Price: £170 More info: Pure Digital Size: 290x210x12mm Speakers: Two mid-range 3in drive units + two ¾in dome tweeters Audio power output: 15 RMS per channel; 30W RMS total Input connectors: 220-240V AC power socket (power cable supplied), ChargePAK connector, 3.5mm Line in for auxiliary devices. USB (mini B-type) connector for software upgrades Output connectors: 3.5mm headphone socket, 3.5mm line out (analogue) Controls: Alarm/timer, Intellitext, ReVu, Volume, Tune, 5 dedicated one-touch presets, 1 combined preset, Tone, Info, Menu, Standby, Source and mains power switch on rear panel. Alarms & timers: alarm with station or tone setting. Countdown timer for kitchen use. Sleep timer. Display: High contrast yellow-on-black graphical 128 x 22 pixel auto-dimming OLED display Mains power supply: 220-240V AC internal supply. Battery power: optional ChargePAK E1 gives you up to 20 hours battery life. Power consumption: In standby 0.95W (industry average 2.64W); in operation 3.2W (industry average 5.49W) Approvals: CE marked. Compliant with the EMC and Low Voltage Directives (2004/108/EC and 2006/95/EC) Aerial: Removable telescopic aerial supplied
Impressive sound, broad range of additional features, very easy to use
Not cheap, retro styling won't be to everyone's taste
Pure claims that its latest flagship DAB/FM radio offers the best sound the company's radios have ever produced, thanks to 'Clearsound', a group of audio enhancements involving electronic, audio, cosmetic and functional improvements. On this evidence, we won't argue with them.
The casing is solidly built with Pure's familiar (perhaps a little too familiar) maple veneer. Physically it bears a resemblance to an older Pure stereo radio, the Evoke 3 from 2006, with twin speakers surrounding a display and array of buttons and knobs. Look a little closer however, and virtually everything has changed in the meantime.
The speakers have grown, for a start. Not physically you understand, but there's more to them. They still have 3in mid/bass drivers, though they've been tuned especially for Pure, but each of these has now been augmented by a 3/4in tweeter.
The tweeters don't add any obvious extension to the dynamic range at the higher end, but they probably go some way to sweetening up the overall sound, making it easier for the mid/bass drivers to deliver what they're good at - midrange and bass.
The power output from the Class D amplification has been cranked up to 30 watts RMS (15 per channel) - a little over twice the output of the Evoke 3 and means that for a table top radio, the Evoke-2S is surprisingly loud. There's also a woofer port underneath the unit, held away from the table top by four rubber feet.
There's a good range of radio options, with full DAB Band III (174-240MHz) and FM reception (87.5-108MHz) and it can decode all DAB and DAB+ transmission modes 1-4, up to and including 192kbps.
The display has moved on from the old LCD version and now sports a smaller, but much brighter 64x12mm OLED screen offering the time when the radio is on standby, and station info when it's in use, including a scrolling line of additional text info from the channels. It could perhaps have been a little bigger to allow for an extra line of text, but it's legible even from quite extreme angles and messages are clearly displayed.
The screen can also display textSCAN, FM RDS, RadioText and Intellitext - additional text info which you can call up on demand from selected stations, such sports news from BBC 5 Live.
Beneath the screen is a good range of easy-to-understand option buttons. The ReVu function allows you to rewind and play back up to 15 minutes of live radio and it really couldn't be much simpler to use. You press the ReVu button on the front control panel and turn the Tune knob to rewind to the bit you missed. The time available depends on the station however - greater bandwidth means better audio quality, but also less time available.
There's also a standby button, which leaves the clock display on, though if you're feeling particularly eco-friendly you can turn it off entirely via a switch at the back. Incidentally, the light-sensitive display can also save energy by automatically dimming according to the level of ambient light.
You can save stations to the preset menu by pressing and holding any of the six numerical buttons on the front. You can also add up to 50 DAB and 50 FM presets through an additional onscreen menu.
There are several timer options -standard alarm (which wakes you by switching the radio on), kitchen timer, which sounds an alarm after a set period and a sleep timer which switches the radio off after a pre-set time.
While the previous model could support size C batteries as well as Pure's rechargeable ChargePAK battery pack, the 2S only supports the latter, which is a more efficient option, but it will set you back an additional £35 if you want to take it on the road. It's less versatile, but it is the more environmentally friendly option.
Around the back there's a 3.5mm headphone jack, line out and line-in so you can connect an iPod or other source (Pure also produces a dedicated iPod dock for £35) and a mini USB port which can be used to connect to your PC for software updates. There's also an extendable aerial for use in poor reception areas (though we never found that we needed it for DAB in our part of north London).
Within the limits of what's available with DAB, this is the best-sounding table top radio we've yet heard. Of course it hasn't got bottomless bass - it's a table top radio. But it does possess an admirably smooth way with sound, allowing you to crank it all the way up with barely a whiff of distortion. It struggled just a little with music on some stations with the volume at top whack, but then again, there were others that showed no obvious signs of distortion at all, no matter how loud it got.
A tone button offers access to an onscreen menu that allows you to adjust the levels of bass and treble. Whacking up the treble led to things getting unpleasantly bright, but raising the bass level gave a surprisingly well-rounded boost to the low end, rather than the usual indiscriminate jump start to the boom levels.
Speech on Radio 4 proved to be refreshingly free of sibilance and even super-compressed music like Radio 1 is listenable in this context, something we haven't been able to say for a while. Radio 3 meanwhile sounded better than on any table top we can recall (and remember, we're not comparing it with CD on a separates system here, we're talking about DAB) and even a bit of banging disco house on Gaydar almost had us boogying around the room. Almost.
Switching to FM, the telescopic aerial instantly becomes essential. There's an automatic search function which will find the next strongest station when you turn the tuning knob. There's the option to play FM in either mono or stereo mode, which can help the sound quality if the stereo signal's a bit weak.
Despite the oft-voiced complaint about debilitating compression used in processing DAB signals, Radio 3 for example sounded much better on DAB than it did on FM, which (in our kitchen at least) was prone to some very annoying flutter distortion. Radio 4 too had a high degree of hiss which was completely absent from the DAB version.
If you've got a great 'stick' on the roof of your house, and a top tuner, your FM experience will no doubt be marvellous. But the consistency of DAB is comforting, and certainly good enough to pass muster in a kitchen or bedroom, which is where the Evoke-2S is clearly aimed.
It's certainly not cheap, at £170, but to put things in context, that's still £30 less than the Evoke 3 hit the market for three years ago. You certainly get a lot of radio for your money and once you've tried it, it's difficult to consider going back to a lesser, or even, heaven forfend, mono model. Yes, you can get more variety from internet radio, though it won't necessarily sound as good as this, and if you're after the ultimate in sound quality, you'll plump for an FM tuner with an aerial on your roof.
But as a portable radio for kitchen or bedroom, it takes some beating. If it had been a bit cheaper, we'd have had no hesitation in awarding it ten out of ten - it does just about everything it's supposed to extremely well and if you're genuinely concerned about the quality of sound you're getting from your radio, it's well worth investing in.