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post #11941 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Orbitron View Post
Hey filmnut, might consider some acoustic art panels and cut down on all the reflection. Your Revels will be happy and sing to you.
I second this. I made my own panels for around $400. I have a total of 12 panels, two of them are bass traps. They transformed the room. Money well spent.
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post #11942 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 02:07 PM
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Curious—do you know for a fact that KEF speakers have been beaten in double blind tests at Harman? If so, which specific models?
Yes, for a fact - I've been in the MLL for two different tests involving KEF models. I am not really familiar with the KEF lineup, so can't tell you the specific SKUs.

I never intended this to be a KEF bashing session. The KEF speakers are well regarded by those at Harman, but to this date, none of the KEF models tested have beaten the Revel models they've gone up against.

I would just like to stress that there is nothing magical about Revel here - it's just that Revel design goals are based on the decades of research correlating speaker measurements with listener preference undertaken by Toole and Olive (among others). As I've gone on here about at length, this research has led to being able to predict with an 86% correlation which speakers will win a double blind listening test using a complete set of measurements in a format known as a Spinorama. There is no magic there. It's simply that the speakers that have the most neutral on axis response paired with wide, flat and neutral off axis response invariably win the tests. It should be no surprise that speakers that most mimic the sounds we encounter in real life win scientifically controlled listening tests. If we hear a voice in a room, our ears / brains expect that a recording of that voice played back through a speaker in the same room should sound the same. It's as simple as that.

Dr. Toole posted this comment in another thread, but it definitely applies here:

That 80% correlation between measurements and subjective data is not perfect. Yup. However, as I point out in my books, and have stated in these forums, that number is for 70 loudspeakers of all prices and sizes - inexpensive bookshelf units to monster high-end floor standers. As Olive showed, about 30% of our subjective ratings is attributable to bass performance. That means that a good speaker with bass beats an equally good speaker with less bass. So, in a very uneven playing field, it is indeed remarkable that a correlation coefficient of 0.8 was achieved. When the LF bandwidth factor was substantially removed by comparing only bookshelf speakers, in a separate well-controlled DB test, the correlation was 0.997. So, how much information is in a spinorama? A lot! In real circumstances, the performance at low frequencies includes the room, so no anechoic measurement will be totally predictive of results.

As Dr. Toole has said elsewhere, the information is out there on what it takes to build a good sounding, flat and neutral loudspeaker. And, as a credit to Harman, they publish all this research so all speaker manufacturers have access to it. It's up to the other speaker manufacturers to follow the science, or not.

In regard to KEF - and the discussion that has gone on here recently - it was found during some of the competitive blind testing that has gone on at Harman that the KEF models didn't do *quite* as well as their Spinoramas predicted. Upon testing the speakers further, it was found that:

The statistical listening test results rated the speaker lower than the Spinorama measurements would have rated it. Since the Spinorama statistically correlates highly (0.86) to listener preference we felt the need to investigate. Our intention was not to bash the KEF, but to discover which measurement might explain the discrepancy. To be completely correct, we have not studied the issue sufficiently to say with absolute certainty that IMD (Intermodulation Distortion) due to the coaxial alignment is the definitive cause. However, the evidence, meager though it may be, does support this...

However, it is not our intention to abuse the DUTs. We only ran the IMD test up to 8V (~99dB), not 22V, so well within the operational range. Instead of picking the worst case bass frequency for each speaker, we specifically set the bass tone to 90Hz. This was well within the rated operational parameters of all the speaker models; and 90Hz is above the standard (80Hz) electronic crossover to a subwoofer (i.e.: this will happen even if the customer uses a subwoofer!). Incidentally 90Hz was the worst case bass frequency for the Revel, but not the KEF. So, I feel what we did was more than a fair replication of real-world conditions. At 5.67V (4W ~93dB nominal) the KEF has 16% IMD in the voice sweep, 23% at 8V. When listening to this test, the IMD is clearly audible, even 5%. Hence we use it as a demo. Not to bash, but to educate. When the IMD is heard in this way, it is very compelling to accept that this could cause reduced preference by listeners. Listening corroborates the IMD test data.

Also, the KEF had only slightly less IMD at 120Hz (10%) compared to 90Hz (12%).


Note that this is in reference to one KEF model, and my source at Harman went on to say that:

...this effect will probably be mitigated in a 3-way system. The higher the crossover frequency and more limited the frequency range, the less cone movement and the less IMD. There are other mitigation techniques. But that is what they are. IMD is inherent to all drivers and, while it may be caused by many factors, most are a function of excursion. To be clear, we cannot say for certain whether the cone or some other aspect of the midrange is responsible for the IMD. As interesting as this puzzle is, there is simply no time to troubleshoot another company’s speaker. KEF have good engineers, maybe they will research it.

