One would think that adding the sounds of a radio in an already noisy environment is futile, but it is quite an improvement. Having music blasting through the job site can even help the workers work harder and more efficiently.
It is even better when you have a good workshop radio that can handle everything that even the harshest working environment can dish out. The best garage radio technically has the same functions as traditional radios. However, it has the additional benefit of being nearly indestructible.
Most of them are dustproof, water-resistant, and shockproof. This means they can withstand anything harmful that may come onto them. Although there are not quite as many job site radios as there are traditional ones, you can still find many of them that choosing just one can be a bit difficult.
I hope that this article will be able to provide you with all the information that you’ll need so you can choose the right garage or workshop radio for you.
- Best Garage Radio Reviews
- 1. DEWALT DCR108 Jobsite Radio
- 2. Sangean LB-100 Compact and Ultra-Rugged AM/FM Radio
- 3. Bosch Bluetooth Jobsite AM/FM Radio
- 4. PORTER-CABLE PCC771B Bluetooth Radio
- 5. DEWALT DCR010 Bluetooth Jobsite Speaker
- 6. Ryobi P746 One+ Dual-Powered AM/FM Stereo System
- 7. Sangean U3 Ultra Rugged Digital Tuning AM/FM Radio
- 8. Milwaukee 2890-20 M18 Jobsite Radio
- 9. PR-137 AM/FM 2 Band Radio
- 10. ION Audio Tailgater Express
- What to Look for When Buying a Garage Radio
- Other Important Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Garage Radio Reviews
1. DEWALT DCR108 Jobsite Radio
The first workshop stereo system I will discuss is the DEWALT Jobsite Radio Compact (DCR018). DEWALT is more popularly known in the business as one of the top manufacturers of power tools. However, the company also makes other appliances for the job site, including the DCR018.
I noticed that this unit looks like and performs very much as if it belongs to the job site. What I find impressive is just like the other products of DEWALT, the DCR018 is genuinely tough. The electronics are encased in a hard plastic shell that can take quite a beating.
To give it even more durability, it features a tough roll cage. I find this feature valuable because even if you drop it from a significant height, it will not do anything to the unit itself. Aside from its toughness and durability, I think its main selling point is that it can use the brand’s 20V MAX battery packs.
These are the same ones you can use on their cordless power tools. If you do not want to use a battery pack, just open up the compartment on the left side and unfurl the AC cord. Just plug this radio in a wall socket for all-day music. If you plan to use a battery pack, just slide it on the receptacle at the back of the radio.
Ensure that you slide on the pack securely before turning on the device. This unit has a compartment at the side that has USB slots and an auxiliary jack where you can plug in your smartphone or MP3 player so you can listen to your collection of music.
2. Sangean LB-100 Compact and Ultra-Rugged AM/FM Radio
Some people just want a no-frills, simple, and easy-to-use radio and it is something that they can expect from a unit as simple as the Sangean LB-100 Compact and Ultra-Rugged AM/FM Radio. I think this is perfect for anyone, like me, who does not want to fiddle around with numerous buttons and knobs just to turn on and tune in the radio.
It is because of the simplicity of the overall design of this radio. Just looking at the unit with all its 7 buttons and 2 knobs, I can already tell that there will not be any problem using it. All the buttons are quite large and clearly labeled. The knobs are also big, spaced apart nicely, and have knurling for easy grip.
With that, I am sure you can use it even without reading the manual. I am also quite impressed by the roll cage protecting the unit. The radio itself is enclosed in a hard ABS plastic shell that comes in different colors. It is suspended within a metal roll cage wrapped in hard rubber, thus minimizing the effects of hard impacts.
It also looks and feels welcome in a busy job site. As a dependable AM/FM radio, it comes with 10 presets – 5 for FM stations and another 5 for AM stations. It just took me a couple of minutes to save my favorite channels. The next time I used the radio, I just pressed the number preset and it is good to go.
3. Bosch Bluetooth Jobsite AM/FM Radio
When I first saw the Bosch PB360C, I thought it was just another power tool, like a welding machine or something like that. However, I also saw a speaker on top and that is when I knew it was a job site radio and a nice-sounding one at that. If you are looking for a new job site or garage radio then this unit should at least be in your list of choices.
