Last updated: August 7, 2021

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Bluetooth radios have the function of connecting to any Bluetooth-enabled device and thus playing their own music tracks from a smartphone or PC. This creates a wireless connection that is limited to a certain range. In addition to analogue radio reception of FM and AM, music titles from all over the world can also be played thanks to Internet access via DAB+. USB and AUX connections extend compatibility to almost all devices.

With our Bluetooth radio test 2021 we would like to support you in your choice of the ideal Bluetooth radio. We have compared Bluetooth radios in all sizes and functions with each other and described all the advantages and disadvantages in more detail below to make your purchase decision easier.




Summary

  • Bluetooth radios offer you music enjoyment wherever you want. You can easily play your music via your smartphone or other devices and benefit from the rich sound of the radio speakers.
  • They come in different sizes and shapes. Portable Bluetooth radios with built-in rechargeable batteries are perfect for going out. There are special waterproof versions for use in the bathroom.
  • Be it as a car radio or in retro style. They blend in perfectly with their surroundings, so that they impress not only in terms of sound, but also visually. In terms of price, "the smaller, the cheaper."

The Best Bluetooth Radio: Our Picks

Bluetooth Radio: Buying and rating criteria

In the following section, we show you which criteria you need to consider when buying a Bluetooth radio and how you can keep track of the many offers on the market. These are the most important points:

We will now explain the individual points in more detail so that you know exactly what is important.

Intended use

Bluetooth radios are used in cars as well as indoors and outdoors. They are waterproof, have Internet access or offer several functions in one. You can find the right Bluetooth radio for just about any occasion.

You can find Bluetooth radios in all sizes and shapes. Portable in your pocket, on the wall in the shower or on a dresser in the living room. No matter where you are, they give you access to your own music tracks via their Bluetooth interface.

However, they differ greatly in their sound quality. Only large speakers produce bassy, deep sound. This is something you should look for in portable or generally small Bluetooth radios.

Choice of functions

Bluetooth radios are increasingly used for more than just playing music. Through modern connections and the connection to the Internet, other functions are integrated that can be useful in everyday life.

Radios with USB connection and rechargeable battery can also be used to charge your smartphone.

Thanks to their rechargeable battery, portable radios can also be used with an LED lamp as a torch. Also popular are so-called alarm clock radios, which have a night light and a Bluetooth speaker built in.

If you want to be even more innovative, you can buy a Bluetooth radio with an integrated weather station so that you don't miss a cloud in the sky.

The type of function differs mainly in the size of the radios. Smaller devices contain less sophisticated functions than large Internet radios with an additional weather station or display.

Connections

Be it a USB stick or an SD card. Thanks to a wide range of connection options, you can play your favourite tracks from any medium. Car radios can also be supplied with power via the cigarette lighter.

Internet radios usually offer the widest range of connections, as they have more space for slots due to their larger dimensions. In addition to standard radio reception of FM and AM frequencies, digital reception via DAB+ is also possible through internet access via WLAN or LAN cable. Here, an almost limitless selection of music stations and titles is available.

The familiar AUX cable connections are also popular. They enable the connection of older devices such as PCs or MP3 players. With a Bluetooth interface, however, there are no limits to compatibility, so you can connect any Bluetooth-enabled device.

Battery life

Battery life is especially important for portable Bluetooth radios. Especially for radios with many functions (LED, Internet access), the battery does not last very long. In general, however, it can be said that the battery should last at least 8 hours.

With internet radios or car radios, the battery life is less important because they should be connected to a power source by cable. It makes little sense to install a rechargeable battery here.

Especially with retro Bluetooth radios, you should make sure that there is either a rechargeable battery that can be placed on top or a battery compartment with batteries that are easy to buy. Otherwise, you won't be able to enjoy it for long on an excursion.

Weight

There are many different Bluetooth radios, from small to large. The more functions they have, the more weight they bring with them. The lightest are usually portable Bluetooth radios or retro radios, as they contain less sophisticated technology.

Internet Bluetooth radios, on the other hand, are of a heavier calibre. Here you have to reckon with a weight of 1 kilogram or more. Therefore, think carefully beforehand about where you want to place the Bluetooth radio.

Bluetooth radios with weather stations or alarm clocks need a firm stand. They should therefore weigh more and have a wide base.

Dimensions

Bluetooth radios usually have a rectangular format, but they also come in a flat, round shape. Here, the sizes differ greatly depending on the intended use (car/indoor/outdoor).

The smaller, the more flexible the use.

This basic rule applies especially to portable devices. However, you should be careful to find the right balance between size and battery life to ensure a long-lasting music experience.

In cars, strict dimensions are given due to the modular system. There is a standard size that must be adhered to, otherwise compatibility with all car brands would no longer be possible.

Bluetooth Radio: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

In this section, we want to answer all your questions about Bluetooth radios and have put together a selection of the most important ones. In the end, you should know and understand everything you need to know about Bluetooth radios.

What is a Bluetooth radio?

A Bluetooth radio is primarily a radio that can receive radio frequencies such as FM, AM or DAB+ via connected or integrated speakers. In addition, it offers the possibility to connect wirelessly to other Bluetooth devices through a Bluetooth interface and thus exchange music tracks.

Bluetooth revolutionised the way we listen to music.

Starting in 2000, Bluetooth-enabled car radios were built primarily to use the hands-free function of mobile phones. Only later could music tracks in MP3 format be played. From 2010, the era of smartphones made a more complex exchange of data via a Bluetooth connection possible.

