What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Thu, 2 Jun 2011, 3:24pm

Ruark Audio R4i

Tested at £550

Best all-in-one music system, Awards 2012. Brilliantly bridges the gap between dedicated dock and full-on micro system

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  • Clear vocals
  • spacious, three-dimensional presentation
  • impressive bass
  • premium quality


  • Remote could do with a re-think
  • can get flustered at very high volumes

It may look like a 2008 vintage Vita R4 (there was no ‘i’ on the box or the device) but the limited edition ‘Sparkling Graphite’ finish (which costs £80 more) confirms this as an updated R4i.

The maple, black and white options remain available – all at £550.

Features remain similar – iPod dock, CD player and a tuner now supporting DAB+ – but internal changes include revised audio circuitry, a new CD suspension and an upgraded power supply.

Improved sound quality
The question, of course, is whether these changes have improved sound quality. The answer is yes.

Voices are projected from the unit with maximum clarity, so you never miss the vocal, even when the rest of the band is going bonkers.

There’s impressive width and space to the soundstage, and a degree of stereo separation that defies the closeness of the two drivers. The woofer is impressive, too, proving well-integrated and punchy.

Only minor complaints
We have a couple of minor complaints. If you opt for the soundstage-widening 3D Sound mode, there’s some distortion at very high volumes.

And the disc-like remote, which docks in the top of the unit, isn’t as intuitive as it might be.

Even so, the R4i would be near the top of our list if we were looking for a dedicated iPod dock. So the added CD player and radio make it something special.

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