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Ruark R810

On paper, the Ruark R810 is a wireless speaker of a type that I have seen appearing in increasing numbers of late: it’s designed to be a music-orientated device with a smattering of AV capability built in. Even the briefest glance at the pictures, though, should be enough to confirm that some aspects of the Ruark are quite different from anything you might nominally see as competition. You can rest assured that the ‘living with’ section of this review is going to be an interesting one - but before I get there, let’s take a look at what the R810 actually does. 

The short answer to this is “quite a lot”. The Ruark is built around a wireless streaming module that can access content you have stored locally, or access TIDAL and Spotify via their direct ‘Connect’ functions. It then makes use of both AirPlay and Chromecast to ensure that other services such as Qobuz and Deezer are accessible too. This is finished off with a good-quality Bluetooth implementation. The Ruark will support sample rates up to 24bit/384kHz, which covers off most requirements - but it won’t handle DSD or, more unusually, AIFF files. 

This module is supported by a decent clutch of physical inputs, too. The R810 has an optical input, an HDMI ARC connection, and both an analogue line-in and a moving-magnet phono stage. Finally, you’ll also find DAB/FM radio in there. In short, there isn’t a great deal you can’t connect to the R810, and it’s a usefully flexible device. Access to all this functionality is simple enough via the front panel display or supplied remote handset. 

Interestingly, despite being rather larger (don’t worry - I promise we’ll get to this), the R810 uses a very similar complement of drivers to the considerably smaller R410. It uses a pair of 20mm soft-dome tweeters and 100mm mid/bass units arranged at either end of the chassis. Where the R810 differs is that they are assisted in their work by a 203mm driver firing downwards, accompanied by two small bass ports that equalise the pressure in the chambers around the forward-firing drivers. 

The amplification is also unusual. While most rivals make use of Class D power, the R810 has a 180 watt class A/B amplifier and the heat sink to prove it. This can be seen as a statement of intent: the R810 is competing in a different space from some rivals. 

Sound quality 

Something that crops up consistently in reviews of single chassis speakers such as this is that they simply don’t create the same stereo image that a more conventional pair of speakers can. The R810 is a metre-wide riposte to this idea. There is sufficient width between the left and right drivers that there is a genuine stereo image in evidence. The really clever part is that the Ruark creates this width without leaving an awkward hole in the middle. Instead, vocals find themselves centred effectively and made the focus of attention. 

This is helped by the R810 delivering those vocals with an impressive level of presence and realism. Before it became a force in wireless speakers, Ruark was a maker of traditional box speaker designs, and that expertise is plainly audible here. There is an element of DSP and other processing trickery at work in the way that the Ruark performs, but the lightness of touch with which it is executed means you are never really aware of it - you get pulled into the music instead. All the way up to the upper registers, the R810 sounds airy, spacious and consistently natural. 

Where the R810 springs another surprise is with bass response. Given its size, you might assume the Ruark is going to be very potent indeed - but it’s not that straightforward. The bass has that same unenhanced quality that the upper registers do, and it can at times leave the Ruark sounding fractionally lean. There are, of course, bass and treble controls which can be used to tweak this - but this can affect the pleasing overall balance that the R810 generally displays. It is also worth noting that the Ruark has an impressively linear response to its volume control, which means that it continues to open up (and bass extension increases too) at levels where many other speakers of this nature start sounding boomy and overprocessed. 

The positive qualities of the Ruark are also apparent when the external inputs are used. The HDMI ARC implementation is very good, and ensures that the R810 produces a soundstage that extends well beyond the screen while keeping dialogue centred on it. The phono stage is also more than respectable, too, being largely free of unwanted noise and has plenty of gain.

Living with

The moment you see any product described (by its manufacturer, no less) as a ‘radiogram’, you should be aware that it’s going to be a little different from the norm. Ruark’s whole approach to the R810 is that it moves from being something you place on a piece of furniture to something that is the furniture. Each R810 is supplied with a metal frame that supports it roughly 50cm from the floor, whereupon it becomes a sideboard-shaped arrangement that is completely freestanding. 

Ruark has again been clever - as well as being able to sit in this configuration for audio-only use, you can order a frame attachment that allows the R810 to support most flatscreen TVs (anything up to 55 inches won’t extend beyond its sides) and that also has a little shelf underneath to support a disc player or media box. It’s usefully joined-up thinking, and Ruark has been diligent enough to ensure that there is a gap between the R810 and the bottom of the screen that is large enough to accommodate a turntable - so the Ruark is one of a tiny number of devices of this nature to give a credible answer to the question of where you might actually put a record player. 

Of course, if you are selling your product as furniture it needs to look the part - and Ruark has done rather well here. The R810 is available in a wood finish, or with a grey chassis and a wooden front grille. In both cases it manages to be both contemporary and something that will fit into a traditionally furnished room without causing upset. Details like the offset display and rotary control built into the top are very well executed indeed, and help the Ruark feel like a quality option. The overall standard of build is very good. 

How you perceive the software contained by the Ruark is going to depend on how you choose to use it. Spotify and TIDAL customers are very well served, and the Chromecast implementation is good enough that most people using the Ruark this way will be pretty happy too. Accessing your own content requires a third-party app, though, and it’s not as slick as some rivals in this regard (although none of those rivals are large enough to support a television, so some care needs to be taken describing them as such). If the R810 had, say, Roon compatibility, this would cease to be an issue - but that doesn’t seem to be on the cards at the moment.

Where Ruark gets some points back is with its remote control. It mimics the controls on the top panel, and sits in the hand like a hockey puck. It’s well laid out and a pleasure to use, and the simple act of mirroring the controls this way makes it simple and logical to operate.


The R810 won’t be for everyone - but it’s a bold and brilliant take on how to integrate sound and screen, and the more time I spend testing it the more sense it makes. Its cleverness is supported by a level of performance that is consistently good and never less than enjoyable. The Radiogram is back, and it’s better than ever before. 

Listening Notes 

Air Moon Safari Rarities
These sought-after offcuts from one of the seminal electronic albums of the nineties are exactly the sort of sounds you think should be coming out of the Ruark. It does a brilliant job of making them sound lush and involving. 

The Kills Blood Pressure
This raw and lean production would sound wrong if overly DSP’d, but the very natural presentation of the R810 does a great job of keeping it sounding as potent and engaging as it is supposed to.

Agnes Obel Philharmonics
Usually, one-box systems struggle to give this stunning album the space and airiness it deserves. The Ruark’s sheer size generates a convincing and spacious stereo image you can all-but swim about in. 

What the press say

Why you should buy it

If you’re looking for a self-contained, free-standing audio solution that can handle some extra sources and a screen too, Ruark has delivered a solution that, while slightly quirky, works really rather well. Audio as furniture just might catch on…

Video review

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