Waking up in the morning is always a challenge especially when you have to make sure children are ready and out for school before tackling morning rush hour traffic. That is why it is important that you get a fresh, early start to your day, so you do not have to worry about playing catch-up. To ensure that you wake up on time, the best sounding clock radio can offer a simple solution.
That said, the advancement of technology has made the older, traditional clock radios all but a thing of the past. These days, sounding clock radios are often able to connect with your smart devices or even read memory cards. On top of that, some have even focused on sound quality as well as lighting.
- Best Sounding Clock Radio 2020
- 1. Sangean RCR-20 – Best Sounding Clock Radio (Editor’s Choice)
- 2. JBL Horizon – Best Sounding Clock Radio On The Market (Editor’s Choice)
- 3. BOCTOP – Best Sounding FM Clock Radio (Best Price)
- 4. Dreamsky 1.2 – Best Sounding Alarm Clock Radio
- 5. iHome iBT232 – Best Sounding Clock Radio Under 50
- 6. Dreamsky 1.8 – Best Sounding Clock Radios (People’s Choice)
- 7. Orionstar – Best Clock Radio Sound Quality
- 8. hOmelabs Sunrise Alarm Clock – Best Sunrise Sounding Clock Radio
- 9. Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock Radio with Colored Sunrise Simulation
- Best Sounding Clock Radio Reviews – Buyer’s Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Sounding Clock Radio 2020
Figuring out with is the best sounding clock radio for your needs can be confusing. That is why we have put together a list of the top 5 best sounding clock radios, highlighting what each one does best.
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Then we provide a helpful review of 8 products and buyer’s guide, so you can find the clock radio that is right for you.
1. Sangean RCR-20 – Best Sounding Clock Radio (Editor’s Choice)
Sangean is a bit interesting due to the fact that it has actually been around for awhile accruing roughly 45 years of experience but not really able to break through the din of the market competition. That said, this brand may be one of the best-kept secrets in the electronics market as Sangean has a tendency to offer products that meet all expected industry standards while also going above and beyond in a category or few. Because of this, the Sangean RCR-20 FM-RDS is by far the best sounding clock radio that we saw and our Editor’s Choice.
When looking at clock radios, the general rule is to not expect too terribly much as they are generally a niche market that is being replaced by newer technology. That said, there are still plenty of manufacturers who understand how to stretch the viable lifespan of a market by constantly adapting it to new technology.
Aside from the fact that the Sangean RCR-20 FM-RDS offers easily the most robust and varied connectivity compatibility that we saw, it also provides one of the better all-around experiences for the actual product description: as an alarm clock. For one, the Sangean RCR-20 FM-RDS offers dual alarms, so you do not have to worry about your partner being left out. On top of that, the Sangean RCR-20 FM-RDS actually offers some of the best radio options with an impressive 18 preset stations. Finally, the infrared remote control means that you do not even need the Sangean RCR-20 FM-RDS at hand to use it comfortably.
2. JBL Horizon – Best Sounding Clock Radio On The Market (Editor’s Choice)
Though most of the brands we see in this market are either low-end or recently sprouted, there are still a few, older, venerable companies that have a wealth of experience to bring to bear of their market and provide the product they possibly can often exceeding the quality and expectation of their competitors. This is exactly the case with JBL which uses its nearly century-old storied history in specifically audio electronics to provide what we consider the best sounding clock radio on the market as well as our Editor’s Choice.
A Great Alarm
While this list may be for the best sounding clock radio on the market, that does not mean that the alarm should simply be considered a necessary, but unimportant, function. JBL wholeheartedly believes this as not only is the audio quality on this clock radio better than most.
Great Overall Quality
While the extended custom options for the alarm is nice, the JBL Horizon must earn the Editor’s Choice award and does so by meeting or exceeding pretty much every expected standard that a consumer can reasonably have. For instance, the JBL Horizon features the option of serving simply as a speaker system by connecting via Bluetooth to a smart device. Even better, the JBL Horizon can then serve double duty by powering that device with dual USB ports that can charge any standard smart device. Of course, when considering the best sounding radio on the market, the fact that the JBL provide 10 RMS watts is fairly impressive in a market not known for such.
3. BOCTOP – Best Sounding FM Clock Radio (Best Price)
BOCTOP is an interesting company and a difficult one to pin down as they do not have a true specialization, though they tend to favor computer peripherals and general consumer electronics. That said, this brand is also noted for manufacturing the errant product that has no electronic components at all. Still, the one thing that BOCTOP consistently manages to get right is the price as it is the least expensive best sounding FM clock radio on our list.
