Revel F208 Review by Earl


Revel F208 Review

Before I start, let me explain a bit about the electronics that are feeding these speakers. The Metrum Hex DAC is very rich and analog sounding (compared to my Denchmark DAC2) The Benchmark HGC DAC2 PRE used as a preamp has stunning clarity and musicality with no added warmth and is at least as good as the pre in the Bryston B100 integrated preamp. The 4BSST2 may be one of the most resolving amps in the world and and maintains super tight control over all aspects of the sound, especially the bass. Also, I am used to having this electronics drive PMC Twenty 22 speakers flaked by two Rythmik F12 subs. Since PMC is designed specifically to run on Bryston amps you would imagine that the synergy is outstanding, and it certainly is.

So I'm used to listening a system that sounds absolutely stunning to my ears, and then I decided to audition the Revel F208 speakers in a dealers showroom. After reading more reviews and opinions on this speaker than any product I have purchased in my life, I had pretty high expectations on what they would sound like. You can imagine the shock when I did the demo and they sounded awful...so awful, in fact, that I knew something (or things) had to be seriously wrong. There was no way several reviewers I had read about where going to make a speaker that sounded this bad their reference speaker. No way!!!

Days after the demo a brand new warranty replacement pair comes up for sale on an Internet site and I buy them...one of the biggest gambles I have taken. After three weeks of break in followed by my first week of listening to them, here is my review.

With the right source materiel and electronics feeding these speakers, the Revel F208 speakers sound heavenly. They sound slightly dryer and thinner them my PMC 22 speakers, especially as the frequency goes lower. The dryer tighter bass takes a bit of to get used to but ultimately sounds fine and allows the speakers to be placed very near to boundaries without any boominess (even without using the boundary switch). They have lots of detail and are especially good with classical music. The grit of the cello is especially noticeable compared to other speakers. If you are looking for a rich full bodied type of sound, these are not the speakers you want. Nothing on the recording is pushed in your face and many other speakers will sound better in a short demo. They do have a very slight unique tonal character of there own (maybe it was just the dryness), but within a few hours I did not hear it any more and all I heard was the wonderful music they produced.

These speakers are very sensitive to the electronics you feed them. Feed them the wrong diet and they are not going to sound good. In my system there was very good synergy allowing the sweetness of the DAC to reach the speakers and produce such lovely music.

I demoed Bryston speakers (Mini T, Middle T) some time back and liked the presence and how they made everything sound better then real life, but was afraid I would tire of them after a while. The F208's are completely opposite. Nothing is hyped, nothing. I would relate the Bryston speakers to a sweeter wine and the F208 speakers to a dryer wine that most people end up moving to over time.

The F208's are very revealing and require very good electronics driving them for them to sound good. My 'in store' demo was with a Arcam A39 and Arcam CD player driving them and I was very unimpressed, to say the least. Using my own electronics made a world of difference. (At 3 to 4 times the cost, of course).

The PMC Twenty 22 speakers are slightly richer sounding with a much more fluid bass. They also have no character of there own that I could detect. It's personal preference as to with sounds better. The PMC might be a bit more true to life while the Revel may be more the type of sound what you would want from a studio monitor...super clear, very good separation of individual sounds, very articulate and slightly more analytical. Both speakers are good in there own way but if I was forced to make a choice I would still go with the PMC's for there rich natural sound, but that could easily change with time. Fortunately I don't have to choose because they are in different systems.

Vocals on F208's sound wonderful and sweet. The PMC 22's made steal guitar strings jump into the foreground. With the Revel's the strings sounded thiner but beautiful and blended into the recording more.

The dryer bass makes some upper bass percussion instruments stand out from the recording more than the PMC's. With lesser electonics this can sound unnatural and be distracting but the right electronics makes the percussion blend into the overall recording much better.

