Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review Highlights

Best of 2014 Awards

The Revel Performa3 Series speakers offer a terrific blend of performance, quality, and value. In this review, I used the Performa3 Series speakers in a 5.1 configuration. The review system was comprised of a pair of Performa3 F206 floorstanding speakers, a pair of Performa3 M105 bookshelf speakers, a Performa3 C205 center-channel speaker, and a Performa3 B110 subwoofer. The speakers themselves are absolutely gorgeous, with a beautiful lacquered finish, pleasing lines, and modest physical sizes that should fit into most listening rooms.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

All of the Revel Performa3 Series speakers have an Acoustic Lens Waveguide mounted on the tweeter that increases high-frequency dispersion and improves off-axis response matching the dispersion of the tweeter and the midrange through the crossover region. The speakers measured very well with low distortion and excellent off-axis response. Subjectively, the Performa3 Series speakers produce a detailed sound with a very neutral presentation that remained non-fatiguing regardless of volume. The system was also capable of excellent bass response to complement music and handle the latest blockbuster movies.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Highlights Summary

  • Full-range frequency response with excellent off-axis performance
  • Neutral presentation
  • Capable of deep bass response when used with the B110 subwoofer
  • Beautiful fit and finish on the cabinetry and small physical footprint
  • Excellent bench test results

Introduction to the Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

Revel, part of the Harman Luxury Audio Group, has been making high-quality speakers since 1996. Revel speakers have been very well regarded in the industry, and Revel is known for their engineering prowess and their double-blind listening methodologies. The Performa3 Series product line is positioned between Revel’s high-end Ultima2 Series and the entry-level Concerta Series speakers. There are nine speakers in the Performa3 Series product lineup.

All of the Performa3 Series speakers have an aluminum dome tweeter with an Acoustic Lens Waveguide. The floor-standing models include the F206, reviewed here, which has two 6.5” aluminum cone woofers, and the F208 which has two 8” aluminum cone woofers. The Performa3 F208 also has dual binding posts and some extra controls for tweeter level and boundary compensation adjustment.

The bookshelf models include the M105, reviewed here, which has one 5.25” aluminum cone woofer and the M106, which has one 6.5” aluminum cone woofer. The center channel models include the C205, reviewed here, which has two 5.25” aluminum cone woofers, and the C206, which has two 8” aluminum cone woofers and a 4” aluminum cone midrange. The subwoofer models include the B110, reviewed here, which has a 10” low-frequency woofer, and the B112, which has a 12” low-frequency woofer. Both subwoofer models have a 1000-watt amplifier. The ninth speaker in the lineup is the S206 surround-channel loudspeaker, which is the only bi-polar speaker in the Performa3 Series product line.

REVEL PERFORMA3 SERIES SPEAKER SYSTEM REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS

F206 Floor-standing Speakers (Mains)

  • Design: 3-Way Floor-standing Speaker, Ported
  • Drivers: One 1″ Aluminum Dome Tweeter with Acoustic Lens Waveguide, One 5.25″ Aluminum Cone Midrange, Two 6.5″ Aluminum Cone Woofers
  • Low Frequency Extension: [email protected]; [email protected] Hz; [email protected]
  • Recommended Amplification: 50 – 200 Watts
  • Sensitivity: (2.83V @ 1m) 88 dB
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Crossover Frequencies: 275 Hz, 2.15 kHz
  • Input Connections: Gold-plated Binding Posts
  • Dimensions: 41.4″ H x 9.8″ W x 13.7″ D
  • Weight: 58.1 Pounds/each
  • Finishes: Piano Black, Piano White, High-gloss Walnut
  • MSRP: $3,500.00 USD/pair

