They say music is good for the soul, and those words
resonate and ring true for the team at Ruark. In fact, they have a heritage and
association with music, spanning more than 68 years.
Ruark’s roots go back to co-founder and father Brian O’Rourke
whose passion and hobby was to craft all manner of things with his hands. This
passion drove Brian firstly to become a furniture maker where he painstakingly
learned the woodworking skills, that would ultimately shape his work in the
production of radio and TV cabinets during the 50’s and 60’s. Shortly after
this period, Brian moved on to work with early pioneers in the British audio
industry. As an avid music fan, with a love of superior quality and design,
Brian went on to found his first audio company Diesis in 1982 and then Ruark
Acoustics in 1985 with his son Alan.
A Family Affair
Like his father, Alan had a deep-rooted love for audio and
music, gained in part from his father Brian. Growing up surrounded by audio
equipment nourished his interest and enthusiasm in sound. One occasion that
Alan recalls fondly is during his early teens when his father worked for a
company called Dallas Arbiter who were then the importers of the world-famous
Fender guitars and manufacturers of Sound City professional amplifiers and
Hayman drums. Alan recalls going to work with his father as ‘a school-kids
dream’ further sparking his interest in guitars and forming bands, which later
led him to play in local clubs and pubs. Alan then went on to work for Ford
& Marconi, where he honed his knowledge and skills in manufacturing and
engineering. But his love for audio drew him back to a path that would see him
join his father in the industry. Ruark was subsequently formed in 1985 by
father and son.
Building the Ruark brand
Financed by their savings, Brian and Alan rented a small
unit in Rayleigh, Essex as a workshop to develop and manufacture some of the
company’s first speaker systems. With many hours spent tinkering and refining
architecture, mechanics and sound the company would soon become an audio
enthusiast’s brand of choice.
Their First Product
After almost 14 months of prototypes, testing, and refining,
Alan and Brian launched their first loudspeaker systems called Sabre and
Broadsword in the summer of 1986. Alan recalls the launch as a time of
excitement but also anxiety as they were going up against some already well
established brands such as KEF, Mission, and B&W but their risk of starting
a new brand in an already saturated market paid off as Sabre and Broadsword
received critical acclaim from Dealers and the Press alike.
“The Sabre is an outstanding loudspeaker that can stand muster in the company of many far more expensive loudspeaker systems”. What
“No matter what I asked the Sabre to play it coped well and gave a consistently enjoyable performance on all sorts of material”.
“Everyone knows that small speakers cannot reproduce bass – don’t they? Someone obviously hasn’t told Ruark, for the Broadswords produce a surprising depth of clean bass without any slop or overhang”. Hi-Fi News
& Record Review
Ruark aims for the luxury sector
In 1987, Alan & Brian aimed even further upmarket with
the launch of their third product and flagship speaker ‘Accolade’. Costing over
£2,500 it was a risky move as the economy was still recovering from a
recession, but like Sabre and Broadsword, Accolade went on to gain stunning
reviews and established Ruark as a true ‘high-end’ audio manufacturer.
A period of growth
From 1988-1996 the team grew and Ruark further established
itself as an innovator with the release of models such as Talisman, Crusader and
Equinox. Equinox in particular set a new standard as a reference monitor
speaker system and was critically acclaimed world-wide. With the success of
Equinox and their other models in the Spring of 1996 Brian & Alan decided
it was time to scale up, and thanks to their growing success they were able to
buy their present factory and premises in Southend-on-Sea. To celebrate this
move Ruark also introduced two new models called Icon and Sceptre to replace
their popular but aging Sabre and Swordsman models. With a special drive unit
configuration, these models were considered quite unique, further building on
Ruark’s reputation of design innovation.
After 18 years at the helm of the company with son Alan,
Brian retired to spend time with his wife, Jean. The position of Managing
Director was taken up by Alan and Neil Adams (his son-in-law) became Operations
Director. As the family patriarch, Brian continued his passion for audio and
design within the company, until his passing in 2002.
