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Ruark Audio R7 Mk2 review

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Awards

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Ruark Audio R7 7
  • Ruark Audio R7 7
  • Ruark Audio R7 5
  • Ruark Audio R7 9
  • Ruark Audio R7 11
  • Ruark Audio R7 13
  • Ruark Audio R7 15

Summary

Our Score:

10

Pros

  • Incredible sound
  • All the connections you could need
  • Luxurious build
  • Retro-chic styling
  • Optional TV mount
  • Classy remote

Cons

  • Not cheap

Key Features

  • CD player; DAB/DAB+/FM/internet radio; Wi-Fi; Bluetooth aptX; Radio remote control; Removable legs; Optional TV/AV mount
  • Manufacturer: Ruark Audio
  • Review Price: £2,000.00

What is the Ruark Audio R7 Mk2?

It’s been three years since Ruark first launched the R7, its modern take on the old-school radiogram. This updated version features everything that made its predecessor an iconic all-in-one – lush retro styling, a CD player, radio, stereo speakers and every wired and wireless connection you could need, plus the ability to stand on its own four feet.

So what’s changed? Nothing visible, as all the tweaks have been made to the audio circuitry inside, aiming to make it sound as good as it looks – and how you’d expect it to, considering its price tag. In fact, Ruark isn't even officially marketing this as a Mk2 model, but rather just the 2016 evolution of the R7.

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Ruark Audio R7 13

Ruark Audio R7 Mk2 – Design and Features

One of Ruark’s hallmarks is its impeccable build quality. The R7’s smaller siblings, the R1 Mk3, R2 Mk3 and R4 Mk3 are all near-flawless in their fit, finish and classy design – and the R7 takes all that to a new level.

The main unit itself is a big, heavy, 1m-wide beast that’s beautifully wrapped in figured walnut. It can either sit on a sideboard if you fit the supplied feet, or – and I imagine this will be most people’s preference – on the four luxuriously lacquered black legs that bring the total height to 65cm.

On the front is a CD slot, info display, 3.5mm headphone socket, on/off switch, a handful of buttons and the cloth grilles that hide the twin 5.5-inch dual-concentric drivers. There’s also a downward-firing 8-inch subwoofer mounted underneath.

The styling is unashamedly, intentionally retro. This is, after all, a homage to the radiograms once made by the father of Ruark Audio’s managing director. But the design is crammed with neat modern touches, such as the Ruark ‘fashion label’ on the subwoofer grille underneath, and the wonderful RotoDial remote.

Ruark Audio R7 15

Unlike the RotoDial controls on the smaller R-series models, the one on the top of the R7 can actually be removed to become the remote control – and it uses radio frequency for communication, so it doesn’t need line of site like the usual infrared remotes. It’s one of the coolest remotes around, no question.

Around the back is an impressive array of connections – S/PDIF optical, digital coaxial, two pairs of RCA stereo phono line inputs, aerial sockets for DAB and FM, and a USB socket that can be used for charging a phone or tablet. Inside you get Bluetooth aptX and Wi-Fi with DLNA streaming, as well as DAB, DAB+, FM and internet radio. All bases covered, really.

Ruark Audio R7 11

Adding a totally new dimension, though, is the optional AV mount (£249.99). It comprises a VESA mount for tellies up to 50-inch, as well as a glass shelf for a cable/satellite box or Blu-ray player, and it turns the R7 into a full-on home entertainment system. No TV stand, no separate soundbar or soundbase, just a telly mounted to the R7 and connected to one of the digital inputs. It’s a wonderfully elegant solution.

Ruark Audio R7 Mk2 – Performance

Turning the Ruark R7 on, the display gives a short progress countdown as it powers up, ready for action. The display’s very clear and the largest line of info can be seen across a decent-sized room.

You’re prompted to connect to your Wi-Fi network before you begin, which then enables any new firmware to be downloaded, and gives access to internet radio. The controls, as with the rest of Ruark’s R-series, are incredibly intuitive and setting your source, pairing with a Bluetooth device and fiddling with menu options are all a piece of cake.

Ruark Audio R7 9

Once you actually get to pump some tunes out of this thing… Wow. It’s wonderful. The R7 is incredibly musical and detailed. Obviously you don’t get the greatest stereo imaging and it lacks a little sublety at times, but you can’t expect miracles. So much of what makes for a great hi-fi separates system has been squished into this single box, and for that Ruark should be applauded.

The R7 also fills a room with ease. It can reach undistorted volumes to which few micro hi-fi systems or soundbars can come close.

With the optional AV mount fitted and a TV hooked up via an optical cable, the R7 also makes a great soundbase. Dialogue is exceptionally clear, and the bass is never distractingly boomy.

Ruark Audio R7 5

In fact, I only have a couple of very minor complaints about the R7, and both relate to its use with the AV mount. The first is that the glass shelf that forms part of the mount won’t be big enough for some people. I had to stack my Blu-ray player and Sky Q box on top of one another, which isn’t ideal. The option of a wider shelf, or even a second shelf, would make it ideal.

The other slight niggle is that I’d like to be able to rename the inputs, as setting the source as ‘Digital input 1’ isn’t quite as family-friendly as, say, ‘TV’. It’s a small thing, and hopefully one that might get added in a firmware update.

Should I buy the Ruark Audio R7 Mk2?

The Ruark R7 Mk2 is a beautiful, wonderful-sounding all-in-one solution, and the fact that you can turn it into a TV stand and pump your TV’s audio through it broadens its appeal enormously.

There really isn’t anything else quite like the R7. Within its own limitations it’s a simply outstanding performer. Sure, you can get better sound for the money by putting together a hi-fi separates system, but that’s totally missing the point.

Verdict

A truly awesome all-in-one audio solution that can also be turned into a near-perfect TV stand.

Overall Score

10

David Hale

April 25, 2016, 7:20 pm

Is it me or does this device kind of miss the point?

Its a beautiful stereo and it has a wonderful idea in being expandable to house all of you AV system.

My concern is the price! Its just too expensive

If you are willing to spend £2,000 on a stereo then surely you'd already be looking at a separates system that would get you far more versatility when included with a TV and far better sound quality. £500 on an AV amp and £1,500 on a 5.1 speaker package would blow most peoples minds with the quality coming out.

Even if you didn't want all those wires trailing around and wanted a more elegant wirefree solution a Sonos Playbar bought with the other speakers could be had for same money and give you change!

toboev

April 27, 2016, 6:04 am

Maybe this is not for people prepared to scrape together £2000 for a stereo. Maybe it is for people who spend £20,000 on their system, and want something cheap for the guest annexe.

torjs99

April 28, 2016, 8:28 am

music centre! 70's are back

Sean Lewis

August 18, 2016, 11:07 am

I bought one for my sitting room, no TV in there but wanted an elegant and warm sounding device that would go well with the decor of a period home, this fits that aesthetic perfectly, and connected to my home server running Asset upnp I don't have to worry about wires, conversely my other half is a bit of a technophobe, so she just Bluetooth's her music from her iPhone and it works perfectly for her needs. All in I'm really happy with the system.

David Hale

August 18, 2016, 6:58 pm

I got caught up in it being used as a home entertainment centre and forgot that it could function as a very elegant stereo system. Is the sound quality worth the price do you think?

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