C205 Center Channel Speaker

  • Design: 2-Way Center Channel Speaker
  • Drivers: One 1″ Aluminum Dome Tweeter with Acoustic Lens Waveguide, Two 5.25″ Aluminum Cone Woofers
  • Low Frequency Extension: [email protected]; [email protected] Hz; [email protected]
  • Recommended Amplification: 50 – 120 Watts
  • Sensitivity: (2.83V @ 1m) 89 dB
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Crossover Frequencies: 1.7 kHz
  • Input Connections: Gold-plated Binding Posts
  • Dimensions: 7.9″ H x 21″ W x 11.5″ D
  • Weight: 26.1 Pounds
  • Finishes: Piano Black, Piano White, High-gloss Walnut
  • MSRP: $1,000.00 USD/each

M105 Bookshelf Speakers (Surrounds)

  • Design: 2-Way Bookshelf Loudspeaker, Ported
  • Drivers: One 1″ Aluminum Dome Tweeter with Acoustic Lens Waveguide, One 5.25″ Aluminum Cone Woofers
  • Low Frequency Extension: [email protected]; [email protected] Hz; [email protected]
  • Recommended Amplification: 50 – 120 Watts
  • Sensitivity: (2.83V @ 1m) 86 dB
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Crossover Frequencies: 2.3 kHz
  • Input Connections: Gold-plated Binding Posts
  • Dimensions: 14″ H x 7.9″ W x 9.8″ D
  • Weight: 15.7 Pounds/each
  • Finishes: Piano Black, Piano White, High-gloss Walnut
  • MSRP: $1,500.00 USD/pair

B110 Powered Subwoofer

  • Design: Powered Subwoofer
  • Drivers: One 10″ Cone with 50mm Two-layer Copper Voice Coil
  • Internal Amplifier: 1,000 Watts (RMS), 2,000 Watts (peak)
  • Crossover Frequencies: 50 Hz – 200 Hz
  • Input Connections: Balanced (XLR) and Unbalanced (RCA)
  • Dimensions: 16.9″ H x 14.2″ W x 13.4″ D
  • Weight: 56 Pounds
  • Finishes: Piano Black, Piano White, High-gloss Walnut
  • MSRP: $2,200.00 USD
  • Revel
  • SECRETS Tags: Revel, Floorstanding Speaker Reviews 2014, Revel F206, Revel C205, Revel M105, Revel B110, Revel Performa3, Full Range

I have always wanted to review a pair of Revel speakers, and I was thrilled when Revel offered to send me not just two speakers, but a 5.1 speaker configuration for review. It didn’t hit me just how much equipment that entailed until UPS Freight called to schedule an appointment. After months of waiting, the pallet of Revel speakers was finally dropped off in my garage. It proved to be well worth the wait.

 

Design of the Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

The left and right channels in the review system are Revel Performa3 Series F206 speakers, which are 3-way floor-standing loudspeakers. For the Performa3 Series speakers, Revel introduced new transducers that utilize ribbed aluminum cones and cast-aluminum frames to eliminate common audible resonances. Each F206 speaker has one 1″ aluminum dome tweeter, one 5.25″ aluminum cone midrange, and two 6.5″ aluminum cone woofers.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

The most significant design element of the Performa3 series is the acoustic waveguide incorporated into the Performa3 Series tweeters.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

Kevin Voecks, Manager of Product Development at Harman Luxury Audio Group, shared with me how the new waveguide was different from prior designs:

“The real breakthrough in our application is that while all our waveguides have performed their primary function of reducing the tweeter’s dispersion around the crossover range to match that of the midrange around that same frequency range, the challenge has always been to avoid reducing the high frequency dispersion at even higher frequencies. We have had about five generations of waveguides that improved on that bit-by-bit. The new approach actually increases the high frequency dispersion above the crossover range, relative to no waveguide at all. That is an amazing engineering feat—giving us the best of both worlds.”

