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things that have caught our eyes and ears

Bringing Vinyl Back – Record Store Day

There was a time way back when, in which the LP ruled the music world. Huge hydraulic presses churned out a never-ending flow of vinyl records. But in the 1980s, advances in audio technology replaced this medium with compact disc’s hailed as vastly superior in sound quality and size. Pretty much overnight the LP was replaced and those hydraulic presses ground to a halt. In a way, it was a sad day for many, as the memories of getting the newest vinyl’s straight from your local record store, slowly drifted away. Of course, there were a few die-hards (audiophiles), who couldn’t let go of the past, insisting that vinyl records provided a sonic quality that the CD was unable to approach.

The Resurgence of Vinyl

Fast forward to the early 2000’s and the CD itself was being replaced by streaming services, like Spotify. However, around 2010, interest began to grow again, particularly amongst millennials. They rediscovered vinyl, a medium that existed even before their time, and they started buying up records and playing them on old turntables. In way’s this began a new gilded age for vinyl, the wider industry responded, and big music labels began producing LP’s and turntables again for a vinyl hungry market.

Record Store Day

As vinyl became increasingly popular so did record stores. Once in a UK wide decline, stores are now popping up all over the place as all generations embark on a nostalgic buying spree. To celebrate this and to continue the preservation of such iconic venues, UK Record Store Day was founded. The annual event, inaugurated in 2007 and held one Saturday every April, celebrates the culture of the independently owned record store. The day itself brings together fans, artists and thousands of independent record stores across the world to celebrate all things vinyl. Special vinyl releases are made exclusively for the day and many shops and cities host artist performances and events to mark the occasion.

Pebble Records

If you’re thinking about getting involved with a record store day, then check out Pebble Records in Eastbourne. Pebble is a close friend of Ruark and stock a wide range of genres from Indie to Dub as well as our full range of products. And if you’re looking for the perfect companion for audio listening excellence then our MR1 MK2 is the perfect little speaker system to complement your turntable this record store day. MR1’s powerful drive units emit both stunning voice tones and a controlled bass.

Discover more about our MR1 MK2

MR1 MK2 Features

MR1 MK2 What HiFi Review

8 Interior Design Trends That Are Taking Over 2018

As a design focused company, and a supplier of interior based products we know that trends are a matter of life. And this season we’ve put together our favourite interior design trends from all around the world, that are set to soar in 2018.

Textures, Textures And More Textures

2018 is going to be a big year for leather, rattan, wicker, and velvet. With British designers already embracing the trend, such as Tom Dixon, Anouska Hempel and Charlotte Crosland to name but a few. Velvet is billed to be the fabric of choice for statement soft furnishing, our favourite such item, and a must-have for any country house is a Forest Green Chesterfield. As for leather, it’s all about bedrooms & quilted chairs, in particular, suedes in bold colours.

Pattern Plants

Plants are a massive trend from 2017 that’s set to continue into this coming year, in particular, big plants and succulents have driven a 533% rise in plant-based searches on Instagram since last year. This year, however, they’ll be patterned, with vibrant designs and colours, a guaranteed uplift of colour to any room.

Terrazzo Is Back

Stylish in the ‘70s, uncool in the ‘90s, in demand in 2018. Spotted in Wes Anderson’s Bar Luce, The Met Bruer and even crayon collections, terrazzo is quickly cementing its status as 2018’s biggest emerging interior design trend. Its versatility is key to its success - terrazzo, whether styled in an understated monochromatic fashion or a macaroon pastel iteration, complements a variety of home decor styles, minimalist or maximalist.

Earthy Neutrals

Grey may still be the neutral of choice for many interiors, but colour is set to be bolder this year. We’re feeling braver with colour choices - on both walls and furniture pieces, as sofa colour choices of late have demonstrated. Sage is slated to be the new neutral. Replacing the likes of pure white, beige and stone - the muted green with grey undertones is certainly bolder than others. Paired with woods and a cream colour palette, the green will soften and warm up any space.

Bold Pigments

Yes, there are new neutrals but bold pigments are still set to be hot this year. We predict an abundance of burnt orange and greens - including forest and cactus green - as well as peacock blue, Bordeaux and blood reds with ochre.

Dark woods

The Scandi trend that seems to have reigned forever, may sway us towards lighter woods and indiscreet furniture but this year, it’s all about colour and bolder timbers. Expect to see the likes of dark oak, mahogany and textured walnut pieces adding a new depth to any room. If you’re after a statement piece in walnut this season then check out our R7 Radiogram with its walnut body and black legs.

