Revel F208 Floor-standing Speakers Review Highlights
The Revel F208 is a reference quality speaker that is reasonably priced and attainable by most. Yes, $5,000 is a large sum of money to spend on a pair of speakers, but placed on a performance per dollar asymptotic graph and the Revel F208’s are at the peak before the plateau. In other words, once reaching this level, spending more nets less and less performance gains.
Revel F208 Floor-standing Speakers Highlights Summary
- 3 dimensional sound
- Excellent neutral tonal balance
- Smooth response
- Top-notch bass extension
- Terrific fit and finish
- Attainable price
Introduction to Revel F208 Floor-standing Speakers Review
Revel is part of the Harman Luxury Audio Group, which consists of JBL Synthesis, Mark Levinson, and Lexicon, names that most audiophiles immediately recognize and associate with high end performance. Revel has the habit of producing award winning speakers and the F208 is no exception. The previous generation F52 Revel Performa speaker won numerous “best of” and “hall of fame” awards. Secrets has reviewed the F52 Revel Speaker set up several times over the past years. I imagine there must have been considerable pressure to somehow outperform with the design of the F208. Well they can rest easy as there has already been high praise for the F208’s from fellow hi-fi journalists.
REVEL F208 FLOOR-STANDING SPEAKERS REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS
- Design: 3-Way Floorstanding Tower Loudspeaker, Ported
- Drivers: One 1 ” Aluminum Dome Tweeter, One 5.25″ Aluminum Cone Midrange, Two 8″ Aluminum Cone Woofers
- Low Frequency Extension: -10dB@23Hz -6dB@27 Hz -3dB@34Hz
- Recommended Amplifier Power: 50-350
- Sensitivity: (2.83V @ 1m) 88.5dB
- Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Crossover Frequencies: 270 Hz, 2,200 Hz
- Input Connections: Dual Sets of Binding Posts
- Dimensions: 46.5″ H x 11.8″ W x 14.8″ D
- Weight: 80 Pounds/each
- Finishes: Piano Black or High Gloss Walnut
- MSRP: $5,000/pair USD
- SECRETS Tags: Revel, Floorstanding Speaker Reviews 2014, Revel F208, Full Range
The F208 is a speaker that both sounds great and measures well. You can expect an engaging sound, one that pulls you into the music and does little to complain about. With its dual 8” aluminum low frequency woofers, the F208 kicks out plenty of low end bass, while remaining clean and defined. The tonal balance is neutral and the response smooth. The F208’s are some of the finest speakers designed by Revel.
Design and Setup of the Revel F208 Floor-standing Speakers
The Revel F208’s are a full-range floorstanding 3-way design utilizing a 1” aluminum tweeter, 5.25” aluminum midrange cone, and 2 8” aluminum cones for low end. Below the woofers is a front firing port. The 1” aluminum tweeter has a proprietary Acoustic Lens Waveguide that increases the high frequency dispersion, widening the off-axis response. Those sitting to the sides of the prime seating spot are thus rewarded with smoother response and better sound. The midrange and low frequency drivers are housed in cast aluminum frames that eliminate resonances.
These are not small, lightweight speakers by any means, but in a dedicated setup, they will not dominate the room. For the average height male, the speaker comes up to the chest and requires proper leverage to move around at 80 lbs each. I had no trouble positioning them and moving them around on carpet.
The F208’s are available in two finishes, piano black and high gloss walnut. I received a pair in the handsome walnut finish and it truly does exceed automotive finish as Revel claims. Build quality is impeccable, which I come to expect from a company the size of Harman. The speaker cabinet has a flat front face, smoothed edges and a sexy curved back. The curves are not simply for show either, they create a stiffer enclosure. The cabinet itself is made of contiguous wood layers and amble bracing to prevent coloration. The grill sticks on the front via magnets leaving a clean facade when the grill is not used.
The F208 features 2 sets of binding posts on the back, allowing the speaker to be bi-wired or bi-amped. I left the bridge clips on and used a regular set of cables. Ample power fed the Revels from my Wyred4Sound SX-1000 monoblocks and an Oppo BDP-95 provided digital music while my Clearaudio Concept handled the analog duties.
For positioning, I found that having the speakers toe-in with them facing directly at me created the best soundstage. There is no rear port and a toggle for boundary compensation that will allow for less clearance from the wall, but for optimal performance, at good 2 plus feet of clearance is best. Although I have just enough room to get the speakers 2 feet from the side rear walls, my home theater room isn’t gigantic so I compensate with corner bass traps behind the speakers and 4” acoustic panels on the pain reflection points. For installs with less than ideal space, the boundary compensation dial will adjust the bass response in order to clean up low end humps. Also included on the F208 is a high frequency toggle with 5 stops at 0.5db each that allows for a bit of customization to the listener’s preference. For myself, I left everything at default.
The Revel F208 Floor-standing Speakers In Use
I discovered Adagio d’Albinoni featuring Gary Karr on contrabass and Harmon Lewis manning the pipe organ on a fascinating trip with my father and uncle many years ago. My uncle was a big audiophile and introduced me to this lovely hobby and as he was in seek of a pair of speakers to replace his Quad ESL63 electrostatics, he took us to visit local (to the Seattle area) designer- Mile Nestorovic. Funny enough I was able to find a YouTube of the very setup that I remember listening to http://youtu.be/GoTVCEk0XmQ
As Mile played back Adagio d’Albinoni via his Nagra reel to reel and custom Nestorovic satellites and subwoofers, I sat there thinking I would never have a system remotely as good as this. Yet now I sit here in my home, a bit older and perhaps wiser, listening to a Gold CD of the same recording on the Revel F208’s and it sounds amazing. The low octaves of the pipe organ, while not has earth shattering as you would get with some large subs, were very well represented on the F208’s. There was very little coloration in the low end, allowing the detail of each pipe organ note to be heard. Karr’s contrabass felt like it was in the room with me. I say felt, because the texture and acoustic energy of the instrument was so lovingly portrayed by the Revels that the music went beyond being just heard.