What is good about this is that you can also use it as a Bluetooth speaker. You can pair this with your smartphone or any other media device that has Bluetooth. It also has a range of 150 feet so you can walk anywhere on the job site with your smartphone in your pocket without worrying about losing connectivity.
As I discovered, this unit from Bosch is not just a regular job site radio. With its four-way speakers and a built-in subwoofer, this unit can produce 360-degrees of crystal clear and loud music. This makes it perfect for a workplace full of music lovers, unlike other radios that produce sub-par sound quality.
I am glad that the radio looks and feels like it can take a whole bunch of punishment while offering an assurance that it will still keep on working. The radio and all the other electronics are encased in hard ABS plastic. Also, all of the ports and outlets have rubber plugs to prevent water from getting inside.
The unit also comes suspended inside a metal roll cage with hard rubber bumpers so that it can withstand drops from high places. My only complaint is that the compartment with the auxiliary jack and USB charging port is kind of small for most modern phones.
4. PORTER-CABLE PCC771B Bluetooth Radio
The PORTER-CABLE PCC771B Bluetooth Radio is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a workshop stereo system that will also look good inside the home. It is compact enough that you can use it on your nightstand beside your bed. It is also built tough and rugged enough that you can use it in your workshop.
One I like about this radio is that it can run on Porter-Cable 20V Max battery packs or when using an AC adapter. You can use any of the available battery packs – from the 1Ah up to the massive 4Ah battery. With a fully charged battery pack, it can run normally for an entire workday without a problem.
I am also pleased that this radio has two front-facing speakers with plenty of power and excellent sound quality. Moreover, this also has an equalizer function to tweak the sound settings even further. The buttons are large and clearly labeled for easy operation.
This radio is nice and compact. It has 12 presets that you can use to save your favorite AM and FM radio stations. This means you no longer have to waste time fiddling with the tuner every time you want to switch stations. Furthermore, it has an auxiliary jack so you can plug in an external MP3 player.
5. DEWALT DCR010 Bluetooth Jobsite Speaker
Just by looking at the DEWALT DCR010, you will already know that it is a radio that is meant for harsh environments like garages, workshops, and construction sites. This is best if you are looking for a good media player for your workplace that provides more features than your regular transistor radio.
This speaker sports the usual DEWALT colors but those are not the only indicators that this is built for the workplace. The thick ABS plastic enclosure, the huge beefy buttons, and the thick hardened rubber bumpers make this unit look made for the workplace.
The good news is that the presence of such features does not sacrifice durability just to provide better sound quality. This unit even sounds excellent. It has two front-facing and powerful speakers for a stereophonic listening experience. I also like the brass reflex port integrated into the unit as it provides a powerful bass boost. Aside from looking like it can take a beating, it can also belt out nice sounds.
You can choose to connect your smart device via Bluetooth through its more than a hundred-foot range Bluetooth capability. Alternatively, you can connect such devices via the auxiliary jack. On the other hand, you can also plug in a thumb drive into the USB port (which you can also use to charge your devices) to play MP3 audio directly.
6. Ryobi P746 One+ Dual-Powered AM/FM Stereo System
The Ryobi P746 One+ is quite possibly one of the sleekest-looking job site radios that I have ever seen. This radio looks and feels that it can belong in a busy worksite or on my bedside nightstand. It has sleek and modern-angled edges that make it look great in any setting.
Another thing that I like about this radio is that you can power it using an AC cord or with Ryobi One+ battery packs. I am happy that it can run on battery packs because this also means that I can take this anywhere I want to go. Moreover, this offers an assurance that it has a lot of power to spare.
I like that I have the choice of using Bluetooth or auxiliary inputs to connect my smart device or music player to the radio. Another neat addition that I am happy about is the built-in tray. I find it useful in carrying gadgets while they are plugged into the auxiliary jack, charging on the USB port, or both.
The built-in equalizer gives users of this radio additional control over their listening experience. I am satisfied with this nice little touch as it also allows saving favorite preset so I can choose between different equalizer presets.
This unit also features an earphone jack. This means you can connect your favorite pair of headphones in there if you want to listen to your favorite radio stations privately. Alternatively, you can connect an even more powerful set of speakers that you might have.
