The Ultima Studio/Voice speakers have served as my reference setup for some
time now. When the Performas arrived, I knew that they had a tough act to
follow, but I was eager to see how the Ultimas would stand the test of time
given that the Performa series had evolved over time, the F52 series being
the 3rd flagship generation.
My preference, as stated earlier, is to use a subwoofer with both the Studio
and the F52. In the limited testing that I did do to compare their bass
reproduction capability, I would say that they performed about the same. The
stated -10 dB point for both speakers is almost the same, so this is no
surprise. If anything, I would give a slight edge to the F52 which had a bit
more punch in my room. This, however, I attribute more to the speaker and
room interaction than to the speaker itself. Even if the F52 did not fare
well in this area, one can add a subwoofer to take control of the 20 Hz - 30 Hz
region. The resulting system cost is still going to be lower than the cost
of the Studio alone; plus you get the benefit of placement flexibility.
When it comes to treble reproduction, I found the new tweeter to be just
wonderful. In fact the new tweeter design with the waveguide does provide a
more focused presentation. It is crisp and detailed, without being bright.
But the Studio has the rear tweeter which optimizes the power response,
resulting in a more airy presentation. I want a speaker with this new
tweeter and a rear tweeter! Both speakers also provide level controls. On
the F52, I applied a 0.5 dB boost at times, but left it at its default
position most of the time. In comparison, on the Studio, I trim the levels of
both the front and rear tweeters using their respective level control. In
general, I prefer the F52's treble reproduction even without the rear
The mid-range reproduction capability of the Studio and voice has been the
primary reason they have served as my reference speakers. In this
department, the F52 and C52 come very close. In the lower midrange, however,
my preference is for the Ultima series, particularly with regards to the
voice. There is a level of smoothness and transparency in this range which
is just exceptional. It is quite remarkable that even after all these years,
the Ultima models compare favorably to the newer generation in some areas,
but when it comes to the tweeter and midrange driver integration, the F52
The performance gap between the two lines has closed considerably. In many
areas, the new speakers perform comparably well or even better. There were
times where I wished that I could swap the tweeter and midrange transducers
between the two speakers to see what I would end up with. If only it were
that simple! Given how well these new Performa models perform, and taking the
price difference between the two lines into account, they are an extremely
On the Bench (JEJ)
At 21" from the middle of the subwoofers, I could
get 98 dB maximum at 31.5 Hz, and THD+N was very high. This is why a good
subwoofer is necessary with these, and most speakers in general.
At 50 Hz, THD+N was well under control at 100 dB
Measured 6" from the midrange driver, THD+N was a
mere 0.33% at 1 kHz.
Using 1 kHz and 1.5 kHz signals, the
A+B peak at 2.5 kHz was at - 66 dB from the fundamentals, and the B-A peak
at 500 Hz was at - 49 dB.
At 5 kHz and 6 kHz, the A+B peak at 11 kHz was at -
67 dB, and the B-A peak at 1 kHz was at - 71 dB.
At 10 kHz and 6" from the tweeter, THD+N was 0.4% at
1 kHz input.
Using 10 kHz and 11 kHz sine waves, the A+B peak at
21 kHz was - 50 dB, and the B-A peak at 1 kHz was - 77 dB.
The room response was quite flat down to about 50
Hz, then rolled off.
This ensemble of speakers from Revel has been set up in my listening room for
about three months now. Over this time, they have provided the enveloping
experience that makes surround sound exciting. Whether it was watching
movies or listening to music, there presentation across the frequency range
was excellent. In two-channel mode, the F52s are delightful. They are
delicate in the treble, lush in the midrange, and bold in the bass. With the
waveguide, the tweeter and midrange blend into a single unit. I am going to
miss them, particularly their treble reproduction, when they are shipped
Revel continues to provide acoustic controls on their speakers, and some new
controls have been added here. These controls allow one to tailor the sound
characteristics that best match the listening environment. A customer can
place the center-channel speaker where it works best for them, be it a stand
or on top of a monitor. The same is true of a floor-stander where it may
have to be placed in close proximity of a boundary (wall). The acoustic controls
allow either option while minimizing the performance penalty.
Whether you are a two-channel or a multi-channel aficionado, this new
Performa lineup has something for everyone. Revel has now reduced the prices on
these new models. The price
reduction in conjunction with the performance improvements make this superb
set of loudspeakers a very appealing choice.
Sumit Chawla -
DVD/CD playback: Teac Esoteric UX-1
Preamplifier: Lexicon MC12B v5
Amplifier: Proceed AMP5
Cables: BetterCables/Monster interconnects/speaker cables
Power: P600 Power Plant
Room: ASC SoundPlanks, ASC Iso-Wall
Q&A with Kevin Voecks,
Director of Technology, Harman Specialty Group (9/6/06)
1. Compared to the Ultima models, which are still in their first
generation, the Performa models are now in their 3rd generation. Why has the
focus been on this line?
We continually update models as time permits. The Performa series is in its
second generation, although some models have gone into their second
generation later than others. There wasn't an intentional focus one way or
the other. The current Ultima Series is a very hard act to follow! We still
have not found speakers that outperform them in double-blind listening
tests. However, we have been working on a follow-up series, "Ultima2," for a
number of years. I am confident that it will be received as having been well
worth the wait both in terms of performance and appearance!
2. The Performa models have been updated every two to three years. Is
this the planned life-cycle?
Generally speaking, we will update models on an approximately 4-year cycle.
The Ultima2 Series has clearly taken longer than that. (I promise they will
be well worth the wait!) The change from F50/C50/B15 to the F50a/C50a/B15a
was strictly cosmetic.
3. The F52s employ newly designed transducers. What are some of the
improvements that have been incorporated into this new generation of
The woofers and midranges all utilize very sophisticated motor systems with
dual-Neodymium magnets inside the voice coils.
