Plenty of so-called audiophiles like to boast about their sophisticated sound systems. But plenty of people still look for the best tabletop radio for their money.
After all, these radios are so much more affordable, while many of them sound just as good as their bigger counterparts. Not everyone has the sensitive ears that audiophiles are known for. Besides, these things are much more practical.
Tabletop Radio Buying Guide – Features To Consider
Choosing the best tabletop radio depends on your own needs and preferences. However, it will do you well if you focus on the following considerations when you buy a radio.
While the price is also an important factor, it’s not the only thing you need to think about. The price also doesn’t accurately tell you how good a radio really is. Some of the more affordable radios offer superb performance, while a few expensive table radios may not offer you full value for your money.
Tabletop radios are generally smaller than the “portable” boomboxes. The tabletop versions are generally small enough that they don’t even come with handles. They’re still small enough that you can lift and carry them in one hand.
Besides, they have to fit on regular tables, and sometimes the boomboxes occupy too much space. These radios often should be just large enough that they can fit on a shelf or the side table on your bedside.
Some people just like to use their smartphones for their music. The problem with this approach is that you end up getting used to tinny sounds and thinking that you’re listening to good music. The truth is, the best smartphone audio doesn’t compare to a good table radio.
What you need from your radio is terrific audio quality so that you don’t end up with the same shrill music you get from your smartphone. Just be realistic and accept that even the best table radio ever won’t really match up with a modern sound system with large speakers. In fact, due to the size requirements you often have to settle for a single speaker.
The most crucial factor here is the quality of the bass. Try to find if there are any tech enhancements in the radio that gives you booming bass despite the small size. You may also want to check out the casing of the radio. Too much plastic may not offer you the best audio. Instead, see if you can get medium-density wood (MDF) for your casing so that you get better bass.
For those who listen to the radio, a good antenna is crucial. This is especially true if you like to listen to AM radio. Listening to AM radio can be a bit exasperating with all the hisses, but a good AM antenna may reduce your frustration.
These types of radios don’t play CDs or cassette tapes. However, you’re not always limited to just using them for FM and AM radio. You may want to find if there are any USB slots that can let you put in flash drives or even TF cards. This means that your radio can play MP3s.
It’s also good if it has an aux-in jack that lets you connect your MP3 player to the radio. You can connect your smartphone too, and the sound quality you get should be a lot better than whatever your smartphone can offer. Some of these radios also offer Bluetooth connectivity for greater convenience.
Plenty of people care about the look of the table radio. Because it’s meant to sit in plain sight right on a table, you might care about how it meshes with the general interior design theme of a room or the house.
Many of the good ones come in eye-catching retro looks. These designs do look fine, even in the most modern of interior design themes. The basic look has the speaker occupying one half of the front, with the other side giving you a rotary dial and an analog bar for the radio stations. Some of these radios, however, have LCD screens which may even give you the time.
Some table radios have headphone jacks, in case you want to keep the music to yourself. For listening to the radio, you may have presets for your favorite stations along with other technologies that make it easier for you to hone in on a station. A few expensive tabletop radios even come with remote controllers.
If it has an LCD screen with a time function, it may also offer sleep and alarm functions. The sleep function turns off the radio automatically after a set amount of time. The alarm can also wake you up with the music from your favorite station.
While most of these radios are easy enough to carry, you may find radios that offer a handle for better portability. However, what you really need in this case is battery power. With batteries, you can then take along the radio to your garage or jobsite. You won’t have to limit the location of the table radio to somewhere near an electrical socket.
Best Tabletop Radio – Reviews
You are busy? We have shortlisted top 3 tabletop radios available in the market. You can trust our selections.
Tivoli Audio model One
But which ones deserve your money? The market offers too many models to choose from, so it can be hard to settle on one. To help you out, I’ve reviewed 10 top table radios below.
1. Sangean WR-11BK Wood Cabinet Table Top AM/FM Radio
This Sangean deserves the first mention on this list, as it exemplifies many of the great features people are looking for in a tabletop radio.
At first glance, it looks like a simple radio though it is undoubtedly elegant-looking. The wooden enclosure with its deep soothing hue looks terrific. It comes with the classic design, with half the front for the speaker, while the other half gives you the AM/FN station bar, and the dials for volume, tuning, and AM/FM selection.
At the back you have the more advanced features. These include an aux-in jack for your smartphone or iPod and even a record-out jack. There’s also a headphone jack, where you can get stereo output.
This actually sounds great too. It has the dynamic bass compensation that boosts the bass and the 7W speaker really gives better audio. It also helps that the radio is encased in the MDF cabinet that really enhances the sound.
This is nicely compact as well. It measures about 9 by 4 by 6 inches, and it only weighs 5 pounds.
- Simple yet classic look
- Great bass
- Connections at the back
- Offers headphone and aux-in jacks
- Strong and stable radio signals
2. Tivoli Audio model One AM/ FM Table Radio
Here’s another tabletop radio that wouldn’t have looked out of place if you saw it in the 1950s. It features a round speaker in the front, along with the controls. This time, the rotary tuning dial already has the radio frequencies labeled around it.