7. Sangean U3 Ultra Rugged Digital Tuning AM/FM Radio
There are only a few garage radio setup options that look and sound like the Sangean U3. It took just one look at this radio that made me believe that this is a serious one that can take a lot of punishment and ask for more.
First of all, I am glad that this radio is JIS-4 rated. This means it can withstand water splashes from every direction. It is also enclosed in thick ABS plastic and wrapped by a tough metal roll cage. This makes it possible for it to withstand significant bumps and drops.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that this job site radio also serves as an alarm clock. There are two alarm options – by radio and by HWAS (Humane Wake System) buzzer. It also has an adjustable sleep timer, snooze, and auto-shutoff timer.
The large 6.5-inch speaker sounds great. It assures users of excellent bass compensation. This radio reproduces music and sounds quite nice, making it perfect for audiophiles and casual music lovers alike.
The Sangean U3 does not have a battery compartment nor does it have the option for battery packs, but it does come with an AC power cord. Not being able to take the radio anywhere where there is no available power outlets can be somewhat of an issue for most, but it is not a deal-breaker for me.
8. Milwaukee 2890-20 M18 Jobsite Radio
I knew immediately when I saw the Milwaukee red color on this radio that this will be tough as nails and can take on any kind of abuse while still working effortlessly. The whole thing is encased in thick and tough ABS plastic and capped at the ends with thick hard rubber pads that reduce shock.
This unit has a digital AM/FM tuner, which I find amazing because it promotes ease in locating my favorite radio stations, which can then be saved in one of its ten-channel presets (five for FM and another five for AM radio). There is no longer any need to search for radio stations manually again.
I am happy that I can power up this radio by plugging it into any available AC power outlet, or by slapping on a fully charged Milwaukee M18 battery pack at the back. You can take this on any job site without worrying about power options.
I find it enjoyable that this radio has a compartment on top where I can charge my device and plug into the auxiliary jack. It also has a cover to protect devices from any small debris that falls on top. Furthermore, the 2.1A USB can quickly charge all of your electronic gadgets.
9. PR-137 AM/FM 2 Band Radio
When I first saw the PR-137, I thought that this would be the perfect-sized radio for a small workshop or a regular home garage. It is small and compact that you can place it on any surface of your workplace without getting in the way of anything at all.
I highly recommend this for people who are looking for a sturdy radio that they can use during emergencies. People can plug this into an AC power outlet for casual listening and when the power suddenly goes out, they can put in a couple of C-cell batteries that are not included in the purchase to scan the airwaves for news.
I like that this unit is a no-frills, no-nonsense type of AM/FM radio. It is just like the ones our grandparents would have used to listen to their favorite radio shows. Those radios are built tough and lasted for years, just like the PR-137.
It is also nice to see analog switches and dials again. This makes the radio easy to operate. Even kids these days will not have a problem using it as there are only a couple of switches and dials. One no longer needs to read the user’s manual just to use this radio. This is completely user-friendly.
10. ION Audio Tailgater Express
Last, but certainly not the least on our list of the best garage radio cd player/media player is the ION Audio Tailgater Express. I am greatly satisfied with its look. This job site radio has a cubic, minimalist design that will work well outdoors and indoors too.
It is IPX4 certified. This means that it can withstand water splashes from any direction, making this unit perfect not just for the worksite but also for the poolside or the beach. What I truly like about this radio is that it has a lot of high-tech features and functions. One of these is that it is NFC-enabled.
This means you just need to tap your NFC-enabled smartphone against the ION Audio Tailgater Express and it will automatically pair up. This radio has a big 4-inch sub-woofer and wide-dispersion tweeters. These features enable the unit to deliver crystal-clear and loud sounds, perfect for noisy environments.
It also has a total of 20 watts of power, which is plenty for most uses. This would have been a near-perfect job site radio if it came with some sort of shock-proofing. As it is now, if it falls on the ground, the casing will get cracked and the internal electronics might get damaged.
