Pure Evoke F4 review
Pure has been producing internet-enabled DAB radios for years, but its latest device – the Pure Evoke F4 – heads off in a slightly different direction. It introduces multiroom audio, in a similar vein to Sonos’ range of wireless audio devices, for the first time.
Once the radio is connected to a wireless network, it’s possible to synchronise music playback with compatible Pure devices, such as the new Jongo S3 wireless speaker or Sensia 200D, for instance. Dubbed Pure Stream, it’s a simple system that works well: to discover other Pure devices on your network, simply press the touch-sensitive P button on the front. The radio will scan for connected devices and allow you play music through them simultaneously.
Tweaking the volume knob on the front of the Evoke F4 controls the volume of all linked devices, and you can stream tracks from USB sticks connected to the port at the rear, network music servers and the Pure Connect service, which delivers internet radio and an ingenious Shazam-style track recognition service.
Pure Stream also opens the way to Wi-Fi remote control. Download the Android or iOS Pure Connect apps, and you’ll be able to browse music and internet radio stations on your mobile device and “send” them to the Evoke F4, and other connected Pure devices. You can control the volume of each device individually or all of them simultaneously.
The Pure Evoke F4 is a radio of many talents, but they don’t end at multiroom audio. You can use Bluetooth (via a bundled dongle) to play music to it directly and record radio to external USB storage. It has alarm and kitchen timer facilities, an optional rechargeable battery and decent sound quality for a single-speaker radio – full-bodied and with plenty of detail at the top end, although it isn’t loud enough to really annoy the neighbours.
We have some reservations. Despite having both FM and DAB radio tuners, it can’t stream these types of audio to other devices, and Pure Stream itself is proprietary, and limited to Pure devices only. The interface is horribly sluggish: browsing a network server with thousands of tracks on it is a real pain, as is searching through thousands of internet radio stations. The only improvement over its predecessor in this respect is the fact that turning the Evoke F4 on and off requires only a single dab, instead of the old (and incredibly infuriating) one tap, then confirm.
We also encountered the odd freeze and crash while navigating through track lists. There’s still no facility to pause and rewind radio, or to schedule recordings. It would also be nice to be able to use other streaming services – as it stands, you’re restricted to the £5-per-month 7digital-powered Pure Music, which is no match for Spotify.
The Pure Evoke F4 certainly covers a lot of bases, and its ability to deliver multiroom music streaming, internet radio, DAB radio and FM is unmatched. However, it’s pricey, the interface is sluggish and to make the most of its multiroom abilities you need to buy into the Pure way of doing things. We’d prefer it to be a little more open.