Oxx Digital Classic + DAB
If, like us, you love to cook, but like some radio-based company in the kitchen, you'll most likely be interested in the OxxDigital Classic. A DAB+ and internet radio with support for podcasts and a few other nice tricks.
You might not have heard of Oxx Digital before, which isn't a surprise, as the Danish firm is only just getting a foot in the door here in the UK. If you want one of its products, the main supplier is Amazon.
There's a lot to like in the simple design of the Oxx Digital Classic. It's available in a selection of colours, the one sent to us was white, but there are also black and blue versions.
From the front, it looks like any radio from the past 60 years. There's a single speaker, a couple of dials and a few push buttons. There's a digital display though, which marks if out from the "retro" style in which it's been designed. Obviously, such a modern instrument is necessary in an internet and DAB radio.
Around the back, there's a mix of modern and less-modern sockets. There's a line in and an Ethernet socket. Up on the top of the radio, there's a telescopic aerial, something that hasn't changed much, if at all, since FM was launched.
The case itself is a plastic, but it's premium stuff and it feels very solid when you pick it up. Oxx tell us that the cabinet inside is made of wood, for the best performance. You can see an emphasis has been placed on sound quality too, because there's a bass port at the rear and the case has clearly been constructed to make the radio sound more powerful.
While the design is a little different to a lot of DAB radios, the functionality is very similar. The Oxx Digital Classic connects to your home network either wirelessly or via the rear-mounted Ethernet jack.
As well as listening to DAB, or DAB+ stations, you can access one of the thousands of internet radio stations listed via the vTuner database. There are also podcasts from lots of global providers of such things - BBC radio, is a great example.
You can also connect to your home network and stream music from your PC. We used Windows Media Player for this, but it will work just as well with any DLNA compliant device, including, no doubt, many modern smartphones and tablets. All of which increases your entertainment options a huge amount.
There has been all manner of hatred pouring down on DAB radio stations since they launched some time ago. Audio quality is a bugbear for many, who claim that data rates are too low via the service and that audio can sound quite nasty.
A lot of this is unnecessary hysteria. DAB certainly isn't perfect, but on most music stations, the bit rate is high enough to deliver a very nice sound, especially on a small radio like this.
For those haters though, there is DAB+, which offers a quality improvement over normal DAB. It's unclear if the UK will move its stations over to this system - a lot of older DAB radios would be useless if they did this - but the support is built in to the Oxx Digital Classic in case it does eventually happen.
Why use DAB or FM at all?
With Internet radio on board, there's a pretty powerful argument that you don't actualy need to use FM or DAB ever again. And there's considerable truth in that, because these days, pretty much every local radio station in the UK broadcasts online too. That means that instead of being restricted to, say, London's stations, you can tune in to some hard rock from Glasgow.
Of course, streaming radio does have an impact on your data consumption. So if you're on a heavily capped internet tariff, then you're likely to run in to problems. That said, audio-only feeds are much less data intensive than video, so you're very unlikely to run in to any major problems.
And, even better, with the internet, you're not restrained to just what's on now. The OXX allows you to access an array of podcasts too. For us, the number one use of this feature is to catch-up with Radio 4 shows. This is all done via the radio's search function, and it's easy to find what you're looking for.
One of the things we noticed about the Oxx Digital Classic was that it's not the loudest radio in the world. It does, however, have enough punch to fill a small room with sound. So for kitchen use, or in the bedroom, it's perfect. Larger rooms might cause a problem, but this radio is very much aimed at people who want to dance to music while they lay down a lasagna, and for that, it's ideal.
The other advantage of its limited volume, is that it remains in perfect control of its sound, right the way through the volume dial. Crank it up to the max, and the sound is as tight and controlled as it is at the low end. This is brilliant, and cements the idea that this is a high-quality radio in our minds.
But, we have to say, we were blown away by the sound quality. There's a fine balance here, with bass being just deep enough to impress, but without damaging the overall sound quality. Both DAB radio and MP3s streamed over the network sound amazing. Speech on Radio 4 was crisp and very clear, something not all radios can claim. Whatever you're using this little radio for, it's bound to impress, quality wise.
Given the choice, we would improve the LCD screen on the Digtial Classic. It has two problems that we noted. The first is that it's quite dim, even on its maximum setting. In a dark room, or at night, it's fine. Throw a bit of sun in to the equation though, and it becomes pretty hard to see the screen.
Then there's the angle. In all likelihood, you'll have this radio on a surface that's below eye-height. To really see the screen, and to search for podcasts or select a radio station, you have to bend down. This is fine, of course, but it's not as convenient as it could be. On a Sonos, you do get the advantage of using a phone app to select radio stations. Here, that's not possible, which is a shame.
These are small quibbles though, and otherwise, the radio was a delight.
Supporting DAB+ means that the Oxx Digital Classic is ready for the future. The support for internet radio and podcasts means you'll never be bored when you're in the kitchen - or wherever you end up putting this cool little radio.
The sound quality is stunning, and although the power is a little less than we'd hope, it's still loud enough, and the quality means makes it a joy to listen to.
At £130, it's not super-cheap, but there's enough here to warrant considering it. If you love the styling, and want something that sounds great, we'd say this might be the radio for you.