What to Look for When Buying a Garage Radio
If you absolutely cannot work on your weekend projects without music blasting throughout your garage then it’s advisable to get a good garage radio. Note that you can’t expect any old radio to work. If you are out looking for a radio that is suitable for your worksite, here are the things that you need to look for:
Excellent sound quality and volume – The first reason why you are out searching for radio is that you do not want to settle for just anything, especially something that sounds like someone is singing into a tin can. On the other hand, you should not expect audiophile-quality sounds either.
Look for the happy medium – something that sounds decent with deep bass and clear vocals. Most importantly, the radio should produce sounds loud enough that you can hear it over the noise made by heavy equipment.
Rugged build – Keep in mind that you will be using the radio in an environment that is quite dangerous. Different tools might always accidentally hit your radio. There is also the chance of you accidentally bumping into it, sending it crashing onto the floor. Your garage radio should be able to take a lot of abuse while still producing impressively great sounds.
Manufacturers use either plastic or hard rubber shells to enclose their garage radios. Both these materials have their own sets of pros and cons. For instance, plastic casings are more resilient to heat. On the other hand, rubber casings are more effective in withstanding bumps and drops.
Easy to operate controls – You will want something that you can operate easily even when you are wearing work gloves. Avoid teeny-tiny buttons that are bunched up together. Go for those with buttons and controls that are big enough, clearly labeled, and easy to use. For instance, the volume control knob should be large and beefy with enough knurling to provide easy grip.
Different listening modes – Choose a radio that at least have the basic functions like AM/FM tuning. However, it should also have additional features to keep it pretty interesting. Such features include an aux in port so you can plug in your smartphone and play your music through the speakers.
Alternatively, having Bluetooth connectivity will be much nicer since you will be doing away with the wires.
Battery size – Most garage or job site radios, especially the ones manufactured by power tool companies, can run using the same battery packs used by their tools. This means they can run for a very long time considering the size of their battery.
You can also find others that have built-in rechargeable batteries. Although they don’t have quite as long battery life, these are still fantastic choices because at least, you do not need to borrow battery packs from your tools just so you can listen to music.
Shockproof and waterproof/water-resistant – Many hazards are present in the modern workplace, so you need to get a radio that is tough enough to survive in a harsh environment. You should not waste your energy watching over your radio and making sure that it does not get too beat up in the worksite.
It should also be water-resistant and dustproof. It is because if there is anything that modern job sites and garages have, it would be clumsy co-workers and lots of dust. A good feature that you should look for to ensure that you are getting a tough job site radio is the encasement, which usually comes in a roll cage.
Lightweight and portable – Since you will be lugging a lot of your tools and equipment to and from the job site, it makes sense that your radio should not add too much weight to your daily work equipment. Furthermore, when the radio is lighter and it does get accidentally dropped on the floor, it will not suffer too much from its impact on the floor.
Extremely durable – Durability is the name of the game whenever you are talking about tools and equipment that you will use for work. Your garage radio should be more than able to resist more than just a couple of spills. It should be durable enough to last years of punishment.
Price – Expect to pay a bit more for the benefit of the radio being near invulnerable to physical damage. However, that does not mean you will be paying near a thousand dollars for each. You can get a pretty decent job site or garage radio for around $50 to $80.
Paying more than a hundred bucks for this will not promise you anything extra. However, some brands are definitely worth their higher prices. Compare as many brands and models of the job site or garage radios as you can so you can find the one that fits your needs and budget perfectly.
These are only a few of the factors that you need to consider when you are out shopping for a new radio that you can use in your garage or workshop. Just because you are working in a loud environment, that does not mean you are not entitled to listen to good music.
Other Important Factors to Consider
What is Garage Radio?
As the name implies, it is a radio that you can use in your garage, workshop, or any other job site. This means that it should be tough enough to survive in such a rough and tumble environment.
Technically, any radio can be a garage radio if you are brave enough. You can use your thousand dollar hi-fi stereo in the living room if you want. I dare say that your expensive stereo will last a week without getting scratched, gouged, dented, or damaged in any way. This is why a true garage or worksite radio is one that can take a beating and keep on ticking.
Who Is This For?
Garage radios are for those who spend a lot of time in noisy and somewhat hazardous environments. These include automotive garages, woodworking workshops, construction sites, and any similar places.
Just because you are working in a place where barely anyone can even hear themselves think, that does not instantly mean you are not allowed to enjoy your music. If you are a music lover and you need to have music playing in the background to concentrate on your work then you need a good sounding garage radio for your workplace.