Considering that this is the least expensive sounding FM clock radio we reviewed, you should probably set your expectations accordingly. For example, when it comes to the display, this sounding clock radio is a bit of a mixed bag. For the good, the display uses bright and clear LED lights that are easy to see. Even better, the brightness of the display can be dimmed to your preference. Unfortunately, the display itself is not that large and may not be great for people with difficulty seeing somewhat smaller numbers.
The alarm function of this best sounding FM clock radio is fairly similar to the display in many respects: while it is all-around a solid feature, there is an annoying quality that may not make it the best product for everyone. From a positive perspective, the alarm is plenty loud enough to wake the dead and features a gradual volume increase to prevent rousing you abruptly. On the downside, there is no way to adjust the ultimate alarm volume, which some people may find jarring or uncomfortable.
4. Dreamsky 1.2 – Best Sounding Alarm Clock Radio
As a company, DreamSky focuses primarily on clock radios and other clock-based products though they do enter other markets as well as decorative maps and general radios. This should at least provide a bit of peace of mind regarding the clock and alarm functions of their products since that is more or less their specialty. That said, there are some notable miscues. This product made our pick for the best sounding alarm clock radio.
Another nice quality of the DreamSky 1.2” is its customization options. While it is not the most expansive product we reviewed in this respect, it offers some solid options for its price point. For instance, you can adjust the brightness of the display to 3 different intensity settings. On top of that, the temperature gauge can show both Celsius and Fahrenheit. Finally, this best sounding alarm clock radio comes with a USB port to charge your smart devices while you sleep.
One of the more disappointing qualities of the Dreamsky 1.2” sounding clock radio is that the radio is definitely the lowest quality feature of the product. First, the radio itself is noted for the spotty reception that only gets worse when you use the USB port to charge one of your smart devices. On top of that, the radio does not offer the option to save any preset stations, so you must tune it every time you want to listen to something new. Finally, this clock radio does not have great sound quality even when the radio comes in clearly.
5. iHome iBT232 – Best Sounding Clock Radio Under 50
Ihome is definitely a unique company in that they could arguably have been said to have started the entire only online business model in the early days of the internet explosion. That said, Ihome has still only been around for about a decade or so, though they do specialize in audio equipment with a particular specialization surrounding Apple’s iPhone product lineup. Still, iHome is definitely a consumer-oriented brand that focuses on the larger market that seeks convenience over performance and value over features. The iHome made our pick for the best sounding clock radio under 50.
The iHome iBT232 is definitely in a class on its own though that may or may not be important to you depending on what you favor. To wit, if you are interested in the interconnected internet of things, like Alexa and other digital assistants, then the iHome iBT232 is likely a wonderful option as it comes with numerous voice interactions.
Considering that iHome is such a forward-thinking brand, it only makes sense that it would have a jump on the competition in terms of the integration of the clock radio with the internet. Aside from the voice operations, the iHome iBT232 also allows you to connect to it via Bluetooth for wireless play. However, the iHome iBT232 goes a step above and beyond that function which is not exactly rare these days and provides the option to stream music directly from some of the most popular music apps used today including iHeart Radio as well as Spotify. Finally, you can always just use the 3.5 mm aux input jack if you do not feel like fooling with the wireless options.
6. Dreamsky 1.8 – Best Sounding Clock Radios (People’s Choice)
The DreamSky 1.8” sounding clock radio is a no muss, no fuss clock radio that may not necessarily wow you with loads of bells and whistles, but it does exceptionally well. As one of the multiple DreamSky products on our list, this one sets itself apart by having a larger display, which combined with other features, makes it by far one of the best sounding clock radios for those who do not want to worry about complexity. The Dreamsky 1.8 made our pick for the best sounding clock radios – people’s choice.
Ease of Use
Not everyone wants a clock radio with loads of extra features. Additional extra features inherently require more controls to use, and most clock radios make it a point to keep their products compact and with minimal buttons regardless of the extra features. This can make using those products a bit more difficult especially for the non-tech savvy among us. Thankfully, the DreamSky 1.8” is one of the easier best sounding clock radios to use. Most of the buttons only serve a single function and all are easy to distinguish.
