Revel Ultima Salon2 Loudspeakers Reviewed

Revel Ultima Salon2 Loudspeakers Reviewed

Revel is Harman Specialty Group's (HSG) flagship audiophile loudspeaker brand and over the last decade they have invested tremendous resources - both human and financial - into building the brand into a speaker company that lives up to the lofty...

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Revel is Harman Specialty Group's (HSG) flagship audiophile loudspeaker brand and over the last decade they have invested tremendous resources - both human and financial - into building the brand into a speaker company that lives up to the lofty brand status of HSG's Mark Levinson electronics. Their Ultima Line is Revel's top-of-the-line and pulls from many of the most cutting edge design elements from JBL plus is engineered to compete with the highest end, audiophile loudspeakers from brands like Wilson Audio, MartinLogan and beyond. These are loudspeakers designed to not leave anything on the table in terms of performance and or value.

Additional Resources
• Learn more about Revel speakers here.
• Read a review of the Revel Ulitima Salon2's by Jerry Del Colliano at HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Read other high end audio floorstanding speaker reviews from the likes of Bowers & Wilkins, MartinLogan, Wilson Audio, Magico, YG Acoustics, Magenpan and many others.
Read Andrew Robinson's Bowers & Wilkins 800 Diamond Floorstanding Speaker Review.

Priced at $20,000 per pair, the Revel Ultima Salon 2's represent a huge departure from the first Revel Ultima Salons. While the price tag is similar, the new Salon2's are a far more narrow footprint. The original Revel Salons were some wide-assed speakers that became somewhat irrelevant in a world of waif-thin HDTVs and powerful subwoofers designed handle the bass that mosters like the original Salons could do. The Revel Salon2 is a 4-way speaker system with (3) 8 inch woofers, a 6.5 inch mid-woofer, a 4 inch midrange driver and a 1 inch tweeter. The speakers come in only two finishes: black and a mahogany wood but the overall fit and finish is improved over the original design. Without the grills on, the speaker looks very sleek and curvy. With the grills on, the Revel Salon2s look a little more mainstream. Most enthusiasts will pull the grills off for serious listening sessions if not for audible reasons - for aesthetic reasons.

The sound of the Revel Ultima Salon2s is nothing short of impressive. Critics balked at the idea that a flagship speaker could be so physically narrow - which is ironic as Wilson's popular and more pricey WATT Puppy version 8 loudspeaker has a similar footprint but is not as tall. The bass that comes from the Revel Salon2s is likely enough to speak to the audiophile's soul. It is tight, rich and round but also very quick. Depth charges from U-571 on HD DVD (without a subwoofer) could have won you bets that an LFE was actually on during a recent tradeshow demo. The highs are open and airy especially for a dynamic speaker. Compared to the Wilson WATT Puppy v8's, the Revels are less etched and more smooth. Its not to say either are right or wrong but more to compare and contrast a more mellow high end on the Revel Salon2 versus a more detailed sound from Wilson or even B&W's 800's series.

High Points
• The improved footprint is much more relevant than the first generation speaker and matches today's flat HDTVs and or large front projection theaters well.
• The openness of the speaker is world class and with the right amplifier, these speakers can take on all comers with a sound that is fast, dynamic and open yet never fatiguing.
• In a world where everything goes up in price, the Salon2's sticker is expensive but not the traditional 20 to 30 percent more you would expect for a next generation product.
• The matching Voice center speaker, I-30 in-wall speakers and Sub30 products round out a very well thought out and even sounding 7.1 speaker system. Depending on your room and budget you can also use Revel's updated Gem loudspeaker or the smaller B15 subwoofer. For rear channels in a big budget theater you might use the Salon's smaller sibling - the Revel Ultima Studios which bring most of the performance of the Salon2 to a slightly smaller package.

Low Points
• The Revel Salon2 is not a terribly efficient loudspeaker compared to other high end dynamic speakers in its class thus you will need a truly powerful amp. Revel would suggest a Mark Levinson power amp but the bigger offerings from Krell and Classé' also will do the trick. Digital amps from Bel Canto and NuForce represent lower priced, sleeper amps capable of making sweet audio love to the Salon2s.
• Both Wilson and MartinLogan offer custom colors and finishes which add to their "wife acceptance factor" which helps them sell speakers into difficult rooms and or situations. Revel only provides two finishes. Black is beautiful but looks a little like a lesser price (and amazingly good sounding for the money) Definitive Technology tower speaker.

Conclusion
Sonically, it doesn't get much better in the world of high end loudspeakers than Revel's Ultima Salon2's. Yes, they are expensive but you are getting speakers capable of faithfully reproducing audiophile sources ranging from LP to Compact Disc to DVD-Audio, SACD and HD downloads while also presenting mastering studio quality sound for Dolby True HD and DTS Master Cinema.

You would be making a mistake if you are in the market for high end loudspeakers to not audition the Revel Salon2s if you looking to part ways with a serious chuck of cash on speakers in hopes of reaching audio nirvana because for $20,000 - they can take you there in style.

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