Long before we got the TV bug it was the humble radio that became our technological fascination and my own first foray in to this exciting world of AV. If memory serves the first was an AM only number, possibly manufactured by Ferguson, which generally found itself tuned to the ‘Great 208’, Radio Luxembourg, for reasons that escape me now, but those were the days of old, hairy Radio 1 DJ’s who liked the sound of their own voices more than the records they played. Wind forward more years than we’d care to admit and the entertainment landscape is an entirely different proposition; one can now access radio services via TV, Tablet, Smartphone or PC and there’s an increasing push toward an all-digital future, as the Government seeks profit by selling off the airwaves to 4G (and soon 5G) providers. That the radio survives, at all, is testament to its convenient portability and perhaps the unique personal way in which we interact with it. For this home-based AV reviewer, it’s a near God-send.
Tangent Audio may not be a name familiar to everyone but they first cut their teeth in the 1970’s, established by a group of dedicated Danish hi-fi enthusiasts and within a few years their innovative designs had established the Company as a major specialist loudspeaker manufacturer, gaining positive reviews from the HI-Fi press, in the UK and beyond. In 2005 the Tangent brand re-emerged and they added table radios – amongst other things - to their portfolio of products and now find themselves under the umbrella of the French AVI group as they seek to establish themselves as a major player in the UK. Tangent clearly aren’t afraid of a ‘bit’ of competition as the DAB radio market isn’t short of entrants; so let’s see if the DAB2GO can justify its place in your home.
The Tangent DAB2GO is available in six colours – high gloss white, apple green, black, red and ‘ice blue’ plus, what we have here, a walnut finish – blame some of our formative years of being driven around in a Triumph for our choice – and apparently features a real wood veneer. It doesn’t really feel particularly woody, to the touch, but it does look convincing and the unit has a decidedly well-engineered design. The appearance is clearly retro influenced and resembles something that would have graced the rooms around the time of Tangent’s formation, in the 1970’s. The only real touch of modernity comes in the shape of the LCD Display Screen on the front panel that’s underscored by five function and preset buttons – more on which later. The left-hand side (as you look at it) of the front panel is dominated by the speaker grill which conceals the 3 inch speaker that has a claimed 5W output. The top panel is inlaid with a gun-mental strip, which matches the colour of the facia, and houses a couple of dials that double as buttons, when pressed, and the Snooze button for the Alarm feature. Overall, we really liked the retro, excellently engineered look and feel of the DAB2GO.
The DAB2GO is generously endowed with connection options that should cover most bases. There’s a 3.5mm jack to attach a set of headphones as well as one to output a stereo signal to external amplification. It’s also possible to attach another stereo device – think MP3 Player/iDevice/Smartphone – to output through the DAB2GO’s speaker. There’s also a USB port but that’s not for playback and is instead a handy way to charge a suitably equipped device plus there’s a couple of service ports, presumably for applying software upgrades, which are kept hidden under a flap. Finally, to the far left side, is the input for the detachable 12V/1.2A power supply which comes with a Euro style plug but in the box is also an adaptor to fit the UK mains.
After first powering-up, initiated by pressing down on the Volume button, we set about scanning for services. The user has the choice of auto-scanning or manual selecting from a choice of frequencies. We’d only recommend the manual route if you’re having problems getting some of the services or live in between two transmitters and want to ensure you’re getting the strongest signal. If you want to know what these are, we’d suggest a quick Google search or a look at Wikipedia under ‘Digital radio in the United Kingdom’. We live in a valley so we had some problems getting all the services on offer, initially, but a relocation of the unit managed to sort that out, although it was necessary to have the aerial antennae at full extension to ensure a good signal at all times.
Once you have all the services, they are simply accessed using the TUNE/SELECT Dial; with stations arranged alphabetically, it’s just a matter of twiddling the dial to get to the one you want and them pressing down on the dial to select it for listening. Alternatively one can elect for the station to be tuned in immediately as you scroll through, without need to press the button, by enabling Auto Enter in the Menu which adds to the retro feel quite nicely. Favourite stations for both the FM and DAB+ tuner can be stored by holding down the numbered preset buttons for a couple of seconds (possibly three), with up to 5 available for each.
Starting at the left hand side; pressing the MODE button allows you to choose between DAB, FM and Aux feeds although, sensibly, the Aux option doesn’t appear if there’s nothing connected through the input at the rear. The INFO button brings up various tidbits of information and one can cycle through a signal strength bar, station genre, Mux provider and frequency information, signal error value, bitrate and audio codec (more on which later) and any supplementary information put out by the station, such as song details or the name of the show with all of the information displayed at the bottom of the LCD display.
