Digital radio buyers guide

4 December 2017

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If you’re looking to buy a digital radio for yourself or as a gift, this buyers guide provides a few tips to consider.

Many people upgrade their mobile phones and laptops regularly, but forget that having a beautifully-designed new radio in the kitchen or bedroom not only looks and sounds great, but can increase their enjoyment.

Radio is one of the most-used items in the house, and considering the average person spends two hours a day listening, it’s worth thinking about upgrading to a digital receiver. 

The latest models feature DAB+ technology, which stands for Digital Audio Broadcasting. As well as providing better sound they include features such automatic tuning, so you can find stations easily, and an LCD screen displaying information such as the station you’re currently listening to and the song title and artist.

The technology is greener and more efficient, so broadcasters can transmit more than 30 extra radio stations not available on AM/FM – you’ll find everything from classic rock to jazz and children’s radio.  When looking to buy a new radio, here are some things to consider:

DAB+: DAB+ is the standard used in Australia.  Make sure the product says DAB+ in the description (particularly if you’re purchasing a radio from overseas) or look for the DAB+ logo on the box – a blue and white cross.

Digital radio reception: Make sure you're in the right area to receive DAB+ broadcasts.  Digital radio is available in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.  Permanent services are being rolled out for Canberra, Darwin and Hobart.  You can check coverage in your area at  If you live in a region that doesn’t yet have digital radio coverage, you can listen to DAB+ stations online using RadioApp.

Portable radios:  If you plan to use your radio out and about, make sure it has a sturdy build, is easy to carry, and has good battery life. Some offer as much as 16 hours of playing time. Some radios are also waterproof, which may be useful if you plan to take it camping or use it by the pool.

Pocket radios: These small devices allow you to listen while out walking the dog or at the races. They usually have headphones with a built-in aerial for reception. They are easy to carry but the size of the speakers can affect sound quality. 

Batteries: Check whether it has an internal rechargeable battery or whether it requires AA or C-cell alkaline batteries. 

Power: Audio quality is important, so research products before you buy and match the power output to the size of the room.  It’s unlikely you’ll need more power than 50W, 10-20W will suit most living rooms.

Screen size: Look for screens that are big enough to let you see the text. Some higher end models have larger colour screens or touch screens.

Line out:  If you like to connect your radio to a more powerful sound system, make sure the model has a line-out socket.

Something for everyone

From retro to contemporary designs, there’s a wide range of DAB+ radios on the market.  Products shown are examples of DAB+ radios available at retailers, inclusion does not imply endorsement.

Sangean DPR-35 Pocket Radio
This pocket-sized radio has a high-gloss finish in three colours and built-in rechargeable lithium-polymer battery, so it’s easy to take anywhere. $175. 


VQ Retro Mini
A stylish addition to any décor thanks to its premium leatherette wrap which comes in 11 colours. You can also connect to any smart device via Bluetooth. $129.


Richter Wake Digital Alarm Clock Radio
With its industrial design, the Australian-designed Richter Wake lets you wake up and go sleep with a dual-alarm setup. It also has weekday or weekend settings to suit your needs. $159.


Panasonic D10
Features large 10cm speakers for clear sound, a large blacklit LCD display and intuitive controls. $129.


Kmart FM and DAB+ Digital Radio
With 20 station presets, an alarm clock and headphone output, this affordably-priced model could be a novel Christmas stocking filler. $29.


Yamaha TSX-B235D
Features a natural wood panel surface for a stylish look in the bedroom, study or kitchen, while a dedicated app turns your mobile device into a remote control. $499.