Monday, 7 December 2020

Sony XDR-S41D Portable DAB/DAB+ Radio

I got this cute little radio a couple of years back and forgot to share the news with you! It's been doing sterling service as a kitchen companion ever since and performing very well. I love this 'eggshell' kind of blue colour, though it is available in others.

The reason that it's a 'kitchen' radio is that in some ways it's pretty basic, mono, no control over tone, but actually the sound is pretty well tuned and top volume doesn't distort or lose the pleasant tone it has. It's not bass-rich, but this is not a party sound blaster! However, what it does, it does well.

The box provides a proprietary Sony charger with a surprisingly long cable, about 10 feet, but it certainly would have been better with a universal charging solution like USB-C (or even microUSB) like the Sony XDR-P1DBP which I reviewed in the summer of 2018. I guess that's about size - and the fact that the latter has a rechargeable battery on-board. This unit relies rather on the AC cable or alternatively 4 'AA' batteries, excellent for those who do wish to travel of course as they're available so widely. I have tested a fresh set of 'AA' alkaline batteries and on medium volume and DAB it went on for about 24 hours, so intermittent use a couple of hours a day and presumably two or three weeks. Perhaps a bit longer on FM.

The radio has DAB and DAB+ (for those locations which can use it) along with FM. The radio being tested in North Wales performs very well with signal on DAB (inside and out) and FM (stronger outside) but your mileage will vary on location. There are 5 Pre-Set buttons on the top panel which can be assigned to stations, 5 for DAB and 5 for FM. The buttons are 'clicky' and feel like good quality with shallow-travel. Next to these on the left is the power button, with similar quality. At the other end of the top plate is a volume control which spins (endlessly) and is shaped nicely in keeping with the curves of the design throughout.

The aerial extends telescopically out by about 2 feet and tucks away into a clip on the back when not needed. Depending on location, you may or may not need the aerial at all. It almost works here without but not quite! On the back is the sizeable battery cover which is on a pivot (so can't get lost unless you break it off). The unit is about a inch fat so feels pretty sturdy in terms of not toppling over.

On the right side is the port for the aforementioned charger next to a 3.5mm audio-out socket which produces stereo for headphones or earphones. Testing here with reference headphones the output is good enough for quality but not terribly loud. I'm guessing that most people using this facility are likely to be using it to listen to football commentary, not expecting to blow their ears off with their favourite album! There's no bluetooth in or out on offer here. Another good reason why it feels like - and is employed here as - a simple kitchen radio.

Exactly the same as the little brother, mentioned above, on the front there is an Auto Tune button, which scans for stations, large buttons for DAB/FM switching, Back (in Menus), a navigating/enter rocker and Menu. The Menu button moves you into all the Settings including Sleep Timer, Time setting, Station Information, Pre-sets etc. The LCD screen lights up for about 30 seconds after last input (or can be set to 'always on') and the screen echoes information about what you're listening to and whatever data the broadcast is carrying along with a battery-state icon. Clearly the same LCD panel and control-cluster. Works well.

So yes, a cute little kitchen radio, very capable sound output for that purpose, the usual Sony quality throughout, nice, thoughtful design and functional. You pay a bit more for Sony stuff, as we know. There are cheaper options out there of course, with similar functionality but I'm a sucker for Sony and think it is worth paying a bit extra. Recommended for use in the right place, for the right purpose. This is currently £58 at AmazonUK. Please use this link if you want to buy one as I get a few pennies from AmazonUK if you do so. Thanks.

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