How we test digital radios

Here's how our lab experts sort the best digital radios from the rest.

Sound check

Our rigorous testing of digital radios in the CHOICE labs means you can be confident you're making the right decision when it's time to buy. Here's how we do it.

Our expert testers

Our testers have years of expertise in testing audio equipment.

How we choose what we test

In this test we're looking for as wide a range of digital radios as possible including portable and desktop models. This test is carried out over some time and continues to grow as we add more models.

How we test

Sound quality

The audio quality of the speaker is based on our listening panel's appraisal of two pieces of music (rock/pop and electronic). With the speaker positioned about two metres away from the listener, the panel assesses overall quality.

Our tester, Scott O'Keefe, also listens to the same DAB+ music stations with similar music in an attempt to distinguish between the models. We don't score this, but found all units delivered reasonable levels of audio quality with the live DAB+ broadcasts, though the quality is more a reflection of the speakers than the DAB+ signal.

Ease of use

Our tester uses all the main functions of the radios to assess their ease of use. In particular, he looks for ease of the initial set-up, clear labelling, placement and functionality of the buttons, controls and knobs as well as the size and clarity of the display. He also analyses whether the remote (if available) has a button layout that's intuitive and logical, with a distinctive size, colour and shape to help make selections in low light.


All models performed very well in the intermediate reception area in our most recent test. However, the area classed as delivering poor reception turned out to be challenging for many of the models we tested.

Standby energy

A measurement is made with the unit in standby mode. Any model that records a measurement greater than 2W scores 0%, and greater than 1W scores 40%.


We give every soundbar a CHOICE test score so you can see at a glance which are the best and worst performers, plus how the models compare to each other in features and specifications. The overall score is based on the following criteria:

  • Sound quality (40%)
  • Ease of use (25%)
  • Reception (30%)
  • Standby energy (5%)

Ready to buy?

  • If you want to know which digital radios we rate the best, read our latest digital radios review.
  • If you want a bit more info on what to look for when considering your next digital radio, check out our buying guide.