When confronted with the quality, renown, and reach of Ruark Audio, few appreciate the size of the team at the British technology company, which is just 22 strong. Everything is handled in house, from designing the screen display typography to developing the distinctive ‘Ruark sound’. If you ring up head office, your call will probably be answered by founder Alan O’Rourke or his wife.

The Southend-on-Sea-based business is the definition of ‘family run’. ‘My love of music and sound came from my father who worked within the British audio industry during the 1960s and 1970s, before we formed Ruark Acoustics together in 1985,’ Alan O’Rourke explains. ‘In the beginning we made loudspeaker systems for audio enthusiasts, but since 2006 we’ve applied our skills to create radios and music systems with wide-ranging appeal that look and sound fabulous in any space.’

Enter the new R5 High Fidelity Music System, which is considerably smaller than the preceding R7 (a serious piece of furniture). Ruark decided to slim down the profile so as to make the speaker more suitable for tighter rooms, particularly in space-starved city homes; where a good chunk of Ruark’s customer base resides.

Run a hand over the new R5 and its clear quality remains important, from the curvaceous hand-crafted cabinet, to the coolness of the glass and metal components, to the warmth of the fabric grille. Step back, and the sound is realistic. Thought has obviously gone into reproducing a live aural experience, and the quality is, according to the brand, ‘unrivaled’. It doesn’t kick out the same volume levels as the rambunctious R7, but if this high fidelity system is poised for inner-city living, the neighbours might thank O’Rourke for that.

Ruark’s long-running midcentury design inspirations continue in the R5’s rich walnut cabinetry, and the throwback inclusion of a multi-format CD player will be a welcome addition for those with compact discs collecting dust. However, this is where the retro-inspiration ends. Bleeding-edge digital technologies come as standard. When it comes to playback R5 has virtually every option covered, with comprehensive Wi-Fi streaming, aptX HD Bluetooth, DAB/FM and Internet radio tuners, USB playback/charge port, analogue and digital inputs including a dedicated RIAA turntable input. These handy features, paired with the R5’s much more suitable sizing, makes it a great reflection of the Ruark mantra: ‘designed for life’. §