Roberts Radio Pillow Talk Speaker Review
30 second review
It’s the best under-pillow speaker we’ve tested to date, delivering surprisingly detailed sound even through a thick layer of synthetic down. Roberts Radio is one of the few established audio companies to make cushion speakers, and its decades of expertise really shine through. Although it’s simple, this little device is a step ahead of the many similar-looking devices you’ll find on Amazon.
The speaker has grilles on the top and sides, which help prevent sound from muffling, and while a pillow speaker will never deliver audiophile-quality sound, it’s ideal for podcasts, soft music and ambient soundscapes as you settle in for the night. The sound from most pillow speakers tends to sound muddy, with higher frequencies almost lost, but that’s not the case here.
It has a few design quirks (notably the three-way switch on one side that doesn’t seem to do anything), but it’s nonetheless
Price and availability
The Roberts Radio Pillow Talk speaker costs £14.99 (about $20 / AU$25) and is available internationally from third-party retailers like Amazon, or direct from Roberts in the UK (although in at the time of writing this article, it may be out of stock at the company’s online store).
That’s an average price for a pillow speaker – the cheap and cheerful SoundLAB pillow speaker is about half the price, while the Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy pillow speakers are considerably more. Dear.
The Roberts Radio Pillow Talk speaker isn’t an exceptionally attractive device, but that’s not too important for a hidden device. It’s made from cream-coloured plastic and has an oval casing measuring 100mm x 80mm x 26mm that fits perfectly in the palm of your hand. It has speaker grilles on the edges and on the top
The PillowTalk does not have an internal battery, which is an advantage for an under pillow speaker. Lithium-ion batteries like those used in wireless Bluetooth speakers can overheat if covered (by a pillow, for example), which can be extremely dangerous and even cause fires in certain circumstances.
It doesn’t have a Bluetooth transmitter, but connects to your phone (or other device) using a 3.5mm headphone jack attached to a 2m cable. That gives you more than enough slack to plug into a device on a bedside table, while the speaker itself is tucked under your pillow.
Interestingly, there is a small switch on the side of the case, with positions labeled 1-3. The speaker menu asks users to choose the setting that provides the best sound quality, but there’s no indication of what it actually does, and in our tests there seemed to be no discernible difference between the three. If the Pillow Talk Speaker was held on by screws, we would have been tempted to take it apart and check to see if it’s connected to anything.
Most pillow speakers you’ll find online are anonymous devices of dubious provenance and wildly variable in quality, but not this one. Roberts Radio is a venerable audio company that’s been around since 1932, and it shows – it’s easily the best pillow speaker we’ve tested to date.
The sound is surprisingly detailed and crisp, even through a thick pillow. This is partly due to the grilles on the side of the case as well as on the top – a clever design that helps prevent sound from being muffled. It’s odd that the three-position switch on the side has no noticeable effect on the audio, and Roberts doesn’t describe what it’s actually supposed to do. It’s definitely not a volume control.
Like most pillow speakers, there’s no lithium-ion battery here to risk overheating. Instead, the speaker simply plugs into the headphone jack of your phone, MP3 player, or (naturally) Roberts radio. It was nice when this speaker first went on sale, but now that many modern phones don’t have a headphone jack, you may need to factor an adapter into the cost.
Its smooth plastic case means it can sometimes move around overnight, but you can help minimize this by slipping it inside your pillowcase, under the pillow. Otherwise, the design works well; it’s so thin it’s impossible to feel, even through a thin enough pillow, and it’s not uncomfortable if you tend to sleep on your hand.
There’s no in-line volume control, so you’ll have to reach for your phone to adjust the audio, but that’s a relatively minor issue. Whether you want to fall asleep to the gentle patter of rain, a soothing podcast from the Calm app, or relaxing music, this little speaker is ideal.
Buy it if
Don’t buy it if
This article is part of TechRadar Sleep Week 2022 (from Sunday March 13th to Saturday March 19th), a week of celebration of all that sleeps. We’ll bring you proven techniques and tips to help you sleep better, and we’ve rounded up all the top-rated tech to transform your sleep.