A Modern Ruark
With the end of the century fast approaching and with the
rising interest in ‘Home Theatre’, Ruark launched their first dedicated
‘Dialogue One’ centre channel speaker in 1997, followed by their Prologue and
Vita speaker packages in 1998 and 1999 respectively. All these systems were
critically acclaimed but with the advent of flat panel TVs Alan and his team
noticed that attention was increasingly turning to vision rather than sound!
Even so Alan and Neil persevered making loudspeakers but it was the BBC’s
constant promotion of ‘Digital Audio Broadcasting’ (DAB) that gave Alan the
idea that they could apply their speaker expertise to design a ‘Hi-Fidelity’
radio. Alan had always been a radio enthusiast and what with his Father’s
involvement with British radio manufacturers such as Hacker Radio and Dynatron
in his cabinet making days it seemed like a destiny that this was something
they should do. Work on the first radio project started in 2004 and in
2006 the first R1 was born. The Sunday Telegraph called it “The Aston
Martin of DAB Radio’s” and this concisely described what Alan and his team
had been striving to achieve. In 2007 Ruark launched R2 which went on to win
“Product of the Year” from What Hi-Fi? . This put Ruark firmly on the
map in terms of performance and design and has forever changed the outlook and
direction of the company.
Fast forward to 2018 and with 23 product reincarnations and
dozens of awards, Ruark is now considered one of the finest producers of audio
products, with a sought-after brand and countless influential & celebrity
As always throughout Ruark’s history, Alan and his team have
set audio quality and design as the highest priorities for the brand, but the
major difference is that now rather than just appealing to ‘hi-fi enthusiasts’
these days their products have wide ranging appeal and are being appreciated by
a wide range of customers, many of whom are enjoying quality sound for the very
We know how busy 21st century living is, and sometimes it’s easier to ask your voice assistant to do all the hard work; like putting on your favourite song or making your reservation at that hot new restaurant in town. We’ve now made it even easier for you to relax after a hard day’s work with our voice assistant set up guide.
We’ve had a lot of questions lately about our product range, and whether they can be connected to the Amazon Dot, Echo or Google Home voice assistants. And the answer is yes, you can easily transform any Ruark product into a voice-assisted, connected device in the following ways;
Connecting Ruark Products to Voice Assistants
For any of our legacy products that are not Bluetooth enabled it’s simply a matter of connecting a cable from your voice assistant into the auxiliary input or line in, located on the back of your Ruark product. Select ‘AUX’ as the source on your Ruark, then ask you voice assistant to play your favourite song. You will need to purchase the cable separately and depending on which input you choose, you will need either a 3.5mm stereo jack to jack or a 3.5mm jack to phono.
Connecting Bluetooth Enabled Products to Voice Assistants
For those that own one of our Bluetooth enabled audio devices, connecting an Amazon Dot or Echo is easy. Simply select the Bluetooth source on your Ruark product, open the Alexa app and select ‘settings’. Then find the device you wish to connect and select, ‘pair with device’. Your voice assistant will then connect to the Bluetooth speaker and notify you when paired successfully.
So there you have it, it couldn’t be easier to connect your Ruark Audio product to your home network and explore the joys of voice activation with a little help from the Amazon Echo, Dot and Google Home.
We already know that Ruark products are best in class, but award recognition for our products is always welcome.
We were delighted for our MR1 to pick up not one, but two new awards. The first was at the recent Trusted Reviews awards where the MR1s were voted “Home Audio Product of the Year”. What Hi-Fi then also voted the MR1s “Best Desktop Speaker”, in their Stereo Speaker category. These awards prove that our products well and truly pack a punch in both design and audio quality. Ruark founder Alan says “the wins are a great tribute to the hours of hard work and attention to detail that goes into designing and bringing to market each and every one of our products. The first generation of MR1 were probably our best reviewed product to date so it was quite a feat to produce a new generation that would outperform their predecessors. I’m pleased to say that these recent accolades are testament to what we first set out to achieve.”
Award Winning Performance
The MR1 Mk2 is so much more than a desktop speaker. By day, its aesthetics are effortless in a drawing room but come the night, it can form part of an audio system for those raucous house parties. Aside from the obvious, the newest incarnation of the MR1 surpasses all the quality attributes of its award-winning predecessor and in a new, more stylish shell, available in both Rich Walnut and Soft Grey, adorned with a wonderfully organic British sourced fabric grille.
