Sound 53 review
In today’s iTunes fuelled audio world, a company that specialises in radio sounds rather quaint. Roberts Radio, though, has been at the forefront of radio since 1932, and it isn’t just churning out the same old device once known as ‘the wireless’.
So, the Roberts Radio Sound 53 is more than just a radio for the modern radio fan. It offers an iPod dock, a CD player, and some handy digital recording functions alongside its DAB and FM radio receiver.
Roberts has got the look and feel of the Sound 53 spot on. It feels incredibly sturdy, and is reassuringly heavy. The slot loading CD player feels like it might bite off your hand if you dangle it too close, such is the haste at which it loads the CD. The iPod dock on the top is also sturdy, and the unit ships with a load of dock adaptors to keep the connectors from getting broken. Its glossy black shell would look great in a living room - and its radio/CD/iPod setup makes it ideal for the job.
The sound is clear and classy. The bass isn’t quite perfect - it seems a bit too heavy - although you can tweak the bass and treble settings using the remote control. There are also six preset EQ settings, although these are named after genres of music (jazz, rock, etc) and are quite blunt instruments when it comes to altering tone.
The unit goes loud enough for a smallish living room, and while you don’t get massive stereo separation thanks to the two 8W speakers being quite close together, the overall effect is good.
It’s not always obvious how to work other functions on the Sound 53’s considerable feature list _ the remote has a lot of buttons and it’s usually easier to check the excellent instructions rather than try to work it out yourself.
There are 10 station presets for both DAB radio and FM, and these are easy to set and recall. If you don’t set any stations, you can set the favourite stations function to remember the DAB stations you listen to most and put these at the top of the list for quick selection.
At the front of the unit there’s a door that opens if you push the corner. Underneath you’ll find an SD card slot and a USB socket. The Sound 53 can play music from either, and also record from the radio or CD onto the card. It works easily, but recordings are made at the not so hot quality of 128kbps.
The Roberts Radio Sound 53 is a lovely product - it looks fantastic and feels like proper quality. Its bass output is a bit off sometimes, but other than that its sound is good. At £280 it costs a lot, and doesn’t have WiFi capabilities for playing internet radio. This is the only string missing from its bow, and if you’re a DAB fan it’ll serve you well.