~You Better Listen to the Radio~
I spend a lot more time listening to the radio than watching the television and have built up quite a shocking collection of DAB radios. I'm very rarely the sort of person who adopts new technology quickly, tending to hang on until things are so well established that they're about to become obsolete, but in the case of DAB I heard my first radio and was hooked. And then I just kept buying them. At home we have five of them spread about the place (for all I know there might even be more) and there are two more at the flat I live in when I'm at work. I like DAB radios so much that I've given several to my parents and my sister. Why would anyone listen to analogue radio these days? The quality is just so much better and the range of available stations is amazing.
The Pure Evoke-1 is a fabulous radio and was picked up in our local recycling shop for the shockingly low prices of just £5. I think my husband was looking for the missing zero on the price ticket, but no, that's really all it was. As you can imagine at that price it came without a box or any instructions but it works essentially the same as the Tempus I have at the flat so I knew what to do with it.
The Evoke Series comes in many different models. The Evoke-1 has one speaker, whilst its big brother the Evoke-2 has two. You can buy an additional speaker as an add-on to the 1-series but we mostly listen to talk radio so we're quite happy without a second speaker. Ours is the special edition of the Pure Evoke-1 called the 'Elgar'. Having bought it second hand, I have no idea of the significance of the Elgar special edition but I suspect the main difference from the standard Evoke 1 is that it has a darker wood cabinet. I have read suggestions that it also has a white on blue display but that's not the case with our model and I suspect that the 'Elgar' name may have been used for more than one special edition. Rather shockingly, the recommended price for one of these is around £120 compared to around £100 for the standard Evoke-1 so you can understand why we were so excited to get it for a fiver.
The wooden cabinet is smooth to the touch and very easy on the eye in a distinctly 'retro' way. It's a neat little unit measuring 21 cm across, 14cm high and 9 cm deep. The carrying handle on the top is a brushed metal which curves elegantly onto the cabinet but adds a few extra centimetres to the overall height. The front is split into two sides - the speaker on the left and the controls on the right-hand side. Thankfully (and probably due to me having the same set up on the Tempus) it's pretty intuitive to work out how to use it.
~Knobs and Buttons~
There are two knobs and nine buttons - enough to give plenty of choice without being too baffling. At the top of the control panel is the display which on ours has become quite dim and difficult to read. For all I know that might be why it was thrown out and found its way to the recycling store. The larger knob controls volume whilst the smaller one is for tuning. You simply twist the tuning knob until the name of the station you want comes up on the display. If you want to save the station on one of the six pre-set buttons you just tune the station you want and then hold down the numbered button until it saves - the display will tell you when it's registered. Rather predictably on ours 1 to 4 have Radio 1, 2, 3 and not surprisingly 4. Button 5 is Radio 4 Extra and button 6 is empty. The three bottom buttons are for Autotune, Display and Setup. I have to be honest that I don't actually have the first idea what to do with them. If you are really techie, then download the instruction book and do your techie stuff as there are plenty of options for those in the know. More reassuringly for those definitely not in the know, it takes only a few minutes to set up and save your favourite stations and then you can forget about fiddling with those buttons ever again.
The radio comes with a clunky great transformer plug which converts 230 volt AC electricity to the 12 volt DC which the radio needs to work. On this model there is no option to power the radio with batteries instead of mains power so its listing on Ciao as a portable radio is slightly misleading unless 'portable' means light enough to move it around easily. If you are looking for a proper portable which runs on batteries, I can recommend the Pure One Mi portable radio and its rechargeable battery pack which I bought my parents about 18 months ago.
~Radio is a Sound Sensation~
I've told you that it looks gorgeous, that the set up is almost idiot proof and it costs a lot of money (unless you get lucky like we did) but I've not mentioned what's surely the most important thing about a radio. How does it actually sound? I mentioned already that we mostly listen to talk radio so it's not subjected to too much music and for talk radio it's absolutely stunning. Even on the rare occasions when I crank the volume up high, there is no distortion, no buzz or hum, just perfect clarity. Most of the time it's playing at no more than about 20% of its maximum volume and it's sparklingly clear and crisp.