The F206 cabinetry is gorgeous, and at less than 42” tall and 58 pounds each, they can easily fit into most listening rooms. The review system came in piano-lacquered white. The Performa3 Series speakers are also available in piano-lacquered black or American walnut.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

The quality of the finish is superb, and Revel’s marketing literature states that the finish exceeds any automotive-finish quality. I wish my car’s finish had this much gloss. The front of the F206 speaker is flat and the sides of the speaker gently curve toward a narrow parabolic back.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

The curved design is not only for aesthetics but actually helps to minimize standing waves inside the cabinet. It also serves to stiffen the cabinet, which is exceptionally dense and well damped to minimize resonance. The cabinet enclosure is formed from contiguous wood layers which help prevent splitting. The cabinet also acts as a bass reflex enclosure and the front-firing port can be seen just under the dual woofers. Revel includes a foam port plug that can be used to reduce the bass response from the speaker should that be necessary.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

Revel was also very thoughtful in their grill design. The grill requires no mounting hardware and simply attaches to the front of the speaker with magnets concealed under the beautifully lacquered finish. The magnets are quite strong and the grill will snap into position when placed over the front of the speaker. The top of the grill is curved to match the curved accent trim that is attached to the top of the speaker. The accent trim is made from a rubberized material that contributes to the speaker’s design. The F206 base is very minimal and is finished in gloss black. The F206 speakers come with a set of adjustable spikes, which can be used for stability, and one set of binding posts.

The center channel in the review system is the Revel Performa3 Series C205 two-way loudspeaker. The C205 has one 1″ aluminum dome tweeter with Acoustic Lens Waveguide and two 5.25″ aluminum cone woofers. The cabinet’s finish and design are similar to the F206 speakers’. Revel sent along a matching stand that cradles the C205 at a proper listening angle. The speaker can also be used without a stand and can be angled with adjustable feet.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

The surround channels in the review system are the Revel Performa3 Series M105 two-way bookshelf loudspeakers. Jim Clements reviewed the M105 speakers, which also received a Secrets Best of 2013 award. Each M105 speaker has one 1″ aluminum dome tweeter with Acoustic Lens Waveguide and one 5.25″ aluminum cone woofer. The cabinet acts as a bass reflex enclosure with a rear-firing port. The M105 can be used with optional stands. The stands complement the speaker finish and include a handy Velcro loop for cable management.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

The subwoofer in the review system is the Revel Performa3 Series B110 subwoofer. The B110 has a 1,000-watt amplifier.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

The B110 low-frequency driver uses a 10” coated paper cone with a 50mm two-layer copper voice coil, triple-stacked ceramic 5-magnet assembly, and a vented die-cast aluminum frame.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

The rear panel of the B110 has a variety of connection options and controls for integrating the B110 into a system.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

The gain control allows for adjustments to the B110 volume. A pair of balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) connections is provided for left and right stereo input as well as for high-pass outputs. A subwoofer-out connection (XLR and RCA) is included in case you want to use multiple subwoofers. If the B110 is being used with a processor or receiver with a subwoofer output, then either the left or right input channel can be used to make a connection with the B110. A 12-Volt DC trigger input and output are included, as well as a Power Mode switch which controls automatic power-on and trigger-mode behavior.

Revel includes their Low-Frequency Optimizer (LFO) software with the B110 as a download for both Windows and Mac. Once installed, the B110 can be connected to a PC or Mac using a USB cable. The software allows for configuration of the subwoofer’s processor, including default crossover curves. The LFO software allows for room-measurement data to be loaded from external test programs. The interface then allows for up to 10 independent equalization filters which can be used to align measured performance to more closely match the target response curve. The LFO software is sophisticated, but I really wish Revel would include a microphone and measurement software with the B110. The manual is very thorough and offers recommended solutions, but many people may not go through the trouble. Out of the box, the B110 is configured with a flat subwoofer response curve so room correction can be used if available on your processor or receiver.

 

The Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System In Use

For my listening tests, I used an Anthem Statement D2v 3D processor, a McIntosh MC8207 amplifier, and an Oppo BDP-105 as my primary source device. Cables and interconnects were from Cardas, Monster and Emotiva. I set up two listening configurations on the Statement processor, one with and one without a subwoofer. The subwoofer configuration used Anthem Room Correction (ARC) but I limited the correction range to only 200 Hz to not alter the sound of the Revels. The F206 speakers were approximately 2.5′ from the rear wall and roughly 3′ from the side walls. I angled the F206 speakers toward my listening position per Revel’s recommendation. The B110 subwoofer was in the corner of the room.

