Laptop Mag Verdict
The Ruark MR1 Mk2 speakers take your desk audio to the next level with incredible sound quality, impressive ease of use, versatile connectivity options, and a sleek, premium design. The price may sting, but they’re worth every penny.
Premium aesthetic and build quality
Incredible sound quality
Simple control dial user interface
Helpful complementary remote
Expensive at £349
Only two color options
Additional £69 battery packs needed for mobile use
Only Bluetooth 4.0
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The Ruark MR1 Mk2 speakers have been around for a while, but I’m willing to say they are some of the best desk speakers I’ve ever used.
No pomp or circumstance. No ludicrous, eye-catching spec list. Just a pair of speakers with a refined, premium design, impeccable sound quality, and a versatile range of connectivity options, but all this does come at a cost.
So come with me, dear reader, as I explain to you why these could be the best desktop speakers worth your hard-earned money.
Ruark MR1 Mk 2 price and availability
Let’s rip off the first plaster, shall we? The Ruark MR1 Mk2s are available in two finishes (walnut and grey) for £349 (roughly $425), which is a pretty steep asking price. Of course, when it comes to value for money, this is more than your standard speaker system.
If you want to use these while you’re out and about, you will need to buy an additional battery, named the Backpack 3, which sets you back an additional £69.
Bad news, America. These aren’t available with any international shipping options (for now).
Ruark MR1 Mk2 design
Refined, luxurious, and restrained are three words I’d use to describe these speakers. They really are quite the lookers — a case of walnut with a fabric cover and the logo subtly emblazoned on a piece of metal on the front.
But they are designed to fade into the background of your desk setup, which, to be honest, I’m all for in my gadget design. The rich brown walnut blends in well with my mahogany Flexispot E7 desk, and their size (6.7 inch x 5.1 inch x 5.3 inches) means they don’t take up too much space.
Too many desk speakers try to stand out with a garish design, so it’s a breath of fresh air to see such a timeless look.
Ruark MR1 Mk2 connectivity and controls
Connectivity is a real strength of the MR1 Mk2s, as they feature a 3.5mm aux jack, optical audio out, and Bluetooth 4.0. This opens up a world of possibilities for different use cases.
For me, they became the quintessential desk speakers, working between my PS5, M1 MacBook Pro, and Asus TUF Gaming F15 via the Ugreen 13-in-1 docking station, while the Bluetooth meant I could connect my phone and switch on the fly. But with optical audio, you could use these with your TV (complete with a subwoofer jack to beef up the bass), or even certain turntables.
Controls are sorted with a super simple dial control on top of the main speaker, which makes volume control a cinch. To switch between inputs, you just need to press the wheel. Or if you are far away from the speakers, there’s a remote with those same controls.
It’s all nice on paper, but my only hold-ups are that you’re only getting Bluetooth 4.0, which guarantees a strong connection at close distances, but it breaks up easily through walls. Bluetooth 5.0 and up would offer a superior connection and the ability to connect multiple devices at once.
And speaking of Bluetooth, controlling wirelessly paired devices is not possible through the remote, so any track changes need to be done on the device itself.
Ruark MR1 Mk2 music
Let’s get technical. Each of the Ruark MR1 Mk2 speakers packs a custom 20mm silk dome tweeter and a 75mm polypropylene cone neodymium woofer, with a 20W Class A-B amplifier. The tweeters and woofers are positioned within the enclosure and tuned for low distortion, and the speakers are built for lossless audio support.
What all of this means, in regular speak, is a fantastic sound quality that’s full of warmth and detail without a hint of distortion. I tried to put the MR1 Mk2s through their paces with the most complex and expressive songs I knew across so many genres, and they rendered each one flawlessly.
“2009” by Mac Miller is a good place to start — a beautiful tune that packs countless fine details that many speakers can’t handle. The reverb of the piano and the small breaks in Mac’s voice are emphasized and given plenty of life, while the sharp stings of 808 bass are felt without impacting on the other levels.
But the biggest test of all is “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles. In particular, the discordant orchestral uprising in the middle, which on most speakers sounds like a flat mess, as they try to stuff 100 instruments through a construction designed mostly for modern, popular music.
The Ruarks emerged victorious against it all, providing a vast sound stage for you to identify each instrument clearly. The explosive bass gives each composition a sense of real drama, while never impacting the clarity of soaring highs and driving mids.
Plus, spoken word content like audiobooks and podcasts are thoroughly well balanced, providing an impeccable warmth to every voice that helped me spend hours listening to my favorite shows for an entire evening without turning on a single screen.
Ruark MR1 Mk2 films and games
Here’s where it gets good. Normally you see speakers excel at just one thing — usually making songs sound incredible at the expense of game performance. But these are equally great at both.
Web-slinging in Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered has a fantastic detailed quality to it and combat provides a satisfyingly bassy thump with every punch, while giving the finer details such as the conversations between New York citizens and the rustling of leaves its own space to express.
When it comes to film, my ultimate go-to test for sound quality is A Quiet Place. I get there are so many other options with a vastly expanded score and a ton of fascinating foley SFX. However, not only is this one of the best horror films of the last decade, it also relies on the tiniest of sound details to build its atmosphere, which a lot of speaker systems simply miss.
Fortunately, the Ruarks picked up every single one and presented them in an immersive way, from the texture of the ground under each footstep to the gentle breeze gracing the characters as they speak in sign language. And when the action does pick up, they more than capably handle the bigger moments of gunshots and screams without a hint of crackling distortion.
While it’s fair to say the Ruark MR1 Mk2 speakers are expensive, and there are some missing features such as Bluetooth 5.0 and more color finishes to complement whatever tones you have on your desk, the quality and versatility alone make these an incredible option.
The premium finish and refined aesthetic pairs with a magnificent sound expression that fills any room, and getting going with them is easy thanks to the simple controls and connectivity options.
So, if you are in the market for a pair of desktop speakers with audiophile quality that will last you a long time, the choice is clear. Get these.
Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.