Revel Performa F30 loudspeaker Page 3

I hauled out the usual potboilers to exercise the F30's woofer: the drum whacks of Holst's Suite 1 (Dunn/Dallas Wind Symphony, Reference Recordings RR-39CD), the Eagles' "Hotel California" (Hell Freezes Over, Geffen GEFD-24725), organ pedals (Die Orgel Tanzt, Bayer BR150 009), and the synthesized depths of Béla Fleck's Flight of the Cosmic Hippo (Warner Bros. 26562-2). The F30 took them all on and delivered powerful, deep, impressive sounds, the bass well-extended with excellent definition. Because the low response was so clean and well-damped, the F30's low-frequency potential was noticeable only when the music demanded it.

Compared to the Meridian DSP6000, the Genesis 500 (both with self-powered woofers), or the Eos+Bass Module, the F30 sounded less full, but—unless I demanded physical force on sense organs other than my ears—eminently satisfying. At least on paper, the F30's 10" driver goes a little lower than the two 8" drivers of its big brother, the Studio. But placed at exactly the same spots, the F30s were more reticent and marginally less nimble from the bottom up through the midbass. I found the F30's extreme bottom equivalent to that of the similarly sized PSB Stratus Gold i—which, as John Atkinson and Tom Norton will agree, is quite good indeed.

Like the Ultima Studio's, the F30's woofer-midrange crossover involves sharp fourth-order filters set at 220Hz. Woofer integration with the wonderful midrange was problem-free at a 12' listening distance, but there was some lack of warmth to the sound in the upper bass. I couldn't determine whether this was due to level differences between woofer and midrange or to crossover anomalies, but it was most noticeable when it robbed some weight from deep male voices. Leonard Cohen and Hans Theessink sounded more craggy and close, but just a little lighter than expected. I did have an esteemed guest who thought he could detect separate sounds from the midrange and the woofer, but I chalked this up to the visual influence of the driver placement. There's +20" of separation between the mid and low drivers, but that distance is less than half a wavelength at the crossover frequency. Whatever the cause—driver placement, room placement, cabinet resonance, crossover implementation, etc.—the F30 had extended, well-defined, and controlled bass, but often lacked heft unless pushed.

The F30's high-frequency performance was extremely revealing with the HF control at its normal setting. Particularly impressive was the F30's depiction of brass instruments in the recent Serebrier/LSO recording of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade (Reference Recordings RR-89CD). Talk about dynamics! With or without HDCD decoding, I was completely knocked out by the clarity and presence of the brass, even though the section was realistically placed at the rear of the ensemble. String tone on this lovely recording was appropriately sweet or with an edge, as required.

Even more ravishing were the sounds of gut on string and the woody tones of Josef Suk's violin, set out like jewels against the deep velvet of the organ accompaniment in Vitali's Chaconne (La Follia, Lotos LT0009-2 131). Here, as with many other recordings, the F30's HF presentation, although otherwise beyond reproach, was somewhat "forward." Cutting in at about 2.8kHz, the F30's tweeter reproduces few fundamentals and should not be easily localizable. However, 2.8kHz is the typical resonant frequency of the human auditory canal (external auditory meatus), and it is at this frequency and slightly above that we have our lowest auditory thresholds—an important measure of hearing sensitivity.

The ear's sensitivity at 2.8kHz may relate to the perception that the F30s' soundstage presentation was quite close and somewhat compressed in depth in absolute terms. On Dead Can Dance's Into the Labyrinth (Warner Bros. 45384-2), "Yulunga" begins with mostly low and midrange instruments and voices, all sounding appropriately atmospheric. Through the F30s, the entry of the single maraca was, as it should be with a good system, startling in its closeness. However, when the tempo accelerated, the continuing maracas in both channels were too prominent, distracting me from the felicitous things the F30s did with the voices, drums, and winds.

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