Comparing this with the Tempus, it lacks some of the functions of the latter which mean the Tempus remains my favourite of our Pure radios. With the Tempus you can set a wake up alarm as well as setting the radio to turn itself off after a certain time which is perfect if you like to fall asleep listening to the radio (and don't want to wake up again with it still blathering on in the wee small hours). The Evoke-1S which I bought my parents has a timer device but not a proper alarm. However, if all you need is perfect sound quality, an attractive wooden case and easy to set functions, then I'd recommend the Evoke-1 with or without the optional 'Elgar' whatever that might be.
Most likely you'll struggle to find the Elgar at the moment though I expect there will be further special editions using the name. You can however assume that there's very little difference from the standard Pure Evoke-1 and its successor the Evoke-1S.
I have owned an Evoke-1 from Pure since the model first came out, and I think it was one of the best investments I ever made. This little radio is starting to look a little battered now, but that is due to my taking it with me wherever I travel around in the UK. It's performance is unaffected by the passing of time, in fact it has improved as new transmitters are built, providing many new stations, and stronger signals for other stations.
To start with, a physical description of the radio.
There is a fairly simplistic style to this unit when compared to some of the more recent DAB radios.
The radio comes in a wooden outer casing with silver grey front panel. It is mounted on four plastic feet which enable proper airflow under the unit. It is powered by a 12V DC mains lead.
On the front of the unit there is a blue on/off button, a volume knob, a tuning knob, and nine other buttons, six of these are to pre-set your favourite stations, one is a setup button, another is a display button, and the final button is for autotuning the radio. There is also a small LCD display which shows the name and description of the station to which you are listening.
On the back of the radio there is the extendible aerial. Helpfully this is removable so if you wish to attach the radio to an external aerial it is easy to do so. Other sockets on the back of the radio are for an optional additional speaker, a 'line out' socket, and a headphone socket.
On the top of the radio there is a useful handle, that I use all the time for carrying this radio around.
Setting up and using the radio
Almost all of the UK now has DAB reception, so setting this radio should not be a problem.
Just extend the aerial, turn on the radio, and press the autotune button. The radio the searches for all the radio signals it can find.
The Evoke-1 displays the stations it finds in alphabetical order and twisting the tuning knob allows you to scan through all available stations, when you find a station you like then press the knob in, and the radio tunes to that station.
For me the main advantages of this radio are it's portability, and it's great sound quality.
This radio has been all over the country, and has stood up to quite a bit of battering in rucksacks and travelling bags. I've been able to get good DAB signals almost everywhere.
For quite a while I used this radio at work, and despite it's small size it's sound was able to fill a huge factory floor without a problem.
I can't really think of anything bad to say about this radio. A few more pre-set buttons would be nice, but that's probably me being greedy, six pre-set stations should be enough for most people.
I paid £99 for this radio, but that was a few years ago and you can now get them for a lot less. I suggest you get one now.
In terms of performance, there is no difference between the standard Evoke-1, and the 'limited edition' Elgar version. The latter just has a darker, cherrywood casing, and a white-on-blue LCD display. If, like me, you hate the loud hiss of stereo FM, or the poor performance of MW, then I would whole-heartedly recommend investing in a digital radio like the Evoke-1. It's not cheap, but neither is it substantially more than a decent analogue radio, and in my opinion, certainly worth the increased investment. The Evoke-1 is blissfully easy to use. As you turn the dial, the information on each channel appears, and you can pre-programme six channels at the touch of a button. You can change the 'ticker' information easily, and see signal strength etc. Some channels also provide scrolling information on the track being played. I am near Watford, and so far have come across very few stations with a poor reception, certainly none of the main ones. The sound quality is really superb - absolutely crystal clear. The only 'problem' I've noticed is that the signal sometimes cuts out for a couple of seconds just after you've switched on. The set is lightweight and stylish, and would fit in in most rooms, so if you enjoy listening to the radio - buy one!