Originally Posted by Lsdec2
I own Revels - Performa3 F208/C208 Concerta F12 etc. And while I think my speakers are outstanding, I'm curious as to how their sales volume is compared to other high end speakers.
I don't see a widespread of Revels at Axpona - it was in a tiny little hotel room. So, with all these resources that we speak of why isn't Revel or Mark Levinson or other Harmon Luxury brand the most popular high end speaker brand or amplifier brand?
Also, the R&D budget is usually only as big as the returns they will be able to generate. If the Revels are low volume speakers - compared to say Bowers & Wilkins, then they shouldn't continue to receive limitless R&D resources.
Something just doesn't add up...I hope I'm making sense.
You make sense
RE: popularity. I imagine you would agree that popularity is no guarantee of quality - it's more a matter of marketing prowess (hence the popularity of Bose, Beats, etc). Revel has up until now been happy to be kind of a boutique brand - the "high end speaker no one has ever heard of."
However, there's more to the story. As pointed out by Aaron above, home audio / speakers is only a tiny part of Harman's revenue stream. Most of their money comes from their automotive division - the OEM a huge number of car infotainment systems, including those from B&O and B&W.
But that's not really to the point of where the R&D budget for Revel comes from. First of all, it's important to remember that much of the research I've been talking about was originally funded by the Canadian NRC (National Research Council), where Drs. Toole and Olive got their start studying the correlation between measured and subjective speaker performance. As a result of this groundbreaking research, Harman hired Dr. Toole away in 1991 and gave him an even bigger budget to continue his work. Sean Olive joined Toole at Harman shortly thereafter.
You ask how a lower volume speaker line like Revel could justify a big R&D budget. Actually, it can't - at least, not all on its own. But that's because we haven't been discussing JBL, which IS a hugely popular Harman speaker brand. Of course, JBL speakers are found on or in a incredible number of mix stages, movie theaters and concert venues around the world. If you go back through this thread - or the JBL Synthesis / Revel thread I started - you can see a great deal of discussion about this symbiotic relationship there. JBL and Revel share the same DNA and design goals - flat, neutral, highly accurate sound reproduction. You might have heard of the famous JBL M2 Master Reference Studio Monitor, which is used by a great many famous mix engineers (Frank Fillipetti, Shawn Murphy and others) and is literally one of the most accurate and neutral speakers ever made. The M2, and its smaller siblings, the JBL 7 series, are making their way into mix stages all around the world (DeLuxe, DiMenna Center, PostWorks in NY, etc).
The JBL speakers I mention above are all primarily designed for professional use, though under the Synthesis division they also make their way into high end home theaters. As I'm sure so many people are sick of me repeating, about 80% of Blu-rays have their final QC mastering done on a JBL Synthesis system that also employs Revel speakers for the height channels. And, as I've also pointed out in the past, one of the critical listening rooms at Dolby Labs in San Francisco employs 9 Revel Salon2s and 6 Gem2s for critical standards work.
Much of the Harman / JBL / Revel philosophy can be summed up by this slide from Dr. Olive's CEDIA presentation - it features the JBL M2 and the Revel F208 (it might interest you to know that Dr. Olive himself used F208s as his main speakers until very recently, when he replaced them with Salon2s):
BTW, if you are really interested in the actual history of the Revel brand, there is a great interview with Kevin Voecks here:
He discusses much of what I was talking about above. A short sample:
Sumit: When and why did you join Revel?
Kevin: That situation was an opportunity to start up a new company, but rather than doing it in a traditional way, you know, on a shoestring, we were able to start up with the best engineering resources at our disposal in the world, both in terms of facilities, know how and engineering experts throughout the field, experts that often have specialized knowledge, certainly transducer design and even specialized within transducer design and materials. I mean, you name it! (For example), On the mechanical side there are experts in the organization, and they are all available to Revel, at our disposal. So it was a unique opportunity to create a high-end speaker company with the goal of simply creating the best sounding loudspeakers. In fact, that's the only thing Dr. Harman said at the inception of the company - “Make the world's best loudspeakers.” No restrictions on the kind of technology. For example, if we had decided that electrostatics were best, even though that's a completely different kind of technology than you've seen in the Harman loudspeaker brands. There were absolutely no restrictions. We determined with double blind listening tests and engineering research that dynamic loudspeakers although refined, in numerous ways, make for the most accurate loudspeakers.
Hope that helps solve the mystery
Lots more in the interview, which I think is essential reading for someone wanting to understand what Revel is all about.