Roberts' line of retro DAB radios has left it a little typecast. While its Geminis and Revivals have hardly been albatrosses, new launches from the traditionally safe UK company hardly get you salivating with anticipation.
That could be about to change with the Sound 23. This all-in-one micro hi-fi takes the traditional DAB/FM radio mould, adds CD playback and an SD card slot, and swaps old-school looks with a glossy black finish. It's a makeover to rival the transformation of Jane in Neighbours.
Small form, big sound
Plonk-down-and-play micro systems are usually big on convenience but often struggle to produce expressive audio quality. Not the Sound 23. Its stereo speakers are pretty close together but serve up a convincing stereo image and throw music well beyond the constraints of its cabinet.
Bass sounds are solid and pacy, voices are cleaner than a jet-washed whistle and there's none of the treble clamour that less capable designs so often fall prey to.
It also delivers CDs with the emphasis on excitement, but is refined enough to stay the right side of brash.
The good news continues with the radio reception. The Sound 23 comes with a better aerial than most, but it's possible to remove it if you want to hook the system up to an external. Few micro systems are as thoughtful as this.
There's a real warmth and immediacy to talk radio and, regardless of your musical tastes, the 23 is only too happy to make your tunes shine.
The remote part
So why only four stars? Two reasons. Firstly, the remote is a bit on the flimsy side. This wouldn't normally be disastrous, but the lack of controls on the minimalist main unit mean you'll be using it a lot. The gloss black finish, meanwhile, looks great from a distance, but collects fingerprints quicker than a scene-of-crime investigator.
Still, if you're short on space and don't want a micro system with separate speakers or the boxy looks of Onkyo's class-leading CS-515DAB, the Sound 23 is certainly still worth a look. Just make sure you've got a polishing cloth handy.
Roberts Radio Sound 23
Simple, stylish and straightforward, with a sound to match. This Roberts really is a king of convenience