As you know, we love to have fun at Tools in Action. We don’t take ourselves seriously and we love destroying things. So we thought about it and decided that destroying some radios would be a blast. So we reached out to some manufacturers and got our hands on some of the most popular cordless radios on the market. Now before I go on I want to get a couple of things straight. First, this isn’t scientific. This is just something we wanted to do and have some fun with. We knew that no radio would survive to the end. Yes, we still picked a radio, but deep down, these radios aren’t made to be put through the abuse we were going to give it. The second thing you have to remember is this is all done by chance. Since we only had one radio, we couldn’t retest it if it broke. We knew there would be a chance that a radio might fail because it got a bad bounce. We could do this test again and have completely different results. Maybe a radio just happened to bounce the right way and it broke. Or maybe it bounced the wrong way and hit the perfect spot and didn’t break. But again, this is all in good fun. If you are serious about getting a radio, all these radios are great options. Each one is designed to produce a great sound and take the abuse of a job site. I know the designers weren’t thinking it has to take the Tools in Action abuse test. So what were the tests and what is the best cordless radio out of the bunch?
Radio Test Order
- Push off a 3′ tool chest
- Radio Reception – Local Stations
- Sound Quality
- Dust Test – Mulch Test
- Bucket Test 10′ Drop
- Grapple Test 25′
- Water Test
- Cherry Picker Drop 50′
Radios We Tested
Notes About The Radios
Heaviest Radio – Bosch 24 lbs
Most Expensive – Milwaukee at $229 (The Home Depot)
Most Features – Bosch
Best Warranty – Ridgid
Let’s Get Started
Again this test is for fun. Our goal was just to take them as far as we can. Yes, the first couple tests are very important and all the radios should be able to pass with flying colors. So here is how it works. For any radio that didn’t pass a test, didn’t get a chance to move on to the next round. So with some of the radios, it was unfortunate that we didn’t really get a chance to see it’s full potential. So let’s get started and see which one was the best cordless radio.
Test 1 – Radio Reception (Features) – Local Stations
For me this isn’t a huge deal as I tend to hook my phone up and listen to Pandora or another online radio station. However we know a ton of people still listen to their local stations on the radio. For this test, take this with a grain of salt unless you are in the Chicagoland area and listen to some of the stations we tested. Maybe a radio didn’t fair well for our test, but in your area, it could have been the best test. Again, we are in the Chicago area and tested some of the popular stations such as 99.5, 79.9, 63.3 (Not sure who listens to this except for Dan) and 95.1.
The Bosch is jam packed with features. There is a ton of things to love about this radio. In regards to the reception, it was so, so. Some of the stations came in clear, but there were a couple that didn’t. However the Bluetooth works up to 150′ which is the largest out of all the radios.
We have never tested this radio by itself, so this was our first experience with this radio. I have to say this is one of my favorite radios, well I do have a couple in the fight that I love also. I love how light and compact this radio is. As a bonus, this has great reception.
The Milwaukee radio had the best reception for any of the radios we tested. The stations came in clear and it’s very easy to quickly tune to the station of your choice. As a bonus, it has a bottle opener. Do I really need to say more?
This is one of Dewalt’s older radios. In regards to reception, it was one of the worst we tested. I can’t say I was too impressed with the reception of the radio.
Yes, another Dewalt radio. This is one step above the DC012 radio. As far as reception, it’s also a step above the DC012. Not bad, but also not great. Thankfully it has Bluetooth.
This isn’t only the newest radio to the Dewalt line up, but one of the newest radios to market. Dewalt took a different approach with the design of this radio. This is sleek looking and can be part of your Tough system storage. One thing they lacked was an easy way to tune to a station and as a matter of fact, most of the channels we tried, it wouldn’t pick up a good signal. Again, it has Bluetooth, so you’re still in luck if you have a smart phone.
The Ryobi is considered a homeowners brand, but it didn’t stop us from including it in our tool fight. At $99, we were pretty impressed by the reception of this radio. While some of the other radios had a better reception quality, we have to remember this is only $99. Nice Job.
Ridgid is just one of those quiet brands. They built something and it always seems to beat your expectations. However with the reception, it was just okay.
