Guest blog by Luke.
Family-run Ruark have been a name in British hi-fi for decades. For most of their product history, they have focussed on audiophile speakers for separates systems, with a range of compact DAB systems being introduced in 2006. This range has been justifiably well received, with awards and glowing reviews across the range from mainstream newspapers and industry magazines alike. This piece is going to focus on the Ruark R1-V3 radio.
Feature-wise, this radio is packed: it has the ability to set twin alarms, plus DAB, DAB+ and FM stations, a headphone jack and Bluetooth connectivity. It comes ready for mains power use, but a battery pack can also be purchased separately, giving 8-12 hours playback on each charge.
While hi-fi pedigree and performance are one matter, this radio does stand out from the crowd. I decided on the walnut veneer option, but it is available in gloss black and a gloss white also. The silver front panel and black speaker grille is uniform across the range. With a compact size and soft lacquer finishes, the R1-V3 is suited for table-top use, ideal for bedrooms, living rooms and offices. It can look at home nestled in a bookshelf or on a dresser, but it also looks great out in the open – Ruark have clearly put some effort into the design, and that sets it apart from the usual black plastic more often seen on compact radios. When placed more discretely on a bookshelf, the front does look very clean in design, with a black speaker grille and neat screen.
Importantly, Ruark have used an OLED screen – this modern alternative of the older LCD screens more often used on radios produces very crisp text and a clock without putting out too much light – I used this in a darker room in the evening, and wasn’t bothered by a corona from the corner of the room such as the one my older alarm clock puts out.
Sound from this radio is the main strength of it – it is genuinely pleasant to listen to. DAB gives it a large range of stations to choose from, and made it easy to try different genres through it. On voice, it is well rounded, and avoids the sibilance often heard on higher pitches from small radios which was particularly impressive. Through music, the radio was happy to play anything being broadcast – the customer drive unit Ruark have created for this speaker and the build of the well-finished body means this radio doesn’t rattle or sound shrill at higher volumes, putting sound across a room despite the neat size.
Set up requires very little thought and takes no time at all. A telescopic aerial is provided; this screws into the rear of the unit and can be neatly tucked away when not in use. Plug the mains in and the radio will tune in stations when turned on. Daily use is straight forward – in line with other Ruark products, this radio uses their unique RotoDial controls – a black, easy to grip dial is placed on the top of the unit to maintain a sleek look, alongside large labelled function buttons.
There are many small radios out there right now, but finding one with a speaker of this calibre, along with being potentially portable is difficult, and when factoring in the appearance of this radio, I’d say this is well worth a look and listen to.