Last updated: August 10, 2021

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The DAB+ car radio is the technical flagship of car radios: with the current digital standard DAB+, you can receive not only digital radio stations, but many of them: 10 to 24 programmes fit on one frequency. With digital transmission, not only is the sound quality better, but you are also preparing for the future - when radio transmission via older technologies is switched off.

With our big DAB+ car radio test 2022 we want to help you find the perfect device for you. We have taken a look at different car radios with DAB+ and have selected the most important facts for you. We also show you the advantages and disadvantages of car radios with DAB+.


  • DAB+ is the standard of the future for radio transmission. There are already dozens of stations that can be received this way. DAB+ car radios can receive radio stations via both analogue FM and digital DAB+.
  • Many models have additional functions such as control via smartphone, USB connection or a CD/DVD drive. You should consider which features you need or want before buying.
  • The antenna must also support DAB+ for you to be able to listen to the radio via the technology.

The Best DAB Car Radio: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for car radios with DAB+

How do you recognise the perfect car radio with DAB+? That's not an easy question. But we've put together some relevant pointers to help you make your decision.

In summary, these are:

The following paragraphs will tell you what the individual criteria are.

Connections and drives

Many car radios with DAB+ are combination devices that also include a navigation system. They usually also have a hands-free system. Here you should pay attention to whether a microphone for the hands-free system is also included. Another feature that must be purchased separately is a reversing camera.

If the car radio also has a touchscreen, it is often possible to play not only music but also films or videos via a USB stick or microSD card. Another option that can be offered instead of a touchscreen is a pairing attachment for the smartphone. This turns the mobile phone into a screen.

Other connections that a DAB+ car radio may have are Bluetooth and AUX. Some devices have CD and DVD drives.

The amount of memory available can also vary.

Car radios with DAB+ usually offer a lot of other features that make them attractive multimedia devices for the car.

Size / Depth / Dimensions

There are two standardised sizes of car radios with DAB+: 1-Din and 2-Din.

  • The 1-din car radios are 180 millimetres wide and 50 millimetres high.
  • The second type, also called double-din car rad ios, are taller (100 millimetres) and have a larger display.

The slot for car radios in modern vehicles is at least 160 millimetres deep. However, not all radios use this depth. As with analogue car radios, the same applies to car radios with DAB+: For installation in classic cars, you need a car radio with a shallow installation depth.

Control via remote control or smartphone

Pressing the button on the car radio while driving can be potentially dangerous. How convenient is it if the children in the back seat can control it themselves? A remote control is supplied with practically all DAB+ models. However, the function to control the car radio via the smartphone or MP3 player is not always available.

DAB+ Autoradio-1

Some car radios with DAB+ can be controlled from the steering wheel (Photo source: Ponchaisang).

Some devices can be controlled via voice input. Remote control via the steering wheel is also a relief, as the driver does not have to reach away to the right. The transmitter and volume can then be adjusted via buttons on the steering wheel.

Number of display lines

1-Din car radios with DAB+ usually have one line on the display, which is used to show the current station name or music track.

2-Din car radios with DAB+ may have two or three lines on the display. This depends on the model.

Type of antenna

The antenna is usually bought separately from the car radio, so make sure it also supports DAB+. The antenna also transmits GPS data for the navigation system and LTE signals so that the mobile phone has reception in the car. There are rod, windscreen, vehicle and body antennas. Depending on which antenna is best suited for your car, you should choose this type.

  • Rod antennas are nowadays more like "shark fins" on the roof or rear of the car. They are very short and hardly visible.
  • Windscreen antennas are attached to an inner window of the car. If you want to retrofit your car with a new antenna, this is the easiest option.
  • Car and body antennas are built directly into the car and are not visible from the outside. These antennas are often found in the mirrors.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a DAB+ car radio

Before you buy a DAB+ car radio, there are a few factors you should consider. In this section of the article, we will answer some frequently asked questions about DAB+ car radios, and give you some tips on what you might need to know before and after you buy.

What is special about a car radio with DAB+ and what advantages does it offer?

DAB+ is the current standard for digital radio. It was introduced in 2011 and has the advantage over the older DAB that the same high sound quality can be achieved at lower transmission rates. Digital radio is able to match the sound quality of good sound systems. Due to the high resolution, individual instruments can be heard in a classical piece, for example, and the music does not blur into one overall sound.

Modern DAB+ tuners have integrated "seamless blending". This means that if the DAB+ signal is too weak, the radio automatically switches to the corresponding FM frequency of the radio station. And this switching to FM radio is possible without being heard - time delays are compensated.

Car radios with DAB+ consume little power and have excellent sound quality.

At the same time, the power consumption of a car radio with DAB+ is relatively low. DAB+ brings a wider selection of radio stations, automatic station scanning and interference-free reception. They are able to switch between digital radio and FM and can store data.

When staying overnight in a caravan, the DAB+ car radio can also be used as a multimedia device to watch movies.

What types of car radios are available with DAB+?

Many people don't know that there are two types of car radios with DAB+. But you should pay attention: Will the DAB+ car radio you are interested in fit in your car?

