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Ruark R2 Mk4 review: The stereo internet radio that does it all

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £479
inc VAT

While it’s bigger and more expensive than the R1S, the Ruark R2 Mk4’s superior audio quality makes it worth the extra outlay


  • Elegant and compact design
  • Intuitive controls
  • Superb spacious sound


  • No voice controls
  • OKTIV app can feel slow

The British radio boffins at Ruark are best known for their brilliant R1 bookshelf model, but it’s far from their only product. Now in its Mk4 version, the R2 is a stretched-out stereo take on the R1, but with the internet radio and streaming features of the newer R1S built-in.

Given that both are fantastic radios, it would be a shock if the R2 wasn’t any good. But is it good enough to go toe-to-toe with our current favourite high-end radio – the Revo SuperConnect Stereo – or justify an extra £180 over the R1S?

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Ruark R2 Mk4 review: What do you get for the money?

The R2 Mk4 will set you back £479 and is effectively a stereo R1S, combining DAB+ radio with internet radio, podcasts and streaming from Amazon Music, Deezer and Spotify into what Ruark calls a Smart Music System. As you might expect, it’s substantially wider than the R1S at 340mm rather than 130mm, but with the same 135mm depth and 175mm height, which makes it a fairly compact unit that will easily sit on a bookshelf or counter.

It’s also a little smaller than the 380mm wide, 190mm high SuperConnect Stereo, and the gentle curves do a great job of minimising what bulk there is. In fact, with its off-white enclosure, dark glass panel and slatted wooden grill, the Light Cream version has to be one of the most attractive audio products I’ve ever reviewed.

As with the R1S, there’s not much in the way of connectivity; just a headphone out, a 3.5mm stereo line-in and a USB Type-C port for MP3 playback and charging external devices. The latter supports FAT32 drives and MP3 files up to 320kbps/48KHz. However, given that the R2 Mk4 makes more sense as a stand-alone unit than a Hi-FI component or an output for your CD player and turntable, that’s really all you need.

The display and controls are basically the same as on the R1S, with a 2.5in OLED display and a rotary control to dial through menu options or adjust the volume, with a click-down action to select. The surrounding keys allow you to switch stations, tracks or presets or change the source.

Ruark R2 Mk4 review: How easy is it to use?

There’s always a level of complexity in setting up an internet radio, but the R2 makes it as simple as possible through a setup process that walks you through the basic language and timezone selections before connecting to a network through PIN, password or WPS. If you have to go through the WPA2 password route, it’s surprisingly easy to input using just the dial.

Once that’s done, you can scan for DAB and DAB+ stations and add them to your presets, or connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth. With internet radio, however, you’ve got two options. You can use the dial to browse through stations by location, check through popular options, or use the ‘Discover’ option to find new stations by language, location and genre.

Alternatively, you can use either the Undok or OKTIV apps to find new stations and add them to your presets. Of the two, we’d go for OKTIV. It has a good-looking, modern UI and it feels snappier and more intuitive, enabling you to track down new stations or switch sources with ease.

The apps are also the only way to stream music through Amazon Music or Deezer, though you can use the R2 Mk4 with Spotify via the Spotify app and Spotify Connect. Still, using OKTIV with Amazon Music isn’t massively different from using the Amazon Music app, and the ability to switch quickly from a streaming album or playlist to a DAB+ station or a California-based alt-rock station allows you to follow your own whims without switching apps. One of the great joys of the R2 Mk4 is the way it puts everything within easy reach.

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Ruark R2 Mk4 review: How does it sound?

Unsurprisingly, fantastic. It has the same strengths as the R1S – it’s lively, warm and articulate with impressive texture and detail – but on a larger scale. Whether you’re listening to UK DAB+ stations or internet radio elsewhere, it’s hard to quibble with the tone or the dynamics, and it even handles complex, classical music and opera with finesse. Meanwhile, Radio 4 news and factual programmes or dramas have plenty of weight.

It’s with streaming sources, however, that the R2 Mk4 really shines over the R1S. The latter sounded brilliant for a bookshelf unit, especially with a little judicious EQ tinkering and some time to bed in. However, the R2 Mk4 takes things to a higher level, with a wider and more open soundstage and a slightly richer sound overall. I’d happily use it as my main music system.

How does it compare to the Revo SuperConnect Stereo? Well, without the latter to do A/B comparisons it’s hard to say, but it really comes down to character rather than quality. The Revo’s sound is punchier and its bass a little crisper. There’s slightly more warmth to the tone. However, the R2 Mk4 gives you a more open sound with a cleaner, brighter treble. I can’t imagine anyone feeling disappointed by either.

Ruark R2 Mk4 review: What could be improved?

Not much. It would be great to have built-in voice controls, especially for switching stations or selecting tracks or albums to play. I’d also like to see the OKTIV app allow you to continue streaming one source while you find tracks or stations in another, and with fewer painful waits while it populates a list of albums, tracks or search results. Still, we’re talking minor niggles rather than anything substantial.

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Ruark R2 Mk4 review: Should you buy it?

If you’ve got the budget and the space for a larger internet radio, then yes. The R2 Mk4 sounds brilliant and is a pleasure to use. It’s the kind of radio and streaming system that encourages you to explore all the music, podcasts and radio out there – and it’ll make your favourite bands and artists sound amazing.

Of course, it’s not your only option. The Revo SuperConnect Stereo has the edge if you prefer a more powerful, bassy sound, though the Ruark has its own detailed, airy character and is a little easier to use. If you can’t stretch to nearly £500 for a radio and streaming music system, then the smaller R1S is significantly cheaper and still sounds great. But if you have the cash to splash on a great-looking, great-sounding radio, then this is the one to buy.

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