MagicBox Nocturne XP2 $230 ★★★★★
Flat-fronted and with an integrated iPod dock, the Magicbox Nocturne XP2 is a decorative proposition. Touch-sensitive controls add a dash of panache, though they aren’t the last word in ergonomics. Whether playing Internet, DAB or FM radio, the XP2 holds a signal well, and, provided the signal is of a decent quality, sound is smooth and well integrated. Low frequencies are nicely judged, with a degree of presence and body but no suggestion of unruliness. The top of the frequency range is mercifully benign too, and deft integration means the Magicbox sounds unified and coherent. Some may hanker after a little more scale, but the XP2 is much more saint than sinner.
Pure Evoke Flow $230 ★★★★★
Two years a five-star product, the Evoke Flow shows no signs of being overhauled any time soon. It’s winningly sized and proportioned, lustrously finished and has bespoke, bright OLED set-up menus where the other three radios here share the same off-the-shelf interface. It does without an iPod dock, but counters with the option of a rechargeable battery.
And it gets only more likeable when tuned to any radio station. This compact design isn’t going to shift huge gusts of air with low frequencies, but all other news is positive. It’s a slick-sounding, composed and commendably detailed listen, with adequate dynamic shove and a reasonable sense of scale.
Revo Domino D3 $270 ★★★★✩
The Revo Domino D3 is unremarkably proportioned and an unassuming looker, but where a rubbery feel is concerned it’s a definite front-runner.
The same can’t be said of the ergonomics. The little joystick is vague in operation, and the on-screen menus are small. Still, feature-wise there’s FM, DAB and internet radio reception, an iPod dock and access to Last.fm. It’s a reasonably poised and quite energetic listen, with plenty of vigour up in the higher echelons of the frequency range. There’s better overall balance to some rival offerings, though – if not quite such a touchy-feely finish.
Roberts Stream 83i $230 ★★★★✩
The Stream 83i may not win any beauty contests, but there are immediate benefits to the big, bold buttons on the fascia. Compared with the neater-looking Revo, this is simple to use, and all controls act with a slick positivity.
Specification is reassuring too: a planet’s-worth of radio stations, wired and wireless LAN connectivity and a USB input is all good news. Only the lack of an iPod dock could conceivably cause concern. This sensible, thorough approach is mostly carried over to the sound the 83i makes. It’s as poised and informative through the midrange as its best rivals, and low frequencies, though not the most generous, have body and purpose. It’s a gratifyingly swift listen, but ultimately denied a fifth star because of its insubstantial way with treble sounds – they’re thin and reedy. It’s not a huge flaw, though, and should be taken in the context of all the things the Roberts gets right.
Please note: Prices are only a guide and may vary.