On the plus side you can store up to 20 DAB and FM stations and ten AM stations. This is a good allowance for a low-end stereo, and was much appreciated.
The quality of the FM playback was good when it was clear of static, and the CMT-GPX9DAB supports RDS (Radio Data System), so station info was displayed automatically (including station name and frequency) in FM mode. The stereo automatically tuned to a strong FM signal. You can also manually tune both FM and AM, but it only has the standard 50kHz tuning interval, which is annoyingly imprecise. You may as well let the radio just get on with it and tune itself. The tuning interval in AM mode is 9kHz, but you can adjust this. We would have preferred to adjust the tuning interval in FM mode.
The functionality of the radio (aside from the setup) is its real strength. The clock is relatively easy to set, although again you need to use the remote. When the radio is in Standby mode, the clock is illuminated, but not glaringly so. Those of a green persuasion can turn the display off completely using Power Save Mode. When the radio is on, you can cycle through the various display options by simply pressing the Display button. The different DAB display modes are station name; frequency and label; station information (otherwise known as Dynamic Label Segment), which includes song name, artist and station promotional text; ensemble label; bass level; and treble level.
If you like to fall asleep to music there is a useful sleep timer on the stereo, which enables you to set the amount of time until the stereo switches itself off. All you need to do is press the Sleep button on the remote -- unsurprisingly, there isn't a corresponding button on the main unit.
You may also find the play timer useful. This in effect turns the stereo into an alarm clock, but with the added bonus that you can load a CD or tape as well as having the option to use the tuner to wake up to. You can set the stereo to start playing at a certain time, and you can also set it to stop, too -- a fantastic feature for those too busy, lazy or forgetful to turn off their radio.
Recording options are limited. You can set the timer to record DAB programmes to tape, but this defeats the object. You would be recording a supposedly crystal-clear digital broadcast onto hissy, fluttery analogue tape. Why not go the whole hog and record it onto a wax cylinder? You don't have the option of selecting which type of tape to use, just Type 1. As previously mentioned there's a stereo line-in on the back, but the only line-out is from the headphone socket, so if you did want to record digitally (onto your PC or a minidisk) you'd have to use a mini-jack connection -- not good for quality recording or data transfer.
The DAB tuner reception was clear and crisp, and on the whole the fidelity was good. The volume range was okay for a micro system, going from silence to fairly loud before the limiter kicked in. This meant there was little distortion and little chance of blowing the speakers, but also meant it wasn't loud enough to have a party with (unless it was a soft jazz dinner party). There's also a Dynamic Sound Generator X-tra (DSGX) facility akin to a high-gain button, which beefs up the bass and treble slightly. This isn't earth-shattering. You can also boost the bass and the treble individually, but only up or down by 2 -- it's hardly Spinal Tap. There's also no balance, so if you're limited for space, you'll have to position the stereo carefully.
To improve FM tuner reception, you can turn the CD player off and you can also put it into mono mode. There are few other ways to improve the sound.
The CD player was fine for general use, but with a frequency response ranging from 20Hz to 20kHz, it was treble-heavy. The treble was smooth but the bass tended to become muddy and started to distort even at a fairly low volume, and sub-bass was virtually non-existent.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide