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Home / Reviews / Ruark Audio R2 mk4 review: near-total refinement

Ruark Audio R2 mk4 review: near-total refinement

There’s a huge amount going for this latest version of the R2, but is it enough to battle the crowd of rivals?

Ruark R2

Stuff Verdict

With a smart and high-quality design plus excellent sound quality, the Ruark R2 Mk4 is one of the best premium DAB/internet radios you can get right now.


  • Very rich sound
  • Top quality materials
  • Spotify Connect and Amazon Music support


  • No Apple AirPlay or Chromecast
  • High price
  • Need to use the app for anything complex

The fourth generation of Ruark Audio’s M2 is a pleasingly retro take (as many of Ruark’s products tend to be) on a modern DAB radio, internet radio and wireless speaker/streamer – something Ruark now calls a ‘Smart Music System’.

We’re big fans of the smaller R1 version, now on it’s billionth version (OK, OK, mk4 version). The R1 has recently been joined by the streaming Ruark R1S version. 

So there’s a huge amount going for this latest version of the R2, but the price is an issue that’s hard to ignore. You do pay dearly for the design and engineering on show here when many premium wireless speakers have a lower price – we’re thinking in particular of Apple’s HomePod, Amazon’s Echo Studio and the Sonos Era 100/300.

And then there are quite a few brilliant radios around too, from simple Roberts units to higher-end offerings such as the Revo SuperConnect Stereo that – like the R2 – combine the best of broadcast radio with internet stations.

Much of what you’re paying for here is the craftsmanship that’s gone into it, which we’ll look at in more detail shortly.

While the R2 could, of course, be used in a larger space, it doesn’t replace a full-blown system. So the likeliest scenario is that you’d use it in, say, a kitchen or office.


It’s a good-looking thing, isn’t it? If what you’re after is a good balance of modern and retro, then you’ve just found it. It certainly demands to be on show and is easily recognisable as a Ruark system.

Our review unit has a darker ‘espresso’ finish, but we think the light cream version with a ash slatted wood front has a slightly more modern look to it, though this darker walnut wood does look rather smart as well.

The R2 is around 34cm wide and 14cm deep so is reasonably compact. It certainly won’t dominate a space and it’s more compact than the previous generation. It certainly works well for a desk, windowsill or countertop.  But the matte finish on the top does show up dust.

The ‘RotoDial’ control on top of the R2 is the same as Ruark’s other devices and they buttons are tactile and simple to use. You can change volume using the main knob, power on and off, change source and move through tracks or stations easily. So the physical controls for all the basic bits are great and you’ll probably use the Source button regularly.

However, if you need to do any kind of in-depth selection – such as finding an irregular internet radio station, then you need to use the app. And if you’re really into internet radio stations, that makes a lot of sense as you can browse by location, language or genre.


The 2.5-inch auto-brightness display is OK for showing essentials, but we’re so used to friction-free interfaces now that the menu system is quite challenging to use on a regular basis. We think you’ll just end up using the app for anything other than going between a couple of well-trodden radio stations or switching between sources.

Speaking of the app, things have changed a little there. Ruark devices have used the Undok app for some time (which is developed by a third party) but this has now been replaced by Oktiv, though the original app is still available. You can use either, though Oktiv has a more modern interface and (presumably) will be the preferred choice going forward.


First and foremost, radio is at the heart of the Ruark R2. It has FM and DAB+ (no AM, though that’s not an issue these days) and you get access to a huge number internet radio stations through the app, too. A traditional FM/DAB antenna is supplied on the rear but is neatly-hidden away if you don’t need to use it.

Setup is fine – there are just a few questions – but putting in your Wi-Fi password is a little tiresome if it’s long since you need to use the rotary dial. Scanning for stations is easy and so is setting it up with the app. Presets are available in-app, too. As we mentioned, once you’ve set up the app you won’t be doing much on the R2 itself, it’s just not as convenient.

