Best radio brandsby Alison Potter
Big radio brands are all competing for your custom – but which should you choose? Find the right digital radio brand for you with our guide.
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As well as our tough lab tests looking at sound quality and functionality, we regularly survey thousands of Which? members to find out how radios cope with day-to-day use. This is to get a complete picture of how well products perform, because while a radio might sound excellent to our expert listening panel, it’s not much use if it develops a problem not long after you buy it.
By speaking to our members we find out which radio brands you can rely on, and which ones you can’t. Not only that, but we can better understand the most common problems affecting radios. If the brand of radio you own is not shown below, it is due to an insufficient number of respondents in our survey to form an accurate conclusion about reliability and customer satisfaction.
In general, DAB digital radios are pretty reliable, but not every brand receives a good customer score, as you can see in the table below.
Digital radio brands compared
|Radio brand||Customer score||Customer rating||Reliability rating||Reliability rating|
Common faults with digital radios
When it comes to the most common faults blighting radio owners across all brands, 23% cited frequent signal problems. And 15% revealed that their radios developed a fault with the power supply or battery. In joint third, 13% of radio owners found that their device lost its presets or kept cutting out for short periods of time.
We think it’s important that radio brands and the government work harder to boost signal coverage, especially in areas which are to prone to suffering from poor reception. Currently, commercial radio and BBC services cover about 85% of the population. Use the Digital Radio UK DAB postcode checker to see which stations you can receive in your area.
Roberts radios: Should I buy one?
Roberts is one of the biggest and most popular radio brands in the UK, best known for its retro Revival and Heritage ranges that combine older designs with new technology. Roberts dominates the radio market and has done for many years – the brand was first founded 84 years ago. Roberts holds the Royal warrant of appointment and has supplied radios to the Royal Family since the 1940s.
Roberts’ service repairs carry a one-year warranty and the company will replace your radio free of charge if a fault develops during this time. If your radio is out of warranty, you can get it fixed for a fee, but the charge is dependent on the model and the fault.
The price of Roberts radios range widely from an affordable £15 up to £400 for its multi-room state-of-the-art radio and sound system. In general, the brand’s test scores from our labs are pretty middling.
Discover a radio that you’ll love for years to come with our expert and impartial Roberts radio reviews.
Pure radios: Should I buy one?
Pure is also one of the leading radio manufacturers in the UK. Its radios start from £35 and go up to £350 for the most premium stereo model. All of Pure’s products are designed and engineered in the UK and come with a Digital Radio tick mark. This means that they are DAB, DAB+ and FM compatible and ready for the future digital radio switchover.
Pure provides a generous three-year warranty as standard, but only if you purchased your product from 1 May 2014 onwards. The brand also offers an out-of-warranty repair service and complimentary customer support, which has no time limit. In terms of Pure’s reliability and customer scores, they don’t differ too much from Roberts'.
Check out our Pure radio reviews to find the best Pure radio for you.
Best of the rest
Sony radios: Should I buy one?
Sony doesn’t have a large range of radios, but it does excel in making portable and pocket devices. Reflecting their diminutive size, Sony radios are very reasonably priced, costing between £18 and £150. Read our Sony radio reviews to find out more about their travel-friendly devices.
John Lewis radios: Should I buy one?
While John Lewis’ own-brand radios are not the most premium on the market, they are very reasonably priced and provide good-quality audio. We’ve been impressed with what we’ve seen so far and we were pleased to see that John Lewis dealt with a micro USB connection fault in its Spectrum Duo effectively. If you’re experiencing a similar problem, make sure to read our advice on how to resolve it.
VQ radios: Should I buy one?
Formally known as View Quest, VQ has shortened its name and moved all radio manufacturing to its headquarters in the UK. Known primarily for its retro-style radios, all VQ radios have the digital tick as standard and the brand offers a three-year warranty for all of its products.
Panasonic radios: Should I buy one?
Panasonic used to have a larger selection of radios, but currently the brand only has one on sale. Panasonic radios are among the most fault-free though and the brand doesn’t do badly in terms of customer scores either.
Bush radios: Should I buy one?
Bush is one of the oldest names in terms of radio manufacturing, having been founded in 1932. In 2008, the name was bought by Home Retail Group, which now makes and sells Bush radios through its subsidiary company Argos. All Bush radios are relatively budget in terms of price, ranging from £20 to £100. Click through to our radio reviews to see tested Bush models.
Ruark radios: Should I buy one?
If it’s a premium radio you’re after, look no further than Ruark. The brand launched in 2006 and its stylish designs and feature-rich radios have cemented its reputation for making high-grade radios. But they are on the expensive side.