Pure Evoke-1S Marshall

This rock 'n' roll radio is the result of the second collaboration between DAB radio specialist Pure and legendary guitar amplifier brand Marshall. The new model is a revamped version of the Evoke-1XT Marshall, which was released in back in 2006.

Styled to look like one of the famous brand's amps, complete with vinyl-covered casing and the iconic logo on the speaker grille, the Evoke-1S Marshall looks awesome, but does the performance live up to the promise of its good looks?

Here at Pocket-lint, we've been rocking out with the model's predecessor for some years now, so it's easy for us to see the differences, with the new version boasting a significant selection of improvements. One of the first things you'll notice is the new OLED display, which has been designed so that it can be read easily from any angle. It's much brighter than the previous panel, and is also now fitted with a sensor that detects ambient light and adjusts the brightness accordingly. If you prefer, you can turn this off and set the brightness automatically.

Another relatively major difference is the inclusion of ChargePAK capability which means that you can use the radio with Pure's rechargable battery pack, so that you're not entirely bound to listening in the vicinity of the nearest plug socket. Pure has also included its handy textSCAN and Intellitext features, which we'll look at later on in the review.

The last major upgrade is the inclusion of an auxiliary input so that you can effectively use the radio as a speaker for an iPod or other MP3 player. In order to use this you simply need a 3.5mm jack cable to link your player up, then use the Source button to select Auxiliary (you can also use this to select FM, or go back to DAB).

Additional connections include a headphone socket, stereo out for hooking up to an external amplifier, and for rigging up the optional Marshall S-1 speaker for stereo sound, which will set you back an extra £34.99. There's also a Mini-B type USB connector for online upgrades (you can check for updates at http://support.pure.com).

As well as upping the number of station presets to 30, Pure has also made a couple of other minor design tweaks, including a repositioning of the aerial, so that the base sticks out less at the back, making the unit slightly sleeker and more compact. The power adaptor is also much smaller and far less bulky than the previous version. The volume dial has also been altered to include a clicking mechanism as you rotate it, just like the tuning dial, and when you alter the volume a handy bar-based graphic appears on the screen so it's easy to see where you are in the volume range at a glance. All the Spinal Tap fans out there will also be pleased to hear that, just like its predecessor, the new model goes up to 11.

The radio also includes an alarm to wake you up in the morning, as well as a kitchen timer, or if you want to use Pure's somewhat cooler imagery then it's "ideal for counting down until it’s time to rock!".

Changing station is a doddle, you just turn the tuning dial and with every click, a new station appears in the display and you just push the dial in to select it. By pressing the Info button, you can select what you want to display on the screen, choosing between scrolling text (the song information provided by most stations), full screen time (the time and any alarms that are set), signal strength, signal quality or ChargePAK status. 

If you want to know the name of the song you're listening to and you've missed the beginning as it scrolled past, then you can use Pure's textSCAN function to pause the text by pressing the tuning dial in and then using it to scroll backwards and forwards through the text. Pressing the dial in once more takes you back to where you were.

Also included on the Evoke-1S Marshall, is Pure's Intellitext service that enables you to look-up data from participating stations. It can be a little clunky, and you have to go through several menu screens to get there, but it can be particularly useful for breaking news, sports results and weather.

The sound quality is surprisingly strong for a unit of this size, no doubt thanks in part to the sturdy wood construction which adds a certain amount of resonance to the sonics. The radio is also equipped with a bass reflex port for boosting the lower levels, along with a custom-designed 3-inch drive unit and active filters, designed to provide a natural "direct-from-the-studio" sound.

Verdict

Although it might look like a bit of a novelty product, this radio gets a respectable score for its ease of use, sound quality and the unquestionably cool design. Make sure you check out the DAB coverage in your area before getting your wallet out though.

Initially launched exclusively at HMV, the Evoke-1S Marshall is available from selected independent retailers from September 2010.