If it isn’t proven scientifically then it’s almost certainly been proven by its place in human history and society: everyone loves to be entertained, especially by music!
You’ll probably struggle to find anyone who doesn’t agree with this sentiment, and that includes those among us who make their living by building and fixing things. So with the obvious notion of connecting music with work order to make grafting a more jovial and light hearted affair in mind, manufacturers of power tools have long since capitalised on this and produced specialist radio and audio hardware to suit the demands of building sites, garages and other environments that would be challenging to conventional radios.
The Job Site Radio
Just like the power tools they rub shoulders with, there are more varieties of job site radio on the market than you’d probably care to think about, so unfortunately the age old problem of finding which is best for you isn’t an easy one.
To make things a little easier for you we’ve put together a selection of some of the best job site radios on the market today, with a handy comparison table so that you can directly compare the important features of each.
Job Site Radio Review Highlights
Denver WR-40 Review
A budget offering from Denver, this is an entry level building site radio that delivers in just about every way it should: it’s ruggedised to protect against drops, dust, and water splashes, and like other radios it can be powered either by a mains power supply or batteries.
With that said, it doesn’t deliver quite as well on these features as other radios, indeed it won’t cope with the same level of abuse as other radios, but mosat crucially it doesn’t have the same sound quality or signal quality as more expensive models. So whilst it’s a great budget option, be warned, its quality probably won’t blow you away. However if you’re just after something cheap and cheerful to make the day go a bit quicker, you won’t go wrong!
Milwaukee M1-28 C12-28DCR-0 Review
A high end radio from the undisputed kings of the power tool world, the Milwaukee M1-28 C1228DCR is a simple yet high quality bit of kit that’s built to produce high a quality audio output, whilst at the same time being able to withstand the challenging environments of building sites, both indoor and outdoor.
Although somewhat surprisingly this radio doesn’t feature DAB functionality, that’s really the sum of it’s short comings (besides the slightly inflated price tag!), as far as sound quality and analog signal reception goes, there’s no beating this radio.
Like many modern radios, this Milwaukee model also comes with an auxiliary input for connecting up an Mp3 player or other device, and although it’s a small feature, there’s a protected storage compartment for keeping said device in to protect it whilst you work – very handy indeed!
Makita DMR104 Job Site Radio Review
No set of best jobsite radio reviews would be complete without at least one Makita radio, Makita are perhaps the most well known manufacturer of all job site radios, and in fact the phrase ‘Makita Radio’ has almost become synonymous with the product in general. A big reason for this reputation is that Makita have pretty much nailed it as far as getting the features right goes, especially as far as all round ‘ruggedness’ is concerned.
This particualr model, the DMR104, has all the modern features you could want from a radio, from DAB reception to aux inputs for external devices, and in a more benign sense, features such as a nice chunky handle to make carrying it easy, even if you’re wearing work gloves.
But what are the key features of a job site radio?
Well of course this varies depending on your own personal preferences, for example if you need something that will entertain an entire building site, then the radio you choose is likely to be quite different to someone who just wants to quietly listen to the news on their tea break, but in general you should pay attention to:
Cordless or Mains Powered or Both
This is likely to be quite a biggy, because if you haven’t got the infrastructure in place then a mains powered radio will end up being next to useless for you. You’ll find that most models these days offer both battery and mains power, but it’s worth checking all the same. If you are going to be relying on battery power then you’ll want to check that the batteries last a decent among of time before discharging, and if possible are also quick charging.
It’s also worth checking to see that other tools you own from the same manufacturer have batteries that are compliant with the radio you buy. There are a number of advantages to this, not least that you might be able to save some money by sharing batteries between tools, but also that you don’t need to be specific about which tool you’re charging the battery for. Instead you can simply have one of more batteries on charge or ready to go, and then just assign them to a tool (or in this case radio) as and when you require.
Number of Speakers/Speaker Quality
The number of speakers fitted in a radio varies from between two and four. The sound will also vary according to the overall construction of the radio, for example some use the ‘bass reflex’ principle, in which the sound is directly effected by the speaker surround to give natural amplification. Some radios have better bass response than others thanks to the inclusion of a subwoofer, so if heavy bass is your thing you’ll definitely want this! Likewise the volume a radio is capable of producing varies quite a lot between models, so if you like your music loud it’s worth checking the reviews to make sure the radio you choose is capable of pumping out those tunes at an acceptable level.
If you’re expecting to work on a site where heavy objects falling are an occupational hazard then you should probably be wearing a hard hat! Besides that you’ll want a job site radio that can also take the same kind of punishment, so look out for models that have a protective framework. For general knocks and drops many radios also have protective bumpers around them to absorb some of the impact should a collision occur.
Auxiliary / Smartphone connection
It’s fair to say that much of our listening pleasure these days is derived from sources besides those broadcast over the air waves, so with that in mind most, if not all, radios have some form of ‘aux’ input. If you’re worried about your smart phone or mp3 player getting damaged, thereby defeating the object of the ruggedized radio in the first place, then some radios are able to accommodate this with the inclusion of a protective compartment that you can place the radio in whilst you work.
Jobsite Speaker Units
An alternative to the self contained speaker/radio unit of the traditional jobsite radio, ruggedized standalone speakers are available. Designed to be used in conjunction with ‘Bluetooth’ enabled devices such as smart phones and mp3 players, these devices simply stream and amplify whatever the external device is playing.
The greatest advantage of these devices is of course that they tend to retail at a significantly lower price than the full package offered by a jobsite radio, and they might work out far more cost effective for you if you prefer to play your music and radio via your phone. Besides this, you also have the distinct advantage of keeping your phone on you whilst you work, and therefore controlling the output of the speaker remotely. Although of course there is a limit to your range if you do choose to do this.
In other cases having a rugged radio (complete with rugged controls) might be preferable, especially if you share the radio with several other people, you might prefer this over them having access to your phone for several reasons!
Best Job Site Speaker Units
DeWalt DCR006 XR Bluetooth Speaker
A durable speaker unit from DeWalt, the two 50mm speakers that drive this provide a clear Hi-Fi sound, whilst the durable chassis, speaker grille, and ‘roll cage’ design protects the delicate inner workings from damage whether the speaker gets kicked, dropped or covered in dust.
Powered either by mains AC, or a standard DeWalt 18V battery, this could well be the speaker to go for if you’re already a user of DeWalt tools and can spare a battery to power the speaker.
Makita DMR200 10.8-18V Bluetooth Speaker
Unsurprisingly makita have a hand in the market for Rugged bluetooth speakers as well, and if anyone can deliver the goods when it comes to this particular sector of the power tool market, they certainly can.
This speaker is no exception to the Makita stamp of quality, and it too features bluetooth connectivity so that you can play music through your phone or other device at a range of 10 metres, and on a full charge the battery is capable of powering the speaker for an impressive 65 hours (or a week with a lot of overtime to you and I)
Built to be tough, the DMR200 is rated to withstand to withstand dust and light showers, so it’s a great choice for working in those more unpredicatable environments.
On the down side this speaker doesn’t come complete with a battery, so you’ll either need to buy that seperately, or else be able to spare another Makita 18V battery from one of your other tools.