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Ruark Audio R1 Mk2 review

Best DAB/FM radio, Awards 2012. Its retro looks belie a high-tech spec and top-notch sound Tested at £330

5 Star Rating

Our Verdict

Best DAB/FM radio, Awards 2012. Poised sound and stylish looks: the Ruark R1 Mk2 never fails to impress

For

  • Smashing sound
  • Lovely looks
  • Upgrades aplenty

Against

  • Controls could be more intuitive
  • Will not fill a large room

When a product has become set-designers' shorthand for elegant and contemporary living, the temptation to leave it well alone must be strong.

Ruark Audio has bitten the bullet with the uncomplicatedly desirable R1 radio, though. And it's good to report that the changes are overwhelmingly positive.

The most significant change may yet prove to be the provision for DAB+ reception, but the R1 Mk2 has plenty of upgrades to be going on with. It's packing tone controls, a ‘loudness' option, dual alarms (music or buzzer) with adjustable volume and a ‘snooze' function.

The display is much bigger and brighter than previously, and an additional £50 at the checkout buys you the ‘BackPack', a rechargeable power back that fits on the back and makes it a portable proposition.

Less compelling is the rather chintzy ‘CarryPack', a leather carry-case with handle – yours for £40.

Sound quality

However you choose to pimp your R1 Mk2, though, you can relax in the knowledge that your £160 (for the walnut veneer, £180 for shiny black or shiny white) has bought you the best-sounding product of its type currently available.

For such a small mono design, the Ruark's a remarkably expansive and assertive listen – frequency integration is as seamless as it should be when delivered by a single 3.5in driver, bass sounds are deep and taut, and it has a deft and detailed way with a vocalist.

Verdict

As long as you don't expect room-filling scale, the Ruark is a fluent, poised and above all musical companion – if the broadcast is of sufficient quality, the R1 MkII is an open, balanced and thoroughly involving device. Downsides are few.

The new tone and ‘loudness' controls are an impediment to sound, but this is still the best all-round performer around, regardless of price.

MORE: Best Buys: DAB radios

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, New York and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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