Pure Evoke II 

1 January 2004 tbs.pm/3202

A Pure Digital Evoke II

Until the Evoke came along, DAB radio sets had been mostly hi-fi separates – expensive tuners to sit in serious hi-fi systems. And then the Evoke I came along.

The Pure Digital Evoke I was the first standalone DAB radio to come in at under a hundred pounds – speaker and all. Released in the summer of 2002 and sold in only a handful of shops in London, the initial supply quickly ran out, and it wasn’t until March 2003 that the set became widely available in most shops.

For Pure Digital it was quite a coup. The small company from Hertfordshire found its products were in hot demand. Even the fact that the set had only one speaker (although a second could be purchased) and were in short supply did nothing to stem the demand, since it was the only affordable DAB radio on the market at the time.

Nonetheless, the Evoke I’s sales were extraordinary, selling more during Christmas 2002 than many radios sell in a lifetime on the shelves.

Fresh from that overwhelming success, the company went on to announce the Evoke II. Although more expensive (launched at £160), the new model featured two speakers, an FM tuner and a battery compartment – for the first time, the Evoke could leave the mains socket.

Looks

The first mass market DAB radio set also broke the design rules. Steering clear of black plastic, the Evoke range is encased in a polished wood veneer case, with a curved, silver handle neatly placed on the top.

The Evoke I features a simple, clean layout – speaker on the left and controls on the right, topped with an LCD display. Underneath, tuning and volume controls, and pre-set buttons underneath. It’s larger brother is similar, but taller and with an extra speaker on the right, and a tone control next to the volume. The Evoke II’s design does look a little vertically stretched, and whilst not quite as aesthetically pleasing as the Evoke I, it’s still a pleasing looking device.

Installation and use

Enough about looks – what about the rest of it? Well, thankfully, Pure Digital didn’t just spend all the money on case design.

Setting up the Evoke for the first time is incredibly easy. The cleanly laid out manual lists five steps, but even this seems padded out, with the first step being nothing more than “fully extend the telescopic aerial”. After that, it’s a matter of plugging it in and pressing the power button. After a search of the airwaves to find all the DAB stations available, you’re ready to go.

Changing channels is simple, ironically using the age-old method of turning a knob – unhelpfully labelled ‘push’. Instead of scrolling through frequencies, you scroll through station names (initially) listed in alphabetical order, although other ordering methods can be selected.

Once you’ve found the station you require, it’s just a case of pushing, at last, the tuning knob to select, and you’re away. For your favourite stations, there are six pre-set buttons, and storing a station to one is just a case of holding the button down for a few seconds.

As well as displaying your station name, the LCD screen also shows DABtext – scrolling text provided by the broadcaster and related to the programme. This can be changed to display the type of programme, the name of the multiplex, a clock, the signal quality and even the data rate of the current service, should you desire.

VHF-FM

As well as DAB, the Evoke II also offers an FM tuner – you change between FM and DAB with the press of a button.

The FM functionality here is more basic, with the tuning knob used to select a frequency – either automatically or manually. Again you can store up to six pre-sets, so once found, it’s easy to store your favourite FM stations. There’s no automatic scanning of channels, which is a shame, but not a major loss.

One of the benefits of having an FM tuner side by side with DAB means you can compare the quality of stations on both platforms through the same unit.

One of the first things that was noticeable was that the DAB stations were slightly louder than those on FM. Flicking between Radio 1 on DAB and FM did highlight one of DAB’s key claims – the complete lack of hiss, especially noticeable on speech.

Sound

Both the Evokes also pack a serious punch in their speakers. They may be small, but even when cranked up to maximum volume you’ll get wonderful (albeit very loud) sound. Both units also offer analogue stereo line out, and the Evoke II goes one step further with optical digital output as well.

Whilst the Evoke I only has one speaker, it is possible to buy a second in a matching design for only £30.

Overall

Many will question the need for a DAB radio, especially with radio stations increasingly becoming available on digital TV. However, listening by TV, you’re tied down to the digibox, and, in most homes, radio listening will be available in the main sitting room only.

DAB radio will play a huge part for those places when only a radio will do, be it for the kitchen, garage or in my flat, the bedroom.

And it has to be said – both Evokes are fantastic radios. Which one is right for you is another question. The Evoke II may be bigger and dearer, but it does offer portability and optical line for your cash.

There is more competition in the arena than there was in 2002, and the first major brand recently threw their hat in the DAB ring when Sony announced their plans for a DAB radio. However, if Pure continue to make great radios at good prices, then we may be seeing a lot more of them as the years go on.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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Andrew Bowden Contact More by me

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