Pure Evoke Play Review

Pure Evoke Play Review

2022 marks the 20th anniversary of Pure making digital radios. To celebrate the occasion, they've added three new entries to their flagship Evoke range. There's the Evoke Spot, which is which is about the size of a bookshelf speaker, and the Evoke Home, which is larger and boasts a built-in CD player. Today, we're going to be taking a closer look at the medium-sized model, the Evoke Play. It's got DAB and FM modes as well as internet connectivity and Spotify Connect. It's quite expensive at £250, but is it any good? Let's take a look!

Design & build

Pure have made all manner of radios over the years. They're perhaps best-known for their wooden-cased radios, such as the Evoke H3. With these new models, though, they've gone for something a bit more sleek and minimalist.

The Evoke Play comes in two colours: Cotton White, as pictured here, and Coffee Black. The front is covered with a woollen speaker grille, which is made from eco-friendly wool that's crafted here in the UK. In terms of size, if you're familiar with Pure's existing lines then it's about the same size as their Evoke H4. That puts it at the larger end of the scale as far as portable radios go. That being said, it's not too big, and will still fit comfortably on a side table or shelf.

The big thing to mention here is the flip-up LCD screen. This also serves to hide away some of the controls when not in use, so the radio looks a bit less cluttered. It's not the highest-resolution screen we've ever seen, but it is clear enough to show album artwork and station information clearly, and makes navigating the menu system a little easier.

All the basic controls for the Evoke Play are on the outside. You've got the volume wheel, which also acts as the power button and lets you play and pause tracks. This lights up when the radio is switched on (although you do have the option of switching this off if you'd prefer). There are four one-touch preset buttons for quick access to your favourite stations, as well a forwards and backwards button. When you've got the radio up and running, you can just flip the screen back down, and all the controls you need are still at your fingertips.

Additional controls for switching the source or going through the menus are located here underneath the screen. We won't go into great detail about what they all do, but they are relatively self-explanatory so you shouldn't have too much difficulty getting to grips with them.

Finally, there's a metal carry handle on there as well, which tucks away nicely when not in use.

Sound performance

As for sound quality, we was pretty impressed with the Evoke Play during testing. The last radios that we tested were some ones from Roberts, and while they had a bit better grasp on dynamics than this one, the Evoke Play wasn't that far behind, and it is considerably more powerful as well.

There's a single woofer in the middle, with twin tweeters either side, so it's got stereo sound and really good projection. The volume goes all the way up to 32, but during testing we only had it at about 16 and that was more than loud enough for a smaller or medium-sized living room. There is some audible distortion that starts to creep in at higher volumes, but again unless you're trying to fill a really big space you probably won't have it turned all the way up there. All in all, we really enjoyed testing this speaker, so no complaints there.

Additional features

In terms of features, the Evoke Play has your standard DAB and FM modes, as well as DAB+ compatibility as most digital radios tend to have nowadays. As mentioned earlier, the four one-touch preset buttons are really useful, as you can just turn it on and access the stations you listen to most without even having to flip up the screen. If you've got more stations you want to save then there's also an additional button which saves extra presets into a separate menu.

A bit more excitingly though, and as you'd expect for a radio at this kind of price point, the Evoke Play also has WiFi connectivity built in as well. That means you can access internet radio if you live in a DAB blackspot, or you just want to have a bit more choice with what you can listen to. While it can be a bit fiddly to browse all the stations that are available on the radio itself, if you know what you're looking for it's easy enough to find and save to the preset buttons or menu. If you do want to look through what's available, then you do have some choices of how you can browse stations as well, such as by genre or location.

There's also Spotify Connect built in as well, so you can connect up the Evoke Play and your phone to the same WiFi network and set Spotify going that way, and control it if you want. The advantage that has over Bluetooth (which this also has) is that you can set something playing on Spotify and then it's not reliant on your phone audio output, so even if you go out of range or you're playing something else on your phone, the music won't get interrupted.

There's no remote control included with the Evoke Play, but it does boast app control with a third-party software called UNDOK. Some people have found this to be a bit slow, but we found it worked fine during testing. It's also a bit more convenient to use to switch sources or stations than having to go up to the radio itself and do it through the screen.

Finally, you can also make the Evoke Play portable with the addition of a bespoke add-on battery pack, something which you can't do with the other new Evokes. However, it's worth mentioning that this battery pack is quite expensive, especially considering the initial cost of the radio, and you can't just use standard batteries. We didn't get one to test with our one, but Pure say that this will offer up to 12 hours' battery life from a single charge, which is good for a radio of this size.

Pure Evoke Play: The Verdict

So there we have it, the Pure Evoke Play. While it's a little on the expensive side, it's still a really solid performer, and we really like the new modern design that they've gone with for this.