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Lovely build quality, excellent firmware upgrades, plenty of features and connectivity - all in a British-designed one-box solution

Our rating

five stars out of five

Where to buy

You can buy the Ruark R2 MKIII (Mark 3) from Amazon in a walnut real wood finish. They also have it in black and white finishes.Alternatively, you can buy from John Lewis in the walnut, black and white finishes.
You can also buy from Hughes Direct in the walnut, black and white finishes.

Ruark R2 Mark 3 connected streaming music audio system
Ruark R2 Mk III streaming music system review

27th February 2017

The R2 Mark 3's compact size belies its technical and sonic prowess. Packed with innovative features and digital connectivity, producing a captivating sound with ample bass - thanks to two downward-firing bass ports - the R2 is serious enough to be your main music system and will happily sit on a solid bookshelf or table, making the most of your music collection.

The R2 dispenses with the need for trailing wires between multiple boxes (as is the case with a separates system setup), so is a great choice when space is limited or you just want a one-box audio solution for your home.

The R2 supports the newer Bluetooth aptx profile, found on some higher end smartphones, to enable you to stream high quality audio wirelessly between your 'phone and the system. The R2 also handles regular Bluetooth audio, which is handy if you just want to quickly hook up a regular 'phone to the R2.

You can adjust loudness, treble and bass settings through the menu to tweak the R2's sound to your liking.

The R2's internet radio capabilities have just been given a boost; thanks to a recent firmware upgrade, the R2 Mark III edition can now stream the BBC’s radio stations in high quality audio using the recently-adopted mpeg-DASH standard. This also means that you’ll now get uninterrupted access to the BBC’s radio shows without the music being truncated due to rights issues – a problem inherent with MP3 downloads and sharing of raw internet radio feeds that the BBC were keen to solve, by forcing manufacturers to upgrade the firmware inside their receivers to accept the new copy-protected format and to enable the Beeb to figure out which devices their stations are being listened on.

The Ruark R2 Mark 3 also handles multi-room audio, again thanks to a firmware upgrade in the last year or two. If you purchase another R2, audio can be synched between the units for seamless, delay-free music in your kitchen and lounge, for example, all worked out by the receivers’ circuitry and wireless connectivity to your router.

The Ruark R2 Mark 3 is also DLNA-compatible; this means it can access and play music files held on a NAS or any other device that can act as a music server (such as a smartphone when equipped with a suitable app), or you can use your smartphone's 'playto' feature to stream songs held on your 'phone via your router.

Even more of interest, the R2 works with Frontier Silicon's Undok app, letting you control all major commands through smartphone running iOS or Android, and offering an alternative way of operating the music system than the dinky bundled remote control. The Undok app lets you control Spotify Connect, AirPlay, internet radio, DLNA media playback, USB device playback, DAB/DAB+ digital radio and FM tuners and Aux input switching and selections within the app and, apart from AirPlay, supports multi-room audio - so you could have the same music playing on two R2s, for example.

There are a couple of rear panel connections on the Ruark R2 Mark III - gold-plated RCA phono input sockets for plugging in a CD player, for example, together with a USB port for playback of music held on a memory stick (and charging your 'phone), and a removable telescopic aerial with standard F-connector, allowing you to connect to an external aerial. On the front, there's a 3.5mm headphone socket and 3.5mm Aux in socket for wired connections from your 'phone or MP3 player.
Ruark R2 Mark III rear panel connections
Rear panel connections on the Ruark R2 Mark III

If you’re short of space, the R2 should be given serious consideration. Despite the relative lack of distance between the speakers, the R2 makes up for this with its spatial 3D sound settings, which produce a wholly convincing wide stereo soundstage that extends beyond the built-in speakers (which comprise separate woofer and tweeter drivers). 2 x 10 Watts RMS is the rated power output - enough to fill a mid-sized room with sound. The main unit speaker enclosure features two bass ports on its underside, to improve bass response.

Build quality is exceptional, with the R2 available in a variety of finishes - soft (i.e. satin) black, soft white and real walnut. Aluminium and pressed steel fascias and rear panels abound, the R2 is sturdy and robust. It also has a lovely clear OLED display, which can be set to high, medium and low brightness settings (or even turned off in standby mode, with a press of the RotoDial to briefly display the time) for use as a bedside radio - these brightness levels are available in standby and operational modes. There are two separate alarms, which can be individually adjusted to weekday, weekend, daily or single (once) settings. There are also adjustable snooze and sleep timers.

The R2's dimensions are 120mm tall x 185mm deep x 340mm wide and weighs in at 3.6kg. The music system is mains powered only.

£420 seems quite a lot of money, but the R2 does provide an incredible array of features and the firmware has kept abreast with developments in multiroom and streaming technologies. Its digital radio tuner is also futureproofed, being both DAB and DAB+ compatible, which offers another layer of comfort when splashing out on a new music system you'd expect to last for many years.

Check out the left-hand column for where to buy the Ruark R2 Mark 3 edition online, or scroll down to see more photos of finishes that the R2 is available in.
Ruark R2 Mark III in wlanut finish - fascia panel
Ruark R2 streaming music system in real walnut finish - front fascia
Ruark R2 Mark III in walnut
Ruark R2 streaming music system in walnut finish
Ruark R2 Mark III in soft black finish - remote control and RotoDial
Ruark R2 Mark III in soft black finish - remote control and RotoDial
2017-ruark-r2-mkiii-display-and-aerial.jpg - 319166 Bytes
Ruark R2 Mark III in soft black finish - removable aerial and OLED display

Ruark R2 Mark III music system
The music system is a one-box solution, without lots of trailing cables

Ruark R2 Mark III in white with OLED display and front-panel connections
Ruark R2 Mark III in white with OLED display and front-panel connections

other DAB digital radio receivers and audio systems to consider:
Ruark R1 Mark 3 streaming music system review
Ruark R4 Mark 3 integrated music system review
Revo SuperSignal tabletop internet radio and DAB+
Revo SuperConnect tabletop internet radio and DAB+
Pure Elan E3 kitchen radio with colour screen
Pure H2, H4 and H6 range of DAB digital radios
Pure Evoke C-F6, Evoke C-D6 and Evoke C-D4 with CD player or internet radio functionality

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