It’s about the same size as a toaster on its side, so it should fit your nightstand nicely. It won’t clutter your desk either.
However, it does have modern features that you won’t find in ancient radios. One of them is the fine-tuning speed of the dial. It turns much slower to find stations than the speed you use to turn the tuning knob. This lets you tune to your favorite stations just right. There’s even an LED light that indicates the signal strength.
In fact, it’s able to find stations you may not have detected with your other radios. This is because it uses discrete-component FM tuner technology. This is the same technology developed for cell phones.
It sounds great as well, with a resonance that may even surpass the audio of some 2-speaker radios. Inside, there’s a special circuit that adjusts the output of the speaker. It also doesn’t hurt that the radio has a wooden casing.
The speaker quality should entice you to use this with your smartphone music. It has an aux-in jack for that. There’s also an output port if you want to use this as your component tuner. You also have separate ports for AC and DC, which means you can use this in an RV.
- Unassuming looks with furniture-grade wood
- Great sound in normal listening level
- Terrific reception
- Can be used with your smartphone
- Can be used in an RV
3. Sangean WR-2 AM / FM-RBDS Wooden Cabinet Digital Tuning Table Radio
Now this comes in a decidedly interesting mix of modern and classic design. The basic look does resemble the design of traditional radios, with the wooden casing and the single speaker in front. But the front has a metal panel, and there’s an LCD screen here as well. It also has lots of little buttons that give you more modern features.
These include controls for the bass and treble, which allows you to really set up the sound to meet your preferences. The audio does sound great with the acoustic bass compensation to boost the bass. It will give an entire room the nice music you want.
This is so modern that it even comes with a remote controller. You also have aux-input, rec-output, DC-input, and a stereo headphone jack. There are AM and FM external antenna connections as well.
The LCD screen can show you the time, and it can help with your sleep. It has a sleep function, along with an alarm. The alarm can wake you up with the humane wake system, using a buzzer or your favorite station. There’s a snooze function as well. The LCD even has a dimmer, so you’re able to sleep more easily.
- Comes with an LCD screen with a dimmer
- Offers AM and FM external antenna connections
- Great sound with acoustic bass compensation
- Sleep and humane alarm function
- Comes with a remote controller.
4. Tivoli Audio M1BTSLC Model One BT Tabletop Radio with Bluetooth
This is the Model One BT, which is even more advanced than the Model One we reviewed earlier on this list. Basically, this is the Model One with all the features, except you also get Bluetooth.
So to recap, you get the Model One’s classic look and classic features. That means you get the proven analog tuner with great reception for AM and FM stations. The tuning dial is very large, and the station frequencies are labeled all around it.
You still get the headphone jack as well as the record output, and you also have the aux-in to connect your smartphone via a 3.5mm cable. But this time, you also have Bluetooth. This means you can connect your smartphone to your radio without the wire, and you can listen to your radio across the room with your smartphone with you.
- Wireless Bluetooth connection
- Terrific AM and FM reception
- Aux-in for wired connections
- Stereo headphone output
- Traditional good looks
5. Sangean WR-22WL AM/FM-RDS/Bluetooth/USB Table-Top
This is another Sangean tabletop radio, and like the first one on the list it looks great. You can get it in a light or dark walnut casing, or you can just go with black. This looks decidedly more modern, since it has a large LCD screen out in front. The screen lets you see it at night, though you can adjust the brightness.
The speaker here is more advanced as well. It features an aluminum cone that performs better than plastic and paper cones. The edges of the speaker are sealed to prevent sound loss. You have a Kapton coil that can handle extreme temperatures. The speaker also uses the strongest type of magnet for high efficiency.
The sound also improves with the dynamic bass compensation, along with the loudness button. you also have controls over the bass and treble.
Listening to the radio is a pleasure, and you also get 10 memory presets for your favorite stations. You can use your headphone with this as well. There’s also an aux-in jack to connect your smartphone, though you might find it more convenient to just use the Bluetooth instead.
This comes with sleep and alarm functions too. You can wake up with the humane alarm system, or get a few more minutes of sleep with the snooze function. There’s even a nap alarm system so you can get a few minutes of ZZZs during the day.
- Aux-in and headphone jacks
- 10 memory presets for radio stations
- Sleep function and nap alarm function
- Comes with snooze and humane alarm system
6. ClearClick Retro AM/FM Tabletop Radio with Bluetooth
Now this looks particularly old-fashioned. This will look great in an old Victorian house, with its handmade real-wood exterior. With its arch design, the speaker is at the top half of the front, while you have the analog station dial and the tuning and volume dials.
Yet the innards of this tabletop radio come with 21st century technology. That’s because it comes with Bluetooth. You can then connect your tablet or smartphone to this, and then you can get better quality sound compared to your shrill smartphone speaker.
