If you’re a frequent visitor to John Lewis’ electrical department then the name Ruark will need no introduction. This is the high-end of music systems, the Rolls-Royce to Roberts’ BMW, and with prices to match.
Fortunately, it has the sound quality to match its aspirations. Place the Ruark MR1 Mk2 Bluetooth speakers either side of your monitor and you can be assured of an excellent stereo soundstage. For example, if you’re familiar with Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk then you’ll know the tribal drums that echo throughout the song: this is the clearest I’ve heard them from desktop speakers.
This separation of sounds is its biggest advantage compared to rivals, including the similarly expensive HK Citation 300. Even demanding pieces such as JS Bach’s Violin Partita No.2 come through as if you were sitting a few feet from the soloist, and if you want to shift gears and party then the Ruark MR1 Mk2’s are happy to join in: at full volume, these compact speakers really can fill a room.
What you miss out on, inevitably, is bass. Switch to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off and you’ll hear clear vocals but the sound becomes too mid- and treble-heavy because the producers expect you to play tracks on something with a subwoofer; note there is a subwoofer output, should you wish to take advantage.
Ruark MR1 Mk2 review: extra features
While Ruark pitches the MR1s as Bluetooth speakers, there’s an optical input (Toslink) and 3.5mm stereo jack. There’s nothing “smart” about them, other than the design, but as Ruark points out it’s easy enough to attach an Echo Dot or similar if such things are important to you. Plus, if you’re sitting at your desk then you don’t even need to reach for the knob atop the right-hand speaker thanks to a dinky remote control. This lets you change volume, switch inputs and switch the speakers off, but they will head into “snooze” mode after 20 minutes of inactivity.
Note you can take the Ruark speakers on your travels thanks to a battery backpack, which attaches to the rear of the right speaker and provides up to 12 hours of life. You can even use this as a standalone speaker if you need to save on packing space, but Ruark claims that figure applies to two speakers.
Should you buy them? If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your speakers for years, and the price doesn’t bring you out in hives, then undoubtedly yes.
Ruark MR1 Mk2
Product Name: Ruark MR1 Mk2
Product Description: Bluetooth speakers designed for the discerning and well-heeled listener
Offer price: £329
Features and design
Value for money
Ruark MR1 Mk2 summary
The best Bluetooth speakers we’ve heard by a country mile
- Superb detail – perfect for classical music
- Brilliant audio for use at a desk
- Needs separate sub for bass-heavy music