Test 2 – Sound Quality
For me, this is the most important aspect of a radio, the sound quality. We all buy a radio so we can jam out at work, the campground, tail gating or wherever you desire. It doesn’t matter if you are using your radio as background noise or to jam out to, it’s important that not only the radio sounds good, but you can hear it no matter where you are in the room. For the most part, all of these radios perform great with sound. However some of the radios stand out above the rest.
Bosch touts their radio as 360° sound quality. Personally I think they have one of the best speaker set ups for all the radios. On top of the radio sits four speakers, which are placed at each corner. So this truly spreads the music in any direction. On the bottom of the unit, it has a bass speaker that does a decent job giving you great sound quality. This was one of the best sounding systems we tested.
Looking at the Makita, the size and the speaker placement, you might not expect much. However this radio really surprised us. Not only was the sound quality good, but the sound spread out extremely well.
The Milwaukee was also great for sound quality. While they have their speakers placed at the front of the unit, it sounds great. Walking behind the unit, you do lose a little bit of the noise level, but that is expected. Overall the Milwaukee produced a deep rich sound anyone can enjoy.
Again this is an older model, but the sound wasn’t too bad for it’s time. Wasn’t the top performer, but again it wasn’t too bad.
Now this radio is loud, very loud. The only problem is while it’s loud, the quality is sub par. It’s great to have the loudness, but without the quality, what is the point? I have to say I was a little disappointed with the sound quality of this radio. However there is good news, they have the ToughSystem.
This is the Dewalt radio that shines. The sound quality is awesome, crisp and clear. Dewalt took one from the Bosch book and placed the speakers in prime locations. On the top of the radio sits four speakers, two in the front and two in the back. So no matter where you are, you don’t lose the loudness. On the bottom of the radio, Dewalt placed two bass speakers to give this a full, rich sound.
We weren’t expecting much from this radio since it’s small and has a $99 price tag. However this radio surprised us. While it’s not a top contender, this will make any homeowner’s work day more enjoyable.
Last, but not least is the Ridgid. In regards to sound quality, this radio was in the middle of the road out of the radios we tested. The overall sound isn’t too bad. Does have some rich sound to this little unit.
Test 3 – Push off a 3′ Tool Chest
After we had a chance to check out the reception, feature and sound quality, we pushed them off a 3′ tool cabinet. This is a no brainier, they should all be expected to survive this fall since this is really something that can happen. They all survived as we expected, oh wait one did fail. The most expensive radio failed a simple 3′ fall. Now let’s be fair. I really doubt the Milwaukee would fail from a 3′ fall. They are designed to be on the job site and be tough enough to take abuse. Here is my thought on this. I believe we just had a unit that was bad and am going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Normally in this situation we would reach out to the manufacturer, get feedback and try again, but that wasn’t going to happen today. When we do these fights, it takes a ton of time and most of all, I had a buddy of mine put a half of day aside to help us with this test. Which means he took away time from his work and ability to make money that day. So I couldn’t really ask him to reschedule and lose another day of work. Again, I think the Milwaukee would be able to handle this fall no problem. I don’t care who the manufacturer is, everyone has a defective product and that’s why they offer warranties with their products. No one is 100% accurate. We would have really loved to see Milwaukee move forward as I am sure it would have been one of the top contenders. But unfortunately it wasn’t Milwaukee’s day. So one down and seven to go.
Milwaukee Note – Milwaukee Test Update
We reached out to Milwaukee and let them know what happened. They were quick to respond and sent us another unit to try. Unfortunately we couldn’t put it through the same test. However we still had to try and see if the Milwaukee would hold up. We did the bench drop a couple of times without any issues. We then stood on a ladder and dropped it, again, it survived. Then we tossed it high in the air and yes, it survived that. Next I got on my garage and dropped it from the ridge line, it still took a beating and kept on working. It wasn’t until we threw it off the garage with extreme down force is when it failed. This is much more abuse then any job site would give a radio. In the end, this proved to be one tough radio. We really wished it could have competed on the day of the event, but oh well, things happen. Take a look at the end of the video below to see the full Milwaukee torture test and how it held up.
