Equipment Reiview with James Cridland
DAB+ Digital Radio offers a load of additional choice, and with extra sports stations from RadioTAB and the new Macquarie Sports station, there’s even more on the dial for people who are out and about. All we need is a decent, small, portable digital radio to take to the match to keep up to speed.
The new Richter RR10 portable DAB+ radio might fit the bill. It’s a dinky little portable radio – 9cm high, 5cm wide – with a rechargeable battery, and access to DAB+ and FM transmissions. It’s $89, available online and through Richter stockists.
What sets this portable radio apart from other portables is that it has a telescopic antenna – rather than exclusively using the headphone cable. This typically means much better reception – the antenna can also be angled if that gives you a better signal.
Because it doesn’t rely on a headphone cable as an antenna, it also has what Richter call a “micro-speaker”, too, on the front of the unit.
It comes in a nicely presented box, with a charging cable and a set of headphones inside. The battery is removable (and, indeed, comes separate from the radio). It’s a quick job to insert the battery and charge it up using your mobile phone charger.
It’s got a few nice touches – because it’s from an Australian company, when you turn it on, you’re greeted with “G’day”. A neat piece of personality from an otherwise black box.
It quickly found 53 radio stations here in Brisbane to listen to. It seems quite sensitive, even in my office (which doesn’t like DAB+ much). Tuning is by a rocker switch, and like any DAB+ radio you tune in by name, not frequency. The screen (which is colour, though Richter have chosen to make it look a bit more premium by simply using black and white) shows station names and more information – now-playing information for most channels.
The “micro-speaker” produces, well, the type of sound you’d expect from a micro, 3cm, speaker. While there’s not much bass, it can be pretty loud, though: 4BC’s Ray Hadley sounded perfectly clear through it, and you can see this being a decent little radio to listen to a match call while in the garden. (ABC Grandstand has its own channel on DAB+, so there’s more sport there, too).
The surprise was the included earbud headphones – which give a decent, balanced and full stereo sound; whether on TripleM or 97.3. When you plug the headphones in, the radio uses the headphone cable as well as an antenna – so you can keep the telescopic antenna up, or retract it back down and carry it in your pocket. For headphone listening – and, of course, you can use your own headphones too – this is a pretty good quality radio.
The radio also has FM – complete with full RDS (including now-playing information). I rarely get decent FM reception, and after many years of listening to DAB+, I find the hiss, swish and buzz of FM radio makes it almost unlistenable – particularly from a portable unit. But, if you’re forced onto FM, if you’re a 4ZZZ listener for example (which unaccountably doesn’t broadcast on DAB+) then it’ll work for you. Chances are you’d be buying this for the DAB+, though.
The rechargeable battery lasts nine hours – easily long enough for its intended use – and it’s likely that your mobile phone charger (and even your existing cable) will keep it topped up. Unlike some, you can continue to use this radio while it’s recharging, too.
One final Australian touch from Richter – when you turn it off, it cheerily says: “See ya!”
There’s no escaping the fact that this is a budget portable digital radio: but it’s perfect if you’re looking for something cheap and decent to take to the match, or into the garden for the match call or race call. For a portable DAB+ radio, it’s hard to beat at this price.
About The Author
James Cridland, the radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website media.info and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes podnews.net, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at james.crid.land.