The best shower radios

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If you want to listen to the radio while in the bathroom and/or taking a shower or bath, you will need a special waterproof shower radio. For the purposes of this article, I have reviewed five of the best shower radios and I also explain the important features of a shower radio that you need to look out for.

If you don’t have time to read the whole article, I recommend the Sangean H205  (shower radio without Bluetooth) or the Sangean H202  (with Bluetooth capability).

Things to look for in a shower radio

Waterproof rating

Shower radios (and all electrical appliances) have a standardized waterproof rating that defines how resistant the device is to water. Not all radios will have the same rating.

A radio with the lowest possible rating would quickly become damaged by a small amount of water whereas a radio with the highest rating could be completely submerged in a bucket of water without any damage at all!

There are 2 equivalent standards to measure a radio’s resistance to water. –  JIS rating and the IPX rating.   To keep things simple, both of these standards give a waterproof rating from 0 to 8 as per the table below. The higher the rating, the better the protection from water.

JIS0 / IPX0 – No special protection
JIS1 / IPX1 – Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect.
JIS2 / IPX2 – Dripping water at an angle up to 15 degrees from vertical shall have no harmful effect.
JIS3 / IPX3 – Water falling at an angle up to 60 degrees from vertical shall have no harmful effect.
JIS4 / IPX4 – Splashing water from any direction shall have no harmful effect.
JIS5 / IPX5 – Direct jetting water from any direction shall have no harmful effect.
JIS6 / IPX6 – Powerful direct jetting water from any direction shall have no harmful effect.
JIS7 / IPX7 – Water shall not enter the enclosure when it is immersed in water under defined conditions.
JIS8 / IPX8 – The equipment is usable for continuous submersion in water under defined conditions.

JIS stands for Japanese Industrial Standard.

IP” in IPX stands for “International Protection”.  The scale in fact has 2 numbers after “IP”.  Example: “IP45”   – The first digit represents the resistance to dust and the second digit represents the resistance to water. For shower radios, obviously it is the second digit that is important.

If a radio has not been tested for dust resistance, the dust rating is represented with a letter “X” and the digit after the “X” represents the resistance to water.

Remember, the higher the JIS or IPX rating, the better. 

Types of Battery and Battery Life

All shower radios are battery powered – Plugging a radio into the mains is not an option for obvious safety reasons.  Therefore, the type of batteries needed, how many and the average battery life are important factors to take into account. 

You don’t want to be having to change large amounts of batteries at frequent intervals. That would quickly take away from the fun of listening to a radio in the shower, not to mention the added cost.

As you will see in the detailed reviews below, the radios without Bluetooth have a very long battery life and the radios with Bluetooth have a much shorter battery life.

Type of radio and its features

Are you only interested in FM radio or do you also want to listen to AM radio? Not all radios have both so make sure to check.

Does the radio have “auto-seek” tuning or manual tuning. When you’re in the shower and the water’s running and you’re in a bit of a hurry, trust me, you don’t want to be wasting time with manual tuning!

Memory preset stations are another really useful feature.  Once you have found all your favourite radio stations you can save them to a dedicated slot. Then when you want to change stations, you can do it at the touch of a button. Some radios don’t have them at all and some radios only have a few of them.

Physical size and weight

Showers are usually small confined spaces and if you’re like me, a lot of the free space is used up with bottles of shower gel and shampoo! 

A radio for the shower needs to be small and light enough to fit in your shower but not so small that the audio quality is negatively affected. Even if you won’t actually be taking the radio into the shower, the best bathroom radio will be small and light due to the limited space in a bathroom.

You won’t be carrying the radio while in the shower, but it needs to be light enough so that it can be hung or mounted in place without any issues. (see below)

System for hanging the radio in the shower

Where will you be putting the radio in the shower? Remember, the noise from the running water means that you want the radio at or close to head height so that you can actually hear it!  Most radios have one or more methods for fixing the radio in the position you want:

Suction cups / pads  – You put water on the suction cup and then push it against the tiled surface so that it sticks. This is great if the suction cups are strong, of good quality and if the radio is not too heavy. Unfortunately if the suction cups are of poor quality, they can lose their stickiness gradually over time.

Plastic handle – You place the plastic handle over a hook in your shower. This is a very stable solution but obviously you need some sort of a hook.

Flexible strap –A very simple but effective solution. The radio comes with a flexible strap that you can tie on to something ( a tap, faucet, a bracket, hook.)

Other options – Some radios will come with some sort of bespoke bracket that you can use to fix the radio to the wall.