The 208's are not speakers that are going to throw out tons of bass. The bass is always very tightly controlled and blends with the whole. Anyone who says the bass is not tight and controlled has not heard these through the 4BSST2. When I first listened to them the bass was so tight I wondered what happened to it. Even the B100 integrated has fuller and softer bass sound. The Bryston speakers I heard with their thunderous bass would probably make a much better home theater speaker. These speakers are too refined to do that. They are not a high fun factor speaker IMO. To me, they excel in musical genre's like classical, jazz, and pretty much any acoustic based music. Much of my music collection is acoustic rock or at least lighter rock and it sounds fabulous through these speakers. If your main music is hard rock, I'm not sure if these are going to be your best fit. They are so refined and delicate that rock may not sound its best. When I played Hotel California through them I had never heard it so airy and delicate before. It didn't sound bad, but not the full weighty sound I am used to hearing. Also keep in mind that Benchmark/Bryston amplification is super transparent and adds no thickness or warmth to the sound. (And yet sounds extremely musical). Playing hard rock through the F208's is akin to asking the Royal Philharmonic to play Van Halen...sure they can do it, but it just not going to the same as your used to hearing.

The speaker that I can relate these closest to is the ATC SCM speakers. Very detailed, very revealing, and very sensitive to the electronics they are feed. I would love to do a direct by side comparison to the ATC SCM 40.

Many cameras have a vivid option that saturates the colors in a picture. This option can make many picture look better then they appear in real life but also has a down side. If a scene already has a lot of rich vibrant colors it can over saturate the photo making it look awful. If an un-vivid option did exist it would de-saturate the colors bringing the photo more towards black and white. I would like to apply this metaphors to scale of a speakers vividness where 0 represents what you hear in the live performance, +3 represents the most forward, ultra presence, bigger that live sound I have heard and -3 representing the maximum in a dry, laid back sound. I would put my PMC 22 speakers right on the 0 in my system. The Bryston's I heard would be a + 2 to +3. Now the F208 speakers I would place at -1 for the higher frequencies and going to -2 in the bass. This dryer presentation takes away some of the rich, full bodied sound of a live performance but opens the door to hearing more of the texture of the music. This is why these speakers to such a fantastic job with classical music...you can hear the instruments spacialy separated with loads of texture. The down side to this is that removing some of the fullness and adding texture to a Fender Strat played through an overdriven Marshal stack is not the sound you want. It is going to over-do the already sensory overloaded texture of the distortion while thinning out the sound...not a good combination for this type of music.

Throughout the whole week of listening I had not played the B100 as a full integrated through the F208 speakers. When I did I was astounded at how good it sounded. Because it could not control the bass the same way as the 4BSST2 could, the bass was fuller and in some ways sounded better. This made me wonder if the iron fisted control of the 4BSST2 combined with a tube amp that could add a bit of fullness, but not warmth or softness, might be the perfect combination for these speakers? I would love to try an Audio Research pre (LS17, LS27) and see what that does for the sound.

If I could sum up this this speaker in a few words I would say this speaker sounds beautiful but not sweet, accurate but not too analytical, slightly dry but still conveys depth and emotion, very revealing and transparent, delicate but can still rock to a point, very detailed but not over the top. As with many high end speakers that are very revealing, source system matching is very important.

Revel F208 Review

Before I start, let me explain a bit about the electronics that are feeding these speakers. The Metrum Hex DAC is very rich and analog sounding (compared to my Denchmark DAC2) The Benchmark HGC DAC2 PRE used as a preamp has stunning clarity and musicality with no added warmth and is at least as good as the pre in the Bryston B100 integrated preamp. The 4BSST2 may be one of the most resolving amps in the world and and maintains super tight control over all aspects of the sound, especially the bass. Also, I am used to having this electronics drive PMC Twenty 22 speakers flaked by two Rythmik F12 subs. Since PMC is designed specifically to run on Bryston amps you would imagine that the synergy is outstanding, and it certainly is.