This cathedral-design portable table radio does look great, especially in cozy homes with an older, rustic vibe. Yet it doesn’t look out of place in a modern home either. It also sounds great, and those who like a strong bass won’t be disappointed. It’s a far cry from smartphone speakers, that’s for sure.
- Unique retro look
- Gorgeous wooden casing
- Easy controls
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Terrific sound with booming bass
7. SPARC SHD-BT1 Bluetooth Table Top Radio
This comes in a different design, as it is tall instead of wide. The speaker is on the bottom half of the front, and then you have the usual dials for the tuning and volume. The top half contains the 2.4-inch color LCD. This setup means that it takes up a smaller space on your desk.
You’ve got a wood grain finish all around for that good furniture-like look as well. There are additional controls at the top as well. With this you can listen to the radio, with great reception due to the HD Radio FM Tuner. You even have 20 programmable presets, which you can assign to your favorite stations.
At the back, you have the 9V power adaptor socket, a USB port, and an aux-in port. This also comes with a backup battery as well. The speaker sounds great too, even when you turn the volume up a bit.
The LCD can display the time in 12 or 24-hour format, which makes this work well on your night table. It has a sleep timer, and it also has a humane alarm system so you’re not startled out of your sleep so early in the morning.
- Smaller footprint
- Wood grain finish
- 20 station memory presets
- Humane alarm system
- Sleep timer
8. Revo SuperConnect Multi Format Deluxe Table Radio
If you want a truly wide variety of stations to listen to, then you might want to take a look at this. This receives more than 16,000 radio stations, since it gets not just FM radio but also DAB, DAB+, RDS, and internet radio.
Its wireless connectivity is outstanding, as you get Bluetooth and more. With its DLNA and WLAN tech you can even get audio playback from music servers and external computers. This even has Spotify Connect, which means you can now enjoy your Spotify subscription from a better-sounding speaker than what you have on your smartphone.
The sound is terrific, as the 15W speaker can truly provide great listening pleasure. The audio is enhanced by the anodized aluminum, advanced electronics, and the all-wood American Walnut cabinet.
You also get an OLED display, along with sleep and alarm functions with snooze. This is an unabashedly modern radio, despite the unassuming design.
- Great sound from 15W speaker
- Receives wide range of digital radio standards
- Comes with Bluetooth and other advanced technologies
- Detailed OLED display
- Has sleep, alarm, and snooze functions
9. PRUNUS J-110 Retro Battery-Operated Vintage Tabletop Radio
Now this is a nifty little tabletop radio. It even comes with a dial, and it’s like a lunch box you can take anywhere. The retro look is definitely on, as looks like it came from one of those old black and white movies. It is easy to carry around, as it’s compact and weighs less than 3 pounds.
This comes with a dial, along with a 270-degree tuning window around it. It has a strong DSP chip and a nice antenna for a great reception. It doesn’t give you needle drift issues either, as it locks on to your stations.
You can use your smartphone with this, either via the aux-in port or Bluetooth. Using Bluetooth here is fast enough that it takes only a second to connect. You can also play the MP3 files on flash drives and TF cards with the USB port.
This also has a built-in rechargeable battery, so you can use it anywhere like your smartphone. Even if you lose that battery juice after a time, you can also power it with 2 D batteries. At home though, you can just use the AC power adapter.
- Very portable, as it comes with a handle
- Good reception
- Connects with smartphone via Bluetooth or aux-in
- Plays flash drives and TF cards
- Can use D batteries or the built-in rechargeable battery, along with AC adapter
10. ClearClick Classic Vintage Retro Style Tabletop Radio
Here’s another tabletop radio with an old-style look, with the speaker on the top half in front. The sound is particularly good, as this time you actually have 2 built-in 5W speakers for stereo sound. The radio station bar also has a back light for nighttime use.
You can use your smartphone with this, as you can connect your smartphone to the aux-in port with the cable included in the purchase. Or you can do it the easy way and just use Bluetooth.
- 2 speakers
- Terrific retro look
- Aux-in cable connection with smartphone
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Very durable
Different Types of Tabletop Radio
- Analog. This is the classic type of table radio that has been around for decades.
- Digital. This gives you CD quality sound, as its digital receivers get the digital signals sent by radio stations. Analog radios can’t detect these digital signals.
- Internet radio. This time, the radio gets the music transmission over the internet instead of having radio waves as the medium.
FAQs on Tabletop Radio
How do I get better reception?
You need to make sure that your antenna is fully extended. You may have to fiddle around with it, experimenting in pointing it towards various directions to get the best signal quality.
How do I get more hours from my radio batteries?
You can extend the battery life by using only the radio for music. You use up for more when you use the aux-in port or Bluetooth.
Is MDF casing really worth the money?
It’s true that many table radios use plastic casing to reduce manufacturing costs. But the fact is that you get a much better sound with MDF, and it looks better too. It really is worth the extra expense.
Sometimes you don’t need an expensive audio setup to enjoy some nice music. Try the best tabletop radio that fits your budget, and you can enjoy better-sounding music than what you get from your smartphone. With the retro looks of some of these radios, they certainly add to the charm of our interior design.