For its first dedicated smart speaker, Pure has come up with a cute and funky design. The Pure DiscovR features Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, meaning that it can carry out a range of tasks, from adding to your to-do list, finding information such as weather forecasts or playing games, all by talking to a disembodied female voice
At £230, the Pure DiscovR is one of the more expensive small smart speakers on the market, but the sound does not come close to justifying that price.
Like many smart speakers, the Pure DiscovR is a tower. This shape means it can sit on a busy coffee table or kitchen surface without taking up too much space.
It is rather more squat than most though, with the outer surface a curvy wall of grey anodised aluminium with a bright bevelled top. The feature that really sets it apart though, is its pop-up design. The central column that holds the speaker grille retracts into the body, switching the DiscovR off and cutting out the microphones.
The mechanism is surprisingly stiff, but feels robust enough. While it’s difficult to determine exactly how many people are put off smart speakers by the idea they are always listening, this is one solution.
The Pure DiscovR fits in best at home, as a speaker you’ll take between rooms, but it is also a fully portable unit. The battery lasts up to 15 hours, and should you take it out of range of a wi-fi network, you can use Bluetooth to transmit your tunes.
There is no charger plug in the box, which seems odd at this price, but there is a USB-C cable you can plug into your phone’s adapter.
There are some unusual controls on its top plate too. Little raised arrows at its corners act as shortcuts to Alexa commands. To programme them, hold down one of the buttons and effectively record a voice message that the DiscovR sends to the Alexa servers. There’s also a Pure Discovery button – press this when a song is playing and it’s added to a special DiscovR playlist.
Voice assistant Amazon Alexa
Aux input Yes
Battery life 15 hours
Standard playback buttons, for pause, skipping between tracks, are all crammed into the central icon. Press once for play/pause, twice to skip forward and three times to skip back. A circular motion around this central part alters volume. Pure fits a lot into the DiscovR’s top plate, including the two mics that let you speak to Alexa.
It’s not quite the seven used in Amazon’s own Echo smart speakers, including the much cheaper Echo Dot, but the DiscovR generally seems to recognise and understand commands perfectly well, unless your music is turned up very loud.
And like a Dot, there’s a multi-colour LED array around the top’s perimeter. It lights up in different colours to indicate the mode used.
The Pure DiscovR packs a lot of features and controls into a relatively small enclosure. It is also home to two tweeters and a downward-firing bass driver, although all the sound emits from the grille.
Sadly, the sound is instantly disappointing – within a few chords, you can tell the DiscovR does not offer the audio quality you’d expect from a smart speaker at £230.
It sounds congested and smaller than we'd hoped, with poor separation between musical strands. At lower volumes, the DiscovR can seem slight and thin too.
Bass response improves significantly at higher volumes, but it is still not subtle or refined enough. Sound expectations for a wireless speaker at this price should be fairly high, regardless of how much technology is squeezed in.
At mid-level volumes and higher, music has a reasonable weight to it, but driver integration isn’t very good. You can hear the bass of the lower-frequency speaker and the upper-mids and treble spike of the dual tweeters. But there is no convincingly textured mid-range bridge to join them together.
Vocals sit on a pillow of mid/bass, which initially seems to give them some weight at mid-level volumes and higher. It turns out to be a hollow sensation though, as the mid/bass is the sonic equivalent of having a plate of squirty cream for lunch.
With many decent-sounding Bluetooth speakers now available for under £100, the Pure DiscovR’s performance would only be acceptable at a much lower price. At any price, it wouldn’t sound particularly refined but, at £230, it just doesn’t perform at anything like the level required to earn a recommendation.
- Sound 3
- Features 5
- Build 4
Read our Amazon Echo review