The F52/C52 woofers and midranges utilize both aluminum and copper flux
stabilization rings to lower distortion. The copper inductance modulation
cap dramatically reduces 3rd-order harmonic distortion, which is an
especially sonically-degrading form of distortion. Each woofer and midrange
has an aluminum flux stabilization ring to provide a consistent magnetic
field as the voice coil moves through the gap. The result is lower
distortion – and over a wide dynamic range.
The deep-anodized metal cones are stiff and relatively light – resulting in
first breakup modes far above their passband. In other words, the first
resonance is well above the frequency at which the transducer is
"crossed-over" to another transducer. Combined with good self-damping
characteristics and high-order filters, the audible impact of cone-induced
coloration is eliminated.
The use of multiple woofers contributes to the F52s very low dynamic
compression. The effect of dynamic compression is that the timbre is
actually different at different output levels, and also changes with time as
the speaker is played. It is a result of heating of the voice coils, which
changes their impedance and subsequently results in mis-termination of the
filter networks. The multiple woofers spread the heat out over a very large
area, essentially eliminating this clearly audible phenomenon.
The tweeter is a sophisticated, low-distortion design with an aluminum dome.
It behaves as a piston well beyond audible frequencies. Ferrofluid ® is
utilized to help minimize dynamic compression. The real "story" of the F52
tweeter is its waveguide (below).
4. The tweeter has a "Controlled Acoustic Impedance" waveguide.
Could you please talk about its effect?
The basic concept of the "Controlled Acoustic Impedance" waveguide is to
match its dispersion in the crossover region with that of the midrange. We
have always taken great care to minimize the discontinuity between our
tweeters and midranges (or woofers in 2-way systems). We have done so by
judiciously choosing crossover frequencies, utilizing high-order (steep
slope) filters, optimizing woofer/mid diaphragm shapes, minimizing the
midrange/woofer diaphragm sizes, and designing tweeters with extremely low
fundamental resonances that are then capable of operating at lower crossover
We have gone to all that trouble because our research indicates the
importance of making the off-axis response as similar as possible to the
on-axis response. That of course helps assure that the audibly-critical
first reflections will be as uncolored as possible, and contributes to
smoother and more natural power response.
Our new waveguide designs provide a major leap in audible performance by
providing a much better match in the crossover region than could otherwise
be achieved; even with all of the precautions mentioned above. The sonic
result is a seamlessness – as one might image from a non-existent one-way
loudspeaker that had none of the real-world limitations of an actual one-way
5. How does having this new tweeter plus midrange compare to a
coaxial transducer mounting?
Coaxial configurations result in off-axis response that is consistent
relative to horizontal versus vertical responses. However, coaxial
configurations do not imply good off-axis response. In fact, the vast
majority of coaxial configurations clearly indicate a trade-off of linearity
– both on- and off-axis – for consistency of vertical and horizontal
off-axis responses. In other words, such designs almost always degrade the
sound everywhere, albeit potentially in a similar manner both on- and
6. Performa models other than the F52/C52 use a different tweeter.
It is a 1" titanium dome tweeter. Is this the same tweeter that was used on
We have the luxury of using transducers that are optimum for each
application. The F50 tweeter is different than the tweeters in any of the
other models. Note that simply using the same driver in various speakers
does not amount to "timbre matching". Other issues, such as the effects of
the enclosure, nearby transducers, and of course the filter networks can
easily outweigh tweeter differences. Sometimes there are overriding reasons
to use a different tweeter in a center channel than the L/R speakers. For
example, it is important that a center channel tweeter motor assembly is
small enough to minimize the height of the speaker.
7. Are there any plans to update the remaining Performa series models
with the new tweeter found on the F52/C52?
While we continuously upgrade every Revel product's performance, there are
no near-term plans to change other Performa models. As mentioned above, the
cycle is typically in the 4 year range.
8. The C52 uses larger woofers compared to the woofers used on the
F52 and C50. What was the motivation in moving to the larger sized woofers?
One objective in the design of the F52s and C52 was an extraordinarily wide
dynamic range – with very low dynamic compression. That improves the sound
in any environment as well as assuring the F52s/C52s are suitable for
unusually large home theaters. The use of two 8-inch woofers in the C52
helps assure that it can "keep up" with the F52s. There is typically a lot
of low frequency content in the center channel which is still significant –
even with a electronic crossover.
9. Shifting gears a little bit, I would like to talk about the
Concerta series. I think many folks were pleasantly surprised to hear of
Revel's plan to enter the value market segment. What were the driving
factors in creating this new series?
The most frequently heard request from our dealers and international
distributors has long been to provide "real" Revel loudspeakers at price
points that are attainable for a larger number of music and film lovers. The
response to the Concerta series has been tremendous. The comment I have
heard most often is, "They truly have the Revel sound."
10. Trying to preserve the Revel sound while having to meet a lower
price-point must have presented several challenges. What were some of the
challenges that you encountered during the design process?
It is more challenging to make speakers that are true to the music at an
affordable price range than if "cost is no object." The Concerta series is a
wonderful example of the many advantages that we enjoy as part of such a
large audio specialty company. As with all Revel loudspeakers, our
transducer specialists utilized sophisticated design techniques, our system
engineer took advantage of our state of-the-art anechoic measurement and
analysis facilities, and we voiced the systems in our unique "Multichannel
Listening Laboratory" under blind listening conditions. In addition, our
company-owned production facility helps assure our strict quality standards
while producing the speakers in an efficient manner. It is our philosophy to
spend the customer's money wisely at every price point. Our world-leading
research groups provide information that helps us target what makes an
audible difference, without chasing after misguided audio "fads." The
enclosure is the largest single expense for any loudspeaker. In the
11. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.