Ruark Audio R4 Mk3 Quick Review

Ruark Audio R4 Mk3 Quick Review

Thanks to Ruark for the loaner.

Brief:  Ruark’s box of wonders.

Price:  £650 which is circa US$915

Specifications:  • 2 x 3.5 in custom high-fidelity drivers, • 4.0 in sub woofer, • Tuned bass reflex cabinet, • 80w nominal power output, • Enhanced 3D sound processor, • DAB*, DAB+* and FM tuner with RDS, • Removable DAB/FM aerial with F-Type connector, • Security slot, • OLED display, • Full function remote control, • MP3, WMA, AAC – see www.ruarkaudio.com/support, for further details on supported formats, Inputs and outputs, • A2DP, aptX Bluetooth, • Front Aux audio input – 3.5mm stereo jack, • Rear Aux audio input – stereo RCA/phono, • Line out audio output – line level stereo RCA/phono, • 3.5mm headphone output, • USB 2.0 playback, 5W (5V 1A) output, • Input power 100-240VAC, 50-60Hz 1.5A max, • Dimensions: 440x250x125mm (17.3×9.8×4.9 ins), • Weight: 6.7kg (14.8 lbs)

Accessories:  Err, the remote control.

Build Quality:  Most pleasing.  It’s a nice object to the touch, its solid, firmly constructed and it looks rather nice too.

Aesthetics:  I’m not wowed with the white one but it’s still pleasant, the walnut one though does look rather lovely in pics.  I’m sure most will agree it’s a pleasing to look at device.

Sound:   Errrrr, erm, well lest just start by saying that the R4 Mk3 is a convergence device.  A compromise device, it’s not all about audio quality above all else and thusly you only get a capable audio output.  It’s restrained by the lack of stereo separation, a real tweeter and what they call a “sub woofer.”  Yeah, that “sub” has a 4 inch driver inside a teeny tiny enclosure so while it may spit forth a tremendous output for its diminutive proportions lets not think for a second that it’s a real sub.  For sure it’ll spank the living daylights out of whatever your silly flat panel TV can do.  Side by side, the R4 and any flat TV, they aren’t on the same planet in terms of abilities but it’s not going to be challenging a real Home theatre set up.  However, you know what, it’s not trying to be that.  The R4 is a little bit of everything.  To my eyes it’s just perfect to sit below the TV in some boutique hotel room.  Optical in the back from the TV and you’ll get a pretty convincing movie watching experience.  Same for a bedroom, minimalist living room or of an indulgently extravagant guest bedroom.  Not only can produce a pleasing clarity and depth to films it’ll happily play back music too.  Something discrete for a quiet dinner party yet can crank up the volume after opening bottle of wine number 5.  Sure next to dedicated home theatre or grown up Hi-Fi its compromises can be glaring but simply put, the R4 MK3 is a nice, little bit of everything, in a nice little package.

Value:  Its expensive yes but it’s a nice little bundle.  Sure you could get something better at any particular aspect for the money but the point of the R4 is that it’s a little bit of everything.

Pro’s:  Diminutive.  Crowd pleasing lower end output.  Connectively versatile. “Jack of all trades.”

Con’s:  Low end lacks discipline.  Wallet ouchy.  “Master of none.”

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