Help me decide – Revel or Focal

I have been narrowing down my list for new speakers after selling my Avalon and believe I have arrived at my final two. After months of going to all the local dealers, I believe I am close. The entire process, though frustrating since in store comparisons are difficult, has brought out my passion again for the hobby.
My question is, has anyone heard the Focal 1038 BE and the Revel Studio 2 or Salon 2 in the same room using the same electronics? I have heard both speakers separately but no one seems to have both to do a real comparison. I read the reviews and that really does not help. The Focal seems to be a very good all-around speaker but not perfect. They seem to have a minor integration issue between the tweeter and midrange that shows up in the female voice with a small lack of clarity and being a bit recessive. I am still hoping to hear the new Sopras but I do not think I want to spend the extra cash especially since the 1038s are available in a low luster finish and reduced MSRP. The Revels, even though they came out in 2007, still seem to be a very good speaker and can be purchased used ~50% of MSRP. I am reading that their replacement may be revealed at the CES in January. At first I had eliminated them thinking they were too lean and analytical sounding. The music was just not coming out. After hearing them again, I am wondering if that may just be that they are accurate but I have read this complaint all over the internet so it does make me wonder.
I have a 16 x 20 room with 10-foot ceilings and have Anthem Statement electronics. Help me decide (but please try to keep it to the Revel and Focal since I have eliminated almost everything else in this price range available in New England).
My experience with Focal is a tendency to be bright. You would need to be very selective in what you pair with them.
Never heard the Revel but I have the 1038's and do not feel they are bright at all. My room is very similar to yours, I use a Luxman L-590ax or my AI L3 and a Kismet Odyessy to power them. Both amps sound great with the Focal. BTW I think the low luster finish looks great :)
A had exactly the same experience on narrowing my choice to Focals and Revels. Eventually I bought Focal Electras 1028 BE. Still I liked Revel Studio 2 more. The thing is that Revel needs much more power. My LFD integrated amp was 60 wpch. It just couldn't drive them well. No bass at all. I listened REvels with Mcintosh power amp which had 150 wpch and they were fabulous. I didn't plan at the moment to change my amp. So if you have powerful amp go for Revel. Second. My room is too small for Revels. They need space. And third - the price. I bought my less lustered Focals for 50% of the price of Revels. Focals are really good and I enjoy them very much.
Cdjl23 is right - Focals are slightly on the bright side so you will have to be very selective in choosing your amp etc. My suggestion - if money and room size is not an object and you have powerful amp - go for Revels. If not - Focals Electras are very good speakers too! Good luck!

can you get an in-home demo of at least (1) of these speakers? This will be important to determine how it will "act" and integrate into your room. Your Anthem gear will accommodate both brands of loudspeakers here.

Most important of all, which brand(s) of Cabling are you going to tie everything together?

Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
CDJ123 Comments:
The tendency towards bright sounding speakers may be somewhat true but it seems to be my personal preference – maybe it is my age. I seem to gravitate toward the Beryllium tweeters in both these designs and those in the Paradigm Signature Series, Rockport and Magico. Any used Rockport Aviors out there for $10k? :)
Regarding amplification – My Anthem Statement P5 is rated at 325W into 8 ohms/500W into 4 ohms. It should be able to drive almost anything. I have no plans to change this in the near future.
I have heard the 1028 BE and the Studio 2 in the same room and that was not a fair fight. The 1028 is not a true full range design, and given such does come out on the bright side without the balanced bass. The Studio’s, although more balanced and detailed, did sound very dry. This is where I wonder if it is just accurate or missing something. Maybe designers throw in a little lower midrange bump for warmth that is not really in the recording.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to manage a home demo. Since I am considering used Revels, and the dealer who has them locally knows my price range, I cannot see him going for this and his floor models are not for sale. The Focal dealer is further away from me and the 1038s seem to be the top of their store line.
I would like to hear more comments.
"The tendency towards bright sounding speakers may be somewhat true but it seems to be my personal preference – maybe it is my age. I seem to gravitate toward the Beryllium tweeters in both these designs and those in the Paradigm Signature Series, Rockport and Magico."

