Ruark Audio MR1 MkII review

With its pedigree in portable radios and other home audio devices, Ruark Audio's computer speakers are more versatile than most but they're priced accordingly.

Our Verdict

72%

Great to look at and hugely versatile but lacking a little in sonic performance for their price.

Ruark Audio is a company that has made a name for itself by specializing in DAB radios and other compact, all-in-one audio systems. As such, the MR1 MkII is something of a departure for the company, as it ditches the radios, clock displays, and single-device form factor of its other models and instead delivers a simple pair of powered speakers.

Ruark Audio MR1 MkII design

That pedigree in designing compact bedside and kitchen-based audio products that are to be seen from all angles is clear with the MR1 MkII. They’re small and effortlessly elegant with their curved sides, mottled grey fabric covers, and dainty little feet that provide enough space under the speaker for its bass port to breath – so you don’t need to worry about leaving room behind these speakers, unlike the Klipsch R-41PM, for instance.

Available in either walnut veneer or soft grey lacquer (it looks white to us), both options look fantastic, but we’re a bit disappointed to find that below the pull-off fabric grilles there is a plain MDF frame that means you can’t run the speakers without the grilles and maintain a smart look.

Ruark Audio MR1 MkII connections and features

For features, you get a 3.5mm jack analog input, a sub output, and Bluetooth connectivity. You can also use the right speaker on its own and it will automatically run in a mono mode, which is a nice touch. The left and right speakers also join via a mono jack cable rather than a non-removable cable or a traditional speaker wire with awkward spring clips, making it easy to unplug the right speaker for portable mono use.

This portability ties into another key feature of these speakers (that again harks back to the company’s lineage in radios and other portable audio devices) which is that you can strap a battery pack to the back of the speaker. The batteries cost £69, which is nice. Note that, as with the speakers themselves, the battery pack is not available in the US – a full list of countries that sells the range is available here.

On top of the right speaker is a dial that controls volume, sets the speakers into standby, and switches between inputs. The volume dial is a little wobbly and moves in larger volume increments than we’d prefer but it’s otherwise a very convenient system.

A little popper button remote is also included, and it provides volume, power, input, and Bluetooth connection control but you can’t control Bluetooth playback. It would be nice to see a slightly higher quality remote for a speaker set of this price, but it gets the job done.

Ruark Audio MR1 MkII sound quality

Despite their width rivaling that of the Klipsch R-41PM, the MR1 MkII are overall quite small speakers so only have room for 75mm main drivers rather than the 100mm of the Edifier R128DB and Klipsch. As a result, these speakers don’t have quite the same overall power, low-end rumble, and smoothness as those speakers. There’s still more low-end rumble and warmth than the Audioengine A1 and Creative T100 but nowhere near the level of those larger speakers. However, with that separate sub output, there is scope to easily boost the bass of these speakers.

What’s not so easy to remedy is the slight lack of top-end sparkle and articulation with these speakers. We found this to be particularly noticeable listening to heavy metal where the MR1s tended to muddy the details. However, listening to classic piano and dance music and the greater low-end presence and warmth made the MR1s more enjoyable than the Auidio Engine A1, though nowhere near the power and detail of the Klipsch R-41PM.

Ruark Audio MR1 MkII pros and cons

Pros

  • Slick design
  • Loads of features
  • Easily portable design

Cons

  • Basic remote
  • Lacks a big bass hit
  • Top-end detail could be better

Ruark Audio MR1 MkII specs

The Ruark Audio MR1 MkII specs list is:

Dimensions (mm) 405 x 310 x 490 (W x D x H)
Audio config  1 x 75mm woofer and 1 x 20mm tweeter per speaker with bottom bass port
Nominal power output  20W
Frequency range 55Hz – 22,000kHz
Connections  3.5mm stereo input, optical digital input, subwoofer output, Bluetooth 4
Extras  Remote control, volume, source, and power buttons on right speaker, converts to mono mode, can add battery pack

Ruark Audio MR1 MkII price

The Ruark Audio MR1 MkII price is £330, making them an expensive computer speaker option, though they include plenty of features for their price. 

Price: Expect to pay £330.

Ruark Audio MR1 MkII review conclusion

A fetching, compact design, easy portability, and plenty of features make the MR1 a great all-rounder of a computer speaker. They’re powerful and detailed enough for PC listening and can easily stretch to kitchen party duties, while the addition of a battery pack allows for outdoor listening too. However, there’s a lack of sub-bass and top-end detail could be better considering their price. Plus, as purely computer speakers, a lot of the extra features are of limited use.

For more computer speaker recommendations, check out our best computer speakers guide. Meanwhile, if you own a set of the Ruark Audio MR1 MkII or are tempted to buy some, let us know your thoughts and questions via the Custom PC Facebook pageTwitter page, or by joining our 400,000+ member Custom PC and Gaming Setup Facebook group.