How we test radios
By Jack Turner
Discover how we test digital radios to find the models that sound great and are a breeze to use. Only the very best models are awarded a Best Buy.
Ready to buy? Head over to our expert digital radio reviews to find the right model for you at the right price.
What makes a Best Buy radio?
We only recommend digital radios that are easy to use, give clear instructions, and sound fantastic.
We test every digital radio in the Which? test lab using a strict range of criteria to ensure that each of our full radio reviews answers your key questions, including:
- How good is the audio quality?
- How easy is it to tune and use and a day to day basis?
- How clear will the reception be?
- What room will it be best in?
- Should I buy it?
How good is the audio quality?
At Which?, we take our testing seriously, which is why we use a panel of five audio experts to listen to each radio and give their verdict. With backgrounds in the audio industry, they're a tough bunch to impress, but it means that if we've given a radio the thumbs up, it is more than deserving of your time.
With each radio, the panel listen to a selection of tracks, from jazz to pop, rock to spoken word. Not only does this mean we can tell you which radio sounds the best, but also which is best suited to your favourite genre.
How easy is it to tune and use and a day to day basis?
Every test we undertake starts as soon as the radio comes out of the box. We replicate your own experience, and test how easy it is to set up the radio. If you need to read a hundred page manual before you can even turn the set on, we'll let you know. We also test how easy it is to tune in and save your favourite stations, as well as using any other features, such as internet radio and streaming services.
How clear will the reception be?
The last thing you want to do is get your brand new radio home, only to find that the reception is spotty. At Which? we broadcast our own DAB signal in the lab, which means that we can test the strength of each radios receiver. If a certain model isn't capable at accepting a weak signal, it won't be any good in your home, especially if you have thick walls. We can let you know which models will give you patchy sound, and which will maintain a constant reception.
What room will it be best in?
We test a wide range of radios, from bedside to kitchen to portable. If you're looking for a radio to listen to while you do the washing up, or one to catch up with the Archers on while you do the gardening, we can let you know the best model for you.
If you are looking for a bedside radio, we can tell you which models have the best alarms, with the most prominent and easy to use snooze buttons (and how many minutes more you'll get in bed!). We also reveal those models with the biggest sound, for your living room.
Should I buy it?
Our raft of tests all contribute to the overall score for the digital radio, but some elements are more important than others. We believe that first and foremost a digital radio should sound fantastic - it can be as feature-laden as it likes, with the latest bells and whistles, but if the sound isn't up to scratch, it's worthless. As such, our score breakdown is:
- Sound quality 45%
- Ease of use 30%
- Features 15%
- Power use 10%
Digtal radios need a score of 70% and above to be awarded a Best Buy. Anything that gets 45% and below is automatically a Don't Buy.