Sony XDR-S1 £140

1st Jan 2005 | 00:00

Is there subtance behind the beauty?

TechRadar rating:

5 stars

Great sound, connectivity and a classic look


<p>Optical digital out for recording to a Mini Disk</p><p>Rich, full sound</p><p>Simple operation </p>


<p>Slightly overpriced</p>

Ignoring 'traditional' kitchen radio style, Sony has produced something that looks completely new for it's first entrant to the crowded DAB radio market. There's more here than a design coup, though.

As with many Sony products, the XDR-S1 was designed with the user well in mind. For such a conservatively sized model, the remote control at first seems overkill for a unit surely destined for a kitchen or bedroom. Do any of us really need another remote? Maybe; the two 2.3W output speakers pump out such a decent volume that the mains-only operating XDR-S1's fantastic sound fills a large room well.

Connectivity, too, expands possibilities because recording of DAB stations is possible by connecting analogue equipment via line out or to a MiniDisc using the optical digital out. It's also equipped with a MegaBass option and preset audio modes to emphasise bass, mid-range and treble.

The subtle, well-lit and spacious LCD screen tells us all we need to know about signal strength and frequency, and displays programme information rather clearer than many DAB radios. It's even possible to record and store text transmitted with DAB broadcasts, such as web addresses or track details.

Chosen stations tune in with very little delay, but scrolling through DAB radio stations is one-by-one only. With 10 preset buttons laid-out below the LCD screen, this isn't a major concern. Timers can be set to turn on or switch off the unit at chosen times, with alarm and snooze functions also included.

Also comprising an analogue tuner (FM, MW, AM) for those out of reach of DAB signals, the XDR-S1's digital radio operates on both Band III and L Band, meaning Europe-wide DAB reception eventually. It's forward and backward-looking, which makes it all the more surprising that Sony's first DAB radio venture is devoid of advanced features like pause or rewind of live radio. Presumably, it's only a matter of time.

For now, we're very happy with the optical digital connection, easy operation, wonderful sound and sleek look: the XDR-S1 is in the premier league of DAB radios.

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