Also, if you just want to break the monotonous cacophony of machine and tool noises in your workplace, having a good sounding radio cutting through all the noise makes the workplace a bit more bearable.
How Does It Work?
On the inside, there are very few differences between a regular radio and a garage/work radio. Most garage radios have the same functions as other radios. They can both receive AM/FM transmissions. Some even have HD radio compatibility, which provides excellent sound quality.
Others also have CD players for those who still have a large collection of music CDs at home. They usually have USB ports so you can plug in thumb drives that are full of your favorite songs. You can also use the USB ports for charging your smartphones.
What are the Different Kinds of Garage Radios?
Just like traditional radios, garage radios come in different flavors. Choosing which one is for you will require a bit of imagination.
Corded or Cordless? – If you like to keep your music blasting loudly for most of the workday, you need to get a corded radio. You just plug hit into a wall socket and you are ready to play all of your music for the rest of the day.
Now, if you are constantly moving around your workspace and you want your music to come with you, just grab your radio and it will continue wherever you take them. Note that most of the cordless garage radios use the same battery as cordless power tools do.
Bluetooth/Radio or Bluetooth Only? – If you are more into the music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, or iTunes, then you would not have much use for radio anymore. So instead of getting a radio with Bluetooth connectivity, just get a large, rugged Bluetooth speaker.
Now, if you have radio programs that you religiously listen to, like a favorite radio talk show, then get a garage radio with or without Bluetooth connectivity.
Why Do You Need a Garage Radio?
There are several proven benefits as to why you need to listen to music while you are working. Some people think that blaring music will only distract the workers but that is not the case at all. Here are some of the many benefits of having a garage radio in your workspace:
Music improves your mood and helps you focus – Researchers from the University of Windsor in Canada tested the effects of music on a group of software developers. They found out that the subjects put out the lowest quality of work and took a long time to finish when they are working in a completely quiet environment.
An interesting fact that they also discovered was that music also increased the subjects’ curiosity, making them want to try new things.
Music calms you down – According to a study published in the Journal of Music Therapy, when you listen to your favorite music, it will help you lower your perception of tension. This means that it helps you see that the things that stress you out are not even worth your time.
You do not even need to listen to calming music. You will get the same effect if you just listen to what you like.
Music improves your focus – According to many adult ADD experts, patients experience a lot of positive physiological effects when exposed to music. The reason this happens is that music improves your mood, which increases dopamine levels in the brain, which, in turn, improves your focus drastically.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most trusted HD radio brands?
When you are in the market for a new radio for the garage, you need to take your time researching and reviewing customer feedback. You need to thoroughly compare all your available options against each other so you can find one that will fulfill all your needs and wants.
Some of the brands that you can trust in this regard are DEWALT, Sangean, Bosch, Porter-Cable, Ryobi, Milwaukee Tools, and ION.
How to set up and use garage radios?
Garage radios are pretty much the same as any other radio, so setting them up is not an overcomplicated task. If your radio is a battery-operated one then check first if it has batteries loaded up and if they still have enough charge. If your radio is manufactured by any of the big tool companies, then it might run on one of their rechargeable battery packs.
Also, if you have one that is fully charged, you can slap one of those on your radio. Now, if you are running a corded radio, look for an available power socket in a discreet corner of your workplace so that people will not be tripping all over the wire.
Once you have turned on the radio, you just have to tune into your favorite radio station. Just set the mode to either AM or FM, or MP3, or connect your smartphone via Bluetooth, and then play your favorite music.
Garage radios need to be easy to use because you don’t have time to waste fiddling about with tiny buttons and knobs. This is especially true if you need to work right away.
How to care for and maintain garage radios?
Although garage radios are supposed to be rugged and tough, that does not mean they do not need regular care and maintenance.
First of all, keep your radio clean. Every evening after your shift, take a couple of minutes to wipe away all the accumulated dirt and dust on the surface. If you let the dust pile up and cake on the surface of the radio, it will be much harder to remove. A lot of dust particles might also make their way inside and cause major damage.