Clock / time / alarm feature

Some shower radios have a small display that shows the time. This is very useful, especially in the mornings when you’re taking a shower before work or school. It’s easy to get distracted listening to music or the news and then forgetting all about what time it is!  The clock is therefore a great feature to have. Some radios also even have an alarm that will beep at whatever time you want.

Quality of radio reception

Remember most bathrooms will have ceramic tiling on several walls and the shower itself will often be a cubicle. Radio waves will therefore be a bit weaker than in other rooms and so a radio with a good quality of reception is essential.

Not all radios have the same quality of reception. Some are very sensitive and have excellent reception whereas others will only ever seem to pick up the strongest of stations.

Some sort of antenna is important. Many have a kind of flexible “ribbon” antenna that you can unwind and hang somewhere.

Shower radios – 5 best choices

Here is a detailed review of each radio:

Sangean H205

This is the radio that I recommend. It is so much better than the others.  It has a waterproof rating of JIS7. The sound quality of the radio is excellent and it is packed full of useful features like auto-seek, 20 manual presets, weather alerts and much more.  Since it does NOT have Bluetooth connectivity, the battery life is very long.

Pros

  • Waterproof rating of JIS7 which means it is immersion proof. – You will have no reason to worry about this radio getting water damage.
  • Compact and lightweight – At only 2 pounds in weight and its size of 7.9 inches x  3.2 inches x 4.4 inches, it’s easy to find space for it in your shower.
  • 20 Memory Preset Stations (10 FM, 5 AM and 5 weather) – Save time changing stations.
  • Weather alerts – The Sangean H205 receives all 7 NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather channels. Stay safe even while you’re in the shower.
  • AM and FM radio – The radio has a built-in AM antenna and a ribbon-type antenna for FM. Both have excellent reception.
  • Very long battery life – The radio operates on 2x D cell batteries. No official specifications are given by the manufacturer but many customers have reported a battery life of about 2 years of daily use (30-60 minutes per day).
  • Time / clock function – You won’t lose track of time while taking your shower.
  • Auto-seek function – Quickly find your favourite stations with the touch of a button.
  • Flexible strap included – Hang it over your shower control or attach it to any part of your shower.

Cons

  • Power cord not included –Of course the radio uses batteries for use in the shower so a power cord is not essential. But if you want to use the radio with a power cord outside of the bathroom / shower room, then you will have to buy it separately.

Sony ICF-S80

Pros

  • Ultra-compact and lightweight – At only 13.3 ounces pounds in weight and a size of 6.3 inches x  5.5 inches x 3.1 inches, it’s very light indeed and you’ll have no trouble hanging it somewhere with the flexible strap.
  • Long battery life – 100 hours battery life for its 3x R14 batteries (type C). The radio also has an auto-off feature which helps extend battery life.
  • AM and FM radio – The radio has a built-in AM/FM antenna with good reception.
  • Time / clock function – There is a small LCD screen which displays the time. There is also a “timer” function. Both help you keep track of the time.
  • Auto-seek function – Quickly find your favourite stations with the touch of a button.
  • Flexible strap included – Hang it over your shower control or attach it to any part of your shower.

Cons

  • Waterproof rating of JIS4 which means it is drip / splash proof. – It is perfectly safe for use in the shower but other radios on the market have a better rating.
  • Only 5 Memory Preset Stations – If you have a lot of stations you listen to regularly, 5 presets probably won’t be enough.
  • The sound quality is clear but sounds a bit “tinny” probably due to its very small size.

Hott waterproof wireless bluetooth speaker with FM Radio

This one is a bit different. The “Hott” (name of the brand) is primarily what is known as a “bluetooth speaker”, which means that you can pair it with another Bluetooth device (example your smartphone) that you put in a dry place (ie NOT in the bathroom) and then you put this waterproof bluetooth speaker in the shower in order to listen to your other device.

I have included this Hott speaker in this review because it also has a built-in FM radio. So even if you do not pair it with another Bluetooth device as described above, you can still use it as a standalone radio.  However, the radio function is not the main feature of this device and so if radio quality is your main requirement, I do not recommend this device.  If your main requirement is a Bluetooth speaker and the radio is just a bonus feature for you, then it’s worth a look / listen.

Pros

  • Wireless bluetooth – It connects to compatible mobile devices up to 10 meters (30 feet) away including iPhone, Android & tablet. You can therefore listen to music from those devices and receive calls from your smartphone.
  • Time / clock function – There is a small LCD screen which displays the time. Auto-seek function – Quickly find your favourite stations with the touch of a button. You can also save your favourite stations.
  • Removable suction cup included – Attach it to any flat surface, such as tiles, glass, etc.

