With digital radio already launched in Australia (see our previous guide), we have been given a digital radio box by OXX Digital to review. Known as the Classic DAB+, this Scandinavian maker has found an Australian distributor to find a place for this device; and it not only does digital radio, but also FM, internet radio and has an AUX jack. But, is it worth to spend $299 for the device?
9.0 / 10
Mono speaker excellent, Digital Radio + FM bands, stylish and retro look
No pause and rewind, no remote to control the device
Brilliant DAB+ Radio player
Design and Look
The design is clean, and has some sort of iPod-esque feel to it in its appearance with its glossy white (as well in black) finish. It also has some sort of portable retro feel with the two control knobs and the one speaker (it does only mono). The buttons at the front are small, but are not too small to press, while it also has a LCD dot-matrix screen that will tell you the channel, what text it is transmitting, along with the clock (the above image is the British version, as BBC Radio 1 does not broadcast in Australia, but the look remains the same).
While it is minimalist, it also features an external antenna, something that usually would be internal, but also has three ports at the back – an AUX jack, a headphone jack and a Ethernet port to connect to the internet (it also supports Wi-Fi).
The radio, as said before, supports FM, DAB+ (digital radio) and internet radio; and while most of the popular commercial stations have jumped on DAB+, it does leave the community and lesser-known stations unable to access the DAB+ stream, but can be received on FM – except those on the AM band. The antenna can pick up all the stations in the Melbourne region when we played around, but the signal typically depends on how far it is from a window – but that would not affect many stations, but it does bring problems when for me when I tried receiving the ABC radio stations.
It should also be noted that the ABC is currently doing an upgrade to its transmission towers, and will affect coverage on both digital radio and analogue television services until November 2009, and is at low-power until the upgrade is completed.
Internet radio, which does require a connection to the internet, is using a Frontier Silicon chip to get the list of the radio stations, which includes access to the BBC radio stations from the UK and Live365 radio stations. Because of its long list, it does allow the user to access the particular station via a web portal at http://wifiradio-frontier.com, provided that you have registered with the access code provided.
With the AUX jack, it also means that you can play your iPod or MP3 player, or even your laptop on the Mono speaker, and while it may be Mono, it is at least better than playing that music from the small stereo speakers on your laptop or iPod touch. As well, if you wish to play internet radio or the DAB+ on your stereo speakers, just plug it in the headphone jack.
The player is easy to use, which makes this a good way to introduce yourself to digital radio. It starts up by setting up your wireless network, and it was able to pick up the networks quickly, and signal strength was good. Once playing with it, finding the DAB+ stations took only a minute or two, and we were able to start playing with digital radio.
The audio quality for the DAB+ radio, despite coming from a Mono speaker, sounded excellent and had sounds natural like a stereo speaker, and it does produce a loud enough volume – which is complementary to the only 64kbps bitrate that the stations are broadcasting (80kbps for ABC) on DAB+.
If you have read the guide: DAB+ does make digital radio sound pretty damn good on a lesser bitrate than 128kbps.
The radio was able to stream the internet radio stations without a drop off – but that depends on the station and their servers, along with your internet connection. I was able to listen to a radio station from the UK and a “baby-boomers” station from France. It does not really need to buffer, but a buffer indication would be nice to see to show how much percent will it return back to streaming.
There are a couple of drawbacks, including with its LED dot-matrix screen being hard to read because of its size sometimes, and that the favourites were a bit hard to set up. Also, I would like to see a remote for it, despite being for the desk, as it would make it easier not to go to the table where I’ve placed it to just change the channels. Also, an expanded list of favourites would be handy.
Despite the buttons show a play, pause, next and previous buttons, these are limited to outside content that is not streaming or being broadcast. I would like to see a way to pause and rewind live radio content – as that is one of the selling points for digital radio in Australia.
Despite the fact that it lacks some of the promoted features of Digital Radio, like cover art and pause and rewind functions on live radio broadcasts, it does a heck of a job for a newbie that does not know a single thing about Digital Radio; and it is easy for an early adopter since they can switch back to FM. I’m sad, but not shocked, that they did not add AM radio, but since most of the signals for Digital Radio are coming from the FM band, that is understandable.
In all, a very sturdy and good-looking Digital Radio receiver that would do the best job at a price of only $299.