Test 4 – Dust Test – Mulch Test
After we finished up at Dan’s house, it was time to head over to my buddy’s place. Speaking of that, anyone in the Chicago area needs a great arborist, check out Bode Tree Care. If you need a dust test, what better way then dumping a pile of mulch all over the radios? Not only did we dump mulch over the radios, but we had to dig them out and move them around. This isn’t your normal mulch where there are big pieces of wood, this is more of a fine mulch. The mulch we dumped on top is mulch that is finally ground up and is designed to decay in a year to feed the soil of gardens and flower beds, while the big mulch is more decorative. So after all this, we knew that this would be a great dust test for these. So who failed? Not a single radio. They all pasted with flying colors. We are also pretty sure this is more dust and dirt than any job site can throw at these radios.
Test 5 – Bucket Test 10′ Drop
Next in the line up is a 10′ bucket drop. We loaded up all the radios in the front loader, went to a place that Bode could drop it on a hard surface, raised the bucket and let them go. I have to say I would have put money on it that a couple of the radios would have broke, but to my amazement, they all made it through with flying colors. Not a single radio was out for the count. (Sorry abut the first couple of pictures. I was trying to take pictures with one hand and record a video with another hand. I guess I am not what you call a multi-tasker).
Test 6 – Grapple Test 25′
Okay, so they survived a 10′ drop. While I was surprised that they all made it past this point, we just had to see what they would do at a 25′ drop. Now to be fair, this isn’t a realistic height for a drop test. Yes, I understand that a radio could fall from 25′, but a majority of radios purchase will never have to experience this. So this is a little overboard and I take this with a grain of salt for any radio that fails. So what were the results?
And the survivors are Bosch, two Dewalt’s and the Ridgid. As for the other Dewalt (DC012), Ryobi and Makita, this really doesn’t put them in a bad light because again, it’s a 25′ fall. But this is Tools in Action and only the radios that survived get to move onto the next test, which is the water test.
Test 7 – Water Test
We should have probably done this test right after mulch test since most of these radios are IP54 rating which is dust and water resistant. However this is Tools in Action and we don’t always think clearly. Now for this this test, we didn’t dunk them into water. We just took a hose and gave them a pretty nice bath, simulating a very heavy rain. As you would expect, the Bosch, Ridgid and both Dewalt’s didn’t have a problem. Well actually the Dewalt DCR015 did have a problem that we found out as we were waiting for Bode to set up the next test. We noticed the Dewalt radio would not turn off unless we took out the battery. Once we took out the battery, there wasn’t an issue. However when we put the battery back in, the radio would turn on with no way of turning it off. Normally this radio would have been out of the test, but what fun would that be for the next test?
Test 8 – Cherry Picker Drop 50′
Okay let’s face it, no radio is designed to take this abuse. A fall from 50′ in the air onto asphalt, seriously do you think any of the remaining four would survive? Well, not a chance. All four radios failed after this insane drop. One by one, Bode threw them off the bucket. One by one, each one busted and no longer worked. The Bosch hit in a perfect spot to destroy it, so we knew right away that was going to be out of the running. The Ridgid did well in regards to the housing holding up, but it really doesn’t matter since it wouldn’t turn on. The Dewalt ToughSystem landed perfect in order to protect the housing, probably the best spot without the housing being destroyed. The last Dewalt, broke apart. So in the end, none survived the Tools in Action Insane Test. So we had to give them all a proper burial.
Bosch PB360C Drop
Dewalt DCR015 Drop
Ridgid R84087 Drop
Dewalt ToughSystem Drop
Final Test – Destruction
Now I understand manufacturers do not use this type of test, but we just couldn’t resist. We had a huge tumbler in the yard that takes huge pieces of wood and turns them into mulch, so we just had to see what it would do with the radios. Well we knew what it would do, but it was more about the fun. Can you guess what radio survived? You’re right, none. This thing took the radios and turned them into dust. I have to say it was pretty cool to see and just hear this big machine destroy them.
