|Revel Concerta B12 Subwoofer|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Subwoofers|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Wednesday, 01 March 2006|
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Revel: home theater and audio enthusiasts have come to know and lust after this brand name for nearly a decade. The Revel Ultima and Performa lines of speakers compete with the likes of Wilson Audio, B&W, MartinLogan and Meridian, with favorable results in the cost-is-no-object arena. Many entry-level home theater owners have stayed awake nights dreaming of finding any way possible to get Revel speakers in their systems. Thanks to the Concerta line from Revel, the dream has become reality, with Revel speakers priced at a fraction of their big brothers.
Taking many of design elements that have made Revel into a world-class speaker brand and strategically cutting costs where costs can be cut without causing a large drop in performance, Revel has created an entry-level line of speakers called the Concerta series, which are a natural progression for AV enthusiasts who are ready to move up from the mass-market entry-level speakers to something with better performance.Concerta joins the Performa line, which features speakers that wowed us back in 2001, so much so that that the Performa F30s(replaced by the F32's) were chosen as the AVRev.com “Audio Product of the Year” that year.
The $999 Concerta B12 subwoofer is not small, but at the same time, it is not overly bulky. With a weight of 64 pounds and dimensions of 14.10 inches tall, 13.1 inches wide and 15.96 inches deep (15.21 without the front grille), the B12 should fit in all but the very smallest of home theaters. Metal spikes are included for setting the sub on carpet. However, my theater room is primarily tile, so I used the rubber feet that are attached to the bottom of the B12.
The driver is a 10-inch woofer has a "Symmetrical field Gap", a hree-inch diameter voice coil and according to Revel, has the ability to move two full inches, giving this medium-sized sub the ability to move the air like its big brothers, the Revel B15 and Sub 30. The cabinet is constructed of thick-walled MDF with internal bracing for rigidity and is available in three different finishes, black ash, maple and natural cherry (this last is the finish of my review sample).
The B12 is powered internally by a beefy 650-watt amplifier and has a total frequency response from as low as 20Hz up to 150Hz, with no more than 0.1 percent total harmonic distortion, according to Revel. In other words, this sub can rock loudly and do it without much (if any) audible distortion.
A silver plate on the back of the sub contains all of its knobs and controls. Beginning at the left and moving to the right, the B12 has a pair of RCA jacks for feeding the subwoofer out from a receiver or AV preamp. A small LED to the right of the RCA inputs indicates the status of the sub. When signal is present, the LED will turn green. When no signal is present for more than 10 minutes, the sub will essentially turn itself off but is in a standby mode and will immediately come back to life when signal is sent to it. This is a nice feature, as the backs of subwoofers are often not easily accessible, and reaching back to turn the sub on and off every time it is used can be a pain, especially on the B12, as Revel decided to put the on and off knob at the very bottom right of the sub. I leave my sub on all the time and would only consider reaching back to flip the switch to off if I was going to be gone for a week at least or was going to plug a new connection into it. Otherwise, it just sits in standby mode, ready to handle any signal that I feed to it.
Next up is a solid black knob that controls the subwoofer’s output level. The markings behind this knob indicate that the volume control can range from “min” to “max,” with “nom” also marked at 75 percent volume. Not exactly an exact science as far as volume control goes, but there is quite a noticeable difference as you sweep the knob up and down. I have seen many subs that are either just too loud or too soft and don’t offer the kind of range that the B12 gives you volume-wise.
To the right of the volume control is the low-pass filter section. A knob determines the low-pass frequency with a range from as low as 50Hz to as high as 175Hz. Tied to this knob is a small silver on/off toggle switch. According to Revel, this low-pass filter is not meant for use with AV processors or receivers and should only be used when using a preamplifier without a built-in crossover, such as a two-channel stereo unit, as the bass management in the receiver or AV preamp should set the crossover frequency between the sub and the rest of the speakers in the 5.1 (or higher) system. This knob essentially controls the frequency range that will be reproduced by the subwoofer, so that the left and right speakers are not playing the same frequencies as the subwoofer. While the low-pass frequency control is not used in most setup configurations, but it can avoid interference between the main loudspeakers and the subwoofer in systems that do not have a crossover(bass management) as part of anAV Processor/Receiver.
Speaking of phase, a 0 and 180-degree phase switch is located between the low-pass fitter knob and the low-pass filter on/off switch. Running the test disc included with the B12 and lightly touching the driver on the sub, it’s quite apparent that the phase knob works perfectly, as you can feel the driver firing one direction when the test tone is running, then firing in the exact opposite direction when this knob is flipped. If it were firing out/in/out/in etc. with the phase at 0, it would fire in/out/in/out when it is set for 180 degrees. Although the phase setting is located in between the low-pass filter knobs, the on/off switch for this filter does not affect the phase setting. A small rounded box around the low-pass section clearly makes the distinction.
The final element on the back panel is a parametric room EQ. It features a frequency knob that has a range from 20Hz to 80Hz that allows the user to select the center frequency of the particular problem area that needs to be addressed. A bandwidth knob allows the user to define the range of frequencies over which the EQ will have an effect. The knob goes from 0.05 octaves to 0.53 octaves. The last part of the EQ section, once you have defined the frequency and bandwidth, is the level control. This sets the amount of drop in dBs of the equalization. The range goes from 0dB to minus 14dB. A silver switch in this section turns the EQ on or off and makes it easy to A/B your settings as you work with the EQ.