To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Pure DiscovR review: Alexa goes mobile

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £230
inc VAT

Pure’s first attempt at a smart speaker is feature-rich and well-designed – but is it worth the hefty price?


  • Smartly designed
  • Brimming with useful features


  • Too expensive
  • Disappointing sound quality

By industry standards, audio tech manufacturer Pure is something of a veteran. Despite its pedigree in internet and DAB radios, however, the firm’s Pure DiscovR is its first-ever voice-controlled smart speaker.

With a stylish design and features to spare, the Pure DiscovR sits comfortably at the premium end of the smart speaker spectrum. What remains to be seen, however, is whether the brushed metal chassis and unique speaker housing hide a sound that’s worth the hefty price of admission.

READ NEXT: Amazon Echo (2nd gen) review

Pure DiscovR review: What you need to know

Pure’s first attempt at a smart speaker looks pretty decent on paper. With support for Amazon Alexa (but not the Google Assistant), the DiscovR will respond to your voice and interact with any other Alexa-compatible devices just like an Echo speaker. You can play your Spotify library via Spotify Connect or use AirPlay 2 to stream music to it the Apple way. The DiscovR also connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth or 3.5mm cable.

Where the compact Pure DiscovR differs from an Echo 2 or Echo Plus is that it has a built-in 2,500mAh rechargeable battery, which means you can pick it up and carry it around the house or into the garden without having to find a mains socket.

Pure DiscovR review: Price and competition

You do pay for this privilege, however. At £230, it sits among such vaunted company as the Sonos One (at £200), Riva Concert (at £200) and smart display Amazon Echo Show 2 (at £220). For an extra £50, you’ll find Apple’s HomePod, or the Libratone Zipp 2 (both at £280) but otherwise, the fiercest competition comes from below; namely, Amazon’s ever-popular Echo 2 (£90) and the Google Home (£130).

Drop the smart speaker features and the competition is even more fierce, with the JBL Charge 3 (£130), Bose Soundlink Revolve (£200) and Ultimate Ears Megablast (£270) among our favourites.

Buy now from Pure

Pure DiscovR review: Design and features

The question this raises, then, is a simple one: can Pure’s do-it-all smart speaker prove itself worthy of the cost? At first glance, the answer to that question is a resounding yes; Pure has built a smart speaker that looks very smart indeed.

Its squat square enclosure is made of matte aluminium with a non-slip rubber base and is softened by heavily rounded edges. Encased within is the speaker housing itself, which rises smoothly from its aluminium shell when you push down hard (like, really hard) on the top panel.

It’s without a doubt one of the more pleasing speaker designs I’ve encountered and it’s not just for show. Pushing the speaker housing back into the device manually disconnects the microphone, preventing Alexa from listening, as well as switching the speaker itself off. My only (small) complaint is that it would be better if it were motorised and remotely controllable.

The controls for the DiscovR sit on top of the speaker housing and offer a bewildering number of touch-sensitive buttons for those who prefer not to be vocal with their audio equipment. From this panel, you can: mute the mic; play/pause/skip tracks; adjust the volume; select the input source; activate Alexa without the wake word; and set up to four presets for quick access to your favourite playlists, stations or commands. For a smart speaker, where physical controls are usually limited, that’s impressive.

You can also activate the ‘Discovery’ feature, which is something of a party piece. Whack the star-shaped button while the radio is playing and the DiscovR will take note of the song and add it to a Spotify playlist. It’s by no means essential but it does reduce the likelihood of you missing a catchy tune simply because you didn’t hear the artist name or track title. 

To make the most of this expansive feature set, you’ll need to download the accompanying Pure DiscovR app and connect the necessary accounts (Spotify and Amazon Music are both compatible). You’ll also need the Alexa app to make full use of Amazon’s virtual assistant. With AirPlay 2 also being an option, it almost seems a shame that Pure didn’t cover every base with Google Assistant support.

Potentially the biggest draw here, however, is the fact that the DiscovR has a battery. The speaker will last up to a claimed 15 hours on a single charge, which ought to open up a wealth of portable possibilities. 

