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Ruark R7 hands-on: When did furniture sound this good?

You might not have heard of the name Ruark before, and to be honest, I hadn’t either. But they’re a British audio company that makes HiFi systems that are apparently designed to first catch your eye—and then your ear. So, when we were invited to have a hands-on session with the Ruark R7, I was definitely intrigued. An all-in-one HiFi system with modern streaming capabilities? That sounded like a cool deal.

At a steep price of RM15,999, however, the big question I had at the start was: who would pay this much for Bluetooth speakers? 

Ruark says the R7—their flagship model in Malaysia—is essentially a modernisation of the classic radiogram. Radiograms combine radio and vinyls in one player, and were often made of polished wood.

The Ruark R7 is available in a Rich Walnut or Soft Grey finish, and for our session, we got the classic-looking walnut version. Despite its vintage look, the R7 packs everything that the modern music lover needs: Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, digital and analogue ports, and even access to Spotify Connect and Internet radio

There’s also an honest-to-goodness CD slot for your 90s collection. The only thing you’re really missing out on is a vinyl player.

But I only had eyes—or rather, ears for one thing: the sound. What does 16 thousand ringgit even sound like?.

I’ll jump past technical terms and start with this: the Ruark R7 sounds amazing. As opposed to most mainstream speakers these days, the R7 stays true to its HiFi roots with a sound profile that’s balanced, dynamic, with true-to-life audio reproduction.

So what this basically means is that there isn’t any perceivable bass boosting or audio upscaling, and as a result, the R7 provides an experience that isn’t dissimilar to monitor speakers. Audio is crisp, sound staging is great, and I genuinely heard instruments/details in songs that I couldn’t hear with other speakers. 

This high fidelity performance is down to the use of a Class A/B amplifier. The gist of it is that this class of amplifiers offer both high fidelity audio and power efficiency, with 160W of total power rated for the R7. 

Two Ruark Audio dual concentric drivers sit on either side of the monochromatic OLED display, while there is also a downward-firing subwoofer on the bottom of the speaker cabinet. Everything is controlled with the RotoDial controller — an apt name, to be fair — which is pretty easy to use, and it connects via Bluetooth.

The remote looks good, too—just like the rest of the setup.

The cabinet, or the enclosure, has been designed for the best acoustics, as well as a vintage aesthetic. Speaking of that aesthetic, I can totally imagine the R7 fitting in nicely with a simple, minimalist home interior. The speaker cabinet, made of solid wood, also looks and feels like it wouldn’t be out of place amongst high-end, designer furniture.

Something I noticed, however, was that the Ruark R7 wobbles a lot. Basically, the legs propping the speaker up seem very unstable, so I’d advise you to detach them, and simply place the cabinet down on a flat surface instead. Instead, you should place the cabinet on a higher surface.

Sound staging is such a crucial element of the HiFi experience, but with the R7 sitting this low, I found that I needed to sit on the floor to get the best experience. 

So, back to my original question: who would pay this much for Bluetooth speakers? Well, for starters, 16k isn’t really that much for a complete HiFi system—I personally know audiophiles who spend upwards of 20-30k on an average modular HiFi setup. 

To me, the Ruark R7 looks and sounds like a product that will appeal to Audiophiles—but audiophiles who want a wide range of built-in features in a comparatively compact package. And maybe those who don’t want to tinker around too much. 

I also feel that the R7’s all-in-one nature, as opposed to modular HiFis, makes it a beginner-friendly entry point into the high fidelity audio world. Plus, its size and look also means that you should be able to fit it into more spaces compared to bigger, hardcore HiFi setups.

At RM16k, the R7 sits in a sweet spot between the mainstream and audiophile market—and I’m guessing that’s exactly where Ruark wants to be with the R7. Plus, has furniture ever sounded this good?

To find out more, click here for Ruark’s official website.

Photography by Rory Lee with the Fujifilm X-T4.