At the launch of digital radio 18 months ago, conversations about which radio to buy began and ended with Pure. But in the intervening time some strong contenders have sprung up, particularly in the form of Grundig.
With a casual glance at the Pure One Flow, you might surmise that the company has simply taken an old product — the One Classic — and bunged a new screen on it. But no; it's more extensive than that.
Design and features
The Pure One Flow may have a familiar design, but there are some significant improvements on the original DAB+/FM radio. The One Flow boasts two main features over the Classic: a networked media player and internet radio. The One Flow connects to your network using onboard Wi-Fi and supports several streaming formats including MP3, AAC (non-Lossless), WMA (standard V9), MP2 and Real Audio.
The One Flow housing is roughly the same size as the first, but it has a slightly different finish which is silky to the touch instead of rubbery. It feels very chic. But the biggest change is the new 128 x 64 pixel LCD display, which gives four-plus lines of text instead of two.
Below the screen is a selection of five buttons, including Home and Back buttons, which are used to navigate on-screen menus. Compared with the seven small buttons on the Classic, it's much easier to use. Below these are two knobs with a detented, notchy feel that are used for Volume and Select. Due to the provision of context-sensitive buttons, adding favourite stations is easy whether it's internet radio, DAB+ or FM. Using the One Flow is a joy thanks to the sensible arrangement of menus, which comes especially in handy when using the Media Player, where you can quickly navigate the media lists on your networked machines.
The only less successful part of the system is the "search" function, which only allows browsing by genre/country/name when listening to radio. Searching for specific terms when connected to a server in Media Player mode is possible but we found it usually returns zero results.
The Flow boasts a bigger sound driver than the Classic (3.5-inches versus 3-inches) and this should translate to a better bass response. Other improvements appear to include lower power consumption and a more sensitive tuner. With the two radios sitting side-by-side we found that the Flow had five bars of digital radio coverage while the Classic had two. Moving to sit next to the devices demonstrated this further when the Classic cut out completely but the Flow kept receiving.
Connections include a headphone jack, a 3.5mm input and a mini-USB for firmware updates.
While the One Classic wasn't a slouch in the sound quality department, the One Flow is so much better it's almost embarrassing. The Flow boasts a sound which is more contained in the mid-range, but offers a fuller bass response and crisper highs. The Classic may have a greater sense of ambience but next to Flow it simply sounds woolly.
While classical and voices are particularly intimate, the One Flow deftly avoids exposing the soft underbelly of DAB+ transmissions — the sometimes harsh treble of excessive compression. Sound quality is punchy and particularly good on talk stations.
If you're looking at a One Flow to get your party started you may want to rethink your purchase, though: this is no volume monster. While it will happily fill a kitchen with sound, it's best when supplying background music due to a low 2.5W output. While we didn't have a problem with radio playback it seems that the Media Player runs sound a little hotter. We found the response could become a little disjointed with dynamic music like Mastadon's Blood and Thunder, audibly distorting at the highest volume.
A suite of useful upgrades, including a media player and internet radio, for the same price as the old radio was? That sounds like a good deal to us. The Pure One Flow also promises to deliver music purchasing in the next couple of months which makes the package even sweeter.