The big missing feature is certified waterproofing. This means, although you can use it out and about, you need to be careful when exposing it to the elements. In addition, disconnecting the DiscovR from a solid internet connection will limit its functionality considerably, turning this £230 smart speaker into a Bluetooth-only boombox. 

You could use your phone as a mobile hotspot and connect the speaker to the internet that way but the speaker can’t store more than one wireless network at a time. Every time you switch networks, you have to run through the setup routine, which is a pain.  

In short, the DiscovR is great for a patio-centric barbecue in balmy weather or, perhaps more realistically, carrying around your house as you go about your daily routine. For a rugged portable speaker, look elsewhere.

Buy now from Pure

Pure DiscovR review: Sound quality

The DiscovR is laden with features but there’s no avoiding the fact that the primary function of a speaker is to play music. In that department, surprisingly, the DiscovR falters. For its size, it goes admirably loud and it’s easily capable of filling a living room or kitchen. Volume, however, isn’t everything.

In layman’s terms, the Pure DiscovR is well suited to small rooms and mid volumes. It will fill a room with noise, but you might not like what you hear. My biggest issue is that the DiscovR sounds too bright, with an overpoweringly strong treble response that dominates at both low and high volumes. The bass is impressively punchy for a speaker so small but the overall effect, at normal volumes, is the audio equivalent of a sandwich with too little filling.

Moreover, compared with a more technically accomplished speaker such as the Apple HomePod the DiscovR sounds cheap, which is frankly a bit worrying for a product that costs only £50 less than Apple’s own smart speaker.

In fact, the DiscovR sounds more or less indistinguishable from JBL’s Charge 3 Bluetooth speaker, which for £100 less offers better protection from the elements, albeit with none of the Pure’s smart features.

READ NEXT: Google Home review

Pure DiscovR review: Voice control and app support

Alexa support brings with it the usual flurry of convenient features. You can control your smart home, hear the news or weather and set alarms, timers or reminders; in short, the Pure DiscovR can do most of what other Echo speakers can. The only difference is that you can’t make calls or take advantage of Amazon’s handy intercom-like Drop In facility.

In truth, though, Pure’s smart speaker is discreetly hoping you’ll opt for a more hands-on approach. You can set up four quick access Alexa commands on each of the four mappable ‘corner’ buttons located on top of the speaker; saving a favourite playlist or radio station is effortless to do and will keep you from feeling like a fool, especially if yelling through the din of your music isn’t an option.

Incidentally, the Pure DiscovR proved adept at picking up vocal commands from the opposite side of the room, although it struggles more than its Amazon or Apple competitors to pick up commands while music is playing. 

There’s another reason the DiscovR has so many device-mounted controls. The Pure app is sparse, to say the least, serving mostly as a means by which to set up the DiscovR and maintain a connection between speaker, smartphone and external apps. You can, of course, adjust the volume and check the battery life but don’t expect to spend any time fiddling with equalisers or browsing built-in playlists.

Having said that, the setup procedure is simple and speedy, and the app itself is seemingly designed to present no challenges, although I did find it annoying that I had to briefly rescan for the DiscovR speaker every time I started the app.

Pure DiscovR review: Verdict

It’s hard to know what to make of Pure’s first smart speaker. No amount of new-fangled voice-assistant support can mask the fact that Pure is a DAB radio manufacturer first and foremost. Bristling with physical controls as it is, it feels like the DiscovR is almost hoping to convert old-fashioned consumers who remain sceptical of smart speakers, rather than providing a serious alternative to Amazon’s Echo speakers and others.

And the DiscovR might have done a decent job of it, too, were it not for the uninspiring sound quality and unreasonable price. It’s well-made and brimming with features, giving Alexa legs in the form of portability, and in that respect it’s almost worth the £230. The DiscovR is a speaker first and foremost, however, and in that regard it simply doesn’t deserve the price tag.

Buy now from Pure

Read more