formats, and DAB ultimately has the edge.

This is the big one- the main reason why so many people have switched to DAB radio. FM only has a limited bandwidth it can use, and stations have to be quite far apart, so they don’t interfere with each other.

That means you can usually only get about fifteen different FM stations in any one area. Once upon a time, this was enough to satisfy the public. Nowadays, though, we’re used to having much more choice.

Digital doesn’t just offer listeners a wider choice of stations. It also makes the radio reception much more reliable, too. It’s clear that DAB radio is better than FM. It’s got more stations, a more reliable signal, and is generally a more modern way of tuning in. If you’re yet to make the switch to digital radio, then there’s no time like the present!

How to stop interference on DAB Radio’s

The first step in troubleshooting your problem is to rule out common problems and decide whether it’s a reception or interference problem.

Rule out reception problems

As a rule of thumb, hissing, distorted ‘S’ or ‘Z’ sounds, whistling and twittering are not interference but are caused by general reception problems.

Troubleshooting Interference

Use the list of symptoms below as a guide to help you identify a possible interference source:

Loud rasping sound

This effect happens in bursts of a few seconds at a time and is due to central heating thermostats. Switching off the heating system while you are experiencing the problem will help to identify it. If the problem stops, you may have to repair or replace the thermostat. If not, it could be a nearby neighbour’s thermostat.  It’s worth checking with them.

Clicks and Pops

This is normally caused by light switches or mains wiring. Timing can be random, or there could be a pattern if the lights are on a timer. Switching lights on and off can help to identify the source. There may not be much you can do about this type of problem except move the radio away from any light switches or mains wiring.  

Buzzing/Crackling

Faulty street lamps can cause this effect.  Note when the nearby lamps switch on and off and compare it with when you experience the problem. Look out for lamps which are dull or flickering as this is normally a sign, they are faulty.  Contact the council if you spot any.

Whining/buzzing

A faulty or uncompressed engine can cause a distinct buzzing ‘whine’ which varies with engine speed – Motorcycles tend to be the worst. Try to move your radio away from the street or use an external aerial.

Crackly Whine 

An electric motor is used in many appliances such as lawnmowers, washing machines, drills and hairdryers.  A faulty motor can cause crackly whine. Check whether any of these is being used when you experience the problem. If so, and it’s in your own home, move the radio away from the appliance. If the problem continues you may need to repair or replace the appliance.

Our Final Thought

These days, anyone can find an affordable radio that suits their needs, without having to compromise on performance. What’s your favourite DAB radio under £100, and have we covered it in today’s list? If not, let us know in the comments below, and we might just check out your radio for our next review!

Related Posts

Leave a Comment