Final Thoughts and Outcome
As you guessed we did take this a little over board. These radios weren’t designed to take this type of abuse. But as you saw with the first couple tests such as the 3′ test, the dust and water, all the radios did awesome. Those couple of test, I can see as real world things that can happen to your job site radio. While the Milwaukee failed, it was probably just a bad radio we had. It would have been nice to have another radio to test, but because of our timing, we just couldn’t. Bottom line, any of these radio are great radios. If you already own a certain battery platform, the radio that is offered is a great radio. As with Milwaukee, I own that radio and love it. Besides that is why companies give a warranty in case a product is defective and again, every company has defective products.
Drum Roll – The Winner of Best Cordless Radio Is
Some of the radios surprised us during this test. Bosch has been the power house of radios in recent years, but I think they have a little competition with the Dewalt ToughSystem. While the Dewalt sounds great, the Bosch still has a couple legs up, such as the ease of use, the outlets and a farther Bluetooth range. Both sound great and will make any buyer jump for joy with their purchase. The Ryobi at $99 really surprised us with it’s small size, small price tag, but pretty decent sound. As always, the Ridgid made it to the end. This is a small, quiet company that never touts about it’s toughness, but time and time again, it takes a beating and lasts. Our first experience with the Makita was a success. Nice in size, easy to see the display and just a great all around radio. We love the Milwaukee and wished it would have had a chance to compete in all the rounds, but while it didn’t get to compete, we still put it through some tough tests and it held up well.
Did you really think there was going to be a winner? The only real winner was us getting to have some fun and the TIA Crew being there to witness it all. We will let you be the judge of everything. In the end all the radios did a great job. We hope you enjoyed this episode of Crazy TIA.
Just got that Milwaukee at our hall casino night love it ?looks like u guys had to much fun?
Lol I wonder if you guys tried to Warrenty the broken ones, haha
LOL, that would be classic
I just picked up the Milwaukee and then watched this, up until the end I was gutted but it seems to be ok now lol
I really enjoyed that long video of destruction. The title of a song? No just a good old job site radio fight. There were winners and there were losers in the head o head comparison. But (spoiler) if your a team red, don’t fret, redemption was made in the end. Thanks TIA for this entertaining video. #tiacrew.
Great fight guys, have to say i still want the bosch… what a solid unit that thing is, could care less about the app though… #TIACREW
you should have mentioned in the beggining you were going to give away the winner. in the end you could have mailed it in an enevelope
LOL, that would have been classic
I had one of the older style 18v Milwaukee radios but I got tired of hauling its big ass around and bought the smaller 12v radios which I like better. That was a great torture test guys.
regardless i am 100% dewalt toughsystem fan starting my own business again and loading up with new tools
ive had the tough system dewalt since october/novemeber 2015. purchased for charging and bluetooth music.
great purchase!! rugged, storage, charges phone, charge battery, runs off battery,loud,…..
only issue ive had is slightly major. im having issues with the charge/power cable functioning. haven’t trouble shot it yet. sometimes works, some times doesn’t. sometimes both.
Hey I think you guys should do a Bluetooth speaker battle. I know DEWALT us a really good Bluetooth speaker because I have one and absoultely love it. It’s well built small for easy storage and never had any issues with it. I have dropped it 4-5 times of my workbench and no damage. Two speakers that play loud enough for my neighbors to complain it’s too loud. And it has a USB port to charge your phones.
you have a cool job
I was planning on getting the DeWalt Tough System, but going to hold off until the new Flex is released to see how it performs.
Great review and loved the video. I look to you often when making decisions about tools for my husband. Thanks!
I know at our plant volumes without too much distortion is the primary concern. You need something that can cut through the machine noise and your earplugs and still sound OK. Would have been nice to actually set up a sound meter at a set distance and note the levels.
Good point. Do you guys use a certain radio?
Wow, seeing all these radios in a pile of destruction almost brought tears to my eyes. I hope they weren’t tuned in to a Cub ball game when they fought their last battle against gravity.
Hey TIA saw your review and I have been trying to find the Ryobi P746 radio but no Home Depot stores or homedepot.com seem to have it in stock. Do y’all have any insight with Ryobi to know if the radio is being phased out and a new radio will soon be released? Great website and YouTube channel, keep up the good work.