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Vita Audio R4 - Vita Audio R4

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


Another complaint I have is Vita's use of a standard iPod dock. Now, I've talked at length before about the use of Apple's plastic iPod dock inserts on high-end audio gear - the horrible little plastic inserts just ruin the aesthetic - so I won't dwell on the subject here but I'll just point out that it's disappointing to see it being employed by the R4. I would've liked to see a more elegant and sophisticated designed being conjured up. On the positive side, the dock does at least charge the iPhone 3G properly and it positions the iPod in such a way that it's easy to see and control when docked - a basic feature that not all similar devices can claim.

The radio can store 10 presets each for DAB and FM and it supports the usual RDS text for FM and programme information that you get from DAB. However there's still no support for more sophisticated DAB functions like Electronic Programme Guides and programme recording. Reception was as good as we normally expect from our office, with a trip up to the top (third) floor required to pick up a truly steady signal on all stations. Aside from this the R4's main functions all work pretty much as you'd expect and perform as well as any others we've encountered - the radio tunes, CDs play, you get the drift.

However, the only way to control all this lot is with the intriguing remote and although we love the design we're not so sure about the functionality. Where the RotoDial system worked well for the more simplistic R1 and R2, it begins to struggle with the more complicated R4. Simple operations like setting an alarm or changing EQ settings are cumbersome and while the large dial in the middle looks like it might mimic an iPod's scroll wheel functionality; all it actually does is control volume. Also, why the infra red LED couldn't be hidden behind a window as seen on pretty much every other remote, we're entirely clueless.

Ultimately, though, few of these complaints would put us off if the R4's audio were up to scratch but here Vita Audio again seems to have fallen short. While volume and overall clarity are superb, especially considering the R4's £500 asking price, bass lacks punchiness and the overall sound doesn't feel optimised.

Specifically, while there is a '3D' setting, which does the usual stereo enhancing trickery, turning it on seems to create an exaggerated effect that doesn't feel altogether natural. Conversely, turning it off betrays the R4's limited size, making the sound a bit flat. Don't get us wrong, neither sounds bad us such, but considering the giant leap in terms of size over the R2 we really would've expected the R4's sound to have more presence.

I suppose what it boils down to is we would have liked to see Vita Audio get rid of these extreme on/off options, along with the sub level dial on the back, and simply optimise the sound to best suit the size of the device. Either that or provide more sophisticated fine tuning options in the menu so the sound can be truly tailored to your listening environment.


The Vita Audio R4 aims to be a Hif-Fi replacement but we feel it has fallen just a few centimetres short of the mark. It's good but not as good as it could've been.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 8


September 10, 2008, 2:22 pm

Yes but how does it plug into my Nintendo DS?



September 10, 2008, 8:50 pm

I auditioned one of these at Oranges & Lemons in Battersea. It wouldn't read any CDs and I was later told that both the units that they had sold so far had been returned faulty. Be warned!

Alan O

September 12, 2008, 3:53 pm

In response to the above post, at Vita Audio we welcome both dealers and customers to contact us should they have any problems. It seems in this case there had been a breakdown in communication! Upon inspecting the faulty units we found that the CD and front panel had become misaligned causing the units not to function but the fix was quickly remedied. We can only assume that this situation arose due to bad handling during transit as so far we've only experienced minimal CD faults and the overwhelming reaction to R4 by customers is they love the sound , style and single box convenience.

bob parker

November 26, 2008, 1:48 am

Mmmmm....Had to return mine to John Lewis today.....CD Tray would not open!!Looks like a triumph of looks over functionality....How disappointing for 500 quid!!!


November 28, 2008, 9:52 pm

Sounds very familiar.

Bought one a week ago - cd's go in and play - but refuse to come out again! Shop assistant tried the one on display in store and same thing happened. Not really the done thing when it costs 𧺬. Now waiting for new stock to arrive middle-end of December! - hopefully fault free. Might just go and get a refund though as reliability sounds an issue. Apart from that the machine looks fantastic and sounds fantastic. Wouldn't have minded another remote control though rather than having to rely on the removable control panel on top if unit.


January 17, 2009, 9:54 pm

Update to above :- Very simple solution to disc not coming out. The front cover of the Vita is only kept in place by magnets. It appears that if during transit the cover has slipped slightly (even by a few mm) the disc operation can be affected. With the help of a credit card this cover comes off very easily and can be put back on correctly alligned. Now the CD player eject works like a dream.

I must add that the Vita R4 is an absolutely fantastic piece of audio equipment, with great sound quality.Don't let the disc problem put you off - it really is a simple solution.

Lester Fish

March 2, 2009, 12:04 am

We're now have to take back our second R4. First one wouldn't read CD's the replacement wouldn't eject CD's - Vita Audio you have a serious problem with this models CD drive

Alan O

May 28, 2009, 4:24 pm

Further to my original posting on the 12th September and in response to comments above we’re pleased to inform that reported problems with R4 CD have now been resolved. The main problem where R4 would occasionally fail to read CDs was tracked down to some faulty FFC (Flat Flexible Cable) connectors. These have now been replaced and upgraded to ensure future reliability.

Since its introduction in August 2008 we’ve sold many R4’s and the feedback from customers has been unanimous that it’s a fabulous piece of equipment. Like our products we also pride ourselves on the service we offer our customers, so should anyone ever experience any problems with any of our products you can rest assured that we will do all we can to help.


June 23, 2009, 4:46 pm

Further to the last posting, I should point out that I bought an R4 at Christmas which had the loading problems referred to by Alan O'Rourke. When I contacted Vita Audio/Ruark, they immediately arranged for collection of the unit and had it repaired within two weeks and then returned to my house (I did not even have to leave the house to get all this sorted!). The repaired unit (which has the new FFC connectors) works perfectly. I can wholeheartedly recommend the unit to anyone: it sounds superb; gets rid of miles of cables under the television set; steals envious comments from friends; capably fills a through-lounge sized room with sound; and Vita Audio have provided me with expemplary after sales service. The unit now works 100% fine. Excellent service Vita. Thank you

Andy A

March 21, 2010, 9:30 pm

I bought my R4 for a christmas present for me. I looked at many others but settled on this due to the fantastic sound quality, and the other half not wanting lots of wires and speakers. I have not been dissapointed by sound in the home, and the unit looks wonderful, like a piece of functional furniture. Down side has been the malfunctioning RC. I have contacted Ruark direct and they have been brilliant. Sent me a replacement RC unit, however the problem remains so they have arranged a convienient pick up, for repair of the main unit. I plug my Laptop into it for music streaming, I also use the DAB CD MP3cd & Ipod dock. All sound great, with a full range of different types of music. Expensive but well worth it for the quality, and customers service if you have a problem. Hoping for a happy ending control wise. Treat yourself!

Andy A

March 31, 2010, 11:48 pm

Further to my previous post, similar to Simon, Ruark have been brillant, the unit was picked up as arranged, and back within a week. So far seems fine. another delighted customer. I couldn't imagine a multinational ever being that good. Buy one.


February 3, 2011, 2:55 am

I was actually after a bit of advice, and am hoping someone can help! iIm torn between the R2i and the R4. What are the main differences between them, aside from the cd slot? Also, I have read a technical review saying the R4 (which I am inclining towards) doesn't handle heavy music such as modern rock/metal (e.g. rage against he machine, system of a down, etc) very well in terms of sound quality. Is this true? Does the R2i handle it better? Am desperate for some help in this decision so thanks in advance!

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