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. My hearing is exceptional.

Christopher's picture

@Ornello :
You must not be familiar with Harmon Audio Group's testing facilities and procedures, and, you also must not have heard these speakers working properly. Either you heard some bad quality clones, or there was something terribly wrong with some other piece of equipment in the chain, or, very bad source material.

Because not only do these speakers measure exceptionally well from an entirely objective perspective, they also have EXCELLENT sound quality both from my perspective as a person who listened to them while working for a COMPETITOR -and- from the perspective of a panel of expert trained listeners working at the parent company.

Even if these speakers did not suit your personal preference [for non-neutral sound], I don't believe you honestly could have listened to them and come away with an opinion that the were not at least "generally excellent"!

In 2003 I went to all the major high end audio boutiques in Manhattan and auditioned several of their finest (and some more modest) speakers at each store. The Madrigal Revel Salon Ultimas stood out as clearly superior to every other pair we heard over that period of a couple days that we spend listening to the best the competition had to offer. Every other pair had at least some minor unpleasant quality to their sound, these were the only ones where nothing stood out as an obvious imperfection to their ability to accurately and dynamically reproduce recorded music.

lenslens007's picture

If you did not like the sound of them, maybe there was some other part of the system that was producing noise that you did not like. I know they can reveal sonics in cables, DAC filters, room acoustics, and pre-amp. They also throw a large magnetic field that can interact with close-by (i.e. between the speakers) electronics.

makrisd's picture

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

Ornello's picture

I own Yamaha NS-1000M speakers. Prior to that I owned Rogers Studio 1s. Either of these trounce the Revels.

steve59's picture

I got lucky enough to get a pair to and these speakers live up to their reputation bigtime. I'm generally disappointed by hi-end loudspeakers because my mid-fi electronics tend to translate into harsh, ultra revealing noise that's not musical, in fact I was in the process of upgrading my electronics when I found these and drivin by an anthem 225I and kimber 4tc wire these are the most impressive and musical speakers i've had and I can finally say my home system sounds as good as the systems I hear at the hifi stores. I'm sure better electronics will produce better sound but it's nice that they sound great as is. previous speakers, revel f52, VA beethoven, kef 107/2, 105/3, Dyn audience 80. The 107/2 are full range but can't compare to the salon.

amh020's picture

Dear Ornello,
I also own Yamaha's NS1000 and I am familier with the Salon2. I think the design strategies of both speakers are not that different. Recent measurements on NS1000 drivers show that the big mid driver has exceptional dispertion even at 5K. Distortion levels at around 1KHz are extremely low, like no cone driver can give. The Yamaha's sound extremely detailed without dynamic compression. The Salon2 sounds like that too, a bit less detailed in the mids and a bit more modern (laid back). And if you haven't upgraded some filter components then I believe the Salons can sound better then the yamaha's.
The Salons were and still are a high-end bargain, if your amp can handle the low impedance. If you can't afford them, buy second hand Yamaha's and recap the filters.

Ornello's picture

No way. The Revels are horrid in every way. Typical American speakers, 'badass' rather than good.

steve59's picture

You're passionate about your taste i'll give you that, but why hang around here and slam one speaker in favor of another when both are out of production? I read the review of the ns1000 and tbh I would take the dq10 they compared it to over a speaker that will make 5% of my recordings magical and the other 95% unlistenable, been there, done that.