Is there a gap in the market for a hefty DAB+, wi-fi and FM radio that sports a flip-up LCD screen – oh, and a CD player? Dedicated radio manufacturer Pure certainly thinks so.
Last year marked 20 years since the UK brand launched its first product, the Pure Evoke-1, so the company decided to celebrate by completely reworking and upgrading its most successful Evoke range – which now comprises the compact Spot, the versatile Play and the “comprehensive one-box hi-fi alternative” Home.
The Evoke Home is the largest and most room-filling in the line-up and the only model promising to accept your CDs alongside support for Spotify Connect, Podcasts and Bluetooth streaming. And it's the product under review here.
There’s no easy way to say this: the Pure Evoke Home costs £400. Its closest competition, therefore, is probably the What Hi-Fi? 2021 Award-winning Denon D-M41DAB microsystem (£379), or the Ruark R3 (£629). As those prices suggest, the alternative options we’ve suggested differ quite a bit in terms of feature set, but while each offers Bluetooth, DAB+ radio and includes a CD player (hence their relevance), they also offer more flexibility in terms of both hardware connections and wireless connectivity.
For example, you won’t find aptX HD, DLNA streaming or Tidal Connect in the Pure Evoke Home (which you will in the Ruark R5), nor will you find a plethora of connections on the back, including two digital optical ins (which you will with the Denon system). Nevertheless, the Evoke Home does have a 3.5mm aux-in plus a headphone jack. Essentially, the Evoke Home is a meaty wi-fi enabled internet radio, with DAB+/FM, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect and a CD player – which means its pricing comes in a little hot.
At 3.9kg, the Evoke Home is bigger than we had imagined, even allowing for the inclusion of a CD player – think large adult shoe box but heavier. Our ‘cotton white’ sample (also available in ‘coffee black’) looks clean and calming at first glance. There are quite a lot of buttons to become accustomed to and, although they are mostly small, circular and difficult to differentiate in low light, they are largely useful rather than surplus to requirements.
Flip up the 2.8-inch LED colour screen and you’ll see several buttons underneath it to help navigate the display, including choosing your audio source, setting alarms and much more. Said display isn’t an OLED or a touchscreen, sadly – although you could just flip it down and operate the unit using its very small but functional remote, or the UNDOK app. For us, the volume knob over on the right of the unit is more of an issue, as it sports a halo of light that really is quite bright and is impossible to dim or switch off – unless you put the Evoke Home into standby mode.
In the middle of the Evoke Home, five buttons sit above the CD slot for the purposes of handling your tangible music collection. Again, you can do this via the bundled remote or the app, but for our money it’s nice to have the buttons there. Over on the right is the nicely sized volume knob, which can also be pressed to turn the unit on or off or to mute playback, plus six smaller buttons for presets.
Dimensions (hwd) 10.8 x 18.4 x 36.3cm
Display 2.8 inch LCD
Configuration 2 x 20mm soft dome tweeters, 2 x 3.5-inch woofer.
Alarm Presets 2
Features Internet, DAB+ and FM radio, Spotify Connect, CD player
The Evoke Home’s grille is fashioned from a 90 per cent eco-certified recycled wool, made by Danish textile company Kvadrata. Wool is also biodegradable and able to absorb and neutralise pollutants from the environment, such as formaldehyde, which is comforting (if a little unusual in hi-fi), but our issue here is with the quality of its integration.
On our sample, the wool cloth puckers out slightly and sags at the top in two places. We understand that every cover is as unique as the sheep it came from, but the fact that it doesn’t sit flush with the unit does affect the sharpness of the overall aesthetic.
Underneath, the Evoke Home includes two 20mm soft dome tweeters and two 89mm woofers driven by 100W worth of amplification – and we can tell you that it easily goes loud enough to fill our medium-sized test room, although it distorts significantly at the five loudest of its 32 volume increments.
As the ‘Home’ moniker suggests, it needs to stay connected to power since there’s no onboard battery pack. We plug it in, switch it on, flip up the display and follow the on-screen set-up wizard. Once we’ve managed to use the small buttons underneath the LCD display to scroll and select each of the upper- and lower-case letters and numbers which all good wi-fi passwords ought to have, we’re in and online with no issues. Similarly, the Evoke Home pairs easily to our phone and we’re soon pinging music to it over Bluetooth (albeit the slightly older version 4.2, so no simultaneous pairing of extra devices), and using Spotify Connect from our Spotify app.
The free UNDOK app also works well for us. Although early iterations have given it and its Pure Evoke Home integration a bad reputation, work has clearly been done to rectify things. We find the app dependable, easy to navigate and intuitive. As well as source selection, volume and playback controls, it also offers EQ tweaks for the treble or bass.
What you aren’t getting here is AirPlay 2 or Chromecast support, which will be a sticking point for both iOS and Android device owners. Similarly, there’s no Tidal Connect, which is an omission perfectly acceptable in models half the price of the Evoke Home, but notable at this level.
In an era of Bluetooth and Spotify streaming, does a listener select and load up a CD album over simply pinging a track to their sound system from their phone? That isn’t really our place to say, but – especially if you only subscribe to Spotify’s free tier, where audio quality is capped at a lowly 160kbps – the jump to CD resolution when it comes to enjoying the Pure Evoke Home is worth the walk to the shelf and back.
We commence our listening with a podcast and find James Acaster’s Perfect Sounds spacious and energetic. Voices are textured and clear – useful qualities in any radio.
In fact, across the course of extensive listening, the sonic performance is perfectly acceptable and pleasing. At sensible listening levels the sound is never harsh and nothing offends – the Evoke Home plays it safe with any file, CD or international radio station we throw at it.
Load Radiohead’s OK Computer into the CD slot and Paranoid Android sounds balanced across the frequencies, open and with all musical strands held in a cohesive soundstage.
That said, the Evoke Home does err on the side of caution when it comes to dynamics. We load up Prince’s Purple Rain and the drum crashes in I Would Die 4 U lack snap. As the extra backing vocals come in, although nicely layered, cohesive and spacious, the Evoke Home is unable to faithfully deliver the heightened sense of build and impact as the song continues.
For detail, the Evoke Home is also beaten by the Denon D-M41DAB microsystem (which includes Denon’s SC-M41 two-way stereo speakers). We switch to DAB+ radio and Classic FM, where an extra ounce of detail – the three-dimensional quality of bowed string instruments, the leading edges of piano notes – are far more easily heard in the Denon microsystem. Let’s not forget the advantage two separate speakers give when it comes to stereo imaging and scale. Yes, that Denon product is an Award-winner, but with this price-tag, the Pure Evoke Home has some tough competition.
If what you chiefly need is a large internet radio capable of going loud that will also accept your CDs, the Pure Evoke Home is still worthy of your attention. The sound is pleasing and we found the user experience stress-free and enjoyable.
That said, for this money, you can get much more. Our minor issues with the build quality alongside notable omissions in terms of streaming support (particularly the lack of AirPlay and Chromecast) at this level mean the Pure Evoke Home cannot currently challenge the category’s class-leaders.
- Build 3
- Features 3
- Sound 4
Read our review of the Denon D-M41DAB microsystem
Also consider the Ruark R5