|Revel Ultima Salon Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Bryan Southard|
|Thursday, 01 February 2001|
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The Salon is the flagship loudspeaker in the Revel lineup. Revel was established in 1997 as Madrigal’s premier speaker line to complement their electronics products, such as Mark Levinson and Proceed and, later, Madrigal Imaging and IRIQ remotes. Madrigal, which is owned and financed by Harman International, formed Revel with one intention – to produce the best loudspeakers in the world. A tremendous amount of money and design resources were allocated to this end, including the use of the largest speaker manufacturing facility in the world, the JBL & Infinity factory.
In production since 1998, the Salon is a floor-standing loudspeaker system with a look of modern elegance. For better than a year, since the AudioRevolution.com review, I have made the smaller Revel Studios ($10,000 per pair) my reference loudspeakers. I welcomed the opportunity to review the much larger Salons. When I first laid eyes on the Salon, the thought that came to mind is that someone finally took a fresh look at a big-dollar loudspeaker and produced a look that isn’t the standard coffin-like cabinet. Revel has created a truly unique look for their new product. The review models were glossy piano black with rosewood sides. Many more options are available.
The Salon's rated response is 25 Hz to 20 kHz +/- 1 dB. Low-frequency extension is measured down to 17 Hz at (–10 dB), 20 Hz at (-6 dB). The importance of these figures, it should be understood that manufacturers often measure their speakers at +/- 3 dB. With every loudspeaker response, there is a descending curve representing bass roll-off. You can better understand the expected bass performance when you first understand that even –6 dB provides a significant amount of information for your music. The Salons are rated with a sensitivity of 86 dB. What this figure means to a listener is that this speaker needs to be driven with a moderate- to high-powered amplifier, which the manufacturer would likely recommend to have a 100-watt or greater capability. Personally, I wouldn’t connect this speaker to anything less than a 150-watt per channel amplifier. I would recommend even higher wattage for moderate to loud listening in average to large rooms.
The Salons have a speaker complement of three eight-inch mica/carbon-filled co-polymer dome woofers, a six-and-a-half-inch mid-bass driver of the same configuration, a four-inch titanium midrange driver, and two tweeters, one facing rear and one facing forward. The purpose of the rear tweeter is to supply room ambience. According to Madrigal, tweeters become increasingly directional at higher frequencies and contribute progressively less high frequency energy into the listening area as frequencies increase. The Salon's rear tweeter and its frequency shaping network provide very high frequency "sound power" output. The combination of the front and rear tweeter were done in an attempt to create an ideal reverberant field.At the rear of the Salons are bi-wire binding posts and three knobs for either attenuating or boosting the front tweeter, rear tweeter, or the low-frequency extension. The Salons are 51 inches tall, 13.5 inches wide and 26.5 inches deep. Weighing in at a backbreaking 240 lbs. apiece and costing $17,995 per pair, these loudspeakers are very substantial, to say the least.
Although the Salons are considerably larger than the Studios, once set up, they did not look obtrusive. Salons looked like a mighty version of the Studios or Revel Studios on steroids. After about two weeks of around-the-clock break-in, it was time to give these heavyweights a run and see how they measured up when compared to other big-bucks loudspeakers.