The PURE Digital DRX-702ES covers Band III broadcasts between 170-240MHz, and all UK broadcasts fall within this frequency range. Where this tuner differs from lower-end models is in the quality of its DAC stage -- PURE engineers many of the components in these radios itself, so there's special attention to detail here.
As with all DABs, the DRX-702ES includes an auto-tune function, a range of preset options and date/time display. Unlike some lower-end DABs, there're four levels of LCD brightness, and also technical and signal quality information. Defining this radio as a professional unit, the S/PDIF stage includes Optical Toslink outputs as well as a coaxial port. There's also an optical RDI output. A USB port on the rear of the unit allows for software updates via a computer.
Those who enjoy a more intimate listening experience can plug headphones directly into the 1/4-inch 'phones socket on the front of the DRX-702ES. Standard fare for most hi-fi units, this kind of socket is exceptionally rare on DAB separates. The Denon TU-1800 DAB, for example, goes without.
The PURE Digital DRX-702ES sounds clear and rich with the mainstream DAB stations. All the BBC radio channels came across well -- certainly radio broadcasts were as clean and detailed as we've heard from other top tuners in this class. Arctic Monkeys on Radio One sounded as keen and vibrant as we've ever heard them, with good imaging and decent punch.
As we've found with other DAB separates, the DRX-702ES is not limited by its abilities to resolve broadcasts from digital into analogue, but by the inherently low bit rate of UK broadcasts. If you're looking for a future-proof DAB that delivers exceptionally good sound, this is one of the finest hi-fi radios available. It's just a shame that we couldn't really put it through its paces. At times it felt like driving a Ferrari along a dirt trail -- UK broadcasters aren't yet providing a signal that can do the DRX-702ES justice.
Audiophiles will already understand that a strong FM signal is superior to DAB, and luckily PURE has integrated a very capable FM receiver into the DRX-702ES. The quality of the FM tuner is reason enough to consider the DRX-702ES, with DAB reception as a bonus. Provided you're aware of the limitations of UK broadcasts, this radio can't fail to impress.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield