PURE HIGHWAY 600 In-Car DAB, Bluetooth and Hands-Free adapter review

What do PURE Highway adapters do?

PURE has been a leading UK designer and manufacturer of quality digital radio products for a while now, but they also sell a range of Highway in-car adapters that allow you to easily access to dozens of DAB/DAB+ radio stations, stream your music wirelessly via Bluetooth, as well as hands-free calling from your phone. A couple of really clever features include allowing the systems to directly recognize and add songs straight from the radio into your Spotify playlist (very cool), and even use your smartphone’s voice assistant (Siri, OK Google, Alexa, Cortana etc).

In a nutshell, PURE Highway adapters bring your car in from the dark ages of a few crackly FM radio stations, CDs and tape cassettes to the present day of being able to play the thousands of songs on your phone or Spotify account, listen to your favorite digital radio stations, make and receive phone calls, and even utilize the voice assistant on your phone!

The PURE Highway range

There are three Highway in-car adapters (prices correct October 2018):

  • Highway 200 is the base model of the three and allows access to DAB and DAB+ digital radio stations, has 20 station presets, and has an aux-in so you can play music from any compatible device. Digital stations are accessed by tuning into an unused FM frequency (the instructions show you how to do this), which the unit uses as a carrier for the DAB stations. UK Price: £79.99
  • Highway 400 is the mid-range, and as well as the above also includes a Go Button (download the ‘Pure Go’ app for free) which identifies songs and adds them to your playlist, Bluetooth for your music, use of the Personal Assistant feature on your phone, and Spotify Control to access your Spotify Premium account directly. You can use either the FM transmitter or the included AUX-in line, should your car have one. UK price: £139.99
  • Highway 600 has all of the above, but adds Bluetooth hands-free calling as well. UK price: £159.99

How to fit a Pure Highway adapter

I was sent the Pure highway 600 adapter, and was assured that it was very simple and quick to install. And indeed I found it was a fairly straightforward process. You don’t need any electrical or technical know-how to do this, and the instructions are basic and easy to follow.

As well as an instruction booklet, PURE also provide a good quality installation video for each of their devices, which I’ll show here. A piece of advice I will give is to make sure you do not run the wires across areas where airbags are situated. Run them underneath or next to the airbag storage area, but never across the airbag or trim piece hiding the airbag.

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I would also be very careful when installing the antenna box, as I found that when fiddling with the magnetic grounding tail to get it situated, the top of the antenna box popped off. It clips back together with no issues, but you could end up breaking the clips if you’re a bit heavy-handed.

  • How to install PURE Highway 200

 

  • How to install a PURE Highway 400 & Highway 600

My PURE Highway 600 review video

Overall thoughts

The car I was fitting the Highway 600 adapter to was a 2001 Lexus LS430; a luxury car quite advanced for its year, and with a Mark Levinson sound system begging to have some quality music played through the high-grade speakers. However, it lacked an auxiliary port and while I have the odd CD knocking about, I was restricted to FM radio stations and a tape deck. I guarantee some readers of this article won’t even have used a tape player before, nevermind CDs.

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In order to bring my car up to date, I gave PURE a call and they graciously sent across their Highway 600 unit, which it now absolutely has by giving me access to as much as a high-quality, expensive touchscreen system would, including:

  • All the music/audiobooks etc on my smartphone and via a Spotify Premium account.
  • Use of the Siri personal assistant on my phone (works with Android etc too) for a whole load of features.
  • Every DAB/DAB+ digital radio station.
  • Bluetooth for hands-free phone calls.
  • The ability to recognise music and save the track straight to a list on Spotify and the PURE Go app.

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Money-wise, I think the Highway range are worth what PURE ask. When I first saw the prices I initially thought at 400 and 600 models were expensive. However, when you factor in the sheer amount of features you’re gaining and then compare that to the price of a good touchscreen system (£300 – £700), you’re paying a lot less for almost the same amount of features. Factor into that that you can leave your interior totally original and easily take the Highway out of one car and install it in another, and it makes even more sense.

I really like the look of the Highway adapters. The contemporary styling will suit any car interior, while the controls and their layout are fittingly ergonomic, allowing easy use with minimal distraction to the driver.

 

I found the back-lit displayed words/characters on the screen are large and sharp enough to be read with ease, even when I’d fitted the unit lower down on my centre console (which was the only place I could sit the mount). The system as a whole is clearly well made using good components, as is clear by the thickness of the cables for the power and aerial.

After testing the Highway 600 for a few weeks, here are my thoughts on the good points and the ‘needs improvement’ areas:

Good points

  • The Highway 600 kit is of very good quality overall, and clearly not some cheaply-made product.
  • The installation process is easy and straightforward, you don’t need to be tech-savvy to fit it.
  • I like that you can keep your interior completely original, and move it to another car should you sell that one.
  • Usability is simple for the most part, and the control layout is ergonomically designed for minimal driver distraction.
  • I like that you can easily remove the Highway 600 unit from its mount for security.
  • It picks up a huge list of DAB stations incredibly easily and quickly retunes for regional stations.
  • Callers told me that the microphone picked up my voice clearly and cleanly even when speaking at normal volume at higher driving speeds.
  • Being able to use the smartphone Personal Assistant feature is one of my favourite points, and I love that it will identify songs at the touch of a button and automatically save them to Spotify. Brilliant.
  • You can transfer the Highway kit between cars quite easily, but you’ll need new backing pads for the aerial and unit mount.

 

Needs to improve on…

  • If your car hasn’t got an AUX-in port, you’ll have to play DAB stations and your device’s songs through Bluetooth via the FM station. Unfortunately, this means that the sound system’s tones will flatten badly. I had to push the treble setting to maximum and lower the mid tones right off to get a decent balance, but even then it was still a little off. Using my phone I used the EQ setting to get a better sound, but this can’t be done for the DAB stations. If you like your tones to be as good as possible, this will irk you somewhat, unless you have an aux-in port. However, I’ve used other DAB/BT adapters before and they’ve all suffered from the same issue.
  • When fitting it, the aerial box is a little flimsy and the casing came apart when I was getting it into position, so be careful. PURE could rectify this with some stronger clips within the casing to stop this happening.
  • The Pure Go feature is free for the first 12 months, but after that you have to pay a subscription for it. Annoying, if  you’re already paying for Spotify Premium too.
  • You can only update the system via a Windows computer. If (like me) you use Apple Macs, you’re going to have to use someone else’s computer.

Visit the PURE.com website to purchase any of the Highway models, and read more car-related product and gadget reviews here!

Do you have a PURE Highway adapter, or want to ask me a question about it,  feel free to comment using the form below this article!

Words: Chris Davies | Images: Chris Davies

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