Revel Performa3 F206 and M106 Loudspeakers

Revel’s Rockin’ Reboot

Equipment report
Categories:
Floorstanding
|
Products:
Revel F206,
Revel M106
Revel Performa3 F206 and M106 Loudspeakers

Its core strength is the top-to-bottom coherence of its four-driver array. The sound emerges from a firmly rooted low-frequency foundation—an attribute that anchors all the other elements of a symphony orchestra and equally serves small combos, solo piano, or rock/pop chestnuts. There’s not a whisper of drivers going rogue or intimations of individual transducers rat-tat-tating as if from a machine gunner’s nest. Regardless of the source material, I consistently experienced a sense of densely packed layers of sound, an acoustic fabric of seamless energy unbroken within the sturdy proscenium created by the F206. While only a mid-sized speaker it scales images grandly in the room. As I listened to the now-classic LP Sussex Overtures by Malcolm Arnold [Reference Recordings RR-48] I noted the stunning image separation, the contrasting tonal colors of the clashing wind and brass sections, the transient detail flying off the bow of the bass violins during a pizzicato section, the waves of reverberant air generated by the timpanists and percussion section. (In the interests of full disclosure it was only later, as I was casually scanning this album’s liner notes, that I was reminded that Voecks, then of Snell Acoustics, is a credited consultant on this superior album.)

As regards imaging, throughout my sessions with the F206 and M106 I could hear something different about the Performa3 tweeter and waveguide. It was the element that separates Performa3 from its predecessor. Clearly it was integrating smoothly with the mids, as was evident each time I played a choral track like the Rutter Requiem [Reference]. The human voice, solo or in groups, remains for me one of the best means to validate inter-driver coherence. But there was something more. And as I listened to tracks of the Jimmy Cobb Quartet on Cobb’s Corner [Chesky], it crossed my mind just how well the trumpet was supported from below and how fully integrated it was within the venue. What was different about the trumpet’s image, and now as I look back on my listening notes the Revel’s imaging in general, was a slightly greater width to individual images—less defined edges and softer, more rounded boundaries. Certainly there was plenty of transient mouthpiece and breath action, but the Revel’s treble didn’t etch images as forcefully within the soundstage. It more reasonably and, I think, accurately let images open and spread their harmonic wings with minimal constriction. For me, the Revel makes the more authentic interpretation and creates a sound that I expect to hear in the concert hall.

The overall quality of the bass is excellent, honest, and strong. It’s virtually billiard-table flat down to forty cycles with solid response smoothly rolling off into the mid-thirties. This is exactly as stated in the Revel literature, which I later confirmed with an informal RTA sweep in my room— the flattest in-room measurement I’ve attained outside of the omnidirectional mbl 120 (Issue 228). A hint of midbass warmth conveys weight but also an organic sense of low-frequency air that underscores the natural hall ambience of a recording. The Revel narrowly misses the deepest wavelike rumblings of the pipe organ in Rutter’s Requiem—that adrenaline rush of floorboard and room-rafter excitation that makes the finest hairs on the back of your neck stand up. But there’s more than enough bass to satisfy all but the most ardent subwoofer devotee.

The takeaway here is the level of quality and integration, as bass response dovetails into the lower midrange—a quality on display during Holly Cole’s “I Can see Clearly.” On this track the bass line vamp has a distinctive, almost bouncy up-tempo flavor meant to elicit the optimism that is the song’s theme. Each note, as if leaning forward ahead of the beat, should be resolved cleanly and with definition. The F206 nailed them. Additionally there is very little noise from the forward-firing port, and although the bass-reflex configuration of the F206 isn’t completely invisible, its impact on the overall pace and flavor of the low-frequency reproduction is minor.

Turning to LP playback I pulled Christopher Cross’ eponymous debut album from the rack—a multi- platinum blockbuster back in 1980. Cross nabbed all four major Grammys for his efforts. In any case I hadn’t listened to this one in some time and was pleasantly surprised to discover just how much low-level information and timbral detail were left in its grooves. The seamless midrange/tweeter integration of the F206 made child’s play of the soaring string charts penned by co-producer Michael Omartian during “sailing.” Not to mention the inner detail and resolution the Revel displayed reproducing the soulful backup singing by former Doobie Brothers’ front man Michael McDonald during the monster radio hit “Ride like The Wind.”

Still I have to admit there were moments when I longed for a slightly lighter and faster touch with transients and a more effortless sense of upper-frequency air and extension. Soundstage width is excellent but depth information is only average. The speaker does cry “uncle” a bit on the deeper rumbles of the last half-octave or so of bottom bass—so I could ask for slightly more resolution of the deepest bass cues. Finally, whether it’s the cabinet or the port or a combination of both, midbass information can sometimes sound a mite over-ripe, making symphonic crescendos and heavy percussion lose some definition.

The Performa3 F206 and M106 are segment- defining loudspeakers. And by emphasizing the sonic totality of the listening experience, they have more than exceeded my already lofty expectations. I’m often told that there are no bargains anymore in the high end. Well, naysayers haven’t met the F206 and M106. So seek them out. Revel has just given “value-level” a fresh kick in the pants.

SPECS & PRICING

F206

Type: Three-way bass-reflex
Drivers: 1" tweeter, 5.25" mid, 6.5" woofers
Sensitivity: 88dB
Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
Dimensions: 9.8" x 41.4" x 13.7"
Weight: 58 lbs.
Price: $3500

M106

Type: Two-way bass-reflex
Drivers: 1" tweeter, 6.5" woofer
Sensitivity: 87dB
Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
Dimensions: 8.3" x 15" x 11"
Weight: 19 lbs.
Price: $2000

Harman International Industries
8500 Balboa Blvd.
Northridge, CA 91329
revelspeakers.com

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