Bluetooth Radio-1

Radios with DAB+ reception can receive radio stations from all over the world. However, it is often only possible to store up to 10 stations.
(Image source: Ron Porter / pixabay)

Nowadays, internet access via DAB+ has expanded the possibility of music playback on an international level. There is now an almost infinite range of radio stations and music titles available. Thus, it has become the most popular way to listen to the radio.

What types of Bluetooth radios are there?

Bluetooth radios can be used in many different ways. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. In the following section, we have summarised the most important types:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Bluetooth car radios Thanks to a clever installation system, anyone can replace them and they are easy to use. Often lack the right compatibility with mobile devices, due to outdated Bluetooth technology.
Portable Bluetooth radios They are easy to put in your pocket and you can carry them everywhere. They are small and therefore do not have a long range. The speakers have hardly any bass and seem tinny.
Waterproof Bluetooth radios You can take them anywhere. In the pool, in the shower, wherever. Reception is greatly affected by the waterproof insulation.
Functional Bluetooth radios You have many useful functions in one device (weather station, alarm clock). They are usually overloaded with unnecessary functions and often look clunky.
Internet Bluetooth radios They stream the latest hits from all over the world via the Internet and offer all kinds of functions (weather forecast, traffic jam information). They are considerably more expensive and weigh a lot more.
Retro Bluetooth radios They combine nostalgia with today's technology. They are beautiful to look at and functional at the same time. The housing is made of wood and is hardly protected from external influences.

The great advantage of portable Bluetooth radios is that they can be used flexibly in all kinds of situations. However, you have to accept losses in sound and battery life. So if you stay at home and want to enjoy your music in stunning sound quality, you should switch to an internet radio. These may not be as affordable, but they offer every conceivable additional function and are of higher quality and therefore more durable than their competitors.

Bluetooth Radio-2

Car radios offer many useful functions these days. You can charge your smartphone via USB and play your favourite music via Bluetooth at the same time.
(Image source: Peggy and Marco Lachmann-Anke / pixabay)

If you own a car without a built-in radio despite the current digitalisation, you can find a remedy with a Bluetooth radio in the mid-price segment. It fits in any car and, in addition to the usual radio functions, you can also play your favourite music from your smartphone.

How much does a Bluetooth radio cost?

You can find small Bluetooth radios for as little as 20 euros, as the price range depends greatly on the size and features of the device. The more extensive the connections and the better the sound quality of the speakers, the larger the Bluetooth radios will be and this is reflected in the price.

It does not always make sense to buy high-priced products.

Especially small, flexible radios do not need a music library of thousands of tracks, but are quickly connected to the smartphone to play favourite songs. You won't find internet access or high-quality speakers here.

Type Price range
Retro radios, portable radios and waterproof radios approx. 20 to 30 euros
Clock radios and car radios approx. 30 to 70 euros
Internet radios approx. 70 to 150 euros

Internet radios represent the upper class of Bluetooth radios and embody multifunctionality with rich, sophisticated sound. They are ideal for the living room and, as part of the interior design, blend in perfectly with their surroundings thanks to their timeless, classic design. High-quality materials are also used here, which drive up the price.

What alternatives are there to a Bluetooth radio?

You don't have to buy a Bluetooth radio to play your own music tracks on a loudspeaker. Here we show you some real alternatives that will surprise you.

Type Description
Radio apps on the smartphone There are numerous apps on the smartphone that can receive radio stations via an internet connection. To listen to them on an external speaker, you need a simple Bluetooth speaker without additional functions. These can be had quite cheaply and deliver first-class radio sound wherever you want.
FM transmitter via the car radio If you have an older car radio that does not yet have a Bluetooth interface, then an FM transmitter is a good option that receives music tracks from a smartphone via Bluetooth and forwards them as an FM signal on a frequency of your choice. In this way, any radio set to the same frequency can receive this music.

As you can see, there are inexpensive alternatives to a Bluetooth radio. However, you run a higher risk of interference if you need an additional device to convert the signals. In addition, radio apps are always dependent on a stable internet connection. This is not always the case, especially in rural areas.

How do I connect a Bluetooth radio?

In case you have lost the manual and don't know how to connect a Bluetooth device to your radio, there is a sequence of steps that has basically become standard.

On both devices you want to pair, go to Settings and then Bluetooth. Sometimes you will find the Bluetooth tab under the network settings. Make your smartphone visible by clicking the corresponding button. Now you can search for available devices in the Bluetooth Radio settings and select your smartphone.

Bluetooth Radio-3

Every smartphone has a Bluetooth function under the settings, which allows you to pair it with a selection of available Bluetooth devices.
(Image source: Brett Jordan / Unsplash)

For security reasons, you are sometimes asked to enter a code. You set this code on the receiving device (here: Bluetooth radio) and enter it on your smartphone. This ensures a unique, secure connection without access from external devices.

If your Bluetooth radio does not have a digital display, look for a small button with the Bluetooth symbol on it and press it for 5 to 10 seconds. Often you will hear a short beep or a light will start flashing quickly. This means that it is searching for available devices.

Conclusion

Bluetooth radios are a great invention. They offer all the standard functions of a radio and allow you to play your own music from various devices at the same time. They are versatile and, with the help of an integrated battery, even independent of any power source. You can take them with you in the shower or display them as a design object in your living room.

When buying a Bluetooth radio, you can choose between functional, portable or sound-rich Bluetooth radios. Whichever you choose, it will become your constant companion with excellent music taste and a light touch of nostalgia.

Photo source: Kharchenko/ 123rf

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