Review: Revel Performa F328Be is the flagship floorstanding loudspeaker equipped with the cleanest resolution and both fine and impressive dynamics
I was a bit surprised (and even more pleased) when the editors suggested the Revel Performa F328Be (18,000 euros) as a test device. Why? Well, at just under 25 square meters, my room is not overly generously dimensioned, and the American flagships of the Performa series are, shall we say, lavishly equipped with three eight-inch speakers per speaker for the bass range. is that alright
In any case, so much membrane surface needs the appropriate space in order to be able to fully develop: The rounded-back housing of the Revel Performa F328Be is an impressive 129 centimeters high, over 34 centimeters wide and almost 45 centimeters deep. That makes almost 88 liters of housing volume for the bass trio of each loudspeaker – and that’s not all of the bass-promoting measures: On the back of each box there are two bass reflex loudspeakers with a diameter of a good 10 centimeters that can be regulated with the enclosed foam plugsindicates that the Revel engineers don’t want to mess around in the bass range, they want to pack a punch. After all, it is a top model, even if the company hierarchy still has a superior series to offer with the Ultima loudspeakers. All in all, not really good news for my listening room – but experience with the Dynaudio Contour 30i (7,000 euros) already showed that it is not just the sheer size that matters when it comes to whether the loudspeakers are booming here or not .
Revel Performa F328Be: Technology
The technology of the drivers is as remarkable as their number. Although the magnet systems of the 20-centimeter basses don’t quite keep up with the martial drive units of an ATC SCM50, when it comes to membranes, Revel has definitely arrived more clearly in the 21st century with the PerformaBe line than the British: The cones are made like in the ” “Normal” Performa 3 series are basically made of aluminum, but for the Be series they are coated on both sides with a so-called “Deep Ceramic Composite” (DCC) bright white. According to Revel, DCC is the result of a plasma-electrolytic oxidation process in which a plasma discharge creates a “coarse” ceramic layer on both sides of the aluminum membrane core. According to Revel, the ceramic layers ensure that the membranes only “break up” far outside the area to be transmitted and would produce partial oscillations . This ensures optimal piston movement of the cone drivers over the entire transmission range.
The 130 mm cone midrange drivers of the Revel Performa F328Be – they sit in their own 2.8 liter housing made of 18 mm thick MDF – also have such pure white DCC membranes. Together with the impressive triple woofer assembly, this array gives the front view an interesting contrast – especially with the high-gloss black speaker. Especially since the tweeter, which we will come to in a moment, is also framed in white over a large area. The DCC midrange drivers take over the transmission between 240 and 2100 Hertz before they move on to the highlight of the Performa Beseries: the newly developed 1 inch beryllium tweeter with a ventilated pole core and a drive with double hard ferrite magnets that is significantly larger than the standard Performa tweeter and now has a diameter of 85 millimeters.
In contrast to the mid-range chassis, the beryllium tweeters do not have their own chamber in the housing, according to Revel. The white space around the actual driver is a “sixth generation acoustic lens waveguide,” according to Revel. The lens sits in front of the beryllium membrane, and that’s not just a good thing for acoustic reasons: although beryllium has almost legendary acoustic properties that make it the ideal material for tweeters, it is mechanically extremely brittle. And if a membrane were to break, it would be bad for the wallet. Luckily, the protective lens makes it nearly impossible for even inquisitive little fingers to do any harm. Quite apart from the lofty heights at which the noble drivers are in the front of the F328Be.
Built without compromise
Speaking of height: Let’s talk openly about preferences. One can certainly assume that the buyer of a pair of passive loudspeakers with a price tag pointing towards 20,000 euros attaches great importance to sound quality. Models that are discreetly integrated into the living room often oppose this idea. The Revel Perfoma F328Be take a clear position here. If you choose the top models of the PerformaBe series, you are sending a clear signal: Sound quality is damn important to me. Because the F328Be can have a dominant effect, especially in smaller living spaces – depending on the situation, even more than the higher Dynaudio Contour 60 (9,000 euros). The “slimming” high-gloss black doesn’t change that either.
