It's been 10 years since Ruark Audio unveiled its R7, a "modern-day take on the iconic radiogram" as we noted in our 2013 news story. It elicited 'oohs' and 'aahs' from us back then (and in 2016 when we reviewed the R7 mk2) for adding wireless streaming to an all-in-one 2.1 system that doubled up as beautiful furniture.
We called the R7 mk2 “the best sounding item of retro furniture we’ve ever heard” in our review, but it didn't quite hit the mark when it came to delivering the best sounding music/hi-fi system you could get at its £2000 asking price. But we do have higher hopes for the new Ruark R810.
For starters, it's the flagship model in Ruark's new 100 Series of products, the first of which – the Ruark Audio R410 – impressed us enough to gain a five-star review. It would be unkind to call the R810 simply a larger R410 on tall, polished chrome legs – there's much more brewing under the surface.
At first glance though, the R810 echoes many of the new design touches seen in the R410, from the exquisitely handcrafted wood elements in the cabinet and slatted grille (sustainably sourced and spliced and reconstituted for consistent grain patterns) and the 4-inch TFT colour display screen on front, to the refreshed RotoDial controller on top of the unit. You also get a separate, rechargeable remote in the shape of the RotoDial, and the R810 is available in two finishes: soft grey lacquer or 'fused' walnut wood veneer.
The R810 also boasts many of the same features we lauded in the R410, from wireless streaming (AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, aptX Bluetooth, UPnP) to physical connections (HDMI eARC, optical input, RCA phono input, USB-C). Radio is represented in FM, DAB/DAB+ and internet radio forms, while high-res audio is supported up to 32-bit/384kHz. Not only are there plenty of ways to stream music from your phone from any music app, you can also use the R810 with your TV, and even plug in a CD player or turntable.
Under the hood, however, is where the core difference lies. Where the R410 had 120W of Class D amplification powering two 20mm tweeters and two 10cm mid/bass drivers, the flagship R810 ups the stakes to 180W of Class A/B amplification. It's a 4.1 system too, featuring two larger 30mm silk dome tweeters and twin 10cm paper cone woofers, as well as a 20cm long throw paper cone subwoofer. The addition of the integrated active subwoofer aims to deliver music with "accuracy and authority".
(If you're curious: the original R7 had 160W of Class A/B power, two 14cm dual concentric drivers, one tweeter and a 20cm sub, and an integrated CD player.)
We noted that the use of Class D in the R410 was a surprise departure from Ruark's traditional and continued use of Class A/B (even in its standard radios such as the R2 Mk4), but it seems the brand has pulled out all the stops when it comes to the new flagship R810.
"The inspiration for our original R7 and now R810 came from the beautiful Radiogram that my grandmother had in her home," said Alan O’Rourke, Managing Director, Ruark. "As a kid when we visited, I would spend hours listening to radio stations, playing records and dancing. R810 is our most technically advanced product to date, but a loving homage to those radiograms of yesteryear."
The Ruark R810 is the brand's natural evolution of the R7, and we certainly hope it lives up to its strong audio heritage and rather high asking price of £3000 / $4499 / AU$6000. At this price point, you could opt for a different kind of retro flavour and form factor in the powerful JBL 4329P Studio Monitor stereo speakers system (£3499 / $4500, 2023 Award winner) that covers plenty of the same integrated features. But they don't quite invoke the nostalgia of a 'radiogram' like the Ruark...
Read our five-star Ruark Audio R410 review
Ruark Audio R410 vs Naim Mu-so 2: which premium all-in-one music system is better?
Read our Ruark R7 mk2 review
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