Review: Hales Design Group Revelation 2 Speaker

Category: Speakers

As we all know Hales is well out of business, so this review may not be particularly meaningful considering most people's buying circumstances. I have seen the Two's for $500, though, and if nothing goes wrong with them for a good period of time, that is a great deal.

The boring part:

8" sealed woofer, 4.5" cone mid, polypropylene all around except for the 1" god-help-us aluminum tweeter. 4th order crossover & Cardas wiring. Impedance is 6ohms nominal and the sensitivity is 86db. They'll go down to the low 30s Hz, and as high as they you need them. Single set of binding posts, so no bi-wiring. Thank you promo card.

What they do:

It is hard to pinpoint the extent of my bias towards these speakers, but 3 years ago I did choose them over the ones I listed below. (I mentioned them, but I only heard the 1.6s shortly and casually. I like them, but my present living situation prevented me from considering them). All the speakers were subject to Curve's 'Ten Little Girls' (plus others, of course) which is a powerful recording for quickly determining midrange distortion, tweeter output, coherence between the tweeter and midrange, vocals and the speed of the drivers. What the Hales did was less damage to the midrange of the song than the others. They did not keep up fully to the song's blitzing collage of distorted everything (the Monitors and Aerius could), but it was hard for me to complain given what they do well. What that is the tonal balance and absence of harsh distortion (see Paradigm and Monitor) without the feeling that they are too polite and forgiving (see CDM and Ninka) . The others, more or less, just had a weird distortion, a schtick that the Hales is did not exhibit nearly as much. It’s the speaker that Goldielocks listens to. The lack of a schtick also is present in the lows, partly due to the coherence between the Un-ported woofer and the midrange. A tonal flaw or accomplishment for them in the lows is a flaw or accomplishment up to the upper midrange and the cabinet is equal opportunity for both on a gross level.
Another positive facet, and the most obvious one upon first listening are the vocals. Male or female it is like the Hales were designed to represent singers if nothing else. And you hear them as if their body is present and in tact!
Dynamics. They’ll do if you can give them necessary power, macro better than micro. The Hales like the juice, though. A beefy, powerful amp is a must. They are getting around a 100 watts from my amp, and they need more. I tried them with about 40-50 watts and that was pathetic.

Downside? Well just for a little bit:

The tweeters like to say a special 'hello'. They don't stick out like sore thumbs really, ruining the balance, but they are a bit bright. It can be ameliorated w/ toe-out(in) and other standard methods, but it is persistent. An annoying consequence is that they pull the sound towards them, disturbing images and arching the stage. To some system/room dependent-degree, a singer in the middle will split in to two and walk down stairs when he/she hits a high note. A better amp than mine and a better room helps, but the nicer tweets are for those with the dough for the Trans. series. While it does not take long to find a happy space in a room for these babies, toe-in is more sensitive & challenging. The space portrayed by the Revelations is otherwise fine. Decent depth, and quite far to the left and right, blah blah.
Another thumbs-down that I mentioned before is that the Hales' decay is a little slow and so is the pace. Not as slow as the CDMs or Ruarks, but the Ninkas and the Monitors cook Hales in pace. The Revelations have a round, but tight and firm bottom. None go down to the low octaves as linearly as Hales though (damn ports). This adds to the Hales’ realism and ability to convey the emotional tone of the music relative to the other speakers I heard. Less speaker, more sound is what the Hales are. They do not sound as constrained, they are more ‘natural’ than the other dynamic speakers. But the Aerius was clearly the least colored. A very nice speaker. Better than the Hales to many people, no argument, but I personally would not get past the bass if I seriously considered owning it (same as Maggie circumstances). The Two and Threes (don’t like the bass-problematic Ones) are a jack-of-all-trades type of speaker, suitable for those who listen to a variety of music. Begging the question, I don’t think they are master of any. In light of some of the competition, though, I think they are a master of most.

Analogies are good for audio communication:

If the Revelations were a glass of milk; the Ninkas would be chocolate milk; the B&W’s CDM Kaopectate; DM-600s watered down milk; Monitor’s well-water, Aerius one glass water & one glass milk; Paradigm- broken glass.

Associated gear
Interspace TT, DV-20x, Ol-250, AES PH-1; Rotel 971; Mistral pre; Classe 70; NAD Silverline Integrated and CDP; Wadia CDP; ML pre; Classe CA-300: NAD 314: Pioneer mass-fi cdp

Similar products
Ninka; Aerius; Paradigm Studio Series; B&W's 600 Series 1,2,3, CDMs, and Nautilus lines; Magnepan 1.6; Monitor Audio Silverline; Ruark; Hales Transcendence Series
I own the Rev3 and I agree with most of Ohlala's observations. I'd also like to add that these speakers, unlike many other, sound wonderful at low volume level. I do most of listening late at night at whispering level. I find the speakers still manage to maintain the soundstage and imaging as well as low frequency extension -- even the stand-up bass on some really old vinyls.

The lack of pace of bass may be a room issue. A good test for this is in the last couple of minutes of Dire Straits "Love over Gold" track. At some moment the bass notes get really bent (sorry, I'm not a musician), and it seems like bass is being sucked back in by the woofers right after it peaks. Very difficult to reproduce -- pace, continuity, decay. Both the B&W CDM7SE and PSB Gold failed on this -- not the Hales.