Beyond the ease of use, the next best feature of the DreamSky 1.8” clock radio has to be its connections. This sounding clock radio does not come with all of the advanced connections that some offer, but it makes up for it in quantity. This sounding clock radio on our list that features USB port. This means that you can charge multiple smart devices at the same time. On top of that, this is best sounding clock radio we saw that also comes with an aux 3.5 mm output jack, so you can listen to music with headphones.
7. Orionstar – Best Clock Radio Sound Quality
Orionstar may not be the most well-known company out there, but they do know how to make an exceptional quality clock radio. In fairness, this may be because this is the only brand on our list that specialized explicitly in clock radios to the exclusion of all other products. This focus allows them to provide the best possible experience, which they do better than all the other we reviewed, even if it comes at a steeper cost than all the other products as well. This product made our pick for one of the best clock radio sound quality.
There are only a few sounding clock radios on our list that can even really compete with the Orionstar. First, while some of the other clock radios may have Bluetooth connectivity, this is the only sounding clock radio we reviewed that features the more advanced Bluetooth 4.2 version which provides a more reliable signal. This is also the only sounding clock radio we reviewed that can accept memory cards and play music or other audio directly from them.
Beyond the connections, the Orionstar is unique in a number of other ways too. For instance, when connected by Bluetooth 4.2, the Orionstar is the only sounding clock radio we saw that supports hands-free calling. With the embedded microphone in the top of the sounding clock radio, simply press the play button and talk on the phone.
Best Rechargeable Battery
This is also the only best clock radio sound quality we saw with an excellent rechargeable battery. Many other sounding clock radios will use batteries as a backup power supply or save your settings. The Orionstar features a battery up to 6 hours of playtime after a full charge as its main power source that is recharged through the USB port.
As if all the other features were not enough, the Orionstar sounding clock radio provides by and far one of the best sound quality that we could find. This first begins with the standard speakers, which are 6W a piece. This means the Orionstar produces 12W RMS which is significantly more power than any other sounding clock radio on our list. Even better, this sounding clock radio can actually register some of the deeper bass notes despite only being 12W. It accomplishes this feat through the use of 2 resonators which work to enhance the bass like a subwoofer’s case.
8. hOmelabs Sunrise Alarm Clock – Best Sunrise Sounding Clock Radio
While there are a couple companies on our list that attempt to provide a wide range of consumer electronics, none of them are as successful at it as hOmelabs. This brand may not specialize in clock radios. They provide a wide range of electronic goods suitable for all homes including air conditioners, microwaves, and humidifiers/dehumidifiers. This product made our pick for the best sunrise sounding clock radio.
What truly sets this sounding clock radio apart from its competitors is the various light settings it offers. First, this is one of a few sounding clock radios that we saw, which provides an LED light as either a night light or for aesthetic purposes. The hOmelabs takes this a step further by allowing you to customize the light’s color with 7 different options.
The alarm uses that gradual introduction of light to more gently rouse you from your slumber. The hOmelabs alarm has a couple other nice features to make your transition into wakefulness gentler than the other products we reviewed as well. This begins primarily with the different alarm settings. This is the only sounding clock radio we saw with alarms beyond the radio or a buzzer. These additional sounds include forest noises, birds, and ocean waves.
9. Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock Radio with Colored Sunrise Simulation
There are lots of light setting included, and the alarm emits a handful of sounds that range from birds chirping to soothing piano music. Button configurations are a bit of a pain though and placed in locations that make it hard to press without looking at the device in an upright position. Regardless, the Phillips Lamps is a great wake up call, and a fast way to improve from your outdated clock.
Best Sounding Clock Radio Reviews – Buyer’s Guide
As technology progresses, more and more of our devices are all expected to work in unison. Sometimes this involves using hardware like a cable to directly connect one device to another. But often enough the devices communicate with each other over wireless signals. Keep in mind, the more connections a device has, generally the more complicated the device is to work.
The most popular type of connection included with clock radios these days, though they are often somewhat limited. Specifically, USB ports on clock radios are often designed simply to charge your smart devices. There are a couple sounding clock radios out there that can accept an audio signal from a USB port.
Aux 3.5 mm
This is another connection common among clock radios that do not necessarily work the way you might expect. Traditionally, aux 3.5 mm jacks were used to connect headphones to audio devices. So you could listen to music without disturbing those around you. For sounding clock radios, more often than not, the aux 3.5 mm jack is actually used to transmit an audio signal to the clock radio instead.
