Denon TU-1800DAB review

Clean-sounding, consistently detailed FM is this Denon's key

This tuner isn't new, but its 'street price' has fallen to £200

TechRadar Verdict

Very good in the detail department, the TU-1800 gives a highly believable impression of real musicians playing


  • +

    Well detailed sound

    Impressive features


  • -

    Imaging can be a little constricted

    Bass occasionally a touch light

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This tuner isn't new, but its 'street price' has fallen to £200 and new competitors have come along to challenge it. It also seems to have had one or two minor changes to its design.

The basic set-up remains the same, though: separate FM/AM and DAB modules feeding a common audio output stage, the whole lot powered by a conventional supply based on a small frame transformer.

Denon's analogue radio module comes from Chinese supplier Kwang Sung, now one of the biggest manufacturers of these devices. It's more highly integrated than older modules, putting out completely demodulated audio, thus relieving Denon's engineers of the task of RF engineering almost entirely.

The DAB module (from TBK) is similarly comprehensive, but outputs digital audio, which is converted to analogue by a Burr-Brown chip, a change from the Analog Devices part we spotted previously.

A particularly smart unit, the TU-1800 is also nice to use. The display is very easy to read and includes the error rate on DAB, the surest indicator of truly satisfactory reception. We love the 100 presets on FM - that's as many stations as the band is capable of holding!

What we really appreciate is the overall cleanliness of the sound. Some FM tuners get dirty at high audio levels, and some at low levels (and a few just sound dirty under all conditions), but this one manages to avoid that and is nicely clear, open and detailed under most circumstances. It's also tonally neutral, apart from a slight lightness in the bass.

The consistency in retrieval of detail across the dynamic range pays real dividends in making this a model one can listen to in comfort for long periods. It's quite good in terms of real close-up analysis too, but listenability without fatigue is a particularly welcome trait in a tuner, and the TU-1800 scores highly here.

It has no particular preference in terms of musical styles, but does seem to prefer music to speech, which can sometimes seem a little bland and uncommunicative.

Regardless of whether you're listening to pop, rock, jazz, classical, world music or whatever, there's always a good sense of real musicians playing real instruments.

Stereo imaging is reasonable rather than outstanding. On occasion sounds seem a bit bunched up in the middle of the soundstage, and depth is pretty limited - but then, it's seldom much to get excited about with most tuners. With that exception, though, this is a highly informative FM performer. Even AM is clearer than on most models.

Turning to DAB, we're slightly uneasy about a degree of veiling compared with the efforts of some of the others in the group. It's not vast, but somehow the clarity of good broadcasts is a little compromised. For all its limitations, DAB does some things well, and a low noise floor is one of them.

While we weren't consciously aware of any worsening of this, it seems that sounds are sometimes enveloped in a subtle haze of noise or grunge that just slightly reduces clarity and definition of individual instruments. We're being picky, though, and for many listeners, this minor flaw will be more than outweighed by the fine FM performance. was the former name of Its staff were at the forefront of the digital publishing revolution, and spearheaded the move to bring consumer technology journalism to its natural home – online. Many of the current TechRadar staff started life a staff writer, covering everything from the emerging smartphone market to the evolving market of personal computers. Think of it as the building blocks of the TechRadar you love today.