Pure Digital Avanti Flow internet radio and iPod speaker
Pure's DAB/Wi-Fi line-up gets iPod friendly
Review Rather than seeing this product as a beefed up DAB/Internet radio, it's far more accurate to view Pure Digital's Avanti Flow as a micro hi-fi system for the internet age. Its iPod dock and media streaming capabilities - there's no CD player - means the player is firmly aimed at an audience that has fully embraced the online world, but wants an attractive tabletop unit to play their music.
The Avanti delivers all of its functionality in an easy to use and effective way, so once set up, you'll be likely to use all the features rather than forgetting a third of what the product can do after the first flush of ownership is past. It also delvers a genuinely impressive level of sound reproduction.
First impressions out of the box are good. The gloss black finish coupled with the metallic silver flashes on the main driver unit grilles give the unit a very attractive appearance. The Avanti really looks like it means business. Picking the machine up, you'll find the Avanti seems very solid and the build quality feels of a good standard.
Attention to detail is underlined by the fact that the unit comes in a rather nice soft drawstring bag to make sure it can be transported its attractive livery without being scratched. There are also durable rubber feet to give the Avanti a solid and non-slip platform to work from. The same rubberised texture has been applied to the underside of the remote so it won't slide around on fashionable glass tables.
DAB - Band III and L-Band - set-up is quick but powerful. The Avanti has reception abilities - on FM mode too - beyond most portable systems, picking up stations that weren't spotted by other DAB radios tested in exactly the same location. The unit has a large, yellow and black OLED display which sits above metallic buttons. Further controls are sited on the top of the unit, and are all clearly labeled for easy access to every one of the unit’s capabilities. The remote can control all of the machines features too.
Ready to rock
The display also scrolls up, rather than from right to left as is the case on most other DAB devices. The Avanti way is actually far easier to read and feels far more natural.
Internet radio vs DAB quality
After writing 2 paragraphs describing the audio quality on DAB, how come Internet radio only received this measly, rather sneering sentence?:
"Bit rates can be an issue, but the Avanti presented internet radio in perhaps the best quality we've yet heard from this type of unit."
I take it you're not aware that around 95 UK commercial radio stations (i.e. ones on DAB and/or FM), including most of the biggest commercial stations, are using 128 kbps WMA or MP3 for their Internet radio streams, and the BBC has recently launched 96 kbps WMA streams for its national stations that are specifically for Wi-Fi connected devices? Both 96 WMA and 128 kbps WMA or MP3 provide significantly (96k WMA) or far (128k) higher audio quality than 128 kbps DAB due to DAB's use of the 1980s-designed MP2 audio codec? There's also over 4,000 Internet radio stations on Shoutcast that use bit rates of 128 kbps or above with the MP3 or AAC+ audio codecs.
Also, in a previous review of a DAB radio that could also playback MP3 files via SD card, you claimed that DAB sounded better than MP3. Considering that MP3 is a far better audio codec than MP2, could you explain how DAB could sound better than MP3? If DAB really did sound better than MP3 files, your MP3 files must sound absolutely dire, in which case, I suggest you start encoding your MP3 files using the Lame MP3 encoder rather than whichever 1990s-vintage MP3 encoder you seem to be using at the moment, or use a bit rate higher than about 80 kbps, which is the MP3 bit rate that provides approx equivalent audio quality to 128 kbps MP2 used for DAB stations - i.e. at the bit rates that people typically use MP3 at (128 to 192 is typical, but a lot of people use higher than that today) to encode their own files, MP3 absolutely murders DAB in terms of audio quality.
"The Logik IR100 which I have, works great, but after 15 feet it loses the will to chat to my broadband router. Any review for Roberts 201/202 or the Pure Evoke Flow fail to say whats how far removed from the router will the Wi-Fi reception work."
I can vouch for the Pure Evoke Flow and Roberts WM201 and WM202 all working about 20 feet or so from my wireless router, and the signal has to travel through at least 2 walls to get to the Wi-Fi radio.
The Roberts WM201 is probably going to be the best in terms of range, because it uses an external Wi-Fi antenna, whereas the others, including the Pure Avanti no doubt, use an internal antenna.
I wonder how hard this was actually tested?
I bought one of these just before Christmas and my experience was very poor. The DAB radio reception was awful, and if I put a Pure Bug or Pure One next to it, it was obviously not right as they were clear as crystal and the Avanti Flow burbled horribly.
There is no manual in the box, and the enclosed setup guide fails to mention that the password for your router is case sensitive. When it fails authentication, it doesn't say that, it just switches to saying axquiring IP address, which, of course, it can't get. So that times out. The fixed IP address option simply doesn't work as you can't change the settings (the menu is broken).
It refused to talk to any of 3 uPNP servers I offered it, so the wireless streaming didn't work and then to cap it all off, my The Lounge account couldn't be activated because it didn't send me an e-mail. If you don't get that e-mail then you can't do anything. So you can't edit the account (if the entered e-mail address was wrong say? And without that e-mail you can't download the PC streaming software so all in, it just didn't work for me as a digital music device at all.
And downloading the manual didn't help either. So it went back to the place I got it from, and hopefully they will refund me. Pure support were next to useless, and they blamed a backlog of complaints over Christmas for why they failed to respond to any e-mails from teh shop that sold me the unit. That suggests to me I wasn't the only unhappy customer who bought a Pure unit over Christmas.
0/10 from me.
A lot better than the LG FA163 DAB?
Lewis, you also reviewed the LG FA163DAB. Is the sound produced by the Pure Digital Avanti Flow far better than the LG, as in worth the extra £100?
Lack of presets
It it's anything like our Pure DMX hi-fi, the deficit of presets on FM is no big deal. The device scans for FM and DAB stations when initially set up, so it's dead easy to select them with the jog wheel or whatever - and UI behaviour is identical whether DAB or FM from then on. Presets are only really shortcuts to favourites, and it's really not been worth our while setting them up.