The Evoke-1S is an attractive new portable DAB radio, from the popular DAB manufacturer PURE Digital. For around £100, it's also rather affordable.
We've checked out kit from this British manufacturer before and were keen to put its cute new contender to the CNET.co.uk stress test.
If looks really could kill, the Evoke would probably leave you alive, but in a severely bloody state. Its birch wood enclosure complements the well-crafted silver fronting, though the tiny gap between the enclosure and the innards could annoy devoted nit-pickers.
A single speaker driver sits behind a silver metal mesh, to the rear of which is a small bass reflex port. A pair of knobs sit below a crisp and bright OLED display, and handle volume and tuning functions. Control buttons sit below the knobs in a telephone keypad formation -- the vivid blue standby button stands out as if to remind you to switch the power off now and again. Dare you disobey a blue button?
Around the back, things get a little less attractive. Inputs and outputs are embedded into a tough but less seductively designed plastic. Still, you're not going to spend much time looking back here.
DAB radio -- would you believe it? -- is the Evoke's main feature, and it's assisted by a 28-inch telescopic aerial. Though it's a capable DAB receiver, you'll only ever get monaural sound from its single 76mm speaker. An additional speaker is sold separately to bump the output up to stereo status -- this unconnected second speaker would somewhat detract from the portability of an all-in-one setup. Stereo output is available through the headphone or line-out sockets, located to the rear.
You can save up to 30 stations -- DAB, FM or both -- into the Evoke's preset slots. Multiple alarms can be set, too, each with their own recurrence options. Alarm volume can be configured independently of the system's master volume -- handy for when you fall asleep to some quiet Vivaldi, but want waking up to the sonic pop boom of Radio 1.
Where the Evoke succeeds with alarms, it fails with customisability. There are no equaliser presets or manual equaliser functions. True, with just a single speaker, PURE hasn't gone for God-like performance. But to justify selling an additional speaker we'd have like to see some EQ flexibility.
Included, however, is a variable DRC control. Some DAB stations effectively boost the volume of their transmissions, sometimes resulting in a less well-defined sound when it's played through speakers. The Evoke's DRC control allows you to turn this down, or even turn it off completely.
Firing up the Evoke prompts it to scout all DAB stations in the local area. This takes a couple of minutes but only needs doing once. Navigating stations is really simple and as all stations are sorted alphabetically, finding your favourite takes no time. Presets, too, are easy to master: seek to your station, push and hold a number on the keypad, the preset is saved. Painless.
DAB is physically incapable of producing CD-quality audio due to the fundamental restrictions of its technology. The Evoke-1S makes the best of what's on offer, though, and pumps decent sound quality with a healthy portion of bass.
At high volume, the sound is distorted noticeably, though in its defense it is very loud for a small system. Higher bit rate broadcasts, such as Classic FM and Virgin Radio, sound slightly better at higher volume and much better through headphones. As a kitchen radio it does its job well.
PURE told us it was a cost issue that kept it from adding its wonderful ReVu technology, included in the Legato II. The ability to pause and rewind live radio would've really set the Evoke-1S apart from other offerings.
For around £100, this really is a terrific product. It's attractive, easy to use and sounds pretty good, too. If you've got a previous Evoke model, there aren't a million reasons to rush out and upgrade. But if you're looking to move into the DAB world without breaking the bank, this is a solid contender to start with and would also make a jolly nice Christmas present to boot.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday