Our Ruark MR1 Mk2 review will tell you all you need to know about what could be the best computer speakers around – although really this pair of units can claim to be the best speakers for all kinds of scenarios, no matter what you happen to be connecting them to.
With wireless Bluetooth connectivity an option as well as aux in and optical in, you've got a decent amount of options when it comes to inputs, and the design also helps these speakers to stand out (you've got a couple of different finishes to choose between).
You're also able to connect up your smartphones and tablets to the Ruark MR1 Mk2 speakers, making them contenders for the best Bluetooth speakers as well. In our detailed review we'll explain everything you need to know about this stereo speaker set.
Ruark MR1 Mk2 review: design and setup
The Ruark MR1 Mk2 speakers comprise two 170 mm x 130 mm x 135 mm (6.7 inch x 5.1 inch x 5.3 inch) units finished in either rich brown walnut veneer or soft grey lacquer – both are equally impressive and stylish, and these speakers are guaranteed to add a touch of style to any desk or shelf. The fabric fronts do no harm in terms of the aesthetics of the devices, and the design of the rear of the speakers is tastefully minimal as well.
What might not come across in the images accompanying this review is just how compact the units are: we've given you the dimensions, so you can measure the space for yourself, but these give you a great soundscape for your computer or record player without taking up very much room at all. They won't dominate the room you put them in physically – just with the sound they produce, if you turn up the volume. They feel very solid and well built too, when you pick them up.
The right-hand speaker has a black, raised dial on the top that enables you to switch between audio inputs (Bluetooth, optical in, aux in), and adjust the volume – the dial is a really nice touch that saves you having to fiddle around with the sound levels on your connected devices. A basic remote is included with the package too, with the same functionality for adjusting the volume and switching between inputs.
Setup couldn't be much easier: you just plug in the right-hand speaker and you're ready to go – a bundled, braided cord connects the left and right speakers, though you can use one speaker on its own. An optional battery pack makes these speakers portable, and there are fixings on the back that enable you to wall mount these units, but it's as desktop speakers (slightly raised on their rubber feet) where they really shine.
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Ruark MR1 Mk2 review: sound and features
The Ruark MR1 Mk2 speakers sound fantastic: full of richness, space, crispness and quality. If you've been putting up with your laptop speakers or playing podcasts off your phone, the jump in quality will blow you away – from the slightest whisper of movie dialogue to the loudest guitar crunch, these speakers have a quality and balance that really impresses. We can see these speakers being used as a soundbar replacement for a television too.
With music tracks, each instrument and note has a clarity that compares well with top-end hi-fi equipment, while with gaming audio you'll feel as though you're right in the centre of the action, with stereo tracks well separated and distinct. Ramp up the volume meanwhile, and there's barely any distortion to talk about – these units can reach some high volumes too, more than enough to fill a medium-sized room.
In other words, these will stand up very well against other Bluetooth speakers, and other desktop stereo speakers of this size – it's very hard to find anything to complain about when it comes to the audio quality. Of course bigger and more expensive speakers are going to outperform the Ruark MR1 Mk2, but considering the price you're paying, we think you'll be very happy with what your ears hear no matter the source.
There is a sub out socket here if you want to add a subwoofer to the mix, but we didn't do this during our testing. The key specs that you need to know are that you get Bluetooth aptX (CD quality) support, and each speaker offers 20W of audio power, a 20 mm treated textile dome tweeter, and a long throw 75 mm woofer (both tweeters and woofers offer neodymium magnet systems). Another handy (optional) feature is that the speakers automatically go into a standby mode after 20 minutes of inactivity.
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Ruark MR1 Mk2 review: price and verdict
There's plenty to like about the Ruark MR1 Mk2 speakers, and we're happy to recommend them for all kinds of use cases: we think these are going to have broad appeal, whether you want a pair of speakers to put alongside your all-in-one computer, or you need a pair of speakers for connecting up smartphones and tablets. They're versatile, they look good, and they're simple to use.
Most important of all, the sound quality is excellent, as we've already explained. Whether it's music or movies, the audio you get from the Ruark MR1 Mk2 set is a level above a lot of similarly sized stereo pairs. Quiet sounds are crisp and subtle, loud sounds are solid and clear, and you can really hear the intricate nuances in everything from songs to audio accompanying video games.
There aren't too many negatives to talk about, and they won't really bother a lot of people. There's no Wi-Fi support or integrated digital assistant, as you get with Sonos speakers for example, and perhaps another input (such as USB) would be helpful. However, we really are nitpicking, and it's hard to be too harsh on the Ruark MR1 Mk2 speaker set when the units manage to get so much right.
It's also fair to say they're on the expensive side: you can check the widgets embedded on this page for the latest prices, but at the time of writing you can pick them up for around £330 in the UK. You can certainly get speakers for cheaper than that, but we'd say that these are definitely worth the investment – you're not going to be disappointed.
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