Pure Evoke C-D6 Review

We were somewhat conflicted prior to testing the Pure Evoke C-D6. On one hand, we want to be able to recommend it – we don’t see many decent one-box systems at this price, so it would be nice if this could fill the gap. On the other, perhaps we don’t want a one-box system at this price. There’s a reason you can’t purchase a house for example. You see, conflicted.

Stout performance

Nominally, the Evoke C-D6 is a combination DAB and FM radio, CD player and Bluetooth speaker. It also has an aux input and headphone jack, room enough for 20 radio presets, and a radio/CD alarm. It’s an arsenal largely uncompromised by the price – for example, our current all-in-one Award winner, the Ruark R2 Mk3, offers more extensive streaming features, but is without a CD drive.

The Evoke C-D6’s facial symmetry, setting to its edges a pair of 7.6cm wide-range drivers, is neat, and we’re pleased to find a substantial and well-built remote (which shouldn’t be, but has become, a rarity). Inside, its digital amplifier is pushing a claimed 20W of power, so we’re expecting a performance as stout as the box itself.

We begin with a CD, The National’s High Violet. There seems to be plenty of power here – Terrible Love opens the album with its alternately plodding, then racing, rhythmic motion, and it never feels lightweight or feeble. It times well enough to make enough sense of the top of the build with its confusing, crashing percussion. We don’t get scalpel-like precision, but enough capability to be relatively pleased with what we hear.

A somewhat forward presentation also shines a light on Matt Berninger’s vocal, from which the Evoke C-D6 benefits.

His isn’t always an easy voice to render, many of the deeper harmonics lost either because a speaker can’t reach deep enough to give it full body or because it can’t separate those tones from other instruments working in the lower frequencies. But for this price, this is a decently coherent performance.

Coarse and fizzy treble

It benefits from its forward presentation mainly, however, because space-wise it is cramped. Sections with thinner arrangements – the more fragile Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks, for example – aren’t so much affected, but as textures become busier, such as in Bloodbuzz Ohio, space between instruments is compressed to become close to claustrophobic.

It leads to little discernible background detail, which is a shame given that when we plug in our headphones we can hear that the Evoke C-D6 is not incapable. This in particular may be less alarming to those who listen mostly to stripped-back arrangements or talk radio, of course.

What remains our major concern, even when listening with headphones, is the quality of the treble. The general balance is fine, we don’t find the treble to stick out because there is too much, but there is a coarseness, fizziness even, to the top end. After a short while it can become difficult to listen to – all the more so when you turn the volume up higher. This character is unchanged as we switch between radio, Bluetooth and aux input.

With a track such as Lazarus from David Bowie’s Blackstar album, for example, the snare has a relentless fizz that is difficult to get over, the saxophone is unconvincing, sounding unreal, and there’s a hard edge to Bowie’s vocal that we find incongruous, and which detracts from enjoyable listening.

Does the job, no more

So what we have here is an all-in-one which, for its price tag, is okay. If you’re expecting the sound quality of the Ruark but on the cheap, you’re out of luck. We’d suggest either upping your budget, or foregoing the one-box solution and trump both with an all-in-one system such as Denon’s Award-winning D-M40DAB.

But if is a concrete ceiling to your budget, and not being one-box is a deal breaker, the Evoke C-D6 will do the job decently, but really no better than that.

Sonically, the Pure Evoke C-D6 could be better – compromise on price or space and there are better options..

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