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Old Audiophile
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Please settle a bet.

This is purely intended as an exercise in vicarious fun. However, there is a bottle of fine Scotch, likely single malt, riding on this bet. So, please be somewhat serious and well-reasoned with your responses.

My audiophile friends and I have recently been waxing philosophical, as audiophiles with too much time on their hands are wont to do, and bantering back & forth which pairs of speakers, among 3 specific choices, would, hypothetically, sound "best" in a two-channel application when paired with either a McIntosh MA5200 or MA5300. We, of course, fully understand that "best" is a subjective concept and appreciate the many variables involved, especially with regard to speakers (e.g. sound room dimensions; speaker placement; room acoustics; etc.). As such, let's assume a hypothetical living room ... say ...15'X20' with 8' ceiling, no windows, average wall-to-wall carpeting, proverbial sheetrock construction, average couch & love seat, not chock-full of furniture, etc. Also, please assume good quality modestly priced 12-guage name brand speaker cables (e.g. Audioquest).

The 3 specific pairs of speakers involved are:

Revel Performa3 F208
Focal Aria 936
Revel Performa3 F206

All of these speakers are certainly outstanding in their own right. However, as all audiophiles know, components must be properly paired in order to sound their best. As such, please keep in mind the virtually identical characteristics and power levels of the amplifiers involved, the sensitivity or efficiency of the speakers, etc. Using your best audiophile skills & know-how, personal experiences, etc., please rate, in order, which speakers you think would sound best, second best and third best, in your opinion(s), and explain your reasoning, conclusions or prognostications in this regard.

As indicated at the outset, there's a friendly wager riding on this (i.e. bottle of fine Scotch) and, of course, audiophile bragging rights for years to come.

Thanks for any and all responses! Have fun!

manunkind
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Until a month or two ago I

Until a month or two ago I had a pair of Focal Aria 936 driven by a MA5300.

The sound was spacious and crystal clear, the vocals were fully alive and you can hear the very moment of a drumstick hitting a cymbal. But I felt I was missing out on the lows, and when I moved the speakers about, I would get more bass but in a boomy, unnatural way. I swapped MA5300 for an Accuphase e-280, and the bass performance did not improve (although the phono stage was certainly better than in MA5300). I gave up and sold my Focals, replacing them with Harbeths- which are, I can say without a moment of doubt, the most marvelous and wholesome speakers I had an honour to hear.
I have no experience with Revels....

BluesDog
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Revel Leads The Way

Well, I can easily answer 2/3 of this question and have some thoughts on the other 1/3. I HAVE heard the Revel Performa 3 F206 AND the 208 on a MAC 5300 at a listening session. This resulted in my friend buying a pair of F206’s. He had some room constraints (and a budget) that prevented him getting the 208. And he felt that the 206 was plenty good enough. This session was further helped by a nice set of Tributaries speaker cables with the MAC 5300 plugged into a hospital grade outlet.

The 206 is a fine speaker and I continue to enjoy listening to it at my friend’s house whenever feasible. I don’t turn down my friend’s fine scotch either. The differences between the 206 and the 208 are not subtle. The 208 is on the order of a magnitude superior. It is as if it were saying “Here is the reason why I am your bigger and better brother.” To my ears the 208 had much more headroom. It was more effortless in delivering what the MAC 5300 had to give,it’s depth, authority and extension from the lows through the midrange was transformative. I like and have a lot of respect for the 206. If I could afford them, I would do it. But the 208 didn’t even need to say “Who’s Your Daddy?” As the 206’s already know.

After MUCH thought I would have to give 2nd place to the Revel Performa3 F206. You would think that the bigger, more expensive Focal Aria 936 would easily best the Revel 206 but I think not. Despite having a larger size, larger 6 ½ inch midrange 3 x 6.5 inch drivers, TWO front ports AND a down firing port, the Focal is only able to achieve a John Atkinson measured 39hz. This puzzles me about a well reviewed and respected speaker. And, as Manukind reported in his ownership experience “Where’s the beef?” In listening to the Revel 206, it revealed bass capabilities, exceptional clarity and off axis performance way better then it’s stated specs. This is despite a smaller size, a 5 inch midrange, only 2 6.5 drivers and ne front port.

Dorsia777
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So who won the bet?

Just curious…what was the bet and who won?

BluesDog
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I’m Curious About That Myself

All previous hyperbole aside:
I just don’t see the Revel Performa 3 F208 being LAST in comparison with the Focal Aria 936 and the Revel Performa 3 F206. On a MAC 5300.

Old Audiophile
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No One & Everyone!

Dorsia777, in answer to your question: No One & Everyone!

I posted this query on a few audiophile forums, just for fun. The best piece of advice came from someone on Audiogon who, essentially, suggested we forget about the bet, share the cost of a fine bottle of Scotch and, as the Doobie Brothers would say: "Listen to the Music". We were hoping a professional reviewer or three would chime in on this and had, more or less, decided the preponderance of such seasoned and informed opinion(s) would carry the day. Alas, this was not meant to be. Probably wary of alienating manufacturers.

Of my audiophile friends privy to this bet, I was the only one who had done serious seat-time with all of the aforementioned components in the same not so hypothetical sound room. In the interest of domestic tranquility, I'll keep my opinion on the best matching to myself. However, at the risk of upsetting that domestic tranquility, I can confidently and unabashedly say that Johnny Walker Blue is NOWHERE NEAR worth $250.00 a bottle! I'm glad we invested in the sampler pack before taking such a plunge! Of course, this is merely the opinion of a Scotch enthusiast; not a graduate of the Master of Scotch Certification Program. As an old friend was fond of saying on such occasions: "I may not know much about art, but I know what I like".

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