“Get yourself up you lazy ****” spurred this purchase off. Those were the words of my mother screaming at me one evening, and I realised it was about time to get myself a clock alarm. Here’s where my geeky tendencies shine brightest, instead of walking down to Tesco just over the road I browse the internet in search of user reviews. And me being me, it had to be the crème de la crème (in my opinion) – A Sony. As with most other things around the home it had to be Sony. I have a Sony Ericsson P900, a Sony KLV-L23M1 23” LCD TV, a Sony DVP-NS705V DVD Player, my Playstation 2, my Sony something-or-other 32” CRT downstairs – you get the point. Not only do I like Sony’s style and brand appeal, I have a Sony specialist shop on the high street of my small Hertfordshire town which makes it easy when I have problems. Talking of which I have only ever had one, which was with our old Sony 21” Trinitron beast that just died of old age. But it’s comforting none the less!
I digressed from the point a little; my eyes fell upon the Sony XDR-S1. It’s a sexy as a radio could be. It’s not outgoing and brash like the Pure radios. Not there is anything wrong with the offerings from Pure, they just aren’t my thing. It’s digital, too. I thought it was about time I made the switch to something digital, I’m impressed to say the least. It cost me a mere £97 delivered from eBay; an unwanted gift still sealed (or off the back of a lorry? At this price, who cares? ). You can expect to pick them up for around £140-150 in the stores and elsewhere. My Sony store down the road wanted to charge me £155. Pah.
The Sony, as stated above, looks great. The aerial tucks neatly away, and gives added boost when pulled out for areas hard to receive decent signal, more on this later. Buttons are visibly marked with what they do, and the silvery-chromey finish looks superb. The back sports the mains, digital-out and line-in/line-out connections, while the side conceals a headphone jack. On top, every feature you could think of is easily accessible; almost everything has its own button. Power, volume, sleep, standby timer (alarm setting, bizarrely named), Mega Bass – the list goes on. In the centre of the unit is a double line blue LCD screen. Here information about the station is displayed, by default the name of the station and the “tagline” that goes with it. DAB allows for further information to be displayed about the station, current presenter, current song, phone/txt numbers etc. Other displays include signal strength, frequency, label, genre to name a few. It’s a shame there is no way to activate the backlight while the radio is off to see the time. I originally wanted a basic alarm clock with possibly a radio function; it appears I bought a radio with a basic alarm function
Two words could some this section up, a breeze. From getting it out of the box to enjoying DAB crystal clear music took about 5 minutes. The XDR-S1 asks you to auto-tune it as soon as you first turn it on, which is handy. A few minutes later it had found all stations, and after inspecting further in the net – every station I could receive in my area . The internal memory is a bit crap though, lasting around 5mins on average before you loose you’re presets and time etc. However I don’t intend to start moving it around, nor do I care for another 3 minute scan to get my channels. Each preset button is so simple to configure I took a guess at how to do it and it worked. Find you’re station; hold down desired button, it beeps. Done. Setting the clock is done automatically, taking information from RDS sent from stations. Only the least accessed options do not have their own buttons designated to the, such as contrast for the LCD. The Sony scores big points from me in this area.
The output is provided by two 2.3w speakers. I class myself as a semi-audiophile, not knowing a lot, but appreciate a decent setup. My trusty Cambridge Soundworks DTT3500 5.1 Digital speakers, and Creative Audigy 2 ZS paired together make a decent racket for all purposes I use it for (games and music). My Sony carries out its use well, as a bed-side radio. As much as I’d love to hear it pumping tunes through my PC speakers, that’s not what I bought it for. It wakes me up in the morning, and it’s great to listen to at night because there is, quite honestly, bugger all on TV! Thank god Big Brother has finished, I found rubbing my eyeballs up against my headboard more enthralling than watching mixed gender, mixed sexuality, mixed intelligence (on second thoughts..) folks make conversation on masturbation and how carrots resemble male genitalia. I’ve gone off on a tangent again.
I never really did much reading up on the product in the end, and was shocked to see a remote. I don’t know what I would have done without it as my radio is on the other side of the room. I was pleased to see that just about everything you could do on the radio, was possible on the remote. The memo function could come in handy for some I suppose, allowing for text to be stored in it’s internal memory in case you miss a number or song name you really wanted. I however haven’t found much of a use for this function, as I listen to the radio; not read it. There is a noticeable absence of recording and playback features, like some other DAB radios. Acting a bit like a PVR, it would allow for you to rewind bits of broadcasts you missed, if the phone rang, for example. This again would be a feature I wouldn’t make use of, some other players do, such as the awful looking ‘Bug’.
I have messed briefly with the FM/MW/LW options, but after using DAB I would never go back. The XDR-S1 has a “Digital Noise Reduction” feature, which helps quality but DAB is noticeably better. Reception was fantastic, I’ve only really tried it in two places towards the centre of my house, one upstairs and one downstairs, and had a faultless experience. The text displayed on the LCD infrequently comes up one letter short, and sometimes carries over the greater than sign after tuning to a new station and would read “BBC Radio 1>” for example. Hardly life threatening I know, just a minor annoyance which prevents this from being a perfect product for myself. Flicking between stations can take a few seconds sometimes when switching bands, which does not bother me, but may others.
Some may call it a metallic breadbin, I like it. The Sony XDR-S1 fills everything I wanted it to do (wake me up) and more (DAB, erm.. it takes more room up on my bedside table now so I don’t have to clutter it with more crap – hoorah!). The Sony is future proofed, from what I have read, supporting Band III which is what all current UK stations broadcast on. Our friend’s on the continent receive ‘Band L’, and luckily the Sony is one of very few DAB radios that are compatible with this.
I would recommend this to anyone looking for a no-nonsense move to the world of digital, looking for future proofing and support for backward technologies, while still maintaining Sony’s good looks. For the money, and the number of presets this baby offers – it’s a steal if you can find it cheap!
Comments, suggestions, questions welcome