“The ra­dio star isn’t dead just yet”

FOR Good sense of dy­namism; or­gan­ised; spa­cious; deep bass AGAINST Lack of bass de­tail; tim­ing could be tighter

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - First Tests -

How many peo­ple do you think lis­ten to the ra­dio each year? No, it’s more than that. Ac­cord­ing to Ra­dio Joint Au­di­ence Re­search, a mind-bog­gling 48 mil­lion adults in the UK lis­ten to the ra­dio each week – that’s 89 per cent of peo­ple aged 15 and over.

With so many peo­ple lis­ten­ing so of­ten, you’d hope that their ra­dios have a great sound qual­ity and are easy to use. We have sim­i­lar hopes for the Roberts R100 as we lift it from its box – es­pe­cially given that weighty price tag.

Out of the or­di­nary

At first glance, the R100 doesn’t look like your av­er­age ra­dio. There are no di­als for tun­ing or vol­ume and it has been de­signed to look more like a wire­less speaker that’s been aug­mented with a screen and aerial.

There are nav­i­ga­tion but­tons on the right-hand side of the colour screen and vol­ume and power but­tons on the left (or you can use the com­pat­i­ble Un­dok app for IOS and An­droid.)

These are used to switch through the R100’s var­i­ous sources – in­ter­net ra­dio sta­tions, FM ra­dio and DAB broad­casts as well as Spo­tify Con­nect and Blue­tooth for wire­less use with smart­phones and tablets. There’s also an eth­er­net con­nec­tion for a more sta­ble hook-up (2.4GHZ and 5Ghz sig­nals), and a 3.5mm in­put.

We pre­fer us­ing the smart­phone app for con­trol­ling the ra­dio as it’s much quicker to search for ra­dio sta­tions. That said, nei­ther but­tons nor apps are prefer­able to the sat­is­fy­ing click of a dial as you cy­cle through your in­puts or crank up the vol­ume up in a sin­gle turn… Never mind.

Ease of use

The icons on the screen are large and clear, the but­tons – even if they’re a lit­tle less in­tu­itive to use than knobs – are sim­ply laid out and feel good to press, and the han­dle is com­fort­able to hold – which might be use­ful if you want to take it out and about, com­bined with a £40 bat­tery-pack for 12 hours of por­ta­ble life. There are two alarms as well that will ac­ti­vate the DAB, FM, or in­ter­net sta­tion of your choice (as well as a nor­mal buzzer) that are sim­ple to set.

You can set up to 120 sta­tion pre­sets in all – split equally be­tween in­ter­net ra­dio, DAB, and FM – and take a mod­icum of con­trol over the ra­dio’s over­all sound us­ing the

“In­ter­net ra­dio sta­tions, FM ra­dio and DAB broad­casts as well as Spo­tify Con­nect and Blue­tooth”

R100’s var­i­ous EQ set­tings. We find ‘Nat­u­ral’ works well across a range of mu­sic.

Get­ting vo­cal

This ra­dio han­dles the midrange well – im­por­tant in a medium where speech is so preva­lent. We go through an ar­ray of our favourite sta­tions and the R100 ren­ders a va­ri­ety of voices with­out any harsh­ness or dis­tor­tion. There’s also a good sense of dy­namism and clear dis­tinc­tions from the loud cho­ruses and smaller, more in­ti­mate mo­ments. We lis­ten to the score from Lin Manuel-mi­randa’s Hamil­ton; both its scale and con­trasts are im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous.

The R100 is well de­fined and spa­cious, its sound stretch­ing out into our medi­um­sized test­ing room. And it can reach deep down into the bass too, as ev­i­denced by a blast of the earth-shak­ingly deep fre­quen­cies and punchy drum­beats of Lorde’s Roy­als, played through Spo­tify.

We would like a lit­tle more de­tail from that bass though. The padded boom of each in­flat­ing note is a touch in­dis­tinct, the R100 putting across a solid block of bass rather than the tex­tured, lay­ered sound that’s in the song.

It also doesn’t time as well as it should, lack­ing the de­ci­sive­ness in strik­ing basslines or pow­er­ful gui­tar riffs that’s needed to get your head thrash­ing (or hand con­duct­ing, de­pend­ing on your choice of mu­sic) to your favourite track.

De­spite The Bug­gles’ 1979 pre­dic­tion, the ra­dio star isn’t dead just yet. Robert’s R100 is an easy-to-use, more-than-suit­able source for sta­tions across the broad­cast­ing world. Whether you’re look­ing to re­place an out­dated FM ra­dio or want­ing some­thing to fill your kitchen with a bit more mu­sic, the R100 is a sen­si­ble choice.

It might not look much like a ra­dio but its but­tons and screen are both easy to use

An ex­tra £40 buys you the bat­tery pack that slots into the un­der­side

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