|Revel Performa F30 Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Sunday, 01 April 2001|
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The Revel Performa F30 is a speaker that has a warm but engaging sound, highlighted by real bass performance. Keep in mind that I had no subwoofer hooked up in this system, even though Revel does have an incredible new $3,000 powered subwoofer now shipping called the B15 (stay tuned for a future review or check out coverage from CES 2001). I am always captivated by loudspeakers that can present an extremely wide yet coherent soundstage. On "The Girl From Ipanema," from Getz and Gilberto (Verve) the Revels shone. The guitar instrumentation imaged with detail, but the second chorus’ female vocals were literally two feet outside the physical bounds of the left speaker. This is simply incredible for a speaker at this price range. The vocals were definitely laid back, but the clarity was all there. Revels are smooth speakers that aren’t going to hit you over the head, not even if you crank up the tweeter attenuation to the full 1 dB. They have a more reserved THIEL midrange and less of the Wilson dynamic punch, to compare their effect to that of other great loudspeakers.
Inspired by the width of the soundstage, I dipped into my stash of CDs to pull out one of my favorite live CDs of all time, Isaac Hayes: Live at The Sierra Tahoe (Stax). On the tracks "Ike’s Rap VI" and "Ain’t No Sunshine," the Revels proved to be a time machine back to an era in the 1970s when there were no "playa haters" and pimps roamed the earth in a consequence-free environment. The Movement, Isaac Hayes’ band for the gig, laid down the flyest jam for this track. Ike takes a good six minutes on the prelude to the tune. Once Ike is done and the recognizable melody kicks in, the sax literally jumps out of the soundstage a good two feet in front of the F30’s. Further into the track, the bongos and tambourines develop a spicy and detailed rhythm structure for Ike to song-style over. If you are not feeling it by the time Mr. Black Moses hits the first chorus, you ain’t never gonna be feeling it and you should sell your AV system and start a stamp collection.
There are a lot of speakers priced between $3,000 and $4,000 per pair that ignore the all-important frequencies below 50 Hz. Low-frequency energy is called bass because it is the basis, the foundation, that music and sound is built on. Speakers that don’t have it and/or aren’t paired up with subs to get it simply stink in my book. For $4,000, I expect to hear some low-end energy and the Revels may very well lead their class in this department. On Led Zeppelin’s "Dancing Days" from House of the Holy (Atlantic), you could clearly discern John Paul Jones’ funky walking low lines paired with the hard-hitting tree trunk slamming of John Bonham, along with the whiny rifting of Zoso. Robert Plant’s voice suffered from the Revel’s laid-back nature on this track for me. This is because the highest parts of his vocal range, while perfectly clear and not distorted in any audible way, didn’t have the presence or forwardness that I have become accustomed to with my Wilson WATT Puppys. The Puppys as speakers are philosophically far different from the Revels and cost nearly six times more per pair.
The best performance I heard from the Revel Performa F30’s was on "Sex MF" from Prince’s 1992 Symbol Album (Warner Brothers). I played the Zep track for AudioRevolution.com Music Editor Bryan Dailey, and he too could hear the vocal anomaly I described on the Zep tune. On the Prince track, the entire musical presentation sounded more alive and up front. You could hear some of what I complained about on the overdubbed backup vocals, but it was of little consequence to the overall sound of the tune. The bass line of "Sexy MF" was so very groovy and booming with energy and musical excitement that it was hard not to be feeling it on this listening session. Could the bass ultimately be better on the F30’s? Absolutely. You could have a professional acoustician set up your room and tune a new Revel B15 sub to mesh with your F30’s, but that would be more than double the expense of the actual speakers and would require a sub, an EQ and the expense of a pro set-up. Will you be happy with the bass on the F30’s? If you aren’t, prepare your checkbook, because you are going to have to invest $10,000 a pair on speakers to get to the next level without subs.