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How we test digital radios

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

digital radio on chest of drawers
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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.

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 benchtop models. We only test self-contained units with built-in speakers – our test doesn't include digital radios that are designed to be connected to a bigger hi-fi system.

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 testers also listens to the same DAB+ music stations with similar music in an attempt to distinguish between the models. We use DAB+ stations with the highest available bitrate for optimal audio quality.

Ease of use

Our testers use all the main functions of the radios to assess their ease of use. They look 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. They also look at 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.

Reception

We check for reception quality in different locations ranging from an area with optimal reception through to an area with difficult reception due to its distance from the broadcast tower and no line of sight for the signal to reach the radio.

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%.

Scoring

We give every radio 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 (30%)
  • Ease of use (30%)
  • Reception (30%)
  • Standby energy (10%)
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