Vita Audio elbowed its way into the crowded DAB market with its simple and sonically-superior range of radios. But it’s not ready to stop there: the new R4 is a complete tabletop hi-fi system and its most ambitious design to date.

The large R4 unit houses not only DAB and FM tuners, but also a CD player, amplifier, stereo speakers and a built-in subwoofer. As befits a music system for the modern age, there’s also an iPod dock.

Still after more features? Alarm and sleep timer functions are provided, along with two auxiliary inputs and a USB socket, and the R4 will also play MP3 or WMA files from CD or from memory devices connected via the USB port.

Taking on the micro machines

This wealth of functionality, not to mention the £550 price tag, ensures the R4 isn’t just competing against the likes of the Evoke-3 from rival Pure Digital, but also against conventional micro systems from the likes of Onkyo and Denon.

Not unsurprisingly, Vita's R4 comes in a variety of finishes, each immaculately built. There's a ‘Dream White’ high-gloss lacquer or, at £50 less, a walnut veneer. The immaculate finish and serious weight make for a luxurious, premium piece of kit.

The amplification is top class too. Rather than being bought from an outside supplier, it’s been designed in-house specifically for the R4, and provides a total of 80W to the two stereo speakers and the downward-firing subwoofer.

Innovative control

Up and running via the mains power, the R4 has a novel 'RotoDial' remote control that allows for complete control of the system or a connected iPod. It takes a few minutes to master the button layout but, once done, the remote works well. When not in use it integrates into the main unit.

Listening to the CD player, the sound is fast, dynamic and involving. While the sonic style has a rich, luxurious character, in line with the styling, it’s never sluggish or gloopy.

The radio section is also impressive on both DAB and FM – though it sounds better on FM where there’s a good signal and you have a choice – and more than acceptable tuner strength on both bands.

Rip at high bitrates

Switch to digital tunes using a docked iPod and again it’s an enjoyable, open, room-filling sound. If you’re using lower bitrate recordings – shame on you – the R4 is unforgiving, and absolute detail won’t rival the best micro systems, but it’s still a high quality for a one-box, stylish solution.

If you’re after something a little different, with bags of functionality coupled with style, sonic ability and novel control, the Vita R4 is well worth considering.


Stuff says... 

Vita Audio R4 review

With a potent mix of features, style and substance, the R4 is well worth its premium