Just based on the KEF spins, this was also offered as a reason why the KEF models didn't do as well in the listening tests as might be predicted:

The other factor with the KEF uniQ designs has to do with off-axis directivity. According to their own published spinorama on a current floor stander - I forget the model no. - the off axis output declines at a faster rate than the Revels. It is smooth but downward tilted. That will not flatter the sound in normally reflective rooms.

Another comment, this time in regard to the KEF LS50, just looking at the KEF LS50 vs. the Revel M106, where you can find data on www.soundstage.com:

The KEF (measures) poorly on axis and, up to 5 kHz shows significant drop even within 30 deg off axis, and much more at larger angles. This is the consequence of burying the tweeter at the bottom of the woofer.

During the two listening tests where I was present, the KEF came in second and third out of the four loudspeakers in the test. In case anyone is interested, the speakers that came out on bottom both times were models from B&W.

Now this really does sound like a KEF bashing thread! Honestly, not my intent. The question was asked about KEF vs. Revel, and all I'm repeating is the specific information I have on the subject.

It bears repeating - KEF is well respected by the engineers at Harman. Where Harman / Revel does better is in validating all the research and facilities at their disposal to design a speaker based on what the science shows. KEF has recently started using the Spinorama method to validate their own designs, so we'll see where that leads.
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post #11943 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 02:29 PM
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You can find used F208's for less than new F206's.

For four channel music, I'd have four F208's unless you are going to have subs.
I'll have two subs, so I don't feel the 208 would give me anything over the 206. Except a hernia .
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post #11944 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 02:41 PM
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Hey filmnut, might consider some acoustic art panels and cut down on all the reflection. Your Revels will be happy and sing to you.
My plan is to add enough absorption to bring RT60 down to 500ms or less, and the aborption panels will be on the ceiling. I'm going full-Toole here and don't intend to absorb any lateral reflections that don't prove to be objectionable. I'll tune the room further, as needed, once I get everything set up.
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post #11945 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 03:00 PM
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I'll have two subs, so I don't feel the 208 would give me anything over the 206. Except a hernia .
Knowing you have 2 subs changes things. Here are my thoughts.

You could get by with 4 M106's, they go low enough to crossover to subs.

But, I hate paying for speaker stands. I like floor standing speakers better, so paying a bit more for the F206's makes sense to me. That's what I decided to do instead of getting M106's for rear surrounds.

What are you going to use for amps? Have you considered JBL LSR 708P's?

If I didn't already have F208's and a Bryston 3B amp amp driving them, I might do a system of 708P's (and maybe just 705P's for rear) with 2 subs.

One other question: Why a 4 channel system? No center channel?
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post #11946 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 03:12 PM
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I'll have two subs, so I don't feel the 208 would give me anything over the 206. Except a hernia .
@Gooddoc . You've got some business.
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post #11947 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 03:18 PM
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The KEF speakers are well regarded by those at Harman, but to this date, none of the KEF models tested have beaten the Revel models they've gone up against.
The italicized part got me curious, have any speakers beaten revel speakers in the price range. Not trying to be smartass just curious
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post #11948 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 03:21 PM
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Hey Fellas!

There is a pair of Salon2's on audiogon listed for $7,999 from a shop in Chicago.

Lowest price I have seen before those was $9K.

Don't know anything about the seller and I have no affiliation.
Yes, I told my buddy who was in the market for them and he bought them. Easy purchase as he lives in Chicago.

Also, yes the grills can be bought from Revel but the price is a little ridiculous for 2 grills.
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post #11949 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 03:40 PM
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Knowing you have 2 subs changes things. Here are my thoughts.

You could get by with 4 M106's, they go low enough to crossover to subs.

But, I hate paying for speaker stands. I like floor standing speakers better, so paying a bit more for the F206's makes sense to me. That's what I decided to do instead of getting M106's for rear surrounds.

What are you going to use for amps? Have you considered JBL LSR 708P's?

If I didn't already have F208's and a Bryston 3B amp amp driving them, I might do a system of 708P's (and maybe just 705P's for rear) with 2 subs.

One other question: Why a 4 channel system? No center channel?
I haven't considered anything from the JBL line and admittedly I know nothing about them other than that they're good speakers too. I prefer dome tweeters to horns, so I haven't given much thought to the JBLs.

Amplification will likely be an ATI Signature 4004, but will determine that after I decide on speakers. I currently have a pair of Adcom stereo amps to use, but I don't know if 100 wpc is going to be enough for this room. I'd say no if I had to guess, and for sure I'd buy the ATI if I went with F206's.

