|Hales Revelation Three Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Michael Fuschi|
|Sunday, 01 February 1998|
The Hales Revelation Three is one of the newest members of the Revelation Series of loudspeakers manufactured by the Hales Design Group. Fitting right in line with Hales' two smaller models and their center channel, it is now possible to exclusively feature Hales speakers in assembling a coherent 5.1 surround system that has some serious punch. Visiting the Huntington Beach, California factory to pick up my review samples, I was warmly greeted by both Paul Hales and Hales' sales and marketing manager Casey McKee who were kind enough to give me a tour of the highly automated plant and explain some of the design philosophies behind Hales' current line of loudspeakers.
The Three is a three-way design utilizing a 10 inch woofer of proprietary design, a 4.5 inch midrange and a 1 inch dome tweeter. The cabinets may be ordered in oak, black painted oak, sapele (which looks like rosewood) or natural cherry (which raises the price up $100 per pair). The grille is a one-piece, non-removable black sock-and-frame assembly which covers the front of the cabinet and the five way binding posts on the rear panel are configured for single wiring only. The only accessories supplied with the speaker system are two sets of solid brass floor cones and an extremely comprehensive and well-written owner's manual. The Revelation Three's retail for $2,195.00 per pair and were reviewed using Anthem tube electronics.
Setting the speakers about one foot from the rear wall, I hooked them up and received surprisingly good results in imaging and bass response especially considering the crude placement and the absence of break-in time. The owner's manual suggests 100 hours of break-in and, after testing it out, I concur. The longer a signal was put through the speakers, the better they sounded.
Once broken-in I started to experiment with room placement and the relationship between the room's boundaries and the speaker's. I soon discovered that placing the Hales at least two feet from the rear walls exhibited a smoother, punchier and less boomy bass response. Clearly, the bass showed itself to be one of this speaker's strong points.
Considering the information and placement charts contained in the owner's manual, anyone should be able to follow the suggested guidelines and end up with stellar results. I would however, reiterate that I found the speaker's imaging improved greatly once the Hales were broken-in and set away from the rear wall being that the front baffle of the cabinet is curved to cancel out diffraction towards the outer edges of the cabinet. In fact, over time I could actually tell that the sonic signature of the speakers changed as the center image became deeper and much more detailed.
Listening to the cut "Night Bird" from Deep Forests' debut CD (Epic), I found the bass notes and the vocals to have an uncanny presence, almost as if they were outside the speakers themselves. It's not just that the bass was deep, but it was presented with such accuracy and authority it allowed me to feel the bass notes as well as hear them. Also, the vocals and various percussive instruments were painted expansively, like a landscape that was wide, deep and soothing.
On "Birnam" from Mouth Music's Mo-Di (Ryko), I again heard a bass which was well-detailed and very involving. The percussion and electronic sounds seemed to just float in their respective places while the seductive vocals sounded dynamic, yet natural at the same time.
When I played "Hey Man, Nice Shot" from Filter's Short Bus (Reprise) at extreme levels I wasn't let down. Originally, company CEO Paul Hales thought a 40 watt-per-channel Anthem amplifier wouldn't drive the speakers successfully, however, playing this track at neighbor-offensive volume levels in my 18 by 20 foot room proved to me that these speakers are not only efficient enough to be driven by this type of amplifier, but will also perform when asked to. A polite sonic signature is fine and this type of sound appeals to our emotional side, however, any speaker system that falls on it's face when pushed is not OK in my book. Moving considerable air, these speakers didn't have that problem.
One of my most difficult criteria for a loudspeaker system to deal with is low-level detail. It's so hard to get right and there are so many speakers out there that that don't even know what low-level detail is, let alone how to resolve it. But not these Hales. I was very impressed with what these speakers resolved at low listening levels as music listened to at whisper levels on this loudspeaker system took on an entirely different character. When I played Talk Talk's "Happiness Is Easy," from their Natural History album (EMI) my listening session became an entirely different experience.
The Revelation Threes excelled and really surprised me in so many areas, especially considering their price. With a very well balanced design with a sincere coherent sound between drivers, I never once found them to be bright, boomy or offensive in any way. I--like many of my guests who commented on the speakers--did not care for the oak finish of my review pair. I, personally, found it too plain, although while at the factory, I saw other finishes I would certainly opt for if I were buying these speakers for myself. Also, the cones, while a thoughtful addition proved to be too small to safely support the speaker and too blunt to puncture my carpet to make a stable platform. After a few brushes up against the speaker and a near collision with the floor I eventually replaced the three cones per-speaker which were provided with something more stable. Should I be given my five minutes in their next design meeting, my recommendation to Hales might include suggesting a spike method with drilled taps into the cabinet, for better support on carpeting.
High praise indeed due to Paul Hales and his design team. The Revelation Threes can easily be considered a bargain at their price considering what they are capable of. The two thousand dollar per-pair arena is a very challenging area for a loudspeaker manufacturer to be in, yet it's obvious that Hales did their homework. They knew how good this speaker had to be, and it truly is.