Top seven radio brands for 2017
By Alison Potter
Find out who makes the most reliable radios and has the best aftercare with our comparison of radio manufacturers and retailer own brands.
As well as our tough lab tests examining the sound quality, features and how easy each radio is to use, we regularly survey thousands of Which? members to find out how these radios cope day to day. This means we can tell you whether a particular radio is still likely to be going strong after five years or whether it will be habitually plagued with problems.
This helps us form a complete picture of how well particular products perform because, while a radio might sound excellent to our expert listening panel, it’s not much use if it develops a problem a year or two after you’ve bought it. To find out which internet and DAB radios we’ve tested are the best, take a look at our Best Buy digital radios.
Both cheap and pricier radios are taken into consideration, from big brands such as Pure, Roberts and Sony, as well as retailer own brands such as Sainsbury's and John Lewis. In the table below, you can see the radio brands you can rely on and the ones you can’t, as well as the most common problems affecting radios.
Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive ratings and verdicts in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, sign up for a £1 Which? trial to get instant access.
|Digital radio brands rated|
|Brand||Average review score||Reliability rating||Customer score||Verdict|
|64%||92%||Its radios are expensive but well made, and the brand excels in terms of product reliability and customer satisfaction. Although it has one Best Buy, its radios are not always consistent in how well they fare in our testing.|
|65%||69%||This brand makes radios that are very low in price and do pretty well in our testing. Of the nine we’ve tested, two are Best Buys. But it has one or two disappointing radios, too.|
|64%||68%||This brand has more Best Buys than any other, but it also has poor-performing radios that bring its average score back down. Generally its products are reliable and customers are usually satisfied with its service.|
|61%||67%||Although it’s a prolific radio maker, its radios vary wildly in terms of quality, and the brand has the dubious honour of making both the highest-scoring radio and the lowest-scoring one, too.|
|62%||65%||This brand only manufactures a handful of radios now, which are pretty average. But its radios score well for reliability and are reasonably priced, although there’s room for improvement with the customer satisfaction score.|
|63%||63%||This brand makes radios that are sleek and pricey, but out of the five we’ve tested there’s only one Best Buy and two low-scoring poor performers. Its radios are robust, but it’s a shame its customers don’t recommend it more highly.|
|57%||53%||This long-established radio manufacturer is now sold exclusively through a major high street retailer and its radios are very cheap. But it has a bad reputation for reliability and customer satisfaction, and its radios scarcely score well in our product tests.|
Choosing the best brand of radio
The reliability ratings brands receive are a really good guide to where you should start your radio hunt so you can choose a brand you can trust. On the whole, digital radios from the likes of John Lewis, Pure and Roberts are very reliable, but not every brand receives a good customer score, as you can see in the table above.
The customer satisfaction score is a combination of how likely owners are to recommend the brand and their overall satisfaction with it, and it shows how real customers feel about each manufacturer’s radios.
The lowest-scoring brand achieves a poor 53% rating for its service, while the best gets an impressive 92% from customers.
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, both of which made listening to the radio a pain rather than the pleasure it should be.
How we calculate the best and worst brands
We survey thousands of Which? members about the products they own so we can find out more about their day-to-day experiences of using them. In terms of radios, this helps us understand the lifespan of individual products and get an overall picture of the quality of the items being manufactured.
Our unique survey accounts for every brand, type and price of radio owned by our members. There’s no restriction on how far back it was bought, as long as it’s still currently owned and used. This survey is conducted annually and the scores updated with the latest figures, so you can be confident that they are relevant to the current radio market.
This information is combined with our testing data to bring you a clear and comprehensive comparison of the biggest brands producing radios now. We can tell you how they perform in our tests, how long they should last for and what issues they might develop, as well as whether the company itself is easy to deal with should a problem arise.