Vita Audio R1

While radio as a medium is still alive and going strong despites decades of commentators predicting its demise, the concept of a simple, standalone radio unit is nearly extinct. The radio tuner is an additional feature now: it gets crammed in on MP3 players, car CD players, radios, and amplifiers. And while all these devices work just fine with their built-in tuners, there’s just something effortless about those original radios that they fail to capture.

Maybe that’s why Vita Audio’s R1 DAB/FM Radio is such a refreshing concept: It’s a radio, and just a radio. But while it’s a throwback in that regard, it also makes a leap forward by integrating a digital radio tuner, which allows it to pick up Digital Audio Broadcasts (DAB) in regions that support it, such as various parts of Europe.

Vita Audio R1
Image Courtesy of Vita Audio

True to its simplistic premise, the R1 sports a basic, uncluttered design. It’s a cube – more or less – with a band of fiberboard running around the top and sides, rounding the edges. It can be veneered in cherry or walnut, or coated in grey or red gloss lacquer. The face has a single 3.5-inch driver set in it, covered by a classic black grille, along with a more modern-looking backlit LCD display above. When tuned into digital radio stations, the screen can provide broadcast information such as track titles and station names.

On top, Vita abandons traditional controls in favor of its proprietary RotoDial design, which features a center dial surrounded by buttons for other functions. In the future, all of its products will carry this design.

The tell-tale mark of an FM radio – a long extendable antenna – pokes out from behind the cabinet. There are also gold-plated contacts for hooking the R1 up to a full-scale audio system, as well as a single jack to give the unit stereo capability when connected to another speaker. A 3.5mm mini input on the front of the system allows other music devices to pump out music through the R1’s seven-watt speaker – in case the whole standalone concept loses its charm.

The R1 makes another concession to multitasking with its integrated clock and alarm, making it appropriate for bedside use. At least you can think of it as a clock added to a radio, and not the other way around.

It may not please the techie who wants flexibility, or the audiophile who demands more than mono sound, but as an easy way to switch on some tunes and unwind, the Vita Audio R1 should most certainly fit the bill. It can generally be found for around ₤160 ($328 USD) in UK retailers. More information can be found on the company’s website.