Ruark Audio has unveiled its R410 all-in-one streaming system and, well, just look at it. With a 70s-inspired retro design bedecked in distinct wood panelling, a sleek touchscreen display and Ruark's customary RotoDial controller, the new R410 has every bit of our attention.
Those good looks are complemented by a huge array of modern streaming conveniences, not to mention hi-res support, radio tuners and ample physical connections. The R410 is designed to deliver "unrivalled sound and seamless connectivity options" and will look to give the class-leading Naim Mu-so 2 a run for its money.
We first laid eyes on the Ruark R410 earlier in the year at High End Munich 2023 and, while a busy, noisy show floor is no place to get a first impression of any bit of kit's sound quality, we certainly spent time looking at it from every angle.
See the gallery below for a selection of R410 hands-on images and details:
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Ruark Audio has a strong history of making beautiful radios and speakers with retro charm but modern features, and this R410 – the first product in its new 100 Series of products – brings the company into a realm that brands such as Naim, KEF and, as of late, Sonos have dominated.
So, let's start with the extensive connectivity. The streaming ABCs come as standard: AirPlay 2, Bluetooth (in aptX HD flavour) and Chromecast built-in. You also get Tidal Connect, Spotify Connect, BBC Sounds, and radio – DAB/DAB+, FM and internet radio. If that's not enough for your musical needs, you can physically connect your TV, CD player or other audio sources to the R410's HDMI eARC or optical input. The system even has a phono stage built-in so you can hook up a turntable directly.
Wi-Fi and Ethernet are means to get the Ruark connected to your home network, and the R410 has UPnP compatibility, too, allowing you to play any music files stored on your home network. The internal BurrBrown DAC can handle high-resolution audio files up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM.
Under the hood is a Class D amplifier offering 120W of power per channel. Ruark says it has gone for digital amplification for its "high efficiency and output with ultralow distortion", with its smaller form factor (compared with traditional Class A/B amplification) also allowing Ruark to "mount a complete two-channel amplifier assembly directly onto the rear of each bass mid unit" and keep signal paths short in the name of audio integrity.
The R410 uses the very same 20mm silk dome tweeters found in the multi-Award-winning Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2 desktop speakers, which we've long favoured for their richly detailed, natural and dynamic sound. Alongside the twin tweeters are two 10cm long-throw NS+ mid/bass units, while additional oomph to the bass is offered by dual bass reflex ports positioned on the underside of the unit. The whole unit measures 13.3 x 56 x 29cm (hwd) and weighs 9.5kg.
The distinctive hand-crafted grille and cabinet use sustainable wood material, engineered and recomposed in a way that offers "consistent grain patterns and colour that’s less prone to change with time". Ruark told us it has given careful attention to every element of the design and build: from the subtle curve to the wooden grille to even the fonts chosen on the display screen.
Even the colour of the backing MDF (all black) was supposedly chosen to ensure a seamless look through the gaps in the front grille.
Breaking up the wooden fascia is the 4.4-inch TFT full-colour interactive screen, designed to "emulate the way that we view music services on our smartphones". It's certainly unusual and a seemingly clever departure from the cruder screens we see on radios or modest hi-fi devices.
Unlike other Ruark internet radios, which use third-party software that is also available in radios from other brands, the software and processing inside the R410 is bespoke. There's a separate app available, though Ruark would point you to an updated version of its circular RotoDial controller on the unit, a replica of which is also available as a standalone remote control (pictured above). Neat.
“Apart from the tweeter drivers taken from our award-winning MR1 speakers, absolutely everything about our 100 Series is new!," says Alan O’Rourke, managing director of Ruark Audio. "Taking almost three years to create, we are truly excited as to what 100 Series offers and believe that it will open a new and exciting chapter for Ruark."
The Ruark Audio R410 will cost £1299 (prices for other territories are pending) and be offered in grey and walnut finishes.
At this premium price, the Ruark's most obvious rival is the long-running, similarly featured Naim Mu-so, now in its 2nd generation and currently priced at £1149 (we tested it at £1299 in 2019). It's a former Award-winner with a high-quality performance and ease of use that won us over when we first reviewed it, and we're excited to see just how the new R410 squares up against current standards. Stay tuned for a full review in due course.
Read our review of the Award-winning Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2
And check out the original 1998 Ruark Solstice speakers