Archives for: January 2005, 27

Thu, 27 January 2005

Permalink 11:32:35 pm

The Bug Digital Radio Review (Pure)

Having given up on my search for a Modular Technology PCI card (£130 on ebay seemed a bit excessive) I decided to buy a Pure The Bug digital radio. It has a timer that you can set to record to an SD card, so it does essentially the same as the PCI card, plus I wouldn't have to leave my PC on to record a programme. It also allows you to pause and rewind live radio.

It's solidly built, quite large, but not excessively so, and has a design that grows on you. Before it arrived I was a little unsure whether I would like the rather unusual shape, but it doesn't look out of place.

When you first switch it on it auto-tunes to find the available stations, then you're away. I live in a bit of a dead spot for FM, but am able to get all of the BBC stations at 100% signal quality and a number of others at between 70-90%.

Apart from a brief play with another Pure model at Christmas, this was my first real experience of digital radio. First impressions were that it sounded good, comparable to the quality of a portable CD player. Certainly not hi-fi, but I wasn't expecting that from a radio with two small speakers.

Then I tried it through headphones >:(. It sounds absolutely appalling. There is a constant background hiss even with the sound paused (not disimilar to the hiss on the iRiver mp3 player I had) plus what I can only describe as a growling sound. It doesn't make any difference which station you're tuned to, so it's not being broadcast, nor is it interference as it's the same anywhere in the house. It's also independent of the volume the radio is set to, which suggests it's a poor quality amplifier at fault. Once I'd heard it through headphones and knew the background sound was there, I was also able to hear it through the speakers.

There are three possibilities - either the radio is faulty, the model wasn't tested properly or Pure know it's there, but have decided not to do anything about it. When I speak to Pure technical support tomorrow, if it's anything other than a faulty unit it's going straight back for a refund.

**UPDATE 28/01/05**
It seems I'm not the only one to have noticed the problem with background noise. I've just found this forum post that describes exactly the same thing. This doesn't make me very confident that I've just got a faulty unit.

**UPDATE 30/01/05**
Spoke to Pure Technical Support. They said that a certain amount of background hiss is to be expected (so bear this in mind if you plan to listen through headphones) due to the amplifier, but there shouldn't be any other sound. It's being replaced next week, but I'm not holding out much hope the new one will be any better.

Pure The Bug Digital Radio

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