Both apps do have some limitations – they can’t bring the product out of standby which is irritating, while the source changes as soon as you begin searching for, say, an internet radio station. You can’t carry on listening to the same thing while you browse. The app also isn’t hugely quick, either.

Ruark R2

Connectivity and streaming

It’s also a wireless speaker, so you can stream easily from Spotify, Deezer and Amazon Music as well as podcasts. It has Spotify Connect, so using it with the Spotify app is easy and Ruark states in its literature that Spotify Supremium/HiFi will be supported when it eventually comes out of, what presumably, is some kind of elongated Development Hell. You can stream Deezer and Amazon Music directly from the Undok/Oktiv app.

Ruark R2 screens

The missing link is that there is no Apple AirPlay, or Google Chromecast support for direct streaming from other apps like Apple Music. AirPlay is also a great method to add easy multiroom action and given the huge stack of wireless speaker rivals that’s quite disappointing at this price point. Some may also be disappointed by the lack of any voice control, though if that’s something you want then the smart speaker options are plentiful elsewhere.

There’s no option to team it up with other Ruark products either, reinforcing the idea of the R2 as something to be used in isolation. Bluetooth is, naturally supported (Bluetooth 5.0) so you can stream from other non-native apps fairly easily. Though if you use one of the music services supported, that will be your route.

In terms of physical connections, there’s not much here but then neither would you expect there to be. As well as the power connector there’s a headphone out, line in and a USB-C port for 5W charging of other devices and playback of MP3 files up to 320kbps/48kHz should you wish to go to the effort of connecting up a drive. 

Audio quality

The stereo audio is strikingly rich. You know they say songs sound better on the radio? They really do here. Everything sounds really warm, with great detail. The dual 75mm Ruark-designed NS+ drivers really do some hard work here driven by an 18W Class AB amp – the unit also has a large amount of heft to it at 4.1kg. The R2 has an adaptive equaliser so it can adjust for spoken-word content, for example.

Quality internet and DAB stations in particular sound excellent and there’s so much depth to classical recordings and spoken word shows alike – you just need to move up the dial from BBC Radio 1 to Radio 3 and onto Radio 4 to hear how good it is with variety. The R2 will also go rather loud before it starts to sound rougher, but for everyday use you won’t go past half volume.

Ruark R2 Mk4 verdict

If our star rating was simply for a wonderful-looking, top quality DAB radio with amazing sound quality then we’d be five starring this every time. The compromise comes because of the high price combined with the lack of some connectivity options. You can use Bluetooth of course and the R2 remains a top-quality radio with a huge amount going for it.

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

With a smart and high-quality design plus excellent sound quality, the Ruark R2 Mk4 is one of the best premium DAB/internet radios you can get right now.


Very rich sound

Top quality materials

Spotify Connect and Amazon Music support


No Apple AirPlay or Chromecast

High price

Need to use the app for anything complex

Ruark R2 tech specs

Audio6x class D amplifiers, 4x tweeters (including 1x upward for Dolby Atmos), 2x woofers
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6 (2.4/5GHz), Bluetooth 5.0, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, USB-C for line-in
OtherFar-field mic array, Amazon Alexa support, Trueplay, adjustable EQ
Dimensions160 x 260 x 185 mm
Profile image of Dan Grabham Dan Grabham Editor-in-Chief


Dan is Editor-in-chief of Stuff, working across the magazine and the Stuff.tv website.  Our Editor-in-Chief is a regular at tech shows such as CES in Las Vegas, IFA in Berlin and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as well as at other launches and events. He has been a CES Innovation Awards judge. Dan is completely platform agnostic and very at home using and writing about Windows, macOS, Android and iOS/iPadOS plus lots and lots of gadgets including audio and smart home gear, laptops and smartphones. He's also been interviewed and quoted in a wide variety of places including The Sun, BBC World Service, BBC News Online, BBC Radio 5Live, BBC Radio 4, Sky News Radio and BBC Local Radio.

Areas of expertise

Computing, mobile, audio, smart home

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