Every so often, you come across a product that ticks every box. This is one of those times. At around £140, the PURE Digital Evoke Mio DAB radio with FM tuner isn't cheap, especially when you consider what you can get on a supermarket's electrical shelves. Nor is it feature-packed when you stand it alongside its siblings, the Evoke-3 or Evoke Flow. What your money buys you, though, is quality: a powerful tuner, an attractive case and a great speaker that does your listening material justice. Try as we might, we can't find anything substantial to dislike.
How old is this radio? Five years? Fifteen? It could have been around for 50 years, but it would still be a beauty, wrapped in suede and polished leather, which lend it an ageless charm. It looks good, it feels good and it can give Roberts' retro range a run for its money. The handle, which arches gracefully over the top, is also encased in leather, which means it doesn't have the ability to act as a touch-sensitive snooze control, unlike with many of the other machines in PURE Digital's Evoke range. That small point aside, the leather handle adds enormously to the radio's overall appeal.
It may have old-world appeal on the outside, but, under the hood, the Mio is no technological slouch. It has twin tuners for FM and DAB, both of which are strong and steady, picking up an impressive array of stations and holding them without a flicker of interference as we moved the radio around the house. Around the back, you'll find line-in and headphone sockets, alongside stereo-out.
The Mio runs on mains power or can use PURE Digital's own battery ChargePAK. This is an optional extra on other sets, costing a not inconsiderable £35, but the Mio is the first radio with which Pure ships it as a standard component. It provides up to 24 hours of mobile listening on a full charge and tops itself up every time you plug the radio in for listening via the mains. With stats like this, it's little wonder that the Mio has won accreditation from the Energy Saving Trust.
The two-line screen looks small and pokey at first, particularly when you've got used to the generous displays on, for example, the Flow, but PURE's decision to use OLED technology instead of a standard backlit LCD pays dividends. The on-screen information is far more legible, gliding smoothly across the second line of the display rather that hopping along letter by letter. The result is that you actually want to read it.
Five buttons on the front of the Mio give you direct access to your favourite presets, with a '6+' button, like the '5+' one found on the Philips AE5200, effectively giving you access to 25 more, split however you choose between FM and DAB. In this respect, the Mio beats the more expensive but also appealing Tivoli Model DAB, which has just five buttons and no 'shift' key. For more prolific, less loyal listeners, the Mio is certainly the better choice.
The Mio's sound quality is excellent. It's one of the best-sounding medium-form-factor radios we've tested. There's no equaliser beyond DRC (dynamic range control), a digital-only process that enhances quieter sounds against loud backgrounds. It doesn't really matter though. We tuned through a wide range of stations looking for a weak spot, but the Mio demonstrated an impressive range throughout, with deep, satisfying bass, detailed treble and attention to the mid-tones that serves spoken output well.
There's a built-in alarm that's both flexible and smart. Most radios restrict your options to hours and minutes, but you can set this one to sound daily, on weekdays, on weekends, Saturdays, Sundays or only once. You can wake up to DAB, FM or a tone at 32 different levels of volume, depending on how deeply you sleep. There's also a timer, which explains why PURE Digital classes the Mio as a kitchen radio. Set it for anything between a minute and a day and it alerts you when the time's up, using a tone so that it still works if you're tuned to a station.
If you think a radio should be a feast for the eyes as well as the ears, then your choice is really between the PURE Digital Evoke Mio and a retro Roberts Revival RD-60. For our money, the Mio just has the edge when it comes to sound quality. It impresses on every front, and the inclusion of the 24-hour ChargePAK is a hugely welcome bonus.
Edited by Charles Kloet