I'd be very cautious before generalizing too much about beryllium technology and assuming the tweeters in these speakers all have a similar sound.
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If you don't want to read- My rec is Focal with Tube poer amp, BTW no cheating with tube pre it won't work.

I own Focal Electras a generation before your and no Berylium tweeters. They are very analytical in their own right, until you find a really good amp for them. It took me years of Fudding around with Mega WPC SS and less powerful but high SQ SS and low power (50 wpc) SS. Then a tube CD player, then a tube pre amp and minimal incremental improvement of Sound Quality. Then I was able through a favor from a great friend to buy tube power amps. Holy Schist it transformed my system to something unthinkably good after almost a decade of fooling around.
My recommendation, Buy the Focal and get a good tube power amp with at least 75 WPC. You might find your small prayers answered!
The Ultima Salon 2's are damn good speakers (especially for the money). They have one of the best BE tweeters out there. That's an easy recommendation.
I have demoed both these speakers in different rooms different systems. The revels are a lot better IMO. the focals have a little more energy in the mids but the revels are the total package.

My first demo with the revels was pretty boring and they were shown with mark Livingston amp. Once we changed amps they had more pronounced mid bass and sounded better to me.

If cost is the same on the used market more or less I would take the Revel with out question.
Since you are in NE you should try Triangle (also French design),there is a dealer in Boston for them. If you venture out to Manhattan you should listen to Devore Fidelity-clean ,natural sounding , perfect for acoustic music of all sorts.
I don't remember Revel but Focal never sounds natural or sparkly , never sounded like a real live music. Just my opinion.
imo, revel is at another level.

but tbh, you really have to audition.
but focal is imo overpriced comapred to revel. but I rate revel/jbl very highly
Tough choice imo. Focal is great but overpriced here in the US. It's half the price in France and Europe. If the dealer won't give you a healthy discount on the Focals, then focus on the Revels. Unless you really, really like the sound of the Focals. To me, the Revel is the better speaker overall. I heard them at CES a few years back and they really were very good. They are a bit lean, though, but so are the Focals, so the say.
If Revel Salon 2s were particularly lean, they wouldn't have lasted a month in my room.
Nice looking room P59teitel.

As always room plays a big part. I heard them in a giant room with them well away from the walls and they were softer in the bass than expected. But in a normal home's room I am sure the base is much stronger with room gain.
Thanks, James. The room is pretty hot with all the glass and the tile floor. The glass, sheetrock and a 10' X 8' X 5' bumpout at the left rear of the room also tend to munch bass. Thank God for the suspended floor, as tile over concrete likely would have been a dealbreaker for a nice stereo in this room. At some point I will add a larger Oriental to cover more of the tile between me and the speakers.

The palms behind the speakers actually helped a lot to cut down on reflections and made the perceived tonal balance a bit warmer. I'm thinking of putting more behind me to cut down on rear wall reflections - at less than $50 a palm with pot they are certainly a lot cheaper than hopping on some endless cable merry-go-round or something!

All of which kind of gets back to my point about the Salon 2s not being that lean - because a truly lean speaker would have driven me out of here very quickly! To your particular observations about how they sounded with Mark Levinson amps, I agree, they just don't show much oomph in that pairing. But put them with amps that hit hard down low, and they will, in spades.
Well, I said a "bit" lean, not very much so. This was compared at CES with some top end JBLs. So, that's my take. I can't really say if the Focals are fuller sounding or not.
Yep, at CES they were with Levinson equipment since Harman uses all of their stuff except for turntable and cables. Plus, they were way out from the back wall.
Distance from the back wall has some influence on bass, but if they weren't packing punch I would definitely attribute it to the Levinson amps.
I just don't care for the Mark Levinson amps with the Salons which does seem counterintuitive but it is what it is for me. The whole system was a little cold. But when we changed amps they sounded better to me (more mid bass) but I tend to like a system with strong bass... So use your own ears.

I never did buy them when I demoed them but at the current used prices they are a steel.
Value vice, Revel. Hands down.

The previous Focals have harsh highs and Focals generally preferred to be driven hard. The new Focal, Sopra is much better in this respect. The highs blend in with the mids and bass.