Why 4 channel? I've found the center channel to be completely unnecessary for music. Plus, there will be only one chair in the room, close to dead center, so the phantom center image will suffice. Last year I started a thread in the Audio Theory forum about ditching my center channel in my HT and how much it improved the sound. But that may be due in part to the inadequacy of the center channel speaker I was using, and it's sound may have been compromised to a large degree by my room layout. At any rate, I like not having a center channel speaker for music. It just sounds better without it. YMMV.

Oh, and I hate paying extra for speaker stands too! These darn Revel Performa stands are $500 a pair, so I'd have to lay out $1k just for stands. It makes me lean toward two pairs of F206 or F35's so that my $1k at least goes toward something that makes sound.

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post #11950 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 03:43 PM
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The italicized part got me curious, have any speakers beaten revel speakers in the price range. Not trying to be smartass just curious
Their design philosophy with the double blind tests is that they won't release a speaker until it beats out the previous model it's replacing and competition around it's price point. So I wouldn't think they're going to broadcast when their speaker is beat but rather go back to the drawing board and make it better.

That part of the double blinds is a good tool for R&D but in my opinion you need to take the part about them beating the competition in it's price range with a grain of salt due to the previous Kef discussion. It seems like the tests are done with 4 or 5 speakers so they're limited already and in the case of the M16 you would think it would be compared to the R100 but they chose the Q300, which is 649 and is regularly on sale for 449. And B&W of course seems to always be in the mix and is obviously easily beaten, no offense to B&W owners but I think most can agree they don't sound very good, well except for the diamond tweeter versions. So it's really more marketing than anything but it's actually brilliant if you think about it. Since they claim they test against speakers up to twice their price point, no matter what speaker you're comparing to it you may be thinking that the closest Revel has beaten it in double blind testing when most likely that's not true. So there's actually some marketing genius in not disclosing the exact models that were tested.
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post #11951 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 04:08 PM
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@Gooddoc . You've got some business.
All right! That should buy me a couple subs too
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post #11952 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 04:20 PM
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Yes, I told my buddy who was in the market for them and he bought them. Easy purchase as he lives in Chicago.

Also, yes the grills can be bought from Revel but the price is a little ridiculous for 2 grills.
Have him check out the tweeters - he might want to check with Revel, as they are missing the covers. They can probably cross-reference the serial numbers to see if the tweeters have been replaced.

Odd - it doesn't even look like the holes are there for the wires.

Could be totally legit, but worth checking out for the cost, IMO.

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post #11953 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 04:24 PM
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Their design philosophy with the double blind tests is that they won't release a speaker until it beats out the previous model it's replacing and competition around it's price point. So I wouldn't think they're going to broadcast when their speaker is beat but rather go back to the drawing board and make it better.
That makes sense.

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That part of the double blinds is a good tool for R&D but in my opinion you need to take the part about them beating the competition in it's price range with a grain of salt due to the previous Kef discussion. It seems like the tests are done with 4 or 5 speakers so they're limited already and in the case of the M16 you would think it would be compared to the R100 but they chose the Q300, which is 649 and is regularly on sale for 449. And B&W of course seems to always be in the mix and is obviously easily beaten, no offense to B&W owners but I think most can agree they don't sound very good, well except for the diamond tweeter versions. So it's really more marketing than anything but it's actually brilliant if you think about it. Since they claim they test against speakers up to twice their price point, no matter what speaker you're comparing to it you may be thinking that the closest Revel has beaten it in double blind testing when most likely that's not true. So there's actually some marketing genius in not disclosing the exact models that were tested.
This doesn't (the methodoly doesnt) does it mean R100 in theory could have beaten M16??
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post #11954 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 04:32 PM
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The italicized part got me curious, have any speakers beaten revel speakers in the price range. Not trying to be smartass just curious
As aarons915 stated:

Their design philosophy with the double blind tests is that they won't release a speaker until it beats out the previous model it's replacing and competition around it's price point. So I wouldn't think they're going to broadcast when their speaker is beat but rather go back to the drawing board and make it better.

This is essentially true. But it leaves out all I mentioned about speaker preferences in listening tests being able to be predicted with up to .997% accuracy just by examining the Spinorama measurements. Harman can quickly rule out speakers that measure poorly based on those criteria.

I make this point again because it's not magic or mysterious why Revel speakers come out best in the listening tests. It's simply a matter of following the science - science that Harman and the Canadian government have bankrolled, and published for the whole industry's benefit. As I stated before, the science that will help lead ANY speaker designer to build a good speaker has been published and peer reviewed. The typical limitations on other manufacturers are:

Lack of access to test facilities and equipment (last I heard Harman had four full suites of Klippel test gear, plus of course the MLL and large scale anechoic chambers, none of which are cheap).