If you will be storing your radio away for an extended period, make sure that you remove the batteries/battery pack to prevent them from leaking acid inside. If you want, you can place the radio inside a plastic bag so that it will not get covered in dust while it is in storage.
Be careful when you adjust the direction of the antenna, especially if it is the telescoping kind that is made of thin metal. Do not pull onto the antenna too hard, as it might snap in two. Although garage radios are advertised as weatherproof and shockproof, that does not mean you should go out of your way just to test out its limits.
What is the warranty?
The typical type of warranty length of one to three years applies to most garage radios regardless of the manufacturer. However, for most brands, the warranty does not just cover factory defects. Most of them cover the damages incurred during normal use.
Some examples would be if the radio breaks because it fell from a height of no more than three feet or if it shorts out because someone accidentally spilled water on it and it short-circuited. When the radio gets damaged because of things that they are supposed to be protected against, you might be able to use the warranty coverage.
Look for products with warranties that promise to replace or completely refund your purchase in case you are not satisfied with the product. Also, before making your purchase, ensure that you browse as many reviews on the product as you can so you can find out which brands were easy to deal with.
Where to buy garage radios?
If you are going with the old school route of shopping for a garage radio then you will find that it can be quite tricky. It is because not that many appliance stores carry this kind. You will be lucky to find at least one brand of garage radio in a store.
If you want to have more choices, your best course of action is to take your search online. When you search online for garage radios, you will be bombarded with hundreds if not thousands of options. You will also get suggestions for brands that you might not have even heard about.
Can I charge my smartphone using the job site/garage radio?
Yes, most job site/garage radios come with multiple USB ports that you can use to play MP3 files through the speakers via a thumb drive. You can also use these USB ports to charge your smartphone or anything else that can be charged via USB.
However, do take note that you will be draining the batteries of the radio if you also use it as a portable charger as well as to pump out loud music. If possible, plug in your job site radio to an operating power outlet if you will also be using it to charge your phones.
How loud should my job site/garage radio be?
A noisy work environment, like a construction site, registers around 90 decibels of sound, so when it comes to garage/job site radios, consider getting one that has around 10 watts of power pumping into the speakers. This should be enough to produce music that can be heard through the noise of your job site.
However, the radio should not also be too loud that it drowns out the voices of your co-workers; otherwise, it becomes a workplace hazard. For instance, if your radio is too loud, you won’t hear if any of your co-workers need help.
This becomes even scarier if you are all alone in your workshop and an accident happens. Because your radio is too loud, the other people in your home will not be able to hear your calls for help. So keep the volume down to a respectable level.
Are garage radios waterproof?
There might be some models of job site radios that can be considered waterproof but most of them are only water-resistant, and there’s a world of differences between the two. Waterproof means that you can submerge the item underwater for a certain amount of time without any water getting inside and short-circuiting it.
Water-resistant, on the other hand, means that it can withstand getting a bit wet, like accidental spills, or when you get caught in the rain while carrying it. You cannot submerge water-resistant radios. The water will have no trouble getting into the little nooks and crannies and damage the internal circuitry of the radio.
Do jobsite/garage radios have equalizers?
More often than not, job site radios, just like all the other sound systems available these days, have at least a basic equalizer setting. Some come with preset equalizer settings so you do not have to fiddle with each sound frequency.
For instance, if you want your music to have a bit more “oomph”, you can go for those that have built-in subwoofers and a bass boost setting that lets you feel every beat of the bass hit your chest. However, if you think that you cannot seem to find that right equalizer setting to give you a satisfying listening experience, it might not be the radio’s fault.
It might just be due to the surface you placed your radio on. If you place it on something a bit soft and hollow, it will affect its sound quality. As much as possible, place your radio on a hard surface, like a concrete floor or something similar.
Even when you are working with large, noisy machines, you would still appreciate it if there is music playing in the background. However, you cannot use just any kind of radio. You need a job site/garage radio if you want to have music playing in your workplace.
These radios function just like any regular radio. The only difference is that these are built tough. The best garage radio is often encased in hard plastic or hard rubber to prevent it from getting damaged due to accidental dropping. They are also weatherproof and dustproof. This means you can use them both indoors and outdoors.
Even though these radios are a bit more expensive than your regular radio, they are worth investing in because of their near invulnerability.