The cabinet itself is made of medium-density fiber (MDF), with the baffle and laminated, curved cabinet walls being 18 millimeters thick. A central MDF bar runs inside the back of the case and is up to 50 millimeters thick. In order to suppress harmful resonances, especially at high levels, given the rather moderate wall thicknesses, Revel uses five MDF discs as cross braces in the Performa F328Be.
No breakup pain
The PerformaBe crossovers – Revel uses a separate crossover for the bass range and for the mid-high range per box – are mounted on nylon spacers in the main volume of the housing. According to Revel, only film capacitors and air coils are used in the circuits of the midrange and tweeter . The Americans separate the tweeter at a very low 2100 Hertz with a 3rd order crossover (i.e. 18 decibels per octave), and the midrange driver has a 3rd order high-pass crossover at 240 Hertz and a 2nd order low-pass crossover towards the tweeter (12 dB/ octave) upstream. The bass is low-pass filtered at 18 dB/octave.
All in all, in my opinion, with the Performa F328Be, Revel delivers the high-fidelity equivalent of “solid home cooking” in terms of hardware, albeit refined with gourmet ingredients – but that doesn’t have to mean anything. Let’s see how well it tastes in the sound test.
Sound test and comparisons: Revel Performa F328Be
Attentive readers of my test reports will perhaps remember that my almost 25 square meter listening room is of the “well dampened type, with more or less pronounced peaks around 45 and 90 Hertz, depending on the speaker and placement”. So I probably wouldn’t think of installing floor-standing loudspeakers, which are almost 130 centimeters high and equipped with a total of six 20-size basses, in the listening room. Which would be a shame, because this audio report proves that superficial theory and measured values are one thing above all: gray.
Theory & Practice
Because in contrast to many a compact loudspeaker with powerful bass, which in my room could only be persuaded with difficulty to a low-drone performance, the large Revel play surprisingly neutral, civilized, with a tendency to a tight, slag-free bass. Even when set up relatively close to the wall – with just under 50 centimeters of air in the back – and only one of the two bass reflex openings is closed, the Revel Performa F328Be operate without fat deposits and with a precision that I would hardly have expected from such a generously ventilated bass reflex system. Significantly more controlled and crisp than with the Lansche Audio No. 3.1 (from 18,500 euros) comes across quickly played double-bass attacks and hard-hitting double bass strings, although the membrane area is ventilated here by about twice as much.
I suspect that this and the good room compatibility are due to the spacious distribution of the ten bass sound sources (six drivers and four bass reflex openings). Each sound source stimulates the room modes relatively weaker and at different points. The large Nubert nuVero 170 , for example, also benefited in the listening room from colleague Jörg Dames from the woofers positioned at the opposite ends of the baffle and sounded extremely powerful on the bass side, deep and boom-free at the same time.
With a bit of luck and experimentation with the setup, it will sound balanced at the listening position – just like in my case. The F328Be play catchy and powerful – even if perhaps in the middle bass range and fundamental not quite as lustfully vehement and driving as the ATC SCM50PSL (14,580 euros). The Brits have no choice but to gape in amazement at the grand frequency canyon that the Revel are capable of descending: I can clearly feel the lowest frequencies in Yello’s “Kiss the Cloud” from the T oy album with my popometer and I can with the modulations of the Swiss synthesizer guru Boris Blankmore precisely than with any other loudspeaker that I have come across in this room.
The bass drivers of the Revel Performa F328Be are so unimpressed by dynamic rough sounds like the fat bass drum in “This Boy” from Brendan Perry’s album Ark that even at hearing-damaging volumes, goosebumps run down my forearms one after the other. The Dynaudio Contour 60 (9,000 euros) are halfway begging for mercy in the pouty corner, and only genuine horns like a hORNS Symphony 13 (14,900 euros) with their professional drivers come along at least to some extent. The mid-high range follows this level stability and dynamics an impressively long way. Only at painful volumes of the infernal crescendo at the beginning of “Montague & Capulets”.Romeo and Juliet by Dimitri Shostakovich I think I’m picking up some slight signs of stress. Despite the 91 decibel efficiency (2.83 V/1m) of the Revel Performa F328Be, this may be due to the “only” 150 watts of continuous power per channel of my Norma Audio PA-150 power amp (5,300 euros). To put that in perspective, if you regularly drive at this volume for more than a minute in an apartment building, the peace of the neighborhood will soon be over. Guaranteed.
