Revel at THE Show Newport 2016

One of the Harman rooms at THE Show Newport this year featured the company’s Revel brand of speakers—specifically, the newly available, lower-cost Concerta2 line in the only 7.2 configuration I saw at the show. The front LRs were the top-of-the-line F36 2.5-way towers ($2000/pair) that feature a 1″ aluminum tweeter in a fourth-generation Acoustic Lens waveguide and three 6.5″ anodized aluminum-cone woofers in a ported cabinet with a specified sensitivity of 91 dB/W/m and a low-frequency extension of 51 Hz at -3 dB, 45 Hz at -6 dB, and 33 Hz at -10 dB.

The center was a 2-way C25 ($750) with the same tweeter flanked by two 5.25″ anodized aluminum-cone woofers in a sealed cabinet to achieve a sensitivity of 89 dB/W/m and low-frequency extension down to 80 Hz at -3 dB, 68 Hz at -6 dB, and 48 Hz at -10 dB. Four 2-way, ported M16 bookshelf speakers ($900/pair) served the side and rear surround channels with the same tweeter and two of the same woofers as in the F36 with a sensitivity of 86 dB/W/m and a low-frequency extension of 55 Hz at -3 dB, 50 Hz at -6 dB, and 45 Hz at -10 dB. Bringing up the bottom were two B10 subwoofers ($1500 each), each with a 10″ coated fiber-composite cone in a ported enclosure with an 800W class-D amp and low-frequency extension down to 35 Hz at -3 dB, 32 Hz at -6 dB, and 29 Hz at -10 dB.

Music was being sourced from a MacBook laptop connected via USB to a JBL Synthesis SDP-25 preamp/processor ($3000), Synthesis SDEC-3500 8-channel digital equalizer ($6000) with more than 500 bands of parametric EQ (!) and bass-management capabilities, and Synthesis SDA-7200 7-channel class-D power amp ($3000), which can output 200 Wpc into 8 ohms with all channels driven. Movies were played from a Harman Kardon Blu-ray player that is not available in the US.

Most of what I heard was 2-channel content played on the F36 towers by themselves (no subs), including “It Could Happen to You” by Diana Krall, “Jazz Variants” by The O-zone Percussion Group—both at CD specs (16/44.1)—and “Desafinado” by Ana Caram (a Chesky recording at 24/96). As you might imagine from the group’s name, “Jazz Variants” has lots of percussion—drums, xylophone, cymbals, etc.—all of which were reproduced beautifully by the Revel system with no hint of untoward coloration. The voices of Diana Krall and Ana Caram were artfully rendered with warmth and authenticity, as were the instruments accompanying them.

For surround content, we heard a clip from The Art of Flight (“Ghosts n’ Stuff” by Deadmau5) and Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon. In both cases, the bass was exceptionally deep and robust without being woofy—very impressive for two 10″ subs! The surround effects from Transformers were excellent, with superb imaging and super-clean sound quality.

For those keeping score, the combined price for the 7.2 speaker system is $7550, while the electronics used at the show add another $12,000—not cheap by any means, but the speakers are much less than higher-end Revel models. This system clearly demonstrated that cost does not necessarily correlate with quality; I heard far more expensive systems that did not sound nearly as good. Bravo, Revel!