Ruark has remained ever-reliable to the radio, making the point that the music medium is still hugely relevant today as it announces the next generation of its established entry-level R1 radio. The British audio brand is probably right, though the dominance of streaming services cannot be ignored... which is why this new R1S (£299) supports wi-fi and offers access to Spotify (via Spotify Connect), Amazon Music and Deezer. Ruark says that the R1S will also support Spotify HiFi when the lossless tier eventually shows up.
This marks the first time that networked streaming has been delivered by Ruark’s R1 model, having previously been the reserve of the larger, pricier R2 and the radio systems above it in the company’s well-rounded catalogue.
No internet in your bedroom? No problem. The R1S carries over many of the features of its predecessors. Bluetooth (the latest 5 standard this time) is onboard for easy, offline streaming of music from phones and tablets, as is, of course, FM, DAB and DAB+ radio. Internet radio hasn’t been left out either, with Ruark’s SmartRadio tuner allowing access to stations worldwide and including a source dedicated to podcasts.
Like its predecessor, the R1S has a USB-C port that can charge phones and other devices with that connection, as well as a switchable analogue line input and a headphone jack. The R1S plugs into the mains for power, though it can be made portable with the optional BackPack 3 battery pack (£69).
The R1S wears a familiar design, defined by the gorgeous wooden grille (created, Ruark says, from sustainable wood), the colour display, and the wonderful top-panel RotoDial, which offers perhaps the best on-unit control experience we’ve come across in such a product. Alternative means of control are with the matching remote and the all-new Oktiv app, the latter of which could well be preferred for more easily browsing through stations and podcasts.
Behind all that is the Class A/B amplifier driving a neodymium NS+ full-range driver – a type of pairing that has helped previous R1 iterations win five-star reviews for their rich, musical sound. We can only hope the R1S is able to seal its promising fate with a decent sound performance too.
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