The MR1 Mk2 also makes an incredible companion to a vinyl collection as its driver emits both stunning voice tones and powerful bass. By pairing it with a turntable you can transform the MR1 MK2 into a superior and stylish compact analogue playback system for 21st-century living.
he MRK1 Mk2 also includes Bluetooth with aptX technology allowing you to stream and play music with CD-like quality. An Optical and Analogue input allows add-on devices such as Google’s Chromecast Audio, the Amazon Dot or Apple’s Airport Express to be easily connected, but significantly MR1 Mk2 makes a brilliant sound system for flat panel TVs, making viewing a much more enjoyable experience.
Meet Alan, MD, father, audio lover and founder of Ruark, and discover the team that crafted the stunning new R7 in our latest design film. The story shot in our home town of Southend on Sea explores the R7 design process and the craftsmanship that goes into every element of the new R7’s production.
The R7 Reimagined
As always, Ruark’s desire for each and every product is to deliver exceptional audio in a quality and beautifully engineered body. The reimagined R7 stays true to its roots in physical appearance at a quick glance, but many elements have been completely re-engineered to make our new R7 Mk3 Radiogram the best in its class.
With its honed aesthetics, improved analogue circuity and latest digital technologies for streaming and multi-room, R7 Mk3 is a sound system that builds on the heritage of the previous R7s and will satisfy even the most discerning listener.
The new R7 sports two new colour combinations with a brand new Rich Walnut finish and Soft grey lacquer option. The form of the new R7 has also been refined with a slimmer cabinet body and legs. The crowning element of this quintessentially British product is the grille fabric which was hand milled in Britain which both is aesthetically pleasing and performance driven for audio. As always, the R7 is more than an audio system, its unique ability to both be part furniture part sound system makes it feel alive within the home and enhance any room.
The precision and passion of our team has ensured that this R7 is the finest radiogram we have ever produced. With over 30 years of audio heritage, this product embodies the soul of what Ruark has come to symbolise.
Ruark recently had the pleasure of chatting with Jo Whiley, a kindred spirit to Ruark when it comes to quality sound. Jo, a household name for many, is known best for her presenting role on BBC Radio 2 and for donning a pair of hunters at Glasto every year. She also happens to be a Ruark fan; in fact, she has one of our very own R4s within her home.
Jo’s Broadcasting Career
Jo, who hails from Northampton began her radio broadcasting career after university with BBC Radio Sussex. Her first network broadcasting role was as a presenter for WPFM, Radio 4’s youth culture, and music show. Jo then moved over to TV on channel 4s ‘The Word’ giving the British public their very first taste of Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine. Jo then joined Radio 1 in 1993 and subsequently became a co-presenter of The Evening Session with Steve Lamacq. It was around this time that she became a regular at Glastonbury with Steve.
Jo’s time at BBC radio 1 allowed her to take on a number of roles including her namesake “The Jo Whiley Show”, a weekend show and the coveted Live Lounge presenter slot. After leaving BBC radio 1, Jo continued to dominate the airwaves, co-hosting BBC Radio 2’s Live in Hyde Park as well as regular TV coverage such as Glastonbury.
At Home with Joe
As a music veteran Jo has seen many acts come and go and to converse with such a broadcasting legend is an honor. Jo kindly answered some of our questions from her stunning home in Northampton which she shares with her husband and four kids. Here’s what she had to say;
How would you describe your home’s style?
“It’s a party house! Low on gloom and big on comfort. Lots of large windows and bright comfy velvet sofas”
What’s the one item your home couldn’t do without…aside from your R4, of course!
“The Glitter Ball”
Which is your favorite room in your house?
“The kitchen. Its where we all hang out and chat and eat and dance and watch TV. It’s been the scene of many parties – Mr and Mrs, Limbo and Bird on a Perch (kind of an adult version of musical chairs)”
Would you describe yourself as a bit of a gadget geek?
“No! But I do like my music delivered simply and aesthetically which is where Ruark comes in”
And finally…what are your top 5 tracks to listen to on your Ruark?