Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Sony XDR-P1 DAB radio

One-minute review

The Sony XDR-P1 is one of the best DAB radios you can buy, but why do you need one in your life in the first place? Imagine you’re going to the cricket, the park or to an Airbnb for a few days and you want to listen to some sports commentary. Your phone will be fine for that, right? You can try, but we guarantee you’ll have problems. Unless you’re on fast Wi-Fi, you’re going to suffer from bandwidth issues and delay. 

If you’re among a crowd of thousands in any kind of stadium – including the likes of Edgbaston, Headingley, and Trent Bridge cricket grounds – you’re definitely going to struggle even to get a stable stream. Even if you succeed, what you hear will be a minute or so behind what you’re seeing in front of your eyes. 

Cue the Sony XDR-P1, a portable DAB/DAB+/FM radio that will fit in your top shirt pocket. Lasting about 15 hours on a single charge, it’s got a headphones port and a small 1.5W mono speaker that’s perfect for voice radio. It’s also got a few tempting features that make it an attractive proposition for using around the home. 

It's not the best-sounding radio on the planet, but it does offer lots of convenience, and it could be perfect if you mainly listen to spoken word as opposed to music. There's no Bluetooth connectivity either, so it won't double up as a portable speaker,  and the micro-USB charging port is a little dated, but there's still lots to love about this neat DAB radio.

the sony xdr-p1 dab radio on a wooden table

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Sony XDR-P1 price and release date

  • Out now
  • Costs £83

The Sony XDR-P1 is available to buy for £83. It’s sold both on the Sony website and from a range of big brand high street retailers. Although it’s been available for a few years now, we can't see any major updates incoming, so we expect the Sony XDR-P1 to be on sale for a few more years yet. 

the sony xdr-p1 dab radio on a wooden table outside

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Design

  • Weighs 169g
  • Headphones port
  • Stylish orange backlit LCD

Available in black or white, this pocket-sized DAB radio from Sony is ideal for sports fans, but it’s also got a nice design touch that makes it very useful around the home, too. 

Measuring 115x57x24.5 mm and weighing 169g, on one side the Sony XDR-P1 has an extendable aerial (it goes to 50cm) arranged just above a couple of volume buttons and a headphones port, and on the other it sports a micro USB slot. 

On the rear is a small fold-out flip-stand, and although the radio can stand freely on its own, that flip-stand does add stability. It means the Sony XDR-P1 is as useful around the home as it is on the go, though volume-wise it’s best used in a bathroom or bedroom and not in a noisy kitchen. Although the small LCD screen can be hard to read at times, we like its stylish orange backlight. 

the sony xdr-p1 dab radio on a wooden table

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Setup

  • DAB/DAB+/FM tuners
  • 10 station presets

The Sony XDR-P1 is a cinch to set up and use. An auto-tune button takes care of scanning for available DAB/DAB+ radio stations in your area, which can be assigned to 10 presets, though only three are easily accessible on the top of the product. There’s a button for switching between DAB/DAB+ and FM and a small rocker for moving between radio stations on a list presented on the LCD screen. 

Our only concern is that the buttons are very small, as is the LCD. If you only listen to one or two different radio stations then it’s not really an issue, but we’re not convinced anyone with poor eyesight is going to like the Sony XDR-P1. 

One design flourish we like about the Sony XDR-P1 is its power button, which can be pushed into ‘hold’ mode to avoid any accidental button presses. This is wise, given that the Sony XDR-P1 is a small and slightly fiddly size and it’s quite easy to touch buttons you didn’t mean to when picking it up. 

Just in case you thought the Sony XDR-P1 was exclusively for using on the go, it’s also got a few sleep timers (60/45/30/15 minutes) so you can use it on a bedside table and nod off while listening to the radio and not get woken by it later. 

the sony xdr-p1 dab radio sat on a giant leaf

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Audio performance

  • Mono sound
  • Stereo sounds requires headphones
  • More suited to spoken word than music

Although we love this DAB radio’s lightweight form and function, it's hard to deny that the Sony XDR-P1 is best suited to those who listen primarily to voice radio and sports commentary. Used extensively for listening to BBC Radio 5 Live, Sports Xtra and TalkSport, its 1.5W speaker delivers clear, concise and fully rounded vocals and speech, but it does struggle with music. Its 45mm speaker just can’t muster much bass. That shouldn’t come as a surprise from such a diminutive product, and besides, music doesn't sound half as bad as you might expect. 

However, if you are after a DAB radio primarily for listening to music then you should look elsewhere at beefier, home-bound DAB radios from the likes of Ruark, Pure, and Roberts. 

For some reason, Sony tends to specialize in portable products in the DAB radio niche. That single 1.5W speaker also means that you’re restricted to listening to mono sound, with stereo sound only possible if you listen through a pair of headphones or earbuds

a close up of the sony xdr-p1 dab radio being held in someone's hand

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Battery life and connectivity

  • Rechargeable internal battery
  •  Lasts 15 hours, or 20 hours using headphones
  • No Bluetooth

While many portable digital radios use disposable batteries, the Sony thankfully has an internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It runs for about 15 hours in speaker mode, extending to around 20 hours when being used exclusively with headphones.

That’s more than enough for a day at the cricket without having to worry about recharging, though that’s easy enough to do on the go using any external portable battery. The Sony XDR-P1 has a micro USB slot on one side, which is convenient, though a little old fashioned. We would prefer a USB-C slot. However, you can listen to it while it recharges, which is handy if you are mid-match when it blanks. 

Should I buy the Sony XDR-P1?

the sony xdr-p1 dab radio on top of a smartphone

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Buy it if...

You want a portable DAB radio for the match
Weighing just 170g, able to fit in a top pocket and lasting 15-20 hours on a single charge, this radio is perfect for using with or without headphones in sports stadiums. 

You get frustrated with your phone
Bandwidth is a major issue in sports stadiums, but also in busy areas. The Sony XDR-P1’s DAB/DAB+ and FM radio tuners get over that issue instantly.

You mostly listen to voice radio
The Sony XDR-P1 behaves terrifically well with sports commentary and speech radio, delivering clear and crisp vocals that always sound full and rounded enough. 

Don't buy it if...

You must have bass
The small digital amplifier inside the Sony XDR-P1 is impressive, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of low-frequency action. 

You’re having a party
The Sony XDR-P1 has a 1.5W mono speaker. While it goes to impressively loud volumes, this isn’t a product that’s going to impress much with drum ’n’ bass at a BBQ.

You only ever carry a USB-C cable
If you've moved onto USB-C by now and only travel with one cable to recharge your smartphone, you're going to be slightly irritated by the Sony XDR-P1’s use of micro USB. 

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