A designer on hand who thinks they have "golden ears" and hand tweaks each speaker to their own preference

So it's not just a matter of testing speakers against the competition and making sure you win before release, it's a matter of knowing what matters and what doesn't, and then designing the speakers around those parameters. When you do that, voila! You end up with a great sounding speaker that wins listening tests.

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post #11955 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 04:49 PM
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This is essentially true. But it leaves out all I mentioned about speaker preferences in listening tests being able to be predicted with up to .997% accuracy just by examining the Spinorama measurements. Harman can quickly rule out speakers that measure poorly based on those criteria.
They can also intentionally pick these poorly measuring speakers for the double-blind tests though right? I guess that's the biggest issue I have is we really don't know what models are being compared so you pretty much have to ignore that information as a consumer and audition the speakers you're interested in.
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post #11956 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 05:00 PM
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That part of the double blinds is a good tool for R&D but in my opinion you need to take the part about them beating the competition in it's price range with a grain of salt due to the previous Kef discussion. It seems like the tests are done with 4 or 5 speakers so they're limited already and in the case of the M16 you would think it would be compared to the R100 but they chose the Q300, which is 649 and is regularly on sale for 449. And B&W of course seems to always be in the mix and is obviously easily beaten, no offense to B&W owners but I think most can agree they don't sound very good, well except for the diamond tweeter versions. So it's really more marketing than anything but it's actually brilliant if you think about it. Since they claim they test against speakers up to twice their price point, no matter what speaker you're comparing to it you may be thinking that the closest Revel has beaten it in double blind testing when most likely that's not true. So there's actually some marketing genius in not disclosing the exact models that were tested.
The KEF discussion was around one particular test. I was present for two KEF shootouts. The only one being dissected here was the shootout between the M16 and one particular KEF model.

I don't know how many tests were run using the Concerta2 M16, or the other Concerta2 models. They are relatively new, entry level models from Revel. However, I do know that the Performa3 and Ultima2 series have been shot out on an ongoing basis since their release. As I mentioned in a post a while back, the Salon2 (released in 2009) was shot out against a pair of $150K Wilsons back in 2015. So testing is always ongoing. I will be attending another MLL session next month - right now I don't even know the speaker selection.

FWIW, the diamond series B&Ws have the same problem as most B&W designs - the disconnect between midrange and tweeter, which give the B&Ws their characteristic "boom tiz" sound. You can make a tweeter out of any material you want, again, if you are not designing the rest of the speaker well, the result isn't going to be better sound.

"So it's really more marketing than anything"

Sincerely, it's not. The testing is done by the R&D / engineering / science department, NOT the marketing department. And it's actually kind of surprising to hear anyone say that - Revel hardly touts all of this at all in their marketing material (seriously, you have to dig deep to find any mention of it). It's true that I tout it - mainly because I think it's an incredible and valid story that needs to be told. To me, it's more about validating the research of Toole and Olive than it is about a speaker brand. After doing this for decades, it's pretty obvious to tell which manufacturers are following the science and which ones are following their own marketing teams. One of the best stories to come out of Toole's tenure at Harman is when he demonstrated how biased Harman's own marketing team was when he came on board. This is one of the reasons the strict scientific protocols were put into place.

Again, it's not magic.

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post #11957 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 05:13 PM
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I went into that room with the $300 ELACs and I thought they sounded very nice for inexpensive book shelf speakers. But the room that paired the Revel F228 with Mark Levinson 585 integrated amp sounded just awesome to me, at least on the content they played. I really liked the simplicity of the system, in that all it included was a streaming box, the 585, and the F228s. That room has me seriously looking at the 585 as an upgrade in my amplification.
That has me thinking, there's been a lot of talk about Harman's science-driven approach to speakers, what is their approach to amplifiers? I've been under the impression that, assuming the THD and other measurable statistics are similar or below the threshold of audibility, and there's no DSP going on, two amps with similar power ratings are going to be indistinguishable from one another in a double blind test. Perhaps I've been hanging around the Audiogon forums too much, but there seems to be a widely held belief that there are differences in amps.

Harman marketing the Mark Levinson line as well as the Crown amps as wildly different price point seems to lead some credence to the fact that they may think so as well. Maybe @John Schuermann can shine some light on this - is this something they talk about at all at Harman Academy?

I'm using a Crown XLS 1502 to power my 2-channel setup right now. What, if anything, would I gain if I were to move to a Mark Levinson amp or integrated?

