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Bush BR20DAB review: Bush BR20DAB

Bush's latest DAB+ radio is affordable and elegantly styled.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
2 min read

7.6

Bush BR20DAB

The Good

Retro design. Touch panel works well. Good audio quality.

The Bad

Display panel tough to read. Bass Boost tends to muffle audio.

The Bottom Line

Bush's latest DAB+ radio is affordable and elegantly styled.

Design

If we didn't know better, we'd say that there's a secret agreement between all of the DAB+ manufacturers. If you want a DAB+ radio, you can either spend a lot of money on a unit that looks like a 1970's era science-fiction prop, or a lot less on one that looks like a 60's era plastic transistor radio.

The budget-priced Bush BR20DAB solidly falls into the cheap transistor-style camp, from the round carrying handle to the large dial controls for volume and station selection to the huge plastic cover that hides a compartment for C batteries. It's even got one of those iffy foam pads at the back that will inevitably wear out long before the radio itself does, for those looking for a real retro hit.

Features

Besides the volume and station select buttons, and a power switch at the back, the Bush BR20DAB initially appears bereft of controls. That's because it uses touch panels for every other function, from standby, display modes, bass boost, preset selection, mute, service scan, FM/DAB mode and menu selection. The touch panels are large enough to be easily tapped without too many errors, and sit either side of the two line DAB+ LCD display panel.

The Bush BR20DAB's speakers aren't the greatest ever in a portable unit with a claimed 2x 1W RMA output, but in the space of budget DAB units they're passable in power output terms. The 3.5mm input and output jacks also enable headphone or speaker use.

Performance

Touch panel controls are often something that sounds good and interesting in theory, but can fall apart all too easily if they're either too twitchy or not sensitive enough. Thankfully, rather like baby bear's porridge, the BR20DAB's controls are just about right, with functions easily tapped on or off with the flick of a finger. There's no real reason why they need to be touch panels, as regular buttons would have done exactly the same thing, but as they do work, we can't complain too much.

DAB+ already has the problem that many music stations tend to sound rather flat as a result of the compression process used to send out the digital signal, and this is an obvious problem when using the BR20DAB. One thing we noticed with the BR20DAB was that the bass boost function tended to enhance the bass at the cost of clarity, leaving tracks a lot muddier sounding than we would have liked.

Like the similarly priced Philips DAB AE5230 radio or the even cheaper Kaiser Baas Digital radio, you're paying for digital access rather than digital fidelity. Of course, if your interest in DAB+ is primarily for talkback-style radio, you're much less likely to notice the difference anyway, and an inexpensive unit such as the BR20DAB could be a very good buy.