I’ll start my listening impressions on the vocal front with Norah Jones and the 24-bit/96 kHz HDtracks version of Come Away with Me. I’ve listened to this album many times and it was a treat to listen to it again on the Revels. The F206 speakers by themselves delivered Norah’s voice with a wonderfully smooth sound. On track ten, “Painter Song,” I loved the details in her voice. The guitar, drums, bass and accordion that accompany her on this track sounded so natural and they were beautifully placed in the soundstage. I could make out fine details without once being distracted from the beauty of the music. The F206 speakers allowed each instrument to act like a unique voice accompanying Norah’s vocals. The sound of the accordion was especially rich and conveyed beautiful emotion that made me think of a summertime trip to Paris. This is definitely how music should be enjoyed.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

I had a similar experience on the 24-bit/96 kHz HDtracks version of the Alison Kraus and Union Station Paper Airplane album. This is one of my favorite albums, and the Revel F206 speakers did a fantastic job reproducing Alison’s soulful voice. Her high notes were rendered without any unnatural peaks or harshness, and the wonderful harmonies set amongst the distinct bluegrass sounds of fiddle, banjo, guitar, acoustic bass, and mandolin were effortlessly brought to life by the F206 speakers.

The F206 speakers create a wide soundstage which allows for better off-axis listening. I experimented with placing the speakers oriented straight into my room, but I still preferred the sound with the speakers slightly angled toward my listening position. If I was doing other things in the room or nearby in the house, I never felt that the sound was compromised in any way by not being in the sweet spot, which was a wonderful quality of the Performa3 System.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

I went back to another favorite album and played track six, “Por Mi Camino” from The Iguanas. This track has so many layers to the percussion, and the band’s male voices and deep bass lines are a great test for a speaker’s low-end and midrange. The F206 speakers created a big soundstage for the Iguanas unique blend of Rock and Latino style. The music had wonderful clarity and the bass was very convincing. Listening to this track and album with the B110 subwoofer in the mix took everything to a whole new level. The percussion instruments had so much more depth and impact. I could feel the strings on the bass being played and I felt like I was sitting in front of a live band. While the F206 speakers by themselves are capable of producing some solid bass, they are ultimately a bit lean when it comes to producing really deep bass. It all depends on the music and personal tastes, but I would recommend using a subwoofer with the F206 speakers since the combination is amazing.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

I listened to Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra perform Holst, The Planets. The combination of the F106 speakers and the B110 subwoofer delivered the tremendous energy and motion of the first movement, “Mars.” I could visualize the orchestra and see the percussion, horn and string sections bringing to life the sound of the approaching army. The B110 delivered in spades and added so much life and realism to this classic piece of music. The Revels handled the dynamic range on this performance with ease, and I found myself daydreaming about how many of my favorite movie scores had been influenced by this amazing symphony. I played this piece really loud and the Revels held their own without faltering.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

After seeing how well the Performa3 System handled two-channel music, I had no worries about how the Performa3 System was going to perform on movie soundtracks. I started with Gravity and just sat back and enjoyed the ride. The C205 center channel speaker delivered exceptionally clear vocals and the M105 bookshelf speakers were killer as surrounds. When the shuttle is destroyed by the debris field, the entire listening room is drawn into the ensuing chaos of the disaster. As Dr. Ryan is swung around the platform, the B110 subwoofer delivered deep subsonic bass that accentuated her terrifying spin and didn’t quit until she drifted off into the blackness of space. The M105 then broke the silence as Clooney’s voice emanates from the back left of the room in search of Dr. Ryan.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

Listening to Captain America: The Winter Soldier on the Revels was really a blast. From the dramatic orchestral scores to the crazy car chase scenes and battles filmed on location in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, the Revel Performa3 System was simply superb. Dialog was clear and detailed with a huge soundstage anchored by the C205. The destruction of Hydra’s lab and the battle on the helicarriers was immersive thanks to the M105 surrounds. The music was engaging thanks to the F206 speakers, and every punch, crash, explosion, and encounter with Captain America’s shield was all the more realistic thanks to the excellent bass performance of the B110 subwoofer. It just doesn’t get much better than this. I can’t wait for the Russo brothers to come back to Cleveland and make another movie.