Cons

  • Waterproof rating of JIS4 which means it is drip / splash proof. – It is perfectly safe for use in the shower but other radios on the market have a better rating.
  • Low battery life – This device has an internal rechargeable battery that is included. The battery life is 6 hours for playing music and 8 hours for calls. That is not a lot of time.
  • Only FM radio – No AM radio.
  • Reception quality of radio – The reception quality of the radio is not very good. It struggles to pick up stations.

HB Illumination

This is another waterproof “bluetooth speaker” which also has an in-built radio. This one is very popular in swimming pools, hot tubs, Jacuzzis etc due to how it easily floats on the surface of the water.  If you’re only looking for a good quality radio for your shower (ie you’re not bothered with the Bluetooth stuff and the lights), then you probably should pass on this one.  But if you want a Bluetooth speaker that floats with some other cool features, then you should check it out.

Pros

  • Waterproof rating of JIS7 which means it is immersion proof. You can put this in your bath, swimming pool or get it soaked in your shower and it will be perfectly fine!
  • Wireless bluetooth – It connects to compatible mobile devices up to 8 meters (24 feet) away including iPhone, Android & tablet. You can therefore listen to music from those devices.
  • Built-in microphone – You can take calls from your smartphone (connected via Bluetooth) and speak into the microphone.
  • Extremely compact and lightweight – This is tiny compared to the other models. It weighs only 6.6 ounces and measures 3.9 inches x 3.9 inches x 2.8 inches.
  • 10 multi-colored LED mood lights – This could be fun if you’re using it in a bath at night or a swimming pool / hot-tub.  The lights are probably not very useful if you’re going to be using this in the shower. The lights will also lower the battery life of course. (see cons)
  • Auto-seek function – Quickly find your favourite stations with the touch of a button.

Cons

  • Low battery life – This device has an internal rechargeable battery that is included. The battery life is only 6 hours for playing music and 8 hours for calls. That time is reduced even further if you’re using the lights.
  • Only FM radio – No AM radio.
  • Reception quality of radio – The reception quality of the radio is not very good. It struggles to pick up stations. The radio is not the strong point of this device.
  • No screen display – There is no LED screen or any kind of display. That means that there is no way of knowing what radio station or frequency you are tuned into. You’ll waste a lot of time searching for stations!
  • No clock or time – Without a screen display, there is no time. If you’re using this in the shower in the mornings, you’ll have no way of keeping track of the time.

Hromen

The Hromen is another waterproof “bluetooth speaker” which also has an in-built radio. Unlike the  “HB Ilumination” model, this one comes with an LED screen display so you can see the radio stations and time.

Pros

  • Waterproof rating of JIS7 which means it is immersion proof. You can get this device as wet as you want and it won’t get damaged.
  • Wireless bluetooth – It connects to compatible mobile devices including iPhone, Android & tablet. You can therefore listen to music from those devices.
  • Built-in microphone – You can take calls from your smartphone (connected via Bluetooth) and speak into the microphone.
  • Very compact and lightweight – It weighs only 8.8 ounces and measures 5.1 inches x 5 inches x 3 inches.
  • Sound quality of speaker is good and loud – The 5W speaker has a decent sound when listening to music via bluetooth. It’s certainly loud enough for a shower. The sound quality of the radio obviously depends on the reception you get. (see cons below)
  • Backlight – When the device is on, the whole device has a backlight that lights up and flashes slightly. This makes it easy to see but unfortunately you can’t switch the backlight off (see cons)
  • Auto-seek function – Quickly find your favourite stations with the touch of a button. There are also 30 preset slots to save your favourite stations into memory.

Cons

  • Low battery life – This device has an internal rechargeable battery that is included. The battery life is only 15 hours for playing music and 8 hours for calls.
  • Backlight cannot be turned off – The slowly flashing backlight can get a bit annoying and obviously uses up the battery. It’s a shame it can’t be turned off without turning the whole device off.
  • Only FM radio – No AM radio.
  • Reception quality of radio – The reception quality of the radio is average. It works but there are better options if listening to the radio is the most important feature for you.
  • Time doesn’t show when listening to radio – The LED screen will display the radio frequency when listening to the radio and not the time.
  • Not easy to access your preset stations – You have 30 preset stations but it takes quite a few key presses to access them.
  • Suction cup only – You only have the suction cup to attach this somewhere. There is no flexible strap or handle of any sort. The suction cup isn’t very effective.

Conclusion

There are quite a few things to take into consideration when choosing a waterproof radio for your shower.

If you don’t need / want any of the Bluetooth features and you’re mainly interested in the radio, then I strongly recommend the Sangean H205  It’s head and shoulders above all the other models in terms of radio quality plus it has the weather alerts feature too.

By the way, Sangean have a model with Bluetooth called the Sangean H202 which is also an excellent choice.

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