What do you want from your portable radio-cum-Bluetooth receiver? Well, if the Pure Pop Maxi is anything to go by, you want instant access and ease of use just as much as you want best-quality audio performance.
With the Pop range, the company is attempting to fit the quart of consumers’ requirements into the pint pot of a compact, decorative design. As the name suggests, this Pop Maxi is the largest of the Pop family – but everything’s relative, after all.
Build and design
Maxi or not, at 17cm tall, the Pop isn’t going to take up much room on your work surface.
Nevertheless Pure has found space for two 3in drivers served by 4.3W of power each, DAB/DAB+ and FM reception, the usual clock and alarm functions, Bluetooth functionality, a 3.5mm input and space for batteries (four AAs or Pure’s £35 ChargePAK) into the sturdy, smoothly constructed box.
The display is crisp and clear, though it doesn’t occupy as much of the fascia as it might, and consequently can be difficult to read from any kind of distance. Depending on your taste, the looks are either sleekly discreet or a bit bland.
With the Pop range, at least, Pure is moving away from the vibrancy of its other ranges and attempting a rather more grown-up, sophisticated vibe.
To an extent this seems to be true too of the sound Pure has given the Pop Maxi, and on that subject we can be less equivocal.
Even with what (we’re assured) is the highest quality of BBC broadcast, Radio 3, the Pop Maxi sounds a little restrained.
The bottom of the frequency range is short of weight, but nicely poised and speedy enough, and there’s sufficient space and balance in the midrange to make details reasonably distinct.
Up at the top end, though, there’s a cloudy, insubstantial quality to treble reproduction that lowers a bit of a veil over proceedings.
Switch to 6Music (statistically more popular, yet of lower bitrate than Radio 3) and the story’s much the same – a politely undemonstrative presentation, equally hard to enthuse about or be offended by.
That pair of diminutive drivers prove adept at delivering a smooth journey from the bottom of the frequency range to the top – although they struggle to define treble sounds effectively.
Their other nominal advantage, stereo sound, isn’t an unqualified success either.
The sound the Pop Maxi serves up isn’t appreciably larger than the cabinet it emanates from and the soundstage, while distinct, isn’t significantly bigger than that presented by Pure’s Award-winning (and mono) £85 Evoke D2.
Low frequencies are altogether more assertive and more adventurous in their extension, and there’s greater detail and resolution available in the midrange too.
The treble’s still on the troublesome side, though not as diaphanous as it is when handling DAB radio, and the whole presentation gets a little more breathing space.
It’s not the largest-scale sound ever served up by a portable radio, but it is at least a fairly dynamic listen.
On the whole, the Pop Maxi is a decent, if mildly disconcerting, proposition. As far as specification, build and (arguably) looks are concerned it’s pretty much beyond reproach.
The sound it produces, though, isn’t everything we’d like it to be.
We can’t help but think Pure, which for so long has had an innate understanding of what this part of the market requires, has taken its eye slightly off the audio ball.
MORE: Best DAB radios 2015