Moving away from Avalon, your shortlisted speakers are a departure from ultra refinement, finesse and airy sound. Good luck.
I thought I read somewhere that a new Revel Salon was going to be released near the New Year.

I heard the Focal Sopra at the Newport Show and liked it quite a bit. I used to own the Revel Salon1 and loved the bass on that speaker. However, I prefer the top end on my KEF LS50 over the top end of the Revel Salon1.
I am hoping to hear the Sopra No. 2 before making a final decision but it is pushing my budget. I didn't think I would be stepping back so much given the baseline Avalon has been around for ages. Oh well.
I was called yesterday by my dealer telling me I should sell my Aerial 7Ts and purchase the Sopra No. 2s. My concern is Focal tends to be on the bright side of neutral to my ears and I prefer neutral or to error on the slightly dark side of neutral. The other concern is I haven't found a dealer that has them on the floor for me to listen to. Has anyone heard them? If so, how would you characterize their sound?
Hi Ricred1, I honestly have not found the 1038s to be bright. I think they are well balanced but electronics may factor into this. Also, as you get older you tend to lose a little high frequency hearing so that may play into it as well. I am having the same issue finding a dealer that has the No. 2s locally. It sound like most mid-sized dealers will get them in a few months. The only option now is to make a trip to a larger dealer which I may have to do. I am really hoping the Sopra is great and addresses my concerns regarding the 1038 which are midrange clarity and a higher level of detail. I have listened to the 7Ts and I think I would give the edge to the 1038, but have never heard them in the same room at the same dealer.

I'll just agree to disagree regarding the 1038s compared to Aerial 7Ts. Everyone has a preference and I prefer the 7Ts. I'm going to the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest next month and hope to get an opportunity to hear the Sopra 2s. New speakers are often hyped to be the best speaker in the world; therefore I need to hear them with my own ears.
Ricred1, I think that is what makes this hobby fun. Lots to choose from and lots of opinions. You have inspired me to give the 7Ts another listen....maybe today or tomorrow at a local dealer that has them on the floor. I did own the 10Ts for many years and enjoyed them. I agree with you regarding speaker being hyped and time will tell if the Sopras fall into that or if they are a solid offering. There is one review that I have seen on They really liked them but said they are sensitive to placement. We wont start talking about the merits of reviews!

I respect your opinion and if you prefer the 1038s that's great. I submit that each component, including cables impacts the tonality of a good speaker. I've gone through several changes with my Aerial 7Ts. My "system" sounds better than ever. My point is, maybe I didn't hear the 1038s in the right "system."
I haven't heard the Revels but did audition the Sopra 2 speakers. I would describe their sound as being very impressive, with outstanding extension, dynamics and imaging. What I didn't like was that I found them to be a bit analytical in their overall presentation, lacking the smooth natural warmth that I find in some other speakers. And this was with D'Agostino electronics which are known for their non-analytical balance. I would imagine that the Sopra speakers will be a great seller and appeal to many users, just not to my preference. To each their own, we're fortunate these days to have so many good speakers to choose from.

Interesting observations. I hope to get a chance to hear them at the Rocky Mountain Show...I can't sell my Aerial 7Ts without hearing them. What you described isn't my cup of tea either, but I'll keep an opened mind until I hear them. To my ears one of the few speakers that I have heard, that are detailed, but has a smooth natural sound are the Raidho C 3.1s. They are too much money for me!
Immediately after my audition of the Sopra 2 speakers I heard the Sonus faber Guarneri Evolution monitors connected to the exact same system. While they're admittedly more expensive and only a two way monitor, they completely outclassed the Sopras with their exceptionally smooth and seductive midrange, and much sweeter and more natural sounding high end. No they didn't go as low as the Sopras but it didn't matter to me, they were infinitely more enjoyable. The more I heard them the more I wanted to listen. With the Sopras it was just the opposite, being initially impressive but not engaging for long term listening. Of course this is just my subjective evaluation, and YMMV!
The revels are very good. Very easy room placement. I have lived with mine in two entirely different rooms with no placement issues. If you want a more dynamic speaker, try the Magico S3. A bit more expensive but a portless design and quite good too. Your room is not small and somewhat boxy. You might want a slightly larger speaker like the Revel Salons. I can't tell you much about Focals although I have heard many models over the years and they just don't do it for me. But that is me. If you like them, buy them and forget the opinions of others.
It was a toss up for me between a used Salon 2 and the Sopra 2. I think they are both fantastic - a little analytical but very accurate and dynamic. I had looked for a newer Salon at a reasonable price but never got there. I ordered my Sopra 2 today. And now the wait.
Ricred- don't be put off by all this negativism about the Focals. They are analytical and after they are broken in the sound is more like a pure crystalline holograph. The key and please trust me here is a good tube power amp. You will be amazed.
I apologize if my comments on the Sopra 2s were taken as being negative, as that was not my intent. I really found them to be very impressive, but I found some other speakers more to my liking. There are few if any speakers that appeal to everyone, that's why there are so many different designs. I expect that many others will find the Sopra speakers to be exactly what they're looking for. I also agree that system matching is always critical to achieve the best performance with any speaker. There is no right and wrong in audio, it usually comes down to our preferences and trade-offs.