So I'm used to listening a system that sounds absolutely stunning to my ears, and then I decided to audition the Revel F208 speakers in a dealers showroom. After reading more reviews and opinions on this speaker than any product I have purchased in my life, I had pretty high expectations on what they would sound like. You can imagine the shock when I did the demo and they sounded awful...so awful, in fact, that I knew something (or things) had to be seriously wrong. There was no way several reviewers I had read about where going to make a speaker that sounded this bad their reference speaker. No way!!!

Days after the demo a brand new warranty replacement pair comes up for sale on an Internet site and I buy them...one of the biggest gambles I have taken. After three weeks of break in followed by my first week of listening to them, here is my review.

With the right source materiel and electronics feeding these speakers, the Revel F208 speakers sound heavenly. They sound slightly dryer and thinner them my PMC 22 speakers, especially as the frequency goes lower. The dryer tighter bass takes a bit of to get used to but ultimately sounds fine and allows the speakers to be placed very near to boundaries without any boominess (even without using the boundary switch). They have lots of detail and are especially good with classical music. The grit of the cello is especially noticeable compared to other speakers. If you are looking for a rich full bodied type of sound, these are not the speakers you want. Nothing on the recording is pushed in your face and many other speakers will sound better in a short demo. They do have a very slight unique tonal character of there own (maybe it was just the dryness), but within a few hours I did not hear it any more and all I heard was the wonderful music they produced.

These speakers are very sensitive to the electronics you feed them. Feed them the wrong diet and they are not going to sound good. In my system there was very good synergy allowing the sweetness of the DAC to reach the speakers and produce such lovely music.

I demoed Bryston speakers (Mini T, Middle T) some time back and liked the presence and how they made everything sound better then real life, but was afraid I would tire of them after a while. The F208's are completely opposite. Nothing is hyped, nothing. I would relate the Bryston speakers to a sweeter wine and the F208 speakers to a dryer wine that most people end up moving to over time.

The F208's are very revealing and require very good electronics driving them for them to sound good. My 'in store' demo was with a Arcam A39 and Arcam CD player driving them and I was very unimpressed, to say the least. Using my own electronics made a world of difference. (At 3 to 4 times the cost, of course).

The PMC Twenty 22 speakers are slightly richer sounding with a much more fluid bass. They also have no character of there own that I could detect. It's personal preference as to with sounds better. The PMC might be a bit more true to life while the Revel may be more the type of sound what you would want from a studio monitor...super clear, very good separation of individual sounds, very articulate and slightly more analytical. Both speakers are good in there own way but if I was forced to make a choice I would still go with the PMC's for there rich natural sound, but that could easily change with time. Fortunately I don't have to choose because they are in different systems.

Vocals on F208's sound wonderful and sweet. The PMC 22's made steal guitar strings jump into the foreground. With the Revel's the strings sounded thiner but beautiful and blended into the recording more.

The dryer bass makes some upper bass percussion instruments stand out from the recording more than the PMC's. With lesser electonics this can sound unnatural and be distracting but the right electronics makes the percussion blend into the overall recording much better.

The 208's are not speakers that are going to throw out tons of bass. The bass is always very tightly controlled and blends with the whole. Anyone who says the bass is not tight and controlled has not heard these through the 4BSST2. When I first listened to them the bass was so tight I wondered what happened to it. Even the B100 integrated has fuller and softer bass sound. The Bryston speakers I heard with their thunderous bass would probably make a much better home theater speaker. These speakers are too refined to do that. They are not a high fun factor speaker IMO. To me, they excel in musical genre's like classical, jazz, and pretty much any acoustic based music. Much of my music collection is acoustic rock or at least lighter rock and it sounds fabulous through these speakers. If your main music is hard rock, I'm not sure if these are going to be your best fit. They are so refined and delicate that rock may not sound its best. When I played Hotel California through them I had never heard it so airy and delicate before. It didn't sound bad, but not the full weighty sound I am used to hearing. Also keep in mind that Benchmark/Bryston amplification is super transparent and adds no thickness or warmth to the sound. (And yet sounds extremely musical). Playing hard rock through the F208's is akin to asking the Royal Philharmonic to play Van Halen...sure they can do it, but it just not going to the same as your used to hearing.