The MENU button works differently to the MODE in that you cycle through the options using the TUNE/SELECT Dial and select options using it as a button. From here there are options for a Full or Manual Scan, engaging DRC (Dynamic Range Control) at Off, High or Low but bearing in mind this isn’t the loudest of music players, we’d recommend just using the Volume knob if you need things a little lower. It’s also possible to set the Date and Time and then show that as a 24 or 12 hour clock format and adjust the amount of Snooze applied to the Alarm (go on add a few minutes). The Menu system also allows you to view the Firmware Version as well as perform a Factory Reset and one can also adjust the brightness of the display panel during listening and in standby.
Barring the – at first – slightly baffling, yet useful, Auto Enter option, operation of the DAB2GO was everything we would have hoped and expected, simple and intuitive, so less tech-savvy customers shouldn’t be put off – it’s almost just like using the old ‘wireless’, in its now less common meaning.
The Tangent DAB2GO packs in a few useful additions to add to its status as a convenience device and to set it apart from some of the competition. The ability to charge USB powered devices is very handy and we utilised the port on several occasions during the review process when the PC’s were all in use for phones, MP3 players and the Kindle. Not only can the DAB2GO charge your USB device but it’s also able to accept and charge rechargeable NiMH batteries – it takes 6 x AA batteries in a compartment to the rear – when either on or in standby. The addition of the battery charging feature certainly makes the DAB2GO quite a portable little device and we got about 6 hours playtime off our set of ‘rechargables’, although that will vary dependent on your batteries age and quality.
It’s pretty much the norm for a DAB Radio to be equipped with a clock and alarm features and the DAB2GO doesn’t disappoint. Users can set a one-off or repetitive alarm for daily, weekday or weekend events with the option of a buzzer or either the DAB or FM tuner to wake up to or, if in the kitchen, it can act on a timer basis when set to Type 2. For those that don’t like their music spoon-fed on a permanent basis, the DAB2G0 is able to accept a stereo input through the Aux input, doubling it up as a handy outlet for your iDevice/MP3 player.
The merits of DAB+ over the ‘plain old’ DAB format we use here in the UK have been long debated, across the internet. Some point to the fact DAB+ uses a signal encoded in aacPlus to the, almost pre-historic, MP2 standard used in the UK as an indicator of the superiority of DAB+ audio performance but the reality is that, most of the broadcasters in the countries where DAB+ is the standard use very low bitrates, to take advantage of AAC’s undoubted better efficiency. If DAB+ was being widely used with the, typical, 128kbps bitrate used for DAB transmissions it would be another story but, for now, the differences between the two are largely academic; besides which, with so many DAB radios already sold in the UK (way over 10 million), a transition could well be very unpopular but at least the DAB2GO has the bases covered by offering DAB+ support and it’s also a plus if you were planning to take it on your hols to a country that does use it.
The DAB20GO offers 3 possibilities for listening; one can simply use the built-in 3” speaker, connect up a set of headphones or hook it up to an amp which accepts stereo through a 3.5mm jack. There’s no doubt you could potentially enjoy a better listening experience via the external sources – for starters they are output in stereo compared to the units’ mono speaker – but the little speaker makes a very good job of filling an ‘averagely’ sized room in the home with plenty of sound. We did find the unit would reverberate when placed direct on to hard surfaces but something like a placemat underneath would provide sufficient dampening and allow us to crank up the dial. The DAB2GO provides surprisingly powerful bass for its compact proportions and, if we had any criticisms, it would be more toward the top-end where it starts to show its limitations as the volume is increased but, make no mistake, the DAB2GO packs a fair punch.
On even a modest audio system it’s quite easy to come to the conclusion that FM transmissions are more impressive than their DAB counterparts, from an audio quality standpoint, and whilst it’s difficult to notice much difference via the built-in speaker, the differences are more marked when hooking up some headphones our outputting to external amplification and outboard speakers so it’s something to consider if going down that route. In actual fact, the headphone out isn’t particularly impressive but we still noticed a definite improvement using FM. For ‘everyday’ use, we found the self-contained speaker more than adequate, however, and besides, we listen to Radio 6 for most of the day so DAB is the only option.
- Punchy, room-filling audio
- USB and battery charging
- Very easy to use
- Excellent value
- Lovely styling
- Very well engineered
- Can be used to play back contents of your iDevice/MP3 player
- DAB+ ready
- Reverberations on hard surfaces at volume
- Headphone output is mediocre
Tangent DAB2GO DAB+ FM Radio Review
There’s just something about a radio; those that are lovers of the medium will know. Perhaps it’s their non-intrusive ‘personality’; it could be their simplistic convenience or is that there’s nothing quite like twiddling a dial, or two, in search of entertainment? Whatever it is, we love it and hope they’re around for years to come. Tangent’s DAB2GO embodies all those qualities in a stylish, quality-engineered little package but also brings a touch of modernity to the table with very useful battery and USB charging functionalities and the option to use it as an outlet for your iDevice or MP3 player. The DAB2GO is a breeze to operate - for young or old - provides punchy audio that will fill your kitchen or bedroom, with ease, and proves when it comes to DAB Radio, Pure and Roberts aren’t the only option. Highly Recommended.
Design and usability
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.