In view of this performance, I don’t have to correct my in-depth comment about the “thumping” in the bass range, but I do have to be more precise: Revel has apparently equipped its Performa F328Be so generously above all to give them a good amount of headroom. Not only to be able to get things done dynamically, but also to let them complete their everyday tasks in a relaxed and relaxed manner. It’s easy to see that this woofer sextet doesn’t get on its knees before an acoustic task, but can go about its work completely relaxed and almost on the side, with love and a sense for detail as well as with an always-ready attitude. A tiny drop of bitterness: At very low volumes, the Performa F328Be relatively emphasize the mid/high range over the bass.
The Golden middle
The midrange of the Revel Performa F328Be is… No, wait a minute. It will not work like that. I almost said “slick” but that would be misleading. Because although it’s admittedly difficult for me to grasp it purely linguistically due to its unobtrusive changeability, it’s bursting with texture, grip, air (!) and fine dynamic shading. Do voices sound as open as they do with my ATC SCM50PSL? At least. Do saxophones creak as impulsively and as detailed as with the Brits? Oh yeah. Can the overtones of strings be so colourful, floating? Mmmmm, not quite. No, the Revel Performa F328Be are a bit more sober, distanced, comparatively less binding and romantic – if you want to say that about the British speakers with the bear nose.
The comparatively matter-of-fact dryness of the Revel’s midrange, however, grants almost microscopic analytical insights into the intonation, articulation and aspiration of Jarvis Cocker on “Room 29”. Depending on the recording, this can come across as ruthless. Good recordings sound more real and better with the Revel Performa F328Be, especially in the midrange . Bad recordings also sound more real, but also worse than I know from the ATC, for example – or from the Lansche No. 3.1 – or the Totem Acoustic Element Metal v2 (16,990 euros), whose midrange tuning tends towards a similarly neutral, factual and open direction as that of the Revel.
None of the latter loudspeakers can keep up with the Revel Performa F328Be in terms of midrange transparency and dynamics, both in terms of coarse and fine dynamics. When it comes to separating and dynamically separating the individual voices of the choir in “Cantate Domino” from Oskars Motettkör ‘s album of the same name, the Revel have the edge. The same applies when they convey the blaring final fanfares in all shades and with pressure and smack. The Americans offer a clearer differentiation and release a looser, looser swing from the shots. In my opinion, that’s what makes the Revel sound so incredibly authentic, not the dry, punchy bass – but then there’s the tweeter…
The Art of Disappearing
Because the beryllium tweeter of the Revel Performa F328Be is indeed a real cream of the crop, but one of the modest kind. Its true qualities are not trumpeted, they only really crystallize after many, many hours of listening to a wide variety of musical material out. His great art lies, so to speak, in disappearing, in his ability to never appear offensively as a tweeter – wherever possible and therefore appropriate. For example in Pat Metheny’s “America Undefined” (Album: From this Place. This wild musical rollercoaster oozes high-frequency finesse, which the percussion brings in in abundance in the form of jingles, brass, wind chimes and bells – and the Revel delivers it with the silky-airy nonchalance of a damn fine ribbon .
Yes okay, but why not install a ribbon right away? Well, let me tell you: this may have other problems. Some say that the ribbon has a tendency to “rustle”, a subtle lack of cleanliness in the super treble , or the difficult connection to a midrange cone that is inherently less reactive. That’s all undecided, with the Revel neither one nor the other is an issue. On the contrary, it shines in both disciplines: Antonio Sanchez’s metal percussion in “America Undefined” always sounds holistic and maximally homogeneous, does not break down into attack and “body”. And the Revel play phenomenally clean – even in the very highest treble. Even the finest structures come out calmly and cleanly. Really really good.
space and illustration
In view of the equipment and dimensions of the Revel Performa F328Be, one might get the idea that they are loudspeakers primarily for friends of level and dynamics. That’s also true – except for the “above all”. Because another of their vocations lies – in addition to the effortless resolution and dynamic shading in all frequency ranges – no less in the representation of spatial width and references.
