If there’s one thing that we just can’t get enough of here at Radio Fidelity, it’s eye-catching retro style radios.
However, we’re also aware that big style from a radio perspective often comes with a big price tag too.
Unfortunately, therein lies the problem for a lot of consumers. You want the beauty of a Roberts radio, but you just don’t have the cash to pay for that retro look.
We understand – and apparently, the team over at VQ does too.
The VQ radio company seems to be shockingly good at producing retro-style small radios that pack one heck of a punch.
Today, we’re going to be reviewing the VQ Retro Mini radio, for a behind-the-scenes look at how big things really can come in small packages.
VQ Retro Mini radio: Design and build
The VQ Retro Mini stands out as one of the most popular DAB radio options online for people with a love of retro style, and a limited budget.
With a stunning design that splits into no fewer than 19 different colour options, you really can’t go wrong from an aesthetic perspective.
Our favourite option has to be the walnut-style VQ Retro mini radio. It looks just like a device from Pure, but at a fraction of the price tag.
No matter which colour you choose, the VQ retro mini is bound to live up to its name. The eighties-inspired theme resonates all the way from the leatherette-feel handle, to the wooden casing.
We particularly light the slightly off-white face plate that looks as though you picked this radio up straight from the 1980s and transported it home with you on a flying DeLorean.
Now, don’t get us wrong, there are few elements of the VQ mini radio that don’t quite live up to the experience you would get with something like the Retro Revival Uno from Roberts.
The buttons feel a little cheap and plastic, but they are responsive – which is really what’s important. The LCD screen works well too – and it’s easy to read from a range of angles.
According to the design team at VQ, The Retro Mini radio was their chance to create something capable of standing the test of time with modern functionality and unbeatable charm.
There are also a few modern features thrown in for good measure, like a USB charging port, so you can keep your phone powered while you’re jamming to your favourite tunes.
VQ Retro Mini radio: Features
So, what kind of features can you expect from this mini radio?
Well, just because it’s small in size, doesn’t mean it’s lacking in functionality.
The VQ Retro mini radio comes with DAB and DAB+ connectivity, as well as standard FM, so you can listen to any station you like.
Additionally, there’s the option to connect your own devices through a Bluetooth connection too. The system works easily with everything from Apple Music to Spotify.
One valuable feature of the VQ small radio is that it’s portable. Though there isn’t a dedicated power pack, you can use four AA batteries to power your device if you’re using it on the move.
With a price tag of just under £55, the Retro Mini is one of the most budget-friendly tools that we’ve seen, featuring things like:
- Dual alarm clock with snooze, countdown and sleep timer
- Additional ports (USB charging and 3.5mm audio output)
- Personal music streaming with Bluetooth
- DAB, DAB+, and FM streaming
- 60 radio preset options
- My EQ equaliser
- 5-watt single speaker
- Mainly premium materials throughout
- USB charge port
There are plenty of features to love about this mini radio, including the fact that it comes with a dual alarm clock function that makes it perfect for your bedside table.
However, we weren’t particularly fond of how the presets worked. There are no dedicated buttons for instant access, which is a bit of a headache.
With no preset buttons, you need to scroll through all of your options every time you want to find a channel. It would probably take the same amount of time to just find the station with the radio tuner instead.
VQ Retro Mini radio: Performance
Because the VQ Retro is a mini radio, you can’t expect it to compete with a huge boombox or Hi-Fi setup. Ultimately, this radio is more about convenience and portability than volume.
However, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to get terrible sound with your digital radio either.
There’s a lot of depth to the VQ Retro Mini – a lot more than you might expect, in fact.
What’s more, the Retro Mini can achieve volumes that are a lot higher than we expected when we started testing out this device.
Although you will get a little distortion at higher volume levels, it was nowhere near as bad as we expected.
Another excellent feature is that the VQ Retro Mini comes with an equaliser, so you can adjust the sound quality to suit your specific needs. There are 5 different EQ settings built-in.
The “Pop” option is great for listening to a lot of top 40 radio stations. However, you might need to fiddle for a while longer if you’re looking for something that’s suitable for talk radio.
VQ Retro Mini radio: Verdict
The VQ Retro Mini radio is far from perfect.
The sound distorts at higher volumes, and you can use a lot of batteries very quickly if you’re using this device as a portable sound system.
Additionally, there are some complaints online about many of these models being delivered faulty – which is a huge issue.
However, if you can get a Retro Mini that works properly, we think that you should be delighted by the majority of the features and functionality.
This mini radio looks great, sounds good, and even comes with a few extra features, like USB charging and Bluetooth connectivity thrown in.
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