Alba TRDAB 2820 review

Is there anything behind the cheap exterior?

Our Verdict

There's little to trumpet about this Alba in terms of sound quality or functionality


  • Sturdy and small Kitsch looks


  • Poor sound limited to one speaker

    Badly designed control pad

As a cheap option, maybe this Alba was always going to come under extra scrutiny. After just a glance at its overtly plastic exterior and a quick power-up, it's clear that, yes, you do usually get what you pay for.

That's not to say it's ugly. In fact, with its white and pale blue/grey exterior, it's kind of kitsch-looking and is not going to stick out. It's marketed as a travel radio and that's exactly how it behaves. Light with an easy-to-carry handle - and powered by the mains or from six (admittedly heavy) C size batteries in its hold - it's one for the rucksack or picnic hamper.

It's certainly not intended for the bedroom or even kitchen, because the sound, unfortunately, is woeful. While adequate for news or talk radio stations, one small speaker provides flat, bass-less music.

And there's worse to come. The controls are cluttered, confusing and difficult to operate. For instance, simply pushing the Volume Up button involves gripping the entire unit, so use in a kitchen where grubby or wet hands are the norm, could be frustrating.

Similarly, the 10-station presets are divided between only five double-use buttons for extra confusion, and smudging occurs as the Dynamic Label Segment (DLS) information - such as 'now playing' or news headlines transmitted with the DAB signal - rolls across the garishly blue LCD.

Equipped with a headphone socket, a stereo line input on the rear suggests that this Alba, just like the Pure Evoke-1 model also reviewed in this test, could prove a useful (and in the Alba's case, much cheaper) DAB radio solution for a permanent hi-fi set-up. Used on its own, however, there's little to recommend about this model.

The affordability does bring some much-needed brownie points to this sturdy, easily transportable DAB unit, but it's not enough to save it from a poor overall score. Kitchen or bedroom dwellers will do better by spending a touch more, and travellers should look into properly portable DAB devices.