The speaker that I can relate these closest to is the ATC SCM speakers. Very detailed, very revealing, and very sensitive to the electronics they are feed. I would love to do a direct by side comparison to the ATC SCM 40.

Many cameras have a vivid option that saturates the colors in a picture. This option can make many picture look better then they appear in real life but also has a down side. If a scene already has a lot of rich vibrant colors it can over saturate the photo making it look awful. If an un-vivid option did exist it would de-saturate the colors bringing the photo more towards black and white. I would like to apply this metaphors to scale of a speakers vividness where 0 represents what you hear in the live performance, +3 represents the most forward, ultra presence, bigger that live sound I have heard and -3 representing the maximum in a dry, laid back sound. I would put my PMC 22 speakers right on the 0 in my system. The Bryston's I heard would be a + 2 to +3. Now the F208 speakers I would place at -1 for the higher frequencies and going to -2 in the bass. This dryer presentation takes away some of the rich, full bodied sound of a live performance but opens the door to hearing more of the texture of the music. This is why these speakers to such a fantastic job with classical music...you can hear the instruments spacialy separated with loads of texture. The down side to this is that removing some of the fullness and adding texture to a Fender Strat played through an overdriven Marshal stack is not the sound you want. It is going to over-do the already sensory overloaded texture of the distortion while thinning out the sound...not a good combination for this type of music.

Throughout the whole week of listening I had not played the B100 as a full integrated through the F208 speakers. When I did I was astounded at how good it sounded. Because it could not control the bass the same way as the 4BSST2 could, the bass was fuller and in some ways sounded better. This made me wonder if the iron fisted control of the 4BSST2 combined with a tube amp that could add a bit of fullness, but not warmth or softness, might be the perfect combination for these speakers? I would love to try an Audio Research pre (LS17, LS27) and see what that does for the sound.

If I could sum up this this speaker in a few words I would say this speaker sounds beautiful but not sweet, accurate but not too analytical, slightly dry but still conveys depth and emotion, very revealing and transparent, delicate but can still rock to a point, very detailed but not over the top. As with many high end speakers that are very revealing, source system matching is very important.

Revel F208 Review

Before I start, let me explain a bit about the electronics that are feeding these speakers. The Metrum Hex DAC is very rich and analog sounding (compared to my Denchmark DAC2) The Benchmark HGC DAC2 PRE used as a preamp has stunning clarity and musicality with no added warmth and is at least as good as the pre in the Bryston B100 integrated preamp. The 4BSST2 may be one of the most resolving amps in the world and and maintains super tight control over all aspects of the sound, especially the bass. Also, I am used to having this electronics drive PMC Twenty 22 speakers flaked by two Rythmik F12 subs. Since PMC is designed specifically to run on Bryston amps you would imagine that the synergy is outstanding, and it certainly is.

So I'm used to listening a system that sounds absolutely stunning to my ears, and then I decided to audition the Revel F208 speakers in a dealers showroom. After reading more reviews and opinions on this speaker than any product I have purchased in my life, I had pretty high expectations on what they would sound like. You can imagine the shock when I did the demo and they sounded awful...so awful, in fact, that I knew something (or things) had to be seriously wrong. There was no way several reviewers I had read about where going to make a speaker that sounded this bad their reference speaker. No way!!!

Days after the demo a brand new warranty replacement pair comes up for sale on an Internet site and I buy them...one of the biggest gambles I have taken. After three weeks of break in followed by my first week of listening to them, here is my review.

With the right source materiel and electronics feeding these speakers, the Revel F208 speakers sound heavenly. They sound slightly dryer and thinner them my PMC 22 speakers, especially as the frequency goes lower. The dryer tighter bass takes a bit of to get used to but ultimately sounds fine and allows the speakers to be placed very near to boundaries without any boominess (even without using the boundary switch). They have lots of detail and are especially good with classical music. The grit of the cello is especially noticeable compared to other speakers. If you are looking for a rich full bodied type of sound, these are not the speakers you want. Nothing on the recording is pushed in your face and many other speakers will sound better in a short demo. They do have a very slight unique tonal character of there own (maybe it was just the dryness), but within a few hours I did not hear it any more and all I heard was the wonderful music they produced.

