The Mini Test Of Four Contrasting Premium-Priced DAB Radios (part 2) - Roberts Sovereign, Pure Evoke Mio

11/18/2013 7:58:11 PM

Roberts Sovereign

Price: $319.10


The sovereign will reign supreme on a kitchen counter thanks to its substantial size and unusual angular profile. A modern take on Roberts’ Vintage R500, its livery is fit for a queen. Even its OLED display features black text on gold. Finished in vulcanized rubber with faux leather, the radio seems as robust as the current British monarch, but the build quality of the buttons and knobs isn’t commensurate with the casing, or indeed the price tag.

Description: Roberts Sovereign

Roberts Sovereign

The rear of the radio unclips to reveal the large battery compartment, which requires four chunky D-sized batteries, although Roberts claims this will yield 120 hours of use. Viewing the upwards-facing display requires craning of the neck, but the characters are larger than most two-line, 32-character, and displays. Controlling volume and tuning using the rotary knobs is fine, but a shortage of buttons means there is only one ‘favorite’ station. Otherwise, you can set the radio to only show a shortlist of preferred stations when scrolling through, but this two-step process is not as fast as a quick press on an exterior button. Unlike the other radios, the display doesn’t show the time when turned off.

The Sovereign doesn’t allow you to change the tone or adjust the EQ and its speaker seems happiest with full, guitar-heavy rock music, such as REM’s Orange Crush on Planet Rock, which is lively and balanced, but restrained. The 4in full-range speaker is not always brilliantly served by the meagre 2W (claimed) power output as dialogue can sound sibilant and distortion happens too easily at medium volume levels.

Verdict 3/5

The Sovereign tries hard to combine traditional values with contemporary features, but ease of use and performance are disappointing.

Pure Evoke Mio

Price: $239


The Evoke Mio takes the traditional kitchen radio form and combines it with a state-of-the-art DAB tuner in contemporary, eye-catching leather finish. It’s available in ten bright colors. The yellow text on black OLED display is brilliantly implemented with letters that scroll incredibly smoothly. By pushing the rotary Tune knob you can pause the text, which is handy for noting names or artists being played. Connectivity is standard with a headphone, stereo out and 3.5mm line-in, plus USB service port. The underside provides access to the recess for the rechargeable power pack, which is a $ 55.84 optional extra that provides a claimed 24 hours of use. The volume knob satisfyingly clicks with each incremental turn and tuning is a cinch thanks to the ultra-fast scrolling of station names. You can’t adjust the tone, but there is a kitchen timer built in. Overall, the Evoke Mio is a pleasure to use thanks to its exquisitely engineered buttons and knobs that integrate well with the OLED display. You can even store 30 DAB station presets.

Description: Pure Evoke Mio

Pure Evoke Mio

The Evoke Mio’s full-range speaker delivers a bright, lively, well-articulated sound that’s suited to orchestrated classical pieces such as Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A Major with plenty of fine detail. Switching to Pink Floyd’s us and them on Planet Rock reveals a slight lack of bass, but the jazzy sax is deftly delivered. The Evoke Mio’s low power output and lack of tone control make it come up short in terms of impact and at higher volumes it soon becomes tiring.

Verdict 4/5

A fabulously well engineered and attractive machine that’s a joy to use. It offers clarity, but lacks impact and is more suited to smaller rooms

Buying advice

Despite the rise of wireless speaker docks, portable radios remain hugely popular, particularly for use in kitchens, bedrooms and even outdoors. Although the Revo Axis X3 is a mains-only model (due to its large power-hungry touchscreen) the other models either supplement mains with replaceable batteries or re-chargeable power packs for portable use. The Revo goes off paste a little by offering a staggering range of extra features with the other models simply providing radio and aux line-in listening. But priced between $287 and $319, these are all premium-priced models that should really deliver the goods in terms of design, ease of use and performance. The best models make it easy to re-tune and, ideally, adjust tonal balance, while with mono speakers and relatively low power, performance is something of a challenge but not one that can’t be achieved.

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