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post #11958 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 05:18 PM
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They can also intentionally pick these poorly measuring speakers for the double-blind tests though right? I guess that's the biggest issue I have is we really don't know what models are being compared so you pretty much have to ignore that information as a consumer and audition the speakers you're interested in.
Yeah, they could. But that would impute incredible bad faith to Toole, Olive, Voecks, Gladwin, Hagen, the list goes on and on. Most of these guys are scientists, through and through. They publish these findings, and their findings are peer-reviewed.

And think about it - to go through all the time and expense to buy and test speakers they know are bad, just so they can, what? Have me post about all of this R&D on the AVS Forum? Again, take a good look at all the Revel marketing materials - you won't find any of this grandly proclaimed in their brochures, on their website, anywhere. It's not there. Personally, I think it should be, which is why I write about it.

And also it would be a pretty mean trick that all of these guys have fooled the AES, the CEA, you name it. It's almost like a conspiracy theory.

At the same time, I have to be realistic and fair here. You do have a point that not every single speaker on the planet has been shot out against a Revel. It's possible there is some speaker out there that just would blow every Revel speaker away. Without unlimited time and resources, there is no way to know. But this I would absolutely swear to - the guys I mentioned above are absolutely dedicated to engineering the best products they can. I have been to Harman numerous times, and have spent considerable time with the persons named above. Whenever they come across a speaker they think might pose a challenge to one of their designs, they deliberately seek it out.

In the meantime, sure - I agree! Audition the speakers you are interested in! The main point I've been making is that the circumstances of the auditioning should be tightly controlled, preferably blind, and with a large variety of listening material (otherwise, how do you know that the supposed speaker issue you think you hear is not actually a problem in the recording?).

I never wanted this to get contentious between us - sorry for any part I've played in ramping this up.

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post #11959 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 05:27 PM
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That has me thinking, there's been a lot of talk about Harman's science-driven approach to speakers, what is their approach to amplifiers? I've been under the impression that, assuming the THD and other measurable statistics are similar or below the threshold of audibility, and there's no DSP going on, two amps with similar power ratings are going to be indistinguishable from one another in a double blind test. Perhaps I've been hanging around the Audiogon forums too much, but there seems to be a widely held belief that there are differences in amps.

Harman marketing the Mark Levinson line as well as the Crown amps as wildly different price point seems to lead some credence to the fact that they may think so as well. Maybe @John Schuermann can shine some light on this - is this something they talk about at all at Harman Academy?

I'm using a Crown XLS 1502 to power my 2-channel setup right now. What, if anything, would I gain if I were to move to a Mark Levinson amp or integrated?
This is an excellent question, and I don't have a hard answer.

General thought among most - but not all - of the hard science guys is that audible differences between well executed amps operating within their limits should be minimal at best. Speakers with a complicated load like the Salon2, for example, can challenge some of even most respectable amplifiers. So it's possible that audible differences might take some time to suss out, depending on how challenging the particular content may be.

I'm trying to research this more myself. Right now I'm running my Salon2s off of a JBL SDA4600 amp (which you probably know is a rebadged Crown DCi4600n). When I visit Harman in May I want to explore this question more in depth with my contacts there. I'm open to replacing (or re-purposing) the JBL amps in favor of some Levinsons, knowing how difficult to drive the Salon2s can be.

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post #11960 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 05:47 PM
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Yeah, they could. But that would impute incredible bad faith to Toole, Olive, Voecks, Gladwin, Hagen, the list goes on and on. Most of these guys are scientists, through and through. They publish these findings, and their findings are peer-reviewed.

And think about it - to go through all the time and expense to buy and test speakers they know are bad, just so they can, what? Have me post about all of this R&D on the AVS Forum? Again, take a good look at all the Revel marketing materials - you won't find any of this grandly proclaimed in their brochures, on their website, anywhere. It's not there. Personally, I think it should be, which is why I write about it.
I actually agree with most of what you're saying and no I don't really think they would intentionally choose poor loudspeakers to beat up on but when we don't know what specific speaker models are being compared it's pointless to draw any conclusions, the results are really only useful for Revel's R&D team, which is probably what is intended. Especially when you consider that the marketing team doesn't use that information.
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post #11961 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 06:18 PM
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That has me thinking, there's been a lot of talk about Harman's science-driven approach to speakers, what is their approach to amplifiers? I've been under the impression that, assuming the THD and other measurable statistics are similar or below the threshold of audibility, and there's no DSP going on, two amps with similar power ratings are going to be indistinguishable from one another in a double blind test. Perhaps I've been hanging around the Audiogon forums too much, but there seems to be a widely held belief that there are differences in amps.