Authentic Travel

Travel always influences interiors trends, with this spring being no exception. Influences from India and Morocco are all the rage this year. Earthy shades of clay, terracotta and ochre feature on global-inspired prints, which will play a key role this season. The patterns, materials, and textiles all have a natural, raw feel to them, making them extremely tactile. Patterns featured on soft furnishings and serve-ware are inspired by traditional block printing.

Bold As Brass

From brass to nickel - less high shine materials will add a more organic element to your space. The big difference this year is the choice of metallic finish - think less copper and rose gold, more industrial shades of metal, in particular brass. Brass is the most sophisticated and organic of the metallic colour palette. Brass furniture pieces, mirrors, and accessories all help to add a luxurious finish to any room - soft pink and emerald green both accentuate brass and gold tones perfectly.

If you’re after a key statement piece for your interior this season, check out our product range.

The Science of Sound

Whether you’re listening to Bach, Haydn or even St Vincent, you can often find yourself being calmed, inspired or pumped up from music. But have you ever contemplated why this happens? As designers and engineers of audio products, we know the importance of sound and how sound quality impacts greatly on the user’s experience of music, which in turn affects so much more than sheer listening experience. So, here’s the science behind your listening.

How music affects the brain

Music has played an important part in every human culture, both past, and present for multiple millennia’s. Music today has evolved from basic sounds to something more complex that we now live alongside daily.

Like any sound, music arrives at the ear in the form of sound waves. The external ear collects sound waves, and the ear canal funnels them to the eardrum. As the waves strike the eardrum, they cause it to vibrate. The vibrations are relayed along the chain of tiny bones in the middle ear until they reach the third bone, the stapes, which connects to the cochlea.

The cochlea is filled with fluid that surrounds some 10,000 to 15,000 tiny hair cells, or cilia. Vibrations of the stapes send fluid waves through the spiral-shaped cochlea. The fluid waves produce swaying movements of the hair cells. In turn, these cells release chemical neurotransmitters that activate the auditory nerve, sending miniature electric currents to the auditory cortex in the temporal lobe of the brain.

When music reaches the temporal lobe, the area of the brain tasked with auditory and visual processing a number of things happen. It’s important to emphasize this area is integral to sound processing, meaning it transforms noise into something we can understand as music. Then secondly, as sound flows through this part of the brain and we realise that it’s music it causes dopamine to be released. Dopamine is an interesting chemical because it induces pleasure and joy, which in-turn improves our mood and reduces anxiety.

Health benefits of music

Music reduces stress and anxiety

Research has shown that listening to music, at least music with a slow tempo and low pitch, without lyrics or loud instrumentation, can calm people down, even during highly stressful or painful events. Music can also prevent anxiety-induced increases in heart rate and systolic blood pressure, and decrease cortisol levels - all biological markers of stress.

Music decreases pain

Music has a unique ability to help with pain management, it’s not clear why music may reduce pain, though music’s ability to trigger the release of dopamine may play a role. This is because, stress and pain are closely linked, with reductions in stress directly impacting on the effects of pain on the body.

Music can improve the immune system

More so, music has the ability to physically alter our well-being, music has been found to improve our immune system. The reason for this is twofold, firstly because music lowers our stress levels i.e. cortisol levels, which in turn promotes an uplift in our immune system. Secondly, music increases the production of the cytokine hormone which reduces inflammation which in-turn improves our general health.

Music helps memory

Lastly, music has been shown to have strong mental health benefits. Music enjoyment elicits dopamine release, and dopamine release has been tied to motivation, which in turn is implicated in learning and memory.

This is one of the reasons why Ruark supports the charity Nordoff Robbins whose work is based on music therapy. With the charity helping people with autism, dementia, strokes and terminal illness.

As you can see listening to music has some important health benefits. And if you’re like us, listening is as much about art as it is science. That’s why you should listen to your favorite audio on the highest quality audio system you can buy.

Shop our product range.

68 Years of Heritage, Defined by Audio and Family

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.

Our story

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 Hi-Fi?

“No matter what I asked the Sabre to play it coped well and gave a consistently enjoyable performance on all sorts of material”
Hi-Fi Review

“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 and 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 worldwide. With the success of Equinox and their other models in the Spring of 1996 Brian and 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 ageing 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.

Brian Retires

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 followers.

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 first time.

Connecting Your Ruark To The Latest Smart Devices

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.

Discover our audio range today.

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