Ruark Audio R4 Mk3 review

A simple-to-use, great-sounding musical maestro

Ruark Audio R4 Mk3

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We liked

First and foremost I've been impressed with the audio quality of the R4 Mk3. And you can see why the cabinet has barely changed since 2008, when it's capable of producing the sort of accurate, clean sound you get out of those twin 3.5-inch drivers.

It's also a relatively svelte, understated device. Where the Zeppelin aspires to taking pride of place somewhere in your home, the R4 Mk3 is happy to hide away on a bookcase or shelf.

I like the level of source support it's sporting too. The multi-format CD player is ideal for those who still have a large library of optical media they can't give up, the DAB support offers a world of digital radio, and with the Bluetooth aptX wireless input it's able to connect to a huge range of other services and devices too.

We disliked

I have missed the network support. Either wired or wireless network connection would make the R4 Mk3 an even more fantastically versatile music player, especially when Spotify Connect is such a box-ticker feature on most of the competition.

Being picky, I would have perhaps expected more format support on the USB input too. With Ruark proclaiming its use of high-end components "only found in prestige, high-value audio separates", I did expect to see support for at least the FLAC lossless audio format.

I had slight issues at really high volumes with the 3D sound feature as well.

And I do have to talk about the price too. Sure, you are getting a lot of audio for your money, but when the excellent Zeppelin is offering its assured soundscape for £150 less you've got to wonder if CD playback and DAB is really worth the extra cash.

Final verdict

I've been really impressed with the Ruark Audio R4 Mk3's aural performance, but as I said at the start, there is something very old-school about it. That might make it a bit of technological misstep for the audiophile crew, but does make it very appealing for everyone else.

This is the sort of all-in-one system I'd happily recommend to my technophobe friends, or my mum and dad. That may sound slightly negative, but the ease with which the R4 Mk3 can be set up and operated makes it an incredibly unfussy device.

The OLED display has all your station or track information, and it can almost instantly pick up from whatever Bluetooth device and app you last plugged into it. There's little here which will get in the way of your music-listening pleasure.