Both of these products are made by a well-known and highly regarded manufacturer. Ruark is a family-owned British company that has been designing and manufacturing high-fidelity speakers for over thirty years and is now also producing well-engineered music systems. Bose is a privately owned American corporation that designs, develops and sells audio equipment worldwide and is best known for its home audio systems and speakers.
Ruark R4 Mk3
The third version of the Ruark R4 is a good-looking system that’s available in a rich walnut veneer finish or in soft black or white lacquer. Like most Ruark products, it produces a good sound quality through twin drivers and a sub-woofer, the sound also augmented by the acoustic properties of the materials used in manufacture.
The R4 is a traditional music centre with modern functionality and connectivity. Radio is provided through FM and DAB tuners and there’s also DAB+ should the UK ever upgrade. However, there’s no WiFi so you can’t access internet radio or services such as Spotify. But there is Bluetooth with aptX so you can stream music of CD quality from compatible devices.
A CD player accepts standard CDs and CD-Rs that are encoded in WAV, MP3, AAC or WMA formats. Information for these can be displayed from the ID3 tag.
Rather than a series of buttons, the R4 is controlled by a RotoDial that’s standard on all Ruark audio devices and there’s also a remote control but no smartphone access via an app.
There’s an aux-in socket and a USB connector so you can play music from connected devices (MP3, AAC and WMA formats) and charge your phone or tablet. Additionally, there’s a headphone jack and an optical input that allows connection to a TV.
It’s mains-powered only and has a bright and easily viewed OLED display. There’s also a dual alarm with sleep and snooze modes.
The Ruark R4 is highly rated by consumers and was Hi-Fi Choice Recommended, attained five stars in the Music Choice Awards and was Editor’s Choice in Android Magazine.
Bose Wave IV
This compact, all-in-one player comes in a choice of three finishes and achieves great sound courtesy of its Waveguide speaker technology. It has an AM radio tuner as well as FM and DAB, with six pre-sets for both FM and DAB, but no DAB+.
The CD player accepts standard CDs and CD-Rs in MP3 format only with track information displayed when available. This appears on the large and bright display screen.
There’s a headphone jack and aux-in socket to connect other devices and the system is mains powered via a supplied cable. Everything is controlled from the unit itself or by a very small and slim remote and there are dual alarms.
The basic Wave IV has neither Bluetooth nor WiFi but these are available on the more expensive Wave SoundTouch IV. This has a separate unit that’s connected by cable and provides two USB ports, Bluetooth and WiFi. Consequently, you can control the system from your phone using the SoundTouch app and have access to internet radio, which means Spotify and other services are available as well as a great choice of worldwide stations.
Which Should You Choose?
Both models provide a great sound and good music options although there are some differences. The Wave IV has an AM tuner, which may be important depending on the radios you listen to, while the R4 has DAB+ for future-proofing. For the CD player, the Ruark R4 has a greater choice of codecs for CD-Rs.
The Ruark R4 has no WiFi connection while the Wave IV supports neither WiFi nor Bluetooth in its standard form. However, you can add both by purchasing the SoundTouch version.
The Wave IV is smaller, lighter and considerably cheaper than the R4 and could be your choice if you only want to play CDs and listen to radio with a great sound. But it becomes somewhat bulkier and more expensive, although still cheaper than the R4, if you buy the SoundTouch version.
As usual, it comes down to personal choice and what you want out of the system. It may also depend on whether you like the R4’s RotoDial control or prefer a more conventional method.
For some more options, see our roundup of the best high-end DAB radios.