In a world where even routers can double up as an audio streamer, where does the Ruark Audio R2 Mk4 stand?
The R2 Mk4 is not quite like other streamers–it doesn’t support AirPlay or Chromecast, and there’s no voice assistant feature. So what is it exactly?
In many ways, the R2 Mk4 is the stereo version of the Ruark R1 Mk4, a modern radio, and should be viewed accordingly. The Scandinavian-inspired design fits perfectly with most modern homes and is perfect for shelves and windowsills.
The subtly-contoured polymer enclosure is fronted by a glass panel and slatted wood grilles that have been painstakingly cut by hand from a single 4mm slab of wood. The colour LCD screen is bonded to the front glass like smartphone displays to reduce reflections, adding a touch of class. The LCD displays time, alarm, and programme information, including station and album artwork, and will automatically adjust screen brightness according to ambient light levels.
To top it off, Ruark’s signature RotoDial controller adds plenty of retro-modern vibes–intuitive controls under the guise of vintage aesthetics. It’s one of the rare occasions where form and function are in perfect sync. Alternatively, you can control the R2 Mk4 with an optional compact IR remote or the UNDOK app for smartphones.
With its tasteful design and user-friendly interface, the R2 Mk4 can be placed almost anywhere in homes, such as on a windowsill or bookshelf, and it will always look impeccable.
The R2 supports traditional FM Radio, Internet Radio, and DAB though we do not have any active stations here. It also supports Spotify Connect–as well as the upcoming HD version–along with Deezer and Amazon Music. The idea is to have these sources along with playlists (which can be easily preset via UNDOK) and easily control them with an ‘old school’ control dial–no need for fancy apps. There’s a little play-something-and-don’t-mess-with-it vibe here and Ruark is fully embracing it.
Alan O’Rourke, Managing Director, Ruark Audio, said: “We can’t imagine life without music, and it’s this passion that drives us to create premium products that our customers will love to use and treasure. With its elegant, slim profile, this fourth iteration of our award-winning R2 music system fits easily into any room in the house and has all the streaming capabilities and connectivity most will ever need. With its full-bodied Hi-Fidelity sound, it makes speech and music thoroughly enjoyable and like that first tea or coffee in the morning, an essential element to creating a great day.”
Enjoyable is probably the main selling point of a Ruark device; the company made its name in the United Kingdom with its Hi-Fi speakers before it decided to venture into mainstream audio devices.
So, even though the enclosure of the R2 Mk4 is formed with polymer, it is reinforced with fibreglass along with wooden supports to make the shell as rigid as possible. Ruark’s insistence in retaining a Class A-B amplifier paired with its proprietary neodymium Natural Sound+ (NS+) drivers, despite Class D amplifiers being more energy efficient, is mostly down to retaining that signature Ruark warmth.
Although the R2 Mk4 wasn’t designed to be a music hub, it does have options for external sources in the form of Bluetooth (v5.2), classic auxiliary line-in, and a USB-C port that supports storage devices like thumb drives; there’s also a headphones jack if you choose to keep things silent around the house.
Pricing & Availability
The R2 Mk 4 is available in light cream lacquer with ash grille and espresso lacquer with walnut grille with an SRP of S$799.00 and stock will be available from mid-November 2022 at the following retail outlets: Challenger @Ion Orchard, Challenger @Bugis Junction, Connect-IT @313 Somerset, Sam Audio @Sim Lim Square, SLR Revolution @Jurong Point and TK Foto @Funan Centre. It will also be available on Lazada and Shopee.