altIce-Cool DAB+

For what is a fairly simple DAB+ radio, the Tangent DAB2go presents quite an array of buttonry. But in fact it’s the two top knobs on this beautiful and sturdy radio that do the main work — you might use it for years without touching the 10 studs on the front.

As the name suggests, this is a DAB+ radio happy to play its pristine digital radio stations on either mains power or batteries; none of the latter are provided, but it’ll operate on either alkaline or rechargeables (6 x AA), and can even recharge the latter in situ. (Indeed be very careful not to have alkalines in place with mains power and the charging switch on.)

After powering up, the DAB2go scans your local airwaves for digital radio stations (cities only in Australia), defaulting to the alphabetical first (2CH in Sydney). The left knob then controls volume (push to toggle power on/off); the right knob selects between stations by name, with push to select. This is intuitive simplicity.

The 10 press studs below are in two rows, the lower five for a fairly measly five presets in either FM or DAB+ mode, the upper including ‘Mode’ to switch between FM and DAB+, ‘Scan’ to rescan (good for finding any new stations and killing dead ones), and ‘Info’, which changes the information shown on the bottom of the two-line display — the default is scrolling text which also pulsates slightly irritatingly; being tech-loving folk we changed this to show the bitrate of each station instead.

There are twin alarms and a top snooze button, with plenty of fine niceties such as a five-position brightness control for the display, separately adjustable for standby or play mode. It’s thoughtful work.

With a single full-range driver here you’d expect sonic limitations, but the quality is actually high, the three-inch paper cone with neodymium magnet and a whole five watts of power managing to give a good light but dynamic thump to bass pedals, and a fine balance between midrange and treble. Some might find the maximum volume of 30 a fraction low, especially for open spaces when ‘onthego’, but this limit does prevent the DAB2go ever slipping into distortion or shriekiness... and at home you could always plug its minijack line-level output into a hi-fi; there’s also a minijack auxiliary input, a headphone output, and a wall-bracket in the box.

With even a bright selection of colours to deck this retro design, we have an unusual lack of criticisms to relate for this fine and enjoyable mains/battery-powered digital radio. And while it’s hardly cheap for what it does, the quality is evident, even grandma will be able to master it, and if the price suits, it comes recommended.

 

 
Bands: DAB+, FM
Presets: five per band
Driver: 76mm paper cone, neodymium magnet
Weight: 1.5 kg
Dimensions (whd): 250 x 150 x 84mm