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Ryan R610 Speakers: The Audiophile System Builder

Ryan R610 Bookshelf Loudspeaker Closeup

Do you remember your first pair of loudspeakers? The Ryan R610 speakers were not my first but I would be okay with them being the last pair I ever own. 

I remember lugging a pair of Celestion Ditton 33 MK II loudspeakers upstairs from our living room in 1983 and feeling the burn in my arms. These chunky bookshelf speakers were a 3-way design with a new type of super tweeter and ring compression driver. Not that hard to drive but definitely on the cooler side from a tonal perspective. The Celestion were 35 pounds and extremely inert. 

A Yamaha CA-2010 integrated amplifier drove them for almost 10 years, and I still remember watching a clumsy mover drop them accidentally on 62nd Street in New York City.

Do you remember John Belushi’s expression from Animal House when a clumsy mover dropped his last case of beer following the expulsion of Delta House from Faber? Almost verbatim.

Wharfedale have tapped into that segment of the market who love larger bookshelf loudspeakers with their best-selling Linton Anniversary speakers and there is a lot to love about the design and their creative stands that must be considered mandatory.

Multiple pairs of Wharfedale loudspeakers are glaring at me right now in my home office; the recently reviewed Diamond 12.1’s called me something untoward the other night as I moved the Ryan R610’s into position. 

Ryan R610 Bookshelf Loudspeaker Front

The Ryan R610s are not new loudspeakers but they remain in production and have flown under the radar for almost 6 years; a circumstance that I find utterly ridiculous. 

At 16.73″H x 8.86″ W x 12.1″ D, the R610s are considerably larger than most two-way speakers and rather heavy at 33 pounds. Use both hands when placing on your speaker stands or you will be sorry. I have huge mitts and made sure to insert some of my fingers into the rear port to make sure they couldn’t tumble off the top plate which isn’t that large. 

The height of the R610s did force me try different types of set-ups because my 24″ single-post GHA steel stands set the tweeter quite high (even for a 6’3″ listener such as myself) in relation to my listening position. I experimented with the R610s on a CB2 media console with a height of 21″ and turned sideways on an inverted IKEA Kallax which is set 7 feet in front of my home office desk. 

Regardless of how you set them up, ensure that the stand or base that they sit on is quite inert. 

Ryan R610 Bookshelf Loudspeaker Rear

I do own multiple sets of IsoAcoustics speaker stands which allow you to place bookshelf loudspeakers on a media unit or desktop – but I found that they did not improve the sound in a way that I liked; the Ryan R610s can be ruthlessly revealing depending on the rest of the system and the stands made them sound too cool for my liking. It took a lot of amplifier swapping to get the sound where I wanted it. 

The Ryan R610 speakers need at least two feet from the wall behind them. I would also heed the advice of Todd Ryan and place them at least 7′ apart and then angle them in towards your head. I’m not obsessed with the width/depth of the soundstage, but the R610s reproduce it well with proper placement.

The 6.5” woofer driver employs a laminated Nomex cone to minimize breakup and ringing throughout its frequency range and beyond. The design of the woofers motor and suspension was perfected using the Klippel Distortion Analyzer. Mrs. Klippel must be very proud. 

The 1” tweeter utilizes a proprietary treated cloth dome sourced in Japan. Ryan has gone old school with the tweeter by applying a felt ring to the front surface of the tweeter; it looked odd at first, but it does help to minimize early reflections and the proof is in the listening.

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Unlimited Power 

The Ryan R610 speakers are rated at 86 dB (8 ohms) and they don’t represent the most difficult load but my experience with them suggests that they do better with 50 – 100 watts (or more) than with lower powered tube amplifiers. I have run them with 8 watts of SET amplification and while the sound quality was divine, they ran out of gas very quickly. 

They definitely sound better with more power and they certainly need an amplifier with meat on the bones. 

My first thought was to suggest a pair of Schiit Audio Aegir monoblock amplifiers which will deliver more than enough power and the right tonal balance, but then you need a pre-amp, streamer, DAC, and multiple sets of cables. 

But then I wondered about the PS Audio Stellar Strata amplifier that we reviewed this week and how that would cut down on the number of components, offer unlimited power into the R610’s and keep the price down as well.

You can read our review of the PS Audio Stellar Strata here

Minus the control app which we didn’t love and the absence of Roon, the Stellar Strata offers a lot of features and performance and will drive the Ryan speakers without breaking a sweat. 

Sources

Thorens TD-160 Super Reproduction from Vinyl Nirvana with the Ortofon 2M Black MM cartridge works very well with the Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 phono pre-amp.

If you don’t use Roon and don’t mind the somewhat wonky control app that comes with the PS Audio Stellar Strata – you’re good to go. 

I have 3,583 albums organized on Roon and have 2 server suggestions that will work really well with the amplifier. 

Either invest in a Roon Nucleus server (review forthcoming) or Bluesound Node 2i which is also a Roon endpoint. 

The Sound

Bold. Textured. Midrange resolution that puts a lot more expensive loudspeakers to shame.

The Ryan R610s are for people who desperately want to imagine that the vocalist is in the room with them, but that has to include scale, imaging, and a very airy sounding treble that never gets hard.

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You can play these loudspeakers quite loudly and the soundstage won’t collapse when things get very complex and you want to feel the impact of the piano or bass guitar.

I’ve spent well over 200 hours listening to the Ryan R610’s in my den (16 x 13 x 9) and I’m under 10 feet from the front of the loudspeakers. I’ve never felt the need to turn the volume up past conversation levels and thought that I’m losing anything. With a warm sounding amplifier, these loudspeakers can be downright spooky good.

If you listen to techno, synth-pop, classical, jazz, blues, and pop — these speakers can create some very memorable moments. Not ideal for heavy metal; I’ve run AC/DC, Iron Maiden, and Metallica through them and it never really made my heart race.

The No. 19

Sandwich

Don’t ask. Just eat. Definitely not kosher. I will deny ever eating in this L.A. establishment. Someone had to do it. So much flavor. So much humanity.

Ryan R610 Speakers ($2,000/pair)

PS Audio Stellar Strata Amplifier ($2,999.00)

Vinyl Nirvana Thorens TD-160 Super Reproduction Turntable (~$2000) + Ortofon 2M Black ($699 at Amazon)

Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 Phono Pre-Amp ($900 at Amazon)

Roon Nucleus Music Server ($1398)

or

Bluesound Node 2i Streamer ($549.00 at Amazon)

Total: $9,147 – $9,996

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Sean

    April 20, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    Watching the used market, Ryan speakers rarely come up for sale and I think that says a lot about them. They aren’t flashy, don’t really leap out at you, and are like a good wife/partner, they are in it for the long haul. I’ve owned my R630s now almost longer than any other speaker. I’ve realized there might be speakers that do one or two things better but overall, they are hard to beat.

    • Ian White

      April 20, 2021 at 1:08 pm

      Sean,

      I agree. the R610s are one of my favorite loudspeakers on the market. Just so underrated.

      Ian

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