Moving on to Miles Davis’ muted trumpet on “The Pan Piper”, from the recently released Sketches of Spain MoFi SACD, I once again felt as if the trumpet was in front of me. It is one of the most tangible illusions I have experienced from a speaker. As a trombonist, who admittedly has not played in quite some time, I pay close attention to the brass section when testing gear and found the presence and tone of brass instruments to be reproduced incredibly well by the F208’s.
Basil Poledouris’ score to Conan the Barbarian may be a bit dated, having been released back in 1982, but the sound quality from the recording is excellent. The dynamic range is excellent and the soundstage is quite enveloping. The F208’s ability to recreate the space from left to right and front to back is exactly what I want in a high performance speaker. I can instantly tell which instruments are at the back of the stage and those that are stage front. On the “Love Theme” track, Basil uses and array of bells and woodwinds to create a lively and atmospheric space. Those reed-based winds sounded just right to my ears and the room around me disappeared, along with the F208’s.
Radiohead’s OK Computer, one of my all-time favorites, was brilliantly recreated by the F208’s. Thom’s voice on “Exit Music” often sounds too large and ghostly, but here it was firmly planted in space. The texture and tonality of Thom’s voice proved to be exceptional.
With a vinyl recording from Joanna Newsom, the midrange definition and control was remarkable. The aggressive plucks on the harp had enough transient pop to make it sound as if the harpist was in the room with me. I could not get enough of the F208’s ability to disappear in my room. I could simply turn down the lights and it was just me and the music.
This was not a full 5.1 setup, although a matching center and surrounds are available in the Performa 3 line, but given my home theater doubles as my music room I did watch a few movies with the F208’s. The ample low end response propelled the opening action sequence of Skyfall to new heights. Gun fire, bullet ricochet, and other sound effects filled my home theater with detailed energy, sans any taxing brightness. My ears never felt fatigued listening to the Revels. The delicate soundtrack from Spike Jonez’ Her benefited greatly from the vivid and transparent soundstage of the F208’s.
The Revel F208 Floor-standing Speakers On the Bench
By Chris Heinonen
Impedance of the Revel f208 is measured using an Audio Precision APx582 test instrument. As the APx only reports impedance, and not phase, we cannot be certain of the difficulty of the load the f208 presents to an amplifier. While rated for a nominal 8 Ohms, the f208 has a minimum impedance of 3.3 Ohms at 2.9 kHz. It has another dip to 3.4 Ohms at 100 Hz. While nominally 8 Ohms, very little of the load is actually at 8 Ohms or higher.
An In-Room measurement of the Revel f208 was generated using RoomEQ Wizard, a UMIK-1 calibrated microphone, and multiple listening positions through the room. This method helps to reduce the modes introduced by the room itself and provides an accurate indication of the overall speaker response.
The f208 measures very flat overall with a slight treble roll-off past 10 kHz. There are a pair of humps in the bass response, possibly from room interactions, but relatively minor in comparison to most speakers.
There are a pair of controls available on the rear of the f208 speaker. One is a boundary compensation switch. If the speaker is placed near walls that will amplify the bass response, this switch will reduce the level of the bass output to compensate. In the chart below you can see the effect, measured in a single location, of this being enabled and disabled.
Enabling the compensation makes a significant change to the bass output of the speaker. Using this control will depend on the location of the f208 in your room, and your listening preferences.
There is also a tweeter control. It offers settings of -1, -0.5, 0.0, +0.5, and +1.0. The lower settings are best used for rooms with lots of hard, reflective surfaces including hardwood floors or windowed walls. In a very deadened room, you might want to bump up the level of the tweeter, as I did when listening, to provide the best response. The chart below shows the effect of the +0 and +1 settings, which is mild but noticeable.
The Revel f208 is a fantastic sounding speaker, and one that measures very well in-room as well. It was a pleasure to have it in my listening room while I bench tested it.
Conclusions about the Revel F208 Floor-standing Speakers
Every review I have read of the Revel F208’s has been full of praise for their textbook engineering, solid looks and wonderful sonic performance. The consumer side of me starts to become skeptical, thinking are they really that good? Could $5,000 get me to a level of performance that spending two or three times as much only provides marginal improvements? After my time with the F208’s and seeing their bench test results I can confidently say that, yes, these are the real deal. The fit and finish, versatility via back panel adjustments, and, above all, the sound, are all top notch. Male and female voices are clear, without coloration, or chestiness, yet still retain a proper weight behind them. Midrange instruments never sounded thin or grainy and high end detail was present, but never taxing. The bass goes low and strong while not sounding boomy and overbearing, and if your room is bass heavy, the boundary compensation toggle can help smooth things out. Sonic objects are 3 dimensional and firmly planted within a believable soundscape.
Revel has absolutely nailed it with the F208’s and I was sad to see them go. So much so that I ended up purchasing the review pair for myself, and I haven’t regretted it even the slightest.