The world is going digital, and our cars are no different. So if your model doesn’t have DAB radio, you may want to upgrade. DAB radio promises a more reliable service with better reception, plus a wider choice of stations than FM.
If you’re fitting a new DAB head unit, you want it to be simple to use with those extra stations easy to select. Plus, upgrading provides an opportunity to futureproof your car by adding modern connectivity. We looked out for all of this when testing eight DAB systems.
We hooked each DAB radio up to a test rig, and rated them when driving on a varied route. But reception quality obviously varies widely from one area to another, and can be affected by the weather.
Our head units scored for features like Bluetooth (for making hands-free calls and streaming music), USB and aux sockets, sat-nav, plus basics like CD players. The final factor was price, taken from various sources as we went to press.
Our Product of the Year from Pioneer remains the top 2-DIN DAB, while Pure’s Highway H260DBi is our 1-DIN favourite.
Best Double-DIN DAB head unit: Pioneer AVIC F70DAB
Best Single-DIN DAB head unit: Pure Highway H260DBi
Want to keep your existing stereo, and get DAB without upsetting the look of your dash? Pure’s Highway 300Di is worth considering. A long-standing Auto Express favourite, the £174 set-up comprises a control unit that sits behind the dash and a display fixed to it.
Not only does the 300Di bring DAB to older stereos, it lets you power and control your iPod, iPad or iPhone, plus it has auxiliary and USB sockets. Just bear in mind that a new version is coming next year. Alternatively, if you have a large mobile phone data allowance, download an app like TuneIn Radio, Pandora or Aha, and you can get the same range of stations.