The Ruark R410 is the brand’s most sophisticated all-in-one music system yet, combining top-notch aesthetics with a great set of specs
- Attractive contemporary design
- High-resolution audio capabilities
- Supports wireless and wired sources
- Premium price for a two-channel performer
- Moderate amplification
The Ruark R410 is the latest high-end music system from the Essex-based audio specialist. It takes its style lead from Ruark’s lauded music centres and radios, with a clear Scandi-influenced retro design, but ramps up the technology beneath the hood.
This new all-in-one not only supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth streaming – with high-resolution music file compatibility up to 24-bit 192kHz – but has a generous level of physical connectivity, including HDMI eARC. You can use it with a turntable or CD player, and even deploy it under your telly.
It’s an intriguing proposition for both music lovers and AV fans alike, but doesn’t come cheap – the Ruark R410 will set you back a cool £1,299.
Ruark R410 review: What do you get for the money?
With an enviable reputation when it comes to industrial design, Ruark is not a brand to rely on cookie-cutter Bakelite. Even the brand’s more affordable digital radios have designer flair. With the R410, the brand has gone all out, channelling the retro vibe it’s been championing for some time, but adding a fresh design slant.
Size-wise, it’s not overly imposing. The R410 has a 560 x 290 x 150mm (WDH) footprint, so will fit most furniture or AV racks. Two cosmetic editions are available, both of which sport the same distinctive wooden-slatted grille and widely spaced full-depth feet.
One has the R410 wrapped with an eco-wood veneer, while the other offers a soft grey metallic chassis. The wood source is sustainable and the product of artful recomposition. I had both versions in for our audition, and fell slightly more in love with the latter, although build quality is undeniably high across the board.
Dominating the fascia is a high contrast 4in TFT screen. From a distance, it looks much like a smartphone display and looks sharp when displaying album art or generic graphics.
The top of the R410 features another Ruark staple, the RotoDial controller. It’s infinitely more interesting than the usual soft touch buttons and it’s intuitive to use, too. Ruark also includes a lookalike wireless RotoDial remote, as supplied with the brand’s other R-Series models. This is a lovely tactile controller that’s USB-C rechargeable and duplicates all the controls available on the body of the speaker unit.
When it comes to wireless streaming, the R410 has all bases covered. In addition to Wi-Fi, there’s Bluetooth aptX HD, Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect. Chromecast built-in and Apple AirPlay 2 can be used to integrate the R410 with other devices, and it’s UPnP compliant too. Radio services are delivered over DAB, DAB+, FM and the internet, so channel hopping is a breeze.
Physical hook-ups are also encouraged, and not just for legacy kit. There’s an analogue phono input for turntables, plus stereo line input, digital optical audio input, and a USB input which supports a CD-ROM drive. To back up Wi-Fi there’s an Ethernet port, while you can also connect the R410 to your TV using an HDMI eARC port.
READ NEXT: The best wireless speakers
Ruark R410 review: What did we like about it?
All too often, the convenience of a single-box music system involves a degree of compromise when it comes to performance – disproportionately so, when elevated design is involved. Thankfully, that’s not the case here. This flagship Ruark has a reassuring level of refinement, commensurate with its price point.
The system is rated at 4 x 30W (120W cumulative Class D) and had no problem comfortably filling my listening room, which is of a fairly typical size. As a stereo system, it uses a two-channel amplifier module attached to the rear of each mid-cone and tweeter combo.
Musical performance is excellent, with all genres getting a fair crack of the same whip. I ran through complex classical tracks, plus some stripped rock and roll, and the R410 sounded great with both, exhibiting equal scale and weight.
It’s particularly fine at layering detail atop a bedrock of punchy bass. This high-frequency clarity also helps with spatial placement. The soundstage is reassuringly wide and coherent (there’s always the fear that single-box solutions will sound somehow constrained). That’s not an issue here.
Bruce Springsteen’s Cover Me from Born in the USA (16-bit), sounds positively huge with Bruce’s vocals locked dead centre, while the E-Streeters give it their all to the left and right. There’s movement and energy across the board.
Mid and lower bass is tight and entertaining. Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin (a hi-res 24-bit 96kHz recording) is altogether more complex, but the R410 delivers a convincing, full-bodied baritone, and gives instruments just enough breathing room to impress.
Much of the credit goes to the new long throw 100mm paper cone bass/mid units, which prove entirely efficient and dynamic. If you take a look at the underside of the unit, you’ll see two bass reflex ports, which provide extra reinforcement where low frequencies are concerned.
Treble is handled by a pair of 20mm silk dome tweeters (the same as those found in the brand’s MR1, which feature on our list of the best PC speakers), while digital-to-analogue and analogue-to-digital conversion is looked after by a 32-bit 192kHz Burr-Brown.
One of the more intriguing aspects of the Ruark R410 is its HDMI provision, but it makes perfect sense. The system is compact enough to sit beneath a TV and looks a good deal more presentable than the average soundbar. When laced up over HDMI, you can also use your RotoDial remote to control the TV volume.
Capable of embellishing pacy dramas and action, it has a warm mid-range that favours dialogue, ensuring everything from news to chat shows is rendered sharply and clearly. It’s worth pointing out that the system is not Dolby Atmos capable though. Not so much because it lacks the drivers for immersive audio, more that it only understands PCM, so if you try and bitstream anything other than vanilla stereo you’ll simply not hear anything.
There’s definitely a move toward conventional stereo systems for TV audio (driven by a need for simplicity and style), and this certainly fits the bill. Kick back with the second season of Loki on Disney Plus and the Ruark sounds suitably cinematic. Not immersive, but definitely engaging.
READ NEXT: The best soundbars to buy
Ruark R410 review: What could be improved?
The R410 does everything it sets out to with aplomb, but there’s arguably room for more power and visceral attack. I suspect Ruark is saving just that for a larger, future iteration.
From a usability point of view, a native ability to decode Dolby Atmos and multichannel sources and map them to the R410’s driver configuration would also save a fair amount of system setup faff.
Ruark Audio R410 review: Should you buy it?
If you’re after an all-in-one music system that offers peerless connectivity, then the Ruark R410 has got to be worth serious shortlisting.
As a wireless music system, it combines flair and real-world functionality. There’s really not much you can’t listen to on it, be it streamed or played physically. The support for high-resolution sources unlocks an extra level of clarity, and its dynamic response makes film night a lot of fun.
Of course, it is expensive, and you might well be able to configure a separate system for less that does much the same thing – but the stylish integration is going to be difficult to match. The Ruark R410 sounds as good as it looks and comes highly recommended.