The Ruark Audio R5 is a high-end all-in-one Hi-Fi system, and unusually in this age of wireless steaming, it has a built-in CD player. Of course, it also supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so it’s still a modern product, even if Ruark’s styling remains decidedly retro. The R5 retails for £999 as at the time of writing (December 2019), but if it sounds as good as it looks, then this might make the perfect gift for a trendy music enthusiast.
The Ruark Audio R5 is certainly a beautifully styled and impeccably finished piece of industrial design, influenced by a very deliberate ‘60s vibe. Personally, I really like it, with the rich walnut veneer cabinet and Camira grey fabric speaker grille lending the Ruark a pleasing touch of luxury. If you prefer, the R5 also comes in a soft grey lacquer but, either way, it’s extremely well made.
There’s an informative OLED display to the left of the centrally mounted CD slot, and an eject button on the right. The solid cabinet sits on metal rails that provide excellent support and isolation, while big metallic heatsinks at the rear of the cabinet provide cooling. It measures 520 x 142 x 300mm (WxHxD), and weighs 9.5kg, suggesting decent speakers and amplification within.
The Ruark Audio R5 is certainly a beautifully styled and impeccably finished piece of industrial design, influenced by a very deliberate ‘60s vibe
There’s a 3.5mm headphone socket at the front, just to the right of the CD slot and eject button. All the other physical connections are at the rear right as you face the R5. Here you’ll find a phono input and grounding terminal for a turntable, along with a stereo line in and line out, both of which use RCA connectors. In addition, there’s an optical digital input, a USB port, and an Ethernet port for a wired connection.
The solid cabinet sits on metal rails that provide excellent support and isolation
In addition, there’s the CD drive, which supports CD-Audio, MP3, AAC and WMA discs. There’s also text support for CD and USB playback when available. There’s a DAB/DAB+/FM tuner with RDS, along with Internet Radio. There’s a total of 30 station presets available (10 DAB, 10 FM, and 10 Internet). In terms of wireless connections, there’s built-in Wi-Fi and aptX HD Bluetooth.
In terms of control, there’s Ruark’s patented RotoDial controller recessed into the top panel of the R5. This provides power, source, menu, back, preset, play/pause and skip buttons, as well as a volume dial that doubles as a ‘click to select’ button. The R5 includes an identical remote that offers exactly the same functionality, and both are effective controllers.
Features and Specs
The Ruark Audio R5 might look pretty on the outside, but the company hasn’t forgotten about what goes inside. The system is built around a pair of 75mm full-range drivers with a neodymium magnet system. There’s also an integrated downward-firing active subwoofer with a 125mm long-throw driver.
The amplifier is linear Class A-B (making a nice change from Class D) and generates 90W of nominal output. There’s a 32bit/192kHz DAC, while other features include adjustable treble and bass, 3D sound processing, and a function to enhance sounds at low volumes.
The Wi-Fi supports DLNA for audio streaming from NAS drives and PCs, while the aptX HD Bluetooth provides 24-bit high resolution playback from compatible devices. The R5 also supports the ubiquitous Spotify Connect, along with Amazon Music, Deezer and Tidal. The USB port can handle WAV, WMA, AAC, FLAC and MP3 codecs.
There’s a Multi-Room mode allowing the R5 to be wirelessly connected and synchronised with up to seven other Ruark models, including the MRx, R2 Mk3 and R7 Mk3. In addition, there’s the Ruark Link app, which is available for iOS and Android devices, and provides full remote control.
The Ruark Audio R5 might look pretty on the outside, but the company hasn’t forgotten about what goes inside
The brightness of the high-contrast OLED display can be adjusted to suit requirements, and it includes a large format clock. There’s a programmable dual alarm, with once, daily, weekday and weekend settings, along with adjustable alarm volume, snooze and sleep timers.
The Ruark Audio R5 is an all-in-one system, which means most things are built-in. So all you really need to is decide where to place it, and connect any additional sources. When you first turn it on, you’ll be asked to connect to your Wi-Fi network, a process that’s completely painless. After that, all you need to do is tune in your favourite FM stations and you’re good to go.
As is often the case with remote apps, there was the occasional crash
The remote control uses RF and pairs automatically, but if you prefer using an app, there’s also Ruark Link. I loaded this on to my iPhone X, and it’s fairly basic but gets the job done. As is often the case with remote apps, there was the occasional crash. I definitely preferred the proper remote, which is an effective controller once you get used to its shape.
In terms of testing, I listened to CDs via the internal CD drive, test tracks from my home network, and other music from the Spotify and Tidal streaming services. I listened to Radio 2 via the built-in FM tuner, and I got my fix of heavy metal thanks to Planet Rock on DAB. I even connected my LG 65C8 to the optical digital input, although it did block the screen.
The Ruark Audio R5 impresses right out of the box, with a big and coherent soundstage that can fill the most cavernous of rooms. There’s real width to the sonic presence, despite the relative size of the cabinet, and the stereo imaging is excellent. There’s a pleasing clarity and precision to the audio as well, reflecting the well-crafted acoustic components.
Listening to Where the Action Is by The Waterboys reveals some excellent detail retrieval, as it picks out the beautiful piano accompaniment to Mike Scott’s surprisingly touching reading from The Wind in the Willows on the track The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. However, the R5 can also kick up a gear when it comes to the strident guitars and punk attitude of London Mick.
The drivers have an extremely well-defined midrange that carefully picks out the saxophone solo on Vangelis’s Blade Runner soundtrack. Pop on Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights, and the higher frequencies are delivered without ever sounding shrill or harsh. It’s a commanding performance and goes a long way towards justifying the price.
… it’s a highly accomplished and dynamic all-in-one system that’s sure to please
The ace up the R5’s sleeve is it Class A-B amplification, which results in an energy and warmth that’s evident when listening to Van Morrison’s Sweet Thing. The sound of the double bass washes over you like sweet honey. However, the performance is also responsive, with some great transients, plenty of power and excellent headroom.
The biggest surprise is the bass, which is very deep for a product of this size, although with a downward-firing woofer you need to choose a solid surface on which to place the R5. You also need to turn the ‘loudness’ control off because, otherwise, the low frequencies will overpower the rest of the system.
Once off, the crossover of the woofer with the two full-range drivers is better, and Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll sounded fantastic on Planet Rock. I did think the low-end never feels completely integrated, but that’s my only real complaint about the R5. In all other respects, it’s a highly accomplished and dynamic all-in-one system that’s sure to please.
The Ruark Audio R5 impresses right out of the box, with a big and coherent soundstage that can fill the most cavernous of rooms
High quality drivers
Extremely well made
Cool retro design
Bass could be better integrated
Ruark Audio R5 All-in-One System Review
The Ruark Audio R5 certainly fits the description of an all-one system, with everything either built-in or available via connections at the rear. It’s beautifully designed, exceptionally well made and oozes style and ‘60s cool.
However, don’t let that retro facade fool you, inside there are high quality speakers, audio grade components and some excellent amplification. There are also 21st century features galore, with built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a remote app and support for Spotify, Amazon Music Deezer and Tidal.
Crucially, the R5 sounds fantastic. Whatever your preferred listening choices, this wonderful little system has you covered. The delivery is clear and precise, the performance accomplished, the bass surprisingly deep, and, regardless of your room’s size, there’s enough power to fill it.
The R5 is certainly expensive, but it’s the ideal solution for anyone looking for a stylish, uncompromising and convenient way to listen to all their audio sources. It’s also hard to recommend anything else because this premium all-in-one solution sits in a niche of its own.
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