I respect others opinions, but I make decisions with my own ears.
"The key is a good tube power amp." If that's the key, I surely won't own Focals. Whatever speakers I purchase must work with my current components.
I think that if everything is neutral, it is the best of all worlds. Generally a tube amp works best with very lean sounding speakers and you need the soft warmth to get them there. I am not sure if that is the case with the Sopras. Time will tell but I am thinkng/hoping that my Anthem Statement (very neutral and powerful) will do the trick.
I listened to the Sopra 2s today at RMAF. To my ears they represent one of the better values, if not the best value of speakers that I listened to today. No, I'm not willing to sell my Aerial 7Ts for them, but I do submit they sound very good.
That is great feedback. just posted a review which was very flattering and and has "real" measurements.
What a difference a day makes...went back to the Focal Sopra 2 room and they sounded like different speakers...thin, forward sounding. I didn't ask what was playing, but I know the source was analog. As a matter a fact a woman told the representative the sound was horrible and to change the record. I guess for those that are considering the Sopra 2s make sure you audition them with well known music.
I'm expecting my Sopra 2's to be delivered tomorrow. Can anyone tell me about how long break-in took?
Having owned all three brands but not know what Avalons you had..I think you should move up the Avalon line.Much better speakers than either of your two choices IMO
WOW lots of feedback, I auditioned the focals yesterday and really enjoyed listening to music thru them, a peachtree nova 150 was driving them and they made music, a better, more fleshed out midrange than my revel f52's. I could get the demos with that discontinued finish or for same $$$ revel ultima salons, the original. I'm buying the revels but that's not a nock on the focals that no longer sound bright compared to models a couple generations ago. WHO's getting revel speakers 50%??
In the cool light of dawn,  I must say that while the reward great, it took way too much work to make the Electra 936s,  I still own, sound great.  A tube pre with remarkable an AE 3 with Sylvania 6SN7WS into amps with Tung Sol 5687s and a very special 6922+s  Mullard CV2943s.   The output are stock EH 6CA7s but in a real sleeper of  Chinese  monoblocs. Opera Consonance Cyber 800, not an ad no financial interest. 
HOWEVER if you don't like the west coast sound analytic crisp clean bright cool etc. Be very careful before buying Focal of that era. The smaller version was less intense I think it's the 928, easier to synergize. 
I forgot to address Ricreds  question.   They take a very long time. Really never without the right synergy. But at least 1 to 2 weeks just as a start then they improve for months. 
I have not had the chance to listen to a pair of the Revel Studios. Would like to hear from someone who has compared them to the Revel F208. I listened to a pair of those a couple weeks ago in my search for a true full range speaker and was very underwhelmed. Great bass performance but lifeless top end. They were being driven by the 400 watt per channel McIntosh amp, and while a Mac amp would not be my choice of amplifier, there was no shortage of power. I heard Revel is upgrading the F208 with their Berril tweeter from the Studio line and raising the price by $2,500 per pair. Now we are getting close to price range of the Dynaudio Contour line with what IMO is the best tweeter out there. Hate to make general statements but have never heard an aluminum tweeter I could get exited about.