Ruark Audio R4 MkIII Review

Summary:
Versatile and solidly built with exceptionally good sound quality.

Buy it online:
£699.00 on Amazon.co.uk
Compare price on John Lewis

The R4 Integrated Music System MkIII is one of the most high-end and expensive digital radios currently available in the UK. It’s made by Ruark Audio, a family-run British company founded in 2006.

Find out what the Ruark R4 MkIII can do and how it performs in this review…

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • CD player
  • 3D-enhanced stereo sound
  • Bluetooth
  • Remote control
  • User manual (also available online here)
  • Telescopic aerial
  • USB port for playing digital audio files
  • 5 mm headphone jack
  • 80W stereo speakers
  • OLED display
  • Dual alarm
  • Sleep timer

Dimensions: 44 cm wide x 20 cm deep x 15 cm high
Weight: 8 kg (boxed)

Performance and use

As you’d expect from a radio at this price point, the R4 MkIII has excellent sound quality, and is one of the best-sounding radio CD players on the market. The walnut cabinet helps give depth and warmth to its sound. The 80W speakers can also be turned up pretty loud so you can use it for parties.

While it technically has stereo sound, the R4’s speakers are close together so you don’t get much sense of stereo separation. The bass and treble levels can be adjusted independently if you’re not keen on the default settings.

This product is very versatile. You can listen to FM, DAB and DAB+ radio as well as CDs and music from your phone or tablet via Bluetooth. On Bluetooth it uses aptX technology so that the audio you stream won’t lose sound quality. You can also connect an iPod using the USB port.

The CD player is slot-loading and is compatible with regular CDs, CD-Rs and CD-RWs. You can control it using the remote control.

While the R4 would look great in the living room, it can also be used as a bedroom radio as it has a dual alarm and a sleep function. The display brightness can be dimmed easily using the remote control, and it can be dimmed very low so it won’t disturb you at night. However, it doesn’t use auto-dimming unlike some other radios.

The Ruark Audio R4 feels very well made. It’s reassuringly heavy and the wood covering is real, not artificial like on cheaper alternatives. The radio is quite compact but if you’re planning to put it on a narrow table you should be aware that the power cable sticks out about 5 cm from the back which makes the radio effectively 25 cm deep.

Disappointingly for a radio at this price point the R4 doesn’t connect to the internet for streaming internet radio or Spotify. However, you could simply use Bluetooth to stream internet radio or other online content via your laptop or phone.

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Very good build quality
  • Real wood covering
  • Versatile
  • Plenty of volume

Cons

  • No WiFi
  • Very expensive

Verdict

If you can afford it and appreciate excellent sound and build quality, the Ruark Audio R4 MkIII is a great buy. It’s right up there among top 5 or so best DAB radios on the market.

It’s a shame this radio doesn’t have an internet connection, which would make it even more versatile.

Similar radios

If you like the look of the Ruark R4 MkIII but would like something with internet radio as well, you should consider the Pure Evoke C-F6. It has a very similar list of features to the R4 but with the addition of internet radio. It’s also substantially cheaper than the R4, despite being made by a respected British radio manufacturer, Pure.

One budget radio with similar features is the Majority Castle DAB Radio. It’s very affordable, especially compared to the R4 MkIII, but inevitably it has inferior build and sound quality.

A cheaper alternative from Ruark is the R1 MkIII, which has a single speaker and doesn’t have a CD player. It’s significantly more affordable than the R4 MkIII, but still has excellent sound quality.

For some more alternatives see these roundups of the best high-end DAB radios and the best radio CD players.

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