Review: Richter DAB+ WAKE Digital Alarm Clock Radio

A well-built unit that's the perfect bedside companion for the podcast listener

By James Cridland
Posted 15 August 2017, 11.52am bst

Richter is a well-known loudspeaker brand in Australia, and it's moved into the Australian DAB+ market with a couple of new receivers.

I got hold of the more expensive unit, the WAKE clock radio alarm, which retails at $159.

The radio comes packed in recyclable cardboard, and comes with a mains adaptor and a twenty-page manual.

Initial impressions are of a well built device. All the controls are on the top, so the unit doesn't slide backwards as you press buttons on it.

As a bedside unit, this may well be operated by a user not wearing glasses, and the manufacturers have considered this with large buttons which are easy to feel and of differing sizes. They depress with a click, which is useful to give instant feedback, if a little irritating when setting the alarm.

Round the back of the unit is socket for the mains adaptor, an AUX-in jack, a headphone or pillow-speaker connection, and a USB charging port for your mobile phone. This is rated at 2A, so should act as a rapid-charge port for a variety of devices. This is a nice feature for a bedside radio.

The antenna for the unit is a black wire, which hangs down from the unit. I'm not a particular fan of these as DAB+ antennas: they don't perform as well as a proper extendable metal antenna and they're a bit ugly. After a bit of repositioning, however, it appears to pull in the signal just fine. DAB stations display complete with the scrolly-text.

Using the Frontier Silicon Verona 2 module, the radio behaves as you'd expect. Press the tune button, then twirl the volume control to find the station you want: and then press the volume control in. In many cases, according to multiple pieces of research, you'll probably never change channel in the morning; but the radio does have presets too.

The sound quality is good, as you'd expect from a loudspeaker brand: a clear sound with no excessive bass, comfortable with both speech and music (and adjustable with an EQ setting). The speaker fires at you, rather than to the side or behind the unit: this is a good thing. The alarm in the morning slowly fades in.

The display lacks a light sensor, but can be set to go very dark. I'm normally someone who puts a radio on their lowest setting, but with this I've ended up using the second-from-lowest, which is a welcome change: a radio display that actually goes too dark for even me.

The interesting thing for this receiver is its Bluetooth implementation: important, given that recent research appears to show (in the UK) that the amount of listeners to podcasts at night are higher than the amount of listeners to the radio.

With a phone that has NFC inside (i.e. almost any Android phone), the method of playing back a podcast or music is just to tap your phone to the NFC logo on the top of the device. This both pairs your phone, and also switches the input to Bluetooth. When you've done, tap your phone again: it unpairs the phone, and also switches the input back to wherever it was before.

This makes this device perfect for podcast listeners, allowing you to both charge your phone and listen to a podcast as you go to sleep. The radio can then wake you up to a digital radio station (or FM, or a buzzer) the next morning.

The Richter WAKE is available from selected specialist stockists, and from the Richter website.

James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.