Harman marketing the Mark Levinson line as well as the Crown amps as wildly different price point seems to lead some credence to the fact that they may think so as well. Maybe @John Schuermann can shine some light on this - is this something they talk about at all at Harman Academy?

I'm using a Crown XLS 1502 to power my 2-channel setup right now. What, if anything, would I gain if I were to move to a Mark Levinson amp or integrated?
Well, I'm not an audio science guy, at least from an educational standpoint. But I do try to make my default attitude about questionable claims of audio superiority of certain amplifiers one of skepticism.

That said, remember that in the Revel F228Be room, it was a Levinson integrated amp that was being used, not just a power amp. I do wonder how similarly powerful and well designed amps of similar design, i.e., class A/B, class A, class D, etc., could sound dramatically different, as they are amplifying a fairly high level signal.

But, it seems to me that it may be the pre-amp stage of amplification that is most critical to the final sound quality. As the pre-amp stage deals with lower level signals that might be more delicate and subject to electrical, magnetic, and possibly mechanical interference, I suspect that sound differences between pre-amp stages may be more real than between power amps.

I found that Mark Levinson 585 to produce excellent sound, with respect to tonality, sound stage and imaging, definition in the bass, placement of vocalists within the stage, purity of high frequencies, etc. And I suspect that was more a result of the pre-amp section than the power amp stage, although all the stages obviously have to be of high quality and be skillfully implemented.

It would be interesting, if someone here at AVS gets to speak with people from Levinson, to find out their opinions as to the relative importance of the pre-amp stage vs. the power amp stage of amplification to overall sound quality. In any event, the Revel F228Be combo with the Levinson 585 somehow approached the sound quality of some mega dollar systems at AXPONA, with respect to the aspects of audio quality I mentioned above.

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post #11962 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 06:40 PM
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I currently have salon2's for front. i am using m108 for surrounds and back surrounds. I am debating whether its worth getting voice 2 or c208. Any opinions or suggestions?
I have decided to go with voice 2.Got a deal on a Astock that i could not pass..
Now wait begins..
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post #11963 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 06:49 PM
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Well, I'm not an audio science guy, at least from an educational standpoint. But I do try to make my default attitude about questionable claims of audio superiority of certain amplifiers one of skepticism.

That said, remember that in the Revel F228Be room, it was a Levinson integrated amp that was being used, not just a power amp. I do wonder how similarly powerful and well designed amps of similar design, i.e., class A/B, class A, class D, etc., could sound dramatically different, as they are amplifying a fairly high level signal.

But, it seems to me that it may be the pre-amp stage of amplification that is most critical to the final sound quality. As the pre-amp stage deals with lower level signals that might be more delicate and subject to electrical, magnetic, and possibly mechanical interference, I suspect that sound differences between pre-amp stages may be more real than between power amps.

I found that Mark Levinson 585 to produce excellent sound, with respect to tonality, sound stage and imaging, definition in the bass, placement of vocalists within the stage, purity of high frequencies, etc. And I suspect that was more a result of the pre-amp section than the power amp stage, although all the stages obviously have to be of high quality and be skillfully implemented.

It would be interesting, if someone here at AVS gets to speak with people from Levinson, to find out their opinions as to the relative importance of the pre-amp stage vs. the power amp stage of amplification to overall sound quality. In any event, the Revel F228Be combo with the Levinson 585 somehow approached the sound quality of some mega dollar systems at AXPONA, with respect to the aspects of audio quality I mentioned above.
"I suspect that sound differences between pre-amp stages may be more real than between power amps. "

Agree. Phono stages first then preamps then amps
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post #11964 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 07:09 PM
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"I suspect that sound differences between pre-amp stages may be more real than between power amps. "

Agree. Phono stages first then preamps then amps
Yeah, I bought this massive Krell power amp to power the front L/R of my system that is controlled by my Denon AVR-X5200 AVR, which I'm using as a pre-pro. I was hoping that the Krell would "wake up" my speakers, compared to powering them with the AVR alone. But I haven't found that to be the case. Yes, I do think the class A Krell does improve the sound somewhat, in terms of a more musical sound, but it's not like a massive difference, and in no way approaches the type of sound quality of those systems at AXPONA. I'm now suspecting that I will never approach that sound quality for two channel music if I keep depending on the pre-amp quality of my AVR. Hence, my interest in the Levinson 585.
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Yeah, I bought this massive Krell power amp to power the front L/R of my system that is controlled by my Denon AVR-X5200 AVR, which I'm using as a pre-pro. I was hoping that the Krell would "wake up" my speakers, compared to powering them with the AVR alone. But I haven't found that to be the case. Yes, I do think the class A Krell does improve the sound somewhat, in terms of a more musical sound, but it's not like a massive difference, and in no way approaches the type of sound quality of those systems at AXPONA. I'm now suspecting that I will never approach that sound quality for two channel music if I keep depending on the pre-amp quality of my AVR. Hence, my interest in the Levinson 585.
"class A Krell does improve the sound somewhat,"

It will, at the very least, 'improve' your electric bill.

