- Written by Jim Clements
- Published on 09 September 2013
The Revel Performa 3 M105 Bookshelf Speakers In Use
I started off with a high quality vinyl selection - Cannonball Adderley's "Somethin' Else". Originally released in 1958 by Blue Note, this album features an all-star band with Adderley, Miles Davis, Hank Jones, Sam Jones and Art Blakey. The
Over the M105's, all five of the instruments broke free of the speakers. Take the opening song, "Autumn Leaves" for example. The liner notes say Blakey's cymbals are "discreet and tasteful". This was my thought exactly, but the real story here was the air and ease of the Revel tweeters in communicating this quality.
The M105's are small speakers and they clearly won't have the world's greatest bass extension, but the bass was certainly satisfying within its abilities. This was heard when things started cooking on "Love for Sale". Sam Jones' bass was reproduced spryly. Each solo on this song came through with a scrupulous realism. The M105's were pulling the trick where I felt as if I were in the studio during one of the greatest jam sessions of all time! On side 2, "Somethin' Else" just soared on the M105's with Davis' trumpet and Addeley's sax taking charge in a point/counter-point exchange of high order jazz stylings. Amazing.
To my ears, restricted bass extension is actually more of a concern for certain orchestral works than it is for jazz or rock. I think this is because the low bass carries audible cues to the reverberant nature of a large hall. This became apparent when I tried my Dacapo SACD of Danish Romantic Violin Concertos. This album captures soloist Christina Åstrand as she performs works by Niels Gade, Peter Erasmus Lange-Müller and Rued Langgaard. She is backed by the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra in the Tampere Concert Hall in Finland. I listened to this SACD without the sub.
The M105's bass rolls off below 60Hz and this limited the speakers' ability to define the hall's extents. The performance remained entertaining but on a disproportionately reduced scale. So I got a closer and more up-front perspective than my reference speakers but with contextually appropriate instrumental placement. On the plus side, I did not hear any of the ragged, flabby sound of cone breakup that I am accustomed to hearing with lesser speakers. When it comes to recordings of large orchestras in big halls, I recommend a quality subwoofer with the M105's.
Elsewhere in the audible spectrum, the M105's really shone. I just loved their faithful, low distortion reproduction of the lead violin. These speakers also passed the subtlest inflections in Åstrand's performance. It is in these little details where the life of a recording is brought out.
There was lots of musical energy all around the crossover frequency on this disc. This was handled by the M105's as well as any speaker I have ever auditioned. I was a huge love affair with these tweeters around this time. Plus, the blending between both drivers was first rate.
I was finding that the M105's were highly communicative little speakers. They were able to differentiate all sorts of subtleties on recordings. This was apparent on the Blu-ray of Joe Bonamassa "Live from the Royal Albert Hall".
There were two drum kits on stage and the Performa3's made it so easy to differentiate them despite that they were closely in time together at various points throughout the performance. Eric Clapton joins Bonamassa on stage and I was able to hear all the tonal differences between Bonamassa's Les Paul versus Clapton's Strat.
I decided to crank it up a little on "So Many Roads". This track really filled my room from corner to corner. This is where the dynamic prowess of these speakers really shone. There was no audible compression even at near live levels. This was an incredible performance for such small speakers in a big room. I got goosebumps!
Bass runs were tuneful throughout but sounded congested due to being overly weighty on the disc. But the guitar sounds drew me in. It was the tweeters again – communicative, airy and not one bit edgy or aggressive. Later Joe's acoustic guitar sounded as natural as I've been able to conjure in my room considering the recording venue and the 48 kHz sampling rate on the stereo track. This was quite impressive.
Believe it or not, the M105's were maybe even better on cinema. I incorporated my SVS SB13 Ultra sub for movies, crossing it over at 80 Hz. One pretty decent film with amazing audio is "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey". My kids rented this Blu-ray from a Red Box and I decided to write about it because you just can't beat the music, the effects and the overall audio experience of this Blu-ray.
Revel's world class design and execution means that the M105's sorted out this complex audio mix extremely well while their low dynamic compression kept the party going through the heavy action sequences. The M105's were smooth and composed under fire.
Superior imaging led to an uncanny phantom "center" speaker even though I was listening in stereo. On the musical side, the score had a warmth of tone and a rich structure. There was also a vocal sequence of dwarves singing in harmony early in the movie. The separation in both space and pitch of individual voices was superior over the M105's. When kept within a manageable output level, the M105's are a five star performer!