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Published on November 1st, 2011 | by Greg


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.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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