Ruark Audio MR1 Review


With the advent of streaming, the ever-increasing use of smartphones for music consumption, and an increasing demand for high sound quality, there has never been a better time for Ruark Audio to introduce the MR1 – a compact and stylish desktop speaker system for the modern digital age. Designed to be the perfect blend of style, convenience and sound quality, the MR1’s tiny,bass-reflex cabinets feature a 2-way driver array, a built-in linear class A-B amplifier, and APT-X bluetooth connectivity.

The drivers have been designed to best compliment the MR1s tiny enclosures. Using advanced software and the strictest attention to detail, both the 75MM long-throw woofer and 20MM tweeter feature neodymium magnets, and a design that reduces sound reflections that can cause unwanted distortion. The MR1s are also full shielded, meaning they can be placed beside a TV or even a turntable without causing interference.

The internal amplifier features a linear class A-B design, offering a 20W nominal output. Ruark opted for the traditional class A-B design as opposed to the modern, more efficient digital designs as digital amplifiers can often sound forced and unnatural. High-capacity power supplies and audio-grade components throughout guarantee the best possible sound with low distortion.

a loudness function offers higher sound quality at lower volumes, compensating for the human ear’s loss of sensitivity to low frequencies at low volumes. An automatic standby feature sets the MR1s to standby after a period of inactivity, allowing the MR1s to wake up when a signal is once again detected.

Other features include Ruark’s 1-knob control system, a subwoofer output, line input with attenuation and ApT-X bluetooth connectivity, enabling you to stream music via bluetooth with eh best possible sound quality. Available finishes include Rich Walnut, soft black or soft white.

Packaging

Simple yet sturdy, the MR1s come packaged in a compact box with a string carrying handle. Foam wrapping protects the finish, while large polystyrene blocks keep everything in place.

In the box, you’ll find the MR1s themselves, along with their external power supply, power cable, and a single RCA cable to connect the 2 speakers together. Inclusion of a standard 3.5MM line input cable would’ve been nice to see. You also get some documentation and a tiny remote control.

First impressions

While the hand-crafted wood enclosures are certainly well made, they’re not particularly weighty – weighing in at 3KG for the pair. They’re well-damped, the usual thump test yielding only a dull thud as opposed to the resonance often exuded by speakers at this price point.

On the front, you’ll find the 2-way driver arrangement covered by a cloth grille. The grilles are removable, and despite being plastic-framed are sturdy and don’t flex during removal or reinstallation.

Switch to the back of the right-channel speaker, and you’ll find the array of connections. These include the output for the left speaker, as well as an output for an active subwoofer. A 3.5MM line input features an associated attenuation switch, allowing you to adjust the input level to obtain best results from your particular device. A DC power input accepts power from the external power supply.

The top features the single control knob. Pressing the knob turns on the power, while holding for a couple of seconds switches between bluetooth or line input. A status LED shows which input the MR1s are currently set too, as well as when maximum volume is reached.

The Remote

The MR1s feature a tiny, half-sized credit-card remote. Its array of 6 functions include input switching, volume, mute and standby.

Its controls feel a little spongy, but work well. The battery is a standard coin-cell, which slots in on a small tray underneath and can be a little hard to remove.

Sound

The MR1s offer up a surprisingly rich, powerful sound that is entirely at odds with the size of their enclosure. There’s a natural warmth to the mid-range frequencies, backed up by a sweet treble that ultimately makes them fantastic for vocals and rock. Their warm sound means they’re not in the least bit fatiguing – you can listen to these for hours on end. And, they’re great fun to listen to – that sense of enjoyment becoming even more prevalent as you subconsciously inch the volume up.

From Fleetwood to Foreigner, Paramore to Pantera, the stones to Shinedown. The MR1s effortless sound will have you streaming your music collection for hours on end. They sound great anywhere, too – though placing them as far apart as the cable will allow near a back wall will produce the best results. Place them on stands, and their performance is elevated even further.

Summary

Sure, the MR1s aren’t going to compete with even a budget hi-fi separates system. But they’re not trying to. What the MR1s offer is a stylish, streamlined desktop speaker system with a compact form-factor and all the features the average home user needs.

They’re versatile, too. They’re great computer speakers, and they’ll sound great either side of your TV. They make a fantastic bedroom speaker system, and their compact dimensions means you can take them on the go with you if the need arises. And, most importantly, they’re great fun! Isn’t that what music is all about?


About Ashley

I founded Audio Appraisal a few years ago and continue to regularly update it with fresh content. An avid vinyl collector and coffee addict, I can often be found at a workbench tinkering with a faulty electronic device, tweaking a turntable to extract the last bit of detail from those tiny grooves in the plastic stuff, or relaxing in front of the hi-fi with a good album. A musician, occasional producer and sound engineer, other hobbies include software programming, web development, long walks and occasional DIY. Follow @ashleycox2

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