i have only had the Ruarks a few weeks , but i can honestly say that they will be the last speakers i will buy .i bought them without ever having heard a pair , but was told by Ruark , that they would 'do' everything my Ruark Talisman IIs would do , and then some.
anyway , i 'bit the bullet' and bought a pair , and they are the best speakers i have ever owned.i cannot recommend them highly enough ,but they are getting scarce !!
I started my journey on the slippery slope of audio upgrading about a year and a half ago and got stuck on the last component in my system…the speakers. I run a Quad 99 CDP into a Quad 909 amp and previously was playing this into a pair of Wharfedale Pacific Pi 40’s (fantastic speakers in their own right). Given the big jump I took in electronics, I thought I should be able to improve on the Wharfedales, so I picked up my hi fi mags and started researching.
I auditioned a huge range of speakers both in the showroom and at home where I could do direct A B comparisons. Speakers I listened to included:
Dynaudio contour 1.8
Cura (forget the model)
Mission 782 SE
After testing all of these, I settled on the Ruarks. All of the speakers I listened to were good, but the Ruark were the only speakers that offered a significant improvement in sound.
Firstly, their soundstage is amazing. They fill the room in a way that I’ve not heard from many other speakers. This, combined with their extremely well balanced presentation where all the elements of the music lift out of the soundstage and stand independently, makes for an thrilling listen (without fatigue). And their bass is fantastic as well. They weren’t the deepest of the lot I listened to, but the quality of the bass is fantastic. It grabs onto the rhythm and doesn’t let go.
I liked these speakers from the start, but there was significant improvement from triwiring with quality cables. It was not so much an audible quality like ‘the midrange was clearer’ as something experiential. The sound was richer, more natural. Silences were totally black. I can honestly say, triwiring is the only upgrade I’ve ever put in that didn’t require A B testing before deciding it was a definite improvement. (BTW, I use QED Genesis for triwiring).
The same weekend I installed my triwiring, I went to a hi fi show and listened to a lot of reference systems (Cyrus, Mission, Quad, ATC, Wilson, etc.) were I tuned my ear to a quality sound. And the Ruarks could stand against all comers. The only thing that I thought surpassed them was a pair of the new Spendor S9’s driven by a Naim CDS and triamped with Naim monoblocs…understandable, considering.
I bought these second hand - they don't come up often but are worth chasing - to pair with a Gyrodeck, a Quad 34/306 amp and for CDs, an Arcam CD8.
The speakers really excel at playing softly - something that is important when you live in a terraced house. The warmth and depth is preserved down to amazingly low levels. This often leads to the spine tingling bits you'd never noticed before appearing during the fading out of a track.
Their ability to reproduce vocals has been referred to by other reviewers - I agree with all they said. I am less convinced by the tr-wiring that is recommended. Because of my budget I auditioned Chord Rumour cable (single wire) and a QED bi-wire. There was a ver minor some improvement when biwiring with the QED, but it was not significant./ the single wire Chord sounded beest of all - and while biwiring with this may have helped more, I couldn't afford it, and tests with the QED did not sufficiently convince me it was necessary.
Finally their ability to involve you in a live record is astonishing. Nirvana unplugged, bob Marley live, Talking Heads stop making sense all have such an amazing depth to the sound, that the excitement of live perfomance is really well portrayed.
When choosing hi-fi equipment, it is imperative to decide what music you are listening to, how your listening environment is, how much you will pay and what kind of sound is suitable for you. There is such a great variety of equipments in the market, you have to find what actually meet your need, instead of grabing something highly praised on magazines and ads, or the dealers, but never exciting or soothing you with the music you choose.
In my case, classical music is an integral part of life, a staple for almost every evening, besides dinner I mean. Don't think that I am a soundstage fan, or crazy vocal lovers. I need them all. From Bach to Respighi, from colossal mass to piano solo, I listen to all type of classical works (I base my CD collection on the Gramophone basic library recommendation). It is always my conviction that classical requires the most sophisticated hardware for decent presentation, as it encompasses greater delicacy, finesse, nuances as well as clout, impact, dynamics than any other type of music. Try Respighi's Pine of Rome or Bizet's Carman to see if I'm right.
Therefore, apart from good electronics, I need a pair of speakers that will bring me exquisite details, tonal accuracy, fidel soundstage, strong impact and, all in all, life-like music.