 

The Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System On The Bench

All of the following measurements are in-room response. The frequency response tests were performed at 1 meter. The distortion measurements were on-axis near-field measurements with the microphone tip precisely 1′ from the driver under test.

Let’s start with the Revel Performa3 Series F206 floorstanding speakers and take a look at the low frequency performance. For the low frequency tests, the microphone was pointed between the two 6.5” woofers.

At 30 Hz and 80 dB, THD+N was 6.63%. For this test, the microphone was pointed at the bass port. This is at the limit of the F206’s bass response, and this frequency would normally be handled by the B110 subwoofer.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

At 40 Hz and 90 dB, THD+N was 0.82%.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

At 50 Hz and 90 dB, THD+N was 0.79%.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

At 60 Hz and 90 dB, THD+N was 0.87%.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

That’s it for the woofers. Let’s take a look at the midrange driver. At 1 kHz and 90 dB, THD+N was 0.45%.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

Now let’s look at the tweeter. At 10 kHz and 90 dB, THD+N was 0.55%.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

The on-axis room frequency response at 1 meter is show below. The F206’s response is exceptionally flat from 400 Hz through 20 kHz, with a gentle roll-off of the very high frequencies. There are some room-induced fluctuations in the bass below 400 Hz.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

At 30 degrees off-axis, the F206’s response is very similar, with a relatively flat response from 400 Hz through 20 kHz and with the same gentle roll-off of the very high frequencies. Again, the fluctuation below 400 Hz is due to room effects. This plot confirms the wide dispersion characteristics of the Performa3 Series tweeter.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

Now let’s take a look at the Revel Performa3 Series C205 center channel speaker. We begin with the low frequency performance. For the low frequency tests, the microphone was pointed between the two 5.25” woofers.

At 40 Hz and 90 dB, THD+N was 5.25%. This is at the limit of the C205’s bass response, and this frequency would normally be handled by the B110 subwoofer.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

At 50 Hz and 90 dB, THD+N was 1.59%.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

At 60 Hz and 90 dB, THD+N was 2.87%.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

The crossover on the C205 is at 1.7 kHz, so the 1 kHz test signal is handled by the two woofers. At 1 kHz and 90 dB, THD+N was 0.48%.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

Now let’s look at the tweeter. At 10 kHz and 90 dB, THD+N was 0.49%.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

The on-axis room frequency response at 1 meter is show below. The C205’s response is similar to the F206 with a gentle roll-off of the very high frequencies. There are some room-induced fluctuations in the bass below 600 Hz.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

At 30 degrees off-axis, the C205’s response is once again very similar except for a slight drop in the midrange frequencies.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

Now let’s take a look at the Revel Performa3 Series B110 subwoofer.

At 15 Hz and 80 dB, THD+N was 2.95%.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

At 20 Hz and 90 dB, THD+N was 4.03%.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

At 30 Hz and 90 dB, THD+N was 1.72%.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

At 50 Hz and 90 dB, THD+N was 0.85%.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

At 80 Hz and 90 dB, THD+N was 1.07%.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

Here is the on-axis plot for the Revel Performa3 Series B110 subwoofer. Its response is relatively flat after 30Hz which should be manageable by most room correction systems, as well as the built-in parametric equalizer.

Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System Review

For a look at the bench results for the M105 bookshelf speakers, checkout Jim Clements’ Performa3 M105 review.

 

Conclusions about the Revel Performa3 Series Speaker System

Revel has certainly done it again in creating another exceptional speaker system. The Performa3 Series speakers deliver on looks, quality, and above all sonic performance. A complete Performa3 Series system starts at $8,200. That is no small sum, but considering the long term value of a quality speaker system, it is an investment that will bring many years of enjoyment. If you are looking to build or upgrade your home theater system and shopping in this price range, by all means give the Performa3 Series speaker system a serious audition.