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Ruark R4i integrated music system reviewed at The Bristol Show 2012

Summary


Powerful sound, wide three-dimensional soundstage, clean looks and simple operation make the Ruark R4i particularly appealing.

Our rating


5 wow stars out of five

This one-unit music system is ideal for an apartment or living room alike, particularly if you don't like trailing cables.

Where to buy


You can buy the Ruark R4 MKIII from Amazon in a walnut real wood finish. They also have it in a black finish.You can also buy the integrated music system from John Lewis in the walnut finish. They also have it in a black or white finish.

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 itself.

Ruark R4i is a sonic stunner

Ruark's flagship R4i will have you searching around the back, looking for another set of speakers, hidden away.

Surely the R4i can't produce such a wide, expansive sound with the main speakers set barely one-and-a-half feet apart?

The R4i's supposed deception continues with its downward-facing ported subwoofer. Listen to the R4i and you'll find this is no illusion. Yes, this system really does produce an amazing three-dimensional soundscape that picks up your favourite tracks and sends them back in your general direction with sonics that'll make you go "wow". Between the three speakers, 80 Watts power output is on tap - more than enough for room-filling sound and means the R4i is easily accommodating to be used as your main system.
Ruark R4i

Pick up the RotoDial remote control inserted in the top of the R4i's enclosure, step away from the system and be prepare to be bowled over with its timing, separation and overall sonic ability.
Ruark R4i rotodial

Tweak the tone and loudness settings if you must, or even turn off the impressive 3D mode, but the R4i delivers a show-stopping performance whatever you throw at it. Pop and rock are delivered with punch and clarity, while orchecstral pieces benefit from the enhanced soundstage supplied by the R4i's 3D processing.

The slot-loading CD player reads standard audio CDs, mp3 and WMA-encoded disks - useful if you're playing music burnt from your own collection onto CD. There's ID3 tag support, so you can easily identify and skip the embarrassing songs from your own CD archives.

A set of gold plated phono inputs and outputs are located on the rear panel, together with a telescopic aerial featuring an industry-standard F-connector for hooking up to an external dipole aerial or similar.

Headphone and mp3 player hook-ups are possible via the fascia, while the iPod and iTouch get their own built-in dock on top, with track selection taken care of by the remote control.

DAB, DAB+ and FM radio stations can be saved to a total of ten memory presets and all information is displayed on the R4i's clear, bright screen.

Weighing in at 8kg, the 450mm wide and 355mm deep R4i is ideally located on a sturdy bookshelf, window bay or coffee table.

It's priced around £500.
Ruark R4i rotodial one-off

Ruark are supporting Tenbomb, a group of graphic designers based at Southend-on-Sea. The vinyl wrap above was drawn using biro pen and, as well as demonstrating what can be done to an R4i, the design showcases the type of graphic design work Tenbomb are involved in.