Let’s stay with the ATR mastercut of Cantate Domino : How spacious, deep behind the speakers and clearly separated from the organ the F328Be project the singers of the choir, how fantastic the members of the choir are to understand and identify individually, is new to my ears. Precisely because the Revel succeed in these feats on a stage that is basically arranged behind the loudspeaker level – in my experience, directly tuned loudspeakers usually shine here. Also the electronic gimmicks in “Black Shoes” by Felix Laband(Album: Dark Days Exit) place the Revel Performa F328Be seemingly physically tangible and right on target – it can be as big as a pinhead or flat, which is only determined by the music material. Even the Lansche Audio No. 3.1 (or its successor 3.2SE) and the talented ATC SCM50PSL don’t quite keep up either. One requirement: the listening distance should be at least 2.5 meters in order to achieve the necessary coherence of the sound image.
Almost more impressive than the imaging precision is how Handel’s “Judas Maccabeus” from Cantate Domino puts me in the Christmas spirit well in advance and emotionally touches me deeply when the Revel Performa F328Be take over the sound conversion. Why? Not because the Revel spill romanticized icing. But because they play so overwhelmingly dynamically open and ruthlessly honest, because nothing disturbs, my attention is not distracted by any inconsistency. But also because I’m not missing anything, but – on the contrary – there is more musically relevant information than this recording made me aware of beforehand. Fascinating!
Conclusion : Revel Performa F328Be
No pure “loudspeakers for the rough”, but in view of the physique for one or the other perhaps surprisingly subtle, controlled-taut and neutral-distinguished – that could be the short characterization of these sound converters. Of course, the Revel Performa F328Be can also be damn loud, but they feel comfortable with any music program and shine with (chamber) orchestras and jazz trios, voices in general and choirs in particular. Metal and hip hop work just as well as electro and low-fi. Attention: Poorly recorded material makes the Revel more clearly recognizable than many other loudspeakers.
On the amplifier side, the top Performa models make no indecent demands on power or damping factor. I would describe them as frugal, but not indiscriminate. Means: The Performa 328Be appreciates performance, but twice 50 watts, well done, should be enough for them to bring the strengths mentioned above to light in everyday life. Nevertheless, you should only be able to fully exploit their dynamic and level capabilities with significantly more power – I would not rate over 200 watts per channel as excessive. tubes? Try out.
You should treat the Americans to a listening distance of at least 2.5 meters and a room of around 25 square meters or more, even if they can easily fill locations that are two to three times larger. For fans of neutral tonality, slightly distant but well-ordered spatiality, the cleanest resolution and both fine and impressive dynamics, this is a very hot tip with a very good price-sound ratio.
The Revel Performa F328Be…
- play dry and very differentiated in the bass. With a few experiments when setting up and using combinations of the four bass reflex plugs, the character can be adjusted from slim to crisp and powerful. But it never gets fat.
- reach very deep into the bass cellar and remain just as controlled there as in the rest of the bass range.
- have a straightforward fundamental tone and a neutral, extremely transparent and detailed midrange with plenty of air, detail and dynamic headroom. More factual than opulent tones.
- have an outstanding resolution in the extremely clean, clear and yet effortlessly relaxed treble and congenially balance cutting edge and softness for maximum realism.
- are equal in terms of fine and coarse dynamics and follow the specifications of the music material extremely quickly in both disciplines.
- separate voices and instruments very well and depict them with sharp outlines.
- create a very wide, high and low stage just behind the speaker base. The Revel don’t deliver a deliberately offensive image that is aimed at the listener.
- need a bit more listening distance than typical smaller speakers to play fully coherently.
- need a certain basic volume in order to play tonally completely. When heard very quietly, the bass sometimes seems slightly underrepresented
- Model: Revel Performa 328Be
- Concept: Three-way speaker with bass reflex system
- Price: 18,000 euros
- Dimensions with Base & Grille Weight: 1294mm x 341.3mm x 448.5mm (H x W x D), 51kg
- Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms
- Efficiency: 91dB (2.83V/1m)
- Finishes: Gloss Black, Gloss White, Metallic Silver and Gloss Walnut
- Guarantee: 5 years