These speakers are very sensitive to the electronics you feed them. Feed them the wrong diet and they are not going to sound good. In my system there was very good synergy allowing the sweetness of the DAC to reach the speakers and produce such lovely music.

I demoed Bryston speakers (Mini T, Middle T) some time back and liked the presence and how they made everything sound better then real life, but was afraid I would tire of them after a while. The F208's are completely opposite. Nothing is hyped, nothing. I would relate the Bryston speakers to a sweeter wine and the F208 speakers to a dryer wine that most people end up moving to over time.

The F208's are very revealing and require very good electronics driving them for them to sound good. My 'in store' demo was with a Arcam A39 and Arcam CD player driving them and I was very unimpressed, to say the least. Using my own electronics made a world of difference. (At 3 to 4 times the cost, of course).

The PMC Twenty 22 speakers are slightly richer sounding with a much more fluid bass. They also have no character of there own that I could detect. It's personal preference as to with sounds better. The PMC might be a bit more true to life while the Revel may be more the type of sound what you would want from a studio monitor...super clear, very good separation of individual sounds, very articulate and slightly more analytical. Both speakers are good in there own way but if I was forced to make a choice I would still go with the PMC's for there rich natural sound, but that could easily change with time. Fortunately I don't have to choose because they are in different systems.

Vocals on F208's sound wonderful and sweet. The PMC 22's made steal guitar strings jump into the foreground. With the Revel's the strings sounded thiner but beautiful and blended into the recording more.

The dryer bass makes some upper bass percussion instruments stand out from the recording more than the PMC's. With lesser electonics this can sound unnatural and be distracting but the right electronics makes the percussion blend into the overall recording much better.

The 208's are not speakers that are going to throw out tons of bass. The bass is always very tightly controlled and blends with the whole. Anyone who says the bass is not tight and controlled has not heard these through the 4BSST2. When I first listened to them the bass was so tight I wondered what happened to it. Even the B100 integrated has fuller and softer bass sound. The Bryston speakers I heard with their thunderous bass would probably make a much better home theater speaker. These speakers are too refined to do that. They are not a high fun factor speaker IMO. To me, they excel in musical genre's like classical, jazz, and pretty much any acoustic based music. Much of my music collection is acoustic rock or at least lighter rock and it sounds fabulous through these speakers. If your main music is hard rock, I'm not sure if these are going to be your best fit. They are so refined and delicate that rock may not sound its best. When I played Hotel California through them I had never heard it so airy and delicate before. It didn't sound bad, but not the full weighty sound I am used to hearing. Also keep in mind that Benchmark/Bryston amplification is super transparent and adds no thickness or warmth to the sound. (And yet sounds extremely musical). Playing hard rock through the F208's is akin to asking the Royal Philharmonic to play Van Halen...sure they can do it, but it just not going to the same as your used to hearing.

The speaker that I can relate these closest to is the ATC SCM speakers. Very detailed, very revealing, and very sensitive to the electronics they are feed. I would love to do a direct by side comparison to the ATC SCM 40.

Many cameras have a vivid option that saturates the colors in a picture. This option can make many picture look better then they appear in real life but also has a down side. If a scene already has a lot of rich vibrant colors it can over saturate the photo making it look awful. If an un-vivid option did exist it would de-saturate the colors bringing the photo more towards black and white. I would like to apply this metaphors to scale of a speakers vividness where 0 represents what you hear in the live performance, +3 represents the most forward, ultra presence, bigger that live sound I have heard and -3 representing the maximum in a dry, laid back sound. I would put my PMC 22 speakers right on the 0 in my system. The Bryston's I heard would be a + 2 to +3. Now the F208 speakers I would place at -1 for the higher frequencies and going to -2 in the bass. This dryer presentation takes away some of the rich, full bodied sound of a live performance but opens the door to hearing more of the texture of the music. This is why these speakers to such a fantastic job with classical music...you can hear the instruments spacialy separated with loads of texture. The down side to this is that removing some of the fullness and adding texture to a Fender Strat played through an overdriven Marshal stack is not the sound you want. It is going to over-do the already sensory overloaded texture of the distortion while thinning out the sound...not a good combination for this type of music.

