Ruark Audio R4i review

Best all-in-one music system, Awards 2012. Brilliantly bridges the gap between dedicated dock and full-on micro system Tested at £550

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

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


  • +

    Clear vocals

  • +

    spacious, three-dimensional presentation

  • +

    impressive bass

  • +

    premium quality


  • -

    Remote could do with a re-think

  • -

    can get flustered at very high volumes

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

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.

Follow whathifi on Twitter

Join whathifi on Facebook

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, Reading 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.

Read more about how we test