However, there are distinctions. For example, during cellist Pieter Wispelwey’s rendition of Bruch’s Kol Nidrei, low-level edge detail softened slightly, with the proximity of instruments to one another less focused; in addition, the cello’s attack off the bow lacked the last dollop of dynamic intensity. In sum, at two grand the Performa3 M106 does what it was meant to do, but at less than half the price the Concerta2 M16 can hold its head high in this more elite crowd.
Perhaps the M16 performance’s most enthralling aspect is the fullness and cohesiveness of its soundstage and image presentation. The M16 doesn’t paint small sonic landscapes. Revel’s state-of-the-art multichannel systems make this manufacturer no stranger to creating immersive sonics, and clearly much of that expertise has rubbed off on its two-channel efforts. Indeed, the sense of three-dimensionality and “widescreen” scale were two of the M16’s most distinctive characteristics.
A prime example would be Frank Sinatra’s Only the Lonely classic “One for My Baby,” a track filled with enough ambience and spatiality to create the illusion of being in a smoky, late-night bar, the slightly muted piano in a dark pocket of a melancholy space, the listener sitting just a couple bar stools from the singer and the barkeep. It’s a cut that succeeds or fails based on capturing this mood. Little speakers don’t often have the sophistication and range to retrieve these key elements—the M16 did.
A good part of this capability is owed to the speaker’s excellent dispersion, à la the improved waveguide and Revel’s general philosophy about optimizing in-room power response (a measurement that factors in both of off- and on -axis performance). In this aspect the M16 bears a striking resemblance to the Performa3. There’s no beaminess. It’s the antithesis of the authoritarian type of “sweet spot” that commands the listener to sit as still as a statue to glean the magic. And I didn’t need to tilt, twist, or tweak them into hyper-specified positions. unlike most compacts. I just set them down and got out of the way.
The Concerta2 M16 is a class-leading compact. It operates at a level of refinement and excitement that belies its relatively easy affordability. I’ve surveyed quite a few compacts in the entry-level ranks recently and the choices are bountiful. Some recent blue-plate stars include the $499 Elac Uni-Fi UB5 and the under-$300 Elac Debut B5/B6—brilliant contenders that currently own their class. However if, wallet permitting, you’re considering stepping it up another notch, the Revel M16 is my choice for the compact monitor to beat in the one-grand-and-under segment.
Specs & Pricing
Type: Two-way, bass-reflex
Driver complement: 1" aluminum dome tweeter, 6.5" aluminum woofer
Low-frequency extension: 55Hz (-3dB)
Nominal impedance: 6 ohms
Dimensions: 14.75" x 8.6" x 10.76"
Weight: 16 lbs.
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