Throughout the whole week of listening I had not played the B100 as a full integrated through the F208 speakers. When I did I was astounded at how good it sounded. Because it could not control the bass the same way as the 4BSST2 could, the bass was fuller and in some ways sounded better. This made me wonder if the iron fisted control of the 4BSST2 combined with a tube amp that could add a bit of fullness, but not warmth or softness, might be the perfect combination for these speakers? I would love to try an Audio Research pre (LS17, LS27) and see what that does for the sound.

If I could sum up this this speaker in a few words I would say this speaker sounds beautiful but not sweet, accurate but not too analytical, slightly dry but still conveys depth and emotion, very revealing and transparent, delicate but can still rock to a point, very detailed but not over the top. As with many high end speakers that are very revealing, source system matching is very important.




earlxtr
Here's how I roll. may not work for everybody but does for
me.
I listen for 4-to 6 hours to a given item and play no critical attention to the music.
If after that my body is still relaxed its good.
The kicker is you have to learn you body and system has to be dialed in which can take years as we all now.
In any case, if you tense up , something is wrong.
After living with both the Revels and PMC for a while I have to say that are both excellent speakers and it really comes down to system synergy and what flavor you like.

The PMC 22 have a very rich, romantic flavor that blends everything together Io create beautiful music. The top end has a lovely sweetness while the bass is full and fluid. You don't hear separate instruments so much as you hear the whole. It is very forgiving to bright edgy recordings and makes everything quite listenable.

The Revel f208 are all about transparency and clarity. You hear every instrument on its own, yet it still manages to create a coherent whole. Where the PMCs might embellish the sound with a bit of warmth and sweetness, the Revels do not. The bass is tight and controlled and never overpowers the sound. Despite these characteristics I would not say the sound is dry or analytical but still retains its own flavor of a rich tone.

Some recordings that sound pleasant on the PMCs can sound downright stunning on the Revels. For example, the CD YO YO MA Plays Ennio Morricone sounds very polite on the PMC's with the Cello blending in with the rest of the instruments. It's the kind of sound you might expect to hear in a large concert hall where the natural reverb of the hall tends to blend the Intruments to some degree. Now on the Revels the cello sounds simply stunning. The cello stands on its own with amazing texture and raw grit that period instruments are known for. It's like being in a small studio with the instruments only a few meters away.

On the other hand, the Revels can be too much of a good thing for some recordings. For example, the song "Miss You" from the Rolling Stones 'best of, 3 album set is just to bright and edgy for me on the Revels. Played on the PMC's it sounds great! With my collection of music this is very much the exception rather then the rule, but not everything sounds good on the Revels feed by my electronics.
"but not everything sounds good on the Revels feed by my electronics."

I think that's the Revels telling you about the Bryston. They are really trying to do you a solid.........

Shakey
"I think that's the Revels telling you about the Bryston. They are really trying to do you a solid........."

Shakey

Now that I have lived with a very transparent system for a while I am addicted to the sound and have no intention of settling for less, even if it does make a few recordings unlistenable. I'd rather trash the very few recordings that don't work that well. (Was never a big Rolliing Stones fan anyway)

I know that I could get an amp that, like my PMC speakers, would make everything sound pleasant...but I'll take stunning clarity thank you very much:)))))
Are they good for listening to Shoe Gaze? My system works really well with Early Music, Norwegian Death Metal, and Mumblecore, but Shoe Gaze seems somewhat tentative┬ůmaybe I need to sit closer.