|Revel Concerta F12 Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Tim Hart|
|Sunday, 01 January 2006|
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I gave the F12s about 40 hours of break-in time using my Anthem P5 and the Linn Unidisk 1.1 and the Kisto System Controller and Cardas Golden Cross balanced and single-ended interconnects and Golden Cross Speaker cables. I started off with the F12’s in approximately the same position as my Studios, which is 34 inches from the front wall, nine feet apart, and five feet from the side walls. They ended up a little closer to the front wall for more bass support and slightly toed in, not quite pointing to the listening position. Finding a location where the best balance was attained was straightforward and I was able get the F12s imaging like a champ.
The F12s definitely have the trademark sonic character of their more expensive brethren in the mid to high-frequency range, sounding very neutral, accurate and leaning on the slight side of politeness, but not at the expense of detail, a hallmark of Revel designs. The soundstage is very well defined and maintained between the speakers. All material I played through the F12s allowed for good depth, focused imaging and was very easy to listen to. “Yesterday to Tomorrow” by Audioslave (Interscope Records) shows some of the balance and tonal qualities of the F12s, with Tim Comerford’s opening bass line and Brad Wilk’s kick drum both maintaining good authority and low-frequency articulation, even at high volumes. Behind Chris Cornell’s voice, you can hear the subtle character of the guitar reverb dancing from left to right. As the guitar riff changes character, the single string playing cuts through with sharp-edged clarity, highlighting the F12’s nimbleness at handling transients without edginess or harshness.
“Twisted Logic” on Coldplay’s latest X&Y (Capitol Records) is one of my recent favorites. Chris Martin’s vocals have the texture I would expect to hear, rendered dead center between the F12s. Jon Buckland’s soaring guitar notes are captured and reproduced with agility, conveying the energy of the notes with better authority than I would have suspected. Similarly-priced speakers I have had pass through my listening room, like the Klipsch RF-7’s, exhibited a fatiguing quality to them with this type of guitar work. I didn’t feel like I wanted to turn down the volume with the F12s. The interplay of guitar and piano on “A Message” works well on the F12s, allowing some of the strengths of the speaker to show. Midrange clarity, natural decay, tonal balance and transients are beyond what you might think these speakers are capable of, keeping within the bounds of their respective price point.
On James Taylor’s re-mastered to SACD disc JT (Sony Music Entertainment), more of the character of the F12s came across. Their neutrality was more noticeable on “Handy Man,” where Taylor’s voice sounded neither lush nor sterile, but had the right balance of midrange to highlight his crooning vocal style. With a fairly detailed layering of harmonies, the F12s drew me into this stellar recording and, if you pardon the pun, had me reveling in the deep and detailed soundstage of the organ, bass and articulate guitar by one of the premier singer/songwriters of our time.
The DTS DVD-Audio release of Porcupine Tree’s In Absentia (DTS Entertainment) is a favorite to judge decay, transients, midrange bloom and transparency. Steve Wilson’s voice is nicely suspended between the F12s with good depth and midrange on “Heart Attack in a Layby”. The harmonies in this tune are mesmerizing, as are the guitar and synth work. The F12s captured a lot of the character of this song, highlighting the textures and micro dynamics that are so captivating. Cymbals have a nice shimmer to them and the sharp edge of the bass notes maintained a palpable presence. On “.3,” bass drum and bass guitar are sorted out pretty effortlessly at higher volumes and only got congested at some pretty high volumes. Backing off a bit, the layering within the soundstage on the two-channel PCM version remained respectable.
I wished I had the full complement of the Concerta line to hear how well they perform together. I decided to try to focus on just the F12s, even though my center channel is a Revel C30 and I didn’t want it to color my opinion of the F12s. While the F12s retain some similar sonic attributes of the other Revel speakers, they did show some of the reason they are in a different price point when run with the C30. The C30 has a more transparent midrange and better articulation and definition of higher frequencies, as well as better midrange bloom than the F12s, but the F12s have a good tonal balance and are very musical. Their presentation is not as refined nor liquidly smooth as the C30 or the Studios, but this is an extremely unfair comparison, as the F12s are a fraction of the price of the Performa and Ultima products.
While testing the waters with “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith” (Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox), I had to reduce the level of the F12s so that they didn’t overplay the C30 due to better efficiency I wanted to see how well they did in this scenario with soundtracks and was rewarded with dexterity and dynamic agility. The opening battle scene in chapter one provides a variety of sonic marvels to hear, from the explosions of ships in battle, to sonic signature of missiles homing in on the Jedi, to screaming R2 units trying to deal with the onslaught. I can imagine, based on the F12s’ performance, that the entire package is a must audition for anyone in the market for a music and movie system that is attainable by real world means and will still take your breath away.