In my high end days in the 90s, I had an ARC SP-9, SP14 and SP-15 all at the same time. They sounded different enough that the SP-9 got relegated to pretty much permanent duty for the Maggies. The 14 and 15 sounded different, but no clear winner so both continued to be used with the two set of ESLs. I have long believed that preamps indeed make a difference, maybe more so than amps.
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post #11966 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 08:37 PM
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As aarons915 stated:

Their design philosophy with the double blind tests is that they won't release a speaker until it beats out the previous model it's replacing and competition around it's price point. So I wouldn't think they're going to broadcast when their speaker is beat but rather go back to the drawing board and make it better.

This is essentially true. But it leaves out all I mentioned about speaker preferences in listening tests being able to be predicted with up to .997% accuracy just by examining the Spinorama measurements. Harman can quickly rule out speakers that measure poorly based on those criteria.

I make this point again because it's not magic or mysterious why Revel speakers come out best in the listening tests. It's simply a matter of following the science - science that Harman and the Canadian government have bankrolled, and published for the whole industry's benefit. As I stated before, the science that will help lead ANY speaker designer to build a good speaker has been published and peer reviewed. The typical limitations on other manufacturers are:

Lack of access to test facilities and equipment (last I heard Harman had four full suites of Klippel test gear, plus of course the MLL and large scale anechoic chambers, none of which are cheap).

A designer on hand who thinks they have "golden ears" and hand tweaks each speaker to their own preference

So it's not just a matter of testing speakers against the competition and making sure you win before release, it's a matter of knowing what matters and what doesn't, and then designing the speakers around those parameters. When you do that, voila! You end up with a great sounding speaker that wins listening tests.
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.
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post #11967 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 08:54 PM
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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.
I'll take a stab at this, I agree not as many people even know about Revel who should. The only reason I know about them is because I'm always looking for new speakers to try, I have never seen Revel speakers anywhere until recently when I searched them out and had to drive 45 minutes to the closest dealer. They could definitely do more to get the word out. As far as their r&d budget, they are a huge company and make plenty of profit in other areas I'm sure, even if the Revel brand isn't raking in huge profits for them. Since Harmans research is benefiting other areas like headphones and car audio I'm sure they can justify funding it for the foreseeable future.
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post #11968 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 11:00 PM
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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:

https://hometheaterhifi.com/volume_1...ks-4-2004.html

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.
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post #11969 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 11:08 PM
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Wow, just reading through that interview again there is so much great stuff - here's some more:

Sumit: How has your experience at Revel been compared to the previous companies you were at?

Kevin: I've been used to working on a shoestring, certainly relative to at Revel. Revel is almost an embarrassment of resources. When I talk to other engineers in the speaker field, it almost feels like, gee it's not fair to have such phenomenal resources at our disposal! Literally, no one else does. It's very exciting!

Sumit: Could you elaborate on the research facilities that are accessible to Revel?

Kevin: Absolutely. Before I was at Revel I was using the Canadian National Research Council because it had the best measurement facilities and Dr. Floyd Toole's work there was absolutely best in the field. He went to Harman and continued that great research along with Sean Olive who is now in charge of subjective testing or double blind listening tests at Harman. That's just a priceless resource because the bottom line is how something sounds. Normally listening tests are done in a way where it's anecdotal and when you do double blind listening tests, you eliminate the variables, and it's certainly about how the speaker sounds.

Because of having our pneumatic speaker mover, each of the speakers that we are listening to is precisely in the same physical location, so that endless problem that speaker designers have always had about how you compare two loudspeakers technically is completely eliminated. They are in exactly the same place, and they are switched so quickly that our physical aural memory is still intact, which is to the shortest of all our senses in that our aural memory only lasts a few seconds. It means that we are able to do more refined comparisons. You can discern smaller differences reliably when you do the really fast switch. Some people are concerned that rapid switching isn't their style--they like to listen for extended periods. The way we do listening, you can do it anyway you want. If you want to listen for half an hour before you switch, that's fine. There's no pressure to do it otherwise in the Revel listening test.

