A little over one year ago, Revel started shipping the first speaker from its PerformaBe line, the F228Be, which was well received and continues to garner praise from professional reviewers, myself included, and enthusiasts alike. Accordingly, we have been anticipating the release of additional speakers in the line, including the M126Be bookshelf speaker and C426Be center channel. In addition to these speakers in other formats, Revel also designed two other floor standing speakers: the smaller F226Be reviewed here and the larger F328Be, which recently started shipping.
As nice as the F228Be was and still is, it is a fairly large and visually imposing speaker. The F226Be, at 41.3 inches high by 9.8 inches wide and 13.7 inches deep, is only about five inches shorter and four inches narrower than its bigger brother, but the visual difference is significant. The F226Be looks much smaller and less imposing. This should provide significantly more placement options when room aesthetics factor into that decision matrix. The F226Be, at $3,500 each, is also $1,500 less expensive than the F228Be. Yes, $7,000 per pair is still a big chunk of change, but that $3,000 savings (or more if you're constructing a complete surround sound system) can go a long way towards the rest of your system.
The F226Be shares much of its design with its bigger sibling, which I reference more in this review than I normally would, but I think it is worth pointing out both their similarities as well as their differences. They are both three-way loudspeakers in front-ported, bass-reflex enclosures. The F226Be's enclosure looks just like a downsized version of its big brother, with a flat front panel that has the four drivers flush mounted above a front-firing port, all of which can be covered with a magnetically attached grille. My review sample F226Bes came with high gloss white cabinets, which gave them a clean and modern yet interesting look with the black surrounds and white drivers. A few guests said they looked like they belonged on an Imperial Star Cruiser from Star Wars. If white is not your thing, the F226Be can also be ordered in your choice of Black, Walnut, or Metallic Silver.
Beryllium has, of course, become the darling material of speaker designers across the world for use in high frequency transducers. The one-inch beryllium tweeter in the F226Be is an all-new design for the PerformaBe line. While aluminum and titanium have been and continue to be popular materials for hard dome tweeter diaphragms, "Beryllium offers roughly four and a half times the stiffness and three times more damping, at only half of the weight" by comparison, per Revel. Diamond is another material that has been used as a diaphragm material in higher-end speakers. While discussing the design of the PerformaBe tweeters, Revel personnel acknowledge that while diamond-dome tweeters have a higher breakup frequency (this is a good thing), Beryllium's breakup frequency is still beyond 40kHz. In addition to stiffness and damping qualities, Beryllium's density and elasticity properties are also well-suited for use as an audio transducer.
The one-inch Beryllium dome is incorporated into a tweeter system that features a beefy motor assembly with 85mm dual ceramic magnets and Revel's fifth-generation Acoustic Lens waveguide, designed to integrate the tweeter's off-axis output with that of the midrange driver. The 5.25-inch midrange driver and the two 6.5-inch woofers have Revel's Deep Ceramic Composite ("DCC") diaphragm, which is all new for the PerformaBe series. DCC is described by Revel as: "a plasma electrolytic oxidation process that uses a plasma discharge to create a coarse ceramic coating on both sides of the aluminum core. The deep ceramic layers sandwiching the aluminum core provide constrained layer damping that push cone breakup modes outside of the passband, allowing the driver to maintain ideal pistonic motion throughout its range."
As with the Beryllium tweeters, there is more to the midrange design than simply utilizing exotic driver materials. The PerformaBE midrange and bass drivers have new motor structures designed for greater efficiency, dynamic range, and power handling, with reduced distortion and compression. As noted in our F228Be review, the crossovers in the PerformaBe series are high-order crossovers, which utilize all film capacitors and air core inductors in the midrange and tweeter circuits. The crossover point between the Beryllium tweeter and DCC midrange is 2.1kHz, with the midrange giving way to the woofers at 260 Hz. Given the similarities between the F228Be and F226Be, one should not be surprised to learn that they are both eight-ohm speakers with a rated sensitivity of 90 dB, although given the smaller size of the F226Be is overall, its 6dB-down point is at 36Hz instead of 27Hz in the F228Be.
I started with the F226Bes in the same position I ended up using with the F228Bes, with the front baffle three feet from the front wall and approximately eight feet apart. Their final position ended up being about four inches closer to the front wall. The amount of toe in ended up being the same--no surprise given the shared tweeter and midrange drivers--pointing to a spot just in front of my listening position.
I was fortunate enough to still have the excellent D'Agostino Progression Preamplifier and Stereo Amplifier in my two-channel listening system for this review. I also tried my McIntosh C500 Preamplifier driving a pair of McIntosh MC-501 monoblocks. My PS Audio DirectStream DAC and Network Audio Player served up music from either audio files stored on my NAS or discs played on my Oppo BDP-95. I used a single pair of Kimber Select speaker cables with Kimber Select jumpers throughout.
I also tried the F226Be's in a multichannel setup with a Marantz AV8805 AV Preamplifier and Krell TAS Amplifier driving the F226Bes, as they flanked a Revel Performa3 C208 center channel. In the interim, since my review of the F228Bes, Revel released a PerformaBe center channel, but I do not yet have one for evaluation so you will need to wait until we look at the F328Be. There is also a relatively small, stand-mounted speaker in the PerformaBe lineup, the M106, which could be used as main speakers in smaller areas or as surround speakers in a multichannel system in order to timbre-match your mains as much as possible.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...