In a bitter search which last for over a year, I find this ideal way beyond my financial capability. High grade Thiel, Westlake, Proac and Genesis are wonderful choices if you can afford, in term of money and space as well. My room is only 15 square metres and I shan't spend over the optimal point on the cost-effect curve, so Ruark Crusader II pops up in this disputed area.
Very disputed, as ads and expert recommendations nearly struck me dizzy. In this corner of the world, Proac is widely recognized as "the" choice, and when I audition the Response 1.5s, they did satisfy me with very lucid midrange and terrific soundstaging. The pair was tested with Solid-State amps, and when I put on the second movement of Brahms's German Requiem by Klemperer, which I always used for testing large-scale work, the sound just crunched and the choral voice turned coarse and opaque. I don't know who to blame, the speakers themselves or the amps. However, I didn't find the 1.5s convincing winners over the Ruarks.
I also listened to KEF 2 and found them too upfront, NHT 2.5, good for Home Theater but not to my taste, Castle Harlech, lacking a sort of spark, Monitor Audio PMC 703, fast but a bit lean. I don't mean the above are bad, but they won't let me rest comfortably in my couch over nighttime with my music floating over the air in my room.
What are the merits of Ruark Crusaker II after all? They give me an overwhelming sound that goes commensurate with whatever music I throw at them. I mean, for Beethoven's Fifth, they incite my "revolutionary" instinct; for Schubert's Beautiful Mill Maiden, they remind me of my adolescent adventures and pursuit for the sake of love; for Verdi's Aida, they take me back to ancient Egypt, sharing weal and woe of the princess; for Bach's Goldberg Variation, they elevate me to a spiritual terrain where I see flowers and clouds.
The midrange is coherent and a bit upfront(against the overall laidback sound), which suits vocals and concertos well, presenting the protagonists with just enough emphasis without spoiling the integrity of the whole picture.
The bass is well extended and restrained, big enough for imposing striking impact for mass and orchestral. Some will complain about it, particularly those who crave for head-budg. But again, for my stuff, it's good enough.
The silk tweeter is clean, crystal and candy. My pervious system was weak at this point, pinching the high pitch violin into squeaks and wails, at extremes I mean. Now the triangles, strings and cymbals sound more relaxed and natural, maybe not as biting as they were. My ear just can't bear too much stimulation!
Across the range, the sound is a bit laid-back, but it gives me a good opportunity to match "fast" amps to improve the general impression. Anyway, as a regular concert goer, I find better resemblence of live music with Ruark's feature for those sitting at 15-20th row in the concert hall. The only regret is my room constraint, which refrains me from getting a wider soundstage.
I am now using Audio Research SS amps and a low-profile CD player. It will take another couple of months to trim the sound to my satisfaction, with a few modifications on amps, CDP, cables in particular. But up to now, the electronic part of the system is doing its job well. You know how audio fans would always wish to improve the sound.
Besides, tri-wiring, if not the more expensive tri-amping, is a must for these boxes, as it will open the sound and improve transparency and detailing. The three individual, separate in-housing units work better, though the bass can shrink in strength noticably. Various cables can be fitted on for the best result, as I am rather inexperienced in this area.
To sum, I am very happy to find this nice-looking and well-made pair of Ruarks. I don't think I need a further upgrading for loudspeakers unless I get a bigger (much bigger) house in future. I agree with the previous commentator that you have to find equipment good for you, and not to be blindfolded by printed acclamations. On this website, only comprehensive, if a bit lengthy, reviews are worthy of reference. Take your time to read, you will benefit from others experience, either mellow of bitter.
After hours of listening sessions and tons of reviews I bought Ruark Crusader II, ex display, for £1,300. I brought them home and plugged into the system. Excellent, the sound stage is incredibly wide and deep, and the speakers are very detailed and warm. I preferred them to the Celestion A2, too much bass, to the Kef 2, too much upfront and harsh, and to the Jamo Concert 8, beautiful but a bit bright. And, by the way, none of them was even close to reconstruct the sound stage like the Ruark's. I use them with a Yamah DSP-A1 and Sonic Link Silver cables. It is probably not the best amplifier (in the future I will add a power amp and then a new processor-if you have any suggestion please let me know-), but I still find it a good combination: the Yamaha is slightly bright and the Ruark's are slightly laid back, a good match. The only real concern is that the center (Ruark Dialogue) does not match exactly my speaker drivers, since it has been built to partner the Ruark Prologue (I did not have the chance to try it). But what a hell, I liked so much the Crusader that I went for them anyway.