This is another type of connection that is becoming increasingly popular among sounding clock radios. It is actually featured on about half of the products we reviewed. This feature works as it normally does: allowing you to transmit a signal wirelessly from a Bluetooth compatible device to your sounding clock radio. It may even allow you to answer calls hands-free. One important thing to look for is the protocol. Do not accept a Bluetooth protocol below 4.0 for the best results.
The main thing to remember when looking for an alarm is how it functions. Most of the products on our list feature alarms that gradually get louder. So you have not jarred from sleep abruptly. That said, some of the clock radios’ alarms are a bit more gradual than others. And some even does not allow you to adjust the alarm’s volume.
An alternative to the traditional alarm is by using a Sunrise Alarm. This feature involves a sounding clock radio with an LED light that will gradually get brighter as your alarm approaches. Once your alarm goes off, the clock radio is at its brightest, and the transition from light to dark is meant to slowly pull you from deep sleep to wakefulness.
Finally, not everyone within the same household sleeps on the same schedule. If this describes you, then it is likely a good idea that you get a sounding clock radio with multiple alarms. This allows you to set two different alarms for each person. This works even better if you can choose, which days the alarm goes off to prevent being woken on your days off of work.
While not nearly the most important part of a clock radio, the display can still play a vital role. This will generally depend more on the quality of your eyesight than anything else. But your comfort in regards to ambient light should also be considered. If you are sensitive to ambient light when trying to sleep, make sure the sounding clock radio can dim its brightness.
In terms of the hardware, this is actually not as important as for other types of electronics. For television sets and computer monitors, the difference between LCD and LED can be stark, but for clock radios, it is fairly inconsequential. That said, making sure that the characters displayed are large generally between 1.2″ to 1.8″ is more relevant than what type of display is used.
When it comes to a sounding clock radio, it is important to remember that this device is not intended to be used as a home entertainment stereo system. The radio portion of the clock is generally used more as an alternative, less jarring alarm than anything else. As such, any sound quality that features speakers with 5 to 10 RMS watts should be seen as adequate. If you are lucky, the clock radio may even have a method of boosting the bass.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best clock radio?
Clock radios of today consist of lots of new features that aren’t available on older brands. Still, the basic are still the most needed, such as a large clock display. Light should also be considered, so look for products that contain dimming. This will help with wakeup and allow acceptable but bearable light to enter the room (just enough to get your attention in the morning). Furthermore, how would you like your alarm to sound? Some prefer more peaceful sounds while others insist on something that’s loud and shrill. And don’t forget about battery power and size either.
What radio has the best FM reception?
Radio reception is very important, especially if you live in an area that’s prone to severe weather. You can always tell how well reception will be based on the turning controls and antenna. The more freedom you have to move it, the better you can set up the signal to a local radio station.
What is the best FM radio?
This is subjective and depends on what the user likes the most. All radios will connect to FM signals but to best you those who tune that’s easy to navigate. For example, the best radio for this would have two button controls that will let you switch the channel higher, or move to a previous number that you passed already. The quicker you can get to your desired station, the less time you’ll spend flipping through other signals you don’t want.
How can I get better reception on my radio?
If this question were asked during the not-so-distant past, some would have told you to place a hanger on the antenna! But if you need to improve radio reception, you should place the device in a location that’s not in the center of your home, preferably near a window or door. And remember to point the antenna towards the location of the radio tower itself, if you know the direction.
What Is The Best Sounding Clock Radio?
As you can see, the game has changed when it comes to finding the best sounding clock radio. Features that were unheard of little more than a decade ago have all but become commonplace. Of course, not everyone needs a fancy sounding clock radio but there are definitely some impressive ones available.
If you want the experience possible, we recommend going with the JBL Horizon. Though not as many, the JBL Horizon sounding clock radio still offers a wide range of connections including dual fast charge 2xUSB and Bluetooth streaming. On top of that, this is one of the best sounding clock radios we reviewed that offers 2 different alarms and excellent room-filling JBL stereo sound with an amazing 10 watts of RMS power.
If you would like to save a little money but are still looking for a superior experience, the Sangean RCR-20 a great balance between price and features. Aside from the fact that it provides the almost expected USB and aux 3.5 mm ports, it also provides the ability to play music from a phone or device via connecting 3.5 mm aux input jack, Bluetooth or NFC. On top of that, the Sangean RCR-20 easily has one of the best sound quality with 3.5W*2 RMS speakers with 1mW*2 amplifier and even two enhanced bass resonators.