Published on November 1st, 2011 | by Greg0
Audio Week: PURE’s Sexy Contour Radio Dock
November has arrived. Snow has fallen across much of the northeastern United States. Halloween has come and gone- as we were finalizing this piece, listening to today’s sexy piece of gear, kids kept asking for candy. And the Day of the Dead, All Saints Day, leers at us from across the divide. Which means that it’s definitely the season to start making those lists, and we’ll keep reminding you. Today’s product is perfect for the father or husband who loves gadgets, or the mother or wife who could use an attractive docking radio.
The PURE Contour looks great, but there is plenty under the surface as well. Some fun features immediately are apparent- the pop-out docking stand, for one. Others are hidden under the hood, where you’ll find digital, FM, and internet radio. There are even several outputs that allow you to get video off of your iDevice (iPod Touch of iPhone most likely), and connect to a display using component, S-video, or composite cables (not included). No HDMI, but we didn’t really miss it- we don’t often watch videos using our Apple phones and personal media players as the source.
Setting up the Contour is pretty simple- it requires power, and isn’t portable, but that’s the case with most stationary docks. No ethernet port is built-in (an accessory is available), but we typically setup through wireless anyway (802.11B or G, no N). Doing so was easy, except for the common issue of entering your password without a real keyboard. Like many networked docks, you can access your music library thanks to a streaming server that runs on your computer. Installing it was straight forward on a PC, since it’s actually a version of Twonky, dubbed Flow. Unlike the Squeezebox series and other competitors though, the Contour doesn’t offer support for most of the major services today. We were disappointed and dismayed to find Pandora, Spotify, and Last.FM missing- we handle most of our streaming media through those excellent apps (Rdio and Slacker are also good, and also missing).
Instead, what you get is something different: what they call The Lounge, an online service for discovering internet radio stations. In the UK, this connects to an interesting system that allows you to immediately purchase something you hear on the radio; sadly, this is not yet available in America. We saw the PURE line of audio gear at CES, and were impressed- the styling and build quality are definitely top-notch, and about the only thing we didn’t end up liking were the controls. A remote is included, helpfully, but was a bit cheap-feeling and limited in functionality. The on-board controls were touch sensitive, and could vary between sluggish and awkward, sometimes not registering our commands.
Finally, we’d be remiss to ignore audio quality. Considering the size of the unit, we had hoped for something closer to the Zeppelin or even Zeppelin Mini, our favorite docks for pure sound quality. Instead, we got decent mids and bass, but fairly underwhelming treble, especially as we pushed output volume higher and hit distortion. The soundstage was oddly limited, a bit lacking in depth, though we did like the clear and crisp percussion on electronic music. At 36W RMS, you can pack a small room with this, but probably not a party.
The PURE Contour is good looking, offers plenty of outputs, and has a couple of intriguing features. In our opinion, the price isn’t quite justified though- at $329 online, we had higher hopes for more impressive sound or support for independent services.