1-Din car radios with DAB+

1-Din car radios with DAB+

The 1-din size originally came from leaving only enough space in cars to fit a car radio with a cassette deck. From the mid-1970s to the late 1990s, it was the only standardised size for car radios in Europe. More functions were not thought of at the time, and so the 1-DIN radio slot persists in some car models.

No current model can play cassettes, but some car radios in the 1-DIN class have a CD drive. This is so narrow that there is also room for a USB port and a button for selecting the input source: 1-Din models also support music streaming and voice control via the smartphone as well as hands-free acceptance of incoming calls.

The display on 1-din car radios with DAB+ is quite a bit smaller than on 2-din car radios with DAB+. To compensate for this, some models offer the option of connecting an external display, which can be used to show the output of the navigation function or a film, for example. Because everything is built into a smaller device, it can also be difficult for people with large fingers to hit the right button.

One advantage of 1-din car radios is that they are relatively easy to replace. Most car radios have the same connections for power, the connecting cable to the speakers and the antenna cable. If the connections differ (e.g. with Asian car manufacturers), there are easily available adapters.

  • Well suited for older car models
  • Easily replaceable
  • smaller display
  • buttons difficult to hit with large fingers
2-din car radios with DAB+

2-din car radios with DAB+

Also called double-din car radios, these models are taller and have a larger, high-resolution display. Many double-din car radios have a touchscreen display. Information can be displayed much more clearly on these, and the navigation function built into the radio also benefits from being shown on the native display. Instead of buying a 2-din car radio with sat nav, you can also opt for a model that supports an interface to iPhone or Android sat nav. This allows you to use your familiar navigation system on your mobile phone and display it on the radio screen.

2-Din car stereos are more complex than 1-Din car stereos, for example the connections can vary greatly depending on the model. These car-specific radios can therefore be more difficult to replace.

In newer cars, the car radios have mutated into real command centres: They can be used, for example, to control the air conditioning or vehicle settings.

1-din radios can also be installed in slots for 2-din car radios. The remaining space can then be used as a storage compartment.

  • Larger display
  • Central control function
  • Can be vehicle-specific
  • No space for glove compartment

Who are car radios with DAB+ suitable for?

There are several reasons why you should buy a car radio with DAB+:

  • Technical future: If you plan to keep your car for a while longer, you should make sure your car radio is up to date. In the next few years, the analogue radio signal will be switched off because it is obsolete and DAB+ will be the better alternative.
  • Safety: The car radio is not only relevant for listening to music, but also for traffic reports and disaster alerts. DAB+ transmits without noise and with automatic station change. If there are reception gaps, the radio switches to analogue radio so that you still don't miss anything.
  • Environmental protection: Car radios with DAB+ are also better for the environment because they consume less electricity than analogue models.

Car radios with DAB+ are the technology of the future and environmentally friendly.

How much does a car radio with DAB+ cost?

For car radios with DAB+ you have to pay between 100 and 300 euros, depending on the scope of the additional functions. Especially radios that are only compatible with certain cars can be expensive.

DAB+ Autoradio-2

In the evening, the car radio with DAB+ is a companion that entertains you and warns you of traffic jams
(Photo source: welcomia)

How big are car radios with DAB+ usually?

There are two standard sizes that car radios with DAB+ can be:

Type Width Height
1 DIN 180 millimetres 50 millimetres
2 DIN 180 millimetres 100 millimetres

How do I install a DAB+ car radio?

First, make sure you have an antenna for DAB+. If you don't already have a DAB+ antenna, you will need to buy one. The best way to do this is to buy a windscreen antenna and stick it to the inside of one of the windows.

For some cars, you will need an adapter to connect the FM cable to the new radio. Before you attach the cables to the new radio, the frame must be fitted in the slot. Then you can connect the cables, slide the radio in and test whether the radio turns up when you start the engine.

Which stations can I receive with a DAB+ car radio?

As with analogue radio, DAB+ is also location-dependent and is broadcast from radio masts. This means that you don't receive the same programmes everywhere. In Germany, DAB+ transmission is already very well developed and offers many stations. In other European countries, the expansion is only just beginning.

Country Number of stations Examples
Germany between 30 and 70 stations, depending on location Deutschlandfunk, Energy, Klassik Radio, Radio Bob!, Schlagerparadies, Sunshine Live, Schwarzwaldradio
Austria between 10 and 23 88.6, Energy, Klassik Radio, Arabella Relax, Mein Kinderradio
Switzerland depending on location, 130+ in total Radio SRF, Rete Tre, Couleur 3, Radio Rumantsch, RSO

What alternatives are there to a DAB+ car radio? / Can I convert an old car radio to DAB+?

Instead of buying a new car radio with DAB+, an old analogue radio can also be converted to DAB+. To do this, you buy a DAB+-compatible antenna that is stuck to the windscreen. A special adapter converts the received signals into analogue FM and sends them to a free frequency of the old car radio.

Buying such an adapter including antenna costs between 45 and 80 euros.

Do I need an extra antenna for DAB+?

Yes, to receive DAB+ radio you not only need a car radio that supports DAB+, but also a suitable antenna. In the buying and evaluation criteria above, we explain what types of antennas are available.

Image source: asawinklabma/