The ability to do accurate measurements is really critical. There's no replacement for a large real anechoic chamber. Basically the industry is using pseudo-anechoic measurements that are achieved electronically, and they don't work in that they throw away so much resolution depending on how large the area is in which you are measuring that you miss critical data. Not only do you get inaccurate low frequency measurements, but you also have problems with not being able to see resonances, or evidence of resonances.

Some of the research we've done includes the first really good research into the audibility of resonances. We need to know under what circumstances are they audible, and then we can do our design work so that we can make sure that they are below the audible threshold. This is one of countless areas where we've had to determine what's the threshold of audibility, and that's never a simple number. It's usually frequency and amplitude dependent, so we need to know all the circumstances. For instance, the audibility of resonances is dependent upon the kind of music. Resonances can actually be louder than the average music level for things like female pop vocals before we first hear them. Whereas for classical music recordings they can be at a much, much lower level, well below the average level of the music and you still hear them. The most sensitive listening test for resonances is pink noise, and so that's our standard. We want to make sure that the resonances in Revel loudspeakers are inaudible even with the most demanding possible test: pink noise.

Sumit: How well do the measurements correlate with the actual blind tests?

Kevin: That's a perfect question. Because we actually have come up with measurements based on listening tests, it's a full circle. We don't do measurements because we have cool equipment to do it, we do them only because we found an audible characteristic that will differentiate two speakers or one that's more refined....

Sumit: The Ultima series have not been updated in some time. Given that, have they stood the test in time?

Kevin: They have. They still outperform the Performa models, and maybe more importantly, we continue to have speakers come in from other companies that are talked about, and we have yet to have anything challenge the Salons for example. So they retain their place in the sonic category of blind listening tests.

Sumit: The Salon is the most expensive loudspeaker in the Ultima series. Correct?

Kevin: That's correct.

Sumit: What do they cost?

Kevin: Salons are $20,000/pair approximately.

Sumit: If someone had said that you could design a loudspeaker that cost twice as much, could you have designed a better loudspeaker at that time?

Kevin: No. We actually have been getting demands for more expensive loudspeakers for years and we have absolutely resisted just putting in a lot more drivers and making bigger speakers and collecting money. We'll only make more expensive loudspeakers when there's a reason: they have to be more expensive in order to sound better.

Sumit: I find that quite commendable. When designing a loudspeaker what are the three most important aspects of a loudspeaker according to you that one must get right?

Kevin: Timbre is the overwhelming aspect. Based on our blind listening tests timbre is the thing that differentiates between good and bad loudspeakers, but also between good and great loudspeakers. So timbre is kind of a broad term. It incorporates balance, frequency balance, or it can be thought of very roughly as frequency response. That's a little dangerous because, not to infer that one on-axis measurement tells you what the frequency response is in a loudspeaker. It doesn't. Other areas like off-axis response are very critical and we've learned that very far off-axis response like 60-75 degrees is very critical. Almost no one even measures it, let alone designs loudspeakers that are optimized at that sort of angle. But we've looked at real world situations and found that the all-important side-wall first reflection is a function of the speaker's output at that kind of angle in the vast majority of listening rooms. So it means that you're going to be hearing that kind of sound. You will hear it with a slight delay, and in many rooms without very much attenuation. So optimizing the response at that kind of extreme angle is very, very important. And then the power response, the reverberant field that we hear a little later in time is also important. So we literally design for all of those areas: the direct sound, the first reflection sound, and the reverberant field, because we know that all those three things are huge contributors to the timbre, to our perception of the speaker's timbre.


Such a great primer on the Revel brand, the resources at Harman, and the science behind the product.
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post #11970 of 17733 Old 04-27-2018, 11:39 PM
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The factors John mentions above, I assume to be the reason Harman does not seriously endeavor to foster a proliferate dealer network. It takes staffing, funding, and conviction to put the boots on the ground to establish and grow a retail dealer network. Harman is not doing this, meaning they are not trying to do this. I wish they would since I own a lot of their top gear.

I own pairs of Salon2’s, Studio2’s, and Mark Levinson No. 536’s amps, a Voice2, a No. 523 preamp, and six C763L in ceiling speakers. I was able to get very competitive pricing on all of this superb kit, probably because Harman is not dependent on retail sales and therefore the retail sales ecosystem doesn’t desperately protect margins.

There is a Revel/Mark Levinson dealer in metro-Detroit who barely has any Harman product on display. I asked them last week about this, and the salesman said most customers call asking about McIntosh and B&W (which they carry and prominently display). BTW, this is not the dealer from whom I bought my Harman products. However, I did buy a 5 channel set of B&W speakers from them, including a pair of 800D2’s. I have subsequently upgraded to the Revels, which I found to be more delightful.
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