Revel Salon loudspeaker Page 3
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.