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This review first appeared in the February 2014 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of Revel
in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Revel - Ed.

Reviewer: Michael Bruß
Sources: Analog - VPI Scout II, Lyra Delos, Sonneteer Sedley USB phonostage; digital - Linn Majik DSM
Amplification: AVM MA 3.2 and Jadis JA15 monos, power stage of Linn Majik DSM
Loudspeakers: Linn Majik 140
Sundry accessories: Audioquest Cinnamon Ethernet cable, Fastaudio Black Science phono cable, Linn Silver IC, Linn K400 and Audioplan LS8 speaker cable, Audioquest NRG-2 and Phonosophie power cords, Phonosophie power bar, Fastaudio Absorber, Linn Skeet
Review component retail: €5'800/pr

Outperformer? Man were these big! That was pretty much my knee-jerk reaction after I'd unpacked Revel's new Performa F208. My second thought? Not half bad. First impressions on new gear are often unfair since they could cross swords with the status quo of what's familiar and loved. Here the American sound furniture in dark Walnut skins had its work cut out. Compared to the elegantly slim Dynaudio Excite X38's Terence Hill in white smoking jacket, they felt more like a really well-fed Bud Spencer. But surely the 120cm tall Revels arrived in their Sunday finest too. Piano lacquer lightened up some optical heaviness as did the rearward slimming curvy-ended enclosures. Toe in the F208 so that the sweet spot only sees the slimmest remainder of the inner cheeks and you could nearly see a pair of shrunk magnetostats. 50% size reduction?

I'd still not envision the pater familias of Revel's Performa range in <20-25m² rooms due to serious bass. Two grown-up 20cm woofers plus port loading manage 34Hz–270Hz (-3dB) per side. Like the midrange drivers their voice-coil formers are a glass-fiber substrate, the baskets are cast aluminium-magnesium alloy, the membranes sport radial slashes against resonances. But as the Harman empire's flagship speaker brand, Revel didn't stop there. Their engineers insisted on symmetrical flux in front and behind the gap to reduce distortion; aluminium shorting rings and copper caps on the pole pieces to lower voice-coil inductance; and aerodynamically shaped front-firing port flares to undercut dynamic compression and chuffing and enable relatively close front-wall proximity.

To customize performance to your room there are included port plugs and boundary switches above the speaker terminals which can cut output up to ~400Hz by nearly 5dB. This is quite typical for Revel speakers as is the ±1dB treble contour in 0.5dB steps also on the terminal plate. The 4th-order 24dB/octave acoustical filter slope uses tight-tolerance parts fabricated to Revel specifications. The midband is handled by a 13cm aluminum driver with the same performance accoutrements as the woofers. Above 2'200Hz a light 25mm aluminium tweeter comes in with a wide but shallow acoustic lens waveguide which Revel say was calculated with complex mathematical formulae to, a/ minimize dispersion discontinuities with the stronger beaming midrange driver and b/ improve dispersion with rising frequencies for more linear off-axis response.

Sub 400Hz cut and port plug in action.

Besides resisting roaming fingers, the composite bridge across the tweeter serves the same purpose: to increase sound quality in the 'cheap seats' without nervy stress. Revel claim that their patented constant acoustic impedance solution actually has their tweeter's radiation broaden in its upper reach rather than narrow as is standard. This incidentally wasn't the first time that a Revel occupied my digs. During my studious days I enjoyed the privilege to more or less part-time work in a popular hifi shop in Saarbrücken. 'More or less' explains why my student career stretched out longer than absolutely necessary. Said dealer carried the entire portfolio of domestic importer Sun Audio, i.e. Mark Levinson, Thiel, Oracle and Revel. The latter's smallest box at the time was a compact 2-way called Performa M20 whose sound, appearance and finish then had my strong vote. The cosmetics of the day with their bullish footers and trademark rounded driver mounts were cubistic, plain, practical and fine.

The successors to these first Performa models have really polished up their act in the already mentioned piano gloss lacquer. The dark Walnut feels luxurious and betrays no orange peel. Revel explain that an Italian expert is responsible for their boxes. This leaves unanswered whether that's an argument in favor of Italian labor or against American workmanship.