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Ruark R1 Mk II radio reviewed at The Bristol Show 2012


Build quality, looks and great performance on DAB put the Ruark R1 Mk II in a league of its own. It has a premium price, but better sound makes up for it.

Our rating

5 wow stars out of five

There's little not to like here.

Where to buy

You can buy the Ruark R1 Mark II from Amazon in a walnut real wood finish. They also have it in a black or white finish. There's also a limited edition red version.You can also buy the radio from John Lewis in the walnut finish. They also have it in a black or white finish.You can also get the BackPack battery and CarryPack at JL.

The company that designs and manufactures these radios was originally called Vita Audio, an offshoot of the 30 year-old loudspeaker company Ruark, whose name they now take. You'll still see the Vita Audio name around, but there's no difference to the radio's ergonomics.

Ruark R1 Mark II gives an exciting listen on DAB

Walking off with a good few awards since last year, the Ruark R1 Mark II is still amazing to listen to, making DAB radio stations sound great.

The R1 MK II is an object of desire the moment you set it scanning for DAB radio stations. On Radio 2's Ken Bruce show, Prefab Sprout's Cars and Girls sparkled from the R1's single speaker - it really is a head-turner both in styling and audio perfomance. The radio produces a much bigger sound than you'd expect from its relatively small dimensions. The full-range speaker handles the high notes, midrange and treble without any issues.

Tuned to Jazz FM and Classic FM, the R1 demonstrates its ability to handle punchy, rhythmical music and the subtleties of individual instruments within an orchestra.

The optional tactile leather CarryPack, stamped with the R1 logo, suits the style of the R1 down to its rubber feet and the crisp, clear display shows the progress of the scan as it automatically seeks out DAB broadcasts when you power it up for the first time. It's just a shame that Absolute Radio 80s is first in the list, the R1 showing up its low broadcast quality and stifled dynamics. Still, switch to higher quality broadcasts from Radios 3 or 2 and the R1 is effortless in its delivery. Talk and news stations such as Radio 5 Live and Radio 4 sound warm and lively.

Vita Audio, a subsidiary of Ruark loudspeakers, is now back under the Ruark umbrella. Whichever radio you buy with the Vita or Ruark label on it, it's manufactured by the same company and the warranty is unaffected.
Ruark R1 front

Separate, twin alarm settings offer weekday, weekend and daily wake-up time settings for you and those around you and the volume level can be set to a particular level - helpful if you don't want to find yourself bolt upright from an otherwise rude awakening. It's autodimmer drops the brightness of the display as you draw the curtains.

The simple RotoDial system, consisting of preset, alarm, station selection and timer buttons around a main control on the top of the radio gives it a minimalist, uncluttered appearance.
Ruark R1 Mark II rotodial

3.5mm headphone, line out and line in sockets are squirrelled away around the back, where you'll also find the telescopic aerial. In strong signal areas, you'll hardly find it necessary for this to extend, the R1 showing five bars on its white-on-blue display.

The R1 sports optional jet power in the form of a battery pack (or BackPack in Ruark speak), which can be hooked up to 240v mains power when the juice runs out.

The telescopic aerial featuring an industry-standard F-connector for hooking up to an external dipole or similar.

We're left in no doubt that this radio is a sonic wonder, benefitting from clear, simple controls, a bright display when you need it and useful add-ons such as the leather carry pack and rechargeable battery.

It's priced around £170. For lots of finishes and add-on options, take a look in the left-hand column above for where to buy the R1.
Ruark R1 Mk II in case
Ruark R1 Mk II in black