Revel Salon loudspeaker Page 3

This lack of compression and low distortion were most evident when rendering the full dynamics of percussion, as on Tito Puente's timbales solo, "Tito," on Arturo Sandoval's Hothouse (N2K 10023). Played at the Bryston 7B-STs' maximum output, the Salon projected an image of the timbales spread across the soundstage in three parts. Precise soundstage imaging—even at top volume—showed Puente moving back and forth among the three drums. Each drumstick stroke was sudden, with no decay or congestion—just the clear, open, explosive sounds of the drumhead, the rim, and the drumstick's wood. The Salon captured all the transients, from trumpet blasts to rimshots, with no sign of compression. At levels I've never been able to get from any other loudspeaker, the sound of the Salons in my room was tremendous—clean, fast, loud, dynamic.

I was on a roll. Reaching further back in my vinyl collection, I pulled out the Sheffield Drum Record (Sheffield Lab Direct Disc Recording 14). Its liner notes indicate that this "record is clean and uncompressed in its instantaneous peak crests." I increased the gain until the Bryston 7B-STs' clipping lights flashed on peaks—definitely kilowatt territory! The playback level increased but remained very, very clean. The Salon displayed complete control, falling silent after each drumstroke or rimshot. Cymbal notes were startlingly clear, utterly transparent, and sweet. The kick/bass-drum strokes had great solidity and heft. Cymbal strokes moved with great precision from right to left, a spatial precision I'd heard only with the original Quad electrostatic loudspeakers, but at much lower maximum levels.

Before finishing this review, I listened to Marek Janowski conducting Brahms' Symphony 1 (CD, ASV Quicksilver QS 6101)—the same conductor and music I'd heard in Australia. As the first movement began, the Salon resolved the ominous, pounding timpani and the violins and woodwinds playing opposing scales. The intricate mix of the timpani ostinato and the ascending violin line—so clear when heard live—was rendered with its full complexity and power. Leaning back in my chair, I was swept into the music, drawn back to that early September evening in Sydney.

The Revel Salon's $15,500/pair list price—for the version featuring a high-gloss finish and rosewood side panels—is not unreasonable considering its groundbreaking design and its superb integration of the entire audio spectrum. For that reason, I don't judge the Salon's value only by its cost, any more than I would defend Yo-Yo Ma's choice of his 1712 Davidoff Stradivari cello on the basis of price alone. Vintage musical instruments are in a class by themselves, as are outstanding loudspeakers. To quote Wes Phillips, "If you can resist them, you have far more self-control than I pretend to." All told, I'll be very sad to hand the Revel speakers back to the truck driver.

I had to travel to Australia to comprehend how the structural grandeur of the Sydney Opera House's graceful sails and the rich sonics of its concert hall could work together to create a unique aesthetic experience. Similarly, the Revel Salon's fit'n'finish must be seen, and its timbral accuracy heard, to fully appreciate its unique use of good engineering principles and superb industrial design.

Ornello's picture

These abominations are some of the worst speakers i have ever heard. That they are sold, let alone that the 'manufacturer' asks $15,000 per pair for theses abominations, is an insult to the human race.

makrisd's picture

Are you experiencing hearing problems? Probably the best speakers in the world!

Ornello's picture

These abominations sound like crap.

makrisd's picture

When and where did you hear these? What is your favourite speaker system?