This handsome pair of Revel F208 floorstanders sits at the top of the California company’s recently introduced Performa 3 range. The R&D team has spent the past three years completely revamping its middle-range Performas. We’re told they’ve been designed not simply to offer a step up in performance from Revel’s cheaper speakers but also to give more than a taste of its far more expensive models. Manufacturing is in Indonesia.

Within its 71-litre enclosure the F208 employs the same 25mm aluminium dome tweeter and 130mm aluminium-coned midrange unit as the F206 [HFN April ’14], its smaller sibling’s two 165mm bass drivers replaced here by two larger 200mm woofers. Crossover points are at 270Hz and 2.2kHz while a terminal block at the rear sports controls for fine-tuning bass and treble level. A five-position switch alters the tweeter’s output by ±0.5dB and 1dB, with a ‘flat’ setting in its centre position.

A low frequency compensation switch, which can be set to ‘normal’ or ‘boundary’, reduces bass output should the speaker be positioned less than half a metre or so from a boundary wall. LF contouring can be further tweaked with supplied foam bungs to plug the ports.

Revel’s drivers for its Performa 3 range are all-new designs. The woofer and midrange units are founded on cast aluminium chassis, their motor units employing large diameter voice coils and proprietary copper ring caps. The drivers’ diaphragms are formed of aluminium and ribbed with tangential dents designed to shift cone breakup well beyond the drivers’ operational bands. For its 25mm tweeter Revel has employed a new mathematical model in designing the waveguide which aims to widen dispersion at high frequencies and is claimed to match the tweeter’s dispersion to that of the midrange driver around the crossover point.

In its walnut finish the F208 appears charmingly old-fashioned, though it is bound to dominate most average-sized listening rooms.

Rich and velvety

The F208 really does sound like a big loudspeaker, with tremendous low frequency extension and bass weight. It has a rich and velvety tonality; the speaker’s top end is lusciously smooth and ‘relaxed’ and notably free of undue sibilance on vocals. Shelby Lynne’s close-miked voice in tracks from her album Just A Little Lovin’ [Lost Highway], was finely-etched and sweet-toned.

Capable of serving up oodles of low-end grunt when the occasion demands, Revel’s twin woofers also encourage a refreshing sense of dynamic effortlessness in the bass. Vigorously bowed basses and climactic wallops of timpani were handled easily by the F208 as we enjoyed tracks from Exotic Dances From The Opera at 96kHz/24-bit [Reference Recordings], with the Minnesota Orchestra under Eiji Oue. Rimsky-Korsakov’s rollicking ‘Dance of the Tumblers’ from The Snow Maiden sounded absolutely epic, while Tchaikovsky’s ‘Hopak’ from Mazeppa was equally thrilling.

Verdict

If you are looking for a floorstander that imbues music with keen energy while avoiding hyped aggression, the F208 should be right up your street. Revel’s engineers have balanced it to sound creamy and easy-going, while maintaining fine transparency and plenty of detail at the top end – and its meaty bass delivery is mightily visceral when the music requires it.

Originally published in the 2014 Yearbook