Hales Revelation Three loudspeaker Page 2
The Revelation Three is provided with smallish stabilizing cones; these have a thick piece of felt on the flat surface that's in contact with the speaker. Although the felt helps protect the finish, it's likely to impair the coupling normally considered important for the use of cones. (Many speakers come with cones or spikes that screw right into the cabinet.) In any case, my advice to Revelation Three owners is to throw the cones away at first opportunity, and put three large AudioPoints under each speaker. In my situation, the result was tighter, more extended bass, and generally sharper focus. (My listening room has a sprung wood floor; if your room has a concrete floor, the results may well be different.)
My first attempt at setup was to position the front of each speaker where I normally have my Dunlavy SC-IVs: well out into the room, and subtending an angle of about 75 degrees to the listening position. This seemed fine, except for one thing: there was no bass! Of course, I exaggerate; there was bass, but not nearly as much as I'd heard from these speakers at HI-FI '97. With the help of Casey McKee—the Hales Design Group's genial sales and marketing manager, who came by to make sure that the speakers were behaving themselves—I moved the speakers until both bass extension and soundstaging seemed about right. This was with the speakers nearer the back wall and closer together than the initial position, toed-in a little past the halfway point between straight-ahead and aimed-at-the-listener.
I continued to tweak the setup after Casey left, and eventually ended up with the speakers in a classic equilateral triangle (in case your high school geometry is shaky, that's where each angle is 60 degrees), with the speakers aimed right at the listener. The Revelation Three manual's placement recommendation is to have the speakers subtending a narrower angle than my setup; I tried that, but found that I was missing the "widescreen" effect, and that the bass balance was actually better with the speakers farther apart. There was no problem with center fill or the distribution of images across the soundstage. The speakers seemed to need very little break-in; I was later informed that the review pair had been played a fair amount at the factory.
What is talent? Is it technical mastery, like the ability to produce the right kind of sounds—such as, for a singer, having a well-produced voice with good range and power? To be successful, at least on the operatic stage or in the recital hall, a certain level of technical mastery must be present, but this, by itself, is not enough. What distinguishes the talented from the merely competent is the ability to use technical means to communicate and, ultimately, to touch the audience emotionally.
The Revelation Three is a talented loudspeaker.
Of course, a speaker is a device of sound reproduction, and cannot infuse musical value into source material that lacks this commodity. Also, a speaker's performance is obviously dependent on other components in the chain. The Revelation Three's "talent" lies in having a carefully designed set of electromechanical attributes that maximize the likelihood that music reproduced through these speakers will be rewarding and emotionally involving.
Some audiophiles interpret the statement that a component sounds "musical" as meaning that it's "euphonic" rather than "accurate"; ie, the product has significant frequency-response variations that make it sound "nice" or "pleasant," but which have the effect of impairing resolution and fidelity to the source. In the Revelation Three's case, nothing could be further from the truth. Though I'll leave measurement-oriented discussion of the speaker's performance to John Atkinson, to my ears the Revelation Three sounded exceedingly neutral, neither favoring nor neglecting any part of the range. With the right associated equipment, it was able to resolve the most subtle of musical details, but in a way that avoided sounding clinical or hyped.
Footnote 3: I'm told that the Revelation Three is currently shipping with instructions on grillecloth removal and replacement.