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Demondog
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Revel Performa3 speakers

I've ordered a pair of F208, and will try to post my review here after I've done some listening.

I'm predicting these will sell like hotcakes, based on my early impressions that the performa3's reach a new level with their combination of performance, looks, and relatively modest cost. I've listened to them at the store several times, and the demo set is coming home tomorrow for a week of further listening.

I took a few pictures trying to capture just how attractive these speakers look. Part of the bargain with my wife is that I get good sound, and she gets good looks. I even promised to keep the grills on. Handily, they have hidden magnet attachment.

 

 

 

Demondog
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It's been a week.

After listening to the demo F208 in my home for a week now, I'm still not sure how to accurately describe the sound of these speakers, My main reference is the Epos M12.2 stand mount speakers that I've been using ( with dual subwoofers) for the past four years. The problem is that the Revel 208 are so different from the Epos, that it's no comparison except for gross differences. My room is 13' X 16' X 7.7' with open 4' doorways in the rear corners, and of roughly average liveliness.

The Epos speakers direct the sound  straight at you like a laser beam. Any change in head position, let alone sitting up or leaning forward, causes large shifts in tone. The F208 are so smooth in dispersion as to almost have no sweet spot in listening position. The changes in tone with changes in listening position are very subtle. This is one of the things I notice most with The F208. I also wondered about how the much higher tweeter in the F208 would work out. These are 46.5"  tall speakers. It doesn't sound like there is a problem to me. My ears are probably even with the lower half of the midrange most of the time. The toe-in doesn't seem very critical either.

The smoother, more sophisticated high frequencies are another big difference, The overall balance of the revel is slightly tipped down from bass to treble in my room as shown by measurement, though I do not hear a lack of treble when listening. I do hear a less fatiguing and more life like treble. The overall sound is a little richer, and fuller in the 100-800 Hz region which was one of the things I was looking for in a new speaker. I have not tried the tweeter level switch yet, which allows +- 1 dB in .5 dB steps, because it seems to hit the middle ground as it is.

The bass is much more tuneful than with the Epos speakers running full  and subwoofers cutting in below 40 Hz.   The 25-30 Hz bass might not be as strong with the F208, I'm not sure at this point, but I was over driving the subs anyway. The speaker has a bass contour switch to reduce output, recommended with less than two feet to the front wall. It does reduce the bass just a noticeable amount, and seems effective at cleaning up the bass if it loads up too much.

The sound stage seems pretty large, and the image of a central vocalist or instrument is very tightly focused. It is hard to break the illusion that the sound is coming from the disconnected Epos speakers in front of my fireplace on a lot of recordings. I played a test track, Chesky Jazz and More Audiophile Tests Volume 2. Track 47 is a recording of 4 people in a line, with maraca, shakers, etc.. who approach the microphone from the back of a hall, then circle the MIC position.  I've heard this track on at least three different speakers, and have been unimpressed. When I played it on the F208, I listened to the sounds approaching, then move to the right, and then a moment later I almost jumped out of my chair as the sound moved past the speaker, then 8 ' along the side wall to pass through the back of my head to the left and forward to the left speaker. It was uncanny!

Then again, I feel like I am still adjusting to this new sound. I've listened to quite a few of the competing speakers in this range at audio shows and at dealers in the last couple of years, and I think this speaker may compare very well. The only thing I hear in the F208 that I would like improved on is a little more dynamic intensity, and just the tad tighter bass.  But in saying that I also have a strong feeling that this speaker can deliver what I'm looking for with a little better amplifier than the NAD C275BEE that I'm using for now, not to mention some room treatments.

Anyway, I have a pair on order, and I'm anxious to get some spikes on (the speakers) and do some real optimizing.

The test lab.  Oh yea, my wife is getting new leather furnature for the room about the same time as the new speakers will arrive. It will be a total room makeover, and I have to try and make the speakers blend in. It's not going to be easy.

Demondog
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After two weeks

I'm still hanging on to the demo pair of Revel F208, but I suspect the dealer will want these back before too long. Delivery of the new pair is probably still 5-6 weeks out. If I need to go back to the Epos M12.2 until then, I will, but I'm having a great time discovering previously hidden elements in almost every track I play, that are now being revealed to me by the F208s.

With the Revel's I am hearing instruments, on many recordings, that seem to float in space disconnected from the physical boundaries of my room and equipment. I don't know if this characteristic is realistic, or even intentional, but I do hear it much more frequently than before the F208s.

Here is a graph showing the frequency response in my room of the Epos M12.2 (green trace), and the Revel F208 (red trace). I hesitated to post this because my methods are highly suspect, not really repeatable, and valid only in my room. If you want accuracy, wait for a real review in Stereophile, or elsewhere. haha  I did average about a dozen measurements located close to the listening position.

The room modes below 300 Hz or so make a mess of the traces, but the Epos (green trace) always shows a deep/narrow cancelation at about 114 Hz in my room and a generally depressed region (-2 or 3 dB) between 100-800 Hz, giving a leaner balance. The 4 kHz crossover region suckout, and the rise around 5-7 kHz I believe gives the Epos M12.2 a lively, crisp, detailed sound which I like, but it is too much on some recordings. Though the mid and lower bass is good, you can see why I used subwoofers to fill in below 40 Hz with the Epos M 12.2

On the other hand, the Revel F208 looks generally much better balanced in my room, with fewer obvious problems. From what I see in some of the individual measurements, I think the tweeter output (from the crossover at 2.2 kHz on up)  with the tweeter level control at the "0", setting is a dB or so low. This seems to contribute to a more refined polite sound than I am used to hearing. At first impressions, I thought the F208 might be a little dull, not having the sparkle that I liked. As I get more familiar with it, I think my first impressions had a lot to do with how bright sounding the Epos speakers can be, and my very poor high frequency hearing ability. I've tried the F208 with the tweeter adjustment at +0.5 dB, but for most recordings I've left it at 0. For instance, right now I'm listening to a free 192 kHz/24 download I got from Linn, Lazy Afternoon from Too Much In Love Too Care - Claire Marten, and I cannot fault the tonal balance of the cymbals, vocals, etc...

Anyway, I'm sold on the Revel F208 as maybe my last and ultimate speaker purchase (hahahaha), and am looking forward to seeing just how good these can be when  they're really dialed in, with some sound absorption panels on the front wall, or god forbid, driven by something other than the Grace m903/NAD C275Bee.

tmsorosk
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Revel

This is the way people should purchase speakers , after a long listen at home .

I've owned the Revel Salon one's for quite a few years and haven't heard there equal , won't be parting with them anytime soon . I hope you enjoy the F208's as much .

Demondog
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Thanks

I'm hoping the Performa3 line has inhertited a bunch of Salon goodness. 

Bill B
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nice

Descriptive and useful comments dude thanks.  They are beautiful looking speakers too - especially that wood.  I'd try bumping that tweeter level control up one more notch, that's what it's there for.  

Your in-room response of the Revels is damn good for a real room/real life situation.  And for my taste, that strong response in the very low frequencies is a great thing to have.

 

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